Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Fox Wife's Tail

The first few copies arrived

It is a very strange feeling holding a book that you wrote in your hands, but here is where we find ourselves.

So what is it?

The Fox Wife's Tail is a story set in the 1850s about a Japanese Fencing Teacher and his American friend as they wander through a Japan that is struggling to come to terms with the intrusion of the modern world.

When the two friends discover a samurai lord murdered on the road and his only son and heir kidnapped, they find themselves drawn into a mystery as baffling as it is deadly.

They will need sharp wits, sharp swords and stout hearts to survive the enigma that is “The Fox Wife’s Tail.”

Why did you write a book, Kinch? 

If I'm honest, I don't know.  

Because I had to.  

I've been scratching away at stories since I was old enough to hold a pen.  The practicalities of actually getting things into print has eluded me up until relatively recently - but after being repeatedly kicked in the seat of the trousers by Mrs Kinch, we set up A Simple Plan Press. ASSP will be publishing "The Fox Wife's Tail" in 2017 and will be publishing work by Mrs Kinch in 2018.

If I wished to buy a copy where would I go? 

The Fox Wife's Tail will be published next month. It will be available on Kindle and in paperback at Amazon Createspace and the A Simple Plan Press website.  A novel of adventure, villainy and romance in the tradition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H Rider Haggard and Patrick O'Brian with a dollop of Agatha Christie - it would make an excellent Christmas present for any family members whose company you do not wish to be burdened with next year. 

I will be posting a little bit more about it here over the next few weeks.  I'm still becoming accustomed to the idea that it is actually a real thing.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

That's not my Tiger

That's Not My Tiger...That's Not My Tiger... by Fiona Watt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After confronting the essential poverty and meaninglessness of existence in a post modern age, a young mouse embarks on a quest to find "her tiger". Disregarding hedonism and the tawdry distractions of other lesser tigers, she demands that which neither a deracinated capitalism nor a cold and ruthless socialism can provide. This focus on the local and the particular clearly underlines the pre-modern essence of the text.

A Scrutonian voyage of discovery for the under twos.

Also chewable.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 9, 2017

What I did on my holidays by Conrad Kinch, aged 37 1/2

An artists impression of John Treadaway enroute to tell me that my copy is late. 
(Squat Trike from the pen of Paul Bonner)

My recent trip to London was a roaring success. Four nights of uninterrupted sleep was magical. Meeting John Treadaway was great fun. Lovely fella - he rather put me in mind of one of the old GW
squat bikers with his beard, ponytail, leather jacket and giant machine. It was definitely a few days of meeting old friends and making new ones. 

The Austrians advance under the command of the doughty Brian Carrick
(picture cheerfully thieved from Bob Cordery)

The game on Saturday was magnificent. A spread of 2,000 figures on a playing area sixty feet by sixty feet. I commanded the Swedish contingent (mainly played by Prussians in this instance) and finished the game in the suburbs of Leipzig having done for the Imperial Guard, which will always remain something of a career highlight. The company was excellent. Made some new friends and caught up with some old ones.

I was not in a position to take photographs, but you'll find some good pictures at the fine blogs below. 

St. Paul's went a little over board on the incense while I was there. 

Service at Westminister Abbey was wonderful. St. Paul's was magnificent, I thought it was expensive at first, but wildly underestimated how vast the place is. Worth every penny. Had longish natter with one of the Canons named Mike.  I paid my respects at Wellington's tomb. It always does to remember the local boy.

Gordon's Tomb
(image tea leafed from the Church Monument Society)

I am a great admirer of Charles Gordon and I was strangely moved when I saw his sarcophagus.  I had not realised he was quite so small.  There I think is the difference between having read a thing and knowing it. 

My own, slightly smaller, Gordon. 

My daughter was named Gordon for a day while she was in hospital.  We had settled on a name and when we saw her, we realised that it didn't suit her exactly and it took us a day while we thought of a new one.  I was very tempted to add Gordon as a middle name when I went to register her birth, but forebore at the last moment.  She has his mercurial and exploring temperament. 

I will take her to see her (almost) namesakes tomb someday.

I miscalculated and hadn't realised that the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the National Gallery hadn't begun yet, which was a shame. The Horse Guards museum was a joy, particularly as you get to watch the lads at stable duty. I ended up having a long old chat with some of the Ministry of Defence police who were on duty outside. I certainly noticed the greater presence of armed police and talked to several of them around the city, I suppose because it is so unusual from an Irish perspective. They were unfailingly friendly. The thing that really struck me was the number of them with beards - the Met clearly having different regulations on this matter. .

An artist's impression of the National Army Museum

Of the National Army museum, the less said the better. It was the only sour note in an otherwise excellent trip.

I should have listened Tim. I should have listened.  And what only makes it worse is that I missed the Wallace Collection because of it. 

I survived Charing Cross Road and Martins Lane with only minor damage to my wallet. Not many books this trip, but quite a few prints - mostly fashion for Mrs. Kinch and Alice and Pooh Bear for the Kinchlets. There is more framing in my future. 

I'm still wondering if anyone does a suitable train in 20mm

I was very happy to get a single large engraving (done as a special by the Illustrated London News) of "a reconaissance in force" in 1882, which the Egyptians record as the Battle of Kafr el Dawr. It's an engagement that has intrigued me for a while, so I was glad to get it. There was a definite thrill of discovery when I recognised the geography and the regimental numbers in the otherwise anonymous piece.

After that it was home again, home again, jiggity jig. Mrs. Kinch and the Kinchlets seemed none the worse my absence and quite pleased to see me actually. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

London Calling

Ladies & Germs, I will be in London over the weekend.  The plan at present is to see some of the new museums and particularly the Wallace Collection. 

NOTE: Slight change of venue - The Round House, 2 northside Wandsworth common, clapham sw18 2ss. Probably be there around half six. 

However, if you fancy it - I will be propping up the bar at the Falcon Pub Clapham Junction at 1800hrs (that's six in the evening old money) on Sunday 24th September.  In the unlikely event you fancy talking wargaming, books or the price of fish, do let me know in the comments and I'll see you there.  

I'll be the chap on his own reading "At them with the Bayonet" by Donald Featherstone. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A little something from Dave Lycett

I was sent these pictures by friend of the blog, Dave Lycett, recently and very fine they are too.

They are from Spencer Smiths Shiny Toy Soldiers line. He is painting them up for the First Schleswig-Holstein War as part of a larger project.

Some Jaeger with what look like Danish Guard behind. 


A very creditable force. 
(Those buildings look rather tasty too - don't they?)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Out and about with the Kinchlets

Mr. Barry Sullivan, Actor. 

I haven't been as active as I would be normally, for a variety of reasons, but one thing I try to do is take the Kinchlets out for a walk every day.  This gets them some fresh air, tires them out and does at least delay my inevitable transformation into someone's fat Dad. A decent tramp is good for the soul and one of the places we've gone several times is Glasnevin Cemetery.  This is a large cemetery and well worth a walk around.  

A name in marble as well as in lights. 

Look at that profile!

This chap is Mr. Barry Sullivan, originally from Warwickshire; he was born to Irish parents and had a long association with Cork. He began a stage career in 1837 and made a name for himself as a Shakespearean.  He toured extensively particularly in the US and Australia.  He was apparently one of the finest actors of his generation, though the Australian Dictionary of Biography states that he was inclined to err on the robust side. 


Which always puts me in mind of this. 

Monument to fallen Dublin Metropolitan Police Officers

Prior to independence, Ireland had two police forces, the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) who policed the countryside and were armed and the DMP (Dublin Metropolitan Police) who policed the city and were unarmed.  I always have a soft spot for old coppers - so we have dropped down to this monument a couple of times. 

The Roll of Honour

Grave stone of Constable Lahiff

Next to the monument is the grave stone of Constable Michael Lahiff who was killed during the 1916 Rebellion. 


DMP Crest

Lahiff was shot at St. Stephen's Green (another favourite haunt of the Kinchlets) which is a wonderful park and well worth a visit.  During one of our last visits, I took a snap of the plaque which describes the shooting.  Please click on the picture to enlarge it, if you wish to read the text.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Vivandieres & Why I hate Lady Macbeth

NOTE: This is a repost of an entry I wrote in 2012.  I was discussing it with a friend last night and went back to it to refresh my memory what I had written.  I've made an addition or two to it and fixed some of the broken links.  I still think it stands up as a criticism.

Daughter of the Regiment
19th century audiences found cantinieres quite romantic
I have a soft spot for vivandieres. A friend of Mrs Kinch's remarked on this once, though she couchedit in somewhat unkind terms. "Was it normal for the prostitutes to wear uniforms?*" 
As it happens, no it was not, though no doubt someone can produce an example somewhere. I suspect Massena's name will crop up. 
Vivandieres and Cantinieres (for our purposes the terms are effectively interchangeable) were women who had a contract to supply spirits, shaving kit and other small necessities to the regiment to which they were attached. Strictly speaking the girls didn't have this contract themselves, it was held by a Sergeant who was known as a Cantinier. The Cantinier's wife was known as the Cantiniere and was definitely not a prostitute. She took up the job as the Cantinier was too busy with his duties, marching up and down and so forth and staring at terrified recruits and saying things like "Zis eez ze brown bess musket, eet eez ze preferred wepon ov yur enemy and it make a verey diztinktive zound when fired at you, mon brave."

An S Range Vivandiere

This figure represents a typical vivandiere/cantiniere with her basket and little barrel of brandy. She was a gift from Foy over at Prometheus in Aspic, who no doubt noted my somewhat unwholesome interest in the breed. She was painted by Krisztian, whose skill and craftsmanship is almost getting monotonous in its excellance.

 For your titilation, the ladies uncovered ankles.
Put them away you dirty, dirty girl...

As it happened Cantiniere's were rather better at surviving battles than their husbands were and as such (as well as I suspect their access to a legitimate source of booze may also have played a part) were highly sought after as spouses. Nicholette, the vivandiere, in RF Delderfields "Seven Men of Gascony" is married several times and is unabashedly unsentimental about the process.

Just pull yourself together dear...

NOTE: As I am revisiting this post, I realised that I linked to the image I used here (rather than downloading it and inserting it into the text) and whoever was using it has removed it.  For reference it was an image of a very attractive actress,  playing Lady Macbeth.  She was down to her bra and underwear and covered in so much blood she looked like something out of the third act of Carrie. 

Which brings me to the second point of this post, what does Kinch have against Lady Macbeth? Nothing per se, I like Macbeth. It's not my favourite or the one I know best, but it is very, very good. However, I don't care for the usual casting of Lady Macbeth, who is often a painfully young, screechy creature who uses the sleepwalking scene to take her hysterics for a walk.

All of which misses one of the essential truths of soldiers wives - they are tough women.

Isuzu Yamada's performance in Kurosawa's Throne of Blood is a notable exception to this somewhat depressing rule and Dame Judi Dench in Trevor Nunn's 1979 production is suitably flinty, but what makes those two stand out is that while they do portray women in a state of mental breakdown, they don't make a meal of it. To paraphrase Victoria Wood, you can't just rub some blood on your hands, scream a bit and go,  "Don't mind me, I'm a looney".

NOTE: Apparently "Don't mind me, I'm a looney" does not have the common currency that it should.  It is a reference to "Giving Notes", a magnificent sketch by the late (and much missed) Victoria Wood. It's only three minutes long and for context, the character is a producer in an amateur production of Hamlet.

 A second Vivandiere, 
based on the facings I'd say attached to a regiment of dragoons

No-one has made a film of Seven Men of Gascony, which is a pity as it's rather good and with the exception of Gerard, certainly the best fiction I've read about the period from the French point of view.  I fear however, that if one was made today, that poor old Nicolette would be hammered into the same tired "beautiful, but deadly" formula that seems to be rule for heroines these days.

This lady was a gift from Old John of 20mmNostalgic Revival and she does look fine. She's been used as an objective marker (with attached donkey) for Command & Colours Napoleonics games so far, though I think it will take a skirmish game for her to come into her own.

"I hate to see you leave, 
but I love to watch you go."

I think the point about the portrayal of Lady Macbeth that annoys me so much is that it is unfair. Sir Terry Pratchett wrote about women like her in his fantasy novel, "Guards, Guards".

"Sybil's female forebears had valiantly backed up their husbands as distant embassies were besieged, had given birth on a camel or in the shade of a stricken elephant, had handed around the little gold chocolates while trolls were trying to break into the compound, or had merely stayed at home and nursed such bits of husbands and sons as made it back from endless little wars. The result was a species of woman who, when duty called, turned into solid steel."

Sir Terry is writing about a policeman's wife, rather than a soldiers and I see a lot of Sybil in Mrs Kinch sometimes. It may no longer be fashionable or popular and I can't think of an example in popular culture in recent years, but I'll be damned if I don't give these ladies their due.

*Whereupon my mother in law (who is reading this over my shoulder, yes you Mary) says something uncharitable about the Guards Division.