A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Hooptedoodle #211 - Like Icarus, ascending on beautiful, foolish arms


I read somewhere, recently, someone describing someone's written output (not mine, I hasten to say) as a stream of the uninteresting, enlivened here and there with brief moments of the inconsequential. It occurred to me that my Hooptedoodle folio must get precious close to just this, but - since I have a certain house standard and tradition to maintain - I feel I should persist with the current editorial policy.

Today's Pointless Post is merely to note the quick passing of a coincidence - a wow, just fancy that moment which is unlikely to distract you from your day's purpose nor tax your belief set. These things happen, after all.


I have been doing a lot of reading about sieges in the English Civil War, at least some of which is directed towards developing a workable siege game. One of the sieges I am about to come back to is the Leaguer of Chester.

When I'm reading the history of battles, campaigns and so on I very much benefit from having a decent map to hand - I seem to be unusually bad at visualising a geographical area without such an aid - there have been many occasions, reading on the bus of Napoleon's adventures in Saxony, for example, unable to unfold Loraine Petre's flaming maps, when I have nodded stupidly at a bewildering list of German villages in the narrative, and tried to ignore the fact that I have once again completely lost the plot. So one of my bits of preparatory work for my continuing siege research was to find some decent maps of Chester online, and print a couple off. I found, and printed off, this one


which dates from 1580, and is not ideal, since it predates the siege and thus shows none of the relevant details, but is a good start.

Now I have been having a tidying-up session this week, and I felt that it would be a good idea to put my printed map somewhere safe so that I can use it when I get back to reading the Chester stuff (probably next week). My splendid idea was to fold it and put it inside my favourite Chester book, John Barratt's The Great Siege of Chester. The bad news is that I will never possibly remember where I put it, but the good news is that I might get a pleasant surprise next week when I open the book again. You know how these things work.

So I opened the Barratt book to store the map, and - purely by chance - the book fell open at exactly the same map. I didn't even know the map was reproduced in that book. OK - the limited subject range obviously has a big effect on the probability, but what were the chances of that? Would you take me on at any dice game on such a day? Should I break with tradition and buy a lottery ticket?


Nah. It was just an isolated fluke. There will be another one along soon, and it will probably be just as useless.

Almost certainly.

In passing, just for a bit of fun, my post heading is supposed to be an oblique reference to flying pigs (a British euphemism for a very unlikely event) - can anyone tell me where the quote is from? If it helps, it isn't Icelandic - no, I didn't think that was helpful either. [If you solved it using Google you are a tosser, by the way.]

16 comments:

  1. Haven't been to Chester for years - used to live in Runcorn and my son was born in Chester hospital. As far as written output goes, not something I worry about on my blog. It's just that. My blog. Nice if anyone else is interested (A few are. Not many.), but it's fun to do and it gives me a reason (excuse) to record my collection and what I 'm doing with. Does anything else really matter?

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    1. Well, I enjoy your blog, Rob...

      Agree - you have to please yourself. It's important.

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  2. Hi Foy, thinking about the rules, probably this site might interest you: http://dinofbattle.blogspot.cl/search/label/Vauban%27s%20Wars

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    1. Hi - thanks very much for the link. I've been following the progress of Vauban's Wars on Eric's blog for a while (the game was originally Coehorn's Wars, I think). The pictures are inspirational, and the playtests got serious enough and public enough to be very exciting indeed, but publication (officially as part of the Piquet series) seems have stalled. I've been in touch with Eric from time to time to check for progress, and he has been distracted by other work and a few other frustrations. Last month he reckoned his situation might be becoming more suitable to get Vauban's Wars finished off and out there - layouts and a few more final playtests outstanding, I understand.

      I'm very keen to see the finished game when it appears, so i wish him all the best with his project.

      Regards - Tony

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  3. You can buy very nice soft toys of flying pigs in the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, California and it appears as a common motif on t-shirts, baseball caps etc also sold there. The younger Miss Epictetus wanted a toy very badly and my ex and I afterwards regretted thinking boringly about aeroplane luggage capacity restrictions and not buying her one. The point of which reminiscence is to suggest that it isn't by any means uniquely British and indeed that Steinbeck makes use of the image somewhere in his works although, at least without resorting to Google, I don't know where.

    The museum is excellent by the way, whereas Salinas the town isn't. Stay in Monterey and drive.

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    1. The only Steinbeck pigs-might-fly reference I know of is his Pigasus thing (?), which I think was a joke built upon a former college teacher's assessment of when he (Steinbeck) would make it as an author - I'd forgotten that, I confess. I claimed the expression was British merely to cover myself against mystified protestations from our more literal-minded colonial cousins - obviously unnecessary in this case.

      The quote will be made clear in a further postlet tomorrow (maybe). I'm sure you know it anyway.

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    2. Actually pre-Googling I had roughly the right genre, but the wrong author. I thought I recognised it being sung in a whiny Minnesota accent. Still it's a good excuse to dig out some stuff by both of them.

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  4. Reognised the post header, but has to Google it to run it to ground so my old man would've probably considered me a borderline tosser. I don't wonder I'm a troubled child, but that's the way it is.

    I like Icarus, although I call it Spanish. I'm particularly partial to Icarus Allsorts.

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    1. Very good - nice secondary reference too - your tosserdom is forgiven.

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    2. Rather like you, I can't always find the book I want. I might get back to you when I find my copy of Cheshire in the Civil Wars.

      However, my copy of The Buildings of Chester has an image of Chester Castle c.1786. Not the right century, but neither is the Speed Map - do you want a scan of this or anything else?

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    3. I'd love a scan of the castle pic, if it's possible - thanks very much.

      The Speed map is 1610, I think, which is OK - not very detailed though!

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  5. [Shameless plug here for Diplomatist Books].

    In your pile of books I don't see Yorkshire Sieges of the Civil Wars - you can get a copy at http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?vci=61057945&vcat=Military___History_________C17th&vcatn=Military+History+-+C17th

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    1. OK - done that... :-))

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    2. It's this American hard sell attitude wot's bringin' the country to its knees! ;O)

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