Sunday, 27 May 2018

Inevitable downsizing

I am reaching the stage where I have almost run out of room to store my books and wargames stuff. As a result I am giving serious thought to downsizing my collections. (This is likely to be necessary in the near future anyway, as my wife and I are thinking about moving to a smaller house or bungalow outside London, possibly on the Kent coast.)

I am beginning with my collection of books, and I have already identified some that either duplicate what others cover or which are about topics that no longer interest me. Once this has been done, I will think about disposing of them. If possible, I might sell them on eBay or to a dealer; if not, I might just list them somewhere on my blog so that regular readers can identify any that they might want to take off my hands for the cost of postage and packing ... and a small donation to my moving fund.

Once that has been done, I will move on to my wargame collections. I know that I am very unlikely to use some of them in the foreseeable future, and disposing of them makes sense. Like the books, this might be done using eBay or using less formal channels.

I have no idea how long this process is going to take (weeks, if not months is a reasonable estimation) but I will keep my regular blog readers apprised of my progress.

I did read an very helpful article about how to downsize ones library. The rules were quite simple:
  • Get rid of it if it's falling apart
  • Get rid of it if it was a gift, and you are only keeping it out of guilt
  • Get rid of it if it's a school or college textbook ... and you are no longer at school or college
  • Get rid of it if you’ve read it — and you didn’t like it!
  • Get rid of it if you’ve had it for more than two years and you haven’t read it
  • Get rid of it if you have more than one copy
Sound advice ... just as long as I can keep to it.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Updated Publications page

As I have another two books in the last stages of publication (THE MADASAHATTA CAMPAIGN and GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES) I decided to update the Publications page on my blog.

The list of books is now split under several headings:
  • Wargaming Books
  • Military History Books
  • Masonic History Books
  • Fiction
Below an image of each book's cover are the prices at which the various editions (hardback, paperback, or eBook) are currently on sale via Lulu.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Is GDPR affecting comments?

The General Data Protection Regulations came into force today ... and email copies of comments made on my blog are no longer being sent to my email account.

Are the two events related? I'm not sure, and I'm looking into it. In the meantime, if regular blog readers write comments and I don't reply within a day or two, please be patient. I'll answer comments as soon as I can.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Doing a load of admin tasks for Wargame Developments

Besides everything else I have been doing over the past few days, I seem to have spent quite some time doing admin tasks on behalf of Wargame Developments.

As is normal at this time of year, I am chasing up members who have booked places at COW (the Conference of Wargamers) but have yet to pay in full. I need to do this about four weeks before the date of the conference so that I can pay the cost of booking Knuston Hall for the weekend. On top of this I am having to try to cope with the new General Date Protection Regulations (GDPR) that comes into force tomorrow.

As the Treasurer and Membership Secretary (and now Data Manager and possibly the Data Protection Officer as well!), I hold the group's database in a computer file, and the situation would be very simple if we just published THE NUGGET and did nothing else. The data would fall under the category of data that does not require specific consent for me to hold as it is merely a subscription list. However, because we run COW and must share that data with a third party for Health and Safety reasons – in this case Knuston Hall – and because any member of Wargame Developments can book and attend, it was easier to ask for positive consent from every member of Wargame Developments to hold and share that data in accordance with a written policy ... which I also had to write! (This involved reading the new Regulations which are – in my opinion – very badly drafted and seem to contradict themselves in places.)

The statements of positive consent have been coming in, and each one has to be recorded and stored so I can show that consent has been given by each individual member. The Data Protection Policy has been written and is about to be published online and in the next copy of THE NUGGET ... and as far as I can see, everything is compliant with the new Regulations. This probably puts us ahead of many organisations, some of whom have had teams of people working on this for some time.

As far as I am concerned it has all been very time-consuming, and I can hardly wait to get back to something approaching normality ... such as finishing the final stages of publishing my next couple of books.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Other people's Portable Wargames ... at the Victorian Military Society's recent seminar

Last Saturday was a very important day (and I am not referring to the Royal Wedding or the FA Cup Final!) as it was the date of the Victorian Military Society's Seminar: INVASIONS SCARES AND THE 'BATTLE OF DORKING'.

Unfortunately, I was unable to go, but I understand that during the lunch break, the Battle of Dorking was re-fought using 15mm figures, my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, and a purpose-built terrain board. I have seen some photographs of both the figures and the terrain, and it all looked very, very impressive. These can be seen on the Society’s Facebook page.

I hope that more information about the game will become available in the fullness of time as it is exactly the sort of wargame I envisaged being fought using my rules.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A busy couple of days ahead

I have a busy couple of days ahead of me.

One of the people proof reading my gridded naval wargames book has sent me several pages of notes that I need to go through in detail so that I can correct the mistakes he has found. (The mistakes are mainly typos and sentences with mixed tenses.) I will then send him back the corrected proof so that he can do one final check before I have some proof copies of the book printed.

I also have to attend two Masonic meetings, one in London (this afternoon) and the other in St Albans (on Tuesday). The London meeting is a Third Degree ceremony, but due to the sudden and unexpected death of a senior member of the Lodge, I fully expect to be asked to take an active part in the ritual rather than sit on the sidelines as a spectator. The Tuesday meeting is the Installation of a new Worshipful Master into the chair of his Mother Lodge, and he invited me some time ago as he serves as the Inner Guard of the Hertfordshire research Lodge of which I am currently Worshipful Master.

In addition to all of this I am also trying to ensure that Wargame Developments (of which I am the Treasurer/Membership Secretary) is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations by the deadline ... which is in four day's time.

Have I taken things easy since I retired? I don't think so!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Designing my latest book's cover

Besides having a bit of a tidy up of the detritus that seems to have accumulated of late in my toy/wargames room, I spent part of yesterday afternoon designing the cover for my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames. I chose a navy blue colour for the cover and an image taken from one of my Zubian mini-campaign battles. The result looks like this:

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Today I am mostly ... having a rest from writing and trying to avoid watching the TV

Be warned ... the following blog entry might appear to be rather whinging in content and express views that some people of a certain disposition (or dispositions) might find offensive ... or even boring!

Within about ten minutes of waking up this morning I realised that I didn't have any work to do on my latest book. The draft text has gone off to my proof readers, I have already selected the photograph I want to use on the book's cover, and the book's blurb is ready. I am not yet in the mood to start my next writing project (it will be about the members of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge who served during the First World War) and I just want to spend the day doing very little. Unfortunately for me this has happened on the day of a royal wedding and the Football Association Cup Final, which means that chilling out in front of the TV is going to be a bit of a problem.

Before I get accused by my wife and others of being a GOM (Grumpy Old Man), I would like to state that I have nothing against either Prince Harry or Meghan Markle, both of whom I am sure are nice young people, and I wish them a happy married life. I am glad that I live in a constitutional monarchy rather than an elected one (I have yet to see a republic where the President is not an elected monarch ... some of whom have been 'elected' by a very small electorate indeed!) and I think that the majority of the Royal Family perform useful roles and help to boost the country's tourist trade enormously.

What does annoy me about today's royal wedding is the media hype and coverage that we have had to endure over the past few months, and particularly the last few days. It will culminate in what looks like blanket TV coverage on all the major channels, starting at around 9.00am and continuing for most of the morning and afternoon ... and followed by edited highlights this evening. I may well watch the actual ceremony, and possibly the procession to and from St George's Chapel, but do I really need to listen to all the 'talking heads' and interviews with people who are going to be in Windsor etc.?

Once the wedding is over, the TV coverage seems to be switching over to the next great 'event' of the day ... the FA Cup Final. I used to follow football, but once big money got involved in the 'sport', I lost interest. Everything seemed to become a version of Moneybags United vs. Bigwallet City, where success appeared to be due to how much a team could spend 'buying' the 'best' players from around the world rather than nurturing local talent. The players and managers became 'celebrities' whose every action and opinion (or lack of opinion) was deemed worth of media coverage, and whose employment and importance seemed transitory at best.

Luckily I do have a few DVDs and the Talking Pictures Channel I could watch (the Talking Pictures Channel is owned by the British Film Institute and features lots of old black and white films from my youth and even earlier), and my wife has already intimated that there are several programmes on the Drama Channel she would like to see, so things might not be so bad after all ... and if I cannot chill out that way, there is always the possibility of fighting a wargame.

Things are already looking better ...

Friday, 18 May 2018

And now my work is almost done ...

Wednesday was a rather busy day for me. I was trying to get more work done on my book about gridded naval wargames as well prepare for an important Masonic meeting. (We were installing a new Worshipful Master into the Chair of my Mother Lodge, and as one of the older and more experienced Brethren, I was expected to perform certain parts of the ritual … including singing the Master’s Song!) As a result, the last chapter of the book – which is an explanatory battle report – remained incomplete until yesterday.

The chapter is now finished, and although I won’t spoil matters by telling my regular blog readers the result, I can say the Mimi and Toutou did go forth with a degree of success.

SMS Kingani under attack by HMS Mimi. By attacking from astern, HMS Mimi is outside the limited arc-of-fire of SMS Kingani's 6-pounder gun.
All I have to do now is to finish adding books to the bibliography before doing a grammar and spelling check. I’ll then do a final read-through myself before sending copies of the text to my trusty team of proof readers. With luck they will get back to me within a fortnight, and then I can proceed to make any necessary corrections before I have the proof copies printed. Once that is done and final checks are made, the book will be published … and then I can move onto my next project!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Mimi, Toutou, and Kingani

I am about to start writing what I think will be the last chapter of my book about gridded naval wargames, and it will feature an explanatory battle report about the fight between the British gunboats Mimi and Toutou and their German opponent, Kingani.

The models I am using are approximately 1:600th-scale and were built from various bits and pieces I had in my spares box; in other words, some spare ships' boats and light guns from Airfix warship kits. For ease of handling they were stuck on pieces of Plasticard and labelled. They are not the most beautiful models I have every built, but they serve me well enough in several tabletop battles.




The story of how Mimi and Toutou got to a lake in the centre of Africa is an epic tale that inspired C S Forester to write THE AFRICAN QUEEN and would make a wonderful film.