Monday, June 26, 2017

A recent trip to the physiotherapist

Image from Wikipedia. 


CK: *walking back and forth while waving one of his hands in front of his face* You know, your profession must be a terrible temptation for a practical joker.
P: Oh yes. It's a tough one some times, particularly if they're not the nicest patient. I mean you tell people to pat their head and rub their belly or pull faces in the mirror and they'll do it.
CK: *staring at X painted on a window while shaking his head from side to side* Really?
P: Really. That's the thing with physio, people with muscle injuries...it's hard to get them to do their exercises. People with balance injuries, they really stick to it. They will do anything.
CK: *standing on one leg and sticking one finger up his nose and one in his ear* Gosh.
P: Yup. Now stare at this X draw on the card and twerk for the next thirty seconds or until you feel dizzy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dutchmen in space



Some stalwart Hollanders

I played the Quatre Bras scenario from Command & Colours Napoleonics with Sydney recently.  He is determined to learn how to use the British and their allies properly.  The game was a 9-6 win for the perfidious French and a full report will follow soon. 

However, what it did bring home to me was the fact that a goodly proportion of my Allied troops were still using blu tac'd bits of paper as unit labels rather than the rather nicer versions Capability Savage has put together.  Cue rattling through my boxes and drawing up lists and looking at uniform references as I've forgotten what regiments belong to. It's a nice little job that I can rattle along with between baby wrangling sessions. 

It's also brought home to me how Peninsula focused my uniform references are.  I'm good on Russia 1812 and after, the Peninsula and the broad strokes of most of the national armies (i.e. I can generally tell one from another) but I would struggle to identify individual regiments. 

More labels is probably a good idea then. 







In other news, I've been watching "The Expanse" on Netflix and very good it is too.  It's a multi-stranded look at a future in which Mankind has colonised the Solar System, but remains divided against itself.  Earth and Mars are at odds and "the Belt" (essentially everywhere else) is caught in the middle.  It's a slow starter and the first few episodes spend a long time setting out their stall, but the Expanse is good old fashioned science fiction about ideas and frankly that is thin on the ground these days. 

Highlights include the wonderful Shohreh Aghdashloo who plays a ruthless Terran politician with dash and aplomb. She is magnificent throughout.  Thomas Jane does a great turn as a conflicted and corrupt copper - a limited man struggling against his environment and his nature.  The rest of the cast are not bad by any means, but these two shine very brightly indeed.  Aghdashloo in particular puts me in mind of Dumas's Richelieu  - that antagonist-not antagonist, the likeable adversary and the compromised friend. It is a nuanced performance that accomplishes a great deal in relatively limited screen time.  I'm torn between a desire for more of her and the knowledge that such  would inevitably dilute the power of whats there.

Great stuff - and thankfully because its Netflix it is only ten episodes, so it dodges that usual American bullet of overstaying its welcome by being a million years (or twenty two episodes) long.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Some staff wallahs


The War Correspondent

I took delivery of these chaps a few months ago.  I haven't a bean where they came from exactly, they were in a box of waifs and strays that I got from John Cunningham and I thought I'd add a few eccentrics to my gentlemen in red. 

This chap will be doing double duty as a war correspondent and possibly a staff officer as and when he is needed.  In fact in the late 19th century, those roles often overlapped as officers would write letters home for publication, Winston Churchill being one famous example. 

Illustration by Michael Roffe, from Wilkinson Latham's Osprey on the Sudan

I had the idea of a game where players are on the same side, but are competing with each other for victory points.  They have limited control over the war correspondent, but he acts as a victory point multiplier. In essence, he exaggerates what ever is actually occurring on the field.  So if you gain two victory points for defeating the enemy or gaining an objective and the correspondent is there, you will gain a third point.  But if you lose points, due to casualties for example, the correspondent will cost you an extra point for every two you lose.  Consequently, if you think your competitor is going to have a bad time of it, it would be wise to send the correspondent over his way. 

An idea to mull over. 


One of the cavalry gentlemen

The vast majority of my late Victorian army is in red coats because I rather like redcoats and even when they are inaccurate they are what I think of when I think on the period.  I think it's the equivalent of always deploying my Napoleonic armies in parade dress.  But I thought it would  a good idea for the senior officers and staff chaps to stand out a bit.  This fella will be doing duty as a staff officer, perhaps an interpreter, in scenarios to come. 

I should point out that these are not my own work, but come from the ever talented brush of Mr. Tamas Lehoczky of Hungary.  A fellow 1/72 enthusiast, I think his impressionistic, high contrast style works exceedingly well in this scale.  The photos don't quite do it justice, but the highlights do a lot of the work and that look very tasty on the tabletop.  

An image I found on Pinterest, unfortunately I can't put a name to the source. 


*incomprehensible Scottish noises*
(perhaps Mr. Gow would be kind enough to translate?)

This is an old Hinton Hunt sculpt again from the redoubtable John C. In this case, I don't think the camera has been kind to Tamas's excellent brushwork as the red in the tartan stands out rather more than it does on the tabletop. Regardless, I expect McLehoczky of the Fife McLehoczky's to fall upon the enemies of the Crown with all the claymore wielding fury of his alcoholic Australian forebears. 


 
Another image I found on Pinterest
(Tamas was going to add the extra mustache, but ran out of greenstuff)

Pinterest is a mine of stuff, though often badly referenced, but it would be the act of louse to complain about something one has not paid for.  From the pictures I found with this image - it should refer to India in the 1890s.  The main thing is that he looks the part and cuts a dash and that's good enough for me. 



Portrait of the Artist as a young Sloth

In other news, we discovered that young Teddy Kinch was adopted.  It was a surprise to us all, not least his mother, but there you are. The poor little chap had terrible trouble with wind. To be honest we could call him Kamikaze Kinch, though the wind in question is of doubtful divinity. 

Kamikaze Kinch becomes great distressed until placed over one knee and gently, but firmly pounded on the back for a few minutes.  There is then a long drawn out PAAAARP  like a sad trombone, followed by a small sigh, whereupon he goes completely limp for hours at a time.  

It was a strange way to discover that my son was part sloth. 

But we shall love him and raise him as our own. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cuirassier at the Retreat from Moscow


Paris is that way

Life here at Kinch Court has been rattling along as usual.  The Kinchlets are ever a delight, albeit a somewhat sticky and malodorous delight at times. Lack of time and the problem with my eyesight has made painting a very occasional pleasure, however, I can still enjoy the fruits of others labours.

Our man in Hungary sent this fine fellow several months ago and he is currently guarding one of the bookshelves in the library. The kit is from of MB and is an unusual piece.  Generally it's up to the model maker to create the scene, but this one comes as you see it.



Makes me shiver even looking at it

Victory has a thousand fathers while defeat is an orphan as the Chinese saying goes, but I'd be confident in saying that the 1812 campaign marked the beginning of the end for the Napoleonic domination of Europe.  It's not an aspect of the period that I know enough about, but I will have to address that once I can really read again. 

Our man in Budapest has definitely done an excellent job though.  The horse in particular is a delight.  I was almost tempted to add a small wisp of teddy bear stuffing to the figures, to show their breath - but would be gilding the lilly.  His work stands on its own. 

The level of detail and shading on the colours is excellent


Sir Harry Flashman VC is going to begin a new and exciting chapter in his life

Otherwise the days are just packed, but with those small family dramas and pleasures that are of interest to those concerned in them and to few others.  One thing that I have done is dig out one of the novels  that I wrote before I started my current job.  The thing is broadly speaking in publishable form, has been edited within an inch of its life and Capability Savage has done some really topping work on the layout and such.  

Mrs Kinch has been literally and figuratively kicking me in the seat of the pants to get some of it into print and she has finally won the day.  

I've never had great luck with fiction.  I've always written it, but I've never really had any success with getting it published.  To be honest, the idea of letting it out into the wild is making me slightly queasy.  The idea that my baby will be heading out into the cold cruel world on its own is unsettling. Not least because it may not be any good - it may be the same when it is time to send the children to school.  Presumably it will be worse, but for all that expect to see a book with my name on it appearing for sale relatively soon.  



Speaking of books, our cuirassier has taken up his post defending the bookshelves from the barbarians. 



Friday, May 19, 2017

Keeping ticking along

Joy & Forgetfulness has been quite quiet of late - so much so that some of you wrote to ask why.   Mainly I've had my hands full - delightfully full in fact.  Unfortunately Mrs Kinch became very seriously ill immediately after the arrival of the twins, so there is a little bit more to be done around the place.  She is on the mend, but it will be a long time before she's back to her full Mary Poppins like efficiency.


Matilda (left) and Edward (right, underneath the chair)
He tells me the clutch is gone and that I'm going to have to send to Germany for a replacement. 

I've managed to make a great deal of progress since I was injured, but unfortunately a full recovery seems to be eluding me. My balance is slowly returning, but my ability to focus my eyes is taking its time to return.  This means that I can not read for very long and have to ration my screen time quite bit.

However, writing in some form or other is a sickness that I have yet to be cured of.  The last eight months have been the longest period of forced inactivity I can remember and still being able to write, even in some form has been a good way of remaining chipper.

It means that I have to be more selective about where I put my screen time.  I've been able to keep up my column in Miniature Wargames, but its been a bit of a struggle. Joy & Forgetfulness has taken a bit of a back seat - however, I'm hoping to blog a little bit more often now that the symptoms are abating somewhat and I'm getting better at managing them.


My laptop is no doubt beaming details of my darkest secrets to the CIA and the Intelligence Section of the Chinese Communist Party as I type this.  You'd be astonished at the number of things that come with a camera and a microphone these day. Siri, the assistant on my iphone, is perfectly capable of taking dictation.  This does occasionally lead to hilarious typos - my favourite occurred while I was writing a piece on Spanish guerrillas, which Siri rendered as Spanish Auto Giros.  Presumably it is my thick and incomprehensible Irish accent - perhaps a course in colloquial Californian might be in order.

MMMMmmmmm....kay?



One of the tricks I use to get the most out of my time, is to set up the computer and just come back to it for ten minutes.  The machine is on a chair because if I have one of the Kinchlets in the sling, I can type standing up.  I set an alarm on my phone so that I only work for ten or fifteen minutes, thus avoiding the concomitant headache, as it's very easy to overstay my welcome, get lost in what I'm doing and end up with a ringing headache for the rest of the day.

On the whole the system is working relatively well.  I get a couple of hundred words done a day and get to feel like I'm keeping my hand in, while still keeping an eye on the Kinchlets.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to up J&F to at least one post per week - we'll see how it goes.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Lately I have mostly...

Battle of Sorauren

Been neglecting my blog, but in the meantime I've been up to other things.  We managed to get the Kinchlets christened (more on that in a future post) and play some games.

Of most immediate interest to the wargaming fraternity is the Battle of Sorauren, on which a full report will follow shortly.  But in brief, it was an excellent game - we played the new epic rules for team games and they were a success.  The new mechanics keep the game moving briskly and I think lead to a game that has more engagement for all the players.  The prospect of sitting in a "quiet" sector for a few turns which bedeviled our earlier efforts has been banished.



Little Boy Blue

I don't watch much television as I'm quite limited regarding how much time I can spend looking at a screen at the moment.  However,  ITVs recent four parter "Little Boy Blue" has been some of the best television I've seen in a long time.  The programme is a dramatic retelling of the events behind the murder of Rhys Jones in Liverpool in 2007.  Jones, who was eleven years old, was returning home from football practice when he was shot dead by a member of a local gang.

The facts speak for themselves, but in sea of police procedurals that are largely indistinguishable from each other, Little Boy Blue stands out.  The writing is matter of fact, but all the more raw for it.
Stephen Graham is cast against type as a hard working copper struggling to put together a case.  He really impressed me. There are few histrionics, just a man attempting to do a job and gather evidence which will stand up in court.

Sinead Keenan and Brian F'O Byrne are brilliant as the Jones family, left rudderless after the loss of a child.  I've grown very tired of the sort of emotional pornography that a lot of crime procedurals indulge in. Sinead Keenan invests her performance with the dignity that the subject matter deserves. She shows the ugly side of grief and the our often inadequate response to it.  Most of us will never see ourselves portrayed on screen, even fewer of us will see it done well. Melanie Jones has been well served by this serious and sensitive portrayal.

This was drama that moved me. Unreservedly recommended.


Bob in full fig

Rob is a chap who runs the British Muzzleloaders channel on YouTube.  He produces quality videos on historical shooting, tactics, gear as well as battles.  As the name implies he concentrates on British and Imperial firearms and history. Rob is yet another in that phalanx of stalwart Canadians who continually brighten up the internet and brings a level of polish and imagination to his videos that is rarely surpassed.  I particularly liked his videos in which he used video editing software to "clone" himself shooting in different poses so that he could show exactly what a skirmish line would look like. 

You can find his channel here

Probably my favourite of Rob's videos is his one on the battle of Tel el Kebir. 

All his stuff is freely available on YouTube and there are ninety or so videos on his channel for you to work through.  He has recently set up a Patreon account for those who wish to help support his work, though clearly the pledge (a dollar a month) is not comensurate with the level of work that goes into his productions. I have pledged my dollar and I would urge you to have a look for yourself. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Some of Dave Lycett's collection.

60mm Persians from Expeditionary Force Miniatures
(click to embiggen)



Friend of Joy & Forgetfulness Dave Lycett sent me these pictures recently - all 1/32 (or thereabouts) additions to his collection. I think you'll agree, he's done some lovely work. He's planning to use About Ceasar, About Cromwell and About Bonaparte, three rulesets by Dirk Donvil for his games.

He's a regular at the Little Wars Revisited boards which are run by Mike Lewis of Black Cat Miniatures, which is a haven for 54mm collectors and wargamers. You'll find it at www.littlewarsrevisited.boards.net.

These are quite big photos and repay closer study, so do click on them to have a closer look. 

I'm grateful to Dave for sharing them with us and will be adding a few more over the next few days.




60mm Companion Cavalry from Expeditionary Force Miniatures
(click to embiggen)

60mm Persian Cavalry from Expeditionary Force Miniatures
(click to embiggen)

A rather magnificent chariot
(click to embiggen)

A Call to Arms English Civil War Pike & Shotte
(click to embiggen)

60mm Persian Infantry from Expeditionary Force Miniatures
(click to embiggen)