Tuesday, 13 December 2016


"Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away." - Ben Hecht

I have been pottering along here at the Casa Epictetus doing nothing very much. I am not retired and yet I don't work. I am in what Dorothy L. Sayers referred to as 'that time of life when a man can extract an Epicurean enjoyment even from his own passions - the halcyon period between the self-tormenting exuberance of youth and the fretful carpe diem of approaching senility'.

There has been a low level of wargame related activity. I have established that with a couple more trench sections - junctions specifically - I can play the second scenario from the Stout Hearts book. I have come to two conclusions: that I can't be arsed to build them myself and that the first game was successful enough to warrant the investment of a few quid more, and therefore I shall place an order for said trench sections to be collected at Vapnartak. On the painting front I have completed more casualty markers for To The Strongest and quite a few light infantry and Commander/Hero figures for the Ancient Britons that I don't actually need. I also did a couple of the druids from the Hat Gallic Command pack which inevitably led me to consider whether it was time to revisit the Pony Wars rip off rules and convert them to hexes. I don't currently have enough Hexon hills to put on a game, but I don't think they are going to find their way into this order.

On the music front I've watched quite a few local bands in pubs ranging from the blues of the ever reliable Dr Bob & the Bluesmakers, the excellent soul covers of the Solicitors, the poppy folk originals of the Ale Marys and the zydeco of Bayou Gumbo. The last of those seemed to rather misjudge their audience. The lead singer introduced one song with a joke that made perfect sense if you were familiar with 'À la recherche du temps perdu'. The Frenchness so eagerly embraced by Otley in the days of la Tour de France has obviously dissipated, and the Tuesday night crowd in la Jonction had clearly not got round to reading their copy of Proust's masterpiece quite yet.

Speaking of reading, I have been doing quite a bit. I have just started on Jonathan Sumption's history of the Hundred Year's War. It's a big book (and that's just the first volume) and so it's left at home rather than being taken about with me. That's probably for the best because of course he is one of the members of the Supreme Court hearing the appeal about triggering Article 50, and presumably when the judgement goes against the government even the sight of his name on a book cover will be sufficient  to provoke anger in the streets. When I do venture out I rely on my kindle. Recently I have read Priestley's 'Bright Day' (which, given my love of coincidence, I was pleased to see includes a trip to a thinly disguised Malham) and McBain's 'King's Ransom'. The latter has found a place on the - very short - list that I keep of books where part of the plot turns on a cost accountancy issue. I accept that this is perhaps a niche interest, but it appeals to me. Should you wish to read them, the others in this limited category are 'The Rise of Silas Lapham' by William Dean Howells and 'Angel Pavement' by, coincidentally again, J.B. Priestley. I omit Eli Goldratt's 'The Goal' and Roger Jones' 'The Carpetmakers' for reasons which I'm sure will require no further explanation.

And finally I was sorry to hear of the death of former cabinet minister Jim Prior. As I think I have mentioned before he was the only Tory MP or former MP that I have ever met. I had dinner with him twenty years ago in Abu Dhabi while we were both selling weapons of mass destruction to Johnny Foreigner. He was very, very drunk. We discussed a number of relatively trivial things including the recent giant killing exploits of Brentford (my team) over Norwich (his team) in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but I can remember that we also touched on one of the big political issues of the day -  the proposed third runway at Heathrow; plus ça change.

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