A film for Christmas

.Yesterday I watched one of “must view at Christmas” films: “Joyeux Noël”.  More about this film here, but beware spoilers in the synopsis.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyeux_Noël

I find this movie interesting from a historical viewpoint, schmalzy in places and unbelievable in a couple of plot concepts, but I will watch it, and be reduced to tears, every Christmas.  Each time I watch I see a little more into the main characters and gain a little more understanding of the (French) director’s idea.

The story is excellently portrayed by the director and all the actors.  It is in English, German and French (normally subtitled).  Naturally when the main protagonists interact the language switches to the one who understands least of the other two, so there is a lot of English with a strong clipped Scottish accent!  Daniel Brühl, as the German officer, acts a lot of his rôle in French or English.

What I take from this film is that if it were left to the front line troops the Great War would have been over by the first Christmas – or New Year at the latest, but those in command had no idea how to end it once it had been put in motion by those above them.

It is a film with realism, pathos, romance, occasional comedy, social criticism and above all humanity.  And recommended for Christmas viewing, expecially this year as we remember the end of the Great War.

 

It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas…

This morning I have been getting in touch with my feminine side.

Although a generally unrecognised concept  to men everywhere, I have not only finished my Christmas shopping two whole weeks before Christmas Eve, but all is wrapped with ten days to go.

But no fancy ribbons or stuff, except the parcel for the Memsahib, who likes that sort of thing.  I have to retain some semblance of masculinity.

The tree is purchased but will remain outdoors in water until late next week.  Our tree goes up for Christmas, not for Advent, and comes down after the twelve days of Christmas, and normally after the council wood-chipping disposal service is finished.

Needing a new tree stand, our previous excellent version having perished in the fire of 2016 (and with Christmas almost cancelled in this household in 2017), I went shopping and I was amazed that I could only find one remaining in the fourth shop I visited yesterday, everyone else having sold out already – and one store already removing unsold Christmas decorations from the shelves.

(Note to self – next year start looking for last-minute Christmas stuff in July, or August at the latest.)

Happy pre-Christmas panic everyone.

the Pedant’s Revolt

From a pedant.

I must give up watching TV quiz shows, because I end up shouting in annoyance at the screen.

Yesterday on “The Chase”:

Question: “During which war was the Special Boat Service created?”

Answer: “WW2” – “Correct”

Actually, wrong.  The Special Boat Section was created in 1940.  The Special Boat Squadron was created in 1977 and the Special Boat Service in 1987, during the Laos-Thailand Border War.

A TV advertisement competition broadcast today required the single word (sic) answer “Windsor Castle”.

And to cap it all I spent over half an hour this morning trying to work out an unsolvable “cross-sum” puzzle on my tablet, wherein the numbers 1-9 must be put into a grid to make 6 correct calculations.  The result required,  and checked with the official answer, included the calculation “1+6/3=2”.

is it just me?

How would we cope without the internet?

There has been a massive failure in access to the internet through the O2 network today.

I know that I am relying on the very same technology that just failed us today in order to distribute this message, but is this not a warning about our reliance on constant access to the internet to be able to run our lives nowadays?

Maybe it’s time t wake up and check the alternatives, if there still are any…

A poor game…

As part of my somewhat OCD lifestyle my daily tasks are dictated by what emerges from the in-tray.

Today we started with: “Trim back lawn edges”:  No thank you, it is raining.  Task is replaced in the interim tray.

Next: “Trim front lawn edges”:  No, it is still raining.  Similar destination.

“Update blog”:   I have nothing to report since yesterday.

“ASL Napoleonic wargame”.:  Ah!  Now we are talking.  Up to the loft to retrieve the two boxes of stuff – and to get out all the Christmas decorations while I am there.

This game was developed during a week-long solo caravan trip in Spain, between two re-enactment events set in 1710 (Zaragoza) and 1811 (Albuera).

With the boxes of Squad Leader game boards and home-made gaming tokens retrieved, I began to roll the dice.  5, 2, 6 means take the 5th board from the stack, then the 2nd below that and the 6th below that.  I ended up with boards 15, 12 and 12.

Next, each board must be orientated.  Dice again. Odd, Even, Odd.  With an odd number the printed board number is to the right, with an even number, to the left.

Result:

Now to the forces.

Blue and Red dice rolled.  Blue has 2 units, red has 5.Opening the playing tile boxes (note 1), Red’s units are (from top left) :  95th Rifles, Royal Horse Artillery 6pr Battery, Royal Artillery 6pr Battery, King’s German Legion 6pr Battery, 52nd Line.

 Blue has:  3eme Regiment de Ligne, 5eme Regiment de Ligne.

Note 1.  The playing pieces are made by attaching printed sticky labels, designed in Microsoft Excel, onto 13mm x 13mm x 5mm plastic tokens bought from Plastics for Games

Next, dice for sides: higher comes from ‘north”.  Blue.

Both sides now make a plan, assuming they have not yet made contact.

Red is clearly an artillery column being escorted by light troops moving from south to north.  They will take the quickest route on road, with scouts from the 95th to the front and the 52nd battalion to the rear.

Blue is an understrength brigade, moving from the north. A die roll decides that they are deployed, looking for the enemy.

Thus we start the game.

It turns out that the game was most disappointing and not worth reporting,  but I thought that my methodology may be of interest.

Old Technology

Found in the attic

While digging out our advent tree from the attic I came across my old portable typewriter.

I bought this machine from Argos en route to a re-enactment event in the late 1980s or early 1990s, simply because I was the “Adjutant” for Sir Thomas Blackwell’s Regiment of the English Civil War Society at the time and the monthly newsletter was due the next week.

Photographs exist of me, dressed as a 17th century peasant, furiously typing away at the front of my tent on a Saturday evening in order to meet the copy deadline.

The following Monday evening would see me at our office photocopier running off 100 copies, followed by a late session folding, stapling and enveloping the results.

On Tuesday I would print the address labels and get stuff posted.

Aah, those were the days…

Cyber-Spying? There are easier ways.

Forget cyber-spying….

What does your postman know about you?

Today I delivered my car for a post-accident financial check-up.
The body-shop manager greeted me in a friendly way. We actually occasionally meet as dog-walkers locally.

His first question was: “Have you walked the dog, and is he in the car?”.
His idea was that I could walk Sparky while his chaps examined the damage.
I replied that I had come prepared to walk Sparky home if they needed to hold the car.
He said: “Not all the way to xxxxxxx”
I looked surprised.
He said.: “No. 7 isn’t it. Mr Wisken? I used to be your postman.”

Unexpectedly I got a small courtesy car, with permission for Sparky to use the back seats (“He’ll be OK”).
In fact I made Sparky scramble into the boot area after folding the seats forwards.

But it was a lesson that not only computers know all about you, but also much friendlier local folks, and what can tell more about you than your postal deliveries??