Wednesday, June 22, 2016

School Daze and not being nice

Facebook occasionally sends you odd bits of information about your 'friends' and today it notified me that Mr Nick Futter (proprietor of Boot Hill Miniatures, whose lovely Mexicans decorate the top of my page) went to the same school, Hampton, that I did.  I haven't met Mr Futter, although it is not beyond the realm of possibility in the future, as I believe Eric the Shed is a mutual friend.  Anyway, I dug out some more of his Mexicans to have a look at and may try to get some paint on them shortly.  This will also give me the excuse to update another of my neglected blogs, Americas Wargaming.

Looking up my school on Google, to find a picture of it for this Post, I discovered that Daniel Pemberton, composer of the soundtrack to Prehistoric Park, which I featured in yesterday's post on music I listen to while painting prehistoric figures, also went to my school!  The school produced a number of quite well known musicians, including Paul Samwell-Smith, who, the year after leaving the school, formed The Yardbirds with another Hampton pupil, Jim McCarty.  Murray (One Night in Bangkok) Head was also a pupil as was Brian May of Queen.  On the classical side, renowned harpsichord player Thurston Dart also went to Hampton and he must have been there at about the same time as my Uncle Wally in the thirties. Swashbuckling actor Tyrone Power's father (also called Tyrone Power and also an actor) also went to Hampton.

This picture of the school was taken in 1949, just over ten years after it was built.  The previous school building was down by the Thames but in 1938, when my uncle was there, they moved to this new building just over a mile away.  No need for removal firms, they made the boys carry all the furniture from one site to the other,  The depressing thing is that this picture was taken much closer to the time when I started there (1971) than any of the modern shots of the buildings I looked at.  This is almost exactly how it was when I went there (another floor for the library had been added over the one story library at bottom right) whereas today there have been a  huge number of large additions.  The air raid shelters in the bottom right of the grounds (bottom centre) were still there when I started although they were later demolished to make way for some tennis courts when I was there.  The school my daughter attended is just out of shot to the right.

This shot gives an idea of the size of the playing fields (shaped like a number one).  If you were too uncoordinated for football and rugby, like I was, you did cross-country, which involved running around the perimeter of the field,which was just about a mile.  A very easy option for the non-sporty ,although this was about three quarters of a mile further than I liked to run (I ended up, to my surprise, a Southern Counties ranked 400m runner). Inevitably, bringing up the rear during cross-country would be myself and my friend Brookbank, walking and talking about wargaming the Western Front with our Airfix figures.  

I have visited the school a couple of times fairly recently, as my daughter had careers evenings there when she was at the school.  Oh how she laughed at the pictures of me in the school photos from 1972 and 1977, still on display in the corridors.  This shot of the school today shows the English department on the left which was built in the last year I was there and the language department (white bit) built as a second floor a few years before that.  I often had French lessons in the dark and depressing Upper Tower Room with my nemesis at the school, Boyo, the French teacher.  He wasn't really called Boyo, of course, but he was Welsh and I couldn't understand his English let alone his French.  I hated French, even more than I hated Maths and Physics and that is saying something.  To this day I cannot understand how on earth anyone can learn a foreign language.  It just seems impossible to me unless you are very, very young.  I am afraid I (unfashionably) genuinely believe that some people process certain subjects better than others because of the way their brains work. Maths, languages, art and music need some innate gift, I think.  I have always been able to draw from a very young age, for example. I have no problem in drawing a proportional representation of a figure from memory but I just can't learn languages. I was top of the year in History and English and second from bottom in French.. Just looking at the pictures of the tower bring back all the horror of French verbs.  I suppose that one of the things that held me back was that in the trendy early seventies we weren't taught English grammar so learning foreign grammar was impossible.  What on earth is a past participle, anyway?


I do wonder if it is the same part of my brain that fails to comprehend languages that means I cannot understand or remember wargames rules. Or maybe it's the bit that controls Maths.  Someone on The Miniatures Page (I think) was asking the other day if being good at maths helped you win at wargames.  Some people claimed it did.  But anyway, my actuary friend Bill would say that there is a big difference between maths and arithmetic.  Maybe it's incipient dementia.  All the tests for dementia are not, as you might thing, memory tests but are non verbal reasoning tests.  Gaming, it seems to me, is non-verbal reasoning and I am not a reasonable person.  This is why I hate boardgames as I can't understand the appeal of games with no figures!

Nothing can make maths fun

I have recently discovered a waste of time website called Quora which winds me up nearly as much as The Miniatures Page.  People post (usually inane) questions and forum members attempt to answer them.  The other week someone asked how they can get their children to enjoy maths and I posted to the effect that you can't and it's a horrible subject anyway.  Now, Quora works on a voting up or down system and I had noticed that most of my answers got one or two upvotes (not that I care) at most, while other people's got dozens, hundreds or even thousands.  My Maths answer got no upvotes so I assumed there were lots of mathematicians looking at the question (as you would expect).  I then posted an answer on another subject that got hundreds of upvotes. What was the difference?  I realised that Quora users like positive, happy answers.  "Hey, that's cool you want your children to learn about maths! Here are some games") etc.  I began to realise that I am not a positive, happy person.  This is also a discussion lurking around in the edges of the Brexit debate. "Hey, let's all just be nice to each other!"

I hate, happy, positive people because I think most of them are fake.  I have always been grumpy, because I  realised, at an early age (probably when I was at school), that most other people are self-centred and horrible (even if they pretend to be nice) and will do you down if given a chance.  This may be a variant of my pessimistic/optimistic personality.  Always assume something will go wrong because in the remote event it doesn't, it will cheer you up (at least, until the next disaster!)

No one looks happy at the American masters - probably because they realise that all their opponents are horrible

Again, on TMP this week, an American was giving his report on having been to his first UK wargames show (one of those northern ones, I think).  This brought forth a discussion on the differences between US and UK shows as regards participation games, with the Americans wanting to go to shows to play games.  I can't think of anything I would hate more than playing a game (where I wouldn't be able to understand the rules) with people I don't know (who are probably horrible, of course).

Speaking of games, I am sick of my favourite TV programmes (like last weekend's The Musketeers) being cancelled for football.  I also can't have my dinner with Eggheads today as Guy is watching the football.  I hate football nearly as much as I hate Maths.  It is just completely soporific most of the time and the whole culture around it is just ghastly.  I read an article once, at a time when football hooliganism in Britain was even worse than it is now, by an American psychologist saying that they had less crowd trouble in US sports because there are more opportunities for cathartic moments (i.e. points scoring) and that if you play a game for ninety minutes and no one scores of course the crowd are going to be wound up.

So, I have decided to keep posting negative things in the happy, world of Quora just to wind people up.  They need regular doses of realism amongst all the supportive, positive, lets be nice to each other hogwash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cavegirl wargaming blog updated.

My cavegirl wargames blog was one of those I had not updated for years (actually, just over two years) but as my cave people have got me painting again I thought I would use it to record my progress over the next few weeks. 

I have also written a post on the music I listen to when painting prehistoric figures. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Paint table Sunday- prehistorics!

I got another forty five minutes painting done today (I don't seem to be able to concentrate for more than that time now) and did some more work on my cavegirls and a trio of cavemen which I found in a box but hadn't started.  Given I was out and about most of the day it was nice to get anything done, really.

As soon as I saw Mark Copplestone's cavemen and (especially) cavegirls I knew I had to have them, even if I wasn't quite sure what I would do with them. I'm not sure when they came out (certainly around 2005 if not before - before this blog, anyway).  Unusually for me, I painted most of them (above) straight away leaving just the three male figures in the top picture.  I then went and bought another set of cavegirls which I am working on now

Steve Saleh Neanderthals versus Copplestone cavemen "We want your women!  And pigs!"

Even more unusually some of them actually saw a game, when I took part in a game of Steve Barber's Prehistoric Settlement at Guildford, organised by Matakishi.  This was a very good game but I realised that Copplestone didn't make some of the key figures you need for a game (such as archers, for example).  This isn't really a problem as there are some old Copplestone sculpted barbarians around somewhere which would do.

Should have brought a bigger spear

You also need several civilian figures (such as berry pickers) but the old Steve Barber ones were pretty horrible and only 25mm as well, although recently he has brought out some rather better replacements.  The Copplestone Terror Bird is considerably larger than the Steve Barber one but that doesn't matter for a Lost World scenario, especially as paleontologists can't agree if Phorusrhacidae (you can see why the name Terror Birds caught on) overlapped with humans at any point.  They did, at least, originate in South America, so plausibly (not that I should be worrying about plausibility but I do) could be on our Lost World plateau.

Anyway, I am wondering whether the new Tribal rules might be worth picking up as it has extra rules for the stone age and doesn't seem to require many figures.   I doubt that they have rules for wild animals, such as sabre tooths, but a Stone Age supplement is in the planning stages.  Now where did I put the mammoth I bought at Salute two years ago?

Friday, June 03, 2016

Something for the Weekend: Saucy pictures by Angus McBride from Mayfair

Just before he started producing the first of his marvellous illustrations for Osprey in 1975, Angus McBride produced a number of illustrations, cartoons and a comic strip for Mayfair magazine.  You can see these very politically incorrect works on our adults only Legatus' Wargames Ladies blog here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Two disappointing TV programmes and one piece of good news...

Sabine Schmitz wearing enough leather for a part in The Musketeers

I watched two rather disappointing TV programmes over the last few days.  One I was expecting to be bad the other not so.  

I was not surprised that Top Gear was no good. The BBC fielded a man on the news, yesterday, who said it still had the fantastic photography (which it did) and that was a big part of the show. It was an impressive part of the show but not as big a part of the show as the deluded BBC thought (or hoped). 

 The Old Bat always watched Top Gear, even though she has no interest in cars whatsoever but she said she was "bored" after twenty minutes. The reviews have been pretty poor and in keeping, basically, the same ingredients the BBC has shown that the show really was about the three former presenters and not the format itself.  It would have been braver to try something really different and avoid invidious comparisons but they didn't; obviously too worried about their overseas sales to change anything. 

I can't agree with those (and there seem to be quite a few) who liked Matt LeBlanc. I couldn't understand a word he said - especially when he was on location. Although we all know a lot of old Top Gear was scripted it never sounded scripted whereas every word of this obviously was.  Like many actors, LeBlanc flounders without a script but even with a script his presentation was dead. We definitely needed more Sabine Schmitz, though; she was wasted in the first episode. She has ten times more personality than LeBlanc 

Watching Top Gear is giving me a migraine

I actually used to quite like Chris Evans in his Don't Forget Your Toothbrush days but his strangled attempt at forcing his rather naturally high voice down an octave into a Clarkson impression was most odd and the most uncomfortable thing about an uncomfortable viewing experience.   The whole show also seemed wearingly frantic, as if that alone might make it exciting, with Evans striding around the studio like an orangutan that has escaped from its enclosure at the zoo.  The celebrity guest stars were rather low rent.  Gordon Ramsay (who I detest) and some American I had never heard of.  In discussing it with one of my friends this mornings she thought those who become guests of the new show should join a list of traitors to Top Gear, like Quislings.  Like new nude free Playboy I will give it one more chance but I suspect, like NF Playboy, I will abandon it.

I've always enjoyed The Musketeers, even if the costumes suffered from the usual 'need to reflect the character rather than be historically accurate' syndrome. Today's costumiers just love leather (it's all the Lord of the Rings fault).  This weekend's episode actually opened with a battle scene which I should have loved.  It had a pike block! Spaniards in morions! Muskets with rests!  Cannons behind earthworks!

Back to CGI Paris, mes amis!

The trouble was, the director had no idea how to shoot a battle scene so you were always aware of all the empty space behind the extras.  Closer framing or even a little CGI would have helped it from looking quite so...Sharpeish.  Still, you are unlikely to get many tasset wearing pikemen on prime time TV otherwise.   I found the episode a bit flat and they have done the people trapped in a monastery story before (and the shooting a barrel of gunpowder stunt) but this time there was an added stupid teenage boy too and cute children.  Ugh!.  Never mind they are back in Paris next week.

There were also not nearly enough enticing ladies of the court in bodices or floaty lingerie. Charlotte Salt from Series Two is much missed by the Legatus.  Her scene in a window in Series 2 providing a particularly effective paean to the erotic power of the back of the thighs.  This is the last series of The Musketeers and we hope the other remaining episodes don't show the spark has gone out of the programme with the departure of creator Adrian Hodges.

"What lovely chandeliers!"
"How kind, your Majesty!"

Never mind, Versailles starts on Wednesday and there are plenty of underdressed ladies of the court in that.  Rather too many for the Daily Mail, and one of our MPs (who really should be worrying about more important things), who were getting in a right old tizz in March because of all the racy scenes.  Typically, the French were only concerned about historical inaccuracies and the fact it was made in English despite being a French production.  Despite the Daily Mail banging on about the "most explicit sex scenes to be seen on the BBC" the French DVD of the series has the equivalent of a '12' cert, demonstrating that France is far more grown up than Britain is.

Look!  Serves ten!

One thing that has cheered me up this week, regarding the TV, is the news that the annoying Hemsley sisters' nutritionally dubious cooking programme has been moved from Monday to Friday nights because of plummeting ratings.  TV executives believe that Friday is a graveyard slot for programmes because everyone is out on Friday night (well, they are; looking for biodynamic dinner in Islington).  In addition, real cooks and nutritionists are pointing out that the Hemsleys have no training in cooking or nutrition and that their fixation on dropping some types of food from your diet (basically anything that tastes nice) leaves you not getting enough nutrients.   I am sure that it was their deluded espousal of a spinach infested "full monty" cooked breakfast that put paid to their reputations more than anything else.  No second series for you I think!  Spralise that, twittering twiglets!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Something for the Weekend: Saucy figures from Greenwood & Ball

An old Mayfair article on Cliff Sanderson sculpted ladies in 54mm and 80mm on my Legatus' Wargames Ladies blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Neanderthals completed!

I have finished the last three of the seven, Steve Saleh sculpted, Lucid Eye Savage Core Neanderthals and very enjoyable to paint they were too.  Although I am looking forward to Saleh's Savage Core rules these will find themselves in action (one day) on my Lost World plateau in South America in 1912 probably using IHMN.  I actually have another duplicate pack somewhere so I might try and do a few weapon swaps.  I wish he did some Neanderthal women warriors!