Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hobbies for smokers and non-smokers alike

We went along to a model/hobby expo thing at the Derwent Entertainment Centre on Sunday morning. Little planes, helicopters, trains, boats, and cars buzzing all over the place. The central area that used to be the basketball court had been walled-in up to waist height and turned into a pond for boats. There were miles of gaffer tape and plastic wrap trying to hold back the water, with a small army of ageing model enthusiasts with mop buckets on patrol for leaks.

The helicopters whizzed about inside a large net that reminded me of the Olympic hammer throw. Also in there was a railway line at waist height, with two scale model engines going around with grown men sitting on them. Man A rode an electric engine and had nothing to do but pretend to fiddle with a few switches as he went around, and around. And around. Man B had the best job - he was riding a real steam engine and was delicately spooning coal into its tiny firebox with a teaspoon.

A toy-soldiers stall was set up as a recreation of the battle of Waterloo. Marcus asked "which team do you want to win?". I said my money was on the guys in red.

Recently retired radio blowhard Rik Patterson was the master of ceremonies. He may have been reading out the phone book for all the sense he made - although I did hear "love", "dedication", "took the motor out of his windscreen wipers", "love", "a breed apart", "a kind of madness", "dedicated love" and "extremely fine tweezers".

One stall offered 3 minutes of slot car racing for a dollar. Marcus had a go and was thrilled to come second out of three punters. He insisted on another go, sadly finishing third this time. He was robbed - I blame the operator. The cars all travel different distances each lap, so the man in charge had some kind of override to variously limit their speeds, and even it up a bit. Marcus' racer went at snails pace even at full throttle. He took defeat manfully.

Out in the sun larger radio-controlled racecars hurtled around as two men stood on a raised platform. It appeared to be Smoker v. Non-smoker. Of course we barracked for the cause of righteousness. Smoker was a bit of a lead-foot [or lead-thumb] and his car flipped out as he overcooked several corners. There was no way of knowing who was winning. Behind us some other cars zipped about seemingly of their own free will. A couple were bullying an abandoned coffee cup. It was time to go home.

As we left a large posse of black swans were cruising about stylishly in the bay. I was very tempted to stand facing them with a large remote control and see if I could draw a crowd.

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