Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time to sort out the workbench

Utter chaos!

While I really should be finishing my Carthaginian elephant crew I have come to the realisation that my workbench (which gives it a whole artisanal air neither my skills nor it deserves) really needs sorting out.  Since before Christmas it has got encrusted with unopened packets of (oddly (or perhaps not) mainly female) figures which are burying my paintbrushes and other tools.  Inspired by a review in Miniature Wargames this month, I bunged off an order to Hobbies Ltd for a Hohbyzone organiser.  Now, I actually have a paint organiser on my desk but it is so disorganised I hadn't seen it for two years. 

A big heavy box turned up in well under 48 hours and I opened it up to find a quite terrifying number of pieces.  Fortunately, I had ordered an extra, optional drawer, which was packed separately, so I set to on making that on Friday.  The reviewer in Miniature Wargames said it was straightforward and he had assembled the whole thing in an hour.  Well, it took me around half that time to assemble one drawer but I am a DIY manqué. It left me stressed and tense and the look of the completed drawer brought back horrific memories of woodwork at school, where we had to make a box.  'Cut the wood on the waste side' bellowed my woodwork teacher (the memory of whom is so terrible my mind has completely erased his name and face, unlike all my other teachers, I realise) as I messed it up yet again. In fact that is the only single thing I learned from a year of woodwork.  In my school report that year I got D- for the subject.  'His work completely lacks any sense of care, accuracy or finish' wrote my woodwork teacher. I hadn't thought about woodwork classes for over forty years.

I had actually forgotten I had done them at all until I assembled this drawer.  A terrifying, suppressed memory of that ghastly room has now flooded back.  I am sure it has something to do with my complete hatred of undertaking any practical things to this day or, in the alternative, perhaps this skill is innate and I just don't have it.  I, very unfashionably, believe that some things (maths, music, sport, languages and art) need innate skills.  These cannot be learned, except to the most basic level.  You can do them or you can't. Your brain works like that or it doesn't.  No amount of tedious teaching can help, although, I suppose, I admit that I am very bad at learning things, as I am attempting to do with Spanish at present.  Basically, I am not interested in spending time learning how to do things.  Essentially, if I can't do something instantly (as I found I could with drawing) then I am not interested in learning it; as the fear is you waste endless hours on it and still find you can't do it.  Best not to waste the time and just accept you can't do it, as I do with DIY and modelling skills.

Crafty people love Gorilla glue.  I do not.

Still, I was very impressed with the material of this.  No smoked fish smelling, laser-cut flimsiness here.  It is good, solid plywood which is very well finished (made in Poland).  Fortunately, the Old Bat had some of the recommended Gorilla Glue (she has a lot of DIY stuff) to use on it, although I found the applicator totally baffling and ended up with it going on the floor, on my trousers and all over the bits of wood.  I decided to assemble the rest of it in the kitchen today, as the Old Bat was out of the way, otherwise I would have got ' you don't want to do it like that' comments, and I have run out of blood pressure pills at present.

On the move (on the move, we're on our way again  - as the theme to an early Bob Hoskins TV show used to go)

The plan is to install this crosswise on my desk (fortunately, it is the exact right size) but to do this I have to move all the other stuff, principally my plastic boxes of figures in progress (to use the term loosely).   I had a master plan for these in that they were going onto the shelves behind my chair where there were a lot of DVDs.  These are, ultimately, going into a new DVD storage case.  This whole operation is not so much juggling objects about but more a rather involved conveyancing chain but it will all contribute to the gradual tidying of my playroom, which is an utter tip at the moment.

So, this afternoon I found that the little Chinese take away boxes I keep my figures in fit perfectly on the shelf.  The Force is definitely with me on this one!  While moving them I also found a box of rocks which I had been looking for for weeks.  Tidying is good!

The worst part of my work bench is what lurks behind my computer screen.  What horrors lie behind it?  My screen is like the wall on Skull Island.  Out of side, out of mind.  Just looking at this photo I can see more figures, more paint, a WW1 tank fascine, some sort of Games Workshop tank and a load of paintbrushes I had completely forgotten about.  This will all have to come out but only after I had assembled the dreaded new storage unit.  I am already thinking about getting a couple more to go underneath it.

It is Sunday today and there was no paint table Saturday yesterday as we went down to Hampshire for the Old Bat's sister's sixtieth birthday lunch, which was very enjoyable. although the Old Bat glared at me for having  a pint of Itchen Valley Brewery Watercress Ale (which is brewed very close to the English Civil War battlefield of Cheriton).   So I was able to put the thing together on the kitchen table.  The man in Wargames Illustrated said it took him an hour but it took me an hour and forty five minutes.  I have to say that the fit of the pieces was just perfect.  I didn't have a soft headed hammer, as the instructions recommended (who has such a thing?) but a few good thumps with the side of my hand soon had everything in place, although I did resort to a hammer when attaching the base but only because my hand was becoming sore!

Finally, I gave it a coat of black spray paint so it matches with my other paint stand and my (nineties) desk.  I have now cleared the growing lead pile from my desk so next I have to remove everything else temporarily before starting to re-install things.

So by this evening I think I have cleared around one sixth of my desk but at least my original paint storage unit is now visible.  This is going to go behind my screen for storage purposes.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reading wargames magazines over lunch and a journey to the Dark Side.

Yesterday I had a meeting in London, which was one of those where the timing keeps moving about until the last minute.  Well, I say London but actually it was at Holloway Road which is much further north in London than I like to go.  It's almost the Midlands!  Originally scheduled to take place between 12.00 and 13.00, the meeting was shifted to 13.00.  I arrived at Waterloo early, so had time for a cup of tea (I thought you might not be able to get tea in North London) and a quick trip to Smiths and picked up May's Miniature Wargames. I then got a phone message to say they had moved the meeting forward to 12.30.  Anyway, it all meant that I was out at 13.30 and desperate to get back to civilisation.  As I hadn't had lunch I headed south as fast as possible and pitched up at the National Cafe at the National Gallery.  Basically, I wanted to waste some time so that Old Bat would be at home to pick me up and save me the walk from the station, as I have a bad foot at present.

Now although I don't like its new poncey incarnation (could this be the name for Warhammer's first gay hero?) compared with how it used to be (all change is bad) the food there is very nice, apart from a baffling preponderance of fishy dishes.  They had one of their exhibition specific menus again (Monet) but now, annoyingly, they only serve these in the evening (more change for the worse).  Anyway, apart from my newly purchased Miniature Wargames I also had April's Wargames Illustrated in my bag.  Time, therefore, for another  thrilling episode of Reading Wargmes Magazines over Lunch!  Before I could start, given it was susprisingly warm yesterday, I needed a cool drink and so chose a Côtes de Provence.   This was a pale, almost transparent, fragrant pink which reminded me (in many ways) of a former girlfriend's favourite pair of knickers; although not as expensive (I was with her once in Wimbledon when she spent an eye watering £105 on a pair of La Perla black knickers).

Leek and potato with wild garlic soup for a first course; although in reality it was more garlic soup with a little bit of leek and potato.  Miniature Wargames new May edition first and a look at their Forward Observer review section.  Firstly, review of the new Osprey Outremer: Faith and Blood rules, for Crusades skirmishes using between five and ten figures a side, which strike me as being too few (surprisingly) so I will pass on these, despite the fact that I have some painted figures for the First Crusade, done for a Society of Ancients game some years ago.

The problem

The solution?

Far more interesting was a review of a paint station which, at two feet long might, hold a lot of rubbish cluttering my desk.  One side of my desk is a complete tip (actually so is the other side) but this has racks for paint brushes, drawers and lots of space for paint. I bunged off an order to Always Hobbies and hope the reviewers claims that it was easy to assemble will prove accurate!

Picnic girl by Ron Cobb for Mayfair July 1972

Many articles in wargames magazines have tried to categorise the different tribes of players and Conrad Kinch had a go, this month too, looking at their motivation.  In a way, these pieces remind me of those articles you used to get in Mayfair, which would examine the different characteristics of 'birds' in the early seventies; country set girls, librarians, air hostesses, secretaries, au pairs, etc.   These were usually illustrated, falling out of their clothes, by Ron Cobb who would go on to do concept art for films like Alien and Total Recall. None of them look like wargamers, of course!  Kinch's categorisation had four types: Socialite - who games to meet up with people (definitely not me), The System Master - who loves mastering the rules so they can win at all costs (not me either), The Daytripper - inspired by history, films or TV (that is me) and The Craftsman - who likes painting figures, making scenery and devising scenarios (a bit me).

A member of my Sudan Naval Brigade encounters some cavegirls

There were several other articles I was interested in: one on making rocks out of yoga blocks (no, I had no idea what a yoga bloc was either) and a piece from the Wargames Widow on making a swampy river.  I have to say (cruelly, given my lack of ability at constructing scenics) that I find many of her projects a bit lumpy and agricultural but this one may be worth keeping.  There was another one of those four staples of generic wargames magazines articles (along with the aforementioned type of wargamer, the greying of the hobby and the decline of shows) on historical versus fantasy wargaming (two out of four of these tropes in one issue?).  The position taken by the author seemed to be that historical and fantasy games were all after the same objective but historical gamers were more hamstrung by...well, history. He also takes the view that historical games are in decline.  Hmm.  This is not something I want to get into but I think that the sheer number of, in particular, plastic historicals coming out says that the decline isn't as steep as some thing. I think that, perhaps, big battle historicals are on the decline, with the rise of the semi-skirmish type of game like Lion Rampant,  Many historical games are now fought with forces of several dozen, rather than hundreds ,of figures a side, as seen in Fantasy and SF gaming for some time.  This is partly due to time constraints, I suspect, and cost.  I actually think that one thing fantasy wargaming has given to historicals is nicely produced rule books, coming from Warhammer Historical and now Warlord Games, there are still some who prefer the ring bound efforts of the past but being a Daytripper/Craftsman, according to Mr Kinch's definitions, I think glossy, beautifully produced rule books are inspirational.  Also, I think that while younger wargamers (and most wargaming women) focus on Fantasy, contraty to the author of this piece,  I don't see a situation in thirty years time when lots of fifty year olds are still playing Warhammer.  This is because I think, like myself, many who wargame at a younger age stop for years, as adult life takes over, only to return to the hobby years or decades later.  When they do return I suspect they are more likely to take up historicals as opposed to fantasy, if only as it may feel more acceptable to their peers.  'I play wargames with Orcs' not being so, justifiable, perhaps, to others as 'I recreate battles of the Crimean War'; even if the gaming mechanisms are almost identical.

However, the thing in the magazine that had an immediate effect on me was the actually rather poor review  (he reviewed the figures not the game, with which there are issues, I gather) of Star Wars Legion. I had been excited when this game was first announced (I think my daughter pointed it out) but with my eye problems of last year, I gave up on it. It was delayed so often I lost interest.  However, the review in Wargames Illustrated seemed to indicate it was out and I gather it was being demonstrated at Salute, although, needless to say, I didn't see it.  However, now that I can see much better again, I wanted to get it, especially as Charlotte seems keen on playing it (some of her friends play X-Wing).  Quick phone call to Dark Sphere and a short walk from Waterloo Station and there I have yet another impulse buy.  Much more on this in due course.

On to my main course of duck with spicy liver sauce and Wargames Illustrated's April edition.  The themed approach is always a bit hit and miss and aviation wargames are a definite miss for me but the Thirty Years War is something I have been interested in a for a long time, not least because of the old Revell 1:72 plastics of years ago (there was an article on other suitable plastic figures in this scale in the magazine) and several visits to the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm with my friend Anna.  It seems that this would be an ideal period for The Pikeman's Lament so I will keep the articles from this issue.  One thing, however, is that the uniforms  (not that they were) from the period are not the same as those from the English Civil War.  I recently read about a European firm that was starting up a range of 28mm Thirty years War figures which looked really nice but I can't remember who?  Were they Russian? Probably just as well I can't remember!

There was also a piece on Warlord's Shieldwall supplement for Hail Caesar which I haven't quite finished reading et.  I haven't played Hail Caesar but perhaps this will be what Eric the Shed uses for his big new Norman and Saxon project.  Coincidentally, after I returned from Dark Sphere, I ran into Eric on Waterloo Station, after I had collected my big Star Wars box.  He said I should take the game over to the Shed, which I may do when I have painted the figures (in about 2020). 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A quick visit to Salute 2018

Just back from a very short trip to Salute; I think I was in and out in just under two hours.  I arrived just after 11.00 am and the free giveaway figure had already run out, which was fine as I didn't want it.  Given  the theme this year was the centenary of the end of World War 1 I didn't see much in the way of WW 1 games (there were a couple of African set ones).  In fact the most Great War thing was this reproduction tank which, while being made from wood, can actually move under its own track power,  It has featured in a number of TV and film productions (including Wonder Woman, Eric the Shed informed me) but was a rather stunted, foreshortened thing; rather in the way that James Cameron sliced a big chunk out of the front of his Titanic reproduction. It's almost like an anime version of a tank. Still, it looked excellent from the front.

Compared with last year there were a number of games which caught my eye as regards scenery.  As ever the venue was stygian and you only had to look into the bridal show across the way to see the difference.  I liked this World War 2 Greek Island set game featuring the Battlegroup rules. They really caught the look of the scenery of the region. Extra marks for the seaplanes

More arid scenery was depicted in this big Crusades game by show organisers, the South London Warlords, using the Sword and Spear rules which I have never played but have heard good things about.

It was odd to see a Big Red Bat game which did not feature ancients but there were still plenty of pikes in this English Civil War game, witch was promoting his new For King and Parliament rules (shouldn't it be For King or Parliament).  Anyway, he was so busy I didn't get a chance to chat to him, this year.

I haven't given up on my American Civil War project but, again, ACW seemed thin on the ground this year.  Most impressive was this one featuring a fort and an ironclad.  Great water effect.

Another American set game but a different conflict was this one, featuring a fictitious battle in Florida in 1761, with the Spanish attacking a plantation.  A really nice board. this one.

Maybe I just go for boards with water on them as I also liked Dalauppror's Great Northern War clash, the Battle at Stäket, 1719, using The Pikeman's Lament.


I have been lurking on the Gangs of Rome Facebook page and there are some nice figures by Footsore Miniatures, backed by a great range of Roman buildings by Sarissa Precision (except for the roofs - they really do need 3D Roman tiled finishes - buying tile effect plasticard for this is possible but always seems to be out of stock everywhere).  The Sarissa stand did have a Roman house with a proper roof and it looked fantastic.  I was most impressed by their Roman galley, however,  Some things work with laser cut MDF (like this) and some things don't (anything cylindrical).  In the end Gangs of Rome makes me feel a bit queasy as, basically, it is not a wargame but a murder game (I wouldn't play gangsters either).  I like my little soldiers to believe in a cause!  Even if they are French and therefore misled.

I was somewhat surprised to see the University of Wolverhampton trying to recruit students for their history courses.  I don't think I have seen such a thing before at a wargames show.  I do wonder if they hadn't quite done their research into the average age of wargamers properly.  They were probably expecting the place to be filled with the Warhammer generation.

The numbers were as high as ever, I think, the light was as bad and there were a lot of Fantasy and SF manufacturers with large and impressive stands.  For me the demonstration games were of a higher standard than last year.  The absence of the London Marathon registration (it is next week) made moving around Excel and getting something to eat and drink easier.  From my point of view, there were not many people selling scenics, other than the MDF giants,  Resin buildings seem to be dying out. There were still a fair number of small 3' x 3' type games, many of which looked like those little gardens you had to make at junior school using a roasting tin, moss, stones and a mirror for a pond.  My one, inevitably and somewhat controversially, had dinosaurs in it, when I think it was supposed to be an Easter garden.

I am sixth from left

I went to the bloggers meet up, which seemed smaller this year and met Eric the Shed, Alastair and Tamsin.  I also ran into another Shed regular, John, at Waterloo on the way back.  The picture is from Big Lee's blog.  He has some excellent photos here.

There was no Dave Thomas stand this year (rumoured he has stopped doing shows) so there was nowhere to get my metal Afghan cavalry as the Perry stand (which wasn't where it was supposed to be on the map) was just selling their plastics.  There were two sets of three-ups for new sets: Agincourt mounted knights and US WW 2 infantry, neither of which I am interested in, fortunately.  I resisted the new Napoleonic chasseurs as I had already bought some other figures.

I think I bought more figures than last year.  A set of Afghan foot from Empire, as they will go into an army I am painting at the moment.  Some LBM Carthaginian shield transfers, which were on my list. Two packs of Bicorne ECW firelock men to replace the historically inaccurate figures in my Tower Hamlets trained band,  What really wasn't on the list were a box of, and some command for, the Fireforge plastic Byzantine Infantry.  This is one of my earliest 28mm armies and I do, occasionally paint a few more for it. 

"You have things in your bag," cackled the Old Bat, accusingly, when I got home.  I showed her this picture of Eric the Shed's purchases.  "His poor wife!  Although he can buy as much as he wants as he can do DIY." she said.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Salute Eve and a Sharpe adventure at the Shed

Well, I didn't enjoy last year's Salute very much.  I wasn't feeling well and my eyes couldn't cope with the murky light and my crumbling joints couldn't cope with the concrete floor.  I did enjoy the Bloggers meet up (12.30 this year, rather than 13.00), though, and met some new people in real life who I had only previously encountered in the Blogosphere.  Whenever I appear in the Blogger's meet photo my hair always looks like John Harvey-Jones' so I was determined to get it cut this week but sadly, Tracy, my hairdresser had no free appointments when I was in London, so I will look my usual dishevelled self.  Not such an issue amongst a group of wargamers, at least.

Usually, I have a list of things I want to buy but not this year, apart from some more Afghan cavalry so I can complete my TMWWBK force for the North West Frontier.  This week the Old Bat wanted some money for paint (we don't have a joint bank account so if she wants something she has to beg) and was shocked when I gave her fifty pounds (which is what the sort of paint she likes costs per tin) from my wallet.

"Why do you have so much cash in your wallet?" she asks, suspiciously.  It gradually dawns on her, about ten minutes later.  "You don't need any more soldiers!"  So, of course, obedient as ever, I won't get any.  Honest.

That said, I went over to Eric the Shed's for a game this week.  It is the first time I have got there since January 2017 and since then he has extended his shed even morem so he can now host two games on separate tables in separate rooms.  To call it a 'shed' is like calling HMS Victory a sailing boat.  This time it was the second game he has had featuring Sharpe and Harper, using the Fistful of Lead Horse and Musket rules.  He assured me that these would be simple enough for even me to understand.

As ever, he had done a lot of work on creating a scenario wherein Sharpe had to capture a renegade Irish priest in the French port of Brest  and take him away by sea, supported by a Royal Navy ship, HMS Indecisive.  This name reminded me of a more recent adjectival Royal Navy vessel, HMS Active, which some years ago was the guard ship for the Royal Yacht Britannia at Cowes Week.  My sister joined us for the Royal Yacht Squadron Ball and danced the legs of the officers and a good number of ratings who had been invited to participate.  They didn't look so active afterwards, as she is a very fit woman. Anyway, each of five players (Eric was referee) had a character and four ordinary soldiers each; two groups of five British Riflemen and three groups of French Infantry.  

I had a group of French light Infantry ensconced in a fortress on the seashore.  Every turn I had to blast away at HMS Indecisive; largely ineffectuall, given my usual dice throwing.  I wasn't sure what effect this might have on the game (Eric kept much of the scenario plot points from us) so whether my slightly better throws in the second half of the game helped mean that Hornblower and his scurvy crew (who spent the whole game equally ineffectually floating about the harbour in a small boat) didn't land, I don't know. 

My fellow French commanders engaged the Riflemen as they infiltrated the town. I was worried about the random bombardment from the Royal Navy ship, so kept safely inside the fort for much of the game. I was in nice, safe, hard cover so decided to wait until any of the British appeared at the dockside before employing those famous sniping skills French infantry are so well known for. Ne pas.

Callum (Alastair's son - pitched against his father for much of the game) managed to kill Sharpe (although, apparently, Sharpe has a Dracula like ability to rise from the dead - probably something to do with the blood of virgins).  Encouraged by such a setback for the British and with the bombardment from HMS Indecisive diminishing somewhat, following a couple of large hits from the fort, I set my troops out skirmishing, as Callum had got the Irish priest into the fort from which the rosbifs would be unable to liberate him. 

My officer, stung by the accusations of his fellow commanders that he had been cowering in the fort too long, ordered his four privates out onto the dock where three of them, who we shall call Lebrun, Leblanc and Lefebvre, bravely cowered behind some boxes and barrels.  He sent his fourth and fastest soldier, Le Mans, to charge into the nearest house where he was confronted by a large Irishman with a seven barrelled Nock gun.  What should he do? 'Tirez!" shouted my officer from behind his pile of boxes.  Le Mans did and Harper dropped dead (well at least for the game).  He will no doubt be back.  Le Mans didn't last very long after that but he was my only loss.  

Only two Riflemen escaped to a boat, HMS Indecisive was in flames, the priest was safely in the fort, Hornblower's boat drifted off like a bread crate from the beach and the French were victorious. Hourra!  Another wonderful game at The Shed and I really liked the Fistful of Lead rules which are obviously the Peninsula skirmish rules I have been looking for. 

What this does, of course, is put me in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis Napoleonics at  Salute.  I sold nearly all my unpainted ones last year but maybe a few for a skirmish?  The ones I really like are the Paul Hicks sculpts for Brigade Games but I don't think you can buy them in the UK.  Probably just as well! 

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Paint Table Saturday: time to focus

As regular readers know, focus in not one of the Legatus' strong points.  Some time ago, I decided to focus my figure painting by just keeping a small number of figures I was currently working on on my desk. I now have twenty plastic boxes of figures stacked up on my desk. Out on the actual workbench area I currently have: 1864 Danes, Afghans, Zulus, SF troopers and a few random character figures,  However, what I am going to concentrate on, until they are done, are the last four figures for my Carthaginian War Elephant. However, sometimes I put off finishing figures because there is a bit I can't face doing.  On the 1864 figures it is doing a snow base.  I have no idea how to do this and every time I read about a solution other people chime in and say 'you don't want to do it like that' and invariably offer up some solution that involved twelve separate ingredients and some tool I have never heard of.

My Carthaginian elephant crew pose a similar problem in the case of their shields.  Now, on most of the models of the Victrix elephants I have seen the shielsd are attached to the sides of the howdahs.  However, the arms for the crew have hands holding what is obviously the handle of a shield.  It would be odd to have them waving around hands holding a short length of rope, so I was planning to put the shields on the figures.  Then, however, I couldn't work out if there would be room in the howdah.  I have clipped them from the sprue to paint but left part of the sprue on to hold while I paint them.  So I can't see where there arms would be when stood in the howdah until I cut the sprue off.  Until then I can't decide where to put the shields.  

The other stressful thing is that the shields are domed and I have never tried to use Little Big Men transfers on domed shields.  Someone suggested using something called micro-sol but I have no idea where to buy it or how to use it.  Also I wonder whether that is for traditional waterslide transfers which the LBM ones aren't, as they have the backing paper on the front of the transfer, which also makes positioning them precisely, impossible. The LBM transfers are expensive and there are only the four on the sheet.  I also seem to recall, when using them on some Greeks in the past that about half got ruined when trying to put them on or they just fell off. You need a gloss surface for them, it seems.  Anyway more things to worry about before they are done.  At least I got the elephant drivers done this week so I have now painted four figures this year (as the elephants only count as one each).  I want to get some more Victrix Carthaginians but don't feel I can unless the elephants are finished and Salute is only a week away.  Can I paint four figures in two days?  I somehow doubt it.

For reasons I can't justify even to myself I put in an order for some more of the Raging Heroes SF women troopers.  Because of this I got the five I had already bought and painted the base coat on their faces.  Why?  I should be getting on with my Afghans of Zulus.  I did at least get the base coat down on all 12 figures in my next Zulu unit this week.  I have also based four of Iron Duke's Indian Mutiny British.  This is because I have around twenty about half done and I am looking to try to get one unit of figures finished in April.  Of all the ones in my twenty plastic boxes these are the furthest along.  Oh, and the Bunny Girls should be on their way too.

Also imminent, supposedly, is the Miniature War Gaming: The Movie DVD which I backed what seems like years ago.  Honestly, this film has taken longer to make than Cleopatra. No doubt designed as some sort of showreel for a bunch of budding filmmakers they seemed to have completely underestimated the time it would take to do everything. A lot of the delays seem to have been caused by things like getting rights to stock footage, as they insist on adding historical combat elements that really aren't necessary for a hobby film.  This is where I realised that they had ideas above their station (or, at least, their experience).  Now, given the parlous wargaming material on You Tube (I hope no one in MWTM slurps hot drinks like so many do when making YouTube videos) I am hoping for a professional job, although their website contains a worrying amount of SF and fantasy illustrations (says the person who has just ordered a load of SF lady warriors).  

Salute is a week today and I really don't have much of a list of things to get: some more Perry Afghan Cavalry and, perhaps some Savage Core simians but that is it.  Honest.  I might keep my eyes open for some more random scenic items, though.  I don't now if there is a wargames bloggers meet up this year and whether anyone has managed to coordinate it so that it doesn't clash with the Lead Adventures Forum one, as for the last few years they have both been at 1.00pm.  I wasn't feeling very well last year and didn't really enjoy it so hope I feel better this time.

We took Guy back to Oxford today and one of (the only) advantages of where he is living is that it has a parking space.  Oxford must be the most car unfriendly city in Britain.  There is nowhere to park (but an excellent park and ride service) and the wardens are relentless.  As a result, there are very few cars in the centre of the city which does, I admit, improve the place from my time, when crossing the High was a perilous operation. We walked into town and I made Guy and the Old Bat have lunch at The Nosebag, the only place I use to eat at College when I was there which is still operating.  It is just around the corner from the college accommodation annexe I was in in the second year and they used to do soup and a roll for about 60p. Today soup and (a really big bit of) bread is £5.00 but it is still good and the interior does not appear to have changed at all.  It reminded me of C, K, other C, B, J, other J, F, T, M, S, H (and maybe some other girls I have forgotten) as it was my go to place for a quick lunch or tea and scones.   We would talk about art, as I sought to get them to model for a charcoal drawing or two (looking at the list it worked on seven out of eleven of them).  It was up to them, of course, how much they chose to wear for these sessions. The advantage of the place was that it was only about a hundred yards from my room and my drawing materials. There was also a good shop selling old prints next door, where I got a lot of Arthur Rackham prints of his Ring series, and postcards of art nudes which helped, er, 'condition' them to an extent.

Nude (1915)

Today's appropriate wallpaper is a painting I saw in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a few years ago. The painter, William Paxton (1869-1941), was an American impressionist who studied in Boston and Paris, under Jean-Léon Gérôme (of Police Verso fame).  Gérôme instilled a practice of the faithful modelling of the human form in Paxton; triumphantly achieved here in this beautifully lit study.

Today's music, given I am writing this late Friday night, is this hip and cool album To Sweden with Love (1964) by the Art Farmer quartet.  This is an arrangement of Swedish folk songs recorded in Stockholm when Farmer was touring the country. The cover is very mid sixties!  It was a present from H, a Swedish girl I knew at Oxford, who very much enjoyed soup and a roll.  She did not have that long hair with a fringe prototypical look expected of Swedish women at the time but she was, at least, a natural blonde.