Life presentns a dismal picture

Yes I know, it's been ages, but I've had lots to do and think about and time's just whipped by. The clock keeps ticking and time seems to be gathering speed which causes me to rush around achieving bugger all worthwhile, but imagining I'm busy making progress. The worst thing of all about it is that I've neglected friends (the few I have left) and that's pretty much unforgivable. I won't resolve to make it up as I know I never do, so I'll save my breath and just try to do better in future.

Well, since I last darkened this site, Obama's in and we're in a world recession. The two events aren't connected, I ought to add. Good to see a change in America, or at least the chance of one: shame about this country. Read in the paper today that Ray Winstone wants to live abroad cos this place has gone to the dogs. I don't disagree with him: “There’s no sense of pride, no sense of unity, no sense of people wanting to make this country a better place to live in.” Nice to have the money to scarper, but is life any better anywhere else? If you're a celeb or an actor or one of the glitterati then life is reasonably easy wherever you live and you'll gravitate too your own kind anyway, but what about the couple with two kids on a middling income? Will they even be able to afford to move and what will be their lot? Shitty education means that they're unlikely to be able to speak a foreign language so they're stuck to English speaking regions. They'll probably have had the fight knocked out of 'em after years of social indifference so they'll find the struggle in a new life very hard. In fact, they'll probably not even bother to emigrate in the first place.

So, who's actually leaving the UK anyway? Plenty are supposed to be and they can'\t all be ray Winstones. Immigrants to the UK are using it as a jumping off point for further moves and some UK citizens are actually moving round the EU working away and even working in the rest of the world. They're still brits though, so who is actually emigrating? Accepting that they'll be the more adventurous types anyway, they also appear to be the brainy and skilled ones, who are exactly the ones we ought to keep. Over all it won't make much difference as the 'brain drain' of the 60's didn't have much effect and we keep breeding clever buggers.

I often wish I'd gone abroad when I had the chance, but circumstances rules against it. There's always the unspoken assumption though that everything would have been better than now and we'd all be in clover. You can get into just as much shit abroad as you can here, there's no doubt about it. I guess the best advice is to play the hand you're dealt and make the best of it. How the hell did I get on to that? Anyway, good to see that some fellow bloggers are still beavering away out in cyberspace. Some interesting stuff to read and some very funny stuff too. If you want to keep pretty much up to date on things, have a read of The Hangover Helper. Good stuff.

And now, today's toy:

So anyway . . . .

Home from the wars so to speak.

A friend at work is pretty worried because her son's on his way to Afghanistan shortly. As a mother, statistics don't mean a thing and the danger is ever present. He's unlikely to get even a scratch - more likely to get a boil or bad guts than come to any harm in action. I'm not sure how we ought to deal with it. Everyone is avoi
ding mentioning it and nobody talks about the situation out there. I think it's the wrong approach, but I tend to be callous / optimistic about that sort of thing.

He's set up their computer for video links and the like and he'll be sending email and making phone calls all the time. I'm of a generation who went to sea and relied on letters to keep in touch, so it all seems very strange. I think it'd be surreal being in almost constant contact with my family while I was in the middle of a war zone, or even abroad on holiday. Several people I know at work even take their XDAs on holiday with them 'just to keep in touch'. It's very strange. However, in the grand scheme of things, what's one life more or less when we're faced with a cold war revival and third place in the medals tabl
e at the Olympics? It's amazing the way the news programmes run stories together with seemingly equal importance. Suicide bombers just before the football results and QVC carries on regardless.

Busy weekend ahead. Housewarming party tomorrow, kids on Sunday and then take'em to the airport on Monday. In between this it'll be the hospital, house jobs and, maybe, painting some leads. Weather's going to be shite and so it's a perfect excuse to avoid gardening. Got some stuff finished and more stuff started on the painting table, but no drive to bash on with anything really. It's a shame, but this hospital thing ddrains energy like a cancer. I'm home around half past eight and then it's just vegitate until bedtime.

So today's toy:

You never know the minute . . . .

I've got an auntie, Auntie M, who is 89. She was 'born on the day of the Great Armistice' as it says in the family Bible and it looks as if she's on her way to meet her maker. She went into hospital about ten days ago with pneumonia, septicaemia in her blood, a raging chest infection and a temperature of a hundred and five. Not a bad collection of things by anybody's standard. Anyway, she's fought her way through the pneumonia and the septicaemia and her temperature is down, but she can't move much, can't speak, isn't often conscious or cognisant and still needs oxygen and a glucose drip. Hard as nails, but, as 89, I think she's had enough.

She's the last of her generation on all sides of the family and she'll take with her a lot of family history. There are only three of us left who can remember anything about the family and knew anyone from before the war. To paraphrase a line from a film, " the worrying thing about being one of the 'few' is how we keep getting fewer' . . . .

Back later.


My Mother died in 1980, my Father died in 1985. I still think about them a lot and if they walked in through the front door tomorrow I'd welcome them with tears and open arms. They were great parents; full of faults and foibles and funny little habits and they rowed and laughed and I rebelled against them and finally realised, too late, what excellent people they were.

Where I was brought up we didn't have mothers and fathers, we had mams and dads. Mam was the disciplinarian and you didn't cross her because then it would involve Dad; the childhood equivalent of Defcon 4. Mam had the boniest hands in Salford which could inflict severe pain effortlessly and with lightning speed. She rarely used them, but I was a hell of a good 'ducker' nonetheless - all my mates were too. She didn't need to anyway because she had a tongue like a scalpel and could strip you to the bone with a very short phrase. I honestly can't remember Dad ever having to resort to a clip round the ear though I'm sure he did now and then, but the sound of disapproval from that deep voice was enough - I can hear it now, as clear as day.

As kids, neighbours kept an eye on you and weren't afraid to tell you off. Policemen warned you off with "I know where you live and I'll b
e round to see your Dad" and we'd shit conkers in case they did; which they didn't, of course. A penny would buy you an hour in the swimming baths, a bag of broken biscuits or a huge slab of cake with God knows what in it, a bag of scratchings from the chip shop or eight Mojos of Fruit Salads from the corner shop. We pinched apples from the greengrocer and got rhubarb from near the railway line - and sticky buds. A comic each week and scabs on our knees and we were happy because that's all there was.

We lived in an age of certainty where Germans and Japanese were bad, but Yanks were good and had co
wboys and big cars. The local clergy knew everybody and it didn't matter whether you were Catholic or Protestant. Hindus and Muslims were in comic stories about the Wolf of Kabul and Jews ran the haberdashery and jewellers and all lived in Prestwich. We were very familiar with what our Vicar called the 'Dark Skinned Races' because they came off the ships in the docks to drink and whore on Trafford Road. There were only three categories: Darkies, Indians and Lascars (anyone who didn't seem to fit the other two categories). And we didn't mind any of them, but we always touched the darkies for good luck.

Skip forward to the late 1960's and 'They' decided we lived in slums. I'm still not to sure who 'They' were, but, in a few short years, communities were destroyed and people who had lived and died together, been through two world wars, been blitzed, seen the first cars and the first men in space were scattered across Salford and housed in anonymous blocks of flats with new neighbours who they didn't see anyway and given shopping precincts full of strange shops selling stuff they didn't really want. Kids went to different schools, some brand new, and lost the freedom to roam the streets they grew up in.

Yes, you bet I'm bitter about it because now we've evolved into an unhealthy mix of 'you've got; I want' and plastic values. Neighbours are now a pain in the arse who park across your gates, but you rarely see them anyway. Consideration isn't something that comes naturally and is now purely a term in contract law. We've been enlightened in so many positive ways yet dragged into a new 'Dark Age' in many others and I find myself saying what Dad said when Kennedy was assassinated: "What's the world coming to?"

Bugger me, it's Sunday again!

Stroll on, it only seems like a couple of days ago it was last Sunday and we're here again already. Been waiting for the rain all day to give me an excuse not to cut the grass, but luckily it's too nice to do such things. been sunny all day so thought I'd make the best of it and have a read instead. Naturally, this involves the odd doze and divergences into the land of the CD and the wireless, but it's a hell of a good way to pass an unexpectedly relaxing day off.

So, what're the odds for a revolution in Ch
ina within the next ten years? O.K., twenty at most. Pollution is at unbelievable levels, the wealth is centred around a minority, urban life is deteriorating and rural life is collapsing into anarchy. Added to which, the peasants (and they're still peasants by just about any definition) continually cop out in the name of progress. Need a hydro dam? Why, just flood another valley!

There are also going to be good wargaming op
portunities in Africa as the whole place deteriorates into a free for all while the Chinese and Russians (but mainly the Chinese) plunder the continent for raw materials. There could be central African civil wars, north African scuffles between Muslim extremists, tribal gangs and failing governments and southern African revolutions sparked by the collapse of Zimbabwe, followed by instability in South Africa. The UN is now a laughing stock and NATO will more than likely pull back and watch from the sidelines, not wanting to become embroiled in another Iraq. The British, French and Belgians will sell arms to everybody and make a tidy profit and the CIA will be doing overtime trying to back both horses and falling off both. In any case, they'll have their work cut out with Central and South America . . . .

Probably in trouble with my mate in London who's been incommunicado for ages cos I never go down there, but he's always popping up here. I agree with him absolutely, but it's easier to make excuses not to go than to actually get on with it. I'm in the same boat in other areas, which is why I don't keep in touch with anybody other than by email or the occasional phone call. It's a shitty way of conducting oneself, but demotivation is the name of the game round here. I'll make more of an effort when the holiday season's over (it hasn't actually started yet) and spend the autumn catching up.

Ever seen that bloke Pat Condell on YouT
ube? He's always banging on about something or other, but from the safety of the internet. He's a sort of middle class, middle aged anarchist pontificating from his centrally heated, double glazed broadband linked garret. He's worth a watch as he's articulate and not too bad an orator, but sometimes he tries to be too clever. I give him a viddy now and again, but I'm suspicious he represents the establishment he rails against. Nothing wrong with being a champagne soclialist I suppose (we put up with Blair for long enough).

Oh enough with this pontification and on
with the real world. I'm messing around with an old Foundry figure of Davout at the moment, painting him up to what i think I'd have looked like in his day - and with his rank, more or less. he's turning out quite well and fills in the odd occasion when there's not enough time to have a session with a proper unit. I'll post a piccie when he's done, provided I don't forget or lose enthusiasm before then. In the meantime, today's toy:

He's a Vietnam period Yank from a pretty poor range of figures and he'll probably end up on eBay when I can be bothered, or maybe donated to a mate in the States. I've had to stretch the image a little to make it look half human.


Goin' up the country

Not true. Should read 'NOT goin' up the country". couple of days off cos of Chris' birthday and it's been raining for pretty much a week with no sign of less wet conditions. So, celebrations have been limited to a meal and gifts and even I got a book, a DVD and a jumper out of it. Seems odd.

Anyway, it's still been a busy week on the geopolitical front. America (or maybe Isreal - same thing really) is threatening to hit the Iranian nuclear plants and, not content with mushrooming economy, the Chinese have told the rest of us to sod off about pollution and do prove their point they're going to kill off the world's Olympic teams with high levels of shit in the air and water you can't row or sail in. We ought to hit back by boycotting their takeaways.

Nearer home, that clown David Davies has won his bye election with a landslide, which isn't surprising as there wasn't any real opposition. He ought to be charged with the cost of having to organise the damned thing. To keep the pot boiling, a judge has stated that we ought to include some aspects of Sharia law into English law. Should go down well considering the hammering Rowan Williams received for the same thing a couple of months ago. Don't get me started about the ordination of women.

A young ginger tomcat with just over half a tail keeps visiting us to swipe the food for our cats. Not a particularly bright individual, (which probably explains the tail) he's received the attention of both of ours who certainly don't tolerate visitors on their patch, particularly the older one who's stone deaf and ifrequently surprised by sudden appearances of just about anybody and anything. She certainly hasn't forgotten how to fight though and the new kid on
the block has [picked up a few wounds to prove it. Being a bloke, I don't think he'll ever learn.

Spent some time cruising through the blogs last weekend and there are some pearlers out there. There's a lot of absolute shite, but this is compensated for by the occasional gems you come across. Some have lapsed into disuse, but most are on the boil. There's not particular age or gender or background which holds sway, though maybe the Yanks have a slight majority. Anyway, give it a go and pass an hour or so, it's good fun.

And so to the arcane world of wargaming. If anybody doeas actually read this stuff (and I know there are at lest two), now's the time to switch off.

Been thinking about making rapid inroads into the lead mountain, but not knowing where to start as much of it is for projects which never took off or have now passed their sell by date. There's not much point selling raw lead as there's no return on it and even painted stuff generally gois for a song, particularly if it's not a faxhionable period (which most of this isn't). Anyway, decided to
knopk off a unit here and there between work on current projects and favours for mates. Can't being my self to part with any 7YW, Napoleonics or ACW, but my Late Romans, Colonials and AWI are looking dodgy. Naturally I'd use the dosh to reinvest in base metal, but, as this rate of progress, I'll be too old to lift it. let alone paint it.

I'll continue to mull this one over, but, in the meantime, here's today's toy:

I supose it's toys really. A bunch of Soviets for a project a few years ago which withered on the vine. they've long since gone to America. Even though they were a rush job, I lliked them and was sorry the project never took off. Bit to late now though!


Piggin' Sundays . . . .

Tennis all afternoon and too much rain to go out, so I'll move steadily towards going out of my mind instead.

Main topics in the paper seem to be about the C of E's impending schism and Dr Who, so that didn't take long to get through. As a lapsed C of E-ist (as are most of the English), I can't see anything wrong with the ordination of women or the establishment of women bishops. The biblical argument based on scripture just doesn't hold water as all the versions of the scriptures and the AV King James edition of the Bible were all controlled by male dominated societies. No surprise then that Christianity is portrayed as a male controlled organisation. If Jesus was the son of God, then God was only conforming to the mores of the time. No point sending a woman to spread the Gospel because nobody would listen to her. If we take just about every other historical document into account (and the Gospels are historical documents as well as religious, even though they've been tampered with), women have been effectively written out of history for over two thousand years. Right, that's that straightened out.

O yeah, what I was going to say is that church and state ought to be kept separate or we'll end up with some bloody confusion like in the Middle East. In any case, I'm not going to be dictated to by an ex Nazi in Rome or a fanatical Irishman in London who's been appointed by him. I suppose we've been a secular Protestant state for too long now. It's bad enough the government trying to tell us what to think without the Pope getting involved.

I was going to talk about all manner of interesting things like music, congestion charging, stick models, cinema and the like, but that'll have to wait now cos yesterday I got some Perry Netherlands militia and they're screaming out for attention. First proper step towards an 1815 Preponcher outfit and it's looking to be an interesting project. Lots of variety and pretty uniforms and, with thte impending release of the Perry plastic French, a good life span too.

At the monent I'm knocking out some Middle East miiltia for a mate and then on with those Prussians, interspersed with my Netherlanders. I've been experimenting with the new Citadel inks and they're pretty good. I don't believe they're as good as the oil paint washes, but far less messy and certainly quicker. Only complaint so far is that the green's too emerald greenish, but the rest seem fine. They're probably at their best for giving a quick wash over the main colour after a basic highlight shade is added. They can then be left or highlighted again to show the real high spots. Good investment, especially now you can buy them in singles.

Anyway, today's toy is another of Frank's superb Seven Years War range: a sergeant of the de Ligne regiment.

The grand ennui . . . . .

Strewth, a time's passed eh? Been a lot afoot since last I wrote; some good, some same old same old. The Old Cow stuffed it in May, which was a blessing I've waited thirty two years for. I keep reliving the moment and it's very rewarding . . .

Thought it was about time I caught up with things, so read through some of the other blogs I visit to get me in the mood and decided to bash out a few syllables to keep the pot boiling, so to speak. Despite the passage of time, there's not so much to report, what with the death and all, but a lot seems to have happened. Unfortunately, I can't seem to put my finger on it, but, honest, lots has taken place.

I did some psychometric tests at work the other week and the results were surprisingly accurate. Some were a little uncomfortable though, which probably points to the accuracy of the tests, but, with her psychology background, my daughter got pleasure from reading them. I probably shouldn't have let her read them as she now knows me just that bit too well, but sod it.

Apparently I'm a nicer person than I thought, but with a dark side. Nevertheless, you should all love me and hang on my every word. Personally, I'd avoid the company of such a git and take up stamp collecting or train spotting. Who'm I kidding? I never did like stamp collecting when I was a kid (though it did teach me about geography and history) and I cannot imagine what makes train spotters tick. Still, as a thoroughly nice chap and all round good egg, I feel confident I can make a valued contribution to society. Glad I found out as I'd have hated to waste my life just working to pay the bills. Having no friends and an undersized penis isn't all bad.

And so to leads. Plastics really cos I got some of the Perry ACW sets and was well pleased, though the cavalry are by far the best. The new metal ACW's are bloody lovely and point to some valuable additions to the period. Gone back into 28mm Napoleonics in a modest way with just a couple of packs of Nassauers and Dutch militia to be going on with and Minden have increased their range greatly in the past few months which has ended in me 'doing' the Austrians. Still got about half a million Confederates to plough through yet, so I'll only be progressing slowly with the Dutch-Belgian contingent. Buggered if I know what I'll end up doing with them all cos I never get time to game with them.

Mostly I are been painting Frank's Prussians and knocking out a few Middle East militia as well as messing around with a couple of mounted officers. Not enough time to paint lately with other things afoot, but life should settle down a bit now and i can get on with it.

That's about it for today, I think. As the constipated man said, I'll try to be more regular in future. Today's toy is a fusilier of the Kaiser regiment from the Minden range. I knocked him out for Frank to encourage him to populate his blog as he's about as frequent a poster as I am. ;O)

Some Easter . . . .

Thought I'd better get one in before too long as we've been to-ing and fro-ing visiting the mother-in-law for what seems like ages now. Actually, it's just short of a fortnight, but it seems like a lifetime. We're both supposed to be on leave this fortnight, but it certainly doesn't seem like it at all. 

How is she? She's had a severe stroke, been left on the floor without  any treatment for 12 hours, had a heart attack the first night in hospital and now she's got pneumonia. She's a bloody witch! The hospital describe her as 'very poorly', but she's obviously not poorly enough eh? Personally I think they're just wasting resources because it's only the nebulator and intravenous feeding that's keeping her alive and 'alive' consists of fighting for breath all day and night and moaning and groaning. some quality of life eh? They should be treating the dying, not the living here. 

Anyway, one the radio the other day there was a discussion about people preparing their own eulogies on video to be played at their funerals and, while at first I thought that sounded a good idea, I'm not so sure now. I'm not likely to sit and watch the film over again, no matter how much I loved the deceased, especially if they're banging on about what a good, bad or indifferent life they've had or trying to be profound or, worse still, unnaturally witty. 

Its also a bit of an ego trip, I think. Not much chance of anyone giving you the thumbs down if you're the one doing the talking. You could always go for false modesty I suppose so that the family and friends (if you've actually got any friends) can contradict what you say and claim you were really a great old sort and you shouldn't have played yourself down. Nope, I think I'll skip that option and rely instead on some poor bugger being dropped upon to do the noble / dirty deed instead.

I don't suppose it's going to bother me anyway as, one way or another I'll not be there anyway. If there's no life after death then I'll not know anything anyway. If there is life after death, then I'm pretty sure I'll have enough to keep me occupied during the enlistment period. I bet it'd be like when I joined the navy; lots of new stuff to learn and kit to draw and badges to sew on, as well as having to find my way around a seemingly endless camp. I  think we'll all f=get to wear something like hospital greens and trainers; can't see robes being very practical. Course, we'll have no need to keep things in our pockets like money, keys, mobiles phones and the like cos we'll be incorporeal beings by then; ghost;y, or ghastly.

I quite fancy the idea of an afterlife, though the term reminds me of radioactivity or something. I prefer the great beyond or, maybe , the hereafter - not sure it'll be heaven  though. I remember a Maltese guy years ago in Valetta saying that Heaven is full of fat priests and cats, so it doesn't sound too appealing really. I'm not surprised he didn't fancy going there. I read and SF book about a man sent to Heaven and it sounded like he was in a foreign country - well, he was, so to speak. It would be an alien environment, but I don't imagine it to be all holy and full of blokes with wings (that's angels to you). I think it'd be more businesslike and certainly more efficient than down here. I mean, they've got billions of souls to organise and a hell of a timetable to run. Don't suppose you're allowed to say hell up there though (well, maybe only without a capital H). 

I imagine it'd be a bit boring though. No books or films and certainly no leads or wargaming. I bet there'd be no deep philosophical discussions either cos you'd know all the right answers by then. What would yo do all day though? if you're a spirit or whatever, you'd not need sleep or food and drink. there's be nothing much to do cos I bet the Angels would run things like clockwork. Anyway, God could just get things to run automatically, I bet. You can't sit around and natter all day cos what would you natter about? I think life (or death) without arguments or debates would be insufferable. We're not designed to be nice all the time, surely? Even though I think it's fair to say that I'm naturally lazy, I think I'd get bored just lolling about all the time being eternal or whatever. 

Anyway, just had thins morning's bulletin from The Chosen One to say that mummy dearest hasn't coughed it yet, so that's today's excitement down the pan. Time to sign off with today's toy, I think:

This is a representation of Pat Cleburn. Seems topical as it's got a dead yankee on the base.


It's an ill wind . . . .

Well, not all bad news. My mother-in-law had a stroke on Wednesday (Tuesday night actually) so Chris has been making trips to the hospital and millions of phone calls to disinterested relatives. Should be in for exciting times for the next few weeks or less or longer. Personally I'm not at all bothered or interested: she's never liked me and I've never liked her, so no love lost at all. Went to the hospital on Wednesday and I'll have to make a few more trips as it's a lot for Chris to fit in, but I'll be taking a book.

More importantly, but maybe not as high on the good news scale is that I'm not the proud owner of an iMac. Given it by my daughter and son-in-law and it's virtually brand new. Yep, that's how generous they are. At first I thought they were having a joke until I say the box in the middle of the living room. Excellent piece of kit and I'm only just beginning to discover what it can do, but so far it's knocked a PC into a cocked hat. The speed is incredible ant it's still able to operate the Microsoft applications I use for work. Recommendation? Get one!

Can't make it to the Triples this weekend apart from the hospital visiting. Got plenty of work to catch up on because I've been to so many meetings lately and lost out on time. This also means I've been unable to knock out leads as I'd planned and missed out on other events like trips to the pictures we'd thought about and no time to read anything other than reports and such. 

I like the Triples because it's not horrendously busy so I can see old friends and have a chat and catch up. The disabled access is very poor and I moan about it continuously. I refused to attend for a few years and I bet they noticed because a couple of years ago they'd made some attempt to address the situation. Well, that's what I like to think anyway.

The other down side to the show is the bloody re-enactors who spend their time strutting about as though they were something important. I miss the irony of the morbidly obese Confederates and the bespectacled SS, but I really can't do with'em at all. The Dark Age clowns are usually top of my hate list because they usually clutter the place up with shields and weapons. Next come the ersatz SS who want a bloody good pasting for being insensitive, uneducated, simpletons with small dicks. No, sod it, they're the top of my sod off list. They defend themselves by saying they're only paying tribute to an elite military force and they're recreating history, not idolising them and anyway, they're the Waffen SS who were only soldiers. What absolute bollocks!

I hit my all time low or high a few years ago when I was trying to chat to a mate in the bar, but was continually interrupted by an idiot pretending to be a Yankee drummer who kept beating a tattoo in my ear. He desisted when I offered to shove the drumsticks up his arse.

Anyway, today's toy:

Been a good week . . . .

Lots of changes over the past week; mostly good.Got a new mobile which is more of a camera with a phone wrapped round it; acquired a new iMac with a 24" monitor; my boss is off with septicemia and got access to some new developments at work which will save us a great deal of time and effort. So, all in all, a decent enough week.

There's a fair bit of work to do associated with all this, particularly burning many CD's of uniform plates and wargame rules for myself and friends before I pass on the old PC to my son (who'll probably just cannibalise it anyway). All of which is eating into my lead painting time and, by default, into Frank's project, which isn't good at all as I'd promised to get the stuff done s
harpish. To add insult to injury, I can't make it to the Triples because of work commitments. See, I told you it was mostly good.

I've noticed lately that painting is becoming more therapeutic as I get older and there's no immediate need to rush through projects. I can paint for a couple of hours, no problem, and be happy with the result, even if I've not actally achieved much. Not so much a sign of old age or increasing maturity as the realisation that the damn things will be herer long after me.

I'm surprised at how much I seem to know about painting and paint properties compared to other people, but I have been at it for a few years. I'm also less worried about making a mess of something because I know I can easily correct any mistakes, so I suppose that takes any pressure off. Just as well really as I'm becoming as blind as a bat . . . .

Just watched a programme about a working men's club is Bradford. Not a very exciting job, but strangely compelling viewing and the first in the BBC's 'White' series. Bradford is a pretty run down place anyway (Bingley's nice though) and the programme didn't do much to improve its image. The people in the programme made some canny observations, but most of them seemed like alcoholics with a pretty tenuous grasp of common sense and reality. I've never been a fan of WMC's because of their stupid rules about women and I've only actually been into one (about 30 years ago). This place was well on its way out and deserved to be because the committee couldn't run the proverbial and wouldn't face up to facts. Probably a reflection of
the last days of empire.

I went to a Polish club once in Crewe which was being used as the reception venue for a brother-in-law's wedding. My God, if was a dismal place and the (mostly older) Poles were miserable sods. I'm sure they were still plotting about the Warsaw Uprising because they all spoke in murmurs in Polish - maybe that should be Polish murmurs. Anyway, Andy and I livened things up a bit when we told'em their rum was shite and was probably watered down. I don't think we did much to promote Anglo-Polish relations, but it made the evening more interesting.

Good segue into my next bit of news which is that I appointed my first Pole this afternoon to an admin job. She's got drive like I've not seen for a while and a natural confidence which can only come from somebody who's made it across here with a young child,live in two places since then and never been out of employment. She's going to be a great asset to the team and I think she'll go a lot further. Good luck to her, she deserves it.

Anyway, haven't got any Polish leads, so we'll have to make do with this:

He's an Austrian Napoleonic Brigadier (15mm)


A bit of high culture . . . . .

A parody of G&S I did a while ago . . . . .


GENERAL: I am the very model of a wargames Major-General,

I've information tactical, strategic, and nonsensical,

I know all the Great Captains and I quote the fights historical

From Marathon to Waterloo, but never chronological;

I'm very well acquainted, too, with army lists apocryphal,

I understand all theories, Jomini and Clausewitzical,

About the Foundry I am always teeming with a lot o' news,

With many cheerful facts about the revenue of you know who.

ALL: With many cheerful facts about the revenue of you know who.

GENERAL: I'm very good at gossiping about all things malicious;

I quote at length the thoughts of Barker the genius;

In short, in matters tactical, strategic and nonsensical,

I am the very model of a wargames Major-General.

ALL: In short, in matters tactical, strategisc and nonsensical,

He is the very model of a wargames Major-General.

GENERAL: I know our mythic history, I’m an expert on fantasy;

I answer rule acrostics, I've a petty taste for paradox,

I’ve learned by rote whole passages from DBA and DBM,

So I can floor opponents who use historic strategems;

I can tell undoubted Copplestones from older Foundry castings,

I know my painting skill engenders praise that’s everlasting!

I also know my body odour clears a place before a stall,

So I can see the figures about which I know bugger all.

ALL: So he can see the figures about which he knows bugger all.

GENERAL: Then I can write a shopping list in Babylonic cuneiform,

And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform:

In short, in matters tactical, strategic and nonsensical,

I am the very model of a wargames Major-General.

ALL: In short, in matters tactical, strategisc and nonsensical,

He is the very model of a wargames Major-General.

GENERAL: In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",

When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,

When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,

And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,

When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery- -

In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy,

You'll say "Oh no it’s him, he must have had a verbal laxative!"

ALL: You'll say "Oh no it’s him, he must have had a verbal laxative!"

GENERAL: For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,

Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;

But still, in matters tactical, strategic and nonsensical,

I am the very model of a wargames Major-General.

ALL: But still, in matters tactical, strategic and nonsensical,

He is the very model of a wargames Major-General.

Sometimes it's strange what keeps me amused. . . . .

Just done some more work on Frank's Prussians. Pig of a job getting the rose pink facings right, but I think I've done it this time. Well on the way now and picking up a rhythm. Bashed along while listening to Stiff Little Fingers.

Soon be able to get back to me Rebs, so today's toy is:

Time for a read.


Crafts & Crap

Chris does crafting. Actually, she only makes cards; birthday, Christmas and the like, but she does it off and on and loves the creative bit. This means that each Sunday afternoon we're treated to a couple of hours of specialist sellavision with overweight women talking about various types of crafting and flogging stuff to the overheated viewers. The bulk of the items available are related to card making and rubber stamping. Rubber stamping? Yes, rubber stamping. It seems to involve stamping pictures or designs on a bit of card and colouring them in. Indispensable if you've got various types of invitation to make or things like that, but where's the skill? Kids with John Bull outfits used to do that and soon got bored. Want wedding invitations? Gerrem printed for God's sake!

Anyway, what I wanted to mention is the huge volume of sales that go through just of bits of card and tools and whatever, They must sell thousands of pounds worth of the stuff just while the programme is on air, not to mention continuing sales after the show. There must be a fortune to be made at this game. Now I admit that all this means nothing to me. If I want a card I go to Clinton's and buy one and I don't think I'll ever want to do anything with a rubber stamp, but even I've noticed that all this stuff looks the same. Chris has a modest store of the stuff; certainly no more that about half a metric tonne, but some people (and here I really mean women) must have aircraft hangars full of card and glues and decoupage kits and little stick on bits and bobs. They're killing the planet!

Hey, I actually received a comment to a post which I find amazing because I didn't really think people actually read this other than saddos like me who actually give a toss who else likes Tom Waits or has read Tristram Shandy. It's all quite flattering really that someone should take the time to post a comment. It won't go to m
y head and I'm pretty sure I'm not in the running for a Pulitzer, but it was a surprise. However, it does bring with it responsibility.

Should I reply to the comment? Will this guy think I'm being ignorant if I don't respond? Does he even want me to respond? I commented on another person's blog entry a few weeks ago and she replied, but I didn't carry on the conversation. Maybe I should have? I think I was probably happier when I thought nobody read these or that they did, but couldn't be bothered to comment. Imagine if everybody who read the postings commented . . . what would be the right thing to do?

My mate Frank replies to comments, but they're either questions or observations about his figures. That's pretty straight forward, but I don't actually produce anything; I just bash away at the keyboard when the mood takes me. Maybe in future I'll have to do this sort of thing regularly to keep up with the comments left by my readers?

I'm conscious that I might be going over the top here since I've only got evidence of one actual reader, or at least one who's bothered to comment, but you never know. My mate Woody Allen would have the same dilemma. I don't actually know Woody Allen, nor have I ever met him, but I've seen all his films and read a compilation of his writings, so I feel I do.

Hmmmmm . . . .

Anyway, I've been cracking on with some of Frank's leads so I thought I'd show you an example. It's a grenadier from the Prussian 41st regiment in the 7 Year's War. He needs lining in and a bit of touching up, but the figures are easy to paint and perfectly proportioned. Unfortunately Frank has mega sized units, so this is a long job.


It's been a great year so far :O(

Having had to buy a new tyre, prepare for 'exciting' changes at work and various traumas with the kids, I had my nearside wheel trims stolen on Wednesday - right under the noses of security staff! Then on Thursday I popped the cartilage in my right knee again. 2008? Rammit!

My knee is up like a balloon and it's only liberal applications of arnica gel and a support bandage that keep it bearable. I ought to go to the hospital, but it's weekend and if they keep me in I'll have to hang around till Monday before they think about doing anything. The operation to remove it takes about 15 minutes and it's usually carried out as a day patient, so I might go to see the Doc and get a referral instead.

I'm not frightened of hospitals, but I hate being there just killing time with a bunch of other miserable sods who're in the same boat. Last time I was in I had a bed next to a priest who was such an arsehole. There were two older black guys across the ward who he treated like they had the plague. He spent my first night there tutting at me because I couldn't work out how to switch off my lamp. He had some Spanish acolyte round every morning to celebrate mass with him. No problem at all about the mass, but I felt like pointing out that such an arsehole ought to have a serious think about his vocation, the shit. He had a heart condition, so he's probably coughed it by now, with any luck.

Anyway, back to my knee. Might as well milk it for sympathy while I can. I've had the problem for about 40 years so you'd think I'd have had something done about it by now. I've tried, oh how I've tried, but the bloody medicos seem to be intensely loyal to it. I've had my other knee 'done' because I buggered it by overcompensating, but they're reluctant to do anything about the main culprit. If I do go to see them this time, they'll probably suggest I have a tooth out or something. The nursing staff always seem to have a lot more common sense than the doctors.

I was in the hospital for a week when I was in the navy and that was a hell of an experience. I'm not perpetually ill, by the way; just not very lucky. I teamed up with a bloke called Happy Merry; a marine engineer, and we seemed unable to stay out of trouble. Boredom mostly with only a pinch of devilment, but, if you know how to play the system, you can have a tolerable time.We used to go to the NAAFI shop for the rest of the ward and didn't even charge a commission for the trouble. We'd often go in wheelchairs because then you got straight to the front of the queue and hang the shopping off the back of them. We had to go on foot all the time after we had a spill on a tight corner on the way down to the shop and came close to getting confined to the ward. Happy days.

Oh yes, my knee. Well I'll give it until Monday and decide. I've got plenty of leave to use up at work, so I can even do it on the QT if I want to. MY boss is off at the moment too and I can always work online from home anyway. The weather's going to be beautiful this coming week (February has been very pleasant so far), so it seems to cry out for someone to show appreciation. In actual fact I'll probably obey the Protestant work ethic and keep my nose to the grind stone.

Anyway, enough of this. Today's toy:
A US fire team from the Vietnam War. Appropriate really as we've just passed the 40th anniversary of the Tet Offensive.

O.K. try to get some sleep.


Hammerhead '08

Well, it had to happen: a posting mostly about wargaming.

Broke my duck and went to my first show of the year yesterday - Hammerhead at Kelham hall. I was there at bob on 10 of the clock and waited for Frank, but no sign, so went in and had a quick shufty, finally bumping in to him at half past; lazy git!

Had good natters with Tardis (and Mrs Tardis and Tardis Junior 2), Zippy, Charlie (and daughter, who I thought was really a fictional excuse for him buying dinosaurs a couple of years ago) and various other people Frank knew, one of whom let onto me again as I was dashing back for some Basetex, so I reckon I'm in there. Pongo was apparently due to attend, but didn't see him., and Matt was there too (who's Matt?). Got help from a bloke who was a woman: no, a woman who was a bloke. Anyway, he/she was a good egg and helped me spot some Vallejo paints. Nice chapess.

Shaun thingy was there with his 'Bunker' stuff and Dave Thomas who ONCE AGAIN hadn't got the American Riflemen (advancing). Told him I needed them for Wednesday and he's going to get on to the Perry Twins in New Zealand to get some cast up for me. Fine trader that boy.

I bought nothing but paint, Basetex and a likkul Roman general from Hasslefree called Minimus. He's going to be ME in my Late Roman army. Posed him with the rest of the command group figures and he'll look good: only about as tall as their shoulders. Frank broke all records and bought bugger all 'cept for half a dozen Miniature Paints (must include every shade of red known to the civilized world). However, he did give me about half my body weight in ACW leads, which was very kind of him, but fuckin' daft. These leads have a hell of a history and have done the cross U.K. several times between them. They've clocked up more carbon miles than a crate of bananas.

Views of the day?
  • A show you could do with giving a miss if you're a thoroughbred wargamer, except that there are some traders there you don't normally see. That was a concession to Tardis cos he's into fantasy and spaceships and the like.
  • Not all that many punters and few of them seemed intent on spending too much. There were a couple or three disabled people who at least had a chance to have a good look around at stuff, so it was fair do's for them (for a change).
  • Bar staff were quite attractive.
  • The bacon rolls were well loaded, but the 'cups' of tea are still a joke.
  • They actually had bouncers! Real ersatz roughie-toughies in blazers. What sort of thing could kick off at a bloody bisexual wargame/fantasysite/spaced out deviant show? Harsh words and shopping lists on the green?
Now, saving the best 'til last . . . Frank showed me his French and Austrian infantry masters and they're beautiful, I shit you not. Personally, I think they're even better than the Prussians. The Austrians are very businesslike, but not as ramrod straight as the Prussians and the French are excellent - just the right side of scruffy. Of the batch I like the Austrian fusilier best, but the French drummer is superb. Oh yeah, he showed me the greens for the British Grenadiers. They are, without qualification, the best 7YW figures I've ever seen. The British mitres have got to be seen to be believed.

I'm sure you feel all the better for reading that.

And today's toy is:

A soviet Commisar.

Anyway, off to try out that bloody carmine colour . . . .

Rambling (not hiking)

I've had to reset my password twice in two days! Bloody Google's startin' to get on my nerves with this messing around. I was in two minds about binning the whole thing, but decided my public deserved me.

So, what am I doing hammering away two nights on the trot? Damned if I can remember now after losing my rag with the bloody site, but one thing I was going to mention is our Post Office parcel delivery service. We have a good postie who delivers the letters and small packets. Great bloke who never fails and he's got a sense of humour. On the other hand, we've got a bunch of swines who pretend to deliver parcels, but who're filling in the 'you were out!' card as they creep up the path. The shits pop the card through the letter box and then run like hell back to the van and away. They're notorious for it around here. Then we have to go to the sorting office on the way to work to play the 'I can't find your parcel' game with some pillock who is clearly disinterested and only opens his electric window just wide enough for you to be able to eventually drag your parcel through with great effort. I always make a point of making sure I knock his
pen off the counter when I do it. Well, it's a sort of revenge.

The posties always seem to be able to push the envelope when it comes to making asinine comments about the parcel you're collecting. I told one bloke it was a bomb and he got shirty and threatened to report me. Report me to who (or is that whom?)? I suggested that if it had been a bomb I'd be pretty unlikely to want it back. Now I usually say it's a gay sex toy and leave it at that.

Coming home from a meeting tonight, I was talking to my sat-nav woman and she seemed to get a little befuddled. Told me to turn left instead of right. I knew where I was going, but she's good company when there's nothing on the radio. Is this normal behaviour or is she beginning to become attracted to me? I'm a little concerned because it struck me that she might make a habit of doing this to make the journey longer so we spend more time together. I know there's no future in any sort of relationship, but her voice is nice.

Finally got to watch Sin City yesterday and was well impressed. Hell of a film and really well produced. They're making a sequel for release in '09, so that should be worth watching too. I loved comics when I was a kid. We used to buy the Commando type war comics and the 'American' comics by Del and such. my favourites were Sergeant Rock and a couple of other I can't quite remember now, but top of my list were the mystery and sci-fi ones like 'Weird Tales' and 'Amazing Tales' and the like. I can't bring myself to pay the prices they ask for graphic novels (comics) these days, but they're a hell of a lot better produced than they used to be. Chris has some of the Neil Gaiman 'Sandman' books, but that's about it.

I never liked the super hero stuff and thought Batman and Superman were dull and predictable. Friends seemed to like them enough, but I never rated them. It's amazing how often kids used to read the things. I never seemed to tire of them and would read them again and again. I think they did me a lot of good as I was considered thick at junior school in the days before they invented dyslexia and those comics certainly helped me along. I don't think I was badly dyslexic, though I still am now to some extent, but it was enough to get me noticed and have to have special reading lessons from some visiting teacher or other. Course nowadays I'd be a special case instead of being left more or less alone to it to dig my own way out of the pit. I'd probably also have been considered to have some form of Asperger's syndrome as I surely was a bit strange as a kid; nodding my head and not able to run properly without including the odd skip or two. I should've been certified . . .

Surprise! A whole unit of Rebs this time.


But on the other hand . . .

So far today we've had ersatz current affairs, Ice skating and now it's craft 'til you drop with three fat women giggling their way through demonstrations of card making. Having read all the papers I could stomach, my brain began to melt and | dived for the relative insanity of the infernal machine. Unfortunately there was no respite here as I've managed to schlepp through page after page of boring stuff and repeat questions about the same old stuff.

It's got to be Sundays; the most boring day of the week. I've always hated them even as a kid. Nothing to do in the 50's and 60's and Sunday trading hasn't really helped other than to give us yet another day to worship at the altar of consumerism. When I was kid Sundays meant a string of church and visits to relatives, most of whom I couldn't stand. I used to spend most of each Sunday sat in a corner practising being inconspicuous and honing my daydreaming skills. Other than my Uncle Arthur who only live round the corner, my other favourite was Uncle Harry who lived what seemed like hours away, but was only about a twenty minute drive (or two buses). We used to go fishing with him.

Nowadays the thought of visiting relatives throws me into a bit of a turmoil. Will they really want to have their free time interrupted by someone who is, after all, only connected to them by birth? Do we really have that much in common? Wouldn't they rather be doing something they liked instead of making cups of tea and small talk? I usually take the coward's way out and skip it, preferring the stigma of being 'a bit stand offish' to that of being a nuisance. I suppose the door swings both ways as they never come to visit me either, so I suppose it all evens out in the end.

Anyway, Frank's leads have been coming along pretty slowly as I've been having to bring work home and I've been generally knackered a lot of the time. Might be old age, but I think it's a lack of stimulation I can't watch telly all night and anything else tends to attract flak. Chris only watches a film once and then avoids it for about ten years before she's ready to watch it again, which rules out a programme of DVD watching. There're also a lot of genres of film she doesn't like, which makes choosing on a bit of a trial. When I don my headphones it's like shutting her out, so I might as well be out of the room. Again, this isn't too popular. Life's all decisions innit?

This year I've decided to take up a healthy eating option and scoff more fish. I 'm not a great fan of the stuff, but there are things that inhabit the sea and shoreline that I will eat. It now seems like we've had fish about ninety three times since New Year. We've had cod, sea bass, hake, some other bloody thing and something else. Chris is a great cook, so I imagine that they were very nice, but they were just bits of fish to me. And we had them with vegetables and stuff.

A couple of years ago we went to 'Live Bait' for Chris' birthday and it was my personal hell: nothing but soddin' fish on the menu. I don't know what I expected really, but I've never seen so much fish and sea food in my life. We had this huge pile of shell fish on a bed of ice langoustines, prawns, lobster, mussels, baby octopus and all sorts of shite. I managed to make all the right noises and chomp my way through a reasonable amount before I just gave up and ruined the lunch. the wine was nice though.

O.K., today's lead:

This boy is a Confederate gunner. I've got other types of figure, but I'm a lazy photographer . . . .


Nobody wants my money . . . .

Rear offside finally gave up the ghost last night and I had to put the spare on. Pretty damned cold and wet for that kind of job and the darkness didn't help. Managed well enough with the help of the security lights on the car park though. I was off anyway today, so I've just got back from dropping the wheel off for a refit. The plan is to pick it up tomorrow night on the way home from work, but the manager at the tyre place wouldn't take any money off me. It'll do when I call round tomorrow apparently.

Called in to Argos, but they had to order what I wanted. I can pick it of Friday and guess what? Yep, I can pay for it then.

Called in to W H Smith for a pen refill - they didn't have one in stock, but I can go to another branch or they can order it for me.

Once isn't unusual, two is maybe a coincidence, but three on the trot is taking the piss.

So now I'm home, I thought I'd punch a few keys and keep my public up to date on events, which have been mixed.

Saturday, went to see 'No Country for Old Men' which was very good. Coen Brothers stuck to the book and the script was excellent. Tommy Lee Jones was bloody good and Javier Bardem was excellent. Josh Brolin was pretty damned good too. Had a nice meal afterwards at a nice place with nice staff and then home for a viddy of 'Zodiac' - good end to a good day.

Got in to work yesterday - 'Blue Monday' (why do they tell everyone that it's the most depressing day of the year? Anyone with, say, depression is automatically going to feel worse!) to find out that Joan had died on Saturday. Absolute bummer of the first order. She was a really nice person and I think just about everyone liked her a lot. Going to go to the funeral to see her off. She was a lovely lady.

So far it's been a bit of a dog's breakfast one way or another. The first of Frank's Prussians are ready to roll: probably start painting tonight. I won't go into the lovely figures bit again, but they are . . . .

Today's toy?

Two PLO types from 80's Lebanon.


All work and no play . . . .

Been a bugger of a week at work and no mistake. The past four days have flown by (good), but I've been bringing work home to catch up (bad). Moral: don't have Christmas off again.

Just started reading The Iliad. Good enough and plenty of drama, but not really the thing to give teenage lads to read. That's what I fell victim to at school and it put me off the classics for years. We were just told to read things without any explanation about their significance or what the book was about. For that very reason, I didn't read LotR until I was about 22. Mind you, I still think Jane Austen is utter shite, Thomas Hardy is boring as hell and the Bronte sisters should've been crucified.

Shakespeare is brilliant - Richard II is inspirational and must contain more famous quotes than most. The trouble is that schools just don't seem to have the time to study things thoroughly and there are some pretty uninspiring teachers knocking around these days too. There's apparently no such thing as a fully rounded education nowadays; they just seem to chase exam marks and league positions. Education is an industry - discuss.

Big paint job on the way: lots of Prussians from FtheG's army. Lovely figures and interesting uniforms to bash out. One idiot in Greece claimed the figures in question would be difficult to paint because of their scale size and fine detail. That joker must be on some kind of medication if that's really what he really thinks. My own view is that he's been brought up on the grotesque stuff produced by the Evil Empire which is mostly over-characatured and just isn't up to painting fine scale sculpts. He's among many these days who can paint reasonably well and have gone in to the "paint yer leads for a tenner guv" business, but have only limited skills. Conversely, there are painters out there who would make the great masters look shabby: they're also the ones who rarely comment other than to help others raise their skill levels.

Right, here's a shabby one for today:

This is a sort of 'rebel' freedom fighter for future wars gaming. Yes, I know, but it's all pretend anyway innit ?!?

Well, there's been an unusually heavy emphasis on leads today, so must be time to give it a rest. I'll be beck over thte weekend with something less selfish. . . . . Who'm I kidding?


The Bonsai Tree

From where I'm sat I can see across a few gardens and onto the back of a house which I know belongs to a builder. His house has a large two storey side extension and the NATO standard conservatory on the back. This family apparently doesn't get on well with their neighbours for whatever reason and are generally backguarded as being 'snotty', 'jumped up' and so on. However, in their conservatory you can plainly see a very nice Bonsai tree which is obviously well looked after. The question for today therefore is: can such a contemptible group be capable of tending a plant which is notoriously difficult to nurture, or are they much nicer than popular myth would have us believe?

The dreaded binmen came round today and have ditched our paper recycling bag. I've known quite a few binmen in my time and they've been a generally great bunch of people, but the ones we've got on our route, especially of late, seem to be little higher than amphibians on the evolutionary scale. The old crews used to laugh and joke and they always seemed to have a (pretty bad) singer amongst them, but these blokes are deadly quiet and pretty sombre individuals. Come to think of it, I haven't heard a postie whistling for years and nobody seems to have milk delivered anymore. There's still a paper lad though.

Chris has gone with Joan to a holiday exhibition in town. God knows why they go apart from the freebies they always seem to accumulate. She'll probably return with plans for another theatre trip or the list of flower show expeditions for 2008. I've gone right off the theatre the past few years and I've only ever been to one flower show in my life and hated it. Consequently the pair of them decide upon a plan of attack for the coming twelve months, spiked with theatre trips and the like.

Me? Oh I go to museums, wargame shows and such and sometimes to the pictures. That's when Chris and I aren't going out together. I'm content with the shows where I see friends and catch up on things, spend money and make mock of each other. I haven't been to a club for over thirty years because they're often a collecting point for sad buggers, like public libraries are. The real trouble with wargaming is that, even allowing for the fact that it's a some what 'different' hobby,it seems to collect a strange assortment of individuals who'd not be out of place in a loony bin. Thank God they're a very small minority, but you can see how natural selection has fallen down over recent years.

Nevertheless, time for today's toy . . . .

Another Victorian adventurer - bit of a toff, this one.


The Song of the Dodo

Yes, nice to see you too. Where have I been? Nowhere really, but I've been reading and ruminating and the like. Been cautious about wha...