Monday, 30 November 2015

It's Hip To Be Square... Musings On The Geek Generation.

If you sit back and look around you for a short while - I mean at the cultural influences, not your living room - you'll quickly conclude that it is now 'hip to be square' or to put it another way, it's fashionable to be a 'Geek'.

Let's take a look at what the term actually means in it's original form, and let's go to Wikipedia for the answer:


'The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a "peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual".



OK, I'm good with that...


Those of us with a 'certain vintage' may have been - and probably were - bullied harassed and generally given a hard time. It's a common thread, although many deny it and put up a front of just how popular and rugged they are, that a lot of gamers (and I guess anyone with a hobby which is not understood by the sports morons perpetuating the miseducation system) were marginalised, and used as a way to make  the 'hard kids' look harder (or just bigger dick heads than they were already).

Now, you'd think that these minority groups would have a common purpose, and you would be wrong of course because in the same way that you don't have to be the fastest kid to escape the monster - just faster; these subgroups of geeks tried to look cooler than the others. Train spotters were universally derided, model railway enthusiasts look on wargamers as being lower than them, wargamers looked at model railway enthusiasts as wasting time making terrain that was not used for anything more than playing with trains (If you doubt that, I refer you to the years when Northern Militaire had several superb model railway displays. Another show - which if I even name, I'll be accused of having a vendetta against - had local model making and model engineering groups in the early days too).

Of course bus spotters were universally reviled - even by train spotters, but stamp collectors were left alone because they had more money than anyone else, and owned tweezers which, in skilled hands could inflict much pain and suffering.

What was probably the worst aspect of belonging on the fringe of right and proper-thinking society was  that in order to get to the top of the geek tree, there were kids who masked themselves by hanging out at school with the 'cool kids' and picking on other gamers etc, but then whom once out of the crucible of youthful hatred, were the first kids knocking at the door of the same lad they had just picked on, hours earlier. I know of a couple of guys from another part of the city who were put through this by another guy, who to this day, carries off in just the same way. The difference is that he has been rumbled over the years and is ignored or at best tolerated. I find this to be fair and just for such a Quisling, but that is another story...

The apex predator in the hierarchy was of course the older guy who had fallen between the rails as it were; old enough that he should have probably at least had a steady girlfriend, but still young enough that he could inflict his will upon younger kids and be seen (often erroneously) as godlike, his every word, law.

I think every group had one or two like this. I found out some 25 or more years down the line that a local guy who was like this, was bullied himself. Now this is a simple case of transferring the suffering he was put under onto younger kids, and once he had a couple of victims, keeping the rest of their gang in check by directing their scorn to the poor bastards.

A while ago at one of my coffee mornings I was discussing this with a victim of this kind of behaviour, who made it very clear that he was of a similar mind, and that if this person tried it these days, he would be flat on his arse. I believe him - he's far from the shy and retiring lad of 1985. I have similar thoughts myself, and often wonder how a few bloodied noses would have changed things back then.

But I digress...

The point is that far from being fashionable or cool, those we collectively call geeks had it rough, at a time when parenting was not as liberal and you were likely as not going to get a similar amount of abuse from parents who could not understand what the hell you were doing with pencils, dice, tin soldiers and books with badly drawn pictures of semi-naked men and women, which hinted at some occult infestation of their offspring.

Oh how many of us must have wilted under those terrible words - 'Why can't you be like the other kids around here?'

So, let's dip back into Wikipedia and see what the etymology of the word 'geek' supposedly is :



'This word comes from English dialect geek or geck (meaning a "fool" or "freak"; from Middle Low German Geck). "Geck" is a standard term in modern German and means "fool" or "fop."[2] The root also survives in the Dutch and Afrikaans adjective gek ("crazy"), as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut ("jester's hat"; used during carnival).[1] In 18th century Austria-HungaryGecken were freaks on display in some circuses. In 19th century North America, the term geek referred to a performer in a geek show in a circus, traveling carnival or travelling funfair sideshows (see also freak show).[3] The 1976 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary included only the definition regarding geek shows. This variation of the term was used to comic effect in an episode of popular 1970s TV show Sanford & Son.'



So, we can see that theoretically at least we have always been seen in a pejorative and derogatory way. I can live with that. I mean, look, we have been around longer than soccer, so I think that that's a big 'fuck you' to the school 'Jocks' don't you?

Wikipedia, continues:

'The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning. The term nerd has a similar, practically synonymous meaning as geek, but many choose to identify different connotations among these two terms, although the differences are disputed. In a 2007 interview on The Colbert Report, Richard Clarke said the difference between nerds and geeks is "geeks get it done" or "ggid"[4]Julie Smith defined a geek as "a bright young man turned inward, poorly socialized, who felt so little kinship with his own planet that he routinely traveled to the ones invented by his favorite authors, who thought of that secret, dreamy place his computer took him to as cyberspace—somewhere exciting, a place more real than his own life, a land he could conquer, not a drab teenager's room in his parents' house".'


I don't think that I disagree, but of course we could not blame computers back then because let's face it, not even the most deluded fantasist (and I include myself here) could think of anything on a Spectrum ZX81 as 'secret' or 'dreamy'.

Alas, these days the term geek, carries cache and really is at the opposite end of the spectrum from where it was in my youth, when Warhammer came in 3 volumes and wargames rules didn't need pictures, because we read them.

Nowadays what was a guilty secret is open and accepted, and many, simply whore the principles of my generation out, by buying anything that has 'GEEK!' written on it. They have simply joined the establishment and lost the way somewhat in doing so. 

I blame it on the contemporary sociocultural tendency to believe that every child is a precious flower or fragile snowdrop, that if they have to deal with rejection or ridicule, they will be somehow maimed for life. Maybe they will, but at least they will have character.

After all, I got the shit kicked out of me for not conforming to the peer group at school, but let me be very clear about this I ended up marrying one of the hottest girls on the Goth scene, and being a full time figure painter together with my book of gaming memoirs and anecdotes, keeps the bank account ticking over nicely.

My past experiences and constant neuroses caused by others (and my own for not simply twatting a few of them in my youth) keep my creativity and determination to do things my own way, constantly simmering.

I don't need 'official' scenarios or the 'science' of my game worlds to role play. I don't need glossy rules with the same old fucking painting guide in every publication, because I developed my own style, rather than some cloned, production line style, with about as much soul as a soulless thing...

I  was reading this morning that 'Generation Y' are independent and want coaches rather than managers. I think that's erroneous because from where I stand, they are on the whole a generation which due to cosseting and a lack of real threats (such as the IRA, Bader Meinhof, Black September and Margret Thatcher - OK, OK, the current Tories are giving it their best shot) to their existence seems to think that the world revolves around them.

Now, I have been called a narcissistic prick - I don't dispute it - but the younger generations today take the rice cracker (much healthier than a biscuit) when it comes to self indulgence.

The current fad for 'Oldhammer' (there is of course no such game) is a great example of a generation which seeks to recreate what it missed whilst simultaneously getting it wrong. How I giggle, nay, guffaw, when I see someone who is younger than my own daughter exclaim that they will only use figures from 1989 because they are contemporary to a particular edition of Warhammer. 

HELLLOOO...

Unlike today, back then we used any figures we had and didn't buy new models every time a new rules set came out whilst disposing of the rest of our collections. You see? That's where they go wrong because most of them have never played or seen a report of an old Warhammer 1st or 2nd ed game. But they spend thousands in some cases on figures which are not worth more than £1 each and then lord it over their peers who are using more modern offerings.

 Because all they know is the present, they fuck up recreating the past. They don't want to have to admit that they are new geeks on the block and so disregard  what does not fit their world. It's like buying a Chinese meal, cooked by  a European. It has all the ingredients in it, but just isn't the same as the genuine article, because unless that Englishman is shown how to cook it by a Chinese person, they will not appreciate the nuances and methods involved.

A lot of the people I met when I got into gaming were bullied, afraid of the threat of nuclear war, IRA bombs or just did not 'fit'. So, they jumped headfirst into imaginary worlds to survive. It was more than just a lifestyle choice and a T-shirt.

And we for the most part, asked questions of our elders in the hobby. Hell, we even asked shop staff, because there was none of the corporate bullshit back then,. The companies sought to make a profit, admittedly, but there was a passion for the hobby. The same people with that passion when GW was new and fresh, got subsumed, wrung dry and then spat out in the furtherance of the consumer dollar.

Now, they seem to have gone full circle and are once again producing the kind of work that they once did, but with higher production quality. OK, so there's more colour and it looks slicker, but the actual material has balls again.

If we are lucky they will save us from the current shallow generation. Time will tell...

Anyway, I have to go and have a craft beer, artisanal cheese, and try and work out which Dark Elves were on the shelves, this week in 1989 so that I can get one over on my fellow Hipsterhammer devotees..

TTFN


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Onwards, Ever Onwards...

Despite feeling like shite, I have managed to get the security fence and propane storage cage fitted on my OO layout. (yes, the 'legit' business has it's stuff secure, unlike Simmonite's yard) and landscaped in next to Miami Spice (Imports) Limited, prepped a second set of fencing for the BR civil engineering depot, and got the groundwork laid for the motive power shed at the far end of the layout.
Quite enough for today and I feel rather tired out now...




Thursday, 26 November 2015

An Am(trak)erican Classic

The first of my Amtrak consist arrived yesterday and I am very impressed indeed.

Fully lit, including number boards and ditch lights, these are truly channeling the spirit of America and the heydays of Amtrak.








TTFNMF

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding...

North Korean generals, apparently:




It looks like they've been co-opted into a solar energy program as collectors.


Trains, Trains, Trains..

I have found that toy trains are even more addictive than toy soldiers, and that just like the tiny tin troopers, if you spend money you can get some fine stuff...

As I outlined the other day I am commissioning a third bespoke layout after the Christmas holidays - another N Scale layout which, will pretty much fill one wall of my studio on shelf brackets, above the two free-standing layouts already commissioned. 

It's a mere 9 inches deep but 13.5 feet long . Still in N scale you can get a LOT into that space without even using scale compression.

As with the other N scale layout, I've gone back to Ollie Reading at The Fiddle Yard 


Ollie is about half my age but has a pretty solid reputation on the model railroad circuit. What's more, he understands what matters:

Communication

Frankness

Communication

Quality

Communication

Reliability

Communication

Accountability

Communication

Competitive Pricing

Communication

You will notice that I come back time and time again to Communication? Because it matters to me. I put great store in dealing with people who communicate and likewise I do the same.

With hobbies where a four-figure sum purchase is run of the mill it's astounding how many traders don't give a damn. Those people will never get a penny from me.

I did my due diligence before I ordered my first layout and no matter whom I spoke to, Ollie's name always without exception drew praise of high order.

Anyway, the poor guy has not finished my first layout and already I am assaulting his mind with the plans for my next.

My love is the scenic side of things and so my first layout was commissioned with everything up to 'grass level' done by Ollie. I will then put my mark on it and make it 'mine', breathing that life into it as I imagine it in the rail yards of my mind.

The OO layout I am already at work on was a bloody expensive ready-made layout which I the proceeded to rip apart and which you've seen here over the last few months, as I recreate one of those grimy Northern railway shit holes, beloved of my youth.

The third layout is a slightly different approach in that I'm doing all of the landscaping from baseboard level. Ollie is going to work his magic and deliver up to me a superbly robust layout with trackage, wiring and ballasting all ready for my attention.  Space is at a premium this time so instead of the large electrical console, Ollie reckons he can build all of the switches for the points, into the fascia, along with the plug points for my DCC unit.

I dropped him a line on Sunday and by bedtime, he had come back to me with his initial suggested plan, based on 3 x 4 foot modules:



Noe, the plan is to make a few changes to the length and composition of the right hand module, but that is just 'dressing' as it were. Ollie has an instinct for interpreting the client brief, but what's more, he knows what will work and what will not.

I have great hopes for this project...

I mentioned in my last epistle, my pre-Christmas blow out with the last of my 2015 budget... 

Well here's a bit of a visual guide to what I bought:


First up the KATO Amtrak Superliner rake. Note that there are three variants of the loco in the pic, on their way to me. I am dreading the £150 bill for getting them fitted for digital control.





Now, that was 'it' but today I decided to go the whole hog and add two material handling cars which are tacked on at the end of some Amtrak rakes.

I found two discontinued models, second hand on eBay, for £20 which was a bargain, and though the rest of the train is new and mint, these will do just fine.


The livery is what I consider to be the epitome of 80s America; the Phase III scheme.

This very day I also took delivery of the other stuff I bought,; namely a rake of 15 Beth Gon coal porters for the Norfolk Southern railroad.

Made by Athearn, these are lovely. They are finished in a super reflective chrome paint, which, when blasted with Winsor & Newton matte artist's varnish, will take on the more recognisable dulled finish, you'll see on pics of stuff that's been in use for a while.

The models are really nice and as I am a bit anal when it comes to having every model, different, the individual running numbers satisfy the OCD part of me. 

I am the kind of person who has to have every Landsknecht in an army different to the next... Sorry!




And that's about it for now. I thought that as I had an hour or so spare, fellow gaming rail-heads would like a bit more detailed look at what I am up to.


TTFN


PS: I am currently working on some exciting stuff for Heroics & Ros, which I'll showcase as soon as I am given the nod to do so. All I can say is that they have insane attention to detail where you'd not expect it on a 'true' 6mm model.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

It's Been A Quiet Day In Lake Wobegon...

Straight off the bat I'll say that posts may be sporadic for a while as I focus on work ahead of Christmas (I want to be able to clear my workload for December by the 12th and then I have nearly a month of holiday at my fingertips - muwhahahahahahahahahaha) and to also try and get on top of health issues including this arm and shoulder thing, which it appears is caused by a prolapsed disc about 5 down from my cranium, giving the nerves a hard time.

Consequently, going against medical advice I am working my usual 8 hour days and so the thought of typing afterwards is not pleasant.

The Renaissance plan has been shelved for a while as I move on to plan and execute the commissioning of a third model railroad set in North America in the late 80s again. I am split between either a Florida themed layout or perhaps Canada. A long, mainly single tracked roadbed with spurs to assorted small industries and a staging yard, representing the 'rest of the world'.

The brief to my constructor of choice is that it needs to be 12-13 feet by 9 inches with a mere 4 inch backdrop. A tight brief, but he's good... VERY good, and I am sure he'll do wonders with it.

Yesterday saw £450 vanish all over the world to various model railroad suppliers to add more stock to my forthcoming U.S layout.

As it's set in the late 80s, I went for a classic Amtrak 10 car rake pulled by 3 F40PH locos. All are in the Phase III livery which is the classic silver cars with red, white and blue bands along the bodies. 

I went for the Superliner type of cars, those gloriously large, double level cars you see in many movies (think Silver Streak with Gene Wilder) because if you are going to pay £30 for a single N scale car you have to max out the bling for your bucks.

As it happened I was able to get KATO branded stuff at a very good price and so the 3 locos and 10 cars cost me a very fair £320. However I still have to fork out another £150 to get the three locos converted to DCC control.

I rounded out my purchasing with a set of 15 Athearn brand Bethgon coal porters to go behind the two Norfolk Souther C30-7 locos, already on my desk.

I have now placed myself under a restriction which will see me not spending anything until December 27th, when I have a nice order for 3-5 more locos and 20 or so box cars from the U.S as I try to build a Canadian National and Grand Trunk, fleet. I will be having the DCC decoders for those, fitted prior to shipping. Then it's head down and saving for Vapnartak and the York Model Railway Show in 2016, although, if I spend more than £100 on wargaming next year it will be a miracle.

Speaking of wargaming my old club has had a change of Chairman with the loss of the statesman-like and patrician Tim Gow and the installation of a new fellah the other week with all the same people remaining in their seats. Tim was in my opinion the greatest force for change in the history of the club and it's a loss to SWS I feel. Well played Tim!

The Renaissance plans will probably reshape into a 14th century Italian army when Perrys get their second box of 100YW plastics out into the market place. I am in no rush...

Right, I am off to read Derbyshire Life in a hot bath, and then perhaps watch a documentary on modern day railroad hoboes in Canada.

TTFN


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Walletbusters... A Brick Too Far?

Now, I am a big fan of the classic 80s film Ghostbusters, for which I make no apologies. I am also a lifelong fan of LEGO.

Last year, I managed to get the limited edition 'ECTO-1' which was released for the 30th anniversary of the film and which, sits on the Shelf Of Treasured Things in my studio.

Well, LEGO have taken things to the extreme now with the upcoming release on January 1st, 2016 of the Ghostbusters HQ, which is in scale with ECTO-1 model, and which has almost 4500 parts.

The price is a pretty reasonable £274.99 and this will mean that I sacrifice about 7.5% of my allocated hobby budget for the year, leaving plenty for the few games related purchases I want and the two conventions (Vapnartak and Britcon) I'll be attending, the rest being set aside for model railway deviancy.



More details can be found here: http://shop.lego.com/en-GB/Firehouse-Headquarters-75827


TTFN

A Little Pause To Promote P.A.W 2016

OK, so if you have been finding that all those big, shiny shows in recent years have looked a little like this:





And you would rather go to a show which feels like this:




Then I would direct you to  PAW 2016 hosted by the Plymouth Association of Wargamers...

This is a great show, with a great atmosphere - and a BRING & BUY untainted by mercenary concerns.

The show takes place at the start of the next 'campaign season' on February 6th/7th 2016 


At 


The Kitto Centre
Honicknowle Lane
Plymouth 
PL5 3NG


You can find out more at http://www.paw2016.co.uk/

So, get your wargaming year off to start that will make you feel more like this:



And less like this:







And now with all that said:



TTFN

On The Art Of Fencing-In Gamers And Model Railway Enthusiasts


I've just spent 4 hours with some 20mm/OO scale steel security fencing from Knightwing International. I have built and measured for use, 6 feet of the stuff in that time. That includes building the hinged gates etc.

I don't think that's bad at all.

I paid £24 for 78 inches but you can get it in 26 and 52 inch packs too.

It's great for 20mm scale figures where you want 8.5 foot high fencing, but it would work really well for 6ft type that you see all over the place, if you were wanting something for modern, zombie or post apocalyptic type games in 25/28mm.

The mouldings are sharp and clean, and once you have built a couple, it's simplicity itself.


There's lots more stuff on the site, but the fencing can be found here:

http://www.knightwing.co.uk/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?cart_id=&product=New_Releases&pid=244






Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Railway Scenery


A very quick post, as my arm is giving me some real discomfort today... But I still managed to get a couple of hours on my OO layout and Simmonite's Yard is finished at last.
Nobody quite knows what goes off, there but that's a nasty mix of chemicals, old dry pallets and propane tanks.
I fear that the local Fire Safety Officer and some City Council Enforcement Officers may be making a call.












TTFN

Monday, 9 November 2015

Fun With Amateur Figure Painters

About 27 years or so ago, whilst living the life of the tortured Goth sexpot in a shared house, we gamed a hell of a lot and oddly enough, the house was always filled with gamers who had nothing better to do than look for jobs, get pissed in the Limit club and wargame. Usually in the reverse order to that given...

The gaming part was was made easier because my girlfriend at the time was often out screwing one of my non-gaming mates, with the odd break to shag a Runequest player or two.

Anyway, one of our number who was unlucky enough to still have to live with his parents ( because I think he was supposed to be a virgin when they married him to God or something... I don't recall the exact reason, but that one will do ) walked into the kitchen and excitedly told us how he had been asked to paint an army for another mutual friend, who was a well paid professional in a local hospital mortuary and could afford to have a rank amateur paint his stuff for an inflated price.

The army was some type of medieval Arab army, but there was just one snag - he didn't know what the painting details for these were, and could those of us with a few more years of experience help him? 

Of course we could, we assured him, and so we sat down at the table and gave him a detailed list of the colours etc.

And so that was that.

Fast forward about 5 years, and I was living just up the road from the owner of the army, and finding myself invited around for a game. Of course, as is right and proper, I accepted.

Upon arriving, the host showed me his armies and in particular an Arab army he had had painted by ****** ****. I cooed a little, and he in turn used language I have not heard from anyone who was not a sailor on shore leave. I could clearly see why, snd later on, tentatively enquired about the skirmish line, which it transpired, when formed up correctly, had the Green Cross Code in Arabic on it's shields.

I was told that the owner had done that himself, upon delivery, and inspection and had decided that the army which had been painted for him at great cost with 'advice from professionals' needed something which complimented the shields which bore the images of monkeys, palm trees and bananas. And the banners with the ingredients lists from ethnic food packaging cooking sauces.

And of course I told him, just who those 'professional advisers' were... NOT!


TTFN

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Changes In The Gallery

Despite the continuing issues with my right arm (no, it's nothing to do with wanking... I'll leave that to others more qualified) and the arthritis, I've had a really good weekend.

Saturday was spent playing boardgames with friends and family, and a jolly time was had, arm notwithstanding.

Today was a great day because I managed to get more artwork into the studio, and waved bon voyage to another.

I parted - not without sadness - with one of my John Blanche paintings to Jon Boyce of 'Magpies & Old Lead' a rather spiffing blog.

In return I received an undisclosed sum, but more importantly I took ownership of 3 Tony Ackland pieces, all of which have been published previously and which I have tried to get Jon to part with previously to no avail (a shrewd man). Anyway, as I wanted to make a few changes in the studio, Jon and I were able to both realise our desires - well, some of them at least.

I've also been able to finally get some other pieces onto my studio walls at the same time, and so I am rapidly reaching critical mass with regards to space.

So, for your gratification....



Now, this first one is a print from 1987. BUT, it has a history. It was of course, the cover for the Harry Harrison book ' The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted' which was launched here in the UK at the 45th World Science Fiction Convention at the M.E.C, Brighton in August of 1987. Big "deal!" you cry... 

Fair comment, but this is signed by both the author and the cover artist, a little-known artist by the name of Jim Burns.

It's been sitting in an archive portfolio for 5 years awaiting it's frame, ams at last, it's dream has been realised. The pic is A3.


These two are Wayne England originals, both stylistically different and both published in WOTC era AD&D supplements


Oh, how I have been after this one... This is as most of you with an interest in proper gaming will recognise, an illustration published in the Realm Of Chaos books for Warhammer, and is of course by Tony Ackland (long may his beard shine and his pencil hand remain steady)



The sequence above were published in White Dwarf Magazine, back in the 10th year of publication as illustrations for a Stormbringer / Hawkmoon scenario titled 'The Madcap Laughs'. The artist Tony Hough tells me that there were some more in the sequence which have gone the way of all flesh as it were. Alas, alas...


Finally, I have also managed to get my original animation cel from 'The Real Ghostbusters' cartoon series. It comprises of background and overlay. I also have the tracing masters, which are sealed into the rear of the frame with the documents of provenance.

I have two more Tony Ackland illustrations - a Christmas card design for GW/Citadel and a well known  pic of a Skaven champion.

They need rather peculiar mounts cutting, so hopefully, I'll get thos done in the next week during my last week of 'staycation'.

And with that I'll sign off for the time being.

TTFN

Friday, 6 November 2015

Playing With Toy Trains Again...

After a day of little chores and odd jobs all over town (some holiday eh?) I have spent 5 or so hours finishing that area known as 'Simmonite's Yard' on my OO micro layout.

I'm pretty happy with it. It now needs the clutter and 'life' breathing into it.

The Nissen hut is lit with the Woodland Scenics system, and the windows to the front are whitewashed to add that little touch of 'KEEP OUT' to it all.










Next, I'll crack on with the yard behind it which you can see has a building placed for 'visual planning' but which is untouched. It will have the whole area fenced and gated , the office will be painted, added and lit, with a small fuel tank and B.R maintenance trucks parked outside.

To the rear of Simmonite's will be the recently constructed industrial unit occupied by 'Miami Spice (Import & Wholesale)' run by two brothers originally from Puerto Rico who have lived in Florida for the last few years and say that they are branching out into the vibrant, upwardly mobile, UK market. There are rumours that they are importing something more than chilli peppers!

We shall see...


TTFN

Walting In Waltham...


Now, before anyone races to 'out me, I used to be an airsofter. In fact I founded the North's largest team back in about 1997. 

However, I found this story whilst sitting in the waiting lounge yesterday morning awaiting the fitting of our winter tyres

"Mark Izzard, 44, pretended that he was an ex-military man who served with an elite SAS unit in Iraq.
His wife Tracey had no reason to doubt his elaborate tales during their 15 years together and believed he had been at war in the Middle East and saved many lives while on missions there.
Sadly, she died of cancer three years ago, remaining proud of the heroic serviceman until the end, and  never knowing the truth about her deceitful husband.
Izzard told The Sun newspaper that his web of lies began when he played a joke on a woman in a pub many years ago.
He then continued with the lies for nearly two decades.
"I put some pics on Facebook and the next thing I know I’m getting death threats," he said.
Apparently the trucker used to regularly tell dramatic stories highlighting his courageous nature to anyone who would listen.
Izzard even claimed that he had lost friends in battle, won war medals and suffered torture at enemy hands.
His stepson Danny (22) told The Sun: "He said to me he was in the first Gulf War. I felt sorry for Mum. Their whole relationship was a lie."
It’s reported that Izzard, of Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, currently drives for a tool hire company and has no military background.
Izzard’s stepchildren, Danny and his sister Izzy became suspicious when they found a letter addressed to ‘Corporal Izzard’ with no official military letterhead."


Sadly I know a few people involved in airsoft who carry on in a similar fashion. One particularly fine example I came across on Facebook a couple of years ago featured a guy standing proud and rooster-like against a big pile of builder's sand wearing full British Army desert kit.

These types are fucktards to a man... Just my opinion, you understand.

TTFN

I Feel Something Stirring Inside... And It's Not The Curry.

As you will have noticed, if you've been reading my posts recently, I've been hard at work on a truly massive project for two of my clients, focussing on assorted renaissance armies including 96 figure strong Swiss pike blocks.

Now, you may also recall that I had lost my drive for military history, beyond doing my job, but I think a chink has appeared in my armour and the light of wargaming seems to be shining through.

I have decided that I will begin work again on an early 16th Century Florentine army, which is to be honest rather vanilla, when compared to other forces of the period.

It really is quite plain, but in that, lies it's strength.

I play to either the old WRG rules by George Gush, or to La Condotta. The beauty is, that I can point an army up using WRG, but use it unaltered for L.C.

The majority of the Italian armies for the period are either filled with a lot of cavalry or have truly piss-poor city state troops. The cavalry is usually impetuous and the infantry indifferent at best.

Florentine armies on the other hand have less variety but are all steady 'C' class.

There's not a lot of horse at all, and it's C class like the rest, being 15 Elmeti and 20 skirmishers.

The artillery is limited to 2 guns, there's a few crossbow and billmen, but there are hundreds (literally) of 'C' class pike and arquebus; nice big blocks of steady regular troops which should be able to deal with the other armies easily, perhaps with the exception of the rather 'Mickey Mouse' list of combined Milanese/Venetian forces. My mate has that army and so the gloves will be off.He hates pike, so will not field them... Big mistake in my opinion.

The figures I am going to use will probably be Assault Group, Perry and Essex, with command by Mirliton.

I'm actually quite enthusiastic about this, as I can get good quality flags, love the history of the Medici and the writings of Machiavelli and have a 'thing' about massive blocks of pikemen, which stems from the blocks painted by the late great Peter Gilder for his Wargames Holiday Centre and which featured regularly in Miniature Wargames in my distant youth.

Who knows? This may actually get me shaking off the doldrums. I've had a love of Renaissance warfare sine introduced to it by lloyd Powell of Sheffield Wargames Society about 35 years ago, and as you may imagine this has been the period which has been avoided the most in the last couple of years. It bodes well that I have re-discovered my love for this most colourful of periods.

We shall see...


TTFN

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Father Christmas Came Early... And No Viagra Was Involved

Xmas has come early here at The Tower...

My wife has bought me two fantastic sets of N scale rolling stock for my Illinois set up.

One set is a grouping of six Chessie System hoppers and the other is a 12 car set of Rail Box cars.

Both date to the eighties and will look great in the yards or being pulled in consists at yard speeds.

The really anal thing about both sets is that all the cars have different running numbers.

Yeah, yeah... I know, 'have I got my flask of weak lemon drink?'

Well no but I do have a large glass of red wine at the side of me as I type this.

Here's a couple of pics of the  cars in all their glory.






TTFN

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

Well, work continues apace on two of my three railway layouts.

The OO layout 'Bright Pastures Yard' is coming on in leaps and bounds with the action shifting to the addition of buildings before the planting of security fencing and then the beginning of the super detailing stage.

It's very therapeutic and I am happy to potter here and there, even after a 10 hour shift painting wargames figures.



The larger layout 'Somewhere In Illinois' is still under construction by "The Fiddleyard" and as it is all paid for, I am in no rush. It's a large N scale layout set in Illinois in the mid to late 1980s along a semi-industrial valley, where Chessie System, Conrail and Norfolk Southern all have trackage rights.

It's coming along nicely now and with 25 points. it's going to be fun to operate.




I am anticipating a year of work to get the scenics completed once the basic layout is delivered. During that time I will be commissioning Ollie to undertake a 14 x 1 ft N scale layout depicting a coastal logging operation in New England. But that will not begin until after Xmas, as I need to get my studio rearranged to accommodate all three.

TTFN

Big, Black And Throbbing...

I have now taken delivery of two Kato locos, custom painted and finished in the livery of Norfolk Southern, one of the three rail companies represented on one of my layouts.

They have been DCC chipped and are now awaiting delivery of the layout for running in.









Lovely!

TTFN

Let There Be Light...

Now, I am the first to admit that electricity and I don't mix... That's why I pay people to do the wiring and track installation on my railway layouts.

But now, Woodland Scenics have come to the rescue when it comes to the matter of adding lights to structures in any scale.


I purhased a set of their new 'Just Plug' lighting today to see if it was anywhere near being a case of 'just plug'.

All I can say is that it really is that simple. The lights are variable and what's more you can get several colours.

I'll certainly be adding more to my layout, and even to a few wargames projects. The total cost of lighting six buildings will be around £45 with the possibility to add two more for £7.50.

Another awesome product from WS.