Friday, 28 May 2021

Booking a good piece of business

I saw gentleman wargamer, David Crook's blog on Monday evening.

A cheeky message on the blog, a quick exchange of e-mails and a box full of lovely books was delivered to the Schloß on Friday. Beautifully boxed and wrapped, and in beautiful condition. I get to augment my ECW library and Mr C gets to reinvest in core projects. Win-win.

  • A couple of Stuart Reid's (including one on the later war in Scotland which I know next to nothing about), 
  • an Old School classic, 
  • a couple of rule books (and more in the Portable P&S Wargame), 
  • an addition to my regional themed ECW collection , 
  • a general survey of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 
  • a massive atlas, 
  • a general intro to the ECW and, 
  • a thematic tome on the experience of war in the ECW. 

The last described, an unexpected bonus, looks like it does for the ECW what Duffy did for the 18th Century in his Military Experience in the Age of Reason, one of my all time favourite history books. Ausgezeichnet!

The new Command Centre cannot come quickly enough, as there is no shelf space in the Schloß*. Said project took another little step forward on Friday with the site electrical survey. The building should be ready for the Autumn manoeuvres.

* the Margravina has been expanding her botanical collection at the same rate as the library. There is only going to be one winner in that arena, and a good captain must choose his battles carefully.

The Munich, sorry, Washington Putsch

No doubt some of you will already listen to We Have Ways of Making You Talk, the podcast mainly about WWII by James Holland and Al Murray. 

If you think it’s another example of the ‘Metropolitan Liberal Elite’ (copyright every right wing metropolitan elitist) you will hate this episode. If you’re at all liberal (i.e. democratic) you might find the latter part of the discussion scary. [At this point I can almost hear the dog whistle claim “that’s what they want you to think”].

Something about wargaming soon. I promise.

Monday, 17 May 2021

It's been a while

Warning! No wargaming material. The following post fits more into the field of "reflection" or "therapy".

This has been the longest layoff in posts for quite some time. A lot has happened over the last three weeks. None of it wargaming related, bar finishing reading a book*. None of it serious either. I had the mother of all hay fever spells (the bathroom cabinet looks like a pharmacist's shelf), and after a gathering with two pals in a pub beer garden, I developed a cold. In the middle of all this I brought into our domestic "bubble" one of said pals** who was between accommodations, thus raising the number of exiled Grimsby Town supporters, that I know of, in this postcode to 3. I'm not counting my daughters as they are, at best, "part-timers". This temporary addition to the household didn't directly impact on my wargaming space, but it did create additional distraction.

Exercise has been a stop-start process because of said ailments. I start to get up to speed with my swimming then have a layoff for a few days, and start all over again. The odd walk, but nothing more than a few miles. It's been a few weeks since I've been on my bike. I was just getting clear of the cold yesterday when I got a message from the NHS to say I could bring forward my 2nd vaccination appointment from June, so I rescheduled for this morning and have been feeling a bit groggy and have 'fluey' arms, and ankles.  I've heard second time round, symptoms can be worse. I was pretty lucky last time (or unlucky if it means I didn't have the hoped for immune response).

* The book was Bair Irincheev's Vyborg 1944: The Last Soviet-Finnish Campaign on the Eastern Front. This was one of the better Helion books that I have read lately. Irincheev seems to have researched the book well from both sides. There is plenty of information in there for the wargamer. Orbats, casualties, detailed descriptions of the initial planned offensive. A lots of inspiring accounts. A bonus is an appendix showing the clauses in the peace proposals tabled by the Soviets in Spring 1944, and the clauses eventually agreed upon in September. The main downside was as I mentioned before, the maps. Unlike the books on the Saxon army of the 18th century, this one has been translated well by someone who clearly understands Russian and English. However, at times I'm not sure the translator has got a handle on military terminology. Regiments, brigades, and divisions seem to be a bit confused occasionally. One other quibble is over the spelling of Finnish place names and surnames***. I've struggled for years to get my tongue round these, but having done so, I'm buggered is I can cope with some of the renditions in this book. I suspect this is because the names have first been written into Cyrillic script, and then translated into English. Some letters and sounds do not have exact correspondence between the different scripts and then you throw in a different orthography and you have a recipe for confusion. It took me a while to work out that often words which have the sound "ä" in Finnish are rendered as "ya" in this book - nothing like the sound it's meant to be, and actually impossible in Finnish because of the "rule of vowel harmony". An example would be "myaki" which from context I realised was mäki" (hill). Sometimes a Y was used where the original Finnish word used a J, but that makes sense because the English Y makes the same sound - "Yoki" for "Joki" (river). These are minor quibbles. For the avoidance of doubt, I would recommend this book if you have an interest in this theatre of the war.

** all fellow oldies, and all "exiled Mariners". I do have some friends who are not Grimsby Town fans. I think.

*** One of the names rendered correctly, was that of my wife's paternal family name. I don't know if the person referenced was related, but I will attempt to find out before it is too late. 

The new command bunker for Schloß Nundanket got ordered about a month ago, and delivery is scheduled for late August (subject to the shenanigans at the border). When erected (don't) it should provide me with an internal floor space of 5m by 4m, excluding the bike room. So plenty of room for a good sized table. Thoughts are turning to a stowable format, with a permanent desk forming one 1/3 or a 1/4 at one end and maybe 2 or 3 foldable tables allowing the size to be extended or reduced as gaming requires. This will require a lot more thought, not least because the solution must be approved by the Chief Designer.

In other news, the long anticipated relegation back to 'the National League' of Grimsby Town occurred on 27 April, coincidentally the date of my last post. No, I haven't been in mourning. I've been too angry for that. The club has been badly run for two decades now, under the control of the same man. You could write a small book about the shoddy way things have been done over the years, and more stuff started to seep out when it became clear that said man's regime was ending. It really does need documenting in one place as our children and grandchildren won't believe it when we bore them with the tales in the future. I know a chap (a fellow Mariner) who can write, and I would love to see him do this.  If you're looking for a story that epitomises Tory austerity, followed by questionable Tory use of office, this is it on a small scale. The bloke concerned was until recently the councillor in charge of regeneration up there. Suffice to say he made the Rotten Boroughs column in Private Eye a few months back.

If you're still reading, you as an astute reader will have picked up on the phrase "said man's regime was ending".  Indeed, just over a week later a long-running takeover attempt was concluded. The new owners (both local lads made good) appear to be the acceptable face of capitalism. They certainly seem to be aware that ethics isn't a county near Thuffolk. And crucially, both appear to be competent in the ways of 21st century business. Hopefully, the Micawberish-Gradgrindian days are behind us. All of this matters to me, and thousands of others with a similar birth affliction, because it concerns a 143 year old institution embedded in a community. Indeed it is a community. Sure there are bigger problems in the world, but this one is much easier to solve, and it is part of what makes it all worthwhile.

Thoughts will turn back to my ECW campaign plans in the next post. It'll be a welcome distraction from everything else.

Well done if you got this far! As a reward here is a shot of some little figures that I spotted in a wooden fence at the London Wetlands Centre on Saturday.