When I returned to the fold of railway modeling in my early 20s after having misspent my youth in the traditional manner, I was quite shocked by the radicalism of certain members of the railway modeling fraternity. If you questioned what they said or thought then you were in their cross hairs. Take the mickey out of them for their shortsighted bigoted nature and that was it. If it had been Syria in the present day then you would be appearing on You Tube sans bonce.

I refer of course to the much maligned GWR enthusiast. Now at this point I’ll hold my hand up and freely admit that I’d dabbled in the past, (I didn’t inhale m’lud) but in my defence I was never radicalised, and in 1988 underwent therapy which resulted in me being declared clear of any brain washing or short sightedness when it came to actually looking anywhere else other than Swindon. The daft thing about this is that  the banter extracting the michael out of the Gas Works is pretty light hearted and meant in jest. In fact the sort of thing everyone gets in life if you follow something be it football, rugby and even brass bands. But the GWR Taliban were different – no matter how light hearted your comment was, you were a heretic, the infidel. I just couldn’t get it, its not a religion / deity / system of belief after all, its a bloody long gone railway company.

Now over the last 10 years or so a lot of these herberts seem to have either mellowed a bit, or what is more likely, shuffled off this mortal coil. I’ve felt relatively secure in being able to slip in the odd GWR piss take or two without having to look over my shoulder. My big fear principally being some copper capped, tweed semtex jacket wearing individual, clutching a Kalashnikov in one hand and a picture of Isombard Kingdom Brunel in the other, crying Churchward be praised and bent on eradicating my disbelief in the true faith once and for all.

I was somewhat amazed and worried therefore to read a letter in the house magazine of a society of which I am currently a member that a fundamentalist has resurfaced from his sleeper state to castigate (and no doubt castrate if he could) a couple of members who dared to make light of the GWR in his hearing. Now many think the SAS should be round the houses of these folk tout de suite to rid the hobby once and for all of these humourless, fanatical, myopic gits, however IS we are not. So therefore we tolerate them, we don’t display righteous indignation if someone takes the mickey out of our favourite things, we smile and we give back as good as we get, and usually all in good humour. Comedians actually make a living out of doing this I’d point out.

And at the end of the day its only toy trains, not life or death. Get a life, or get another hobby.

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