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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, 31 March 2014


.....and aieeeee!

Not only has work and life been stupidly obstructionist this past month, but when I found, at last, a moment to post on my feeble kit bashing efforts, I discovered that my work managed laptop, having been totally reconfigured, no longer liked to copy images from my portable device. What a lot of new words - laptop, portable device...blah, blah...all the jolly new words that have entered the English language in my recent-ish lifetime, just like Taliban, jihad, fatwa that sort of thing. It must have been a tad better in the past, when we picked up buckshee, char, chit-chat, bint, fella, kibosh, all useful, benign words. Anyway, enough of all that, time to see if I have cracked the newly reconfigured bloody hell machine:

It works! It works! As you can see, I've been having fun with the rather marvellous Cold War warrior, the 'Badger'. I was rather taken by an enthusiastic build by Karl Robinson in the February issue of Scale Aircraft Modelling (SAM), and got myself a 1:144 one by Trumpeter. After the awful time I had with the new Airfix Vampire (see passim) , which I hasten to add was all my own fault, I can report that the Badger was most enjoyable, and I think that I may have found a new enthusiasm - large-ish Cold War warriors in 1:144.

First up (below) was the cockpit, not much of which can be seen in the end. But, as you can see, I had a bit of trouble trying to get an approximation of the unique colour that the Soviets painted the cockpits of their aircraft.

Then, the weakest part of the whole thing:

Trumpeter produce different variants of the Badger, which probably dictated the fuselage construction, which in turn needed a fair amount of filler fore and aft. Mr. Robinson in his SAM build did a very good job at filling and sanding away the joins. Not so Mr Front:

Nonetheless, a rather pleasant kit bash. So much so that I've ordered another, and stocked up on Humbrol metalcote, which is good to work with, especially for an old brushist like myself.

While I was slowly bashing this kit over the past month, the whole Ukraine/EU/Russia/Crimea/Putin business was playing itself out. I was, I must admit, a bit surprised at the rapidity which the UK's journalists and mainstream politicians went for old Cold War style rhetoric at the drop of the hat, not least because it was the same politicos who have effectively dismantled the UK's armed forces. Not quite sure why one would want to go around trying to pick fights while championing cuts to the military, especially given the failure of Basra. In fact, mentioning Iraq brings John Kerry's laughable comment to mind - the one about not being able to go round invading countries on jumped up excuses. Uh? Pot, kettle ? Who said the US doesn't do irony (even if unintentionally).

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).