Christmas is upon us again, and to mark the occasion a celebratory meal was arranged at the clubhouse.
By common consent this was of the chinese variety, notwithstanding the differences between the Gregorian and Chinese calendars.
And afterwards narrow gauge trains were deployed upstairs, possibly a world first for our N-gauge layout. Don't ever say we don't know how to have fun.
Any excuse for an SMRS party, and last Friday there were two, George's nth birthday (where n is a large positive integer, as my old maths master used to say) and of course Christmas. This time a local take-away establishment was persuaded to take-in a large order for Chinese food, to be laid out in the front lounge for a disorderly queue to form itself around.
In the rear lounge Jim disguised himself as Father Christmas (being the only one with the stomach for it, not to mention the beard) and distributed assorted hand-picked gifts. These had been thoughtfully acquired by Hilary over twelve months of industrious searching at exhibitions, swap-meets and eBay listings, to ensure we all got exactly what we needed, rather than what we actually deserved.
The chairman then gave a short speech, for which we were grateful. It reported on a successful year of club activities, acknowledged the hard work put in to make it so, and looked forward to more of the same during the coming year, no.40 in a steadily-increasing history of the society. Which Jim will write, any month now.
Some more photos are here.
Yuletide again already, and a modest celebration of the event is held at the clubrooms. For the first time ever this included freshly-prepared bacon sandwiches in addition to the usual crisps, peanuts and mince pies, evidence that the country may be going to the financial dogs but SMRS is still capable of defying the odds and having a good time. The chairman gave a speech in appropriate Churchillian tones, with a touch of Mr Grace from 'Are You Being Served?' thrown in for good measure.
And Joe celebrated not only with winning two of the three raffle prizes but also with a kiss from Mother Christmas. Which he enjoyed the most is not recorded, this being a respectable website.
Finally one must record an example of technical innovation for which the club is nearly famous, namely the illumination of the approved route to the external facilities, by a combination of a white line marking the edge of the path and a new lamp to show it up in all its reflected glory.
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Within the garden curtilage however there was much to keep us occupied. Two tracks are now in operation, although the Cripple Creek elevated 45mm line is still incomplete, with the owner and chief engineer still to get his work/life balance optimally adjusted (i.e. work 0%, life 100%). Both lines worked well however, and a succession of trains in both gauges ran all afternoon. The odd tram also, courtesy of members of the Merseyside area group of the Tramway and Light Railway Society.
Some photos are here and here.
The age profile of SMRS edges forever upwards, and tonight we marked Allan's accession to the over-sixties branch of the club. He seems destined to spend a significant part of his new-found membership complaining of blatant discrimination by West Lancashire council, who for reasons of economy have declined to issue him with a bus pass (being not held up in the adjacent photo). What makes it more irksome is that Allan's domicile is within easy walking distance of the boundary with Sefton council, who have blessed the rest of us oldies with passes which are valid for buses, trains, and (no doubt if we had any) trams as well*.
However we did our best to console him by consuming the food and drink he generously provided, and by a presentation of (a) one (1) deluxe picture-hanging set, complete with spirit level, and (b) a set of six (6) pencil sketches of scenes of Southport's Lord St, hanging set for the use of. Favourable comments were passed not only on their quality but also on the fact that they contained no visible traffic wardens.
*No, the blue plastic abomination stuck out on the end of the pier definitely does not count as a tram.
After the traditional fare one half of the attendance went into closed session to discuss the 2011 sleeper trip, planning of which is at a critical stage. This means we have generated more than enough options to thoroughly confuse all concerned, and there is an urgent need to apply a little rational realism, mainly by interpretation of the appropriate timetables. The fact that they are for the winter solstice rather than the summer, and will remain so until long past the point of no return planning-wise, only adds to the confusion.
Fortunately the application of a decent port, and the odd malt or two, soon sorted it all out. What is a little worrying is that no less than nine (9) members wish to go this year. Pity the poor organiser - should we perhaps auction off places to the highest bidders? We could do with the extra funds...
To dispel such dark and (probably) unfounded rumours, we promptly awarded ourselves another night out next month, meal included. Spending our way out of a recession is an economic strategy we could easily get used to.
The star turn, however was the weather, which seemed determined to make up for previous mild winters with a blast of ice and snow which would dent the resolve of even the most fervent global-warmist. Perhaps there is a difference between weather and climate, and one frozen robin may not make a winter of discontent, but the intent to impress was definitely there in abundance.
SMRS members were likewise summoned by Jim and Fiona to celebrate with Lancashire hotpot, Chorley cakes, Eccles cakes and assorted local beers. This was followed by videos of local steam railways in their heyday and of our own model railway exhibition in the vintage year of 1989. The latter allowed us the doubtful privilege of spotting our younger selves preserved on film, with haircuts and clothing styles to match.
The average age of SMRS members is slowly creeping up... Another member hits the 65 anniversary, with curry and cake to mark the fact.
A few photos are here.