Monday, May 23, 2011

Bob Gould and his bookshop

I never really met Bob Gould, although I knew who he was by sight and he me served many time at the legendary Book Arcade at Newtown. I am sad to hear that he died yesterday after a fall in his shop.

I discovered the Gould’s on one of my visits to Sydney probably while walking from an ASHA Conference venue to a restaurant in Newtown. When I moved to Sydney to start my PhD it was a place that had so many difficult to find books on Australian history. I remember evening visits simply browsing for something interesting to read (along with visits to the shop in Parramatta Road Leichhardt which was a bit easier to navigate).

It was dusty, disorganised and finding a specific book in the shop remained a big challenge. I decided that the most successful finding technique was to stand and visualise the book in your third eye and start from there. This was not 100% reliable and negotiating the shelves and numerous stacks of books was not for the faint hearted or the large sized.

How much more interesting though, was the experience of shopping than going to Angus and Robertson, Dymocks or the hopeless Boarders with their uniform blandness. It was an adventure; you might even find a book you never thought you’d want to buy. There was the potential of meeting cats (there always seemed to be an opening to allow a cat in or out). There was a whole wall of classic Marxist works – I always meant to get something of Althusser’s (was it “For Marx” or “Essays on Ideology”, both were there) but managed to complete me thesis without it.

Although in recent years the shop was tidied up and Gould’s appeared on the internet the shop was still impossibly cluttered. Jane commented on this when we last were there “worse than your office, Iain” I think was the nub of it and sadly it was full of trip hazards.

I hope Gould’s continues to provide a diverse and different book shopping experience.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The First Time

BGM GY instructions

Do you remember the first time, I certainly do. For years I had been a aircraft, ship and military modeller but there were certain moral issues related to the construction of military models particularly those from the Nazi and Soviet sides (they had all the good tanks!) so my then girlfirend (now a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians) suggested a trip to the Model Railway exhibition at Camberwell and as a consequence a copy of the Australian Model Railway Magazine was bought and that lead to a decision to model Victorian Railways and inevitably to my first train model.

My first was a Broad Gauge Models GY Wagon in HO scale which I bought from Trainworld at Brighton. I don't know the name of the bloke who sold it to me back in 1982 but he also sold me the brake gear and couplers  the basic model was $6.85. He was really helpful and encouraging.

I was searching through my stuff last weekend and found what may well be the instructions for the first one so I scanned them as a curiosity.

In fact the GY was the first rolling stock model for BGM. They started in 1980 and produced a few bits and bobs before moving into importing brass models from Samhongsa (the first one was a K class) and developing a range of plastic wagon kits of which the GY was the first. Both the K and the GY were announced in late 1981.

BGM transformed the VR modelling scene by producing (virtually) RTR HO scale models of rolling stock which meant anyone could easily model the VR. 

In April 2011 David Foulkes of Steam Era Models released a retooled GY – a much improved kit based on the original BGM moulds which i think he did back in 1981-82.