In a round-robin Email between a small group of friends (whom I like to think of as “The Unusual Suspects”) Matt LaChance, not even speaking in his mother tongue, came out with several superb insights, not least of which was this:
I’m still looking for my personal approach to this [for the] Temiscouata project even though I know deep inside all the key ingredients are there. Making a good layout right now would be easy, but making it a special layout with personality, that is something else. I have a blurry vision in my mind, I can almost feel on my neck the slightly chilly wind that sweep the St. John’s River valley, but have yet to translate it on the canvas.
Now, isn’t that a grand, poetic way to view the creation of a Model Railway?
That’s my emphasis, but what a great phrase, “a special layout with personality”.
When you think about it, isn’t that what precisely (and yet indefinably) defines a great layout?
Whilst driving to visit a model railway exhibition, I was listening to the radio. I always enjoy listening to “Desert Island Discs”: the format is superb, the host (Kirsty Young) perfect for the role, and the guests are varied and interesting (although sometimes, not quite how they think they might be interesting!) The guest on Sunday 26 May, 2013, was the dancer Deborah Bull. Now, I will be honest: ballet and dance, like opera, are not my bag – but I suspect my life is the poorer for not really understanding them. However, it is always interesting to listen to someone who is among the best in their chosen profession.
It was an interesting and pleasant interview, but about two thirds of the way into the programme (round about 32 minutes if you wish to jump to the relevant part of the podcast), Ms. Bull said something which really caught my attention, in response to a gently provocative question about funding for what is seen by many as an “elitist” art-form:
“Arts are practiced by elite artists, but are not intended for an elite group of people… …Everyone has the right to expand beyond their immediate horizons.”
I don’t like the use of the word “right” in this context, preferring “opportunity”, but I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with her on this. It also applies to model railways. Just because my magazine of preference is the “Model Railway Journal”, just because I know some pretty outstanding modellers, just because I prefer to give honest feedback if someone asks for advice, in short just because I want to take the opportunity to be better and exchange ideas with others who wish to do this, doesn’t make me elitist.
I mean, why would anyone want to be a champion for mediocrity?
If you don’t, please do.