Water fowl of the family anatidae – recumbent or otherwise

Hobbies are ways to unwind, to shut off the outside world and its worries. So surely they should not be a source of trouble, yet they are. Have a look at most on-line forums – not just for model railways.

Why is this?

Well, I have lots of roles and even duties to fulfil in life. In no particular order, I am a son, father, employee, manager, uncle, nephew, etc but when I am modelling, I am none of these.

When I am modelling, I am me. Just me. No one else. I do it for me. I do it for my own enjoyment. We all do. No point doing it otherwise.

Hobbies are what we do, when we want to be ourselves. 

This is why they are important to us.

This is why it is easy to get hot under the collar – if someone criticises my approach to the hobby, they may not intend to, but they are criticising me, so I will react.

I get immense personal enjoyment from making things well – accurate representation not just of the real thing, but how the real thing moves, as far as the immutable laws of physics permit with a scale model. I cannot understand why anyone would settle for less, and it amazes me when they do, but many do. They seem to enjoy themselves, so I have learned to let it go.

I frequently see nonsense about miserable finescalers being posted on-line in forums and on-line magazines, published in letters columns, or espoused loudly at model railway shows. Why do some people swoop so low as make a wide-sweeping, and wide of the mark, generalisation? (I am aware that any generalisation is likely to be wide-sweeping, but please forgive the tautology on the grounds that I am at least being consistent.) When I see those who espouse a tighter tolerance on authenticity being called “elitist”, I am amazed. You see, I know quite a few people in the hobby, and the best modellers are also the best people. They are not only happy to share in their techniques, but to provide friendly encouragement. They might be the elite, but elitist? That would involve not sharing. That would involve putting down other people’s efforts. No. That’s not them.

The problem is, it might quack like a duck, waddle like a duck, and actually be a duck (rather than a swan or goose), but that’s not the point – what species of duck is it? Simply painting the tail black doesn’t turn a female Mallard into a female Gadwall: apart from the latter being smaller, there are other differences, too. But to many modellers, a duck is a duck is a duck. If you are one of those, then good luck to you: your modelling life will be less complicated, and you will have fewer hurdles to jump. I personally think you will get less personal satisfaction out of this approach – in every aspect of life – but will not force how I enjoy my hobby on you.

I you prefer pictures, then I think it has been very eloquently put by Rene Gourley on his Proto:87 blog, with his simple game of “spot the difference”. I suspect that if you can’t spot the difference, or if it doesn’t bother you, then it is unlikely that you have visited this blog before. I really hope, though, that I am not simply preaching to the converted.

If you have been, well, I suppose you must.

2 thoughts on “Water fowl of the family anatidae – recumbent or otherwise

  1. chrismears

    Really nice post. I enjoyed, in particular this salient point: “Hobbies are what we do, when we want to be ourselves.” Such a nicely put and elegant phrase.

    I agree with your thoughts on the general opinion that sometimes comes across where a fine or finer scale modeller is thought to be too picky or just not having any fun with his trains any more. I find the longer I am in the hobby, and I’m cresting the thirty year mark now, it’s just so amazing all the different parts of the hobby and the different effect it has on each of us. I think we need to be concentrating on how each modeller’s interpretation compliments the hobby of model railways in general and in some way actually extends our own appreciation. Personally, I’m just so glad that so many modellers pursuing finescale modelling publish so much of their work as it proves it can be done and serves to really inspire me in the right way when I feel like I might have taken on a little too much.

    1. Dunks Post author

      Thank you, Chris.
      The idea is probably not original (even if I cannot recall seeing it anywhere before except from my own keyboard) but regardless of that your kind words about my phrasing are much appreciated: I take a “finescale” approach to my use of language, and as with my modelling I don’t always get it right (I managed to post a comment with an extraneous apostrophe the other day!), but I do try.

      As to your comment on cresting the thirty year mark, it’s funny, but I had an email a couple of hours ago from Mike Cougill, which had inspired me to get on another hobby horse (oh dear – terrible pun!) for a follow-up post on this same rich vein.

      Who knows, I might actually get down to some real modelling soon, and have something solid to post about, such as taking a River Raisin USRA 0-6-0 and converting it to Proto:64! (I have a spare set of wheels, which have already been removed from their axles in preparation for a little work with the lathe – and hopefully, it will be surprisingly little at that.)


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