A couple of weekends ago I went to the BMFA Power Nationals. The “Nats”, as we cognoscenti call it, is the premier event in the UK for powered model planes (oh, and helicopters *raspberry*). It takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, it’s held on an RAF airfield near Grantham and attracts people from all over the place, even Canterbury which is my neck of the woods.
Upward of three thousand people attend which makes it a great venue for getting rid of the stuff you’ve been dragging around for years. I mean, who better to sell your surplus aeromodelling gear to than a bunch of blokes who, an all likelihood, have sheds filled to the brim with surplus aeromodelling tat?
The event programme said the “Giant Swapmeet” was scheduled to start at 8 AM on the Sunday. I rolled up at the venue at 7:30 AM thinking I’d get there early to make sure I secured a decent pitch, only to find the swapmeet in full swing. I made my way through the cordon into a sectioned-off part of the airfield’s taxiway and was lucky enough to find an empty pitch.
Amongst the things I’d decided to get rid of was a knee-high pile of model magazines from the last four decades. Not many people really wants old model mags—most modellers have piles of them themselves—but it seemed a shame to throw them into the recycling bin. I decided I’d give them away and ask for donations to charity. I wrote a sign saying
I put an empty plastic lunchbox next to the pile and stuck the sign on it.
To my surprise the magazines attracted lots of attention. Most people stopped and leafed through a few then moved on but a fair number became more engrossed.
There were the ones who meticulously sifted through the pile, often referring to grubby notebooks they pulled from their pockets. In every case they gave a grunt of disappointment and moved on without taking a single magazine. ‘Ah, collectors,’ thinks I.
Others would build a small pile in front of themselves and then ask how much they were.
I’d point at the sign and say, “Donations. I’m suggesting fifty pence per mag.”
At that a few dropped coins in the box and took their magazines, others snorted and abandoned their pile.
The weirdest though was the guy who read the sign then collected a pile of about ten magazines which he waved at me and said, “I’ll give you fifty pence for all these.”
I said, “It’s for charity. Make whatever donation you feel is right.”
He grimaced, scratched around in his wallet, and tossed some coins in the box.
“I’ve put in a bit extra,” he said.
When I counted the coins later, amongst the pound coins and fifty pence pieces, I found an extra twenty pence.