Saturday, 30 April 2016

Allez Lizzie

Stage 2 of le Tour de Yorkshire was in town today, as was a one off women's race. The latter started off at 8:15 in the morning, but still drew a large crowd due to the presence of local heroine (and world champion) Lizzie Armitstead. I'd like to illustrate all this with a brilliant photo of her, but like all bad workmen I was let down by my tools. Instead here's one showing how le Tour respected diversity by making a panda a steward for the day:

The ceremonial roll out passed in front of the Casa Epictetus, but one of the competitors, number 95 in fact, didn't, managing to bust a wheel before they had gone a few hundred metres.

There was plenty of entertainment to keep the crowd occupied during the six (count them: six) hours between the start of the women's and men's races, although frankly most of us just went home, a journey in my case of about ten feet. I did however step out again to check out the excellent Yan Tan Tether peforming outside the Woolpack. Unfortunately for them their performance was interrupted by a huge hailstorm.

Even more unfortunately this resulted in the PA system going bang, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the recent exploding kettle incident chez Epictetus. Indeed, as with the earlier occurrence, we should be thankful that this ill advised mixing of electricity and water didn't have far worse results. But instead, like the troupers they are, the ladies simply stepped off stage to be nearer their audience and sang unamplified. Admittedly because of the appalling weather the only people still there were their families and me, but nonetheless one must admire such a display of the Dunkirk spirit.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Unto the breach

We've had love poetry and we've had opera and I can sense some Shakespeare and some cycling are just about to appear. I must therefore, with all due apologies to those readers not interested in the subject, squeeze in some wargaming. Which is more than I have been able to do in real life. I have been to London (getting the first use out of my senior citizen's railcard) and it must be borne in mind that I have a personal life more complicated than befits someone, well someone with a senior citizen's railcard. Not only have I missed the first night of Lobositz (although I suspect that it may, as with Sidi Rezegh, come round again soon enough), but I haven't really had a chance to catch up with many other blogs. One that I'm glad to have read is Prometheus in Aspic where General Fwa has been running through a rather fine looking ECW siege at which I urge you all to take a look.

One of the issues he raises is how to model sap diggers in 20mm. Now the good general is a user of classic metal 20mm figures with the occasional resort to plastic for the odd figure he can't source in metal. I, on the other hand, generally use plastic with the odd metal figure. Strangely, this is somewhat easier for me. Plastic figures are, in general, taller than metal. When using a metal figure all I do is, if necessary, put a piece of cardboard underneath it. Short of chopping it off at the knees, one can't do the same in reverse.

Anyway, as it happens I have myself modelled some sap diggers, as part of my doomed WSS project. In fact the engineers and siege artillery are pretty much the only elements that didn't mysteriously disappear. So, and with the added bonus of helping me try out the not particularly new any more camera (about which I am suffering some serious post purchase dissonance), are a couple of not particularly good photos of them:

The chaps actually digging are Orion Pirates. Other figures suitable for conversion are available in the Imex Pilgrims and Pioneers sets or from the Accurate/Revell box of Confederate Pioneers. I also have a bit (OK, quite a lot) of siege equipment and figures for circa 1400, and have managed to utilise figures from those sets therein. Here is the Crow, with apologies for the obtrusive plastic box in the background:

I must try to get that stuff onto the table for a game sometime. I am particularly fond of the boiling oil dispenser. But they'll have to take their place in the queue, part of which is formed by the Great War trench raid project. So finally here is a very rude looking strongpoint.

Short and thick, does the trick

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Il dolce suono

And so to the opera. I have belatedly become an enthusiast for live transmissions of stage plays and, even more belatedly, have extended it to operas. The big worry was, obviously, what would the sound be like, and I have to report that it was superb; on top of which I think that in this case the cinema viewer may have got the best of the visuals as well, because the camera was able to focus on what really mattered without being distracted by all the nonsense entailed by the director's agenda. The most odd thing about the live relay experience is the lack of applause from the audience around one. It's bad enough in a play, but in opera there are far more occasions for applauding, or indeed for booing; because I have been to see the controversial Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Overall conclusion? I'm voting no. Not to the extent of booing; that would be ridiculous even if I wasn't two hundred miles away, although two people did walk out when our heroine had a very bloody miscarriage. But top marks to the band and the singers, especially the thrilling Diana Damrau in the title role, but nul points for the pretentious direction and staging.

The director stated in an interview screened before the performance that she wanted to make this a more feminist version. I have no problem with that ambition. My literary taste doesn't run to the Gothic in general or to Sir Walter Scott in particular so I can't comment on how feminist or otherwise the original novel is; I'm guessing not very. However, the reality is that the plot is the plot and Lucia is a victim (not the only one - surely one has to feel a bit sorry for Arturo); therefore the best way to make a feminist point is to show that her victimhood at the hands of men is a bad thing. This isn't very hard.

What is hard is watching the stupid split stage with which the director inflicts us. Her argument is seemingly that by showing Lucia doing stuff when everyone else is making decisions about her the female role is enhanced. It doesn't work. All that one sees - with one major exception - is her dressing, undressing and vomiting while the men do the powerful stuff. Feminism my arse. The major exception is where the thing really comes unstuck. The one real act of existential authenticity that our heroine takes (I mean in the original plot; in this version she also consummates her passion for Edgardo) is to murder her husband on their wedding night. Donizetti has it take place offstage while Edgardo and Enrico are debating which of them, is going to kill the other and why. Here it takes place on the other side of the stage at the same time. Unfortunately the brother and the lover take so long raking over old family feuds that, presumably in order to occupy the time, Arturo turns out to be as hard to kill as Rasputin. He's stabbed, but he won't stay down; he's smothered with a pillow, but he rises again; and so on. It's hilarious, but that's probably not what was intended. As is the fact that all the female chorus members are dressed as men and have false moustaches.

Now regular readers will know that I like a bit of bel canto almost as much as I like a bit of verismo, and vocally this was really good stuff; but probably best listened to rather than watched.

Sunday, 24 April 2016


He loved her and she loved him
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and Sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy place
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His word were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall
Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

In the morning they wore each other's face

                                       - Ted Hughes

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Perseverare Autem Diabolicum

'Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum, et tertia non datur' - Seneca

There has been wargaming, and once again it was the Romans and the Celts facing off as the annexe saw another game of To the Strongest!. In our previous game the Celts lost very heavily, which led to a certain amount of thought as to how to even things up. I wanted to take into account a number of things: they never win in a stand-up fight, warbands can't interpenetrate so there's no point in having a reserve line behind the main one and, just as important, it's a bit boring playing the Romans if all they have to do is move forward and kill barbarians.

All of which led to the layout above. The Romans, that's them on the left, have to exit the chap in the white chariot through the valley top right. Which they didn't. In fact he did a sort of shuffle, moving forwards, sideways and backwards until he ended up more or less where he started, albeit minus most of his escort. Yes, the Celts won.

A rarely seen view of the wargaming annexe
Now they didn't do it in the way that I would have approached it, utilising hit and run tactics and hiding behind the terrain so thoughtfully provided for them. Instead they went for the very successful, though probably unrepeatable, approach of charging head on and then drawing precisely the tokens they needed from the bag at the exact time that they needed them (a). Irritating in the extreme for the Roman player, but then that was Peter, and if it wasn't for bad luck then he wouldn't have any luck at all, so he ought to be used to it.

The scenario worked after a fashion, but I would make a couple of changes before playing it again. Firstly the Celts were penalised by their chariots being placed in front of the stream; they should have been swapped with the light cavalry on the hill in the centre right. Secondly we should have used some sort of morale check for the Celts. The Romans are on an escort mission and so it has to be do or die, but the Celts should pack up and go home if things get tough. For some reason (b) we have never used the command demoralisation rules when playing TtS! either in the annexe or in the legendary wargames room, but in this case they would have been appropriate, especially if we took each command to be a separate tribe (or whatever the Celtic equivalent was).

A chap with a beard
 I still rather like this ruleset, although we clearly still aren't yet playing it totally correctly. This isn't helped by the fact that I have version 1 and the others have version 2. As far as I'm aware the changes aren't significant, but I think I'd better get up to speed and buy a copy of the latest edition. But not yet, because it's time for a change. I mentioned the legendary wargames room of James 'Olicanalad' Roach, and we shall next week be back in Ilkley, epicentre of wargaming in the Lower Wharfe Valley, for some Seven Years War goodness. When we return to the annexe in due course it will be to belatedly try the new C&C Napoleonics expansion.

(a) I use Warbases MDF playing card tokens instead of playing cards. It makes shuffling easier and looks better on the table.
(b) That reason is clearly an aversion to bookkeeping.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


There has been music. Firstly the Blues Band, who basically do what the name suggests and have been doing it for a long, long time. They are fronted by Paul Jones, famous for having presented Radio 2's Rhythm & Blues show for the last thirty odd years and, less impressively, for once having sung 'Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do'. Still, we all have the odd skeleton in the cupboard and they are immensely professional and well worth catching.

I reported here on the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band when they recently recorded a live album - my copy of which has just arrived and is both very good and very faithful to my memory of the night - and, in short order, I've seen them again. This time it was at a fundraiser for the junior doctors' strike fund, which gave them plenty of excuses to be rude about Jeremy Hunt; not that there has ever been a shortage.

Finally, I saw the Gum Trio, a name which I assume is a pun. I'm not sure if there is a particular point to it because they didn't compromise much in pursuit of popularity. Two of their first three songs were sung in French. One was zydeco and had about fifty verses; the other was a paean to a Congolese accordion player and the lyrics, as far as I could establish, mainly consisted of assertions that the chap involved did indeed play the accordion. I must pick out as a highlight their excellent ska version of "Lara's Theme", which is as good an excuse to post a picture of Julie Christie as one could wish for.

And, even more finally, I've been out and about with the new, nearly-new camera. I am thinking hard about the sort of photos that I'd really like to take, but for now here's one looking back down Crummack Dale from Beggars Stile; that's obviously Pendle Hill in the far distance.

And here's a limestone pavement on Moughton Scar; the peak on the left is Ingleborough.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Steve Marriott

It was twenty-five years ago today that Steve Marriott died:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

                             - Pablo Neruda

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Suddenly, as rare things will, it vanished

 "Vanity is the healthiest thing in life." - Karl Lagerfeld

It has become apparent that one of my readers scans the blog for mentions of herself and if she doesn't find any she seeks revenge by hunting down spelling mistakes. Well she may have found another error, but my own revenge will be to never mention her ever again; possibly.

Today's topic is actually some photographs that I was happily taking earlier before the battery in my new camera suddenly ran out at an inauspicious moment. I'm a bit concerned that my attempt to save money by buying a second hand camera may have proved a mistake; who'd have thought it? Anyway, one photo survives and, although it doesn't show everything I was hoping for, it's still well worth looking at.

I have been basing up a couple of the Early War Miniatures thermoformed shell holes and strongpoints and the picture shows three of them in various stages of production. My use of the coping saw proved to be surprisingly adept, but there was still a problem. It works fine for cutting out single hexes, but doesn't function at all for multi-hex groups, because the depth of the saw frame isn't sufficient; an entirely predictable difficulty. I have resorted to a Stanley knife, which works well and, let's be honest, is what James recommended in the first place. I have also used my hot glue gun to fix plastic to hardboard; this the first time it's seen any action despite having owned it for years. I can report that it works a treat and I have absolutely no idea why I've never tried it before.

Friday, 15 April 2016

A god speaks

Never reproach another for his love:
It happens often enough
That beauty ensnares with desire the wise
While the foolish remain unmoved.

- Odin 

On a different subject - as if kicking off with a quote from Asgard itself wasn't enough - it seems to me that what the world needs on a Friday is some Curtis Mayfield:

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Galia est pacata

I have mentioned before (a) my opinion that in grid based wargames it is crucial to use the game tactics that the rules writer had in mind to replicate real tactics. We ran into this problem when first playing C&C Ancients and again with TtS!. We have played the latter with Wars of the Roses, Punic Wars and Early Imperial Romans against Celts and the problem is far less in the first case. Logic suggests this is because in that case we have two essentially identical forces using essentially identical tactics whereas Romans versus others is asymmetrical. Last night the wargaming annexe saw the same issue replicated.

Now this could all be, as I have heard suggested, because the rules writer loves the Romans. It could also however be because the Romans were simply better at fighting than everyone else; and given that in the periods that we're discussing they won all the wars and had a huge empire there may be something in this. The implication of which is that the Celts need to be slightly smarter than simply aiming for a straight up fight.

Note the crapness of the chariots

Anyway, a straight up fight is what happened, and as usual they lost. The post game discussion revolved around how they might do better next time. The rules give warbands three hits before they die, meaning that they last longer; specifically that they are less likely to be defeated in one melee. It seems to me that the tactics have to be to take advantage of this by withdrawing behind the chariots following disorder, to rally and come again. Being deep units they can't interpenetrate and therefore the deployment must be wide and thin rather than narrow and deep. Meanwhile the chariots and skirmishers can press against the Roman line because should these charge them they will almost certainly move forward, making them more vulnerable to being attacked by the warbands.

(a) The page to which that link directs you is one of those from which the photographs are now missing. You may recall that I was trying to establish what had caused images to disappear across a number of posts. I failed, and the only upside of my efforts was a gratuitous photograph of Agneta's backside; for which I can only apologise and promise not to do it again.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Gentles, do not reprehend

 “Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time.”
And so to the theatre. I have been to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's touring production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" accompanied by the elder Miss Epictetus, whose judgement of what to see at the theatre proved sound once again. The production was excellent; and, yes, I'm well aware that if anyone should be able to put together a decent stab at it, then it's them. I'd go so far as to say that the realisation of the character of Puck - both the concept and Lucy Ellinson's performance - was as good as any I've seen before. The setting was Gatsbyesque Jazz Age, although the backdrop of a ruined wall hinted at the preceding horrors, as perhaps did Egeus' uniform and military moustache. Were we meant to understand that Egeus' preference for Demetrius was because, being older than Lysander,  he had 'been through it' and the other had not?

Puck and Oberon

The main conceit of this tour is that at each venue, including Stratford and the Barbican, the Mechanicals are played by amateur actors from a local drama company. At the Alhambra these, some of whom I had previously seen in productions such as Pinter's "Birthday Party", came from the Leeds Arts Centre and were very good. It has always seemed to me that the two areas where non-professionals often struggle are in comic timing and in voice projection. The comedy, always such a crucial part of this play, was a risqué delight, but I did hear complaints from those further back in the stalls about the difficulty of understanding one or two of them. So, a good night out in Bradford, which was completed in the traditional manner with a keema madras at the Kashmir.

On a completely unrelated subject, the first hex cut from the sheet hardboard is approximately the correct dimensions and has six sides; I'm going to count that as a success.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The rigorous organization of visually perceived forms

   "The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own. "  
- Susan Sontag

I think I mentioned that I had bought a pre-loved camera. I duly took it out and about in the Washburn Valley to try it out. I now find, perhaps inevitably, that I don't have the correct cable to upload these to my computer. Instead therefore please accept the inferior work of another photographer, albeit that this one shows your bloggist in cross-country action.

I will hopefully sort out the cable issue before writing up tomorrow's game. I am also planning to take some interesting photos this coming weekend; as long as I can avoid being distracted by whatever else is going on at the time.

In other news, I have bought a coping saw and am about to attempt to cut up some 3mm hardboard into 10cm hexes. This will not end well.

Monday, 11 April 2016

That Time and Absence proves Rather helps than hurts to loves

Absence hear thou my protestation
Against thy strength
Distance and length:
Do what thou canst for alteration
For hearts of truest mettle
Absence doth join and Time doth settle.

Who loves a mistress of such quality
His mind hath found
Affection's ground
Beyond time place and all mortality.
To hearts that cannot vary
Absence is present Time doth tarry.

My senses want their outward motion
Which now within
Reason doth win
Redoubled by her secret notion:
Like rich men that take pleasure
In hiding more than handling treasure.

By Absence this good means I gain
That I can catch her
Where none can watch her
In some close corner of my brain:
There I embrace and kiss her
And so enjoy her and none miss her.

- John Donne

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A damn poor mind indeed

For 'fueled' read 'fuelled'. And many thanks to the Big Bouncy Woman (who for various reasons is no longer to be known as the Lady Gardener) for gleefully pointing it out.

A wargaming catch-up: there hasn't been any. When choosing a nice indoor hobby like wargaming I obviously assumed that it would be immune from the weather. However, this winter's storms have played havoc with the timetable and so it was again this week when, coupled with a over-confidently aggressive cat, the wind and rain caused the game to be postponed. That doesn't excuse the lack of painting however; that was a victim of ongoing birthday celebrations. Hopefully it will pick up again this week. My IT Miniatures order has now arrived so there is plenty to go at. I have acquired a cheap, second hand camera - nothing like as good as the one that I lost - so maybe there will be some photos whenever the game does get played.

I've also been to the Henry Moore Institute to see their latest exhibition 'A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham'. I'd be lying if I said that I liked it, but it did give me much to think about; mainly how much I disliked it.

Those really are three piles of coal

Saturday, 9 April 2016

How did it get so late so soon?

"How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon
December is here before it's June
My goodness how the time has flewn
How did it get so late so soon?

- Dr Seuss

Better never than late, but here is the roundup of boardgames played in March.

7 Wonders: Duel: I really liked this. I have always liked 7 Wonders (without actually being any good at it) and have been happy to play it. But this is much better and, for the warmongers among you, gives a military route to victory. Boardgaming to me is a social activity and so we don't play too many two player games, but if you're looking for one, this is a cracker.

Archaeology: The New Expedition: Pleasant enough card game loosely set in Egypt, but I enjoyed the original version more.

Code 777: An abstract deduction game in the style of Mastermind except multiplayer and with pen and paper replacing little coloured pegs. I liked it.

Codenames: I was forced to have a go at being spymaster and learned that it can be no fun at all if the words don't fall right.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong: I'm getting a bit tired of this now. It doesn't work well with larger groups, and its ability to handle larger groups is one of the few reasons for playing it.

Dominion: Hadn't played this in a yonk and rather enjoyed it. I suspect that the two things are connected.

Five Tribes: I'm not at all sure why it's called that, the official explanation clearly being tosh. It's a good game though, another one that uses the mancala mechanic to good effect.

Fuse: Real time cooperative bomb disposal. Yet another co-op game that I like; I must be going soft in my old age. The only link seems to be that one can never win.

Hanabi: Speaking of impossible co-op games that I like anyway.

Isle of Skye: Sort of auction, sort of drafting, but whatever it is it works well. Best played with the full five I think.

Kabuki: Not for me, although I won. It's to do with pattern and colour recognition; really not for me.

Karuba: Bingo (1) meets Tikal meets Carcassone in a solo game played in a group. I liked it a lot.

Lords of Vegas: Close to the end of this game it became apparent that I had been playing different rules to everyone else. I'd like to try it again, but properly before passing judgement. My gut feel is pretty negative though.

Love Letter: I don't know why this doesn't get played more often, it's a very clever design.

Mission: Red Planet: The game is OK, it's me that sucks at it. It's a game in which, essentially, you have to play all of a limited number of cards and second guessing what the others will play is the crucial skill; the crucial skill that I don't possess.

Paperback: It's a fairly simple word game, but I continue to enjoy it.

Power Grid: Nothing like as heavy as its reputation.

Red 7: Enjoyable, abstract, light filler which I've now played more than any other game.

Revolver: You know those two player games that I never find time for? Well here's another one. I won as the Colty gang. No one ever wins as the Colty gang.

Rhino Hero: Ridiculous game.

Splendor: A fine, virtually completely abstract game, and even better now that it was pointed out that we had one of the rules subtly wrong.

Tobago: Ostensibly about treasure hunting, this is a deduction game where what you are trying to deduce (the location of the treasure) isn't fixed until you have finished deducing it. Very clever mechanics; peculiar artwork that would appear to bear no relation whatever to the island of Tobago. I'd play it again.

(1) Did you know that chap who invented the name Bingo (but not the game) was the same chap who invented the name Yahtzee (but not the game)? No, nor did I.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The lady gardener (slight return)

Like a fair house, built on another man’s ground

The lady gardener herself suggests the above image is perhaps a more accurate representation of her real appearance. I know that she has looked in a mirror recently, so we shall have to take her word for it.

Anyway, speaking of merry wives, I have been to see exactly that play. Northern Broadsides have dropped the "of Windsor" (echoing Kaiser Wilhelm II who once declared that he was off to see a performance of  "The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburgh-Gotha"), but I'm not sure why, beyond a couple of spurious references to Ilkley and Skipton. It was entertaining enough - Verdi's opera based on the play is far better - but nothing out of the ordinary. Rutter's Falstaff was, like his Lear, a bit understated for my taste and his costume did him no favours, having all the realism of a circus clown's oversized trousers. The elder Miss Epictetus was perhaps wise in giving this particular Shakespeare performance a miss.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The visit of a lady gardener

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

              - Philip Larkin

Monday, 4 April 2016

Aah, aah, aah, aaaah! Radium

And so to the theatre. I have been to see the life of Madame Curie told through the medium of musical comedy and mime. And Tangram Theatre Company's 'The Element in the Room' was highly enjoyable, managing to combine the funny, the moving and the educational. Essentially a one man show given by a man in a dress, it also featured a female accordion player dressed as a man, and to add a layer of confusion the latter is also the real life wife of the former. Despite the small cast they managed to play not only pretty much the entire Curie family (a), but also a mass of support characters ranging from Democritus to Dalton and Mendeleev. Radioactive decay was illustrated through a game involving a ball of string, wobbling audience members, faux squeaky voices representing the Helium nucleus creation of alpha decay and bizarre, childish chortling standing in for the antineutrinos of beta decay. As I say, highly enjoyable.

I've also seen a large number of bands that have gone unreported here - seven in total I think - none of which you'll ever have heard off; except perhaps for anyone paying attention who may remember my continual praising of Dr Bob and the Bluesmakers. My latest theory as to where they get their name is from one of the chaps who founded Alcoholics Anonymous, but who knows? Leaving aside Dr Bob, whom I exclude because they largely do blues standards anyway, the best songs played were all covers, from which I'd particularly highlight versions of Pink Floyd's 'Time', Neil Young's 'Southern Man' and a spooky, haunting acoustic guitar run through of Lionel Richie's 'Hello'. Live music is alive and well in the Wharfe Valley at least.

(a) And what an astonishing family. Marie was, among many other achievements, the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the first scientist to win two. Marie, Pierre, their daughter Irène and her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie all won Nobel prizes, and their other son-in-law, Henry Richardson Labouisse, was head of UNICEF when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and accepted it on the organisation's behalf.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

His little chronicle, his memories, his reason

"Have common sense and stick to the point" - W. Somerset Maugham

There has been a request for less introspection fuelled by advancing years and heartache, and more posts about wargaming. Fair enough, although I must mention that I had a really lovely day on my sixtieth birthday, the Misses Epictetus taking me to Whitby, a place where astonishingly I had never been despite living in Yorkshire for the last twenty years.

So, wargaming then. Firstly, there has been some. We finished the Seven Years War battle from the previous week. James may write it up in due course, but I'm not going to report anything further myself, beyond saying that it must be a candidate for the most one-sided game that I've ever played in; quite astonishing. Some of the rules changes are here to stay, some aren't. It seems that James is planning on doing a Seven Years War game at Derby in October, so no doubt everything will be revisited anyway. We reassemble in the wargaming annexe this Wednesday for some To the Strongest!. Tempted though I am to refight Tewkesbury yet again, it's actually going to be a Romans vs Celts game featuring for the first time both the crap chariots and the Hamian archers.

In addition there has actually been quite a lot of progress in the Great War project. Three second hand Ospreys have been received, read and digested:
I enjoyed the first and third of those, but the second is hampered by dull illustrations and dodgy politics. Interestingly it doesn't subscribe to what seems to be the otherwise generally accepted line that German tactics weren't any better than those of the Entente by the end of the war. I also bought the Two Fat Lardies scenario book, Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers. I have already painted three quarters of the British required for the first scenario so have turned my attention to the Germans. I have previously explained the paucity of ordinary German riflemen available in plastic, so I have been having a tour of the available metal options and have placed orders with Lancer Miniatures, Tumbling Dice, IT Miniatures and Early War Miniatures, although not for Germans in the last case. I passed on Irregular Miniatures because they don't do late war and are in any case rather on the small side. The Lancer and Tumbling Dice have arrived and, together with a selection from Emhar and Revell are being painted. The various greys, browns and khakis of the First World War fall smack in the middle of the range in which I am colour blind and I have therefore taken the easy route and gone for Vallejo German Uniform as the main shade. Also acquired have been some British rifle grenadiers and some unpainted shell holes in thermoformed plastic. I'm not sure how I shall present them on the tabletop. They're fairly solid, but could probably do with being based; the question is really whether to put them on hexes or not.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Incompleteness in absence

"Today I begin to understand what love must be, if it exists... When we are parted we each feel the lack of the other half of ourselves. We are incomplete like a book in two volumes of which the first has been lost. That is what I imagine love to be: incompleteness in absence." - Edmond de Goncourt
Today I begin to understand what love must be, if it exists... When we are parted, we each feel the lack of the other half of ourselves. We are incomplete like a book in two volumes of which the first has been lost. That is what I imagine love to be: incompleteness in absence.
Read more at:
Today I begin to understand what love must be, if it exists... When we are parted, we each feel the lack of the other half of ourselves. We are incomplete like a book in two volumes of which the first has been lost. That is what I imagine love to be: incompleteness in absence.
Read more at:
Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms.
Read more at: