Monday, 16 April 2018

A Cautionary Tale

This weekend I was browsing social media when I saw a call for help from a gamer here in the UK who was trying to get in touch with Richard Williams of Manticore Painting.

I knew of Mr Williams as he'd frequented a couple of groups I also lurk in and I'd heard rumours that he was upsetting a few people in deals. Now I could not confirm this, but it seemed plausible given that it transpired that the gentleman in question (whom I shall refer to as B.H henceforth) had sent Mr Williams figures and money over five months ago and had or heard nothing thereafter.

Now, I'd helped out another fellow last year with a similar issue  and so, as I had nothing to do inbetween coats of varnish I managed to setup a 3-way conversation with myself as mediator.

B.H was being very, very fair and asked that Mr W. supply photos of the ongoing work. 

Mr W. was evasive and so a deadline was drawn for the matter to be taken further in the small claims courts. All Mr W. had to do was supply some quick photos. Mr W. was also made aware that if he did not resolve the matter, it would be made public.

By this morning B.H had reached the end of his tether (and rightly so, I feel) and drew a line under the whole thing. Mr W. came out with a several excuses which frankly did not whitewash with B.H or indeed myself as an impartial observer. 

Mr W. then left the conversation and disappeared, presumably to try and rush out the work, which would make me as a client very uneasy were I in that situation.

And so I am taking ten minutes from my own working day to make public this awful example of a so-called 'professional'.

It's not good enough to run a business this way and reflects badly on those who earn their living painting day in and day out, and who do take their work and business seriously.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The 16th Century Arms Race Gathers Pace...

Well, it's ben a busy wk at work, so yesterday I decided to do something I rarely if ever do, and paint a few models for my own use.

I ravaged three Warlord command blisters and came up with a nice HQ stand to represent 'me' in the guise of the His Militant Eminence, Cardinal Synne, along with his ADC and enforcer, Big Francois, who are listening to the grovelling snivelling of an ensign who has got his standard all ripped and dirty...

For 7 hours from start to finish, I am very happy with the finished article and, it was nice to paint a personal project because normally I just can't be bothered.

My wife also spent the afternoon finishing her own (and first ever) units of Reiter to begin her own later Henry VIII army, thereby heating up the 16h century arms race already underway between several of us including Roger (from whom the Reiter came a few weeks ago), my mate Dave and my younger brother, Andy...

These have taken Kayte about two days in total from start to finish, s she's made a really nice job of them. She's only 966 pieces behind me at present, but I suspect that the Machiavellian Roger will be ahead of me by now, so I really ought to finalise my next expansion of my collection with 400-500 Scots asap.

Over my holiday the other week, I was able to get all the flags on the rest of my collection in 3 days of work, so now it's looking a lot better than when the models first arrived with me (see earlier posts)...

The flags are a mix of Flags Of War, Donington and Battle Flag and are superb. I ordered several sheets from Wargames Designs and they were AWFUL. They were paler than shown and the paper was nothing like as good as that on the others.

Well, I'll leave you to enjoy the weekend,


Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Post With No Title...

As you will have seen, I sometimes pose ‘left field’ questions on here, so bear with me…

My 2012 book contains the following paragraph:
'I’d originally, been drawn to the stunning Marillion cover artwork by Mark Wilkinson as I browsed the record department of Woolco, but when I heard those first few lines I was immediately captivated, it was heady stuff. The almost poetic lyrics of Script For A Jester’s Tear or the grim depiction of a young British soldier on the streets of Belfast in the haunting Forgotten Sons, spoke to me in a way that no music ever had. '
Now, in common with many of you, Marillion & Fish have played major parts in my life, but how many of you also found their music during the early 80s where Dungeons & Dragonsand similar role playing games were all the rage, with avant grade political art exhibitions, ten a penny?
Moreover, how many of you were also drawn to those things? How many of you found several introductions to the cultural aspects of the world in a similar way?
I am not a political person by nature although I am a dreamer and something of a cultural Pandora. But as I roamed the streets of Sheffield as a teenager, I found myself drawn into role playing games (these have filled my life and indeed shaped it ever since and are how I make my living aged almost 50) and as I was already heavily influenced by art and history, I spent a lot of my spare time in galleries, looking at renaissance paintings, modern automata and strangely developing a taste for radical politically inspired artwork. I would collect flyers for various fringe groups, taking in the rhetoric and the graphics, without any thoughts on the actual politics and if I saw an interesting shop such as ‘EXIT Books’ which stocked some really hardcore underground literature, as well as books full of R. Crumb artwork which blew my mind, I had to go in no matter what. 
Remember that at this time it was very easy to get a kicking for looking different to other youths or being perceived as ‘standing out’ so for a timid, skinny kid this was pretty risky.
My musical tastes at the time were very eclectic and included Ian Dury, Adam And The Ants, Skids, Iron Maiden, Hazel O’Connor and Tenpole Tudor. Then on a regular trip to Woolco, having been drawn to a Roxy Music album cover, I walked back along the racks and saw the Script cover. I marvelled at the artwork and read the lyrics on the sleeve, trying to put a tune to the words. I was pretty damned certain that a band who had such stunning artwork on their records would be just the ticket musically. And so, I bought my first Marillion record and from there on it was a downhill slope into a world of alternatives to the norm.
A natural loner, I lost myself in the fantastic. I absorbed fantasy and science fiction like a sponge. Back then you kept things like that to yourself and at school there were about half a dozen people with similar tastes. We talked of fantasy, Marillion, Yes and who’d been bullied lately. We compared art homework, bitched about how basic the history course work was and found that with our combat jackets, white Hi-Tec sneakers, mullet hair cuts and ability to converse about more than just sport and who was the ‘hardest’ kid in the school, we became rather popular with the girls - not that we did anything about it.
For me the perfect afternoon in my last 6 months of school was to finish at lunchtime, walk home with a group of gamer mates and girls (two of them were also into D&D - unheard of at the time) arguing over which Script track was best, and then after a salami salad sandwich (with salad cream), I’d stick on the newly released Fugazi, knock off any coursework and then lose myself in Ringworld by Larry Niven. To this day I often have to grab my well thumbed copy, visualising myself looking down from space at the immensity of the Ringworld with Incubus and Emerald Lies taking me back to simpler times, despite the fact that at the time it was all a lot heavier to my youthful mind.
Just after Fugazi was released I was the victim of some serious bullying by a sixth form kid at school, and a fight resulted. Something in me snapped and I fought back for the first time in my life. The end result was I was charged with assault despite being the victim and for about 3 months I had the threat of prosecution over my head, until I was given a caution and told it was a formality because frankly I was plainly not a hardened criminal…
But all through that time a cocktail of escapist literature and Marillion probably stopped me doing something fatally stupid and preventing me ‘taking the alternative way’.
Anyway, how many of those of you in this group find that my own experiences resonate with you?
I expect that all the best freaks are here...

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Almost The End...

As I write, the end of our ten day break is around 11 hours and 24 minutes away - Not that I am counting, you understand?

It's been a good break too. We began with Chillcon and then spent two days just hanging around the house, during which time I got two thirds of the flags on my 28m Renaissance collection, which was really boring but also oddly satisfying work.

On Tuesday, we popped up to the Royal Armouries to take a refresher course in 16th century armour and arms, with the memsahib developing a rather unnatural taste for the armies of Henry VIII, buying some rather nice reading material, before we popped across the dock to Pizza Express for a cheeky bit of lunch and then a steady pootle back down the M1, my desire to buy a burgonet and bevor kept tightly in check - but it was a close run thing, I can tell you!

Wednesday saw the delivery of the remainder of the flags I needed to complete my Landsknechts, but we were set on going to see an exhibition of political protest artworks which I have had a rather peculiar taste for since I was about 12 years old along with radical and political music of a left wing bent, which is odd because I don't really support any political view. I think that it's the statement and passion rather than the actual politics, and of course Sheffield was rather militant in the 70s and 80s, so, as I found my feet in the world, this kind of cultural expression went into my head along with my gaming.

Often, I can be found singing Billy Bragg's 'Help Save The Youth Of America' or Ian Dury's 'Spasticus Autisticus' as I indulge in some gaming related activities, or listening to some artsy little ditty by Haysi Fantayzee or Mobiles although I draw the line very firmly when it gets to 'Iko Iko' by Natasha - even I have my limits.

I recently realised that despite my humble roots, I had a really sharp sense of the aesthetic which bloomed in a big way from about the age of 10 when I attended Limpsfield school, where we got a what I would later see referred to as a liberal arts education. Four years later, at comprehensive, the Stasi who posed as teachers at that facility attempted to comprehensively strip those of us who had attended Limpsfield of any sense of the artistic or radical, but some of us could not be broken and we embraced anything which made us different to the brainwashed should obsessed with football and 2-Tone music.

I developed a love of walking through doorways which seemed to offer adventure or enlightenment. I found counter-culture bookshops, left over from the early 70s, which opened me to R Crumb, politics and numerous was that art and literature could be used to protest at this, that or the other. It also connected me to vegetarian food as some of these places had cafes in them, and, as is the way with this kind of thing, the herbivores ruled the land.

I am not a vegetarian, nor have I actually done much in the way of acts of protest - unless you count the 2 weeks of solid, cold silence I treated my parents to when they grounded me for a month for finishing with a girlfriend in favour of Runequest in 1982. They broke before I did...

But, the point was, I was experiencing things which impacted upon me aesthetically and still do until the present day.

I remember that I was obsessed with a store in the very early 1980s which was a franchise within House Of Fraser, by the name of 'Knobs & Knockers', which sold a wild assortment of door handles and door knockers - as you'd expect. The colours, shapes and textures were what I was interested in as well as the shop fittings which were minimalist futurist, that style which was all the rage early in that decade. Again, these things embedded in my young mind, so that I have a very distinct mix of things which continue to this day to thrill me when I see them 'given the nod' by contemporary artwork, media or gaming product.

It also means that my wife will have to curtail my enthusiasm if we are in John Lewis, and I see some retro style soft furnishings or bedding, lest I go into some kind of aesthetic feeding frenzy.

If I see an old Athena poster made up of grids and flashes of bold graphic colour, I will have to go home and listen to some Toyah, XTC or very early Adam & The Ants. From there I may have to go and buy some old starship models and re-watch Blake's 7. Then I find myself reading a book on 80s history, which makes me... You get the idea of how terminal it could be, if I was not kept in check.

Anyway, the exhibition was good and we also had a trip around the Ruskin Gallery. I am a little hot and cold with the whole Arts & Crafts movement, but say what you like, Ruskin had an eye for colours and textures, so the experience was an enjoyable one.

I went home, and started to fix some of the flags for a few hours before going to the cinema for the first time since Lord Of The Rings was released. I was a little nervous because I was so bored and underwhelmed with that offering, that I fell asleep.

We went to see 'Ready Player One' which is classic Spielberg but quite different to the book by Ernest Cline. That said, it was a rollicking romp, and in a reclining seat, a cup of coffee in my hand, I was transported to a world of yes, more 80s pop culture (it's not going to go well I fear) and so, I was as happy as the proverbial pig in a wallow.

By the time we got home and to bed, it was 1:45 AM so we were very tired on Thursday, but, as the 4 hounds who reside here with the memsahib and I were in for the monthly haircut, we had to stay at home and could rest and recuperate, whilst also fitting the remaining banners to the 28mm renaissance collection without a sense of guilt.

And so to Saturday which saw us taking in an exhibition at the Trafalgar Warehouse in Sheffield titled 'Power' which we'd seen advertised in the Yorkshire Post last weekend, which was a collaboration between artists Sarah Hopkins and Tracey Moberly and Human League co-founder Martin Ware, inspired by the steel industries of the north of England. It was small but oh so perfectly redolent. I witnessed the last days of the Steel City proper and so it was very interesting for me, to see imagery coupled with the abstract electronic soundscapes created by Mr Ware.

And so, to today where I am relaxing and catching up with my blogging before settling down this evening to watch Buckaroo Banzai, a charming little 80s escapist flick in the 'weird science' genre, which was a result of seeing the references to BB in Ready Player One and thinking 'hey, we've not watched that for a while'.

And so dear readers, I will leave you to ponder how you yourselves have been affected by a combination of popular culture, music and gaming.. Or am I the only one for whom there were these tangental connections?


Monday, 2 April 2018

Of Holidays, Pike Blocks And Pop Culture (Tinged With The Odd Fuckwit)

We have snow today and so as I have made myself stay home for two days just 'being', and merely pottering about, it was sensible for me to start with my flag fitting. I'm almost there, apart from the few dozen Landsknecht banners which are still not here from Flags of War, after a week

I have 4 boxes of the metal Wars Of Religion pike and shot from Warlord on the way as well as the 6 boxes of plastics I bought last week. I think I’ll add as many plastics again if they are still on a ‘special’ because as an old friend whose name rhymes with 'dodger' did quoth recently : ‘You can never have too many Landsknechts…’ Like a sucker I believed him... That's my story and I am sticking to it

I went to Chillcon on Saturday and was underwhelmed with the traders who were there, but, as it was 9 minutes from where I sit, it filled two hours. I bought a copy of Devils Run: Route 666 which looks like a fun game and a magazine, whilst the memsahib bought herself a copy of the Pike & Shotte rules and a load of scenic stuff. It had, I must confess a 'can do' attitude, but the trade was very samey, with few historical traders and even less miniature companies. There was way too much MDF, which I for one loathe and detest, but as everyone is buying it these days, what do I know? Me, I'll stick to good old resin for my scenery, thank you very much.

NOTE TO WARLORD GAMES:                                                                                                           

When someone comes to your stall with a book in her hand, and asks the chap manning it, whether he has a better copy, he should not give a rather abrupt 'No' whilst keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the screen of his smart phone, giving the impression of being a pony-tailed pillock!

This is rude, and his fuckwittery cost Warlord knock on sales of £300 which have now been made elsewhere by that lady. You may not need that £300 being the giant corporate entity you are, but from small acorns, and all that...

Anyway, it did get me thinking very seriously about staging a one day show in Sheffield. I have the funds doing nothing, so I am gathering around me, a group of objective and enthusiastic advisors and making a serious go of it after a couple of years of deliberation.

I am also seriously considering my first trip to a cinema since the first Lord Of The Rings movie (which I slept through - honestly) to see ‘Ready Player One’ as it looks to be as close to the book as possible. The book was pure 'Geek-Lit' of course (no bad thing) but an enjoyable retro romp for a sad case like your correspondent.

I spent last night with a rather fine seafood pizza, watching E.T with the memsahib, just to remind myself how good Spielberg is when he brings out his ‘A’ game.

I am hoping that my batteries will be re-charged by taking a ten day break - God knows, I need it! 

On Wednesday, we are going over to the Royal Armouries to snap some pictures in the renaissance areas and generally reinvigorate my own vibe for my cherished period. An arms race over the internet is ensuing, as my scattered buddies of old all want one final big game before we retire, hence the hurried collecting of any and I mean ANY 28mm renaissance we can get our hands on. Would you believe that with 24 feet of display space, Foundry did not take a single pack of renaissance to Chillcon? Sheer lunacy!

Anyway, that’s all the news there is, but here are some pics of the ever-growing collection, as it nears completion of ‘Phase Alpha’.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

British Army To Introduce New Rations

British Army to appeal to the disaffected Millennial generation

In a move to encourage more of the Hipster Generation to sign up to serve Queen and Country the British army are to introduce the so-called 'Millennial Ration Pack' (or MRP as a leaked Whitehall paper has it).

A sample 1 day ration will contain:

Breakfast and Snacks:
Rice crackers
Marmite (or not)
Avocado Puree (Ripened) In Light Fresh Olive Oil Liquid (supplied under contract by Waitrose)
Vegetarian sausages and beans with the beans removed
Transformers shaped pasta

Vegetable pate using organic root vegetables (no green vegetables will be used)
Organic artisan rye and spelt bread slices x 2
Low sodium, ethically made Minestrone soup (with the bits all the same size because , like, equality is implant , alright?)
20g bag Cheetos


Free range Quorn cutlet
Dehydrated French Fries (Maris Piper)
Petit Pois - hand picked in Norfolk
Organic artisan tomato ketchup
Vegetarian Chilli (
Cadburys Mini Rolls x 6

Drinks and Extras
Low fat rapeseed spread (although for PC reasons this may end up being gender neutral virgin olive oil based)

Toilet paper made from recycled materials

Disposable lighter using sustainable bio fuel
Powdered hot chocolate - 80% Fairtrade cacao
Rainforest assured decaffeinated coffee powder
Organic soy milk powder
Hand blended tea leaves from a election of types
1 litre of Coke/Pepsi or Mountain Dew
1 litre energy drink
Chocolate bar - again 8-% cacao from organic and Fair-trade sources
Dehydrated single estate Pinot Noir x 2 servings