It’s been very quiet on the playing front this last couple of weeks. No bad thing though, it’s given the inner nerd a chance to run riot in the shed, or home workshop, and as a result of which there has been something of a leap forward in the Seaplanes Of The Axis Powers diorama. If I’ve understood correctly from my book “Understanding Basic Jung”, and its invaluable companion volume, “Understanding “Understanding Basic Jung””, Jung maintains that events spread out through life and are linked like concentric ripples on a pond, and so there are no such things as coincidences. How this bears on recent shed activity is as follows; for the last six months or so I have been working on a colossal model of a colossal Nazi flying boat called the Blohm & Voss 238. Designed as a post-war transatlantic airliner to take victorious Germans shopping in Manhattan, the BV 238 was to boast, amongst other things, a promenade deck and cocktail bar. Here’s a contemporary artists’ impression of Gretchen and Hans enjoying a WKD as they float majestically over the Azores-
In reality, the Germans managed to build only one, and it lived on a lake in Hamburg. A couple of weeks before the end of the war a squadron of RAF fighters found it, having been tipped off by the secret service that it was being readied for a very long flight to South America, and had been kitted out to cater for “three high profile families”. Not wanting the Hitlers to make a last-minute dash for it and set up a tobacconist’s in Buenos Aries, or whatever, our chaps shot at it until it sank. Apparently it was so massive that one of its wings lay protruding from the lake in a kind of ironic sub-aqua Nazi salute. Local children played on the wreck until 1948, when a local dealer came and sold it off for scrap. Look out for dark green paint on cheap hotel cutlery in the Hamburg area, folks. Despite it being a huge transport organ for the cause of evil, I am fascinated by this beast. Even though the BV 238 is quite clearly on the side of the baddies, it has that dark elegance which only Nazi gear possesses. Please don’t get confused here- I’m not saying that I find anything elegant about the revolting brutalism of Nazism itself, but I know I am not alone in finding the gear fascinating, in the same way that little boys will want to dress up as Darth Vader instead of Luke Skywalker. A highly polished baddie has a hypnotic charm, a bit like a rattlesnake, and the Nazis were well aware of this when they got Hugo Boss to design all their uniforms. Back to the flying boat, and here’s a shot of it taking off on a test flight from its home in Schalsee, near Hamburg. I often make sotto voce aeroplane noises whilst contemplating this picture, especially if Her Indoors is, well, outdoors. Try it yourself-lean in and go nnnneeeeeoooowwww. Feels nice, doesn’t it? As it has six engines, you may want to experiment with another five people, all leaning in and going nnnneeeeeoooowwww. I reckon that the effect could be quite liberating.
My miniature BV 238 has been taking shape since roughly February. At a scale of six foot to the inch, its 197-foot wingspan comes out at a little under three feet, which, unless I dig up evidence of something larger, will have to be the centre piece of the diorama. Currently, it is the centre piece of the home exhibition suite, or kitchen. Realising that I had a quiet period in the diary, I thought that I’d have a bit of a push and try and get it finished, as although its huge size has an appeal, I was beginning to tire of knocking all my jars of paint etc. etc .over with one wing whilst working on the other. To paraphrase the great aero modelling guru Mike McEvoy, I resolved that the next time I have something that large in my lap, I won’t be building it, I’ll be changing its nappy. It was whilst contemplating Mike, Nappies and fleeing Nazi dynasties in the shed that Jung and his concentric event theory struck, and there in my inbox was an email from Mike not only inviting me to the Farnborough model show, but asking if I had anything interesting I’d like to bring. Normally, I can’t do model shows, as they are held at weekends, when as a rule I am engaged in driving to The North in order to operate a woodwind instrument. However, the present absence of paid work displayed on the kitchen wall chart meant that I could go! To add to the excitement, as I would shortly be equipped with a newly-finished colossal model of a colossal Nazi flying boat, I asked if I could bring it with me. He seemed very happy with this and said he would sort out an extra table or two from the organisers on which to put it.
I am a closet model maker. The only people who see the fruits of my labours are me, Her Indoors and anyone else who happens to stray into the Shed during one of our series of Open Events At The Gables, or piss-ups. True, I posted some pictures of them “floating” on the £12.99 Argos paddling pool in this Plog a few months ago, but that was it. I’ve certainly never stood in front of real people in a public place and subjected myself and my models to their opinions and views, so you can see that when Her indoors and I loaded the Blohm & Voss onto the back seat of the Volvo in its Custom Packing Unit, or fruit box, I found myself getting a severe attack of the jitters. This was especially odd, as I spend my working life standing up in front of people doing all kinds of stupid stuff without batting an eyelid. Even a bad attack of the wrong trousers in Southend last week formed a hazard rather than a crisis-it never occurred to me that standing on stage in front of 800 folks with a pair of trousers on which wouldn’t even go on above the hips was anything more than an amusing nuisance- the overriding consideration was to get the job done and get home. I think with the music I have largely learnt to separate who I am from what I do- with the model show, it was quite the reverse. My Blohm & Voss was my baby, and I would be as partisan as any proud parent.
A model show is a fascinating thing. This particular one was taking place in two halls of a secondary school. Mainly populated by chaps, it is an arena of unbridled nerddom. There’s people displaying models, people selling them, people looking at them and everybody’s talking about nothing but. Her Indoors was a little surprised to see such a high concentration of man amassed in a public space without thought of appealing to the opposite sex. A nice lambswool v-neck is about as dressy as a modeller gets, you know. This is what makes it such a dirty treat- when out in the general public, with its general attitudes, any allusions to making Airfix planes have to be dressed up with a bit of self ridicule or gentle apology. Not so at the Model Show- whatever the nerdy colours are, you’re wearing them on your sleeve loud and proud! I had a chat with a bloke for FIFTEEN MINUTES about why the floats on the Blohm & Voss were red. We even discussed the shade of red, and it felt great! No one was judging me for my affliction, we were all in it together. If somebody wants to start a Nerd Pride movement, I’ll join up for one. It was like a day off! I found my fellow modellers a supportive and friendly bunch too- if you could stay awake while I did it, I could give you a litany of model making sins which comprise the bodged construction of my aeroplane, but the good bespectacled chaps who were there were full of nothing but praise. I was glad to see too that I wasn’t the only one there who had to have one pair of bins for reading, and then another pair of special Model Show specs for close up examination of minute details.
Late on in the afternoon, Mike introduced me to a mate of his called Dick Ward. Dick is one of the brightest lights in the modelling firmament, as it was he who has designed all the transfers for most model kits since about 1970. As an eight-year-old my glue-encrusted fingers were slapping his stickers all over Spitfires, Messerschmitts and Corsairs, and they have been ever since. He only retired a couple of years ago. I was introduced, and went to Jelly. It was like meeting Dizzy Gillespie, and try as I might I couldn’t bring myself to ask him a question which was in any way incisive or coherent. To continue my analogy from the other week of the inside of my skull as the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, at this point it was awash with tribbles. Wisely, I shut up and listened to him talking to Mike, who by the eternal accident of birth have both got to see in flying metal all those things which live as small lumps of dormant plastic in my shed. Anyway, here it is- my Blohm & Voss 238-