Thursday, 21 September 2017

I could do without my warhorse; I could drag about in a skirt;

I've just come across this in a bookshop:

I have no doubt that posts are already being written on many wargaming blogs condemning its publication. It's a good job that no woman has ever combined both outrages - that of wearing men's clothing and that of going to war - at the same time.

"I was admonished to adopt feminine clothes; I refused and still refuse."

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


"The robb'd that smiles, steals something from the thief." - William Shakespeare, Othello

And so to the theatre. The previous post mentioned the sitcom about Selwyn Froggitt. At exactly the same time that was being made in YTV's Kirkstall Road studios they were also making the far superior 'Rising Damp'. It is fitting therefore that I have just been to see a play by Eric Chappell, the man who put the words into the mouth of Rigsby, and who was obliged to write a lot more of them because Leonard Rossiter spoke so quickly.

'Theft' is described a comedy thriller, but turns out not to involve any thrills at all. However, it provides sufficient laughs and so we'll let that pass. One doesn't have to be a devotee of Priestley to see that Chappell had 'An Inspector Calls' in his mind when he wrote it, with an outsider who may not be what he seems to be disturbing a superficially comfortable bourgeois status quo. The writer is mostly known for his dialogue, but here he also provides the main character with a most amusing entrance. I saw Northern Broadsides use a similar coup de theatre in their production of Dario Fo's 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' a few years ago and once again it was most effective here.

And since we're on the subject of theft:

“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes - believes with all its heart - that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty.” - Colson Whitehead

Monday, 18 September 2017

Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt!

It has been drawn to my attention that the performer whose act at Batley Varieties was interrupted in 1969 by the late arrival of the pies was in fact Bill Maynard rather than Stan Boardman. I feel it is important to make this correction because whereas Boardman is best known for making racist jokes about Germans, Maynard was a film actor of some distinction, featuring in movies of the calibre of 'Carry on at Your Convenience'.  Among other Carry On films in which Maynard appeared was 'Carry on Henry VIII' which I mentioned here, and in which Maynard played a somewhat out of time Guy Fawkes. Maynard, who believe it or not was in contention to sing the UK's entry in the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest in 1957, stood as an independent Labour candidate against Tony Benn in the Chesterfield by election of 1984, in my view a bigger black mark against him even than his appearing in 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' (although obviously there is a political connection there as well, in that the actor playing his son-in-law in that film later had a real life son-in-law who became prime minister). I mentioned a while ago that 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' was partly shot in my home town. Less impressively, so were the Confessions films.

Speaking of films, I find that I have seen some and not bothered to write about them yet:
  • Logan Lucky: I went thinking it was about motor racing, in the opening five minutes it seems as if it's going to be a searing indictment of the lack of universal health provision in the US and then it turns into an amusing enough caper movie, with a good joke about Game of Thrones which is understandable even to those like me who have never seen the show. Overall it's probably most notable for Daniel Craig's accent.
  • The Big Sick: A fairly average romantic comedy which is nevertheless better than its name suggests. The unanswered question is why there is apparently only one comedy club in the whole of Chicago.
  • Wind River: It's a cowboy film pretending to be a present day murder mystery. It passes the time nicely; just don't think too hard about the plot or the unresolved loose ends.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Taking things as they come

"The lot assigned to every man is suited to him, and suits him to itself." - Marcus Aurelius

And so to the theatre. I have been to see 'Eden End', a relatively rarely performed play by one of this blog's heroes J.B. Priestley. I rather unexpectedly found myself sitting next to Tom Priestley, the great man's son. Whilst we didn't exchange more than pleasantries it certainly caused me to think that I'd got top value for my ticket money, and I commend the idea to theatres everywhere. I'm seeing some Ibsen soon and I trust that the West Yorkshire Playhouse are already scouring Norway for a descendant of the playwright so as to add that little bit extra to my visit. In the event family influence on my enjoyment of 'Eden End' didn't stop there, because after the show, over coffee and cake, Nicolas Hawkes, Priestley's stepson asked me what I had made of the play, politely listened to my interpretation and then equally courteously told me that I had got it completely wrong. That didn't bother me in itself - no one is more aware than me of the shallowness of the intellectual foundations on which this blog is built - but there is one element that does cause some lingering embarrassment. His take on it, the official view if you will, is that the moral of the play is that one must take things as they come. Given that your bloggist's major affectation is to hide behind the name of an eminent Stoic philosopher you might be forgiven for supposing that I ought to have worked that out for myself.

Going back to Ibsen, Stella Kirby was played here by the same actress who played Nora Helmer in the production of 'A Doll's House' that I saw a few months ago. This production takes Priestley's play and gives it an additional prologue and epilogue in the form of music hall routines featuring her, the purpose of which is to allude to her character's backstory, to reference other works by the author such as 'The Good Companions' and to presage the Great War which shortly followed the play's 1912 setting (1). In the finale she sings and dances while wearing male military uniform, a costume choice which I know some blog readers find titillating, but which others have recently indicated that they see as an abomination of such horror that violence is the only appropriate response. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

(1) In case you think I'm being foolhardy in venturing my own opinions despite having earlier been shot down by someone who knew what they were talking about, be reassured that I got all that from the director, to whom I also spoke at the post show reception.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Same Blues, Different Decade

"Do I want the Seventies to come back? No. The haircuts were terrible. Everyone stank. The food was awful." - Douglas Coupland

To which he could have added the clothes of course. But what about the music? I ask the question because I have been to see the Maas and Moody Band, who seem to share my views on the subject. Micky Moody (MM senior that is - MM junior is the drummer in the band and indeed in the clips below) was in Whitesnake and, before that, Juicy Lucy and so he was there. But while he might be a near contemporary of mine, Ali Maas is clearly somewhat younger; nevertheless her vocals fit right in. So, if you like female fronted, riff-driven, guitar-solo heavy, British blues rock of the sort that one might have seen at St Albans Civic Centre most Saturday nights forty years ago - and let's face it who doesn't - then look no further.

I'm not sure about the stand up bass though - I'm glad to say that had disappeared by the time that I saw them. Moody also told an amusing anecdote about playing at Batley Variety Club as part of Gene Pitney's band which involved Stan Boardman and some meat pies; you don't get that from Eric Clapton.

They finished with a cover of Dylan's 'Gotta Serve Somebody', and so shall we. This is by the marvellous Etta James:

Friday, 15 September 2017

Crap chariots redux

I confidently predicted last week that we would be playing Italian Wars in the legendary wargames room until the show at Derby. It will therefore be no surprise to anyone familiar with my forecasting track record that we shall be in the wargaming annexe at the Casa Epictetus for a game next week. I have rather fallen out of love with the Great War, or at least with Through the Mud and the Blood, so have had to cast around for something else to do. The timely receipt from my erstwhile bandmate Don of some much improved Quick Play Sheets for To the Strongest! which he has prepared tipped things in that direction, with the added benefit of giving me an incentive to finish off the chariots which have been languishing half painted in the cupboard under the boiler for far too long.

Apparently he fell off when he did this while in motion

That reminds me of a recent post on the Palouse Wargaming Journal blog which not only featured some very nicely painted Assyrians, but also posed the question as to which looked the best: more chariots or more chariot units? I have no hesitation in plumping for the former, but then 20mm plastic are somewhat cheaper than 28mm metal. So the scenario will feature, for the first time, five chariot units at two chariots per unit. At the moment that's the entire plan; possibly more thought is required.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Are we getting the hang of this?

A brief reappearance to mention what was for me the best game that we have played so far with the Black Powder family of rules. Sadly that doesn't mean that I won. I think that all was lost when the dice roll determined that I should set up first. Then of course I put my guns in the wrong place, sent half my cavalry the wrong way and rallied the wrong unit when opportunity finally arose.

But we are starting to be familiar with the rules sufficiently to both get most of them right most of the time and to play in a way that make sense within them. I still think that both the broken battalia rule and the flank/enfilade rule are ridiculous, but there is nothing there that can't be fixed. I do wonder though whether it would be possible - and better- to graft the good bits of these rules on to Piquet.