Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday 31 March 2019

Acting Up - Dressing Up?

A colonel - dressed as regulations
This is probably going to be rather a stupid post - which is not unusual in itself - but it comes from something which a friend told me years ago, which at the time I dismissed as probably incorrect, but I thought I would return to the topic again, in case anyone can offer some thoughts.

The context, all those years ago, was exactly the same as it is now. My long standing fascination with the Battle of Salamanca has been the great underlying theme for the building of my wargames armies. The first useful book I had on the subject, back in the 1970s, was Lawford and Young's Wellington's Masterpiece - much criticised subsequently, but still an excellent read if you can find a copy.

In the Appendix which gives the breakdown of the French army, a number of question marks appear as brigade commanders, since these brigades were commanded on the day by the senior colonel, the general being otherwise occupied - examples are:

(a) the 2nd Brigade of 7th Division - this would normally have been GdB Thomières' brigade, but Thomières was in temporary command of the Division, since GdD Souham was elsewhere. Thomières had an exceptionally trying day at Salamanca, and was mortally wounded. [Under the general heading of "what if?"- if Souham had been present he would have been by far the most senior of Marmont's division commanders, so he would have been the correct 2-i-C to take command when Marmont was wounded, which - of course - wouldn't have happened because Marmont would not have had to get on his horse to ride over to see where the blazes Thomières thought he was marching off to.]

Anyway, the point is that Lawford and Young's question mark in this case should have explained that the commander for the day was Col. d'Herbez-Latour of the 101eme Ligne.

(b) The 1st Brigade of Pierre Boyer's Dragoon Division - the question mark in this case is Colonel Piquet, of the 6eme Dragons - a right old firebrand.

The Appendix in the book should also have had a couple more question marks, to be pedantic about it:

(c) GdB Carrié [de Boissy] of the 2nd Brigade of this same Dragoon Division was not present - he had been seriously wounded four days before Salamanca, and was a prisoner - he spent the rest of the war in Bridgenorth, Shropshire, apparently. On 22nd July the Brigade Carrié was commanded by Col. Boudinhon-Valdec of 15eme Dragons.

(d) GdD Brenier (6th Division) was not present at Salamanca - his place at the head of the Division was taken by GdB Taupin, whose brigade was probably commanded by the colonel of the 65eme Ligne.

And so on - the point (which, predictably, I have made at excessive length) is that this was a commonplace event - regimental officers would regularly be found acting up to replace more senior officers who were absent.

Going back many years, a friend of mine once showed me a picture of a French Napoleonic colonel, who appeared to be wearing some kind of sash - my friend reckoned that if the colonel was required to take charge of a brigade he would be provided with a sash as a badge of office.

Personally, I find that unlikely - officers in the French army gained a general's sash by putting their lives on the line and distinguishing themselves in action for years - such things would not be handed out on loan, surely. What about the brigade staff, though? - if this was a temporary situation, one would expect the brigade staff to be available to support the colonel. Presumably the ADCs would just wear the armbands appropriate to the rank of their usual boss?

Not a matter of any importance, but in the near future I need to paint up a couple of colonels to take charge of brigades (round about the time of the Battle of Salamanca, as it happens). I can just paint up a vanilla colonel, of course, but if there should be some identifying tweak of uniform I'd be pleased to reproduce it.

Friday 29 March 2019

Hooptedoodle #328

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

To balance things a bit, my compliments to the BBC, for the most relaxing report on B****t I've seen so far - please enjoy...


Saturday 23 March 2019

Hooptedoodle #327 - The Inevitable Herring

Something has been niggling me this last couple of weeks. Something not quite remembered, but somehow familiar, if I could just put my finger on it.

I finally remembered a few days ago. In about 1970 I saw a film, Spring and Port Wine, which starred James Mason - good film, in fact - of its time. A gritty domestic comedy set in Bolton (Lancashire, industrial North West of England), written by the excellent Bill Naughton. [It is interesting to recall, in passing, that James Mason was born in Huddersfield, so, even though he was always Rommel really, he did have some credentials for a provincial role.]

Anyway - Mason plays a well-intentioned but domineering father - very heavy - and things come to a bit of a head when his teenage daughter (played by Susan George) turns up her nose one evening at the herring which is served up for her tea. With much preaching about how lucky she is to have a herring at all, and how many people would be delighted to have such a herring, the father decrees that it will be served up again tomorrow, and the next day - there will be no choice. The damned herring will appear daily (presumably) until she eats it.

Any bells ringing? At the time, we all thought the father was a bit pig-headed, but what did we know? Nowadays, this would be regarded as a valid negotiation, apparently. You will be offered the same fish every day until you realise how wrong you have been to refuse it, or until the alternatives become so unbearably awful that you change your mind.

I can't remember how the story line developed - must watch it again - I can't recall if there was a backstop Plan B to cover the possibility that she never ate it. Presumably the father knew he was right, and that right would prevail. Strength and stability.

Must try and get hold of the film - I need to remind myself what happened...  

***** (Very) Late Edit ***** 

OK - OK - a number of people sent me chasers - it seems that they, too want to know what happened in the end. Very sketchy synopsis follows.

Things become more tense, the herring disappears, mysteriously, both daughters leave home (the younger one, she with the herring problem, turns out to be pregnant). The mother pawns the father's best overcoat to get some cash for the younger daughter, the father finds out, goes ballistic and the mother moves out too.

Not before time, the father has some kind of inspirational moment, and he determines to change - he realises that his family are far more important than his principles. The film ends before he makes much progress, but we can see where he's headed.

As for the herring, it seems likely that the kid brother gave it to the cat. At this point, I'm struggling to sustain the extended analogy, so let's drop the matter and get back to the bunker.


Wednesday 20 March 2019

French Refurb project - Fettling & Filing

I'm trying to speed up progress with getting my various heaps of French infantry refurbed. I'll use a painting service to help with this, since otherwise I am likely to be outfaced by the size of the task, and to hide in a corner somewhere and wait for it to go away.

Not suitable for children under 3 years old.
As a background job I work away on restoring the pre-painted rank and file, but progress has been disappointing lately - it would give me a big lift to get some of this stuff finished and in The Cupboard - it would also ease some of my storage problems.

Over the last few years I've accumulated yet another pile of pre-owned French infantry - mostly Les Higgins and Der Kriegsspieler, but some Hinton Hunts and other things too. I've now organised my ideas on this lot so that I'm aiming at a definite number of battalions - I have mentioned this number to friends, and the reaction is usually rather uneasy laughter, so I shan't mention it today. The big shortfall is in command figures and Higgins flank company chaps. For the HH and DK battalions I have some suitable command figures already in the spares box, but it's mostly going to be SHQ/Kennington to fill the gaps; for the Higgins battalions I have a decent number of the Higgins officers (all standing pointing, foot on a mole-hill), and will make up the shortfall with Art Miniaturen, Qualiticast and also Schilling, who make some very nice voltigeur/grenadier figures which are a nice match for Higgins.

I'm scratching away at a first shipment to go to the painter - command figures for light infantry and line infantry. As long as there's plenty of decent music and coffee, time spent grinding off spare metal and stabbing myself with needle files is not as bad as I think it's going to be - and it will be a relief to get stuff away to the painter. First package should go away at the end of this week - probably about 4 dozen castings, counting a mounted colonel as 2.

Hi ho! Ouch.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Hooptedoodle #326 - Missing Pips - Today's Pointless Conundrum

This is a puzzle that occurs to me at almost exactly 7am each day. Just how exactly is, I guess, the essence of the puzzle.

I have a digital radio next to my bed (it's actually the one that used to be in the kitchen, until the volume knob became temperamental - you know how it goes). At 6am each day it switches on BBC Radio 4 - the "Today" programme on weekdays - so that I may update myself on the latest glories of Brexit and Trump and all the other things which guarantee that I may start my day as depressed as possible. At 7am it switches off - the assumption being that either I'm already up and functioning, or else I have probably had enough delight and happiness for one morning.

The reality, of course, is that I have set the menu on the radio so that BBC R4 will come on at 06:00 and switch off at 07:00. The radio knows what time it is because the exact time is transmitted constantly along with the programme signal - so you would expect that to be pretty accurate. I mean, we are speaking of the speed of light here.

Astonishing, really - in the digital age we just expect everything to be spot on. It's worth remembering that it was only the coming of the railways which necessitated some standardisation of clocks throughout Britain, and, before that, the coming of scheduled stagecoaches was a big push towards standardisation of the calendar - prior to that it didn't matter a huge amount if your village had a different date from the village down the road. Now we have so much accuracy we can't even remember why it's important.

I digressed there - sorry.

The point of my post is that each morning the radio switches itself off just as the "pips" of the time signal are being broadcast. I don't know much about the pips, really, except that they've always been part of listening to the radio - even when it was a wireless. Six pips - 5 short ones and a long one - like this...

Originally, I think these were generated by the Greenwich observatory, but for the past 30 years or so they have just been a service provided by the BBC - they are timed exactly so that the long final pip indicates the start of the next hour.

Here's the 8am signal - impressively accurate
Because my radio is busy switching itself off at just about the time the BBC are broadcasting the 7-o'clock pips, I only hear the start of the sequence - I never hear the sixth pip. OK - we may debate accuracy and stuff like that, but the number of pips I hear before the radio cuts out varies. Yes - that's right - calm yourself now - I don't think it's anything to worry about, but the number of pips I get to hear varies mostly (randomly) between two and four - very rarely five. Never six. The BBC, which ensures accurate precision of the timing of the sixth pip and which broadcasts the time continuously so that my radio knows exactly where we are up to - yes, that BBC - manages to either fool my radio very slightly or get the timing of the audio signal slightly wrong - maybe both - every morning.

A couple of seconds is near enough for me, of course, but I don't really see how this works. Is it possible that there is some buffering or delay in the programme transmission? - I have occasionally noticed that if you switch two DAB radios to the same station they may not be quite in sync - this is especially true, I find, if you listen to the digital radio service on your TV at the same time as the same station is connected via the DAB unit.

Anyone understand how this works? Is it possible that the BBC are going to the trouble of broadcasting an exact time signal which isn't actually accurate by the time it reaches the listener? Imagine the potential chaos - stagecoaches could be crashing into each other at crossroads all over the country.


It'll all end in tears

Anyone know how this works? 

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Hooptedoodle #325 - The Worry of Being British

My wife passed me this - if you have seen it before, apologies. I have no idea where it comes from, but it is of rather higher quality than most similar efforts, and it is so long since any aspect of Britishness made me actually smile that I thought it might be worth sharing.

The theme, of course, is the list of behaviours that being British forces on us - tick them off if they apply, but don't tell anyone what you're doing, naturally...

The Worry of Being British

• Worrying you’ve accidentally packed 3 kilos of cocaine and a dead goat as you stroll through “Nothing to declare”

• Being unable to stand and leave without first saying “right”

• Not hearing someone for the third time, so just laughing and hoping for the best

• Saying “anywhere here’s fine” when the taxi’s directly outside your front door

• Being sure to start touching your bag 15 minutes before your station, so the person in the aisle seat is fully prepared for your exit

• Repeatedly pressing the door button on the train before it’s illuminated, to assure your fellow commuters you have the situation in hand

• Having someone sit next to you on the train, meaning you’ll have to eat your crisps at home

• The huge sense of relief after your perfectly valid train ticket is accepted by the inspector

• The horror of someone you only half know saying: “Oh I’m getting that train too”

• “Sorry, is anyone sitting here?” – Translation: Unless this is a person who looks remarkably like a bag, I suggest you move it

• Loudly tapping your fingers at the cashpoint, to assure the queue that you’ve asked for money and the wait is out of your hands

• Looking away so violently as someone nearby enters their PIN that you accidentally dislocate your neck

• Waiting for permission to leave after paying for something with the exact change

• Saying hello to a friend in the supermarket, then creeping around like a burglar to avoid seeing them again

• Watching with quiet sorrow as you receive a different haircut from the one you requested

• Being unable to pay for something with the exact change without saying “I think that’s right”

• Overtaking someone on foot and having to keep up the uncomfortably fast pace until safely over the horizon

• Being unable to turn and walk in the opposite direction without first taking out your phone and frowning at it

• Deeming it necessary to do a little jog over zebra crossings, while throwing in an apologetic mini wave

• Punishing people who don’t say thank you by saying “you’re welcome” as quietly as possible

• The overwhelming sorrow of finding a cup of tea you forgot about

• Turning down a cup of tea for no reason and instantly knowing you’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake

• Suddenly remembering your tea and necking it like a massive, lukewarm shot

• Realising you’ve got about fifty grand’s worth of plastic bags under your kitchen sink

• “You’ll have to excuse the mess” – Translation: I’ve spent seven hours tidying in preparation for your visit

• Indicating that you want the last roast potato by trying to force everyone else to take it

• “I’m off to bed” – Translation: “I’m off to stare at my phone in another part of the house”

• Mishearing somebody’s name on the second time of asking, meaning you must now avoid them forever

• Leaving it too late to correct someone, meaning you must live with your new name forever

• Running out of ways to say thanks when a succession of doors are held for you, having already deployed ‘cheers’, ‘ta’ and ‘nice one’

• Changing from ‘kind regards’ to just ‘regards’, to indicate that you’re rapidly reaching the end of your tether

• Staring at your phone in silent horror until the unknown number stops ringing

• Hearing a recording of your own voice and deciding it’s perhaps best never to speak again

• The relief when someone doesn’t answer their phone within three rings and you can hang up

• Filming an entire fireworks display on your phone, knowing full well you’ll never, ever watch it again

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

Interesting - my unofficial publicist, Tango01, the famed international masturbator and creep, saw fit to share this post with the infinite number of monkeys which constitutes PMT. I think the joke - unpretentious as it is - was probably worth sharing. 

The majority of them are American, of course, and missed the point in grand style. Much half-remembered WW2 mythology about what the US and British may have said (or believed?) about each other. I'm always pleased to welcome visitors from PMT, naturally, but it surprises me that, since they are the coolest dudes on the planet, visitors from these lofty heights never deign to leave a comment, or say hello - they simply go back to giggling behind the bikesheds amongst themselves. Yes it is depressing, but rock on anyway, Tango. Maybe your head will get better one day.


Sunday 3 March 2019

Albuera #2 - Game Report

Quite so - Ian Fletcher's book was available - we had the cheap, ex car-boot sale version, without pictures or maps...
Well, the game was duly played yesterday, and it was a belter. A lot of the fun, of course, comes from the excellent company, but a lot of things worked out really well. I was much happier with the amended rules, the game was very exciting and really could have gone either way - there was a lot of counter-attacking and a determined late attempt by the Allies to lose when it seemed certain they would win.

We considered a couple of alternative line-ups, but eventually decided to do without an umpire, and Goya and I jointly commanded the Allies (who won, in case I omit to mention it, though the committee approach to leadership is something I may come back to in the afterthoughts); Stryker played the part of Marshal Soult, with characteristic flair though, it has to be said, possibly with less than his usual streaky good fortune with the combat dice.

We used the latest update to my Ramekin modified version of C&CN. All worked well - we fought a battle involving something like 60 units to completion in about 4 hours - again, a large part of this is due to the enthusiasm and good humour of my guests (for which thanks, gentlemen).

As in the previous attempt at this battle in November, the armies were not far off the historical strength, though I'd set it up so that the number of actual units was understated - i.e. we fought the game with a slightly reduced number of overstrength units, which works better with the rules and the space available on the table.

We decided that 12 Victory Points would win the game. The scenario is not the official one - it is similar, but is changed quite a bit to try to get closer to the original battle. There were bonus VPs available for possession of each of the two hexes of the town of Albuera itself - since the opening position has Karl Alten's KGL light brigade firmly installed in the town, that gets the Allies off to a flying start - 2-nil just for turning up!

The French have rather outsmarted Beresford at the start - Beresford has set his army up (mostly the day before) to defend the town and the river crossing. Many of his Spanish troops are elsewhere (as are most of his Portuguese - it's very complicated...), but he has Zayas' Spanish infantry stuck out on the right flank. Soult duly turns up and attacks the town with Godinot's independent brigade, as expected, but the bulk of the army crosses the river some distance from the town and swings left to attack the Spanish infantry. The game starts as Beresford has started to shift Stewart's and Cole's British Divisions to his right to support Zayas.

I hope that some sort of narrative can be pieced together from the captions to the photos. A quick summary (spoiler?) to start off? All right then.

Soult began with an attack on the Spanish line, using Girard's Division, supported by Gazan's - both of these divisions were smaller than the independent brigades of Godinot and Werle, which were on the right and in the centre respectively.  The Spaniards fought well enough, but as casualties mounted the inevitable came about, and the double-retreat rule for Spanish regulars did a lot of damage. The Allied line was pushed back, but the British infantry plugged the gaps, and eventually Girard ran out of steam.

Later in the day, Soult directed Godinot to attack the town, and it was partly taken - it was a struggle, and the KGL boys did not have a particularly good day. This became particularly tense - as the portion of the town next to the bridge changed hands, the VP tally swung back and forward. At one point the Allies were leading 8-4, then it came back to 10-9, then 10 all and eventually the Allies won 13-10, but it really could have gone either way.

Another sub-plot emerged towards the end, when the French (in a desperate attempt to sneak a few VP's!) brought up their cavalry on their left flank. They quickly disposed of the Spanish light cavalry (I apologise to any Spanish sympathists for this evident theme of the day - just the way the game worked out) but then were very badly handled by the British horse. I still don't understand this - the French should have won the cavalry action very easily - they had more units (5 vs the Allies' 4) and they were stronger (each unit 4 bases cf the Allies' 3). I guess the dice decided the day. Standout performance in this area came from the British 5th Dragoon Guards, who distinguished themselves, with support from the 11th Lt Dgns, who were (very surprisingly) temporarily led into action by the Spanish General Zayas, who, having run out of infantry of his own, had to fall back on friends, and obviously decided that this was the day he was going to get his wish to command some cavalry. Quite what the British light dragoons made of this foreign chap getting involved is not recorded.

View from the Allies' left, at the start, with the town in the foreground - Karl Alten's KGL lights are in the town, with the Portuguese of Harvey in support. You can see Zayas' boys in line in the centre of the table, some distance away, facing the main French attack
Harvey sends some of his infantry off to help oppose Werle, in the centre - Arriaga's battery seem to be armed with howitzers, but they were classified as plain Foot Artillery for the day

British infantry moving up to relieve the hard-pressed Spaniards

Hoorah! Just about the oldest man in both armies - the chef de bataillon of the 2/27eme is the last of my original Airfix soldiers from 1971 - I keep him as a reminder of those ecstatic, fevered days, and as an inspiration to his metal men - I always try to capture his rare appearances! 

Godinot's chaps standing by, just in case anyone really wants them to take the town - they were very busy later on! Note that Godinot, who is only a General de Brigade, has the regulation brown border to his base, appropriate to his rank
Zayas' boys taking some heavy punishment from Girard's men - Zayas (of whom more later) is in the foreground with white border, trying to encourage the Guardias Espanolas
The Spanish line is rapidly disappearing - eventually they were left with the remains of two light battalions - those of Campo Mayor and Barbastro - and they were in poor shape. The Brits are coming up behind.
The French have now advanced to the original position of Zayas' line - note that Zayas himself is now in the foreground, having been forced to take shelter with the British 11th Lt Dgns...
View from the Allied right flank at this stage shows that Girard's attack has pushed back the Allied line, but he is running out of men
...and that's another unit gone...

Just an instant captured for posterity - photographing dice rolls is up there with sending someone a selfie of your breakfast, but this is a goodie - this was a volley that one of Girard's fresh infantry battalions received from Stewart's lads - no-one was hurt, but they got a REALLY big fright - enough to send them back 800 paces... 

Not a great picture (bad nervous tremor), but here is a view of the French light cavalry on their left, having just chased away the Spanish light horse. General Latour-Maubourg, with the white border, was the only senior officer casualty by the end of the battle
Zayas (remarkably) brings up the 11th LD to oppose Latour-Maubourg and one of his chasseur regiments...

..on this occasion, the French cavalry had the better of the exchange - the 11LD have withdrawn to get their breath back, while the chasseurs are joined by the Vistula Lancers - the situation of the RHA battery on the hill looks desperate, but miraculously they were rescued, and survived!
Meanwhile, on the other flank, Godinot's boys have broken into the town - more Poles - 4eme Vistule - have taken part of it - the VP scoreboard is starting to swing about!

Back to the horses - with a lot of help from the impressive (and fortunate) 5th Dragoon Guards, Zayas and his chums are now wiping the floor with the remains of the French cavalry - this is where Latour-Maubourg was wounded

Significant moment - with the KGL chaps driven out, a Portuguese battalion hold part of Albuera. At this point, at the start of a turn, the Portuguese only have to march to the far end of the town, leaving behind a "Garrison" marker to claim the 12th VP and win the day - euphoria time...! However, Soult promptly wins the activation roll, and marches his own light infantry back in, which puts paid to the immediate VP objective, and - also - light infantry can fight as soon as they arrive in a town (which line troops can't), and - also - the Portuguese battalion was so battered that it was incapable of doing much about the new arrivals!
Now there's a gap between the armies in the centre - the British line looks firm enough, but the French are very depleted

More expansive view of the same thing

They also serve who only stand around and get wet. After waiting all day for a little action, the Portuguese 11th cavalry (centre foreground) eventually get an order, which is to get out of the way while some manoeuvring goes on to get fresh infantry up to fight for the town. In fact, just to keep them humble, they are required to go and stand in the river, as you see. The struggle for the town was still going on when word came from the cavalry action on the other flank that the Allies had gained a 12th VP, and the game was over.
General Stewart, who is a very old Minifigs chap, gives an inspirational word to some even older Lamming British infantry
And the RHA troop, after a miraculous escape, are still in action at the end

My compliments and sincere thanks, once again, go to Messrs Stryker and Goya for making the trip and contributing so generously to such a splendid day. This was certainly the most entertaining and exciting game I've had here for a while, and there have been some good ones. In passing, there was a noteworthy moment when Goya struck terror into the French commander at lunch, by nonchalantly pouring himself a glass of onion gravy - some kind of warrior tradition, apparently. Scary.

The game went well - very well. I am happy that the revised combat rules now provide a much better balance between the effect of ranged musketry and of melees. I believe that we still need some very minor tweaks to the properties of various unit types and "national characteristics" - in particular, French legere battalions have extra advantages and abilities which are almost certainly not justified for the Peninsular War. I'll have another look at that.

During the game I had occasional concerns that the 2-v-1 line up sometimes meant that Stryker placed his order counters and moved his troops in a businesslike manner, and then had to wait through an extended debate while the Allied command scrabbled for ideas. He was very brave and cheerful about it, and it really isn't a problem, but we should maybe give some gentle thought to re-introducing the timer to put a limit on turn time - we can discuss it, anyway (maybe). Stryker was badly let down by his cavalry - a brave effort to turn the day on both flanks might well have succeeded otherwise. Crap dice will out.

Thanks yet again, chaps!

Friday 1 March 2019

Albuera #2 - Set Up, with a Light Interlude

I've now set up the table for tomorrow's Albuera game. Since the last time I played this (in November) was mostly intended as a test for the rules revisions, I seem to have managed to lose most of the notes I made at the time. As I recall, I produced my own C&CN style scenario, since I had a few issues with the one on the user site. I've now laid out the table by dint of much study of the photos from my blog post in November - plenty of zooming-in and "aha...!". That's a strange thing to do, with hindsight - it's like forensics, with added OCD. I took a lot of trouble to use the same generals and units, but - presumably to keep out the Evil Eye - this time I set out the table rotated 180 degrees. No reason, really.

With everything set up ready, we should get off to a flying start around 11:00 tomorrow, assuming my guests have no adventures with the trains.

These are either Osram bulbs, rated at 2135 lumens, or else they are Phillips bulbs, rated at 1800 or so. Roll the dice, place your bets.
I recently invested in some rather hotter light-bulbs for the overhead lamps for the battlefield [= dining table - Ed]. These are rated at 2135 lumens each, which is about 18% better than our usual bulbs, so two of these about 80cm above the table have helped improve the light levels for photos. As part of the battlefield set-up, I carefully swapped the bulbs, putting in the brighter ones, but when I came to take a picture, I was rather disappointed with the results. Hmmm - could this be simply because there was fairly bright sunlight outside the window, which was confusing the camera? - could it be that these bulbs really aren't as bright as I had thought? - are my eyes getting worse more quickly than I'd hoped? - it couldn't be, I suppose, that bulbs somehow get tired when they've been used a few times?

You will be ahead of me, I'm sure...

I had a sudden thought, and checked the lamps I had removed during the set-up - yes, you're correct. It seems that last time I had a wargame on this table I forgot to change the bulbs back to the standard issue, so when I carefully swapped them yesterday I was putting the dimmer ones in. Fortunately they have the manufacturers' names stencilled on them, so it is an easy thing to check. Idiot.

I am delighted to have another excuse to consult Mike Oliver and Richard Partridge's fine little book about Albuera. A nice piece of work - probably underrated. I got to know Mike a bit when he was bravely trying to be the UK distributor for Falcata Miniaturas, with no help at all from the manufacturers. Nice man - one of the hobby's gentlemen.