Friday, 29 June 2018


For the benefit of overseas readers, the weather in the UK is absolutely glorious and has been so for weeks; a fact which I suspect accounts, along with the occasional domestic accident, for a lack of posting on more than a few blogs, and indeed for the lack of any wargaming to post about in the first place. Nevertheless, the aforementioned smack on the head, seems to have knocked my wargaming mojo back into action and I have been - strictly in the cooler evening hours - spending some time in the annexe. The original driver for this was the threat/promise from the Unquiet Don to repeat his visit of last year, which in turn spurred me to finally buy my own hard copy of To the Strongest!. While flicking through them the rules for warwagons caught my eye and having played about with the implications of them I thought they had enough promise to set up a game. And it's the overexposed square in this photo of the result which explains why I mention the weather:

Details of individual battles in the Hussite wars are somewhat hard to come by, but there is at least some agreement on the Battle of Malesov in early June 1424. I have based my deployment on the invaluable booklet on the 1419-1435 period by L.K. Mills. I can't remember where I got it, but if it wasn't from the Lance & Longbow Society stall at a show then I would be very surprised. I shall have a little solo play both to refresh my grasp of the rules as a whole and to see how the scenario works out, after which I shall post again as to why things are the way they are.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

"Buon compleanno mia cara."

On your birthday, today, there is time to reflect
On the essence of our intimacy,
From a beginning in the spring-tide of youth
To an afterward secured in the distant mist,
And for what reason and to what end it endures.
Each year I feel the consequence, keen 
With up-welling of sentiment,
Where new love springs before the old
Has run its course (but its course is never run),
And each day adds its weight to the sum
We bear on that date this day in June, 
To solidify with birthdays gone by 
In an endless, banquet bequest. 
Today we take time out to renew
And revisit the mood of our youthful love.
Tomorrow, with the same tremulous excitement
As beset us when we danced on its eve 'til dawn 
We will wed again.

          - Ivan Don Carswell

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Unreliable narrator

This blog’s readership has steadily shrunk, until it now represents the very crème de la crème. I have therefore no worries about readers being able to differentiate between the vast spoil heap of fantasy spewed out purely for my own amusement and the odd gold nugget of truth that somehow manages to slip through undetected.

Sadly, the concussion is all too real and is rather unsettling. Your bloggist may be a superb physical specimen, but it is his mind which sets him apart; and it’s beginning to play tricks. For more than a week I have been relaying details of the cranial allision incident to anyone who would listen, and indeed to the backs of the heads of one or two who wouldn’t. This morning, in a flash of returning memory, I now realise that the story I have been telling to them – and to myself of course – isn’t actually what occurred. It happened at a different time – by several hours – and not at all in the same way. A whole conversation that I thought I had had with the younger Miss Epictetus on the subject shortly afterwards simply never happened.

Apart from the unreliability of my brain, and leaving entirely to one side the philosophical issue of whether my consciousness exists separately from what that organ is telling me, the other symptoms would appear to be slowly easing. My balance is still bad, although I don’t have problems when moving forwards, only when standing still. Were I currently in possession of sufficient cognitive bandwidth I could possibly turn that into a valuable life lesson.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Too much of water hast thou

                                                  “It's unpleasantly like being drunk." 
                                                  "What's so unpleasant about being drunk?" 
                                                  "You should ask a glass of water.” 

                                                                          - Douglas Adams

The suggested treatment for concussion is rest and lots of fluids, which sounds a lot like the suggested treatment for pretty much every other ailment as well. I found myself wondering if there was any illness for which the medical profession actually suggested limiting one's intake of fluids. Not being able to think of anything, I posed the question to Coral Laroc in her capacity as self-appointed hippy wise woman. Sadly, the best that she could come up with was 'drowning'; which would seem to indicate that wisdom is relative among the New Age community.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

A woodpecker with no beak

I find that I must apologise for yet another unscheduled absence. On this occasion it is because I have suffered a mild concussion.

Everyone I have mentioned this to has asked me the same question: "How did it happen?". I hope I am not being facetious when I say that it was caused by me receiving a blow to the head. If anyone knows of another way of becoming concussed no doubt they will leave details in the comments section below.

In the meantime, and on a totally unrelated subject, does anyone remember this rather fine Bob Godfrey directed short animated film from 1972?

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Wot - no wargaming?

So, four posts in to the commentario revixit and no mention of it's raison d'être. ["You can pack that in right away." expostulates the Rhetorical Pedant "You know that no one likes a smartarse."] So here's the wargaming.

In the legendary etc. etc. we have been firmly fixed in the Central Europe of the mid-Eighteenth Century, which is fine by me. As much as I enjoy all the other periods and rules that we play, Horse & Musket using Classic Piquet floats my boat the most. Not that James' period specific set (somewhat ironically entitled "Easy, Peasy, Lemon Squeezy") remain terribly close to the original. One further rule changes has seen melee being possible from within 3" instead of only when in contact and incidentally has confused the hell out of James himself despite it all being his idea. It does seem inevitable that we shall see at least one further alteration in the immediate future. There is an obscure rule allowing some cavalry and grenadiers to issue a morale challenge under certain circumstances simply by virtue of being hench. This rule has been faithfully reproduced in each successive version of the rules despite never actually being used. However, back in the days when I could still read, it caught my eye. Several - mostly fruitless - uses later and one can see James itching to completely rewrite it.

The main scenario played has been Kolin, which could just be the least balanced ever written. Peter and I took the Austrians against James and Mark's Prussians and, as I said to my colleague afterwards, I've ever rolled so many terrible dice and yet won so easily; it was all over in a couple of hours. We gave them a chance to even things up and, with Mark notably upping his game second time round, they made more of a fist of it. Peter, despite changing his die roll of choice from 1 to 2, couldn't hit anything with musket or artillery fire and lost every cavalry melee. And yet, and yet, the Prussians ran out of morale chips and we won by a country mile once again.

The annexe at the Casa Epictetus has been cleared of all the stuff moved there après le déluge ["Stop it, right now"] and I have purchased my own hard copy of To The Strongest!. I intend to stay in Bohemia, but jump back three centuries or so.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


You will all be seriously concerned that I am going to review in great detail the whole of my cultural life during the period of enforced absence from the blog. Happily even I am not that cruel. There were of course many highlights in the 3 operas, 12 plays, 4 gigs and 2 films that I managed to squeeze in because, thankfully, my long vision was unaffected by the spectacles debacle. However, 2001; A Space Odyssey wasn't among them. I'd managed never to see this before so was keen to catch the 50th anniversary restored print on the big screen. Dear, oh, dear; what a load of old rubbish, and I don't exempt Leonard Rossiter's Russian accent from that criticism. Does anyone know why the astronaut doing the EVA flew the small pod further away from the bit he wanted to repair than he was prior to launching it before getting out to spacewalk back? No wonder the AI thought it had a chance of winning.

I shall instead mention a few which actually are worth, er, mentioning:
  • The post-Bazza Northern Broadsides' funny and poignant version of 'Hard Times' with all the usual music and dancing.
  • Noel Coward's 'Nude With Violin', which demonstrated that the master had a similar view of modern art to me, but also rather disappointingly demonstrated that he couldn't think of any wittier way of expressing it than saying "Anyone could have painted that" over and over again.
  • An amateur production of the musical "Sweet Charity" that gave the young(ish) mothers of Ilkley the chance to unleash their inner dance hall hostess, with frankly terrifying results.
  • 'Celebration', a Waterhouse and Hall play that not only did I much prefer to 'Billy Liar', but which to anyone like me who grew up in a large extended working class family in the early sixties was as if one's past had come back to life.
  • English Touring Opera's very funny take on Puccini's 'Gianni Scicchi'
Boardgaming is also difficult if you can't see (especially given that I can't tell the difference between colours half the time anyway), so mostly I didn't bother. I did however join a few of the erstwhile Ilkley Lads for a game of the new reprint of Medieval. The game was punctuated by one of the players regularly falling asleep before waking up to demand to know what was all that stuff going on with removing map tiles from the board. For those who haven't seen it, removing map tiles from the board is in fact a major part of the game. Despite that - and only partly because I won - this game is highly recommended and is hereby added to Epictetus' list of boardgames that will appeal to wargamers. Another game on that list is Condottiere, which I have previously bigged up here only to find out that it was out of print. Well there is good news as it is being reprinted, including rules for a new 2-player variant. Details - except sadly for the timetable - can be found here.

And no post at this time of year would be complete without one of these;

Sunday, 10 June 2018

A thought on the G7 Summit

"Eminent posts make great men greater, and little men less." -Jean de La Bruyere

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Isaiah Chapter 35 Verse 5

Well that was a performance and a half, but after an awful lot of sodding about I'm back. Sadly in my case at least the phytophagous prophet was only half right; perhaps it's something to do with the method of his martyrdom.

A chap with a beard is interviewed for Radio Heaven

By the way, thanks to my my recent exposure to Guys and Dolls I now know that Isaiah is one of the many words that Americans pronounce differently (i.e. wrongly).