I Went All the Way With Zim – to the Eastern Suburbs Swap and Sell and Back
Let’s leave aside the fact that I stood in the wrong place when Zim cane to pick me up. I’m guilty, I admit it, but anyone who expects my brain to be in anything but neutral gear at 6.30 in the morning is expecting the unnatural. (If this makes no sense you haven’t read the President’s comments.)
Let’s also leave aside the fact that a couple of days before the event an old friend from Perth rang to say that he and his wife were over from the West and wanted to come and see us on Sunday, so I could only go to the Eastern Suburbs swap and sell if we got back to Ballarat by 1 in the afternoon.
Apart from those things, it was a very delightful day…
If you haven’t travelled in any of the Zimmobiles you have missed something. He has this vast American car that I’ve had the pleasure of going to an Eastern Suburbs event in, but this time he turned up in his Jaguar, a great lumbering thing from the past, older perhaps than many MoBsters, but a true delight to travel in. Partly it’s the delight of the wood panelling, the solid looking toggle switches, the spaciousness and the comfy leather seats. Partly it’s the way the car sits on the road, with a sense of British majesty. And partly it’s the sound of the engine rumbling away like a mini-Merlin, steady and powerful at about 200 horsepower, so Zim tells me. It’s not the informal luxury of your modern cars with all the bells and whistles that even my humble 2003 Falcon has (I had to sit in the drive and read the manual for half an hour to figure out what one of the beeping sounds meant), this Jaguar has a much more formal and comfortable feeling of days gone by. I could go on about this for some time, but perhaps I’d best get on with recounting the events of the day. Suffice it to say, if Zim offers to take you for a ride in his car, think about it.
We cruised through the pre-dawn landscape with me feeling as pleased as a MoBster at the Wong emporium. There was enough light to see the landscape and the fog sitting on the ground. The sun rose just as we were coming down the escarpment into Bacchus Marsh, which was fine until we turned off the freeway at Melton to get to the Calder Freeway. We were heading directly in the sun that was sitting just above the horizon and I was glad that Zim was driving and I wasn’t. He probably felt the same way. I was also glad that Zim was driving because he knew where he was going, and I didn’t. I recognised Bell Street when we drove along it and also Box Hill where all the signs are in foreign languages and the Tax Office is just around the corner. Next thing I knew, we pulled into the car park opposite the hall where the swap and sell was to take place. The previous time I’d been there we were greeted with the sight of an oriental gentleman doing his exercises, this time we were greeted with the sight of a vast American automobile about the same vintage as Zim’s Jaguar.
Did I mention the snags and onion wrapped in a bit of white bread and smothered in tomato sauce that Eastern Suburbs sets up just outside of the door so the scent wafts in? Irresistable! I had two.
There was also plenty of time to wander around and see what others are selling. Usually it’s all military stuff which doesn’t attract me much these days, but this time one of the sellers had a big pile of Revell 1/144 airliners. I relieved him of three Airbus A.320 kits, you can never have enough A.320s. (Doing this reminded me that I shouldn’t look down upon those who make nothing but Fw190s or P-47s because I do the same thing. But, of course, A.320s are much prettier than those models. That’s all I’m saying …)
When the doors were opened in previous years to the paying public they had come crashing in like a tiday wave. This time it was like a trickle, perhaps the economic conditions of the time means that folks have less spare cash, or something like that. Even so, as time passed there were enough people to keep me busy though I seemed to spend more time talking to people than taking their money. There was one modeller who relieved me of a Mach 2 kit and told me that he didn’t see what people were on about when they whinged about Mach 2. He promised that if he made it up to our Display Day he would bring along the Mach 2 model he had made to show what could be done. (In fact, quite a few people mentioned that they would see me at our Display so we must be making an impression on the modelling community.) I also had a good time talking with the modeller who also raided the pile of Revell airliners, and wondered why there weren’t any A.320s there. I didn’t tell him they were all sitting under my table.
By about a quarter to 11 the frenzy had died away and it was time to pack up and head off if I was going to meet my afternoon appointment. When I put my remaining kits back in their bags I discovered that, while I had arrived with three bags, I went home with two. I also found that there was a nice little pile of notes in my money box that hadn’t been there when we arrived. Quite a satisfactory result.
The traffic was a bit heavier when we headed back Ballarat and Zim’s response to some of the driving was all that one could hope for. It took us an hour to get from Box Hill to Melton with traffic all the way. Then we were on the Western Freeway, hurtling along with the sound of the engine louder than on our way down because of what Zim called the British air conditioning – the windows were open. One word for the experience is exhilarating, sort of like being in a sports car but with a roof. Zim tells me that his Jaguar has the same engine as the E-Type, so this might have been as close as I will ever get to driving in an E-type. I felt a bit like Emma Peel hurtling along the freeway with the wind blowing through my hair. At one stage we passed a red Ferrari driven by a short, balding middle aged chap. There’s a word for that kind of thing.
Before I knew it we were back in Ballarat and I was standing by the road with my two bags of kits beside me, and the sound of the Jaguar motor still ringing in my ears. What fun.
Our Expo Expedition
Your collective of excellent reporters decided to go to Expo again this year. We reckoned that if we went with no expectations we wouldn=t be disappointed. So, with bags of kits to sell at the swap and sell on the Monday, we set off at about seven in the morning, heading for the Sandown Racecourse on the other side of Melbourne. In previous years we have amused ourselves on the trip with readings from the thoughts of Pythagoras and by playing the music of our esteemed parton, but this year we were entertained by repeats of the Orson Wells radio series from the 1930s, The Shadow. Part of the entertainment was in realising how politically correct we are these days and part came from the advertisements of the program=s sponsor, Blue Coal which was, so the announcer told us, the best anthracite mined in Pennsylvania. “Ask for it by name”. I wondered what the ads would have sounded like if truth in advertising had existed in the 1930s.
Thus entertained we cruised down to Melbourne in the Statesperson. We reckoned that the trip would take about two hours, so we aimed to arrive at Sandown about fifteen minutes after the queue of vendors had trundled their way into the hall. The trip went more smoothly and quickly than we had expected so we still ended up standing in the queue, but at the head of it for a change. Once inside, it didn=t take long to set up our piles of kits and then we took turns in wandering around looking at what other vendors of kits had to offer, and at what prices. Some vendors were modest in their offerings while others had great wall of kits carefully stacked so high that it was impossible to see the person standing behind them. I had a couple of little kits on my shopping list but not one of them was to be found in all the thousands of kits, which was a disappointment. On the other hand, there were a few kits that I hadn=t expected to buy, but a man can never have too many Airbus A.320 or BAC Lightning kits.
At the appointed time the doors were flung open and the crowd sludged in. In previous years the crowd had surged in, but this year the numbers seemed less, or perhaps they were less desperate than previously because they knew that the days of really cheap bargains had long passed. As usual, the crowd circulates in a clockwise direction, which meant that it took some time for them to circulate around to our table. Sales seemed less enthusiastic than in previous years but, on the other hand, there were plenty of friends and nodding acquaintances from previous modelling shows to talk to to pass the time. And when it was time to pack up and head off, there were a lot less kits than we=d started with. Master Wayne had no kits at all, having found a heartless huckster who took his remaining kits off his hands at what could only be called “carpetbagger” prices.
Downstairs in the Expo hall things were buzzing along. There seemed greater crowds than in previous years and also more models on the display tables. First I went around the edge of the hall where all the sellers were, spending most money with the lady who sells the modelling tools. The best thing I bought was a new magnifying glass on a stand to help me see things that my old and failing eyes can no longer see without help. Frank Morgan was sitting behind his ModelArt Australia table and we had an interesting conversation about the state of the hobby. Next to him was Mr Hawkeye who makes and sells a magnificent range of decals for Australian airliners. He showed me the artwork for decal sets he intends to release in the coming year; there is a lot of work ahead of me if I=m to keep up with him. After that I wandered around the hall, swapping a few words with people I knew and taking in the displays. There were a few more entrants than usual in the airliner category and also a display put on by the newly formed civil aviation web forum, so there was also a lot more than usual for me to enjoy. There were also some very lavish club displays that made me wonder about the amount of energy that had been expended on them. Finally I came across the usual display of trophies lined up in their legions, ready to be dispensed to proud modellers later in the day.
After an hour or so of wandering about Expo I headed off towards the railway station next to the racecourse. I have a dear friend in Perth I have not seen for years but who has come to Melbourne twice this year. He has exquisite timing so his first visit coincided with the Eastern Suburbs sway and sell and his second visit coincided with Expo. We=d arranged to meet in Richmond for a cup of coffee and a chat and I=d seen that there was a railway station just near the racecourse and the line from there into the city ran through Richmond. What could be simpler. Leaving a good amount of time to catch the train I headed from the Expo hall straight towards the station, but what the maps didn=t show me was the fences and the other obstacles between the door to the hall and the station platform. As a result I found out where the horse boxes, the exercise yards and the horse float parking areas are at Sandown, and the big green fence that separates all this from the railway station. While I was finding out all about this a train went by, and then another. Eventually I found my way back to where I=d started and then, finally to the railway station. I wondered why the train was so full on a public holiday, and why most of the passengers were wearing black and white scarves, but when I started to get off at the Richmond Station so did everyone else. Then I remembered that Collingwood and Melbourne were playing just around the corner at the MCG. There were even more footy fans in the streets of Richmond, some of them even Melbourne supporters. Working my way through this throng I found my way to the coffee and book shop in Swan Street where Grant was waiting. But that is another story.
Report on MoB Bus Trip 20 September 2014
Editorial Note: The following document was sent to me by an anonymous and untraceable email. I am not sure why it came to me but since it has, and since it appears to have been written by one of our members on the recent bus trip I’m publishing it. It is contemporaneous and somewhat nebulous but this means I don’t have to write a report too.
As directed, and to further investigate this possiblysubversive cell ofthe ‘modelling’ fraternity, I arranged passage on the annualso called ‘Modellers of Ballarat’ bus trip to Melbourne to conduct surveillance on the cell’s members. I arrived at the designated departure point shortly before the departure time without notice and the vehicle departed at 0758.
In order to observe the activities of cell members I secured a seat at the rear of the vehicle in order to see and hear everything that took place. Unfortunately, my ability to overhear conversations between cell members was thwarted when ‘Z’, the driver, played old Rolling Stones music at such a high volume that hearing anything else was impossible.
At 0830 ‘Z’ turned the bus off the freeway at Bacchus Marsh and stopped at a nearby shopping centre to pick up another cell member, ‘S”, and we departed again immediately. ‘S’ sat at the front of the vehicle next to ‘Z’ where they were able to conspire privately, their conversation masked by many of the Rolling Stones greatest hits.
The vehicle arrived at Deer Park at 0900 and cell members disembarked to attend premises called Andrew’s Hobbies. This is a known location of suspect unlawful modelling activity that can be reached only up an unsavoury set of very steep stairs. It was noted that although cell members said they intended to visit the indicated shop the upper level of the building also accommodates an even more suspect business masquerading as a Tax Agents’.
I was unable to investigate thislead further as I had to follow one of the subjects, ‘P’ who was seen to soon depart the alleged hobby premises and enter a so-called bakery where he ordered two pantries of French origin. They were handed to him in a suspect plain paper bag but before it was possible for me to investigate the contents of the bag he ate them.
The contingent boarded the vehicle again and departed Deer Park at 0920. Although 20 minutes had been spent there, there was little evidence of any legitimate activity taking place, as indicated by the small amount of shopping that had taken place.
The vehicle then proceeded along the Ring Road towards the city but pulled off and drove through a seedy industrial area before making its next rendevous at a premises titled “Battlefield Hobbies”. Suspicion was immediately raised because, although the vehicle arrived at 0935 which is well after normal opening hours, the proprietor professed to be no knowledge of the assignation and claimed that, because of this, some of the material cell members might like to inspect was still in an upstairs room away from public view. A number of cell members were seen to attend this upstairs room but no purchases from it were seen to be made. This alleged business is conducted from a very small premises with a number of very tightly stacked shelves forming small aisles so it is not possible to observe all subjects at the same time and it is highly likely that conversations and exchanges of material might have taken place without this agent having witnessed them. In any event, it appeared that cell members found more to interest them in this location and quite a lot of material in unmarked bags was placed in the back of the vehicle before departure, which took place at 0958.
The vehicle was then driven along freeways, main roads and other carriageways in a manner designed to confuse the vehicle’s passengers, including this agent so they were unable to ascertain their whereabouts. At 1030 the vehicle pulled up in a nondescript industrial estate for a short period. ‘P’ and ‘Z’ then declared they were mistaken about their location, and departed again without additional explanation. Two minutes later, at 1032, the vehicle was driven to the rear of yet another block of unremarkable industrial buildings, to an alleged business which was not listed among the tenants on the roadside sign. As the image here shows, there is also virtually no other signage associated with this premises so only those who know about it are able to attend it.
This location should be a subject of intense scrutiny by the Agency, if it isn’t already. It is unlike any other so called ‘hobby shop’ that this cell associates itself with. I draw attention to the name given to, ‘Hobby HQ, which indicates that it may play a key role in the activities of this possibly insurgent movement.
Although the exterior of this location is nondescript, even anonymous, the interior is not. The photograph below gives some indication of its size and organisation and, like the two previous places visited, this one also has an upstairs area reachable only by an unobtrusive set of stairs. I was unable to ascend to gain access to the upstairs area with a view to reporting on what may be secreted there, there was more than enough at ground level requiring investigation. There is a very large variety of items on the shelves, much more than is found in any normal so called ‘hobby shop’, creating suspicion into what may be the contents of many of the more obscure boxes. However, since these boxes are all shrink-wrapped it was not possible to investigate the contents of any of them without creating undue suspicion. I would also point out that the alleged proprietor of this ‘Hobby HQ’ appeared to be very well informed about his stock, well beyond level of knowledge of the staff in any other ‘hobby shop’, and that he was observed to direct various cell members towards particular boxes in out of the way corners of the premises. This level of service is highly suspicious and may suggest the distribution of particular unauthorised articles to specific subjects under the guise of offering good service.
It was clear that members of this group were highly motivated to obtain as much of the material in this, location which might best be described as a warehouse. Many of the items acquired were very large and it would be legitimately reasonable to speculate about what might really be contained in those very large boxes if they were not kits of models, as cell members alleged. The picture above is indicative of the amount of material that had been stored in the rear of the vehicle the visit to this location.
All cell members boarded the vehicle and it departed this location at 1115. It was then driven, with varying degrees of vigour, along more main roads, freeways and suburban thoroughfares in a manner designed to confuse passengers as to their whereabouts. At 11.28 the medley of Rolling Stones songs being played was replaced by a medley of popular Led Zeppelin songs. At this juncture I became aware of the possibility that ‘Z’ was communicating with some cell members in coded messages that I was not party too. Also at 11.28, for example, he yelled out the word ‘Tosser’ and the rest of the group burst into laughter. Later I heard ‘Z’ past comments of a possibly libelous nature about the drivers of Porches and to cast aspersions on the mental capacities of SUV drivers. It is possible that he might also have said, at a later time, that, to quote him; ‘Commodore drivers had already got what they deserved.’ I must admit to considering the possibility that I misheard this because I cannot understand what it might mean.
At 11.48 the vehicle pulled into a hidden parking lot behind some shops in a part of the city that I was unable to identify. We were then led around another ‘hobby shop’ called Metro Hobbies. I understand from an overheard conversation that this shop was once run down and seedy, as many venues of this kind have traditionally been, but that it has recently been taken over by an international cartel of an undisclosed nature. As a result, it now appears to be a reputable and prosperous business which is also very popular with a particular class of clientele. In comparison with our previous stop, which had been vast, apparently overstocked and devoid of customers, this location had a much more limited range, much more cramped facilities and was, yet, swarming with alleged ‘customers’. I regret to have to report that, due to the crowded condition of this location, I was unable to report on any possibly unauthorised activities taking place. It came to my attention that one of the so called shop assistants at these premises might have been consuming illicitsubstances, as indicated by his impaired decision making facilities. The build up of a queue also suggests the inability of the shop assistant to undertake his duties due to his impaired decision making capability. My suspicions were also aroused by the unusually large number of clients atthis location which suggests that it might be a front for other activities of a possibly unauthorised nature, rather than only ‘hobby materials’.
With its full compliment ofsubjects on board and Led Zeppelin playing loudly the vehicle departed at 1223 and headed off in an apparently random direction through the pretty leafy eastern suburbs (please pardon the unaccountable burst of poetry). Without warning ‘Z’ pulled up outside an alleged and nondescript fish and chip shop in the Stradbroke Shopping Centre at 1238. Only some of the cell members entered to buy what they claimed was food that came wrapped in suspicious plain white paper bundles.
Proceeding from that point at 1302 ‘Z’ then drove the vehicle through Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs which may have included Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton. These are all places known for their subversive and unsavoury characters and personalities. Fortunately the vehicle only stopped at traffic lights, but there were plenty of them. Only one photograph is included here to give an indication of the depravity of this area. One can only speculate at to what the young woman inside the window was selling.
Eventually the vehicle was parked in central Melbourne at 1333 and cell members fed the parking metre sufficient to pay for two hours. At this point the group broke up with cell members wandering off in apparently uncoordinated directions. Most of them went first to ‘Hylands Bookshop’ which is almost as suspect as previous bookshops I’ve seen. The entrance to this shop is no more than a doorway in the wall providing access to a stairway and it reminded me of many happy hours spent photographing the comings and goings at the Third World Bookshop in the good old days. But I digress…
Following this visit many of the subjects made their way to an equally unsavoury establishment called ‘Showcase Hobbies’ which was, like the bookshop, hidden from public view up flights of stairs in another dilapidated buildings. Security is much tighter at this location with access controlled through lift access only. While the bookshop was vast, this ‘hobby shop’ is tiny and possibly ideal for covert meetings of the Central Committee. This possibility was given credence by an examination of the items visible on the shelves which would be attractive to a connoisseur of ‘scale modelling’ rather than the mass produced items available at most other ‘hobby shops’ so that it is likely that only those fully indoctrinated into this insidious plot would find them attractive. I also observed that several cell members acquired what they termed ‘very desirable’ items at this location.
As the group dispersed I decided to follow ‘P’ and ‘D’ who appeared to wander aimlessly. In reality, however, they made for another well knownalleged ‘hobby shop’ called ‘Hearns’ Hobbies’. For once their plans were thwarted as the shop was closed. However, undeterred, they then went directly to the equally notorious ‘Victorian Hobby Centre’. It appears that this operation has now been taken over by the same global conglomerate that control one of the previously visited location and now goes under the same name, ‘Metro Hobbies’. Like the previously visited premises of the same name, this one was also full of customers. It is well known in the Agency that young men are lured into ‘scale modelling using the lures of sex and drugs and rock & roll (I wish – editorial interpolation) so just as it appears that the real business of the previously visited ‘Metro Hobbies’ was drugs, the main attraction of this location of the same name is sex. This is a new venture for ‘scale modelling. and this is the first time that I have seen a so called ‘hobby shop’ with a number of young men inside looking at the kits on the shelves and a number of young and generally attractive young women waiting outside to lure them to their unhappy fates.
After a short visit to this venue ‘P’ and ‘D’ wandered back towards the location of the vehicle. This appeared to be an innocent walk but the streets were crowded with a thick crowd disguised as football fans providing ideal conditions for a drop-off. At one point the subjects were accosted by a man wearing a Port Adelaide jumper who asked them to wish him luck. This appeared to be a chance encounter but I observed that they did not tell the man in question that he was walking in the opposite direction to that which would be required for him to get to the football ground.
After this incident little else of interest occurred. The vehicle departed the city centre at 1534 with all cell members on board. At 1619 the medley of Led Zeppelin songs concluded and songs performed by The Who commenced. ‘S’ left the vehicle at Bacchus Marsh at 1632 and it continued without further interruption to the Bakery Hill car park in Ballarat where it arrived at 1711. Members of the group then dispersed rapidly.
Although members of this cell are very well rehearsed in their cover identities I believe that the occurrence of many suspicious events observed during this surveillance suggest that further investigation of this cell is necessary.
RECOMMENDATIONS for follow-up actions
1. The premises known as ‘Hobby HQ’ should be of particular interest to the Agency and I believe that I am well placed to undertake that research as I have a well established identity in ‘scale modelling’ circles and would not come under suspicion. The Agency will need to advance me a considerable amount of funds to be spent there in order to give strong cover to my research.
2. The Agency should be very seriously concerned about the way in which ‘scale modelling’ is now so openly using the morally depraved lures of sex and drugs to draw innocent young men into its subversive activities. This development threatens the very basis of civilized society and could lead to moral decline on a level not seen since the final days of the Roman Empire. I believe that my cover as a member of this movement puts me in an ideal position to undertake further in-depth research into these activities, no matter how distasteful I might find this work personally..