Thursday, 22 March 2018

Playing that synecdoche just like ringing a bell

This blog has always prided itself on sticking closely to its wargaming remit, but I am supportive when my fellow bloggists diversify into other areas. So I was pleased to see Prufrock wander off topic a week or so ago and reminisce about reminiscing, using music as the model for his musings. Back in the 1970s, after I had exchanged wargaming for beer, women and revolutionary socialism, one of my pleasures in life could be summed up as sitting in the back room of a pub, glass in hand, listening to a local band (any local band) play Johnny B. Goode. ["I cannot", says the Rhetorical Pedant "forgo the chance to comment on my specialist subject, namely rhetoric. Epictetus is employing the device of synecdoche, whereby a part of something - in this case Chuck Berry's best known song - refers to the whole - in this case the style of music which, back in your bloggist's youth, was referred to as Rhythm & Blues."]

And the band had to actually play Johnny B. Goode for my happiness to be complete; however good the band, however inspired the choice of the rest of their material ["That one is anaphora"] only that song would do. Indeed one of this blog's readers may possibly recall the occasion - in Jersey of all places - where the sheer joie de vivre resulting from hearing that introductory guitar riff, coupled with several pints of Mary Jane, caused me to join the band on stage as a surprise guest vocalist and sing the first and third verses. (Even to this day I'm not entirely sure that I know all the words to the second verse).

I was reminded of all this the other day by watching a group of ridiculously youthful chaps, Red Delta by name, perform in one of the local pubs. Apart from being able to play their instruments and for the fact that the vocalist could sing in key they were very similar to the band I played in all those years ago. I acknowledge that their version of "Brown Sugar" was better than ours, although as long as you ignored the lead guitar bits our cover of "Sunshine of Your Love" was there or thereabouts; maybe. Anyway, it was all good stuff: a bit of Hendrix, some Muddy Waters, some Robert Johnson, even some Rory Gallagher; but something was missing. And then they played it.

In his second childhood your bloggist may have once again taken up playing with toy soldiers, may have been forced to give up one of the alternatives he embraced instead back then (not to mention realising that one of the others was a fantasy and a dead end), but at least one thing still connects him to his adolescence.

"Go, Johnny Go!"


  1. 'Red Delta' could have been a set of skirmish wargame rules picked up in a mall in Milton Keynes.

    1. You're right - modern special ops or possibly sci-fi. I hadn't made the connection; there's only room in my head for one subject at a time these days and on that night it was the blues.

      And have you ever been to Milton Keynes? It's not the first place I'd head for if I was visiting the UK from the other side of the globe. As it happens I believe that the chap mentioned in the post above as being present forty years ago when I leapt on stage and 'helped out' on vocals used to be one of the organisers of the wargames show in the shopping mall in MK. It's a small world.

  2. No, I haven't - I was actually trying to (a little too) subtly hint at the 'ragged claws... silent seas' synecdoche in 'The Lovesong of J Alfred...'! Appropriately Jungian though that you found some kind of a connection anyway!

    1. Blimey! Out-pseuded in my own blog. The shame, the shame.

  3. Haha - Jersey seems a million years ago! The opening riff to Johnny B Goode always seemed to be stolen by the Stones most noteworthy in Star Star (As they called in on the cover!).

    The Milton Keynes wargames Show is still going strong and does at least gives us gamers a chance to drag our wives along so they can shop whilst we play!

    Talking of shows, I went to the London Model Railway Show at Ally Pally on Saturday. Never again will I complain about a Wargames Show! £12 to get in; most of the trade was selling 2nd hand tat or exactly the same as the next stand; the Railway “demos” were all surrounded by barriers so you needed binoculars to see them and there were more Geeks than a war hammer fantasy day out! The good news is that I bought a load of very cheap brushes and some nice scenery - pumpkin patch anyone?