I was very excited to go to Salute again today as the last one I attended was, thanks to the Chinese, four years ago. I hadn't even been on the London Underground for three years so that was stressful as I am still one of those people who wears a mask on public transport given I am in the 'vulnerable' categoty altough less vulnerable than I was. For those who don't know, dear readers, I had some cardiac problems back in 2019 which resulted in me having to have a triple heart bypass almost a year ago. Since then, however, I have felt much better and all my key medical indicators are the best thay have been for 15 years. This tedious medical history is pertinent in that it has effected my general outlook and my view on wargaming in particular.
After my operation on May 4th last year (the Force was, indeed, with me) I had no less than nine holes in me which I hadn't had before. The worst wetre the two in my leg where Mr Yap at Barts removed an artery. This area was painful for three months afterwards. "Oh yes they never tell you that is the worst," said my father-in-law a former eminent cardiac surgeon himself who facilitated mt getting to a top hospital. It meant that I could not sit comfortably at my desk for months which meant no painting so I contented myself with reading a lot (which I hadn;t done for ages) and watching old films on TV. The second most painful part was my breastbone which had been sawn in half so they could spread my ribs open and then stapled back together (you can feel the staples under my skin; they don't come out). Sneezing was not something you wanted to do after this for three months. Now, I am not the most sensitive soul but the pain caused by these precision incisions was very bad for many weeks and it just got me thinking about what a bullet wound must feel like. The thought of this still makes me queasy and is something I had never considered in my all too infrequent games of war. In American TV shows, where they spend most of the time shooting each other, if the good guy (or lady) gets shot then they are portrayed happily sitting up in hospital with a small dressing on and then a week later are bounding around as normal. This, of course, is nonsense. One of my scars (in my wrist) is still sore and the scar down the centre of my chest (I have used it to horrify my young neices) itches and I am consious of it all the time. The upshot of this is that I am now very conscious of the real impact of battle wounds on soldiers. It won't stop me wargaming or painting soldiers but I do think about what the real thing must have been like, especially in hospitals with no anaesthetic and no lovely young nurses to look after you (goodness, the ladies in Barts were lovely - well as far as I could tell from their eyes but as I know from trips to the Middle East and the early months of the Chinese Virus most women look lovely when all you can see is their eyes).
The other effect of my surgery was for me to consider my finite future. My cardiologist at East Surrey Hosital (excellent in every way) told me my surgery would give me an extra 25 years. Unfortunately, Mr Yap, having seem my heart ("when did you have your heart attack? - I had no idead!) told me that I should get another ten years (one of which I have already had). So as I wandered around Salute today thinking about, as I had beforehand, getting some Oathmark dwarves I stopped myself and thought that I already have far more figures to paint than I can do in my remaining lifetime (frankly even with the twenty-five years originally promised I would not be able to paint all my figures). So I walked away from the Osprey Games stand and just came back with two boxes of the new Perry Miniatures Franco-Prussin War French which were released today. I will post seperately on all the figures I nearly bought over the last more than three years I have spent away from my blog; this post being a way to reactivate it and see if there is any interest in it.
So, I felt rather disappointed walking around Salute today. Ennui might be a better term. So many figures I will never paint. So many games I will never play. So many rules I will be unable to comprehend. Yes, the French term is most apposite, especially now that Guy has acquired a sparky French girlfriend who lives with us from time to time. The lighting was worse than I remembered (or is it my eyes) which menat that I couldn't even really see most of the games in progress without standing about ten inches from them which you either couldn't becuas eof crowds (Big Red Bat's spledid Ipsus game) or didn't want to in case you are pounced upon by keen people trying to recruit players (I don't want to play games with people I don't know).
This was even more the case for trade stands but this was partly because I felt that there were a lot of people there (not surpisingly considering the interregnum) but a lot less trade stands. In the past all the outside walls of the hall had stands against them, but not this year. A lot of firms I expected to be there, like Victrix, were not. There seemd to be more big firms with big stands many of whom were SF and fantasy games I had never heard of. There were a lot less (other than laser cut MDF) scenic makers. Resin scenery seems to have all but disappeared (compounded, no doubt, by the disappearnce of the much missed Grand Manner) and where were the usual foliage (or follidge) stands? It struck me as a very stripped back show. This may be because ExCel's fees are now so high that only bigger firms can afford it. It will be interesting to see if these scenic firms appear at Warfare or Colours this year. Of course it may all be because I couldn't see any of the stands!
I suppose I spent about an hour and a half there, very much my shortest trip. There were no ta lot of real showstopping games but I did like thie Never Mind the Billhooks set up. I was pleased with my Perry French (although they are going to be a right fiddle to paint) and it was a delight to run into Eric the Shed who has kindly invited me to view his new shed in the next week or so. Will I go again next year? I'm not sure. I've always preferred Colours not least as I can drive there and don't have to use public transport. It was the fiftieth anniversary show, however, so I felt I should go (I did go to the last one held in Kensington Town Hall so that must have been several decades ago).
After what sounds like aratoer negative post I did sit down when I returned and dis some work on my Repblican ROmans, however, so maybe just attending will kick start my painting for the yeat (although I am still waiting for some decent light!)