Tuesday, 31 October 2017

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

             - Pablo Neruda

Monday, 16 October 2017

Two Minds

Your mind and mine are such great lovers they
Have freed themselves from cautious human clay,
And on wild clouds of thought, naked together
They ride above us in extreme delight;
We see them, we look up with a lone envy
And watch them in their zone of crystal weather
That changes not for winter or the night.

              - Sara Teasdale

Monday, 9 October 2017

Are we there yet?

I suspect that there are many people saying that they won't be going back to the Derby Worlds show in 2018 if it's at the same venue, and I am certainly among them. From my point of view the distance alone would be sufficient reason. If it takes twice as long to get somewhere from the Lower Wharfe Valley as it does from the Lower Lea Valley then it really can't count as a northern show. The last half hour of the journey was on narrower and narrower, but otherwise identical, country roads with no sense of getting any closer to anywhere worth going. The venue was - and if you follow many wargames blogs you are going to get fed up reading this - far too small for the number of traders and games squeezed into it, and became very noisy and very hot; admittedly the last bit was in contrast to the previous venue being far too cold. There also weren't enough toilets. On the plus side the light was a huge improvement, as could be seen if I had bothered to take any photos.

James didn't win best game this year, but then again nor did anyone else, the new organisers having apparently decided the concept wasn't worth the trouble. The game went down very well with the punters though and so I think he can claim a moral victory. We played it through once each day, with the same result both times - a French victory. Given that the original battle was an overwhelming defeat for the French who suffered forty times the casualties of the Spanish, it would seem that the scenario and/or the rules aren't quite doing what they were supposed to (1). It did make for a good game though.

 There was a small amount of shopping: as usual at shows some trees from Last Valley (only another ten years or so of show attendance and I'll have enough to refight Hanau); Blandford's 'Army Uniforms of World War 1' at a very reasonable price from the Bring and Buy; and a copy of EWM's 'Crush the Kaiser' rules. These last are at a level that appeals to me, but do on first reading seem to have a number of areas which are not spelled out in much detail. However, I do seem to have enough figures to try them out, whereas I'm still way off being able to play 'Square Bashing'.

(1) For what it's worth I think that to make the scenario better reflect the battle (and as a corollary the game less fun to play) the French should be downgraded in some way to reflect their march to the town and their unpreparedness.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


"The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing" - Marcus Aurelius

Autumn has arrived  in the Wharfe Valley which must mean it's time for the Derby Worlds. As James has written in his blog a highly untrained scratch team will be putting on an Italian Wars game. In Peter's absence the role of crap dice supremo is still up for grabs, but driving duties have been passed my way. The Stoicmobile has seen better days, but with a full tank and some more air in the tyres it might yet get us there and back, wherever 'there' actually is this year; all I currently know is that it's even further away from Derby than ever. Someone more clued up that me tells me that we're 'just inside the entrance to the right' so feel free to come and chat about the impending launch of my new range of gender neutral wargames clothes.

Speaking of toxic masculinity, I have been in a fight (OK, scuffle) for, I think, only the second time in my life (1). I don't count giving the National Front a bit of a kicking from time to time during the seventies; that comes under the heading of public service. Nor do I include the occasion a fellow student thumped me in the union bar; sadly he's no longer with us and, on reflection, he had a point anyway. In this latest incident the owner of the local launderette upon discovering that he had misplaced my duvet lost the plot completely and tried to physically throw me out of the shop (2). A few brief moments of pushing and shoving was only brought to an end by the arrival of another customer. At that point the madman drew out a very fat wallet and started slapping down twenty pound notes on the counter with great force. Showing immense restraint I only took two and then walked around the corner and bought a replacement for £16; the rest is going into the Derby Worlds new toy fund. The whole thing was very funny.

(1) By coincidence one of those present at the first fight - which took place in 1975 and accounts for the shape of my nose - will be helping out with the game on Saturday.
(2) It is possible that I had first expressed my dissatisfaction with the level of customer service in a fairly trenchant manner.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Repent, Harlequin

And so to the opera. I have been to see the traditional verismo pairing of Pagliacci and Cavallieri Rusticana; a double dose of beautifully sung adultery and murder. It is encouraging to know that should I ever meet a sticky end at the hands of an outraged husband that it will all be accompanied by some top tunes. Musically, Cav is surely the stronger, but for sheer non-stop in-your-face passion and drama I think one has to go with Pag. The Commedia dell'Arte of the original here became the rehearsal of an Opera North production, in a very meta self-referential interpretation that worked very well apart from not making any sense at all. Still, the audience were carried along by the central thrusts of the plot, and there was indeed much thrusting, not to mention writhing. The attractive and voluptuous faithless wife and her, it must be said, rather handsome and dashing lover, were perhaps not as discreet as they thought they were being, are dobbed in to the husband by a jealous male rival and pay the inevitable consequence. Cav on the other hand is completely different. Transposed from post Risorgimento Sicily to Communist Poland, the cheating wife and her lover aren't very discreet, are dobbed in to the husband by a jealous female rival and pay the consequence. Contrast and compare.

It's worth noting that the male rival, Tonio, is a nasty piece of work, whereas the female, Santuzza, is both wronged and, frankly, completely bonkers. I wouldn't like to get too close to either of them, nor indeed to either of the husbands. The lover's mother in Cav was basically Dot Cotton with a somewhat more melodious voice and the evening was a bit like a scrambled Christmas Day afternoon in front of the TV where the picture was back to back Eastenders specials and the soundtrack was the carol service from Kings College. Verismo indeed.

One last point. I am not sure - and can't be arsed to find out - if I have ever made clear this blog's position vis a vis clowns, but for the avoidance of doubt: they are not funny.