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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Hooptedoodle #336 - Did I Jump Too Soon?

I've managed to steer clear of the Tory Leadership circus in the last few weeks, and I must say I feel a lot better for it. I reasoned that the party members are sufficiently self-obsessed to be able to carry on without my paying attention, which is a relief. Since my announcement that I would not be putting myself forward (see my Fake News Hooptedoodle from last month, if you can be bothered), I have had occasional requests to reconsider.

I confess that there have been moments when I was tempted - occasionally I would see one of the hopefuls in action, and find myself thinking, "you know, I could do that...", but commonsense has triumphed, I believe, and I am happy not to be involved. In any case, I'm trying to keep myself free in case I get offered the manager's job at Chelsea FC, which will probably have a more secure future than that of UK Prime Minister. The big problem for me is this Brexit thingy - I haven't the faintest idea what they are on about. We all have to accept our own limits, I think, and, though I have been waiting patiently for the Daily Mail to finally come to my aid, and explain clearly how this No-Deal business is all going to work (since they obviously understand it), I'm still none the wiser. Best to stay out of it, then - my Preston grannie would have had something pithy to say on the subject, you bet. 

I understand that the first of the televised debates for the real leadership candidates [real? - discuss] took place yesterday, and Mr B Johnson did not appear - his chair and lectern remained empty throughout. I didn't watch the thing, naturally, and I am reluctant to admit it, but I'm quite impressed by that. Not only did he set himself up to be the only candidate who did not disgrace himself last night by speaking drivel on live TV, but it seems he actually increased his share of the opinion poll by not turning up. Brilliant. Fleetingly, it occurs to me that I, too, could have failed to show up, but I'm sure I couldn't have done it so charismatically or impressively.

This is not a new concept - fairly recently, the United States elected a president who was not a politician, for example, so the idea of a null candidate has been around for a while. I recall that many years ago someone wrote a song in support of a US presidential nominee named Nobody - on the grounds that this was exactly the person who would govern with integrity, who would care for the poor and the sick, who would ensure that the legal system and taxation were fair for all, etc. I had a look, but couldn't find the old one (1970s? - yes - we've had buffoons around for as long as that). I did find this clip, however, which would be better if it hadn't been so childishly produced, but it makes the point. Clearly we have to have someone running things, but would a vacuum be better than an idiot? Worth thinking about. Does an empty chair have real advantages over Boris? Hmmm.

I'm bored with this now. I'm still not going to watch the next live debate, but am intrigued to see if this cunning ploy catches on, and no-one turns up to it at all - trying to out-absent each other. Keep your cards hidden. Say nowt. That would be something.

Better still, perhaps they could all just shut up and leave us in peace. I am sick to death of hypocrisy, flagrant dishonesty and self-promotion. Some clown tried to sue Mr Johnson recently for telling lies while serving in a public office. Imagine a politician telling lies - good heavens. That's not even funny.

How long can this confounded farce rattle on? No - it's OK - I don't really want to know.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Marshal Ney's command base now complete

The command grouping for Ney is finished now - the third figure is a General de Brigade from the Chief of Staff's department. This extra figure (on the left here) is another Art Miniaturen casting - this time an old, OOP one.

Don't tell us that Old Foy got three postings out of a single figure group, they chorused - has the man no shame at all? Well, I guess not - guilty as charged.

You know what happens to newly-painted troops? - these fellows are bound to meet with a very sticky end at Quatre Bras on Tuesday...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ney's ADC

He's a day later than planned, but no matter - this is Marshal Ney's ADC, Colonel Pierre-Agathe Heymès, all ready for Quatre Bras next week.

A couple of things about Heymès: his background was in the horse artillery, which seems unusual for an aide; also, because I really had no idea, I checked with my consultant, and it seems that the French would pronounce his name "em-ess", with the stress on the first syllable. The French would probably also regard his name as sort of Spanish, I think. After the Restoration, he was appointed ADC to Louis XVIII, which surely cannot have been a very strenuous role.

The figure is one of the High Command at Waterloo set by Waterloo 1815 (in metal), but in the interests of calming him down a bit I have given him a more placid horse (by NapoleoN Miniaturas). He is still obviously a bit overexcited, but let's just assume he is waving his sword to attract attention, or to motivate the troops. At Waterloo, Heymès is usually depicted as riding a grey - as on Dumoulin's great panorama at the battlefield Rotunda. I have chosen to place him on another of his (numerous?) horses, since I regard a grey horse as a high-risk project, and I would not like to spoil this effort by mounting him on a ridiculous-looking cuddy.

Ney, being of Army or Corps-Command grade, is entitled to have two accompanying figures in my organisation. Commandant Lachoucque insists that Ney only had the one ADC in the Waterloo campaign, so the other one (which I start tomorrow) can be a rather mundane ADC borrowed from a Général de Division.

I must say I really enjoy painting staff figures. Something to do with my attention span, I think. Col Heymès can enjoy the distinction of being the most flashy soldier in the army until I get round to painting Soult's ADC (who is also in the queue).

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The Return of Dan O'Herlihy

There's a battle coming up next week, and I have a few bits and pieces to sort out for my contribution to the spectacle. I have to paint up a couple of staff chappies, for a start. This evening's deliverable is Marshal Ney, gentlemen. His varnish is still wet and shiny, but here he is.

I do have an official Ney figure in the spares box - in fact I have a couple. I had intended to paint up Art Miniaturen's Marschall Ney, complete with bare head, waving sword and rearing horse, but I changed my mind. I also have the metal Waterloo Staff set from Waterloo 1815, but they are wildly dramatic - they are also, let it be said, some 25mm to the eyes [Massimo should drink less coffee]. The Perry Twins have now done the definitive charging Ney, albeit in a larger scale than I use, but Ney complete with bulging eyeballs, as seen in the rotunda painting, does not seem a very useful figure for me. So I've gone for a rather calmer Ney - it is an Art Miniaturen casting, right enough, but I think it's actually supposed to be Auguste Coulaincourt - I shall now forget all about that - this is Ney. I've given him a nice dashing white jabot, and he has the necessary red hair.

With a bit of luck he should have some staff by next week, and he should be a lot less shiny.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

eBay - Definitely the End This Time

I recently posted a sad tale about an apparent hack of my PayPal account - I managed to take quick action on it, but it seems that not quite everything was sorted. I now find that I have been subjected to what is becoming a common scam - someone hacks into your PayPal account, inserts a fake address so that they can link to your eBay account, and then - as they have done in my case - sets up a fake listing for sale on your eBay account.

First I knew about it was when I started getting emails about an "unresolved issue" on eBay - someone wanted a refund because I had failed to deliver a set of security cameras which they had bought from me. Erm - security cameras? The listing was still active - it seems I had sold 1 out of 50 sets available. No money had reached me though PayPal. The purchase took place on 22nd May - the following day I got a request from eBay to change my password, and did so, though they sent me no details which might have put me on my guard. I changed my PayPal password as well (again), at the same time.

This morning I had a phone conversation with an eBay security man, based in the Philippines. He was very good and very reassuring - they were already aware of the problems with my account, and are in the process of cleaning everything up - the eBay listing has now been taken down, I have no need to worry about refunding anything - the purchaser (if there is one - that may be a scam too) will be reimbursed. The law enforcement authorities will be notified about the incident as appropriate. Was there anything else he could help me with?

Well, no - nothing else really. I will be closing my eBay account as soon as they let me back into it. That's enough - I've been muttering about this for ages - I think that God has now sent me a sign.

Watch your step. As it happens, I had kept a note of the full name and address which was hacked into my PayPal account, back in April. It is a guy named Nikolaj, who lives in London. Interestingly, the security cameras were supposedly for sale in London. OK - there's lots of people in London, but the man in the Philippines tells me the incidents are related. The security people were quite impressive, though I'd have been more impressed if they'd sorted the matter out before I reported it.

That's it for me - eBay now officially stinks - I have had good use out of it for 15 years, but for me its time is up. There are too many fifth-rate crooks hanging round the internet, trying to suck some blood out of the system.

Cheers, Nikolaj - I do have your full ID and address, and I do have friends in London. I shall fantasize about that for a bit. Incidents like this always (well, "always" is a bit strong - I'm very careful, and pretty savvy, and have had very few problems in the past) leave me feeling ashamed for being stupid. With hindsight, other than changing my passwords rather more frequently, I don't think I could have done much better.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Old Friends

I was dredging through my "Generals & Staff" spares box, looking for some suitable French ADC figures, and I found these fellows hiding in a corner.

They obviously came from eBay - Lord knows when - they look as though they were painted by the same collector and they have obviously seen some action. Minifigs S-Range figures - they do have a certain battered charm. I recalled that the Lone S-Ranger blog once tried to identify which of these chaps was which, according to the S-Range catalogue (which means VINTAGE20MIL these days, of course), so I checked that out and the results seemed inconclusive. I'm keen not just to go round the same loop again, so though I am casually interested to identify the figures, the main excuse for this post was to feature these three old friends, as a token of my respect. It looks as if they have been together for about 50 years - they are presently resting in my spares box, but no matter.

As far as I can make out, the candidate figures are:

NS 2s - French Marshal
NS 9s - Ney
NS 10s - Murat

though it does seem surprising that Minifigs didn't attempt a more spectacular uniform for Murat. I confess I have no idea; whatever, here they are.

I'll maybe get them a gig in the Guard Division, now that I have one.

***** Late Edit *****

With thanks to Goya, here's an example of post-S-Range "Intermediate" Minifigs celebrity figure - this is Nansouty, who was FNCX5, apparently (and probably still is in the current range, but without a saddle).

And here is a uniform for Murat which appears consistent with the right hand fellow in my original photos...

My thanks to Goya and Alan and everyone who contributed!


Monday, 3 June 2019

A Tale of Two Flags

Yesterday was a flagging day, which means I was involved in attaching a flag to a new unit. I keep stocks of my home-printed flags, and fitting them is not complicated, but it does require some care, because it is very easy to mess it up. And I do mean a mess. Water-based glues and ink-jet printed flags are a potent mixture, especially if you have fingers like elephants' feet.

Thus my stock of flags includes enough extra copies to allow for the odd failure.

Since I had the flagging kit out anyway, and since I have now (at long last) produced a correct flag for the Régiment de Prusse (4eme Étranger), I thought I might as well invest in a little drop of creeping elegance, and replace the flag for that unit. A tale of yesteryear beckons...

The fact that I have a Napoleonic army at all has a lot to do with the OOB for the Battle of Salamanca, which has always been a central inspiration. I'm not sure exactly when, but maybe 10 years ago I was tempted by mention of the Regt de Prusse in that OOB - admittedly only a residue of 80-odd men by 1812 (in Brennier's [Taupin's] 6th Divn), but that was enough of an excuse to encourage me to paint up a battalion of something (anything?) to provide a little variety among the otherwise relentless blue and white of the Armée de Portugal.

At this time NapoleoN Miniaturas had released their pack of "Allied Infantry", which basically represented Confederation troops in Spain during the 1808 period. These chaps are in moderately scruffy campaign dress, with covered shakos and rolled overalls. I painted them in the dark green of the Foreign regiments - the Prussians had red facings, silver lace and rank insignia. They also had, I had read, a non-standard flag - it was 162cm square instead of the normal 80cm for a French 1804 flag - and it had a spearpoint finial instead of an eagle. This was all faithfully reproduced in my little battalion.

A couple of asides here.

NapoleoN Miniaturas are sadly missed nowadays, but their figures are an odd mixture, ranging in quality from the exquisite to the downright agricultural. This is probably not unconnected with the fact that they had two master-makers, one of whom was a very talented sculptor and one of whom was the owner. Interestingly, a close parallel might be argued to have existed at Falcata, around the same time, and maybe even Les Higgins (much earlier). Whatever, the Allied Infantry set was not one of NapoleoN's best. In particular, there was an officer on foot, marching, wearing a bicorn with an oilskin cover - I've seen the same JM Bueno plate as the sculptor obviously had, but the hat is so blatantly made of a folded newspaper that I omitted this particular officer from the unit.

As originally recruited, with big flag. Both the photos in this post look a bit washed-out - the reds are proper reds in real life. The figures are from the NapoleoN "Allied Infantry" set, with the mounted and foot officers from Kennington - the foot officer at the end of the 2nd rank was drafted in to replace the man with the newspaper hat.
The authentically oversized flag I produced looked - well, daft. I've always been a bit touchy about it. If anyone were ever to comment on it, I had even memorised the references in Dempsey's Napoleon's Mercenaries so I could justify it! This is an area where I am a tad fussy. Stupid really, since my French army includes Les Higgins figures sporting 1806-style queues but wearing square-lapelled Bardin-type habits, not to mention Garrisons with high gaiters and the same late-model coat. Many of my British infantry strut happily around the Peninsula, wearing their Waterloo shakos. My armies are full of howlers, inconsistencies and known inaccuracies. I gloss over them all, but I do like the flags to be reasonable.

The infamous Bueno drawing of Confederation troops in Spain, featuring the officer in the newspaper hat
One trend in wargame armies which I have not approved of over the last couple of decades has been caricaturisation (if there is such a word). Beautifully- painted 28mm figures with grotesque faces, huge hands, outsize heads, giant muskets - OK - that's all down to the sculptors; there has also been a move to crazily-oversized flags. The French flag of 1804, let us remember, was 80cm square. If your French army has lovely flags which are 6 feet square in scale then that is your taste and your choice - no problem - but to me that looks daft. Thus my big Regt de Prusse flag, authentic or not, has troubled me.

With replacement (regulation) flag. Of course, it may be incorrect now. Hmmm. Must give the flag a little curl. Flags which look like hatchets are not cool.

Yesterday I replaced it. It no longer looks daft, I think - of course, it may be incorrect. I'll have to worry about that for a while now...

If I change it back then I promise I won't mention the fact.

***** Late Edit *****

By special request, for Liverpool Dave, here's another dodgy photo of one of my Confederation battalions. This time these are Badeners (alas the Baden infantry in Spain did not wear the fabby helmet) - the newspaper hat is in evidence on the left end of the second row. 


Sunday, 2 June 2019

French Refurb - 1/47e arrives

Another finished battalion for the French Refurb project - this time very kindly painted by Lee, for which my sincere thanks and appreciation.

Castings are appropriate Old School Les Higgins, for the most part, with some more modern support. I was more than a little disappointed to find, when they emerged from the stripper, that some of the fusiliers were in fact re-cast copies, but Lee coped with all that. The grenadiers and the drummer are Schilling miniatures, and the colonel, predictably, is by Art Miniaturen. The eagle bearer is an old NapoleoN casting. All a bit of a mish-mash, really, but very welcome. The first battalion of the 47eme Ligne, these chaps will form part of Ferey's Division of the Armee de Portugal, early 1812.

Thanks, Lee.

Second Topic

This morning I re-acquainted myself with a very nostalgic aroma. I sharpened half a dozen old "Beryl" pencils. Wow - the smell of freshly sharpened pencils - instantly transported back to ancient classrooms, old workplace scenarios, even my old sketchbook when I was a kid. Reminds me - do they still have the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick? Haven't been there in years, but it used to be a fun place to visit.

Third Topic

Purely my worthless opinion, of course, but since Mr Trump's forthcoming visit to the UK is in any case not a widely popular event, why does he feel it is appropriate to express his views on our current political situation? Notwithstanding the compulsion to put in a plug for a couple of his pals, would it not be classier and more polite if he just kept his fat lip buttoned?

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #335 - Me and the Bird Man...

Another Hooptedoodle - three on the bounce is normally a sign of something or other. On this occasion, it's because life is a little upside-down at the moment with my son's school exams - not a great deal of upheaval for me, since the Contesse is doing the organising and transport, but I have had a few days on my own at home. I've taken the opportunity to make decent progress with prepping more soldiers for the French Refurb, but I am reluctant to post yet more photos of bare-metal Les Higgins figures and the pervading mess. I could, of course, just keep quiet for a few days, but that could set a very dangerous precedent.

Yesterday I was reading about an incident I saw - or at which I was present, I suppose - when I was a small boy. On Whit Monday, May 21st 1956, I was taken by "Uncle" Duggie - a family friend - to the air show at Speke. Duggie was a Liverpool police officer, he was ex-RAF (he had been a middleweight boxing champion in the RAF) and he had more brass neck than you would believe, so he was an ideal man for taking you around - he seemed to know just about everybody, and he was quite happy to walk into areas which were supposed to be off-limits to the public.

Valentin demonstrating some of his later wings, suspended from a scaffold. If anyone thinks this looks like a bad idea, please put up your hand. [This set-up was a pose for photos, one of which subsequently appeared on the cover of his book]
It was a lovely, hot day. The place was packed. One big attraction was the scheduled appearance of the French Bird Man, Leo Valentin, who was to fly with strapped-on wings for our entertainment. Not much happened in those days - not like this. The events of that day, I learn, were also remembered by other, eventually more famous Liverpool kids than me - George Harrison and Paul McCartney were there (at that time they both lived in the new council housing estate at Speke, close to the airport), as was Clive Barker, the sci-fi writer and film-maker. Of course they were. There were 100,000 people there - anyone who could get there was bound to have been there - a big family holiday-out for the whole city. I was a very timid child, and was very worried about the Bird Man, and some of the planes were a tad noisy, and I didn't care for big crowds - so it wasn't such a perfect day for me, maybe!

Liverpool airport is at Speke, which then was outside the south end of the city. I remember being parched with thirst - no-one carried water in those days, for some reason, and queuing for a cup of industrial tea didn't seem such a great idea. I also remember that it was very hard to see much. If you were a small person, it wasn't a straightforward matter to see the sky between the adults. Valentin's flight was delayed - when he eventually made an attempt it was in a period when the crowd had started to wander around the airfield, and the events, which certainly did not last long, almost appeared incidental - many of those present must actually have been unaware of it. Valentin's approach run (with a new, larger style of wing, ferried up in a DC3) was pretty much unnoticeable (we couldn't hear the commentator anyway), his exit from the plane went wrong, he damaged one of his wings in the doorway, and I got a very brief glimpse (between adults) of Valentin, wrapped in his parachute, falling to the ground, maybe a mile away. There was a bit of a collective gasp, but a great many people around me never noticed.

A strange atmosphere fell over the place. It was one of those "nothing to see here, move along please" moments - the organisers obviously had to allow a slight gap for emergency reaction, but the show must go on. It was only when I got home (via the 82 bus) that I realised what had happened. I had simply assumed that Valentin wasn't flying today. In fact his emergency chute had failed, and he'd fallen 9000 feet into a cornfield, at Halewood. He was, of course, as dead as a door-nail. For some reason the local paper made a big fuss about the fact that his watch was still working. Someone missed an advertising opportunity there. Here's a nice little, rather homespun, video clip, to which I link with humble thanks and no permission.

Valentin had been a war hero, and was given a fancy military funeral in France - none of this reached the UK press. As far as I was concerned, he was really just another example of a common phenomenon of the times - you queued for hours to see something, and then nothing happened. Well, not for me - obviously things must have been a bit intense for him.

I believe this is the actual Beverley, at actual Speke, on the actual day [actually]. I am not on board - not bloody likely.
At some point in the afternoon Uncle Duggie got us past a rope barrier to look at a Blackburn Beverley and chat with its pilot - a friend of his from the RAF. Although the official record of the show says that the Beverley was a "no-show", I can confirm that it was very much there, and it did perform a fly-past later, with Duggie's pal at the controls. Duggie had managed to negotiate a look inside the thing, and asked me did I want to have a look around it - not flying in it, you understand, just having a peek, which wasn't allowed either. Since my timidity would not allow me to do anything which was not permitted, and since claustrophobia was another problem to add to my aforementioned list, I declined. I am ashamed to say that I turned down the opportunity to look around a newly-commissioned RAF Beverley, in 1956. Sorry, gentlemen. Sometimes I wonder how I ever survived this big, tough world. Sometimes I think that if I had a time machine I would go back and give myself a kick up the backside.

When there was no airshow, the spectator gallery on the roof at Speke was quite a popular attraction. I went a couple of times - it was very windy up there, and there weren't many planes to look at, I can tell you. What a miserable beggar I was!
Speke airport is now known as Liverpool John Lennon Airport. It always strikes me as ironic that Lennon himself only had a very brief involvement with the airport as a youth, when he was (I think) fired from temporary employment as a gopher in the cafe, for having a generally unhelpful attitude and making a deliberately unsavoury job of the sandwiches. That's how you go about getting an airport named after you. Charles de Gaulle had to work a bit harder for his airport, maybe.   

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #334 - Local Research to Get One's Teeth Into

High-profile local advertising - Barker & Dobson advert on the Liverpool Overhead Railway, mid 1950s. B&D's factory was just a few miles up the hill, in Everton
I was born in Liverpool, as I keep mentioning here (possibly as some form of excuse?), and grew up supporting Liverpool Football Club. The other big club in the city, Everton, also has a long and proud tradition. Since as a kid I spent some years forbidden to travel to away matches, I often used to go with similarly paroled friends to Goodison Park, to watch Everton when Liverpool were playing in far off places.

Nowadays, in the age of hate and trolling, the Liverpool vs Everton thing can be as unpleasant as you might expect - families banned from intermarrying etc - but in my youth things were a bit less frenzied, and I grew up with a soft spot for Everton which I might be well advised to keep quiet about now.

Everton FC - 1909
Everton, as you may or may not know, have been known as "The Toffees" since what my dad's cousin Harold Shaw used to refer to as "time immoral". Like all such traditions that we absorb in early childhood, I never questioned it or wondered about its background.

A bit of cod [personal] history. There were an astonishing number of sweet factories in Liverpool. Now I think about it, this is obviously because, as the headquarters of Tate & Lyle, Liverpool was the place through which most of the cane sugar from the Caribbean arrived in Britain. If it hadn't been for post-war rationing, we'd all have had no teeth.

Another fact which has only dawned on me gradually is that many of the makers of sweets I was familiar with as a kid were Liverpool-based. This is not just because they were local firms who had a grip on the market - a number of them were nationally famous, and they just happened to have their factories in the city.

I got involved over the last couple of weeks in a pleasant exchange of email reminiscences about vintage sweets. I did a bit of gentle research to find out what happened to such-and-such a maker, and mostly I learned that the history of  the UK sweet industry is pretty alarming - a lot of hostile takeovers - and very complicated. I also learned something, at long last, about why Everton FC are the Toffees.

I've always been familiar with Everton Mints, which were a hard, black-and-white, humbug-like boiled sweet with a toffee centre, manufactured by Barker & Dobson, whose factory was in Everton. B&D, founded in 1834, were big and successful - they made chocolates and posh biscuits and all sorts - in fact their gift tins still change hands for decent prices in eBay. It's possible I always assumed that the football club's nickname had something to do with B&D.

B&D factory - Everton, 1960s
The height of sophistication - B&D ad from the 1920s - apparently the lovely lady has a weakness for "Viking" chocolates [made with raw fish?]. As the copy line states, "Nowadays it's Barker & Dobson's chocolate". Don't laugh, somebody probably got a bonus for that one.
...and, of course, since toffee was trendy, they would work to cater for the latest advances in home entertainment. Here we see a tin commemorating how Mr & Mrs Cavity and their children would sit around the steam radio, enjoying light entertainment and chewing ferociously. [A sub-plot of selection boxes of toffee was that I always finished up with the walnut toffee, or the mint one, both of which were grim.]
...and, as time passed, B&D were always there, at the cutting edge. Now we have the Gummy family enjoying TV, slurping away on toffees "and other specialities". Mr Gummy, as you see, smokes his pipe while eating toffee, which is pretty disgusting really.
Anyway, it didn't. A lady named Molly Bushell (1748-1818) started making toffee containing ginger on an open-air stove behind her cottage in Everton, sometime around 1770, and she became quite successful. At this time, Everton village was something of a tourist attraction, with splendid views of the river from the slopes of Everton Hill. As the business grew, Molly was helped by her daughter, and also by a cousin, Sarah Cooper. In later life, she appears to have fallen out with Mrs Cooper, who opened a rival shop in Browside (also Everton). Much later, the remaining interests of these cottage businesses were taken over by the firm of Noblett's, who from 1876 or so took over the manufacture and marketing of Everton Toffee. Everton FC came into being in 1878, and the sale of toffees at the games quickly became a tradition, vendors offering "Mother Noblett's Toffee" inside the ground.

Sarah Cooper's toffee shop in Browside - note Everton reserves training in the sloping field opposite
Mother Noblett's Toffee advert - Liverpool Echo
Noblett's Toffee Shop - they had a shop in London Rd, and this one at 30 Old Haymarket. According to my Gore's Directory for 1900, the shop to the left of "Leonard Noblett, confectioner" is (or had been) John & T Edwards, wholesale grocers; on the other corner of Albion Place is Lipton's, the famous tea importers and blenders. I would guess this photo must be approximately contemporary with the 1909 football team picture. Old Haymarket was pretty much laid waste to make room for the entrance to the new Mersey Road Tunnel, which was started in 1925.
Tavener-Routledge were another famous Liverpool sweet maker - their fruit drops were much loved. They too have disappeared. So - where did they go?

The other lot - Liverpool players Ian Callaghan, Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott and John Toshack check out the lollipops during a state visit to Taverner's factory in Edge Lane - 1970s
Very complicated - a succession of local dinosaurs ate each other until big national dinosaurs came on the scene and ate everybody in sight. Barker & Dobson at various times owned the rights to Vicks (cough sweets?) and Victory V lozenges (which were addictive, since the recipe contained chloroform - no, really - which had to be changed, of course). B&D were subsequently bought by a Blackpool firm named Tangerine (not another football reference?), and later the whole lot was bought out by Bassett's.

When I was at university, I shared digs for a while with a guy who was addicted to these things. He used to get through a pack in an evening, which made him a dangerous man to be near. He lived to become a chemistry professor, but frankly it's a wonder he never exploded.
You can still buy Everton Mints - these days they are branded as Bassett's, but I don't think this is quite the same Bassett's who used to make Liquorice Allsorts and jelly babies in my youth. Bassett's now is just one of a series of long-established brands acquired by the Cadbury group. They are most certainly not in Everton!

Only thing I don't understand now is that there seems to have been a brand of toffee called "Molly Bushell's" marketed in Australia in fairly recent times. If this is nonsense, and something I misunderstood, then apologies - it won't be the first time. 

Just a coincidence? Was Molly transported to Oz for damaging people's teeth? Any ideas?

Friday, 24 May 2019

Hooptedoodle #333 - Fake News

I thought it would be best to put this note out now, to avoid any baseless rumours.

I have come under some pressure recently to put myself forward as a prospective leader of the Conservative Party - it was even suggested that it might be expected of me. I have thought about it long and hard for at least seven minutes, and I regret to say that I shall not be doing this; I do not wish to disappoint anyone, but I think it is only right and proper to be straightforward about the matter.

(1) I have become alarmed at what I can only see as falling standards of behaviour in the House of Commons. I have to assume that the emergence of a reality-TV celebrity as President of the US has triggered an appetite for the proceedings of the British Parliament to be converted into a reality-TV show in its own right. Whatever, I feel I might find the working environment to be insufficiently dignified. Call me old-fashioned if you wish.

(2) I fear that my Thursday bridge evenings would cause something of a clash with the requirements of the job, and I could not live with myself if I did not give the thing my full attention.

(3) The timescale is very short - there is not enough time for a proper lobotomy, even a private one.

(4) I have some difficulty with the idea that the internal squabbles of the Party are somehow more important than the fate of the nation. I accept that the problem appears to be my own, but, again, I would find this a distraction.

Thus - with all due thanks and sincere appreciation to those who have encouraged me to stand for election, I confirm that I shall not be doing so. I am confident that whoever does get the job will do at least as well in the role as I could have done, so I extend to them my best wishes.

If anyone feels the wish to suggest some suitable candidates, I would be delighted to hear from them.   

Sunday, 19 May 2019

French Refurb Project - Yet Another Sanity Check on Scales

I have had some problems getting hold of command figures - especially drummers - to plug the gaps in my refurbished French infantry units. Once again, I find myself trawling around ancient blog posts and forum threads, reading old debates about whether figures from Maker A are compatible with those from Maker B. My perception is complicated somewhat by the fact that individual models from the same manufacturer can vary a bit in scale, by the fact that I frequently disagree with the views expressed in the discussions and by the fact that I tend to forget whatever it was I decided last time.

Round and round we go. I had a couple of email exchanges recently which suggested that, despite my previous investigations, Newline might be OK with Hinton Hunt/Der Kriegsspieler-sized troops after all - especially since I could claim that the drummers were mere lads. I have found old discussions in which some worthy swore blind that Newline were a good match with HaT plastics, and they used them all the time, and so on.

My armies are (unofficially) 20mm or "true" 25mm (an old-fashioned term which is no more helpful than more recent ones). I look for figures which are 21 to 23mm soles to eye, which have hats and equipment which look about  the same - thus 1/72 should fit nicely, though some 1/72 figures don't seem right to me in this context. The important thing is that I should think they look correct - it is my game, after all.

Anyway, I thought I would go around this loop again, and I ordered in some Newline samples (last time was maybe 6 years ago, I think), to see if I have changed my mind, or if recent developments with the Higgs boson particle have somehow changed the size of the millimetre.

Once again, I have produced one of my occasional strange green photos, just to give myself some evidence next time I become confused about this, and to confirm the Groundhog Day nature of these continuing investigations.

You will observe that Newline are quite a bit smaller than all the other figures illustrated. Apart from Newline, these figures all group nicely around the 22-23mm soles-to-eyes mark (the little squares on the cutting mat are 5mm) - the Newlines are a lot smaller. I might just about persuade myself that a very small Newline drummer boy might fit with my Der Kriegsspieler repaints (which, though not included, are the same as Hinton Hunt), but I might have to be pretty desperate to believe it.

So - in case I forget again - here you have it. Newline figures are too small for my armies, though of course they would be perfectly lovely in someone else's Newline army. Oh - and the Hat soldier has a small head. Just saying.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Bavarians - Quick Succession

Yesterday I finished off a second Bavarian artillery unit, within a day or so of the first - clearly Bavarian artillery batteries, in the time-honoured traditions of the No.27 bus, travel around in widely-spaced pairs.

Kennington gunners, Franznap guns - Hauptmann Peters' battery
All ready to keep the Austrians off our terrace
Extra picture, included for anyone who is enthusiastic about waste-management systems
I'm pleased with this. This is a battery of Fuss-Artillerie, that of Hauptmann Peters, according to my official OOB, and they are equipped with a 12pdr and a howitzer. The figure castings are Kennington, and instantly recognisable as such, and the ordnance, as with the previous unit, are splendid little pieces by Franznap - correct Manson pattern and everything. I painted these chaps myself, as you may be able to tell (!). Kennington figures are businesslike and cheerful - this lot show a good attitude, though I am not sure about the officer. It could be that he is disappointed to find that he has been drafted into the artillery, since he had been intended for the infantry for a while, but he looks rugged enough. What's all this shouldered-sabre stuff, though? Is he intending to add some emphasis to his commands to the gunners, is he just posturing, or is he preparing for the enemy cavalry to come too close for canister shot?

In passing, I have read recently that Peter at SHQ, who sadly has some major health problems, is proposing to cut down his activities to concentrate on the core WW2 ranges, so the 20mm Kennington Napoleonics and ECW figures will be looking for a new owner. I certainly hope that goes well. Kennington figures are rather taken for granted, and seldom eulogised, in my experience, but they are good little sculpts, for the most part, they are cheaply and readily available (they have been absolutely invaluable to me in my constant search for 20mm figures over the last 15 years or so) and Peter and his colleagues offer a quick, friendly service. If they become unavailable - and I certainly hope they do not - I think we would (yet again) come to realise what we have lost. A familiar story?

Topic 2 - adventures with highwaymen

This one may ramble about a bit. Recently, Prof De Vries noted my references to Bob the Postie (our mailman), and wondered what had happened to Jamie the Postie - was he all right? Had he moved on to better things?

That's easily answered. Bob the Postie is, in fact, one and the same bloke as Jamie; he now wishes to be called Bob. No idea why - none of my business - perhaps his name is Jamie-Bob - who knows? We have known Bob for a long time now - when we first knew him (as Jamie) he must have been about 20, I guess. He did once blot his copybook by crashing into my wife's car, but that was a long time ago now, and we are friends again. He is cheerful, and reliable, and a good guy to have on our side.

Yesterday lunchtime I did remarkably well on the mailing front. The Bold Bob brought me packages from Uncle Tony Barr at ERM (who had performed heroics, despite the flu, in making me some custom-sized MDF bases, cut from his last-ever sheet of 3mm) and from Wonderland (the Edinburgh model-shop, who got some paint to me within 12 hours of my having ordered it online). The direct result of this fine service is that I managed to complete the Bavarian battery featured in the first part of this post. Really can't complain at all about that.

Less happily, I now realise that my shipment of posh new paint brushes from Cass Art has been committed to the tender mercies of Hermes, the infamous courier. Every day I am invited to refer to the continuing online tracking record for my parcel, which is, as usual, bullshit.

Let me say right away that I realise that the individual delivery drivers who work for Hermes are all self-employed, and the job must be a nightmare, so I am not completely unsympathetic, but our situation here does not lend itself well to operators like Hermes. I live on a farm, in a rural area. In the time it takes to drive a couple of miles out here with my single parcel, the driver can earn far more by delivering a cluster of packages to a larger village, so we tend to get bounced off the end of the day's job list.

Cass Art were prompt, and courteous, and informed me very quickly and correctly when they sent my order out. The downside is the appearance of the word "Hermes" in the detail. Hermes offer a comprehensive tracking service, and their drivers are equipped with a terminal (smart phone?) so they can update the records in real time. Out here in the sticks, that is just an irritant. There is much reference to "attempted delivery", or to people not being at home. On occasions we have stayed in specially to receive a parcel - often, I suspect, the driver has no intention whatsoever of coming around here, he simply enters junk into the system to keep the courier firm off his back. Our current record is about 1 week elapsed, when Hermes promised (and failed) every day to deliver some clothes my wife purchased from a well-known online shop (no - not that one). Every day there was a new line added to the story, and all of it was untrue.

A work of fiction - this is the eBook version, of course. The driver has never been near my house, nor has he had any such intention, I guess
Of course, this is not really a big problem at all. If Cass Art had said to me "we'll try to get your parcel to you sometime next week" I wouldn't have batted an eyelid, but if someone from Hermes tells me a lie every day about how he has bravely been defeated in his attempt to reach my house, or how I failed to be in (although I have supplied safe-place instructions to the seller and I can see the complete length of the lane from the Real World from my windows) then that is just silly. We never see the Hermes drivers, by the way. If and when they ever get as far as our door, by the time we answer the doorbell the driver is gone - there is just a package on the doorstep. They can't spare the time.

This means, of course, that if we happen to be on holiday in Florida and it is monsoon season here, my parcel of (say) expensive books will lie there undisturbed, unless Bob the Postie very kindly puts it safely in the woodshed.

The pros and cons of the "gig" economy. Discuss.


Thursday, 9 May 2019

Bavarians - Light Artillery

Thanks to some splendid paintwork, very kindly carried out by Count Goya, the first artillery presence in my Bavarian 3rd Division is now ready for action. This is a battery of Leichte Artillerie, commanded, I believe, by Hauptmann Tausch.

The figure castings are by Franznap, as are the guns, which are Manson pattern 6pdrs (the gun masters were produced by 3D printing, I understand).

Some foot artillery are also coming along - currently they're on the bottletops. After them, I have to complete a regiment of dragoons and add a few staff and that is the 3rd Division complete - limber teams and a Wurstwagen will follow on after a respectable interval.

Monday, 6 May 2019

A Fool and His Money - a Brush with Disaster

Since I was getting some hobby-type odds and ends from Amazon, it seemed a reasonable idea to get some cheapo brushes while I was at it. A lot of my brushes are coming to the end of their useful careers, so it does no harm to stock up a bit.

I've moaned about this before, but I have a very frustrating personal history with brushes. On occasions I have treated myself to something really expensive, and have usually been disappointed. Some of the best brushes I ever had were second-quality bin ends from Hobbycraft - very unpredictable. Eventually I get to a position where I have a jam jar full of scruffy wrecks, plus a couple of remaining brushes that will still form a decent point, and then one night I lose a bristle or two, and things start to get a bit tense!

I've been reading some forum or other where the dudes were discussing which budget-priced modelling brushes in the UK were good, reliable value for money. Based on this, I added a couple of packs of Humbrol Palpo brushes to my Amazon order. Sable hair, one each of sizes 000, 0, 2 and 4, about £8.50 or so for a pack of 4 brushes.
Old, scruffy brushes are always a nuisance, right? The joke is that these are the new, unused ones - admittedly before I tried to train and clean them a bit - but they were no better afterwards
Humbrol "Palpo" brushes, made in China - marketed by Hornby Hobbies (once of Binns Road, Liverpool). Unspeakable rubbish
A last look. It would be infantile to put them straight in the bucket, but this evening I have been painting with my old brushes. I can feel the donkey's ears growing out of my head
They arrived. I think the only relevant word I can think of is "crap". I've had a go with very hot water and the posh brush cleaner, and the only difference is they are probably slightly cleaner crap now.

Very uneven mixture of bristles, trimmed to length with a hatchet, apparently, lumps of dressing on the ends of the tufts. No likelihood of a passable point. I am disgusted.

Don't ever be tempted to buy any of these, chaps.

***** Late Edit *****

This follows on from some of the comments. Here are a couple of real veterans. When I was clearing out my parents' house, a few years ago, I came across a lot of my father's old painting equipment. Back in the 1970s he did a lot of hobby painting. He was a very fair watercolourist - a bit photographic for my taste, but pretty good in a draughtsman-like way. He also tried his hand at oils. I found masses of spoiled tubes of paint, and a lot of old brushes. Most of the brushes disintegrated when I checked them - the hair had perished and broken. Amazingly, though, some of them were OK.

I found quite a few of these - they had been used, but not much, so I acquired them for my soldier painting. These are Winsor & Newton, as you see (I've included one side of each brush in the picture - they were all marked like this on the two sides. They are also, I'm faintly embarrassed to observe, stamped by HM Stationery Office in 1966, so I guess my dad liberated them from the office stores when he worked for HM Government.  

The big fellow is worn down - evidence of my dry-brushing resin thatched roofs? The No.1 has probably slimmed down a bit, but is still one of my in-use brushes. Now, I'm not saying these have been used continuously since 1966 - clearly that's not so - but they have been used regularly by me in the last couple of years and there is no sign of degradation of the sable since manufacture 53 years ago.