The game also gives some insights into how times have changed, and things which were part of growing up and which I haven't thought about for a long time. In my grannie's house, the first door on the left inside the front door was almost always kept shut. It was The Parlour. Last bastion of working class gentility, it was only used at Christmas, or when someone very important visited (which, sadly, was a very short list - the man from Prudential Insurance, collecting his weekly pennies, maybe the occasional church minister). In theory, it was also available for laying out the deceased in times of family tragedy. I did go in there occasionally - probably when my grannie got tired of my prattling about nothing during the school holidays, and sent me to play the most out-of-tune piano I ever heard.
I was intrigued by the atmosphere of The Parlour - by the fact that the curtains were hung inside out so the neighbours could see the pattern, by the swordfish's nose on the wall (all Liverpool families had seafaring relatives), by the heavy-duty, embroidered antimacassars and arm protectors which covered the sofa and armchairs, and by the almost religious dedication to Keeping Things Nice. Nothing must be soiled, nothing must ever wear out or get broken.
Fast forward the film a couple of generations. That parlour sprung a far-flung family who still covered their best dining chairs with tea-towels, to stop them wearing, to Keep Them Nice. For what? For whom? What was the special occasion, who was the celebrity visitor they were being saved for? Did they ever arrive?
By this time we are no longer speaking of post-war austerity - this is just the way people were raised. I'm not in a position to mock, either - I am the man with a glass cupboard full of lovely soldiers which is fitted with blinds so that usually no-one can see them, in case the sun fades the flags.
Dice of Thunder - non-standard issue
And now my set of Commands and Colors has arrived, and of course I am pleased with it, yet slightly worried that some of the components may have a finite duty cycle. I have replaced the supplied dice with a better design, and varnished them carefully to preserve the surface of the stick-on symbols. I have now encased the playing cards (which are, to be honest, rather disappointingly flimsy) with clear plastic sleeves to protect them, and I am laughing out loud at myself. The cards are much tougher now, no doubt, and the sleeves are well made and exactly the correct size, but the cards are quite a lot thicker, and slippy, and handling them in bulk is a bit like trying to shuffle and deal After-Eight Mints. No doubt they will be fine, but I may just remove the sleeves again if I keep dropping the cards on the floor.
And all in the sacred cause of Keeping Things Nice, of making things last forever! At least Grannie would have been proud of me.
Change of subject. While we're on an OCD kick, I note that the rule book for Commands & Colors mentions that there will be a future expansion set to cover very large actions, to be titled La Grande Battle. Pardon? There it is again - the dreaded franglais étranglé. I keep coming across this in wargames. I guess it is because the history of warfare, by definition, keeps turning up the activities of nations who (rather inconveniently) did not speak English. It would be very easy to appear to be trying to be a smart-ass here, but if someone wishes to include some French to add authenticity, or even some romantic colour, it does seem worth the effort to get it right, or at least to avoid awkward mixtures.
I have long grown used to George Nafziger's reference to the 22nd Ligne and similar - in fact I probably do this myself - but what language, pray, is Guard du Corps? I'm also not completely comfortable with John C Candler's Miniature Wargames du Temps de Napoleon (though I am assured that the rules are excellent, and no disrespect to Mr Candler is intended). I recently obtained a copy of the 3rd edition of the Corps Command rules, and I find that one of the possible results of skirmish combat is termed Suave Que Puet. Why? - what's wrong with Run Away?
I can see there is a fair chance that someone will send a comment to take me down a peg or two, and I probably deserve it, but - come on, rule writers - Keep Things Nice!