(lockdown luxuries: painting 6mm flags)
STUCK AT HOME
When I started this blog 12 years ago (yes, some 420 posts ago, in 2008) it was branded 'on the move' because we were always going places (I thought, in a metaphorical sense as well as travelling around the country and, indeed, the world) ...
In that time, I have reported on wargame events or military history attractions in 62 towns or cities across 6 countries, from here in Northamptonshire to as far afield as Alexandria (VA) in the U.S. By road, by rail, by plane.*
(towns and cities around the world where the Shows North team has raised the ancients banner)
For most of this year, we have gone precisely nowhere. I have painted toy soldiers, refurbished collections, attended meetings by Zoom, played games at home and games by phone. I have researched and written articles and been filmed for TV. But the furthest I have actually gone is the 60 miles to my late parents' house (which we are trying to sell during the current Covid pandemic - and that, as they say, is another story). Wargaming? A little. Representing the Society of Ancients? Scarcely any options. On the move? No.
The furthest afield in the lifetime of the blog has been the World Wargames event in Alexandria (VA). We all played FoG ancients and went to Washington on Memorial Day for a day out. I played with the full sized version of my Italian Condotta (Hawkwood) army, and renewed friendships from a previous wargame trip to New Orleans.
(far from home: the view from our room at the Alexandria World Wargames venue hotel)
(far from home: Italians on the Move ... Sir John Hawkwood takes on all comers in Virginia)
The first city we reported from was nearer to home: Sheffield, back when Triples (now itself a piece of history, perhaps?) was at its traditional venue, the Octagon. We were downstairs in the student bar supporting the DBA Northern Cup. Ironically, the last event we attended before lockdown was also the Northern Cup (now, of course, securely berthed in Newark at Hammerhead).
(Sheffield Triples 2008: first blog 'on the road' for AoM - Shows North)
In the picture, you can see a 'two board' set up for a DBA version of the 1356 battle of Poitiers (which was promoting that year's SoA BattleDay). Again, something which remains part of our formula.
The most 'tagged' event over the 12 years has been Partizan, but it does get extra hits as there are two Partizan events per year, these days. Second - and, therefore probably the single most reported trip for us - is Salute. My very first stint on the Society stand was at Salute, when it was at Kensington Town Hall ** and I think I have not missed one since (although I have variously represented Wargame Developments, Lance and Longbow and the Pike and Shot Society depending on who might be short of volunteers).
(most tagged show: Partizan ... here, at Kelham Hall in 2008 with that Poitiers game, now on the prototype of my trademark folding (pasting table) battlefield) ...
(Edgcote 1469: how the pasting table battlefields look today!)
So I think Salute is the most reported single show on our travels ... here we are back in 2008 again, and Salute had recently moved to Docklands ...
When will we be back out on the road again? I don't know. I am still holding out hope for the Society Conference at the end of October, otherwise most of the Autumn shows have already been cancelled. I believe Warfare, moving to Ascot Racecourse, has not succumbed, yet so fingers crossed for that.
Outdoor events are less dramatically affected, now the initial surge of the pandemic has been addressed, and Northamptonshire Battlefields Society has led the way with socially distanced commemorative events at Northampton and Edgcote.
(Northampton Battlefield 2020: wreath laying at the Eleanor Cross)
(Edgcote Battlefield 2020: a strung out anniversary walk on the 24th July)
Indoors, of course, I am sure we have all been catching up on painting projects, storage, reorganising parts of the collection and tackling the lead pile. I acquired some very nice Kieler figures from Germany to expand the Roman legionaries Phil Barker originally painted for the Tony Bath ancients game ...
(lockdown luxuries: new additions to the Tony Bath wargame flats collection)
... and, of course, the DBA collection - organising and photographing - goes on apace ... you could say 'unaffected' but, really, there is more time ... so, as well as a new page on camps and baggage, I have added new profiles on Arabs (15mm), Arabs (flats), Byzantines (flats), Mongols, Turks etc.
(lockdown luxuries: a small fraction of the 2020 painting output - see the links above)
The light at the end of the tunnel? Local wargames are resuming under the protection of a gazebo, I am probably going to be given to go ahead to do a history talk outdoors. Our community arts project reopens in August and my fingers remain crossed for some late Autumn shows. I am not particularly keen that anyone takes any risks with this pandemic, however (and I not advocating anything that encourages people to use public transport just yet) ...
*my fuller tally would say 12 countries across 4 continents, but the heyday of 'international wargaming', for me, was immediately before starting this blog, when, e.g., as a Society of Ancients team, we attended Historicons in the US and IWF events in Durban, Melbourne, Athens, Rome, Dublin etc.
** as soon as I type that, I need to confess that I don't think it is actualy correct: back in my school days, we made an expedition to the Model Engineer Exhibition at the Seymour Hall and put on a demo game of WRG 4th ed Ancients (which was definitely a Society of Ancients 'thing' as Charles Grant was there). My recollections of the event and its organisation are incomplete (I didn't book us in - but we definitely were booked in and I remember we had complimentary tickets for that reason) and I don't believe there are any photos (not that we have, anyway) but, in truth, that was probably my first shows gig for the Society of Ancients. It would have been mid-70s .