Recent Politics, and why I am fed up.

Note:  Much of the background information is for foreign readers, who have no idea what is going on in Britain…

With the ongoing chaos that revolves around “Brexit” (a term that I believe trivialises the actuality), my thoughts are that it might be a “Good Thing” if the British parliament could endeavour to adopt the system of many other European countries: that of collaborative coalition between parties. Instead we have two large parties and several smaller ones that will engage in limited coalition to achieve a specific target, but are mainly deeply entrenched in their own policies.

In the UK we historically had two parties: the Whigs and the Tories. They evolved in the 20th century into the Liberals vs the Conservatives (still nick-named the Tories). Then the Labour Party emerged, representing the working class. Eventually the labour and Conservative parties became the main protagonists, with the Liberals sidelined.

Early in my “eligible to vote” timeline, the Liberals combined with some disgruntled members of (mainly) the Labour party to form the Liberal Democrats. Later smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists), the Scottish National Party and the Green Party began to emerge.

In the 1970s the UK population was unusually allowed (instigated by the Conservatives) a referendum and voted to join the European Economic Community (EEC). Since then, through various treaties, the EEC has evolved to become something more similar to the USA, and several former Soviet states have joined. Not only has this become a larger power bloc, but is perceived by the Russians (their own power bloc having in the meantime disintegrated) as a potential threat as actual military integration between the EU states becomes a possibility.

Later, as the idea of leaving the new European Union (EU) – which was beginning to look like the USA or the former Soviet Union – began to raise its head, UKIP (The United Kingdom Independence Party) arrived on the scene.

The UK held another referendum in 2016 about whether to leave the EU. It was narrowly won by the “leavers” at 52% vs 48%. The instigator of the referendum, David Cameron, having not achieved his expected answer made a cowardly resignation speech and left the problem to the new leader, Theresa May. Unfortunately she deigned (possibly having no idea) to outline how we would implement the decision, merely stating “Brexit means Brexit”.

Two years of negotiation between the UK leader and the EU leaders went on. Then the leaving plan was presented to Parliament and rejected. Parliament then voted in an unprecedented step to take over the control of “Brexit”, but failed many times over many weeks to agree on any way out; or if the UK should leave at all; or indeed anything!

Next week we vote for our EU representatives, even though we do not expect them to actually take up their jobs before we leave in October 2019 (the latest deadline).
This is yet another expensive vote that will only serve to indicate the will of the public.

It looks increasingly like there will be a second referendum, costing umpteen millions of taxpayers money, to decide whether the UK will still go its own way or if we will remain as EU partners, in which case the last three years have been a total waste of parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money, both of which could well have been utilised to better public use.

 

Fun with telephones

Today I had some fun with a call from an unknown company, previously logged on my i-phone as an “ambulance chaser”. i.e. someone who has, possibly illegally, picked up information about an insurance claim.

“Ring – ring” “I-phone – ‘Ambulance Chaser'”
Me: “Hello”.
Them: “My name is…”
Me: ” You should be aware that all calls may be recorded for training purposes.”
Them. “My name is…”
Me. “Can you please provide me with your postcode for security purposes?”
Them: “Why?”
Me: “If you do not know your postcode, can you please give me your mother’s maiden name?”
Them: “What?”
Me: “If you do not know your postcode, can you please give me your mother’s maiden name?”
Them: Brrrrrrrrrr……

Success!

Not how I expected to spend Easter

Recently I have been concerned about my health. Over the last couple of months I have been frequently short of breath and “wheezy”. In addition I have a chesty cough that will not go away. I went to my GP who scheduled several tests for me.

Blood test, chest x-ray, spirometry all came back “normal”.
I was given a nebuliser to try, but it appeared to make the cough worse.
In the last few days, a couple of times I have coughed so much that I actually blacked out for a few seconds. I checked out the NHS “111” service and the recommendation, as usual, was “Get to A&E a.s.a.p.”

Easter Sunday. Not the best day to choose, but off we went.
Two hours later, having been tested twice for blood pressure and oxygen levels I was put onto additional oxygen and then almost immediately examined.
My blood pressure was in the “normal” range, which was odd because it has been worryingly high for years. Oxygen intake was flashing “low” (below 90 whatevers that they measure).

Another blood test, another chest x-ray. Both showed nothing abnormal.

In the end I was diagnosed with underlying asthma with gastro-respiratory complications.
I was advised to use the nebuliser more frequently and with a heavier dosage, and prescribed some gastric inhibitor pills on a trial basis. Oddly the accompanying label says I should discontinue them if I feel sudden wheezy-ness, which is what triggered the whole investigation in the first place!

Last night I found that when I was lying flat (back or side) I was unable to take a deep breath, and spent half the night coughing pointlessly and getting out of bed to breathe properly. Sleeping in a sitting position triggered the cough, lying down made me puff and pant.

Back to the doctor tomorrow.

Meanwhile we have a couple of air purifiers arriving today. Since 26 years of secondary smoking and the occasional bowl of pipeweed have apparently left no effect on my lungs I wonder if I have developed an allergy to the dog!

Parliamentary Etiquette

One thing that I do enjoy when listening to British parliamentary debates is the formalised speech.  Sometimes the best insults may be concealed behind the eloquence of the most fluent in this form of English.

It is archaic, but it has its own charm.  For example, in the House of Commons, one never refers to the House of Lords (the regulatory, or “upper” chamber of parliament), but to “Another Place”.

The Speaker of the House will call members to speak by name, but in all other circumstances, and by other members they are referred to as: e.g.”The Minister” or “The (Honourable) Member for Little Podlington and Sparrowbridge”, or if they happen to be on the same side, one can get away with: “My Honourable Friend”.

Apart from anything else, it’s a great test of memory when there are 650 people to remember together with their official titles if appropriate and the constituency they represent.

A classic example of the pedantry is a frequent declamation from the Speaker:
“Order! The Honourable Gentleman must not shout from a sedentary position.”, which can be interpreted as “Oy, you – shut your mouth and wait your turn.”

A wonderful example today of a minor rebuke by Mr. Speaker Bercow:
“We welcome the honourable member for X to the chamber, and we hope that she has sufficiently recovered her breath to ask her scheduled question”.
Or in other words: “You’re late, and you missed your turn.”

And you thought Chaucer and Shakespeare were difficult to understand?


By the way, I think that Mr. Speaker Bercow is looking very fatigued after the last two days of chairing parliamentary debates about “Brexit” that remind me of the old computer game “Lemmings”.   Instead of building bridges, our MPs have started digging holes in different directions and neither side now has enough bridge builders to get anyone out of the hole.


 

Painting Blog 26/12/18-17/01/19

Just to prove that I have not been idle for the past 4 weeks, this is what I have been preparing for various wargames.  I must remind readers that I am a wargaming butterfly, in that I have may projects active at all times.  However, my priority is to keep the “Market Garden” campaign active for my five on-line Generals.

So, what have I painted and modelled since Christmas?  For reference, any photographs below on a gridded board are displayed on a 2″ x 2″ (5cm x 5cm) grid.

Painting and modelling projects in the last four weeks

WW2 German 6mm Adler Panzer Grenadiers.

16 Platoons of 4 figures each.  To be painted in late war camouflage smocks.

26th December:  Models sorted, bases labelled.

27th December:  Figures glued to 2cm square plastic bases using UHU contact adhesive.  Snipped corners from some bases to indicate weapon type.  Milliput added to bases to help strengthen the contact.

28th December:  Basecoat (Vallejo WW1 German Field Grey) applied to figures.

29th December: Bases painted for urban setting.   Uniform Grey overall, sprinkled with fine sand, then “splodged” with Vallejo Green Grey.

30th December:  Flesh tone added to faces and hands.

31st December: Repainted hands and faces with lighter flesh colour (Coat D’Arms Flesh).  Rifle barrels painted with Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal.

1st January:  Stippled smocks with Vallejo 70.875 Beige-Brown.  Stippled smocks and some helmets with Coat D’Arms 209 Dark Green.

4th January: Brick wall ruins on bases painted Coat D’Arms 509 (Brick Red?).  Black leatherwork painted Coat D’Arms 102.

6th January:  Gas mask cases painted Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal.  Army painter Matt spray paint applied.  Unit Finished.

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WW2 1944 Polish Parachute Battalion

16 Bases of 4 Infantry; a mix of Adler British Paras and British Marines.

15th January:  Glued troops to bases.  Painted bases Coat D’Arms Grass Green .  Base Coated Figures Coat D’Arms 537 Faded Khaki.

17th January:  Rifle stocks painted Coat D’Arms Horse Tone Chestnut.  Helmets painted Vallejo 382 Reflective Green.  Faces painted Coat D’Arms Dark Flesh.  Dabbed smocks with Vallejo 70.782 Chocolate Brown.  Dabbed smocks with Coat D’Arms 223 Chestnut.  Trousers overpainted Coat D’Arms 225 Khaki.  Weapons painted Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal.

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Blindheim Project.  6mm Irregular Miniatures troop blocks.

Lt-Gen. Horn.  Mounted General with 3 footsoldiers carrying a flag)

31st December: Horse painted Vallejo 70.875 Beige-Brown.  Coats painted Coat D’Arms 211 Light Grey.  Base painted Coat D’Arms 209 Dark Green.

1st January: Musket barrels painted Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal.

17th January: Faces and hands painted Coat D’Arms Flesh.

Danish Foot Brigade. 3 blocks of 18 musketeers + 3 man flag base.

6th January: Black wash to all. Diluted Coat D’Arms Black 102.  Command base. Boots painted black.  Faces and hands painted Coat D’Arms 213 Flesh.

7th January: Coats painted Coat D’Arms Grey 236.

17th January: Musket Barrels painted Citadel Mithril Silver

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 American Civil War 20mm Plastic Figures.

Two Union Regiments of 5 bases (15 figures each).  Part-finished.

31st December: Repainted musket stocks Coat D’Arms 225 Horse Tone Brown

1st January: Repainted musket barrels Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal, Touched up bases with Coat D’Arms 209 Dark Green.

4th January:  Backpacks, cartridge boxes and belts painted Coat D’Arms 102 Black.  Sprayed with matt varnish.  (Will be resprayed gloss for a “toy-soldier” appearance.)

3rd Maryland Regiment  8 bases of 3 figures each.

9th January:  Musket barrels painted Coat D’Arms 142 Gun metal, Card bases painted Coat D’Arms 209 Dark Green.  Sprayed with Rustoleum clear matt varnish.

13th January:  Bread bags painted Vallejo 886 grey-green.  Trousers painted in various greys and browns.  Bases touched up with Polyvine Acrylic Enamel 52 Brunswick Green.

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Terrain for “Market Garden” campaign.

City river bank hexagon tiles.

2nd January

Five existing river hex tiles masked and one point sprayed with grey stone effect paint.  (Will need a touch-up by brush – stone effect spray cans only work well the first time).

Two railway sloping embankments started.  Cork tile sections cut, glued and clamped.

5th January:  Tried to cut cork embankments to form slope.  Failed.  Designed similar shape for 3d printing and printed two sloping embankments.  A partial failure as the bottom of the piece was curved, so I inverted them.

7th January: Overpainted the city river banks with light grey “tester pot” paint.

14th January:  Glued Leven Miniatures rail sections to sloping embankments.  Re-glued rail sections to sloping embankments!  Ordered more hexagons from Kallistra.  (Plain Blue single tiles).  Spotted new half-hex tiles, and ordered them too.  Made side slopes of rail embankments from Milliput.

15th January:  Painted and flocked railway embankments.   Added streaks of PVA to blue hexagon tiles for wave/river effect.  Glued railway sections to polder/swamp tile for rail crossing with embanked road.

16th January:  Discovered I was using the wrong bridge for the Arnhem Rhine rail crossing.  Dug out different bridge and added Leven Miniatures resin rail sections.

17th January:  Black washed rail sections on the sloped embankments.  Railway sleepers (railroad ties) painted Vallejo 70-872 Chocolate Brown.  Rail track tops painted Coat D’Arms 142 Gun Metal.

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1940 3mm German force.

Two SIG33 15cm Self-Propelled Guns.

6th January:  Black wash overall with diluted Coat D’Arms Black 102.

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WW2 Naval

Sinking destroyer token (3d printed)

6th January: Black wash overall with diluted Coat D’Arms Black 102.  Deck painted Coat D’Arms Flesh 213.  Bottom of hull painted Coat D’Arms 509 Brick Red.

7th January: Superstructure and gun turrets painted Coat D’Arms 236.

17th January.  Repainted hull and superstructure darker grey.  Repainted deck with a darker tone.

HMS Warspite (prepainted model from Axis & Allies Naval)

13th January:  3d printed base (2 x 6cm hexagons adjoining, 2mm deep).  Repainted hull and superstructure with Vallejo 886.

15th January.  Spray-painted base with 2 shades of blue.

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WW2 1/600 Aircraft

De Havilland Mosquito, Focke-Wulf 190d.

6th January:  Painted all aircraft Coat D’Arms 211 Light Grey.  Poor coverage.  Maybe the models should have been washed first?

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6mm Commission Figurines MDF

French Revolutionary War, 24e, 56e, 90e de Ligne.  Part finished.

13th January:  Painted white coat turn-backs and breeches.

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That’s all Folks!

And now back to the painting table…

 

A review of 2018 from my blog.

2018 review

January.

I was recovering from a prostate cancer operation and moving into the new man-cave, and was plodding through a game of the Battle of Brighton, September 1940.

I also started work on game tokens for Memoir ‘44 games, using 19mm plastic bases and 3mm models.

February

I worked on the forces for my fourth battle of the whole of World War Two, on 4th September 1939. The game has still not been played.

I also playtested Black Powder rules in preparation for the Donald Featherstone memorial game of Chancellorsville.

March

Apparently nothing happened in March.

April

I started a new play by e-mail campaign of Operation Market Garden. As a precursor to the main campaign XXX Corps began the advance towards Valkenswaard.

May

The campaign continued with two engagements on the tabletop.

A US parachute infantry battalion took out a FlaK position and the british glider-borne recce squadron captured the road bridge at Arnhem.

June

In June nothing happened. I guess I was reenacting.

July

Day 1 of the Market Garden campaign was complete, and day 2 dawned. Battles were expected at both Nijmegen and Arnhem bridges. I was experimenting with 3d printing of artillery.

August

Apparently quite a lot happened. Market Garden pushed on. But…

I prepared for an ACW boardgame, still unplayed.

I worked on radar pylons for Sealion, still unfinished.

4th September 1939 is still waiting to be played.

The 6mm Napoleonic MDF figures have moved on a little.

We did have a good weekend re-enacting in Northumberland, spoilt by an overnight raid on the campsite in which several expensive items were stolen.

September

We spent a week chilling out at the Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

I reported on quite a lot of terrain building using Kallistra Hex tiles and Leven Miniatures 6mm railway, and how to make city hexagons.

I actually got to play a wargame in the new city terrain of Arnhem.

October

I realised that while criticising film directors for accuracy I make far worse errors on my wargame tables.

Planning began for attendance at next year’s Arnhem 75 commemorations.

I got a bit irate about news and politics. In fact comments on the news began to take over the blog.

I did get to fight two more campaign battles around Arnhem.

November

I played a solo game moving the Market Garden campaign on, and created a naval game which I played with my young friend Ben. I’m 64, he’s 23, but we manage to play wargames with a similar attitude,

December

XXX Corps got back into the Market Garden action with an attack across the Wilhelmina Canal, during which the bridge at Son was destroyed. Bridging equipment was brought up, but alternative routes were sought.

I started to produce naval game tokens with my 3d printer.

I spent quite a lot of time watching nostalgia movies and prepared for Christmas…