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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 29 April 2013

Big man...

... not as in:

A Scottish novel, frae Scotland, made wi'girders, aboot Glasgae etc etc.

But, rather:

Hairy Pierre, unwashed, big fisted, sunburnt, small time smuggler, soon to be big time hero (if the Anglo-Saxons would just get a move on with the Second Front).


Gaston de Chretian, one time noviciate turned Royalist fanatic.

But wait, the English intervene:

with an inappropriate (certainly not PC) song by a limp wristed fellow in a silk dressing gown.

Ah, it is but a ruse:

Yes! We are talking Too Fat Lardies and:

the stage is set.

To be continued...

Monday 22 April 2013

For St. George...

England, and all the others struggling in dire times.

Particularly, given St. George's origins, the Christians of Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, where they face dangerous enemies.

(P.S., I see that 'blogger' insists that it is still 22nd April. I can assure readers that here, in England, it is 23rd April, and the photo above was taken an hour ago.)

A skirmish...

... beckons. I've been idle on the toy soldier front of late, but this evening I finished off two small groups of antagonists:

A few Milice to join those already painted a while ago - see the earlier creeping around posts. While, under the command of 'Hairy Pierre':

French resistants.  I've now got about a dozen or so of each, so I think I might try out Too Fat Lardies' Through the Mud and the Blood rules as they applied them to interwar fighting (Irish Independence, Red Revolution on the Ruhr etc) in their supplement, Triumph of the Will. Now that my seed potatoes have been chitted and planted, and it looks as if might, possibly, become a tad warmer, I could use the long, but narrow, shelf in my shed to run a Triumph of the Will style ambush scenario with Milice and Resistance.

Talking of warmth, and the lack of it here in Mercia, England, my garden seems to be about three or four weeks behind, and only today did the bright, but weak sun tempt out these tulips:

And, speaking of tulips, I'm currently enjoying this marvellous piece of middlebrow (I gave up on 'highbrow' when I stopped being a yoof) literature:

It's a 1952 English translation of a hugely successful novel that came out in the Netherlands just ten days before the German invasion in 1940. It's title in Dutch was/is, Hollands Glorie, and although it is a tale of deep sea tug boats in the early 20th century, the obvious link to Holland's golden age of sea exploration and power (until the rise of England - after the Dutch had given us a few surprises!) made the book a patriotic best seller in 1940, with 300,000 copies shifted. Anyway, a good read for a middle aged bloke whose 'sea going' exploits have largely been confined to the ferry across the Mersey.

Another enjoyable read at the moment is this one:

As recommended by Springinsfeld - I can see why his father enjoyed it. A gentle tale of escapism from the early 1930s - the office worker finds freedom. It still resonates - although I do wish Mr Finchley would stop lighting his pipe of tobacco...

Sunday 14 April 2013

Bold Irish lads...

... in 28mm metal. At the start of this year I was seduced by yet another period - the Peninsular in 28mm. And, as we all know to our cost, more projects mean greater speed to our mental disintegration. But it's fun! (Cue manic laughter). I also made the mistake (see earlier posts) of trying a 'new' painting technique which is currently being promoted in Battlegames Magazine - back to white (undercoat), with bright colour technique. It's all proving too much, and although the latest small batch of Wellington's bold Irish lads are not quite finished, the general weakness of my struggles is clear:

I feel that I have done these Hibernian heroes an injustice, and that I will have to return to black with washes for the next batch of Irish lads. Odd how the nationalists of Scotland, Ireland and Wales have forgotten how so many of their countrymen formed the cutting edge of the British Empire - particularly the Scots and the Irish. Brave lads all - and feared.

My last post featured some Starlux legionnaires in their famous white kepis. I meant to link to a marvellous blog that is well worth a visit - Mon Legionnaire: the classic French Foreign Legion in Wargaming, Literature, Pictures and History. I'll also add it to my favourites list below. It's top banana site!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

En avant...

For reasons that are not unconnected (but only in a small way) with the forthcoming H G Wells 100th Little Wars jamboree, I spent some time this evening digging through my classic toy soldier boxes. I have a few nice vignettes done in toy soldier style by contemporary chaps, but I also have quite a few of those more recent classics by Starlux:

Just look at that French style - the swagger, the élan ! And all in mass produced plastic. My money is on Starlux being the best of the toy soldier manufacturers in recent times, but they were hard to find in the UK, and, even on trips to France, I had trouble digging them out.

These fellows too - French air force (I think). You can almost hear that strange, harsh, drum and bugle dominated military music that characterises the French military. Unlike our military bands, which often contain  good musicians.

Scrabbling around in the loft, I also came across this rather nice despatch rider, but, sadly, I can't remember who made the fellow. Neither can  I remember who made this poignant little piece:

Christmas 1914. There are, of course, plenty of histories of both the Christmas truce in 1914, not just between the British and Germans, but also between other Christian armies of the period. I have a few on my shelves, for example, Stanley Weintraub's Silent Night (Simon & Schuster, London, 2001), but for the best insight into the impact of the events on one man's entire life, Henry Williamson's novels are difficult to beat.

Monday 8 April 2013

Past and...

... Present.

I have been away for an Easter Week holiday in one of my favourite corners of England, a corner that was, more or less by-passed by the Industrial Revolution, to an extent that some elements of the past are much clearer than in other parts of this old Kingdom. Things like:

Knife crime - 14th Century style. Maid Marion sticks it to the Sheriff's men; or Norman interlopers fall out.

But, to soothe the soul - Henry VIII's hand at work, at Walsingham Abbey. It's difficult to know if one's (Protestant, English) heart is responding to the echoes of 19th Century Romantics here, or the singing of long since departed Medieval choirs.

And here, a marker to explain lumps and bumps in the turf. 11th Century England - before the deluge, before the decapitation of the nation, before the imposition of a Norman Christianity. 

But, uncovered by high spring tides, angle iron on the beach in the last stages of oxidisation - markers of Britain's escape from a different invasion force.

Back home, I finished the glider. How can it be that, after decades of kit bashing, I could struggle so much with this little thing? Yes, it is resin so the gluing bit was tricky. But why can I still not get masking fluid to work properly (fortunately the kit came with two cockpit covers), and why do decals insist on folding in on themselves??!

More happily, I emptied out one of my compost bins prior to planting a small bed of dahlias for late summer colour and cut flowers. If you know your compost, you will be seriously impressed by the photo above. It was two years in the cooking, but it was worth the wait.

Lastly. More past. If you are in the UK you will doubtless already be suffering from Mrs Thatcher overload. I was 19 when she was first elected, so her ten years and a bit in power formed the backdrop to my youth. I'm not going to drone on here about the former Prime Minister or 'Thatcherism', except to say, firstly, it now seems so long ago, and, secondly, I suspect that both her partisans and detractors are united in one thing - that is, to over-estimate her ability to shape events. Think on this, the policies that she became in/famous for,  and the outcomes of those policies, were mirrored elsewhere, for example by a Labour government in New Zealand. There are huge forces that govern the actions of politicians; a combination of the weight of history, the tectonic strength of economics, and the folly of individuals and peoples. But why the Solzhenitsyn pamphlet from 1976 ? Just to remind us about how the overwhelming fears of today can be little more than a second hand bookshop purchase tomorrow. They do have a good second hand bookshop in Burnham Market, Norfolk, England.