Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Real Life Weekend Plus

I took Monday as holiday so I got a three day weekend. I managed to fill the days with a good mixture of wargaming related activities and Real Life.

First off - the wargaming. The good news (for me) was I managed to finish a couple of pieces off. These were my first two XIVth Army 25 pounders. In the end I didn't modify the guns and actually put then on the pivot wheel as well. After all that wheel is sort of what makes the 25 pounder such an iconic gun. It's unique, sitting on that wheel with its snubby little gun barrel. The gunshield is also big enough to enable you to huddle the crew behind it comfortably. Having said that it's a bit of a pig to get onto the 40mm square bases that I use for guns. And as with other artillery you have to bury the figure bases in your basing material then put the gun on top of that and in this case on top of the pivot wheel as well. In fact I got this wrong first time round as my figure positions wouldn't allow for the gun to be inserted as it ended up being too high. Still, finished at last. Alas there's not really room for them in my XIVth Army box so they're looking a bit snug in there as the only room was in the "dead figures" section.

I got quite a lot more work done on the SoA publication as well with the castle walls and tower now drawn up. The test prints assemble nicely. I'm just a bit worried about how long the tidying up and odds and ends will take. Haven't got any good ideas on how the cover should look. Actually don't have a name for it yet, - "Phil & Treb's 2010 SoA Participation Games" is a bit rubbish as a name so any suggestions gratefully received. Especially if it includes a domino related pun and something to do with animals. I suppose "Domino Double Act" might do.

On the Home Front young Miss Trebian left Monday afternoon for Tanzania where she is doing volunteering for nearly six months teaching in a school inland from the coast. A lot of preparation goes into this trips, a lot of which seems to be done at the last minute ("Mum/Dad I can't find my insert noun here. Have you seen it?"). Luckily the time of the flight meant we didn't have to drive to Heathrow in any rush hour times and so that went smoothly and then it was goodbye and she was off pushing her rucksack and other bags on a trolleyf towards check-in. She's promised to write a blog so we can keep up with what she is doing, so hopefully that will off set some of the worry.

I said a few blogs back that I was going to read Edward Vallance's "Radical History of Britain". Well, I managed to finish it over the weekend and as Ashley was interested in what I thought, here's what I think.

Hmm. It's an important and unique book as it takes an "alternative" view of history from Alfred through to the 1930's and there aren't many books that do that all in one place. There's some really good stuff in it but whilst I'd recommend it to anyone as a "should read" actually it isn't brilliant in places. Some of the text is vibrant and exciting - the prologue and epilogue are really good - and some of it isn't. The account of the twists and turns of Chartism are a bit leaden and there's a disproportionate focus on the Pankhursts at the cost of the less militant suffrage movement. Having said that anyone who doesn't bother to vote should be force fed the pages on what people went through to get them representation. One piece that made me laugh out loud was Christabel Pankhurst's annoyance that having obtained a major amount of female liberation in the 1930s (comparatively speaking) young people used it to chose to wear short skirts and get drunk rather than engage in worthy causes.

The final section "The Fight Against Facism" is too short and too weak. The role played British Radicals in supporting the Republic in the Sapnish Civil War is skimmed over as is the dispicable part played by the Daily Mail in supporting facism bothy at home and overseas. However it contains the useful reminder that whoever controls the past controls the future and we should treasure and protect our radical heritage because when the BNP are using the same words and traditions as Billy Bragg to define their political philosophy you know you have something to worry about.

But you should read it to remind you why we fight.

(On a side note some of it was a bit uncomfortable reading. Our family tree researches indicate we've spent a lot of time in the past as a family serving in the lower ranks of various infantry regiments going back to the 1740s. During the Napoleonic Wars more troops were deployed in Britain to suppress disent than fought in the Peninsula. I rather hope none of my ancestors were involved in shooting or bayonetting people campaigning for the vote, constitutional reform or even decent working conditions or affordable bread)


  1. An interesting and informative post...

    Re. your comment "I rather hope none of my ancestors were involved in shooting or bayoneting people campaigning for the vote, constitutional reform or even decent working conditions or affordable bread" I'd have to say 'why?' - it's a fair bet that if they were serving in the "lower ranks" it would have been as a result of some social/economic imperative, as few chose to serve..?? They would almost certainly have had an entirely alien (to us) world-view, and entirely alien concepts of what was right and wrong....

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think we should tread lightly when we judge what our ancestors did...

    ..and having said all that - let's play some more with the little metal men..... :o))

  2. Thank you for the mini-review. I shall put this on my to acquire list.

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for your thoughts. It looks like my family chose to serve for several generations, so in terms of an economic imperative its the same as the economic imperative that drives people to become bootmakers- you have to do something to keep body and soul together.

    Whilst the "don't judge the past by modern standards" is an argument freely used by meas well I'd like to think that if my ancestors signed up to defend the country that that is what they did rather than be turned upon fellow citizens. It's a fact we often ignore that the real life people on whom our metal friends are modelled were more commonly turned inwards rather than outwards.

    I'm also acutely aware of the irony that troops were delpoyed in the 18th century to deny civil rights that they should have had as well.

    All of this has a modern resonance, - in all the debate on the proposed constitutional changes going through Parliament I am constantly reminded that every vote counting the same (ie having equal sized constituencies) was a demand made by the New Model Army's Agitators, along with universal manhood suffrage. It took over 250 years to get the latter and we still don't have the former and as for the abolition of the House of Lords...

    So, an important book, and I hope you enjoy the read, Ashley.