Ok - I'll admit, it's an old photo.
I may have put on a few pounds here and there.
The Liebsters are doing the rounds again and though I was pretty sure I'm inelligible, I was nominated by Polemarch and Alaistar, so thank you very much gentlemen. I regret it has taken me so long to get around to responding - I can only plead the exigencies of the service.
Polemarch is a rum character, who has to the best of my knowledge never posted a single picture of a toy soldier on his blog - which begs the question is he even a blogger at all?. He has won the Monthly "Wargames blog most likely to send me scurrying towards a dictionary" Award for the last twelve months running. He also has me reading Kant, which made my Daddy very happy, so thanks again there.
Alaistar is a self described "Guardian reading lefty" and he is very fond of Joy & Forgetfulness, so I'm going to have to have a sit down and a long hard think about where it's all gone wrong. But in the mean time, you could do a lot worse than comb through "A Wargaming Gallimaufry" where Alaistar cracks out a truly respectable number of games, including some with his son, which is no mean feat. One additional kudo is awarded for enjoying Donogh's "Classified" Force on Force scenarios. In fact the thing that strikes me about the blog is the sheer variety of stuff on there.
Each nominator had their own list of questions, so I just answered both.
Why did you start blogging?
To be honest, I started blogging because I liked reading blogs. That and I was having difficulty with a novel (finished, but still unpublished) that I was trying to write. I tend to keep blogging to keep my hand in and it's sort of grown from that. That said, I've had more paid writing work as a result of the blog then I've ever had before, so it's been a success in that respect.
Though, I think we can all agree - I would rock this look.
If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?
There is a streak of Puritanism that runs through the hobby that deeply irritates me. I like historical games, I like games with cards, I like in the words of a very fine blog, the things I like. I'm not a fan of steampunk or weird World War Two, though I quite like 40K, which I will accept contains a considerable dollop of both. What I find baffling is chaps who spend their hobby time running down that part of the hobby that they don't like, rather than extolling the virtues of the bits that they do like.
My good chum The Unlikely Douglas McKenzie once coined the phrase, "Stop, stop, you're enjoying it wrong!" to describe this particular approach.
What is best in life?
God's love, books, cats, Mrs. Kinch (the pearl of all her sex), friends, proper work, music.
Major Tom choose incorrectly
(picture stolen from I'm not sure where exactly)
Fame or fortune?
Difficult one. Mrs. Kinch and I once sat down and wrote down all the things we wanted in life. It's a very useful exercise and one I go back to every so often. The thing that struck me was how little of what we wanted to do revolved around money. Both of us would like to make a little more certainly, but it wasn't really a goal that we wanted to achieve. Some of our goals would certainly be easier to achieve if we had plenty of money, but it's no substitute for talent, character or determination.
Fame would of course, be nice, but it is dependent on having done something noteworthy and the result is that suddenly your very trivial doing become matters of public interest. As Major Tom found out, the papers want to know whose shirts you wear.
I think on the whole, I'd take fortune, our local children's hospital could do with another wing.
(click to embiggen)
What miniatures are you most proud of having painted?
Probably this one and I will likely never do another.
How do you deal with burn out?
I generally play a few games and spend time with my pals. Read books and lounge about with Mrs. Kinch. Go for a long walk.
Why is a raven like a writing desk?
Because both are rarely used to write on anymore.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars definitely - it feels real to me in a way that Star Trek never does. There never seems to be any greed or laziness or Original Sin in the Star Trek universe, which is why I find it so unconvincing. I used to put it down to a liking for the work of Leigh Brackett and CL Moore, but I think my father summed perfectly why I dislike Star Trek. "It's seems very silly to believe that everyone in the future will be rich, Western and secular."
Urgh. That is a toughie. You see, there are manufacturers that I like and manufacturers that make the figures I need to complete armies and often they don't correspond. Zvesda maybe or possibly John Cunningham. He's never left me short of a few lads.
What is your favourite takeaway?
Well it definitely comes in a brown paper bag and involves tonic. Not a massive fan of takeaway food.
1. How would you describe your blog?
2. How did you pick your blog’s name?
I was reading a book called "Achtung Swchinehundt!" by Harry Pearson which included a quotation from Anatole France. It seemed to encapsulate everything that I want from wargaming. I read some Anatole France after, but sadly the experience did not live up to the quotation.
I discovered from Mr. Pearson several years later that he has never read Anatole France and that he found the quotation in an old French book about toy soldiers. Never meet your heroes.
I proclaim him to be a dastard and a vile Grauniad writing swine and I suggest going here to study his perfidy in greater detail.
3. Why did you start blogging?
4. How do you relax (if it's not blogging)?
Spending time with Mrs. Kinch. Writing. Reading. Wargaming. Playing with the cat. Eating out. Drinking.
5. Is figure painting a chore or pleasure?
A chore and a pleasure. I enjoy painting, but I do tend to sub contract quite a bit these days.
6. How do you deal with burn out?
7. What are the three things you cannot live without?
Mrs. Kinch. Faith. Books. Work.
8. What was the last book you read and the last you bought?
Read: Last Argument of Kings (Black Powder 18th Century Supplement)
Bought: The Big Short by Michael Lewis
9. Who is your favourite fictional character?
Sherlock Holmes in his literary incarnation. Mrs. Kinch is very fond the Cumberbatch Holmes, but I find him impossible to like - though I think Messrs Moffat and Gatiss have done an exceptional job of re-imaging . The Robert Downey Junior Holmes is rather good though.
I really enjoyed the first season of Sherlock, but to be fair Cumberbatch's portrayal is very different to Conan Doyle's character. Sherlock is a man who is utterly cut off from every finer feeling except the need to know things.
Conan Doyle's character was a bohemian genius. Difficult and often prickly, he maintained relationships, cared about society, his country and the wider world in a way that Cumberbatch's Sherlock would be completely incapable of. I know which I would prefer as a friend.
10. Ball point, rollerball or fountain pen?
For preference fountain pen, but in work ball point as fountain pens rarely thrive in rain.
Now for nominations -
Honourable mentions to Tim Gow (for infinite invention and an admirable sense of humour), Bob Cordery (for sheer variety), Lee (for his tenacity and beautiful paintwork) and Ben (for his singular devotion to the Napoleonic period - would that I could be as faithful to a single period).
MC Monkey Dews Miniature Games - Mr. Monkey Dew is a distinctly odd fish. I'm the sort of fellow that doesn't like Shakespeare when he's been messed with (like for example when they make Hamlet a girl or decide to set the Tempest in a super market) and MC MDs blog is a cavalcade of Napoleonic battles fought by orks, talking dogs and other strange creatures. This is the sort of stuff calculated to leave me cold - but the thought he puts into it, the careful presentation, the charm with which MC MD writes will win you over, even if you've never fancied a French elf. Read some of his battle reports deeply and you'll find a greater commitment to trying to understand black powder battle than many blogs that obsess over hats and gaiter buttons. You should also have a look at some of his rules writing efforts. Recommended.
Obscure Battles - I only recently discovered this blog and it is very fine. I imagine Jeff Berry, who works in advertising, as one of those impeccably turned out Don Draper sorts, who takes time out from drinking martini's and selling washing powder to pen detailed, idiosyncratic and beautifully illustrated articles on battles that take his fancy. Updated once a month or so, Jeff substitutes signal for noise and is always worth reading. Run, do not walk and address yourself to this blog.
Lead Plague - Jean Baptiste's Lead Plague blog is full of beautifully painted miniatures and interesting stuff. There are lots of blogs like this, what makes JBs blog so different is his transparent love of the hobby and his wonderful sense of humour and whimsy. Show me a Frenchman who sculpts a knight riding a giant chicken into battle and I will show you living, breathing proof why the French are the finest of fellows and the best of foes. JB will just make you happy.
British Audio Books - This blog differs from all the others in that it is a commercial venture, albeit in a cottage industry sort of way. The owner, the magnificently named Mr. Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot, records, producing and sells audiobooks, the sort of audiobooks that no one else is doing - like the memoirs of Wellingtons Judge Advocate General, Oman's History of the Peninsular War as well as 1930s science fiction. He is also a wargamer and has produced a number of board wargames. Check him out.
Cold War Gamer - If you are interested in Cold War wargaming, there are lots of excellent websites, like Cold War Hot Hot Hot and Winter of '79 that I've written about before, but I think Cold War Gamer is special even in that field. Andy's specialty is a hypothetical World War Three scenario in Central Europe in the 80s. His blog is updated about once a month or so, but the sheer quality of what Andy produces make it always worth waiting for. His standard of modelling is very high, though I think I prefer his pithy essays on Soviet operational art and how the British army (the author is a former serviceman) did it's business in the 1980s. A class act all around.
So, having picked my nominees, there has been some headscratching to settle on questions.
1. You have a particular style of wargaming, how did you fix on it and why does it appeal to you?
2. A lot of blogs tend to peter out after a dozen posts or so. Your endurance stands out. What has kept you in the game?
3. Time and money no object. What is your dream wargames project?
4. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
5. Smoker or non smoker?
6. Our shared hobby is full of some pretty odd characters. Whose the strangest chap you've ever come across through wargaming?
7. Figure painting. Pleasure or chore?
8. What is your preferred tipple?
9. Do you have a prefered ruleset or did you write your own? How did you settle on it?
10. Would you say you are a club wargamer or a loose association of friends sort of operation?
11. Are you "out" at work - would your non wargaming friends know about your hobby?