I Googled the distance I have to travel to get to the Forum next Saturday and it turns out that it’s 821.2km from the Gold Coast airport to North Sydney Leagues Club. I suppose that the casual observer might question why the heck anyone would travel so far for a model train event? I used to drive from Warren in western NSW and from my home in Armidale before I moved out west. Both of these trips are well over six hours by road so just over an hour on a plane is pretty easy compared to that.
Now of course a cynic might sat that I’m the President of the Aus7 Modellers Group so I can hardly be considered an unbiased observer: I have to go to these things don’t I? Well the simple answer is no. While I held the Secretary’s position for 6 or 7 years I was voted in as President without even being present at the meeting where the vote occurred, so physical proximity has little to do with a rise to prominence in this organisation! 🙂 There is nothing that compels me or anyone else to attend the Forums, certainly not the unalloyed pleasure of attending the AGM each October.
So why do I go to the Forums? I speak for no one but myself in the following comments. No one needs me to speak for them, they speak volumes by simply turning up and having a great day.
Perhaps the simplest answer as to why I go is that I enjoy the company of the other people who attend. Of all the model railway events I attend I feel this one beats all the others hands down for its friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I know one of the reasons John Parker has been so reluctant to change the venue is due to the principle of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Barbara Streisand would never get a nose job in case it altered her singing voice: we don’t want to move from Norths just in case some vital ingredient is lost in the move. The French probably have a word to describe this ingredient but I’m buggered if I know what it is. Frisson?
I’m notorious for not actually listening to the talks at Forums. I always seem to find myself drinking coffee, swapping stories, shopping, asking questions of a trader or locked in some deep conversation with someone or other and never actually seem to get to the talks. Perhaps that’s what I like so much about the Forums: the ostensible reason we’re all there is to listen to people deliver learned talks on a wide variety of topics but you don’t actually have to sit and listen if you don’t want to. You’re not tied to one place or activity.
Perhaps one of the easiest things to overlook about the Forums is the simplicity of the format and how well this works. No single individual is responsible for this beautiful simplicity. it results from a gradual process of development over a decade of holding these events. As the original organiser of the Forums, Nick Sheridan is primarily responsible for the broad outline, however they have been incrementally evolving for years through several sets of hands. We are all the beneficiaries of this process of development with the organisation now in the able hands of our Vice President, John Parker.
However in spite of the fact that I hold an executive position in the Aus7 Moddellers Group, that the event is relaxed and friendly and that you aren’t forced to sit and listen to the talks if you don’t want to, this doesn’t seem quite enough to explain why I bother to go to most of the Forums. There must be something more, some bigger draw! I was thinking about this topic as I drove over to Lismore this afternoon, a trip of about half an hour. It struck me that perhaps the most compelling reason I go to these events is to be in the company of other people who share my passion about modelling. For just a few hours no one I speak to will have that slightly bemused and confused expression on their face as I talk about trains. Everyone else in the room gets it: and they get it in the same dialect, Aussie O-scale. I never come away from a Forum not feeling energized and ready to get back to the modelling bench.
If that’s not a good enough reason to travel 821.2km then I don’t know one that is. See you next Saturday.
PS It’s 861.2km from Tullamarine airport to North Sydney Leagues Club, only 40km more than from Coolangatta. Makes you think doesn’t it? 🙂