Brexit and my holiday???

I don’t normally indulge in politics in my posts, but this is beginning to get personal.

I have booked a camping space on a site near Oosterbeek, Netherlands from 17th to 25th September 2019.  Those who follow this blog will understand why.  I have also booked my ferry from this small island to the mainland of Europe.

With all the current shenanigans I have no idea if my passport, car insurance or travel insurance will be valid after 29th March.

Let me be clear.  I voted to join the European Economic Community in the 1970s.  I thought it was a good idea.  In my working life and my re-enactment hobby I have found many friends in Europe.

I was never given any say in the subsequent creation of a pseudo “United States of Europe.”  In the 2016 referendum I voted to leave the EU, because in my opinion we were beginning to lose our national identity and our parliament’s ability to govern Britain independently.  (I little understood that, thanks to the aftermath of the referendum and a subsequent ill-conceived General Election, our Prime Minister would be rendered incapable of governing anything more than a large house in Downing Street, Westminster.) 

I understood at the time of the referendum that the intention was to actually leave the European Union, not to piss about for a couple of years and then have another think about it.  I admit that neither side gave a full appreciation of what would be involved before we were asked to vote, but I never thought that the famously quoted “£350m to the NHS” bus slogan meant what it was interpreted by the uneducated masses to mean.  The wording was very clever, and never actually promised £350m to the NHS.  If in doubt, check what it actually says.

Enough petty politicking.  All I really need to know is:  After March 29th 2019 will my current British/EU passport still be valid, or do I need to apply for a new one?  If so, how long will it take?  The British passport office appears to have no useful information yet…

Three wargames and some real life

Following my recent post “Rethinking my priorities” I have moved the campaign on.
The battle for the Arnhem railway bridge has been fought and the allies now hold this crossing over the Rhine.
I have another game currently in play for this campaign using Memoir ’44 board and rules, but instead of their models I use my own gaming tokens based on German tactical map signs (see photo’ below).
Each token represents one platoon or equivalent.

Oploo 4

In this game a German Panzer regiment and a supporting Panzer Grenadier regiment have encountered two battalions of British infantry. They have been fighting for two game hours so far.

On other gaming fronts I have been preparing the battlefield for the long awaited 4th September 1939 battle in my project to refight the whole of World War Two before I die! The troops have been ready for months.

I have also been gathering the models for the first naval encounter of World War Two, the sinking of three commercial vessels by German submarines on 7th September 1939. Although the attacks did not happen in the same area, my game will involve an escorted convoy against three submarines operating independently. British must cross the table with as many ships as possible surviving. German submarines are vying with each other for the maximum ships sunk.

Annoyingly I have lost the box of unpainted “sinking ship” models  that I printed a couple of months ago.   The only one I can find is the half-painted version (now complete) in the centre of the picture below.

IMG_1215

I know that if I reprint them they will turn up, so meanwhile the printer is in use to produce dummy submerged submarines for the confusion of friend and foe alike.

My idea for submerged submarines is that when a sub dives it is replaced with a number of transparent models according to the roll of one average die. One of these is marked underneath as the real submarine. They each go their separate ways and until they come into action neither side is allowed to look beneath the model.
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I have been struggling with a computer program “Rule the Rail” which is used to design virtual model railway layouts. I found the game in a discount store many years ago and have since upgraded it by downloading extra models and functions provided by other users more clever than me to make it more British and 1950s focussed – my old trainspotting days.

rtr_120011
Last week the program suddenly started refusing to save files, although I have successfully run it on Windows 10 for a year or more. I can only guess that Microsoft have updated something to the detriment of my enjoyment. The developers last tested the system with Windows XP, so any fixes are now handled by the fan-base community. I have asked them for help.

My latest, half finished, project is based on a layout found in “Railway Modeller” of the local station where I used to do my trainspotting as a lad in the late ’50s and early ’60s. The actual model is well researched, but the creator admits that it was pure accident that the school-children on the platform are wearing the correct uniform for my old school (Poole Grammar). I want to finish the project, but if I cannot save any changes I am, as they say, “stuffed”.

Incidentally, the developers recently launched a kickstarter to develop this program for the latest PC, Mac and Android operating systems, but it failed with only half a dozen backers. A shame, since there is clearly a large community of users who could have helped.
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On a personal note, I have recently undergone a “triple A” investigation for possible aneurism, which showed that I have no problems in that department.  Next Thursday I have my PSA blood test to confirm that all is still well after my cancer operation in November 2017.  Isn’t it amazing how concerned the NHS gets about you when you  are over 60, when so many of the issues could have been solved by better advice when you were 20?

Rethinking my priorities

For some time now I have been running a WW2 play-by-email campaign with five “generals”. The original idea was to give them a strategic game which would provide me with some interesting tabletop solo wargames.

However, I have become too bogged down in getting the visual depiction correct and this has slowed down the execution of the big game.

And so, in the recent spate of bad weather which banned me from both the gaming and painting sheds I had a re-think.

The campaign will now progress somewhat faster and individual engagements will probably be fought as board games or simple tabletop wargames without the frills.

I have already played as a board game the expected table-top game that took more than a month to set up, of which more later…

A little community service

Some months ago I offerred the use of my 4×4 vehicle to the local NHS hospital group for emergency transport.

I did this partly because I owe my life to the people in this hospital.

Last week I repeated the offer and was sent a form to complete and return with proof of insurance and a driving livence.

These  I returned around 1 pm today.

At around 6 pm I got my first call-out.  Unfortunately, arriving without ID (and incidentally without fuel or wallet) I had to return home and then re-present  myself as a competent human.

Strangely by the time I returned (having incidentally in the meantime towed an AA van out of the snow) nobody was interested in ID, leaving it to patient discretion.

I took one patient home and returned to the hospital, after picking up a walker who was heading for the rail station having abandoned his car about 10 miles away.

The centre of Basingstoke was like an ice rink.  I would not have wished to attempt it in anything less than our multi-functional 4×4.  I did some neat pirhouettes in the Shogun!

My final trip was to overload my car with NHS staff who were of necessity booked into a local hotel.

I expect to be summoned again at afound 06:30 this morning to fetch outlying NHS staff andtransport them to work.

Signing off at 00:40 (about 3 hours after my normal bedtime.

 

Gosh – it’s snowing in England

Isn’t it amazing that the arrival of snow in places that do not generally expect it during their winter (e.g. England) always has the same effects?

  1. There is no other news topic.
  2. Some idiot drives too fast and blocks a major road for 10 hours.
  3. Kids rush out to build snowmen before it is too late.
  4. Schools are closed because the buses were cancelled and teachers apparently can’t drive in bad weather.
  5. The police ask people not to go outside unless absolutely necessary (i.e. to build snowmen).
  6. Very few people bother to go to work, partly due to points 2, 4 and 5.
  7. Everyone tweets how many centimetres/inches of snow they have.
  8. You turn on the TV and stare out of the window at a better display.  On TV is nothing but pictures of other peoples’ snow.
  9. Lighting a fire suddenly becomes a nostalgic necessity.

A re-enactor remembers, No.1

In the English Civil War Society of the 1990s it was common for those of the female persuasion to take rôles as male musketeers.

After all, who wants to accompany their male partner, or travel on their own, several hundred miles to spend the weekend cooking or sewing while the blokes have all the real fun?

Our “regiment” had no problem with this. In my view, most of us were too old, too healthy and too fat. Where was the problem in being too female, provided that you made an effort not to be too feminine?

But, as a junior officer, there was one problem with commanding a company that could be, on some days, up to 70% female*. It has been documented that female mammals as a group in close company tend to synchronise their menstrual cycles as a semi-defensive mechanism against male attentions.

So, at some events, stentorian commands, such as “SHOULDER YOUR MUSKETS” had to be accompanied by submissive eye contact, indicating “Please?”. Thank God that the ladies never had bayonets! I hope and believe that I was able to quite accurately read the general mood for the general well-being of all.

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* When I was a corporal with 6 or 7 musketeers under command, I found that I frequently seemed to gather the same half-dozen ladies in my file. They called themselves “Paul’s Bang Gang”

Dunkirk – two short film reviews

Whilst doing my ironing today I started to watch the 1958 film of “Dunkirk” with John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Robert Urquhart et al.

I know that this was a post-war semi-propaganda version, but it is far more believable, despite the clipped language, than the absolute rubbish perpetrated by Christopher Nolan in 2017,

It appears that the major claim to fame of the latest version appeared to be: “We did not use CG”. Nor did the earlier version (simply because they could not), and in their day they did not need to show huge cardboard cut-outs of queueing soldiers or very obvious buildings from the 1970s or later.  But the 1958 producers could get a large quantity of extras who had actually been under fire in WW2.

It appears to me that the producers of the 2017 version were too carried away with  filming at the location to notice that it has been rebuilt since 1940.

The earlier producers/directors also seemed to have researched the number of bombs that a JU88 “Stuka” could actually carry, unlike their later “let’s aim for maximum effect” counterparts.

My vote?:  1958 version: 4/5, 2017 version: 1/5.