Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic! (2006)
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were travelling with the kids down to the New Forest in Hampshire, a couple of hours from where we were living in Hertfordshire at the time. We were looking to buy a holiday home so we could spend more time together and with the kids. Despite SWMBO being a stay at home mother my work life balance was shit, it simply didn’t exist. If we could get away at weekends, some of them at least, I might get some life back. It seemed a practical solution but it wasn’t meant to be.
On the journey down, and completely out of the blue, I had a major panic attack. There is a lot more to this story and a great deal I could say about the subject of panic attacks but I’ll spare you the details as it gets to far away from my modelling journey. I will say I’m happy to talk about it so if anyone wants to know more just let me know!
The doctor diagnosed work/life overload, prescribed some drugs and signed me off for a month which, as I was then due to go on holiday for three weeks, meant I would be off work for seven weeks. Brilliant!
Two weeks into my time off I received a call from work. They wanted to know if I would be able to meet the Head of Occupational Health on neutral territory. As Gail, the Head of OH, was a friend anyway I agreed. Expecting an informal enquiry into my well-being and likely return to work I was completely taken back when Gail advised me that the company wanted to know if I would be interested in taking redundancy. After 32 years service it came as quite a surprise. In less time than it took to say “fuck me and take me to heaven and back!” I had said yes and signed the papers.
All I had to do now was tell SWMBO!
The financial service industry started shedding jobs way back in the early 1990s. Redundancy, thanks to large pay offs had become the preferred way to leave an organisation. It was an advantage being of a certain age and being in the wrong place at the right time. Culling of staff became the norm and you got used to it. As the years went by it held little fear for me, I was in a pretty safe position and allied to my ability to duck and dive I was able to carry on working and building my pension. SWMBO was aware of this situation and I knew she’d be OK when I told her.
Now SWMBO never swears so when she said “you’ve done fucking what?” my male intuition led me to think that I may have misjudged her. I decided to put off the announcement of selling up and moving to the country until after dinner when I thought she’d be more receptive!
The year was 2006, I was 49 years old, had retired after 32 years with the bank and was relocating to Lamerton, West Devon, a village with no internet access or mobile reception in the middle of sodding nowhere. SWMBO had come came around to the idea of a better life in the countryside for ourselves and our children, with cleaner air for Tom and his lung condition. A no brainer. No regrets.
Work Life Balance
One thing I discovered on my life’s journey is that one way to get your work life balance back is to ditch the work bit. A major spin-off from this life changing event was getting my life back and having time to do the things I used to enjoy once again, like modelling. Now was a good time to pick up the brushes once more. So out they came and I started where I left off all those years ago. I was rusty, very, very rusty but time and practice got me back to where I felt I had been.
After nine months off, which entailed moving, getting the kids settled, doing the new house up and trying to get up to speed with modelling, I thought it would be a good time to join a few clubs. This back fired somewhat when everything I looked to involve myself in seemed to have a minimum age requirement of 70. Where were the younger retirees? Turns out they all went back to work so I decided to do the same, albeit part-time doing twelve hours a week.
Modelling wasn’t the main stay of my life, time spent with the kids was but I kept my hand in and was painting with some regularity. I was still focused on the Old West and hadn’t really looked beyond 54mm miniatures from Andrea. The company had gone from strength to strength and their range had expanded along with their prices. Life happily for the most part plodded on, modelling too, until from out of nowhere I felt the need for a change.
Up to speed again with Andrea
Looking back now I think the catalyst was gearing up for full retirement and the realisation that the kids no longer needed me as much as I needed them. Having reached the decision to set a deadline for stopping work (I’m calling it a day this August when I will be 61) I knew I needed to fill my time or I would be on the slippery slope to an early grave. So, from around 2015 I started to get my head around the idea and modelling, not my only interest and activity by any means but in some ways the most important to me, and how I could do more.
I had reached the point where simply painting figures wasn’t proving to be enough. I’d seen images on-line of people doing some outstanding base work and felt this was something I wanted to try to emulate. Research, followed by more research, followed by purchase after purchase built up my collection of tools and materials and slowly I expanded my knowledge and creation of base work. I was enjoying what I was doing but now found myself more absorbed by modelling landscapes than figures and wanted to do something bigger.
It was all very well wanting to construct larger models but where to put things wasn’t something I could simply ignore. Believe it or not storage and size was something I pondered for a considerable time. I wasn’t short of ideas but none worked. Then I had a light bulb moment which illuminated the bloody obvious, drop down to a smaller scale! Sometimes you cannot see the wood for the trees and this was very much the case here.
Some quick Googling led me to decide on 28mm as the scale for me. I was blown away with the sheer amount of stuff available in this scale. I had opened up a whole new world and couldn’t wait to get started!
Of the many sites I discovered at that time two stood out. The first was Dixon Miniatures and the other was Sarrisa Precision. Dixon’s had a large range which included Old West figures which they sold separately rather than in packs of 5 or 6 and Sarissa produced amongst other things lazer cut MDF Old West buildings. What quickly followed was my first attempt at a building project. A photos of the exterior appears below. A full account together with more photo’s of both the exterior and interior can be found under the “Buildings Menu” of this blog .
I was pleased with how this one turned out and enjoyed painting the smaller scale figures. I was also motivated by the idea of entirely making my own buildings from scratch and started on another journey of discovery which resulted in making several more buildings and 28mm dioramas set against an Old West back drop. I was on a roll and enjoying modelling in a way that I had never done so before.
Plymouth Model Club (2017)
Things continued in this was for another couple of years until I got it in my head to join a modelling club if I could find one. By now I was in my late fifties, my kids were more or less independent and I needed, because She Who Must Be Obeyed had told me to get out from under her feet, something else to get me out of the house. The search for a club didn’t prove to be as easy as I thought it would be. If there was a directory of clubs in existence then I couldn’t find one but then, thanks to numerous search variables, I discovered that my nearest club was 18 miles away in Plymouth. I took the bull by the horns and went along.
I know it sounds silly but I was more than a little nervous. I simply had no idea how my work rated along side that of others. I wasn’t sure if I needed to take anything with me but in the end I decided to take along a couple of figures just in case they wanted to see the sort of thing I did. As it happened it was the clubs monthly internal competition night and I was made welcome and encouraged to get one of my figures from my car and join in so I duly obliged. At the end of the voting my figure was voted best model on the night and almost instantly I felt accepted into the group. I’ve attended ever since and managed to pick up a few awards along the way as well as a few good modelling tips here and there.
At the time I joined the group, just over a year ago now, they were discussing plans for their annual show. With 2018 being the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Great War and of the formation of the RAF they were keen for everyone to produce some models for a show display. Having only just joined I felt I ought to at least provide a model of my own. Besides, I felt a departure from the old west might be a good thing.
Once again I was blown away by the amount of figures available and before I knew it my first WW1 model had been completed. More than that I had loved doing it. I had enjoyed the research, the period and simply doing something different. More models in this period followed resulting in my WW1 Timeline Project. I’d also gotten the taste for doing something different and suddenly I was into anything and everything that took my fancy.
At the same time that I joined the club I decided I had decided to test the water and create my own blog. It was something I had thought about doing for a while but kept putting off, mainly because I didn’t think I had anything worth saying that would be of interest to others. I think my initial success at the modelling club gave me the final push to eventually get started although I’d pretty much decided I would give it a go for myself anyway. If nothing else it would serve as a simple means of documenting my work.
TIM was born in March 2017 when I posted my very first article. Why the title TIM? When I was trying to learn more about modelling and painting I turned to YouTube for guidance. There were, and still are, some great tutorials on there, some by relative novices and some by true professionals. The professionals are great but in truth they, through no fault of their own, nearly put me off of continuing with the hobby. I got it into my head that I would never ever be as good as them and so what was the point? Foolish I know but nevertheless that’s how I felt at the time. I was on a downer and briefly lost my mojo. When I snapped out of my self-imposed misery I realised it was better to take part and be the best you can be even if that wasn’t perfect. I decided it was OK to be “Imperfect”.
My first post was published on the 22nd March 2017. A little later I received my first “Like” and a little after that I received a notification that I had my first follower – somebody by the name of Imperial Rebel Orc! Of all the people in the world …
It’s hard to put in to words the significance of having my first follower. I was energised and motivated but above all someone was interested in what I had to say and what I was doing. Powerful stuff and with every follower, comment and like I have received since my motivation to continue remains (so it’s your fault!). I think I must spend as much time dedicated to my blog as I do to actual modelling, possibly more!
So that’s pretty much my modelling journey to date. Hope you enjoyed the ride!
I guess the big question is where to go from here?
To Infinity and Beyond!
My first aim is to ensure there is at least another 30 years of memoirs to report!
Continuing with the blog is a no brainer. I cannot get over how much I have enjoyed blogging! It’s a niche interest and I’m never going to have a mass army of followers but I really do appreciate the ones I have. I enjoy the banter with those who wish to participate and I’m encouraged in so many ways by the things you do and the things you have to say, be it modelling specific or life in general. So brace yourself for more future posts!
This blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for modelling. One interest simply fuels the other. If the blog has any chance of being interesting, to me let alone anyone else, then the content needs to be varied and therefore my models need to be too. Quite what I will do remains to be seen but I am no longer fixated on one subject. I will always return to the Old West, there’s nothing like your first love but there is a whole world out there to explore and that’s what I intend to do.
Thanks for reading!
OH, one final photo To conclude the article!
Yours truly with SWMBO – August 2017
(taken just before she pushed me overboard!)