“Reading fed the children’s imagination. Their creativity soared after their father presented Branwell with a set of toy soldiers in June 1826. They gave the soldiers names and developed their characters, which they called the “Twelves”. This led to the creation of an imaginary world: the African kingdom of “Angria” which was illustrated with maps and watercolour renderings. The children devised plots about the inhabitants of Angria and its capital city, “Glass Town”, later called Verdopolis.”
“The fantasy worlds and kingdoms gradually, acquired the characteristics of the real world — sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. The characters and lands created by the children had newspapers, magazines and chronicles which were written in extremely tiny books, with writing so small it was difficult to read without a magnifying glass. These creations and writings were an apprenticeship for their later, literary talents.”
“Around 1831, when Anne was eleven, she and Emily broke away from Charlotte and Branwell to create and develop their own fantasy world, “Gondal“. Anne was particularly close to Emily especially after Charlotte’s departure for Roe Head School, in January 1831.”
Dominic Cummings, some Tory Brexit politico adviser, in his blog set out a Churchillian request for hiring people to make No. 10 and the Civil Service (and his Brexit / post Brexit team) much less ” public school bluffers” and “Oxbridge English graduates”, more “misfits and weirdos“.
He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.” He says the categories he wants to recruit are:
Data scientists and software developers
Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”
Send your CV to Mr Cummings if you think this applies to you. You may only last a week, in our “hired and you’re fired” modern world, as instant dismissal is threatened, in which case you will no doubt be known as a “Cummings and Goings.”
Well intentioned and headline grabbing as it may be, the whole “weirdos and misfits” thing is a gift to cartoonists and satirists.
Oddly Mr. Cummings forgot to mention on his list: wargamers and “board game geeks”.
I am reminded of Churchill’s wartime request to “leave no stone unturned” to recruit the right people to staff Bletchley Park and SOE. Part of GCHQ’s ancestry, Bletchley recruited a strange team of debutantes, crossword puzzle champions, Post Office engineers, mathematicians, linguists and graduate oddities to break German cyphers.
Too busy to read? Just watch the cinema shorthand, myth-making movie versions of such an eccentric cast of characters: Robert Harris’ Enigma and the Imitation Game.
After meeting Alan Turing and his other eccentric colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”
Extraordinary jobs require unusual people. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton would agree!
Which is why my mind straight way turned to SOE, inspired by Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”, Bletchley Park, inventive backroom boffins, the Commandos and the scruffy but tough and talented Long Range Desert Group. All the cast of Mr Churchill’sMinistry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as they were termed in a recent book title.
Such people and characters in small teams are perfect for small scale gaming scenarios.
Weirdos and Misfits wanted? Small teams of characters (figures) who can see what is going on in this gridded aerial reconnaissance photo and improvise a plan when it is not what it seems …
“Sketch map in preparation by Desert Air Force Intelligence Officers, ready to brief some scouting parties of LRDG (D) – D For Demolition.
This is a mixed bag made up of various disruptive elements from the Royal Angrian Defence Force from West Africa (Bronte ImagiNations), some men of the Yestershire Regiment (Man of TIN Imaginations), various other upper class desert traveller, novelist and travel writer misfits, and some Royal Engineers and Commandos in training.
Two tooled up long range fast Desert Jeeps called “Ragtag” and “Bobtail” (Pound Store finest) being prepared.”
As is usual with Airfix, some of the paint had flaked. I have tried to keep most of Tony’s original paintwork where I can, mostly repainting hats and rifles.
I tried a little bit of Citadel Agramax Earth wash or shade, but this didn’t do much for them, having such muted detail as early Airfix generally had. I could have painted in straps and equipment, but this was not only fiddly but mostly this was dust and khaki colour on khaki.
I thought the mix of old and new paint / uniform makes them look like veteran troops.
I also wanted to keep them slightly non-specific, as the ones in the Bergmutze soft caps had the look of a generic private army such as James Bond villains often had, especially the way Tony had painted them with dark or silver caps. I wanted to be able to use them in ImagiNations as desert forces or desert raiders. This is why in the first batch I have included no figures with the distinctive German helmets.
In Jean Christophe Carbonel’s book Airfix’s Little Soldiers HO/OO 1959-2009, this set is listed as being introduced in 1962, the same year that Donald Featherstone’s War Games was published.
One of the pages in some original Boer War era magazines that I have.
Kipling-esque poem but not quite Kipling’s The Absent Minded Beggar or Hardy’s Drummer Hodge.
The Boer War is not widely Wargamed, partly due to the mobile nature of the conflict – mounted infantry, railways – and the long range rifle fire, as well as the static nature of sieges of Mafeking and blockhouses.
I wonder if this era is not widely gamed partly because Britain lost the war but it has some unpleasant elements such as Emily Hobhouse’s campaigning / press exposure about the concentration camps for Boer Civilians?
There are some interesting challenges or lessons learnt the hard way for the military in the period shortly before the First World War.