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.

Filling In The Form

form

It is rare in Australia that we are asked to put some personal details forward on official forms – at least not on the occasions where we are not asking for government charity. Even the intrusive census forms leave us a couple of pathways to avoid contentious issues.

Most times we are not asked our sexual preferences, or religious beliefs, or our political persuasion. Applying for a licence to own a dog is pretty well focused on the dog and not us. And we throughly approve of this approach.

Other places in the world are different. I should recoil from the sorts of enquiry that might be directed at me in Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, or Russia. Or at Los Angeles Airport, for that matter. It is not that I would be afraid of giving the wrong answer – I do that all the time. It is because I am loath to give ANY answer – or to even consider the question. Certainly not to consider the question as legitimate or moral.

What sort of questions? Religion. Sex. Politics. Finances…the subjects that were once placed beyond the pale at a dinner party. The sort of questions that polarise conversation and lead to someone being treated badly. Yet there are always going to be these sorts of questions asked – as there are always going to be people who just don’t realise that they are doing the wrong thing in asking them. So what answer can be given – what answer should be given?

I have pondered it for a long time and finally I have to come back to the teachings of the Dalai Lama – a gentleman who has had to cope with a great deal of pressure. I think I shall adopt his classic answer when people ask me about religion, sex interests, or money matters…

” None of your G-d damned business, eh? “*

This seems to  cover all areas under consideration. I shall look forward to the next enquiry.

* Fred Dalai Lama. Runs a tyre warehouse in Okotoks.