It’s been a week since the Aus7 ExpO and the layout, Phil my helper and I made it back home in one piece. The exhibition went brilliantly and was a great way to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Aus7 Modellers Group. The layout ran very nicely and people seemed to like watching the trains. There were a few small glitches that need to be worked on before Morpeth’s next outing but I already have plans in place to address these. The overriding lesson for me coming out of the weekend is that aiming to simplify the set up and tear down procedure was worth it. The layout took just under an hour to remove from the trailer and set up and about 35 minutes to tear down and pack in the trailer. Set up was so fast in fact that we really were left with nothing much to do so and, as dinner was being provided at the venue on the evening of the set up, we had to hang around waiting for a few hours.
Getting home and unpacking really didn’t provide much down time for me because I decided to contact a builder who had provided me with a quote to do some work on the room under the house I use as my work and layout space. He turned up to chat about some details and I told him that I had decided to go ahead and get him to do the work and asked him when he could start. He said that he had a big job starting in about 2 weeks but he had a spot next week to get the job done, “how about I start next Tuesday?” What is it the kids write on social media? OMG! Next Tuesday? I was expecting him to say how about he start in a month! How the heck was I going to get the room cleared of all my train crap before Tuesday? The long and the short of this story is that my train room is now completely bare and all my train gear now sits where the car normally resides. OMG doesn’t even begin to cover it! 🙂
The layout attending its first exhibition and my train room being renovated at almost the same time has had me thinking about the public and private realms of this hobby and the role trains play in my life. On the surface taking a layout to an exhibition is just about as “public” as it gets in this hobby: there’s your baby, the layout you’ve slaved and sweated blood over sometimes for years, on public display for examination by a sometimes critical audience. However in spite of the public nature of model railway exhibitions the layouts on display are tightly controlled visual “creations”. Every layout owner/builder makes an attempt to display his or her layout in its best light. The same goes for both visits to my home by modelling friends and the things I post on the internet about the layout: it’s all controlled and regulated by me. It might be something as simple as sweeping the floor before friends arrive or cropping a photo I’m about to post online, for me this all comes to the same thing: I’m controlling and regulating the experience and showing only what I want to show. The intention is to show what modelling I’m doing but I’m vain enough to want this viewing to happen in the best possible context. When I post a video of the layout I edit it to keep it short and hopefully make it enjoyable: I cut out the sound of myself gas bagging about hand laid track and remove the sequence where I can be seen pulling out a wedgie. Some things qualify as too much information 🙂
However this past week I was confronted with a parade of strangers in my inner sanctum and I found myself distinctly uncomfortable with the experience. The builder and electrician were bad enough as they poked and prodded at walls and peered into various nooks and crannies, but then I had two beefy removalists come in and clomp through my train room as they emptied it of stored furniture. Did I mention that I had a house move to complete this week as well? I enjoy having friends over to see what progress I’m making on the layout, I’m not that anti-social. But again this is controlled access by other train modellers and friends: I do the inviting and my friends know trains. Having non-train types in my very private space was a distinctly uncomfortable experience and I had to keep telling myself that this was for the longer term good of having a really comfortable and pleasant space to work and set up the layout in a semi-permanent state. I’ll be able to walk in and run trains whenever I want! 🙂
I’m lucky enough to be able to work on my trains in a dedicated space that everyone knows is mine: this is the man cave and woe betide any intruders! While the work I undertake in this space is deeply satisfying and I love sharing it with others, having strangers in my train room this week has demonstrated to me just how much I treasure the few square meters of floorspace I have to myself and the environment of calm “maleness” I create there. This work space is bloke space! I’m going to be drummed out of the SNAG club if I keep this up! 🙂
I’ll let you know how the renovation goes.