Things ain’t like they used to was.

I am very disappointed with the quality of products nowadays. The latest to land on my disapproval list is Swan Vestas matches.

Apart from reducing the sandpaper from both sides of the box to one only, the company has also developed a detachable match head that flies off in preference to actually catching fire.

After trying to light my pipe this evening, here are the remnants of the vestas.

The pipe is still not lit.  I will try again with cooks’ matches.

Meanwhile I have five new pieces of 1/300 scale timber. 🙂

And, by the way, nostalgia isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Banks!!

Today I was notified that a mobile telephone company had previously taken, and is planning to take, payments from my account for a telephone that has been destroyed, the account closed, and for which all direct debit authorities have been cancelled.  I have today again cancelled the direct debit authority using my bank’s online facility, just as I did before.

My bank informs me that I can cancel the direct debit authority, but the payee may revoke the cancellation and take the money in any case.  That is not how I understood the agreement with my bank and I am disputing it.

The agreement was for a flat fee of £5.00 per month, including a set level of calls.  The telephone was destroyed some months ago, so why did they take without authority £9.88 last month and intend to take £5.19 next month?

Quotes

“Direct Debit is the safest way to make payments in the UK. The Direct Debit Guarantee gives you a right to immediate refunds for any payments which shouldn’t have been taken.” (Gocardless.co.uk)

“Money shouldn’t be collected from your account after you have cancelled and under the Scheme rules, an organisation would have to obtain your authority to reinstate a cancelled Instruction.” (www.directdebit.co.uk/DirectDebitExplained)

“Yes you cancel it anytime , we never will stop you for that, but the signed agreement is with virgin , you can control standing orders but direct debits are all governed by the companies with whom you have the set up.” (HSBC chatline 30/10/2018)

So, I assume that Virgin Media is simply ignoring the agreement and making up its own numbers each month, and that HSBC cannot be bothered to dispute the fact that I said “No more.”

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Since posting I have spent over an hour failing to create a user account on the Virgin Mobile website so that I can register a formal complaint.

 

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ACORN

ACORN – A Comment On Random Nomenclature.

In recent news it appears that the MOD (Ministry of Defence) uses far too many acronyms.  In fact many are not acronyms, as in ACORN, but initialisms.  They seem to be designed to include “those who know” and exclude “those who can only guess”.

Some years ago, at a business seminar, the assembled middle management was requested to write on “post-it” notes what was wrong with the company.  These were stuck on the wall and chosen at random for discussion*.

One of mine was selected.  “Too many TLAs”  The obvious first question – “What’s a TLA?”.  “A Three Letter Abbreviation.”  Point proven.

It does appear that frequently projects and departments are named specifically to provide an acronym from their name.

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* A second note that I submitted: “Nobody told me that we had a communication problem” was also discussed.

Anachronisms and organisation

Someone on Channel 5’s “Great British Model Railway Challenge” first episode commented that in the recent film “Dunkirk”, the characters boarded a 1960s train.

Sorry, but that film began to lose me within the first two minutes when our hero walked past an obviously late 20th century building. I think the producers or directors may have been too caught up in the actual location to seek a realistic location.

And today, while clearing up and meticulously filing (yes – I am getting organised) models from my most recent wargame I have “The Cockleshell Heroes” on the TV in the background. A gratuitous and unnecessary* side shot of a German warship clearly bearing a British frigate reference number. Showing the crew wearing German hats a few moments later does not rectify the glaring error.

But while organising my 1:285 and 1:300 scale models I see that I have far too many 1940 Germans representing 1944 types – exactly like most film costume designers.
And I have created Arnhem with British church ruins and Normandy shops. Who am I to criticise?

Incidentally, during a TV advertisement break in the film I was informed that Colgate toothpaste is created by professionals. Well, that’s another worry resolved!

*Gratuitous and unnecessary. Is that tautology? I stand open to correction from fellow pedants.

Game of Thrones

While driving around the country yesterday I listened to the first 5 hours of the audiobook “A Song of Ice and Fire”, better known as volume one of “Game of Thrones”.

Today, with a mountain of ironing to process, I watched the beginning of the TV series. I have seen it before, but with the original writing in my head it made much more sense. The production, locations and characters are superb, and as close to the book as one can achieve for an entertaining TV series.

I particularly like the opening sequences (developed as the story progresses) depicting mechanical gearing operation, indicating the background political mechanics, and which is later reflected in the pseudo-mediaeval castle backdrops.

One problem with the audio book is the allocation of British Regional accents to characters, and particularly the lack of consistency. I am not sure that I am in favour of using regional accents to identify characters, even if Westeros has similarities to Britain in its geography. But when a character who speaks with a Lancashire accent for three chapters suddenly becomes Welsh and a scotsman migrates to Yorkshire at the same time I start to question the production values.

Of Agriculture, organisation and old times.

Listening to the Archers recently it appears that Britain’s post-Brexit agricultural economy will be based largely on small scale, local artisan produce.

In my opinion this is no bad thing, but national self-sufficiency wherever possible is still highly important in these days of the increased danger of potential cyber-shutdown of Just-in-Time supply systems.

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I just spent today driving to Wellingborough to collect some generously donated industrial grade shelving from Chris Kemp (blog at http:// notquitemechanised.wordpress.com)

Although I did not have the opportunity to meet Chris, looking around his wargame store room I can testify that he is one of the most organised gamers that I know.  He is also lucky enough to have enough kit that his models don’t need to swap their identities between battles!  I struggle to find enough of the correct models for any given engagement.

On the other hand, Chris seems to be able to concentrate on one campaign at a time, while I flit about like a flittery, fluttery thing.

My workbench…

A23BD0BD-8CB8-4C8F-9419-BDF8378B107AI used to be almost organised before my collection outgrew the walk-in wardrobe in our spare bedroom (see picture below).  Hence the need for shelving for my shed.

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On the way home I took the opportunity to call in at my old office to meet half a dozen former colleagues and chat about old times.  It seems that the old IT supply and planning system that I used and supported for over 25 years, and due to be phased out in 2014 when I took redudancy and early retirement, is still alive and possibly even kicking.

And from there, the familiar old 70 mile, 2 hour drive home that I used to do every day.

All in all, a tiring but interesting day.

 

 

Life and wargaming – an update

In addition to making a little progress on the longest running wargame move I have ever experienced – the Battle for Brighton currently set up in my cold, damp shed – I Brighton 18 0815 front lineshave had a few wargaming and other diversions.

The builders have finished restoring our house. Their company has closed the case. A pity nobody has thought to inform the scaffolding company that their decoration to our property is no longer required.
Just a bit more arguing with the insurer’s agents about replacing the gravel removed from the side of the house and maybe we can bring the caravan home.

gravel

The new man-cave…shed

is going to have a new roof, yes – already! Half of the second botched covering over the first leaky roofing blew away in the recent storms. I have hired a professional company (who re-roofed both my lost sheds) to torch on a decent roof. I do have electricity, and therefore heating, installed. When the wargame is finished I can continue with putting up shelving.

My hospital check-up revealed that my cancer was further advanced than the doctors or surgeons had expected. They believe they removed it all, but further tests towards the end of February should confirm or deny the fact. It is some relief, but still a nagging doubt.  Things in the underpant department are no longer as they used to be.

(No photo here. I think it may be inappropriate!).

So, back to the wargaming.
Projects that have emerged from my in-tray recently and been progressed:

1. Preparation of 3mm scale counter-mounted replacement gaming tokens for “Memoir 44” games, in particular Arras 1940. A lot of the infantry are on back order from Magister Militum, but most of the artillery and tank units are based, and some are painted. I have designed the bases to be used with “Memoir 44” and “Panzer Leader” rules on the same boards. I also have 3mm scenic models to be used with 3D terrain for World War II

new units

2. The naval Battle of Sevastopol, 1902. Part of my “Diplomacy plus” solo campaign and covered in this post.

3. Basing and painting my 2mm horse-and-musket cavalry units in preparation for the next campaign battle in 1702. Each unit needs three sets of bases: Deployed, March column and Routing. Each cavalry base is around 50 “figures”. Eventually this will represent a troop, but for the next game will be 1/3 of a regiment (maybe a squadron?).

DSCF0003

4. Painting my bargain basement 20mm plastic 30 Years War figures in preparation to introduce the younger chaps in my English Civil War Society cavalry unit to the joys of playing with soldiers. I am developing a game on a squared card table that I call “Battle Chess”. It will be a bit like a table-top version of a re-enactment battle, but with dice, and the casualties will not be recycled! Rules to follow after play-testing. (No photo yet)

5. Preparing the 3mm models for the first engagement in my Operation Market Garden campaign. Gough’s jeeps against a similar number of obsolete armoured cars. The scenario calls for only 3 models on each side, but I have 15 of each – should I shrink the ground scale and quintuple the chaos? – answers on a postcard please (or reply to this post).

To be fair, most of the recent progress has been painting the black bits on all the models in preparation. By using the “next paint pot in the queue” method I don’t get so bored, even if every painting project takes an age to complete.