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.


Did you see the electric storm?

Hell of a storm last night. Excellent lightning, blowing a bastard and torrential rain. Well worth the price of the ticket. Watched it for a good while from the conservatory - that's one of those green house thingies people have stuck on the back of their houses. They don't get used much as it's either too hot or too cold, but the purpose of a conservatory is for it to be bigger than your neighbour's. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the next. Global warming is certainly more entertaining than the telly.

Been a hectic week at work so far, mainly because I extended my Christmas break. Unfortunately others didn't, so I returned to a pile of emails even after my lot had gone through my inbox deleting the crap. Still, a couple of evenings' work and I'm more or less back on track. When I retire or win the lottery, I'm staying well away from my professional world and letting others enjoy its pleasures . . . .

Listening to Big M's requiem on the radio and enjoying catching up on internet stuff. I suppose I should be slapping paint on inanimate lumps of lead, but can't be bothered. I know people who spend every spare moment painting their figures, but to me that's a virtual cottage industry. I much prefer the relaxed approach, which is probably why I don't get too much done.

Did I ever tell you I was going to write the great British novel one day? I'm not a professional or even frequent writer; in fact I don't write at all. However, I will write this millenium's block buster. Being totally unskilled, I thought I'd better pick up the major techniques and so bought a couple of 'how to' books and boned up on the appropriate sections of the interweb. Unfortunately, the only writing skill I seem to have acquired is writer's block. Can't think of a bloody thing to write about. Not a story line, not a bleedin' character, not bugger all. However, undeterred, I intend to persevere. I've done all the important inspirational stuff like drinking to excess (Dylan Thomas), locking myself away (Camus) and sitting for hours in cafes (Rowling) so something should come to the surface soon even though Chris insists it's most likely to be a boil.

I want to write a 'clever' novel, filled with references and allusions so that my book can be put on shelves away from shite like the Mills & Boone or pulp stuff or those unending, almost identical books by scribblers such as Georgette Heyer or Judy whoever. Umberto Eco would be a suitable shelf companion. It could be used as a status symbol like the great works that lots of people own, but have never read or read but not understood. It'd be carried onto trains (first class only) and left on the table while the traveller reads his or her complementary Times or plays on their laptop. Useful to carry round parks and suitable brasseries to impress nice young women (or men).

Unfortunately, I'll probably end up like Sallinger or Harper Lee and only write the one novel, which puts dreams of fortune in a bit of a dim light. Of course, if I write it after I retire, I'll have a nice fat local government pension so won't need any money anyway. Wonder how much an author makes on an earnings per copy sold basis?

Oops. nearly forgot - time for today's toy . . . .

A couple of Vietnam era Yanks.

Righto, on with something of little benefit, but greater interest.


Listen to the children of the night . . . .

Thought I'd go for red today cos of the reference to Dracula. Seems as good a reason as any.
Half way through taking down the dekkies and just can't motivate myself. It's probably the second most boring job in the universe and it signifies the start of another twelve months of same old, same old. There didn't seem to be so many when Chris put them up . . . .

Was talking to a mate about sci-fi films and TV series and did the old Google thing to see what's what. It's amazing what's included - Harry Potter, Angel, Buffy, Medium. Now, I know it's a pretty broad church, but I've never considered this type of stuff to be sci-fi; more like fantasy or whatever.

For my birthday I got two Asimov robot books - dead chuffed, but you've got to be careful what you mention when my lot are around. His style is pretty primitive by today's standards, but the stories are excellent. I've not always liked sci-fi, but came to it about ten years ago when I thought I'd better have a look at what was around. I'd done the HG Wells / Jules Verne thing when I was young and enjoyed them all - rattling good yarns and certainly able to keep a teenager occupied over a foul winter weekend. Moved on to John Wyndham and then to JG Ballard when I was in the navy, but sort of lapsed then. The usual suspects are among my favourites, so probably no surprises there. Still ploughing through a big James Blish and P.K. Dick can keep me occupied for ages.

Fantasy is something else. Done the obligatory Tolkein stuff and still enjoy it now and again and read the Stephen Donaldson Thomas Covenant series, but God knows why. Not my biggest treasure trove of inspiration, but I still enjoy the odd one. Best lately was the Orcs series by Stan Nicholls. I enjoyed the trilogy immensely - unputdownable as they say. They were Orcs as real characters, not just portrayed as mindless thugs.

Favourite of all is Neil Gaiman - excellent writer and what an imagination! There's also Terry Pratchett, but I can only take his stuff in small doses, a book at a time. My son Chris (gets confusing, doesn't it?) loved him when he was a teenager. Chris and Jude have latched onto the Robert Rankin books, which I find good, but a bit samey.

Well, that's torn it. Got all inspired now so I'm off for a browse over on Amazon.

Oh yeah, today's toy:

This is a little 15mm scale C18th general and his staff. These boys are the genuine article - thoroughbred wargames figures and veterans of quite a few engagements.

Right, off to Amazon.


Killin' time . . .

So Barstool O'Barmy took the Iowa caucus! (Never knew Iowa was in Russia, but there you go.) Hilarious Rodders Clinker came about third (well, 0.3%) isn't worth crying about is it?). And on top of that 'Lead Balloon' has finished. Guess I'll have to focus on the rest of Buzzcocks on Thursdays now, even though the annoying Amstell is becoming more childish than ever. He never did leave the 6th Form . . . .

The snow didn't come anywhere near us here, but the rain has - no change there then. Worst of all, I've got to go out in the wet today to garner essential supplies: crystal CD cases and paint brushes. God,it's hell being a creative type.

Didn't actually get round to watching a DVD yesterday due to a series of excellent tracks on Mojo. Good station, but can become boring if they rep[eat play lists too often. Radio 6 is good, but can't so with 'The Freak Zone'. Like some of Radio 2, but Mark Radcliffe's sold out and finally become a member of the establishment. Remember the days of 'Out on Blue Six'? Stormin' radio. that was. Radio 1's been off the boil for a while now and even XFM gets patchy. There's interesting stuff on the Internet accessible channels, but, if I'm bashing away on the PC, I generally forget to listen! Anyone tried Pandora? I registered with the zip code for the Whitehouse.

Think I'll give the blogs a shufty later. There seems to be interesting stuff to read thereabouts and it'd be nice to think I can be part of a community if I wanted to. Probably won't want to as I never have before, but there's always a first time. Did have a look at a couple earlier: one was very cleverly written and a good read, but the other was absolute shite - pretty much like this . . . .

Righto, today's toy:

Yes, I know there are two, but that's the way they were photographed. This time we've got very un-P.C. Arab militia types from just about any time from the Lebanese civil war onwards. The bloke on the right has a Hot licks logo on his t-shirt which I was pleased with.

Time for something to eat, I think, so see you later.


Cor, innit cold?

Just got back from my first blood test of 2008. Nothing serious, just got a doctor who's determined to prove I'm diabetic, but can't seem to come up with any evidence. Still, it's only the NHS that has to pay eh?

Anyway, snow over various parts of the country today which will give the railways another excuse not to run normal services and those so inclined to dodge work. The best thing of all is that this weather makes us appreciate the long, hot summers we get . . . .

US caucus today, so we'll have some idea of the running order at least for the Democrats. Personally I prefer Clinton, for a variety of reasons, but Obama might surprise everyone. Not sure about his credentials as the first black candidate - he's more white than I am! Don't think he's got nearly enough experience though and he's a give for anyone who's crafty enough to spot an easy opportunity to manipulate government.

It's a sad reflection on domestic politics when I'm more interested in the US elections eh? Mind you, they are the most powerful country in the world (maybe until China gets to grips with things). Imagine having a country with a credible government and a credible opposition instead of Cameron continually sniping at Brown. Maybe that's too much to hope for?

So anyway, not back to work until Monday, so I can still do whatever I please. Might paint some leads or watch a film or even knock out some ironing. Browned off with reading at the moment - overload the past few days, I think. Got an Asimov on the go at the moment along with one on Pickett's Charge, another on F the G at Rossbach and Leuthen and another on Taoism. It's all go innit?

Which film to watch?

  • Shrek 3
  • The Third Man (best film ever)
  • Bladerunner Final Cut
  • Saving Private Ryan (again!)

See what's in the HMV sale? . . . . Answers on a post card . . . .

O.K., today's toy . . . .

Ragged soldier of the 1st Connecticut (American War of Independence).

See you anon,


That's that then . . . .

So anyway, how was it for you?

All over for another twelve months and now we can get back to being overt arseholes and drop the air of yuletide bon homie we've hidden behind until the sales started.

Chris was on duty again yesterday (and tomorrow as well, I think) so she had a good end to '07. I did: I finally fixed that damned bookcase, went to thte tip and hid more stuff in the loft. I'm not particularly tidy, but I do subscribe to the out of sight, out of mind principle. That's why I never go to see Chris' mother.

No resolutions for '08 because I make them all the time and never keep any of them for more than a few days. Breaking strain of a dipped flake, that's me. No wishes for world peace or whatever as a good bit of strife makes the news programmes interesting.

Seems to be a short paragraph year so far. Must be overexcited about the prospect of another cycle of same old, same old. No, I think we each ought to pick something to do this year that's different from the norm, but doesn't need to have any particular benefit or purpose. I don't mean the usual stuff like write the Great British Novel (something I've been threatening to attempt for about 15 years) or learn a new language (I struggle enough with English as it is). Think of something which you could develop or learn just for the hell of it, like riding a bike or juggling or actually reading a book a month - properly. Like the rest of you, I'll have to bend my mind to this project because I'm a long time sufferer of CBA syndrome, so it'd better be something that grabs me even though that might not be the purpose of the exercise - or it could be if I wanted it to be.

Really hungry at the moment. Not had anything to eat since my tea last night. That'll be dinner to anyone south of Cheshire, excluding the Cheshire Set of course and anyone who lives beyond the Mersey. Might break with tradition and have some breakfast later, but what? Bacon toasties sound nice, or wheaties with a few sultanas thrown in for good measure and as a concession to healthy eating.

My father would've hung his head in despair at the thought of missing breakfast - most important meal of the day and all that. He's right, of course, but there are some who retch at the thought of eating so soon to regaining consciousness. My own particular dislike about breakfast is that it's the one meal of the day that shouldn't be rushed. Shovelling down a bowl of cereal at half past six in the morning isn't my idea of paradise, whereas a relaxed nosebag over a decent newspaper (Do they still exist? Discuss.), accompanied by the radio (not the two plonkers on Radios 1 and 2 or bloody Classic FM) is a far more civilised way to start the day. However, I'm buggered if I'm getting up at five o'clock just to do that.

O.K., today's toy. A Victorian adventurer - no, honest . . . .

Right, I'm off.


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...