The roulette wheel is spinning and it’s Just too tempting to throw down the chips on the first number that enters your head. Words: Paul Dale

used to know a couple who went on holiday

every year to Las Vegas. Having taken the

decision not to have children. they used the considerable surplus from their management jobs to gamble their way through the fake Venetian waterways of the desert mecca. They were as boastful of their losses as their winnings and I often strained to see the point of such regulatory self-torture. That was. of course. until I decided to visit a casino myself.

Being a man who has run the full gamut of adult addictions I have always been shy of this vice. Thus my knowledge of the croupier‘s trade was next to zero.

I was thinking Bobby DeNiro in Casino, but I

looked more like Jimmy

tarbuck after a golfing tournament in Fiji.

First there was the preparation. Due to British gaming laws membership has to be applied for 24 hours before your first visit with appropriate ID. Then there is the dress code; most casinos operate along smart casual lines. so I thought pressed Farrahs. basket-weave loafers and a batik shirt would put a bit of cut into my gib. I was thinking Bobby De Niro in Casino, but by the time I was ready I looked more like Jimmy


Exhausted, stressed out and fed up? Daily grind getting you down? Don’t call the Samaritans, better join a model

railway club. Words: Allan Radcliffe

he annual Perth Model Railway Exhibition is in full swing. There are fifteen vast displays laid out around the City Hall. operated by club representatives from all over Scotland. Some models are based

Tarbuck after a golfing tournament in Fiji.

Set along Leith's slowly redeveloping docks. Cascades is Edinburgh‘s newest and most accessible casino for the newcomer. Plain fronted with a slight touch of neon. it immediately comforted me that it was not the hang out of men with spaghetti stains on their Hawaiian shirts and baseball bats in their lockers. Aware of my ignorance. my guide Pauline explains odds. evens. splits. corners. minimum stakes and the general etiquette of the roulette table. Then she shows me how to play Black Jack on one of the demonstration tables. We wander and talk and I realise I don’t want her to leave me; I‘m scared to go it alone in this new world. but leave she must and for a while I sit at the bar nursing a drink and watching Dr No.

Finally I start on the electronic roulette. I bet erratically following the touch-screen instructions. L'sing pound coins with 20p stakes. I manage to lose £5. With only £20 to spend I

am a quarter down already. Something has happened to me. though. I am beginning to relax and enjoy myself. I wander up to a roulette table. I take £10 in coloured chips and start betting like an amateur. throwing singles down on splits and comers or numbers that pass through my head. Within minutes I have lost everything and do my best to walk away from my stool in a nonchalant manner. Realising that I do not really have enough to play a decent game of Black Jack. I watch for a bit then play on the fruit machines and its back to the electronic roulette for a bit of solitary betting. A drink and a tip in the barman‘s dish and that's me I walk out squinting into the sunlight vowing to return if I win that Reader's Digest Prize draw.

on real stations. like Drem on the East Coast Main Line. which has been captured in all its former glory by modellers from East Neuk. but the majority are elaborate works of fiction. There‘s even a Lego railway display. ‘for the kids' apparently. though most of the kids gathered excitedly around these displays seem well beyond the target age.

As well as exhibiting the fruits of each club's labour. the event attracts exhibitors from rail preservation trusts and museums. specialist traders pedalling transport books. videos and individual train set items: lines. points. buildings. bushes. even lakes. streams and waterfalls. But. it can be an expensive business. A basic train set one locomotive. a few carriages. track - costs up to £70 and dedicated modellers own thousands of pounds of equipment.

Stan Morg is the exhibition manager and a member of the Perth Model Railway Club. which has been meeting since the early 605. He attends

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fifteen exhibitions annually and. as he points out. the hobby embraces a number of different skills and enthusiasms.

What does he feel are the attractions of the hobby? 'I use the hobby as a release from the stresses of daily life. If I've had a bad day at work. I come home. growl at the wife. then disappear into the garage and forget about everything else. I can be there for three hours and when I come out I'm fine. it‘s like a release.‘

18 TH. LIST 5-‘9 Jul 2001