Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Ha! Ha! Fooled You!

Whilst going through my Blog Settings just a moment ago I noticed a little tick square to show location on readers I ticked it. Now you can all see that I live in Middle England in a small village called Brummagem, a mere stones throw from Sutton Coldfield. But, I hear you cry, you are a follower of a football team that wears claret and blue and is not Aston Villa (or Burnley for that matter). Of course not! I originally hail from further daan sarf, at the eastern end of Thames River to be exact (Google it if you're not sure, why should I do everything for you?) I moved to my current domicile in just-before-the-middle-of-the-eighties and have been here ever since.  The Irons is an easy one, my family originally hail from Romford and Chadwell Heath area and -as I found out only a few years ago- most of them were/are West Ham followers anyway. (Apart from one cousin who is a Spurs fan, but no one's perfect).
Now this is where it gets a tad confusing. I have what is now called an Estuary Accent (but a bit upmarket; what with me pronouncing 'th' as 'th' instead of 'ff' and missing the 'k' from the end of words such as something (sumfink) or nothing (nuffink). EO (Eldest Offspring) has a reasonable Brum accent but takes after his old man and is a Hammer. MO , like father, has an Estuary Accent but even more upmarket than mine coz he is an actor an all, who has had electrocution lessons, don't you know -he is an ardent Bluenose (Birmingham City Supporter to the non-locals).  See what I mean? Confusion abounds. Oh, and by the way, YO and OH have no football interest whatsoever.
Keep it wet,

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Could be that the end is in sight!

I've just had a quick gander in the box marked 10mm Mongols and Chin and cor blimey, guvner, there is nothing there apart from a few scabby camels and the odd leftover figure that I haven't yet found a use for. That must mean that -a quick indrawn breath of amazement- I have painted all of them. Da, da! The first 10mm proper sized armies wot I have got.
By the bye, found another little bit about making 10mm trees, only this time of a more deciduous nature. Find it at Pretty good, thinks I. Going to have ago when I can get hold of said green clumpy, flocky stuff. Although saying that, I just might have a bag in my  green clumpy, flocky stuff box...I'll have a look tomorrow as I've just looked at my Mickey Mouse chronometer and its at ten minutes shy of midnight and I've got a case of the rumbletums. Have to go and feed my face otherwise the rumbling will wake up the missus and we all know what that means, don't we, all you married men out there.
Psst...the football season starts in three weeks time, The Irons first match is up here in the Wet Midlands (Yep, raining again), against Premiership newcomers Volvo-Hampton Vanderers. We'll see.
Not impressed with Sultanta Sports going wossnames up. The other Silly Telly channel doesn't show that many WHU games so I haven't got it, but Sultanta came free with Mr. Branson's Silly Telly so I used to watch them on that. Tried it on the puter but after watching England against Kazakhstan with Ecuadorian commentary in Tunisia (gets confusing but nearly done), I have decided against it. I will probably end up watching the highlights on MoTD on Regular Telly instead. And of course, next year is World Cup year! Four weeks every four years and the missus still moans about there being too much on and why do the schedules have to change just to acommodate 22 blokes in shorts chasing after an inflated pigs bladder? (As you can see, she moves with the times, does my missus. Bless her cotton socks.)
Keep em straight.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A new beginning...possibly

Well, you will be pleased to know that I have recovered my strength following the last post and am 'well up for it'... whatever it is! Ideas and projects spin through my mind like bodies orbiting a star, sometimes they will collide and gel to form a new idea and other times they just go round and round in circles, missing each other almost as if they are waiting for a time when I have one of those famed Eureka! moments and go off at a physical tangent. This is the main problem with painting figures and having no wargaming outlet. Feedback is a crucial element in our hobby for inspiring people to either just carrying on with a project or moving on to greater things. I have not had a wargame for at least three years but the entusiasm is still shining away rythmically like a lighthouse beacon. I like painting figures and over the years have amassed quite a large number of them in a variety of scales and periods. A few years ago I worked out that I had the equivalent of at least thirty-five 6mm armies; and I'm not talking about a block ( I use predominately Irregular Miniatures apart from WW II) to a unit either. My Mongol Army is 89 blocks in size, Turkish Reniassance numbers 54 infantry, 30 cavalry and 4 artillery pieces: ACW Confederate is 132 infantry, 24 cavalry, 5 guns and limbers, 10 wounded, 4 wagons, 4 horse holders and 1 command base with an Union force not much smaller. The WWII Das Reich SS Division is at 1:5 strength with 15 Panthers and 30 Pz IV's plus all the offensive support material. My 10mm 'stuff' is still ongoing, as is 15mm and 25mm. I can always find something to paint or make. For not only do I paint figures but I will make all the terrain pieces as well. The north tower could quite easily get overgrown with forestation in a number of scales if I wanted it to!
Looking back over this post I trust the reader will forgive the mental meanderings of a wargamers mind, but will understand my motives for carrying on. It's a labour of love, an addiction, call it what you will. I'm just so glad that I suffer from it.
Keep 'em straight.
P.S. Just as another aside, as proof of my scary fixation with the Mongols, I have four armies of the little blighters -6mm, 10mm, 15mm and 25/28mm. Worrying, isn't it?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Possibly the Worst Film of all time!!!!!

I apologise in advance for the next  sentence. I have never seen the Hollywood 'epic' Genghis Khan and as it was on Channel 5 (one of our terrestrial channels for the foreign readers), I thought here's my chance.
Boy, what a mistake that was! I really, really wish I hadn't bothered.
Now I didn't know any of this and I don't think any of the historians who have meticulously researched the man over the centuries knew the following facts either. According to the film:
1. Jamuka (Stephen Boyd in sneering-face mode) killed Temujin's (Omar Sharif) father Yesugai.
2. Jamuka was considerably older than Temujin and they started out as sworn enemies not friends.
3. Subedai (a very young Kenneth Cope), Jelmei (or Jebei, the names were said far too quickly),  and Khasar were all the brothers of Borte (some French sounding blond??? actress I'd never heard of).
4. It was the Chinese Emperor (played admirably by Robert Morley), who named Temujin Genghis Khan, not the Mongols.
5. The Khwarazmian-shah (a suitably attired Eli Wallach) along with Jamuka, attacked GK. In the battle, GK used cannon to great effect causing the Khwarazmian-shah to panic and order a retreat whereupon Jamuka stabs and kills him.
6. Subedai is killed at the battle. At least I'm pretty sure it was Subedai because the fleeting picture looked like Kenneth Cope wearing a helmet and with a daft moustache glued on.
6. Soon afterwards, Jamuka is captured and he and GK have a 'Mongol Duel?' The fight can only end one way and Jamuka is finally killed but mortally wounds GK in the process. The final scene is that of GK saying goodbye to his missus who is holding a babe in her arms -must be Ogadai because I saw another, older rug rat and a child, presumably Jochi and Jagatai- one of whom was being held aloft by a warrior. He decrees with his dying breath that, until his children reach their majority, the land should be ruled by Borte and her two remaining brothers.
And these were just the big ones that I noticed and remembered. Give me a pen, a pad and a pause button and I have no doubt that I could find many, many more.
The burning question is, how is it that so so may illustrious luminaries have got it so utterly and completely wrong? The answer is of course they didn't.
Now the rant.
The cinema and its smaller brother television entertain us in a variety of ways and at a number of different levels. History is fact. It is chronicled, sometimes by people who were there, and sometimes by people who were contemporaries of people who were there and then later by historians. My point is this, how it is so easy for the writers of a piece of cinema, and by association, television, to ride roughshod over history as if it were mere guidelines rather than -literally in some cases- set in stone.
Poetic licence, some cry! Entertainment value, shout others! Utter B*&&*+ks I shout back! Get it as right as you can. 
Another and more dangerous adjunct to this random slashing through the pages of history is that some people actually believe and are influenced by what they are seeing. Get it wrong and a whole generation grow up being convinced that it either didn't happen or at the very least, didn't happen in that way.
As an aside to this I have spoken to Polish people who would swear that the Mongols either never invaded their country or, if you can get them to admit the truth, they will say that we beat them and they went away. Huh! I have also spoken to people in the know who have said that there are over 400 historical inaccuracies in the film Cromwell...this is after the publicity said that it had been researched 'for over ten years!
This is how history gets perverted by the minor deity Entertainment. The Romans had a saying, Bread and Circuses. In other words, if you keep the masses entertained, they will not think or ask questions. That is what Entertainment has become, because the great deity, Hollywood, has decreed 'This is our version of how it is/was. Do not question it.'
Utter Rubbish! Question everything you see that is historical. If you like what you see then go down to your nearest booksellars/library and find out the truth. Then make up your mind. Don't just rely on cinema or television.
In the case of GK, from what I have read -which incidentally is quite a fair amount- the mans life was interesting enough and definitely cinema-worthy on any number of levels without having to embellish it by glaring errors.
God, I'm knackered after all that ranting, takes it out of you, you know.
Keep your paint wet.

Friday, 17 July 2009

And after...Life must go on

Well, after nearly a month of waiting for the wheels of officialdom to get up to speed, the funeral for my mother-in-law is next Tuesday. Sad days, I'm sure everyone who knew her will miss her. Goodbye Maureen.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Something New

Above from top to bottom: The Ribat (or religious fort) at Sousse, ruins of Roman Carthage x 2, El Djem x 2. The last two taken in 2008
A new enterprise idea reared its head while I was kicking my heels in Tunisia...a book. Not just any book but an historical one. 'Sit down that heckler at the back shouting, What a novel idea!' Something Mongol, I thought, falling back to my favouritest military period of all time to date. Then I had more thoughts about what's already been done and what was still available. So I made a few notes and came up with -what I think is a workable idea- about one of the most brilliant but as yet largely unwritten about strategic campaigns in history. So there it is. Using my own not too small collection of Mongol material plus the huge resources of Britains Library system I should be able to put something together.
  Still painting. So far the unit of Chin heavy cavalry is painted and stuck down awaiting base colours and the last of my Chin infantry -a unit of crossbow men- is alongside the camels mentioned earlier, both awaiting undercoating. After that who knows, maybe some 10mm Ancient Gauls. This is for two reasons, a) While in Tunisia I visited Carthage and was impressed immensely, even though most of the stuff was Roman, so a Carthaginian Army is on the cards; and b) I already have a number of Roman cohorts painted to receive them. (I also have 3 x  500ml plastic water bottles with authentic Arabic writing on them filled with Tunisian sand ready for the bases. Anorak or what! Or could it be the purist in me? You decide.)
Another wargaming project for the future is a Khwarizmian Army in 10mm, (actually a generic Middle Eastern Army that will go from the Saracens to the Mamluks and possibly beyond a bit), again inspired by the visit to Tunisia. Hence the pictures of the Ribat at Sousse.
Who said wargamers have butterfly interests? Whoever it was got it bang on, especially if one is painting for oneself. Anyway, any unfinished projects will always get picked up again further on down the timeline of my wargaming life. I mean I have figures that havent seen the light of day in decades, then all of a sudden I get an urge -if you know what I mean- and off I go again at another tangent. Then again, I also have historical books that I have never read in periods that I don't know much about or I'm not interested in...yet, the day will come I assure you. Out of 900+ military books I've probably read somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of them, the rest gather dust until they become required reading.
On another completely different note I now have three parts of the beginning of a collection. When MO went to Rome he managed to smuggle back a small piece of the Colluseum. When in Tunisia last year I 'borrowed' a small piece of the El Djem Amphitheatre and this year I found a small piece of Carthaginian rubble in my bag when I got home. I would like to stress that as a dedicated afficianado of history, these pieces were not removed from any structure but were found lying on the ground.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Life kicks you in the nads every so often.

Well, had a good first week in Tunisia then it all went pear shaped. My mother-in-law fell badly and ended up in the local hospital for the second week. My wife and I had to come home on time but my father-in-law stayed out there. Then I got a call from the Foreign Office saying that that sadly, my mother-in-law had passed away on the 23rd. 

  So, there you are. one day you are as happy as Larry, having a great time and then Life turns it all around as if to say, 'Enough, you're having too much fun. This has to stop.'

Makes you stop and think, doesn't it.