Saturday, 7 January 2012

Crash-test Dummies

Bad weather during summer while on holiday at a known beach town should be against the law.  As soon as we arrived we checked the weather report for the next ten days - from "squally, with a chance of rain", to "storms and high winds", to "you would be mad to venture out in this - mwa ha ha!".  It didn't look hopeful.

Luckily, however, we discovered that there was a model train display in town for a few days, and, being in a hall, it would at least be a sheltered option.  There was also always the likelihood that Thomas (the tank-engine) would crop up somewhere in the proceedings, so it was a relatively safe bet for entertainment purposes.  We loaded everyone up and set off. 

I love children's honesty, but it really puts you in a terrible predicament at times.  My lot are going through a "that is the best/biggest/most exciting thing I have ever seen" phase.  Wonderful for me when they declare passionately "Mama, you are the most beautiful lady I have ever met!"  Not so good when, on the way into the hall, they exclaim in loud tones "Look at that fat man! In fact (another thing they seem to say a lot recently), that is the fattest man I've ever seen!"  Not really much you can do to put it right after that.

With that many trains in one small place, there has to be something of interest for a boy, and mine were no different.  I was amazed by the sheer ingenuity of the designers of the small country-sides through which the trains travel, intricate down to the last scale detail, like small birds, mountaineers on the hillsides and farm animals inthe farm.  All of the guys displaying their trains have the same fanatical gleam in their eyes, eyes which show the child that has never grown up.  Insignificant pieces of thread are strung up to keep the kids back, but unfortunately are not equal to the task, especially when the train on offer is an entire Thomas set, complete down to the fat controller. I am always amazed how a seemingly inarticulate child (not mine, obviously) will show signs of knowing every single one of the trains in a Thomas set - it's like they absorb it from the other kids around them by osmosis (I know for a fact that mine have not spent ages watching Thomas, yet as soon as we got there, they were able to point out everything by name.  Even the tractor - I didn't even know there was a tractor in Thomas).

There was even a display where they boys were able to drive the trains themselves.  I was a bit nervous, especially when the man operating it said "Slow down on the corners" and they both made it their mission to go as fast as possible at  these times and slow down immediately afterwards.  As a reward for acquitting themselves on the tracks they were given a choice of three certificates with pictures of different trains on them.  "Which train would you like, my boy?" asked the man indulgently, pointing at the pictures.  Ah, obviously a novice at dealing with children.  Wording is everything.  My boy reached across the all of the certificates and lifted the real model train off the tracks.  "I'll have this one," he said with glee.

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