The start of a new year brings forth hopes for the future and a review of the preceding twelve months. In that context, I want to look at model railways and ask the question: "are we mad"?
If I review the past twelve months I can see that I spent quite a bit of money on the hobby of model railways. It was in the thousands of dollars rather than the tens of thousands but nevertheless it was a sizeable proportion of disposable income that I could have perhaps spent more wisely elsewhere (or not spent it all and saved it for my future retirement). Moreover, I have even been contemplating some home renovations with a model railway purpose shimmering away in the not too distant playground of my mind - utter madness surely!
In addition, in 2017 I spent money going to exhibitions (all but one being in another state) and a model railway convention in the United States. Sure, in the US, I caught up with friends and new acquaintances but funnily enough they were all largely associated with the hobby of model railways. I saw some prototype rail action as well as I followed a section of line between small midwest rural towns in southern Minnesota.
During the past year, my leisure time comprised of many things but model railways was not far from the action. This included actually working on the model railway; thinking, planning, researching and making adjustments to the model railway; running trains and the odd op. session on the model railway; and spending countless hours over the course of the year just staring at the model railway. I am also involved with the local NMRA Division and a member of two Special Interest Groups (SIGs), plus a couple of prototype railway associations. Sadly, the amount of time spent on my blogs in 2017 was almost non-existent so I don't need to worry about time spent there.
Naturally, there was plenty of reading and viewing of model railway and prototype railway subjects. This took the form of magazines; blogs; several disparate book chapters (and maybe a whole book every now and then); and countless Youtube videos (including video subscription services such as Model Railroader's Video Plus) and DVDs. I even got train DVDs for Christmas.
Throughout the year, conversations were also littered with talk about model railways; about trains; DCC and op. sessions; industries and history; and the usual banter about model railway personalities. Most of these conversations were positive, but some were just plain frustrating (DCC in particular).
Finally, there was all that time and money spent in actually buying things for the model railway. Some times this took the form of need, but many times it took the form of "just in case" (the "strike while the iron is hot" mentality many of us grew up with in the days of low run production of kits). And when I say "need", I don't mean it in the economic sense that distinguishes between wants and needs; I mean it in the sense of I need that item (often a locomotive) for the model railway as I just can't get by without it. And in keeping with the view that well-worn sayings originate in truth, then "whoever has the most locomotives wins" must surely be right!
In conclusion, upon looking at the evidence and weighing up the facts of the matter, there can be no other answer to the question: "Are we mad"? - the answer is definitively YES.