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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Monday, 3 March 2014

What alchemy...

... has the good Herr Doktor Front been engaged in ? Why has he not updated his flaming blog?

Well, the Vampire struggle continues. Rescued from the shed, it has, this very evening, begun to receive its myriad decals. When did 1/72 aircraft kits begin to have more markings and stencils than they have parts? It's no good thinking that one can omit some of the stencils, the very small ones at least, because they will just call out from the decal box. They will call, in sad, thin voices, in the late watches of the night, when, as Nietzsche said, 'the thought of suicide is our only comfort' (well, he was a mad old beggar). So, decals, half done:

They are admirably thin decals, and, as you can see the roundels are in good register, with nicely opaque whites. But with the thinness comes the dreaded curl ! And, horrors, I discovered that on the yellow, they have an instant stick quality that has already seen one casualty (fortunately, I have a spare set of decals). When I make the next T11, it will be a Rhodesian version - no markings at all, not one !

Apart from the continuing struggle with micro sol and set, I was able, this past weekend to :

pitch my little green tent (not unlike Snufkin's, though of a more modern form). A tent of this size used to be known as a 'pup tent'. Roomy for a pup, a squeeze for Alf, but light, and weather proof, and, above, in a small wood not from the village of Plumpton Green (yes, there is such) in the noble, beautiful county of Sussex.

From my tent, I journeyed out on Saturday morning, in amazing sunshine after rain, so much rain. First to the parish church of Streat:

Built on the site of a Saxon church by the Norman invader, this form is typical of this part of the county. Fairly plain, solid, simple, and with a turret, as opposed to a tower. From the church at Streat, I walked and slid a few miles across country to Ditchling, and sat in the church yard there, opposite this beauty:

The 'new' part of the house is, of course, the Elizabethan half-timbered structure on the right (part of the 'Great re-building', as the agrarian structure of England began some profound changes, and, some of the stolen silver began to tell - stolen by our English forbears from the Spaniards, who had stolen it from...the old story). The rest of the house, and it is still a private house, is a marvellous medieval structure, holding itself up with a series of drunken walls and a massive chimney breast. England made flesh, or, at least, made solid.

More recently, from inside St. Margaret's, Ditchling:

This is one of the crosses that marked a British soldier's grave from the Great War. Many were brought back to England (and the rest of the United Kingdom), as these temporary markers were replaced with the permanent ones that we are familiar with. Most of these temporary markers were then burned, ceremoniously, in parish church yards as part of Easter ceremonies following the war. Interestingly, the use of the cross as a grave marker in England had fallen out of use after the Reformation, but the huge citizen armies of the Great War brought back with them, from France and Belgium, a rekindled preference for the cross as a marker of Christian men. And, of course, there was the Kipling designed 'Cross of Sacrifice' that is the norm for many Imperial and Commonwealth Grave Commission cemeteries.

Then, I climbed out of Ditchling, up onto the Downs, and stood with Sussex, Surrey, and Kent before me:

land that the Saxons gave English names to, after they had breached the Romano-British coast.

And, finally, I rested:

'At this place the flat water-meadows, the same that are flooded and turned to a lake in mid-winter, stretch out a sort of scene or stage, whereupon can be planted the grandeur of the Downs...'
(Belloc, The Four Men (1904).


  1. Decal trick: gloss varnish the spot beforehand, then the same again afterwards. It provides a nice smooth surface to slide it around on, and then seals it in nicely.

  2. I was reading Bellocs Cautionary Tales this morning.

    Sounds like a wonderful trip.

  3. A splendid trip indeed. Was there any signage/information boards relating to Eric Gill around when you were at Ditchling?

  4. Good progress all around. Sliver is always tricky with decals I reckon.

  5. What alchemy. Much chemicals. BOOM!