I guess this post is mostly about OCD, and maybe ineptitude - both topics on which I might claim a small amount of expertise.
Topic 1: The Catalogue
Recently, in relaxed conversation, Stryker, having had the mixed pleasure of inspecting my Soldier Cupboard (in semi-darkness, on his knees - it's an architecture thing), asked, as one might, how many units there were in my armies. An innocent enough question, quite appropriate in the context.
|The Cupboard - current state; these days it contains only the French and |
Anglo-Portuguese cavalry and infantry...
I answered, correctly, that I really didn't know, which surprised him a little, and then the conversation moved on. Afterwards, I found I was actually slightly concerned that I didn't know. Firstly, there is a faint whiff of schoolboy bravado in the implication that I have so many units that I don't know how many there are - I wouldn't like to give that impression - that's a bit like claiming not to know how many yachts one owns. More worryingly, I felt it was more than a little odd that I didn't know - I should know, really, shouldn't I? If I were in control of this silly obsessive hobby thing then I would know.
Now I do maintain a very detailed catalogue of my armies - which unit is which, what all the figure castings are (including known conversions), where they came from, who painted them - all that. I get a lot of value out of that, but one surprising omission is the date when they arrived - I wish I had thought of recording that, but I could probably reconstruct most of that information if I were pressed - at least approximately. Have you ever been approximately pressed, by the way? - no matter.
|...everything else is in boxes - the pink boxes are ECW, the remainder are |
the rest of the Peninsular War stuff.
The Catalogue is in a dirty great Word table, with hyperlinks to photographs of all the units. Being a table, though, it doesn't lend itself well to proper statistical analysis. So after I had thought about it for a little while I set about linking a spreadsheet to my Catalogue tables, and - of course - the spreadsheet very readily coughed up the numbers. As is always the case with worthy, obsessive jobs like this, after I had studied the numbers and thought about them, I was at a loss what to do with the information.
One obvious thing to do was to send it to Stryker - that'll teach him - but it also occurred to me that I could post it on the blog too; not so much because I think you'll be interested, or even remotely impressed, but because the blog in some ways is a sort of confessional - forgive me, Father, for I have far too many soldiers - in fact I have now quantified how many I have. If you can give me some pointers towards an official algorithm, Father, I could add a column to my spreadsheet giving the appropriate number of Hail Marys.
|Situation as at 11:00, 14th June 2017...|
Anyway, I'm pleased I have the thing under better control - well, not under control, maybe, but at least more accurately measured. I feel better for it. Cleaner.
Now I'd better have a look at doing one for the ECW, and all the Napoleonic transport items...
Topic 2: The Plastic Forest
This is really just a fleeting mention - I seem to have accumulated what must be one of the world's largest collections of Merit fir trees - the little plastic jobs for HO railways, out of production since about 1970. I didn't set out to achieve this, but people kept selling them on eBay (I guess railway modellers must be dying off too?). In its way it is a fine thing, and I am increasingly concerned about storing and looking after these little trees, because they are very old and fragile, and the plastic is rotting - they are very like me, in fact. I have a new solution to the storage, which I shall share with you when it is ready. You will be impressed - you may not wish to copy it, but you will be relieved to learn that someone else is as weird as this.
Anyway - more soon. Oh - and, yes, I do know how many fir trees I have, but I'm not saying.
Topic 3: Plonk
I do enjoy a glass of wine now and then. My wife drinks almost no alcohol these days, so opening a bottle of wine means either:
(a) I drink the whole bottle, which is not a great idea, or
(b) I try to recork it and make the bottle last a few days, which - let's be honest here - doesn't work very well - the stuff really doesn't keep, despite all the patent air-pumps and sealing stoppers we have accumulated - or
(c) I can drink some of the bottle, and then pour the remainder down the sink, which is maybe the worst idea of the lot.
Recently, someone jokingly suggested that I should buy wine that I didn't like, so that I wouldn't feel bad about wasting it. As is often the case, there is a germ of commonsense in that daft thought.
What I have been doing for a year or two now is buying a box of wine. You can have a single glass, and it will still be drinkable for a week or two. OK - that's a working solution (the issue of sticking to a single glass is important, but a separate problem). However, on the general subject of wine...
There are some excellent wines available now - I don't know how Brexit might affect that, but at the moment our local supermarket has some splendid wine. I find that I am having to be a bit choosey - this comes down to personal taste, of course, and my taste is no better than anyone else's, but it's me I'm making the choices for. A large proportion of the good wine on sale comes from the sunny countries of the world - Australia, Chile, California, South Africa and so on; it's good stuff, much of it, and its ancestry is from the classic vintners of Old Europe, but it is often too strong for me now. Too much sunshine? I can buy an excellent 3 litre pack of Australian Shiraz for about £15 - super stuff - but too serious, too fiery, too intense - I can't casually sip a glass of this (13.5% alcohol by volume) while reading or watching a film - too much Marmite in the taste, too many headaches.
I find I'm moving down-market a bit. Nothing new - I always used to like French Table Red - Chateau Plonko - vin ordinaire - you can't buy it now, as far as I can tell. No demand, I guess. I prefer simple red wines - Tesco do a good Sicilian red which is not too beefy, I like Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Corbières - things which are soft and friendly.
Quick digression. I was listening to the radio a week or two ago, and there was a chap on from the British wine-growers' association. I might have overlooked that there was such a thing as a British wine industry, but it seems they have been having a tricky year. The mild, wet winter produced brisk budding activity early on, and then the frosts of April did a lot of damage. I made a mental note that there was a British wine industry capable of being damaged, and promptly forgot about it.
Last week, in Tesco, I spotted a box of British wine! Never seen one of those before. It was very cheap, 8% strength and described as "refreshingly fruity". It is a poor life that does not extend to a little research, so I bought a box - I expected little and - as you expected - that's what I got.
|The box suggests they have the neck to sell this stuff in bottles, too.|
The stuff is awful. It tastes like a cross between Ribena and boot polish, to be honest. I could, I suppose, grin and bear it in a spirit of Good Old Patriotism, but the final straw is it isn't actually British. The box says that it is made from imported grape juice. Good grief. My dad used to produce home-made wine like that years ago, and it was all crap and it all tasted mostly of sulphites. A long and honourable tradition, then, of putting a brave face on things. Personally, I feel I humoured my dad for quite long enough, I want no more of this. I mention this only as a gentle warning - if Brexit requires you to change your drinking habits, don't be tempted to change in this direction, lest you, too, get to rinse out your kitchen drains with it.
|The small print.|