Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sticky Fingers

This! Oh no. The final nail in my childhood*

I can still remember my first. It was my 7th or 8th birthday and I'd got a voucher from my friend Ian's Mum and Dad for Rabsons, the toy shop in Middle Row, Ashford. It was for the princely sum of seven shillings and sixpence. 7/6. That's 37 1/2 p. A bloody fortune. I was being let loose in a toy shop with all the riches of Croesus at my disposal. I can't remember everything I bought although I can recall being dissuaded from the plastic trombone. Star buy was an Airfix kit of the SR-N1 hovercraft, a tube of polystyrene cement and a tin of Humbrol post box red enamel. In later life, I would find out that my best friend's grandad was the "S" in that designation, the Saunders in Saunders Roe. Cool.

It wasn't long before I'd got my first Spitfire. I always thought the Spitfire was a bit easy although I went through several. Had to have a squadron, after all. There were ME109s, 110s and HE111s, Hurricanes, a Lysander and a Mustang. There was a Harrier jump-jet, too and I was mightily impressed when Dad came home and saw me with a lump of black plastic in my hand and just said "Boulton Paul Defiant?" All these were the 1/72 scale models. I had one warship, the pocket battleship the Graf Spee. I was insanely jealous when Andrew Harden won the school raffle and got the big model of a Boeing 747. My other friend Andrew got one as well and mounted a Jetex motor on it to see if it was airworthy enough to fly. It wasn't. The motor shot through it like a poker up a Plantagenet.

I did go large though. For my eleventh birthday I got the 1/24th scale Spitfire with the electric motor in that spun the prop. Something happened though and the motor didn't last long. Even my Dad got in on the act but he had to go classy and get a Revell model of a Sopwith Camel. The Wellington was my other big plane. All these hung from my bedroom ceiling except the Big Spit, which was on top of the wardrobe. It was later joined by a very large Queen Mary (A Revell, so doesn't really count) and an SR-N4 hovercraft in red Hoverlloyd colours. I thought it was the Princess Margaret but she was Hoverspeed and their colours were blue and it was definitely before 1981 when they merged with Hoverlloyd to form Hoverspeed. Er...sorry.

This is the bit where I upset Mr Frontier Ed. The time had come. The Big Spit and the Old Queen kept sliding about on top of the wardrobe as I tilted it upwards to retrieve the glossy stash hidden underneath. I was outgrowing my hobby in the face of new diversions. One day, riven with adolescent hormones and possibly not a little inebriated, I gathered all my kits together and "flew" a few downstairs. Then out onto the front lawn where they were lined up for the final coup de grace, delivered by Dad's .22 Relum air rifle. This was a powerful beast that could take apart a Bramley apple from 100 yards with a single slug and I was a good shot. The plastic didn't put up too much resistance and my collection was no more. A brief flirtation in the early 80s with a Tamiya Suzuki motorbike from Beattie's in Lewisham didn't rekindle the passion I'd felt fifteen years earlier and that was that. I don't know though, Airfix has to be saved; it's an institution that although dated, deserves to live on. A peculiar paradox: a reminder of gentler times but using, in the main, the materials of warfare to do it.

*For the time being

6 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Sharon J said...

You shot your toy planes? If I'd know you were prone to such violent outbursts when we first met, you would never have made it across the threshold.

Bother. Now you'll know how late I stayed up.

4:16 am  
Blogger Pamela said...

People don't kill airplanes, apparently guns do.

Wow, how fun was that? The worst I ever did was shooting glass bottles with a BB gun in my Dad's back yard. I was a pretty good shot.

5:24 am  
Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

And ven did you start to zink zat zis distruction of your toys was linked to your relationship wiz your mozzer?
How does that make you feel?

6:22 am  
Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

I did the same with my Airfix kits.

I too now feel the same about things as you.

6:39 am  
Blogger Geoff said...

God, I hated Airfix. It was like doing homework in metalwork or woodwork. I was crap at all three.

Why didn't daddy just let me play with my dollies?

12:50 pm  
Blogger Richard Seamon said...

I made a sprung door prop thingy 33 years ago in metalwork. It's kept my Mum's upstairs khazi door open ever since (not while you're in it, obviously).I don't know what happened to the pin tray or the brass key fob. That was it though, that's all I ever made.

1:00 pm  

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