Who’d Be A Wargamer?

I first picked up a piece of lead in 1985. I’d watched a couple of guys using “WRG 6th” and when one of the others said he was selling some 25mm Romans, I paid him the £5 asking price and started on my long journey to insanity. (I still have them!) Yet it is only recently that I have realized I have a major problem with rule-writers’ methodology. To paraphrase:

“Construct the rules so that playing with them gives historical outcomes to battles, as that way it will be known that the rules reflect reality”. Click here to read more »

On Bravery

Over the last year or two I have been told several times that I am/have been very brave when dealing with my illness.

Although ego-boosting and nice to hear, I have begun to ask questions about whether or not I have been ‘brave’.

First, what does ‘brave’ actually mean?  The dictionary definition is:

BRAVE:  possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.  Oh, so what does ‘Courage’ mean:

COURAGE: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

So, as I may have faced ‘vicissitudes with self-possession and confidence’, maybe I’m courageous?

Well, not really.  I didn’t make the conscious choice of how to react to the diagnosis.  It was thrust upon me by circumstances:  Owen has had enough difficulty facing up to the fact that I had (hopefully forever in the past tense!) a life-threatening illness without me breaking down in front of him and confessing that I too was in fear of dying before he had reached double figures in age.  What option did I have?

And if there is no other choice, can my actions really be counted as ‘bravery’?

I don’t think so.  I think that, like many others in my position, I have simply reacted in the only way allowed to permit other people in my life to have as normal a life as possible.

Now if I had been told my illness was terminal, maybe I could see my actions as exhibiting bravery.  I don’t know.  Maybe bravery, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder?

Whatever the case, and due to circumstances in the summer, for the first time in four years I don’t have to have a PSA test before Christmas to see if there is any sign of the cancer returning.  So for the first time in four years I don’t have any worries hanging over my head concerning my health, which appears to be good (apart from the traditional football injury!).  Jo and Owen have finished for the holiday and we are now doing the last preparations before the day itself.

I am looking forward to Christmas with all the excitement and anticipation of a six-year-old kid.  Which is brilliant!  As long as Santa doesn’t disappoint, this will be the best Christmas in years!!  I live in hope.

Taking all of that into account, I’d like to wish everyone reading this a very happy Christmas and hope that the New Year lives up to all your hopes and expectations.


The Kindness of Strangers

To misquote Tennessee Williams, when it comes to my books I usually have to depend on the kindness of strangers, especially when it comes to the plates section.

What many readers may not be aware of is the fact that, when signing a contract for a book, many publishing houses specify that the acquisition of photographs for use in the plates section is the responsibility of the author. Click here to read more »

First In, Last Out Syndrome

I sometimes receive books from publishers – and many more are sent thanks to the website UNRV – in the trust that in return for receiving the book I write a review.  This isn’t usually a problem, as I don’t find too many difficulties with reading and writing.  I’ve even been known to write coherent sentences.

Mainly these books are related to my current research project, are well written, support my personal viewpoint, and I can simply read them and assess the information they contain.  But every now and again a book throws a spanner in the works.  The usual cause of problems is that a book is obviously poorly researched and is simply a regurgitation of previously-published material:  in effect, it is little more than plagiarism.

In my judgement there is, however, a far worse scenario that can arise.

Click here to read more »

E-Book? Ee-Bai-‘Eck!

As regular readers may already be aware, I hail from the greatest county in the UK:  Lancashire.  However, throughout the majority of northern England the phrase “Ee Bai ‘Eck” can be used as a sign of surprise.  For example:  “Burnley are back in the football Premier League?  Really??  Ee-bai-eck!”

So the question you may be asking now is, “What has that got to do with e-books”?

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The Hypochondriac’s Guide to not being a Hypochondriac

As usual, my first task in this post is to apologize for the distinct lack of activity on the site in the New Year.  Thankfully, and also as usual, I have reasons for this apparently lackadaisical attitude.


All is based around my continuing health problems.  In fact, I have so many of these at the moment that I have in the recent past been accused of being a Hypochondriac.


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I’m only here thanks to luck

Before the question is asked, this post isn’t just addressing the fact that I’m still here after the cancer.  However, it is here because of the after-effects of the illness:  a bout of self-analysis!  When I look back at my life so far I’m filled with a sense of amazement.  In short, how can somebody from a stereotyped British ‘deprived’ family have ended up writing for a living?  The only possible reason is luck, augmented by the actions of some form of ‘Guardian Angel’ – mine is pictured on the right.  (If you are not a Christian, please use an equivalent based upon your own beliefs.)

In case you are interested/fascinated/intrigued/bloody nosey*, I was brought up in a single-parent family in a council house in Burnley.  (For our cousins in the US, it is hard to describe the term ‘council house’, although ‘social housing’ comes close.  They are houses/flats owned by the government, run by local councils, usually at lower rents for people with low incomes.  If the person involved is unemployed, the government ‘welfare’ can supplement/pay the rent outright.  The British television drama ‘Shameless’ was inspired/based on a council estate in Burnley, and the US programme of the same name is a direct derivation.1)

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Back in the Groove?

First, let me make my traditional apology for not posting for a while.  My excuse?  Family bereavement, the usual medical tests, and, of course, the indexing for ‘Patricians and Emperors’. Click here to read more »

Random Photos 2