There’s no finance angle – it’s a snapshot of an early retiree going along for the ride at a trade show, something I used to do at work. It was good just being a grunt, rather than the organ grinder
One of the odd things about retirement is doing something that reminds me of my working life, but in a different context. I’ve done enough trade shows for work, both as a visitor but also as an exhibitor. Things like that don’t fall naturally to an introvert. Engineers often become engineers because they are better with things than with people 😉 But you can learn. And so it was that I had a very minor walk-on part on a stand at the Royal Bath & West show in the imagineering tent.
The show itself is an agricultural show, so there’s the usual bits of horsing about, and exhibits of sheep and pigs. Some of the vintage vehicles were pretty neat. Farming kit aplenty, and it would have been a good place to load up on wellies if you are going to the Glastonbury mudfest in a few weeks.
the train set was fun
I was lucky enough to be there early in the show’s run, an agricultural show can get pretty high when the weather is warm 😉
Imagineering is all about introducing kids to engineering. I’d never heard the word before, though it has a half-century history in the States. Personally I had been pretty cynical about the idea. I’m of the view that if the interest is there, it will out. I learned a fair amount of electronics from picking TVs out of skips (people were throwing out their B&W full-size TVs in the 1970s as they replaced them with colour TVs) and scavenging the parts1. I learned from books and magazines that were written for adults.
The head honcho of the stand I was on was doing most of the schmoozing and pressing of the flesh, and I observed with great pleasure how this was done right, and great pleasure that this was not my responsibility 😉 Often in the FIRE scene peple say they miss the feeling of making things happen or being of influence. I just don’t have the Calvinist gene, I was happy being a fly on the wall.
I also took the time out to have a look at some of the other Imagineering stands, and perhaps the cynical mustelid heart softened a little.
I was on the lookout for ideas and how other people bigged up their stands – movement and blinkenlights were an easy win. There were a couple I couldn’t get a picture of – Augusta Westland helicopters had a great demo of the Bernoulli effect with a blower and a ball and some paper helicopter rotor models.
Because I have never worked in Somerset, I have no real idea of the big organisations and employers. It appears there are quite a few engineering companies in Bristol2. I am also amazed at the very high presence of the military. RNAS Yeovilton saves the region I live from the daily pest that is jet aircraft noise that infests most of the UK and was an increasing problem over Ipswich, but the downside is noise from the occasional helicopters and general aviation. These tend to not go on too late at night, however, unlike jet aircraft from Stansted which sometimes went on past midnight and started up before six am. Anyway, back to the military – it has a much higher profile both in that there must be a lot of companies in the Bristol area in the supply chain. And it seems to be recruiting in a big way. I’ve been used to the military scaling down – Suffolk had a lot of USAF airbases that were being decommissioned after the Berlin wall fell, I certainly don’t recall such a strong presences at the Suffolk show.
There were a fair few punters there and they did seem to get some of the kids involved pushing and pulling things. I was surprised at the scale of the Imagineering tent. Perhaps some of these youngsters will grow up to work in the field. Maybe there is a better way than the way I learned 😉 I didn’t miss being the organ-grinder in the thick of things one little bit. I’ve done my time, and it was good to watch others do the schmoozing that I used to have to do against the grain.
- That wouldn’t work so well nowadays, because then consumer electronics was built out of largely general-purpose parts that you could re-use. Nowadays the level of integration is much higher and components are smaller, there aren’t going to be any street urchins repurposing SMD passive components, never mind a ball-grid array. I was fortunate enough to be dealing with components that had colour coded bands and vacuum tubes that you could often work out the pins and function by inspections. On the other side of the balance, nowadays many things are to be had from China cheaply and new, and test equipment is far cheaper. ↩
- Bristol is not Somerset, but is the largest nearby conurbation ↩