Sunday, 9 June 2019

Batting on

"Working people have a lot of bad habits, but the worst of these is work." - Clarence Darrow

I have come out of retirement again, most definitely for the final time, and in theory therefore there should be less time for wargaming. However, it's only part time and a spate of heavy rain here whilst there was no rain where the Cricket World Cup was taking place led to me getting the brushes out for the first time in some months. Already half complete was a unit of WWI British cavalry in both mounted and dismounted form and so I finished them off.

As I may have mentioned previously I managed to lose one of the dismounted figures somewhere between the washing and mounting for painting phases. I had hoped that during the long pause he would have made his way back to his comrades like in the scene from the first Toy Story movie, but sadly his desertion seems permanent. The horse holder is intended as a marker to highlight that these are dismounted cavalry.

I also set up in the annexe the Möckern scenario for Epic C&C, last played a couple of years ago (photos here and here).

I think the current set-up looks better for having lost all the bits of coloured felt, although if you look closely you'll still be able to see a small piece marking the ford across the Elster.

This particular battle gives me a chance to put some of my Polish troops on the table. If you have clicked on the link above you'll have seen an almost identical photo.

And a reminder of what the letters mean; the numbers are strength remaining.

The maps just visible on the pegboard to the right are from the not very ongoing Seven Years War campaign.

Friday, 7 June 2019

The Night Tripper

So, farewell then Dr John.

Here's Aretha with one of his songs:

And here, not for the first time on this blog, is the song that first made me aware of Mac Rebennack all those years ago; it's very long, but then again you can never have too much Steve Marriot:

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Splitters Split

Reg: "We're the People's Front of Judea!"

Loretta: "Oh, I thought we were the Popular Front."

Reg: "People's Front!"

Loretta: "Whatever happened to the Popular Front?"

Reg: "He's over there."

My sources point to one possible reason for the Tigger's problems. Notwithstanding the succession of ex-Tory females paraded as their leader over the last couple of months it appears that both Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie thought that the long term solution was an ex-Labour man; in fact each of them thought that it should be him.

Let's end with a quote from Harold Pinter which is relevant not just to the Keystone Cops of British politics, but also to the tangerine sleazebag currently polluting the air over here:

“The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lies. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.” 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Mary, Don't You Weep

I have been to see 'Amazing Grace', the documentary of Aretha Franklin recording a live gospel album in January 1972. It's every bit as good as all the reviews say. Mind you, I wouldn't believe everything you read. Mick Jagger is in the second night audience and I saw one critic claim that this was a direct influence on 'Exile on Main Street'. Maybe, maybe not. The fact that the Stones' masterpiece had already been recorded by then would suggest the latter to me. One thing very noticeable to your bloggist was that everyone is clapping in time; look and learn British audiences, look and learn.

I also went to see 'Booksmart', the first hour of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then suddenly felt rather nauseated. It got worse and, having visions of being Uncle Dick all over the people in the row in front, I made a hurried exit.

So, one film strongly recommended and one recommended with the caveat that I never saw the second half.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Milli Verdilli

And so to the opera. I have been to see Opera North's semi-staged concert version of 'Aida', a rather different experience to the last time that I saw it. As opposed to hordes of non singing extras dressed as Ancient Egyptians this had only the main cast and chorus in modern dress. The Egyptian king and priests were in business suits, Amneris in designer dresses, while Radames was in generic Middle Eastern militia chic. For the Ethiopians Aida herself was dressed in the most unflattering cargo trouser/t-shirt combination and bizarrely her father appeared to be done up as a Mexican peon. Musically it was naturally first class, with mezzo Alessandra Volpe as Princess Amneris being especially good.

Tenor Rafael Rojas never had a chance to shine vocally because he had lost his voice and was unable to sing. This led to something I had never seen before. Luis Chapa was flown in to substitute - and the fact that singers are able to do so at a moment's notice is astonishing to me - but Rojas 'walked' the part i.e. acted it out while the sound came from elsewhere. It all worked well enough as long as one didn't look at his face; lip-synching obviously doesn't yet feature in an opera singer's training.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019


In an unexpected turn of events we switch abruptly from politics to wargaming.

Or perhaps not that abruptly. The recent election required me to drop my usual - and natural - curmudgeonly persona and actually talk to people. In conversation I discovered that one of my fellow candidates was a wargamer and so invited him round for a game.

He is apparently a competition wargamer, playing 15mm Ancients with some form of DBA; I've never played any of that family of rules so I'm afraid I can't be more specific. I had suggested C&C Napoleonics and thought it best to start a newcomer to the game with the original card deck and size of playing surface. I therefore set up the Grossbeeren scenario, which as I had all the stuff printed off and to hand I must have played at some point before. Note that the bits of coloured felt previously used to denote different terrain types have been upgraded to something more aesthetically pleasing; and not before time.

The French capture the town

My guest played the French and I took the Prussians. He managed to deploy his troops away from the baseline much more quickly than me and it didn't look to good for Blucher after an hour or so. It took him a while to adjust to not being able to shoot everything every turn, but for a complete novice he was making fairly shrewd card selections. But then I embarked on a run of good fortune with the dice which would have embarrassed even James, who is notoriously lucky at C&C. In the end it was a comfortable win for the boys in dark blue.

But not for long

The game was well received and hopefully we shall fit in another in the not too distant future, probably using the rules in expansions 5 and 6.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Alastair Campbell

"A man must be excessively stupid, as well as uncharitable, who believes there is no virtue but on his own side." - Joseph Addison

I know how much you all like posts about the internal politics of the Labour party, so here's another one. I need to write this now because it will only be pertinent whilst Alastair Campbell remains expelled, and I confidently expect that decision to be overturned quite quickly.

I don't have much time for Campbell, author of the 'dodgy dossier' and key player in the takeover of the party twenty five years ago by the carpetbaggers of Blairism. However, the decision to expel him is hypocritical, biased and completely self-defeating. His decision to vote Lib Dem in the recent European elections was entirely sensible; indeed I did the same myself.

Regardless of what it should nominally have been about that election clearly boiled down to a straight binary choice. The Labour Party's policy was (and is) such a complete bag of shit that it amounted to a wasted vote whatever one's views. If one wished to support remain one had to vote for one of the parties which unambiguously supported it. Clearly I was never going to vote for Chris Leslie and the splitters and I chose LibDem rather than Green because I judged that they would be the closest challengers to the Faragistes.

It was the first time I had ever voted for anyone other than Labour in my life, I do not regret it, I shall not keep it a secret, and I would have done either if it had resulted in my own expulsion, which of course it won't.