Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Devil in the Detail

Over at Odds Oracle Martin has been posting such juicy photos of  inconsequential details that I've almost forgiven him for his heavy criticism of Black Country Blues. Not that he is wrong in what he said, but for me the faults, exaggerated by a particularly cruel photo, are outweighed by how well it captures a railway scene that I knew so well as a Brummie - though let us be quite clear that Birmingham and the Black Country are not the same thing. If I'm honest I thought it was another photo of  BCB in the MRJ article that I expected him to have most fun with. I'll let him guess which one.

Anyway I digress from my main point, which is both how important ancillary details are and at the same time how challenging they can be to model.

Take this for example.

I must have walked past this pole in our neighbouring village of Brandon hundreds of times, but I've never really "looked at it" before. How long would it take to model that, yet how much would it add to a model if you did? Here I have to confess my most basic ignorance that I don't even know if it is a telephone pole or a power pole. And are poles for telephone lines still called telegraph poles? This is what it looks like in 2015, what would it have looked like in 1965 or 1915? Whatever the answers I hope you'll agree with me that it is rather wonderful and deserves to be modeled.

And then what about this? I suspect it is a good few years since any Ferrari graced this forecourt, but there was a time when the wealthy West Midlands was peppered with exotic car dealerships in unexpected places. I think Stourport used to have a Lamborghini dealership. At this point my wife usually gets the speech about how before I married her I was living in Chelsea and couldn't walk out of my flat without tripping over some variety of super car. Literally so in some cases.

But lets get back to real life. One of the more exciting events in our twin villages of Brandon and Wolston has been the inscribing of the last two names on the Brandon war memorial. They weren't put on it originally because they came from a very small village that decided helping the families was more important than erecting a memorial.

I have to say the masons did an excellent job because if you didn't know they were new you would think they had been there since the same time as the other WW1 inscriptions.


  1. Nice pics. James. I'd say that Maranello dealership was around the late 60's/early 70's going by the windows and doors. Listen to me, Mr. Architectural Journal, Ha! But if I were an EM modeller living round the corner, I just couldn't leave that alone
    Fabulous telegraph pole picture and the best bit about it is that curleyqueue bracketed lamp. You're absolutely right, it needs making. By the fineness of the wires I'd say it was 'phones rather than power. I reckon there'd be transformers and big insulators abounding if it was power.

    You know, you Brummies and Blackcountry men have to get over the rest of us they are JUST the same:-) Only Netherton Hill suggests itself as a possible demarcation, if it is a hill, to which all we others can really say is...."So what?"

    I'll go sit in a comfy chair, re-peruse the article and see where I should have been more fussy. I assume by "BCC", you meant BCB?

    1. BCC suggests I spend too much time dealing with email! I supsect the Ferrari garage might have made it into the 80's. But the sign is strangely un-weathered?

      Yow knows it is the accent and dialect that separates your brummie from the black country, and within the black country a accent would probably have even given away the street where you lived.and the industry you worked in.

      The photo I had in mind looks excellent if you only look at the cameo in the foreground...

  2. Well, I've had another look at BCB and nothing jumps out at me as worthy of criticism over and above what I already said. Not that that matters one jot of course, but I thought I should rise to the challenge.
    I spotted a few more niggles, sure. That day boat has non parallel cross boards and bottom frames and is aground in water that is almost at normal height, but that could be muck in an undredged canal, like most of them since those times. We were often aground a good 5 feet out from the sides, but our historic boat drew 3 feet 3inches, light!

    Two things...I really like the yellow shunter shot on the bottom left. The micro scenery work is excellent, throughout. And I'm now wondering if some of the niggles are perhaps the results of wear and tear, in which case I take back some criticisms. Bound to happen on an exhibition layout. There appear to be bits that have, or are fast becoming, unstuck, like the gutter and roof of the pub in the first photo, along with tarmac that is fast leaving gaps to the kerbstones and some of the blockwork on that strange green thing next to the chippy van.
    But go on, James, put me out of my misery, which pic. should I have jumped on?

    I almost wish I could be let loose on an otherwise excellent layout with a few tools and some glue. I don't think it needs much.

  3. Well I certainly think the cracks on the canal surface are only showing up under very specific circumstances., but it was the strange green thing next to the chippy van that struck me as jarring.- perhaps because the rest of the scene is so well done, which is, of course,rather unfair.

    Incidentally I thought the placement of the road vehicles supposedly moving,at least in photos, is about the very best I've ever seen. I think it is a real challenge modelling cars from a period where we think we can remember what they looked like, but don't see examples around to remind us what they really looked like. In my minds eye, for instance the Viva HB is svelte and modern looking, and not mounted on roller skate wheels.

  4. I immediately gave one of those personal frowns when I saw that green thing, but I stopped myself saying anything as it was individually credited to a named person and I thought it a bit infra dig to criticise named contributors to the layout, but yes, It's at least odd and at worst 'orrible! Perhaps a spot of render would have saved it.
    I think the hobby is being spoiled rotten by new de casts in the three main scales, but in 4mm the wheels and tyres sometimes let them down. Although most of my driving lessons were in an HB Viva, I never thought of it as svelte! I wonder if the cars and lorries are removed for the exhibition. Nothing looks sillier than objects supposedly in motion on a layout. People, horses, vehicles all frozen in time. Fine for a photo, of course.