The Little World – Applying For A Fun Licence

” This is a free country, isn’t it? ”

Fine words, and perfectly appropriate at the polling booth or in the public bar, but hesitate before uttering them in your local hobby shop. Because the answer may turn out to be ” No “.

I’m driven to this conclusion by looking at the goods on offer in the shop. Fine models, glorious kits, magnificent engines, and more trouble than you can pack into a Gladstone bag. In many cases you may be free to purchase the fun, but you will be forbidden to have it…or at least you will need to go a’begging to someone for permission to play somewhere.

If that sounds over the top, consider that here in Perth – the most isolated capital city in the world with hundreds or thousands of kilometres between us and other cities – we need to go to one special secluded spot on the outskirts of town to fly a toy airplane. We need to go 20 kilometres to sail a toy boat, and we can go to Bunbury or buggery if we want to run a toy car.

Noise, pollution, disturbance, wildlife, public nuisance,etc. etc. Councils jealously guard their parks and schools jealously guard their ovals, and woe betide the trespasser. The drone flyers have it even worse as they are the bete noir of everybody. Doesn’t stop the hobby shops from trying to sell lots of different drones, but when it comes to clubs flying them…?

So far the toy train people can escape most of the contumely and control as their layouts are inside, and on their own property. If they take them outside they can be harassed for creating an attractive nuisance or for spoiling the council’s view of what the garden should look like.

The toy soldier, car, and doll collectors also escape most of this problem…but this is probably only because the police and council haven’t figured out an angle that can either fee or fine the collector. Have no fear…they are probably working on it. They already have a stranglehold on the militaria collectors who just want to trade old muskets.

I am not going to worry too much. I’m sure I contravene a number of regulations by collecting toy cars and taking pictures of them and a zealous enemy could put in so many council complaints as to make the hobby miserable, but collecting enemies could also be a lot of fun.

Particularly if you pin them to a board or press them between the pages of a thick book.

The Hobbyist’s Christmas

dscf3434Of all the Christmas celebrations there are, the hobbyist’s version must be one of the best. This is because of several factors:

a. They know what they want.

Even if what they want is ” everything ” or is some excruciatingly expensive or obscure item…it is still something. The hobbyist mind has an object toward which to work all the time. Holidays are a time of opportunity.

b. They know where to get it.

Even if it is half way round the planet in some warehouse in New Jersey, you can be sure that the hobbyist has sussed it out long before the holiday. magazines, internet sites, and the underground grapevine of other enthusiasts will pinpoint anything.

c. It is never socks, a tie, or a brown sweater with snowflakes on it.

No-one buying a present for a hobbyist will have to suffer the silent contempt of the sales assistant as they wrap up the World’s Worst Present. The shop might be exasperated at the fact that the specialised object is being purchased by a Philistine who has no idea what it is, but if said buyer comes in with a carefully written note from the hobbyist they can at least know that it will end up in good hands.

d. The hobbyist only wants one.

They do not need multiple presents. Just the thing that they asked for. They really are grateful for it, even if it is old or rusty or small or tacky. They know what it is wanted for and how it will be used. Trust them.

e. They are content for the entire day.

Look, lets face it, you can basically give a hobbyist their present, a mince-pie, and a bottle of beer and they will be happy to go off into the basement for 12 hours. You can save on turkey and Christmas crackers and have the day to yourself to watch old Bond movies. Sometimes they’ll surface Boxing Day and sometimes it won’t be until New Years. If you crave a bit of quiet at Christmas, that is how you get it.

f. They don’t mind a bit if the price of the thing they give you is way more than the price of the thing you give them. It isn’t an issue if something is priceless for the hobby.

g. You can hand a hobbyist the world in an envelope.

I mean a gift certificate to their favourite hobby shop. It will never be put at the back of a drawer and forgotten. In fact, it will be spent within the first trading day after Christmas. You’re lucky if the thing doesn’t heat up and ignite on the bedside table in anticipation…