In My Father’s Words
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
The Toy Fair
Jonathon is a friend and has been since the early 1990’s. He lives up the road a bit In number 18 and I live in flats opposite number 58.
Jonathon is only 59 but has ME, a disease, I think, of the nervous system. It is sometimes called the tiredness disease. No, I don’t know what ME stands for either.
It must be ten years now since Jonathon retired from HSBC on a medical pension. Thank God he rarely seems to be too affected by his condition and keeps himself occupied with varied interests and ‘work related projects.’ These include selling books and if you go to a book fair in Surrey, you could easily bump into Jonathon. However, with what seems to be the inexorable advance of the digital age, he is widening his activities.
I have often helped him with his book fairs, mainly as a humper and someone to watch the store when he wanders off.
Recently he said, ‘Fancy coming to a toy fair?’
‘’Well,’ I thought, ‘that might be different.’’
‘Yes, all right,’ I said.
So, on a bright morning in November, we landed up at Sandown Park Racecourse. It was a bit too bloody early for me at 7.15 but there you go.
There were a great many cars all jostling for the best parking spot and we were lucky enough to get within a cricket pitch length of the doors through which we began unloading at 7.30. At 8 AM the punters began to arrive.
Jonathon was selling model kits, mostly aircraft, but a few ships and cars as well. There were many stands of varying sizes, totalling somewhere between 100 and 150. There was also a great deal of noise and bustle of people.
After we had the stand organised, we took it in turn to wander off, for a coffee or to visit the gents.
I had before arriving had the impression that this was for children, but the little people were in very short order. This was a fair for adults, not ankle snappers. It would have been wrong to call it an adult toy fair as that summon up all kinds of unpleasant images.
There were model trains, some with the most accurately modelled rolling stock. Some dealers, perhaps better called exhibitors, sat in the middle of their allocated space and sent trains circling around the tables while they changed points and signals electrically.
Some vendors, like Jonathon, sold model kits, many of them thirty or forty years old, and never opened. I remembered my own days as a modeller and hanging aircraft from the ceiling in my bedroom. My mother was very patient only occasionally reminding me to dust them
Model ships, some splendidly arraigned with blossoming white sails were here and there. These monsters were up to six feet in length.
Model soldiers, complete with tanks and artillery, fought historic wars.
Dolls and teddy bears smiled or grinned enticingly at the customers.
There were ancient copies of the Dandy and the Beano, to say nothing of the Eagle, Hotspur and Rover. Dan Dare is still an iconic figure apparently.
We got away about 3.30 in the afternoon, Jonathon happy with his day’s taking of over £300. As the boy, I had been unable to discuss the finer points of the 1/72 scale Junkers 52 from Airfix, but I had enjoyed myself.
Something did strike me at this toy fair. Children, as defined by age, formed perhaps 1% of the visitors and women maybe 5%. The remaining 94% were all men and of those, almost all were over 60 years of age.
What did I buy? I paid a couple of quid for a DVD of the 1960’s film, The Night of the Generals.
Written by my Father B.M