Welcome to Mike's semi-isolating Light Blue World
In theory at least the hiatus should have been an opportunity to do some modelling, not least because it should have been an opportunity to recove from the tradition post-Telford apathy; for me at least it doesn't work that way. Back in 1983 - you may find a reference to it in the June or July Tailpiece of that year - I was was a passenger in a car which lost a fight with a tree, as a result of which I was off work for nine weeks. This presented the classic opportunity to make a kit or three from the pile or two in my workroom, and justified my having "laid them down" against a time when I couldn't get out to a model shop (remember them?). You may recall that I didn't build a single model in those nine weeks, and only started again when I was more to get out and about .
One that I have put together in this fractured period is outside of my usual parameters, though it does have low visibility roundels. A kit of a Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane was something of a surprise, but Avis have produced four; I'd bought the first two single-seaters in 1:72nd and not quite decided what to do with them when a two-seater appeared in 1:48th just as I'd been thinking of Gotha and Zeppelin raids, and the Shuttleworth Avro 504 colours. Regretting the one-time easy availability of John Adams' metal Aeroclub machine guns, I mentioned it at what turned out to be the sole autumn meeting of the Thames Valley club to Hugh Beyts, who builds exceeding good early flying machines, and it's thanks to him that you see four Lewis guns pointing skywards in anticipation of Schragermusik. Sadly there's no spiders' web of wires; I do recognise some of my limitations effortlessly, no matter what you hear. I did enjoy making the circular Zeppelin killer, and there's a KP Sopwith Triplane box sitting next to my laptop; it may even turn out to be Black Mike, but it may take time and I shan't ask my fingers to rig it.
Early on in The First Lockdown I came across a Hasegawa Jaguar E; I don't remember making a two-seater since the earliest kits of the type in the '70s, and moreover this one came with the Chant et Combat emblem of the 7th Escadrille. The Armee de l'Air has always carried its First World War traditions with pride, and this particular unit narking has always been one of my favourites both for its representation and its spirit. This kit filled my wish for something straightforward, though I did in the end leave off any of the several offered loads. The colours are not far off those used by the RAF, but the pattern is almost entirely different, and I would be intrigued to learn the different reasoning; different Gallic artistic approach, perhaps. As for the other E Type, I've always fancied one of those since I saw it at its first Earls Court all those years ago and when the chance came for the mask I pounced; now if I could persuade them to do a D type as a bow tie that would be my ultimate tribute to Mike Hawthorn!
Once upon a time, so you can tell how long ago that was, there was a comedy series with John Junkin and Tim Brook-Taylor; as I write I'm not sure wheter it was sound or vision, but I do remember one of the recurring catchphrases that has lodged in an otherwise unused corner of my memory was "Just time for a quick meanwhile...". Most of 2020 - you would think that with that title the year would at least have been even-handed - seemed to have happened in random and largely unrelated bursts for which the phrase could have been coined. I am very aware that a proportion of its effect has been seriously bad for others, and my happenstances will no doubt will seem trivial, but one or two have somewhat dented my natutal and normal optimism (I do dislike this phrase "the new normal" which shares the airwaves with several irriting siblings, especially at breakfast).
To start at this end of my timeline one of the very welcome ocurrences has been the return of Gary Hatcher as editor of SAM, and I know I'm not alone in thinking that he's returned it to an appreciated shape and style even if it's difficult to work out on what I've based that presumably biased decision apart possibly for the apparent reducion in white space. I had the idea of offering a short series of "Tailpieces" as an echo of long ago - even though I limited the number to avoid any reminder of deadline fever - and I've really enjoyed writing them, and if you remember the olden days, you may spot an echo or two; you may even a competetive game on the number that strikes a chord, or even two.
The first of the three appeared in the December issue, and I was delighted to see the reappearance of the back end of XF317; the second should be on the news stand by the time you read this, and the third is scheduled for the February issue; enjoy, even if it's just for the nostalgia, which is of course one of my regrettable habits. Getting my thoughts together for these three gave me thought of the motive behind my columns, both the IPMS and the personal ones, and a major theme was the thought that moddeling nidn't need to be a solitary activity; from the starting of the Berkshire Branch - I can't believe that the county's in Tier 4 - much of my modelling has involved chatting, consultation and sometimes planning with others, even though a collective project was rarely involved, and it's the lack of this literal face-to-face contact that I've found most frustrating. In the days when I had a secretary I used to say that I didn't know what I thought until I'd seen it in double spacing, and the exchange of views has become essential, especially with fellow SIG members; as long as we know what we're making.....
Most of the time a few kits and particularly books have come by some form of messenger, although some of these seem to be understandably given the season in occasional random mode in choice and just sometimes delivery; most of the time I've known what to expect and have chosen accordingly and nothing's needed to go directly in the "disposable" stash, though I do if possible like looking at what comes down from a shelf (I don't open the box, of course) to contribute to any "decision" process.
After the 125s my modelling has slowed a little, and I'm in one of those increasingly frequent quandaries as to whether my contribution to this is physical or mental; I'm sure that it's partly driven by the increasing number of Very Small Pieces. The regular cure suggested for this is to change to 1:48th, but with one or two notable exceptions I have a substantial mental block on the grounds of tradition and available space. I look forward to meeting old and like-minded modelling friends again, and toward this end I'm fortunate to have had the first of my injections; for a perhaps irrational reason I'm holding on to that happening by the end of March. And if my other wish is granted I'll get Sir Sydney's P.1091; I saw some Skyrays on YouTube recently, and the "delta Hunter" is just what the Fleet Air Arm needs for CVA01!
Have a good 2021!
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