Something for the Weakened

Archive for October, 2005

A History of Collecting – Part Twenty One – The Shame (1)

October 30th, 2005 by

It’s been ages since I’ve tried to knock one of these out, but now seems as good as any a time to start again. Having spent the first half of the weekend sulking and having woken this morning with the desire to tickle a lion’s chin (not a metaphor, literally – it’s all to do with my curtains) this seems the next best thing. Well, not really. The next best would be a tiger’s. This would probably come fairly low on the list, but the lack of giant felids in the area, particularly ones which would allow chin tickling without a subsequent mauling, means that this is as good as the day is likely to get. With it being so long since the previous part, I would put some sort of lengthy explanation here, were it not for the fact that I doubt anyone new has started reading this guff in the past six months. Frankly who can blame them? Hey, there’s an archive. Use it! Onward.

Following my slow move away from Action Force, there was a large toy shaped hole in my collecting habits. This didn’t last for very long though. I forget where I first came across what was to become my new obsession. An advert in a comic, the televisual marketing campaign, seeing it on a shelf, word of mouth, it could have been any of these things. But at some point ‘Hero Quest’ entered my consciousness and became something that I needed to possess. This was uncharacteristic for me, having never been much of a fan of board games at any point before. Long rain soaked caravan holidays would often be punctuated with the odd game of Cluedo or Monopoly, but these were unusual occurrences at best. The year I received Yahtzee as a (I think) birthday present and promptly spent the day sulking is testament to the lack of appeal that games with dice had for me. I was an ungrateful child.

Nevertheless, obsessed I was, and duly demanded it for the next upcoming celebration of me – presumably Christmas though I can’t say for certain. I suppose it was the fantasy elements that intrigued me about it most. Though fantasy had always held some interest for me, it had never truly had me in its thrall and to be honest the game didn’t really change this. What had really won me over were the figures. Akin to the top hats and boots of Monopoly, ‘Hero Quest’s’ box came with playing pieces appropriate to it’s genre. Most barely an inch tall, but surprisingly well crafted pieces of molded plastic which in all the hype I had seen looked spectacular. Especially the villainous goblins, orcs and such like, not to mention the craft that had gone into the board. Little doors standing up in three dimensions, intricately painted stone floors, movable hazards. The adverts made you believe it looked spectacular. That year I tore into the wrapping around the box and expectantly opened it up. Indeed the board did look impressive, as did the little cardboard vortices; even the doors had character to them. The only disappointing things were the figures themselves. Rather than the vibrantly coloured miniatures I had been expecting, these were all a single uniform tone. Admittedly, the different characters were different hues – the goblins a sickly green, the barbarian a dull crimson – but they were only this single colour. Obviously, I thought, there was no way to rectify this and, uncharacteristically for my highly strung youth, went about enjoying the game.

And enjoy it I did. Unlike my anal tendencies with previous figures, I wasn’t adverse to people handling my new babies. The presence of a proper set of rules to govern the game playing was the main motivating force. The fact that the fun was to be derived from experiencing the game in a social context (with more than one person playing a figure or two) led me to playing it in such a way. Thus many hours were wiled away with Neill (with two Ls), my brother and occasionally others, happily taking our characters on various adventures, amusing one another with chance cards and rolling dice. But these weren’t dice in the Yahtzee mode. Oh no, that would still have been terrible. But the fact that they were red, wooden, and had skulls and lightning bolts instead of numbers made them seem unbelievably cooler.

I seem to remember that the board game itself was manufactured by MB Games, a company whose name I had seen many times before on countless other kid’s toys. But there was something in one of the rule books that intrigued me. These fascinated me, with their dark sword and sorcery paintings, the like of which I’d only seen on fantastical book covers in libraries, but had never really owned myself. But it was a statement at the end of one these, amongst the copyright indicia, which intrigued me. The fact that MB hadn’t originated the game itself, but in conjunction with another company. I thought nothing of this for almost a year, until it came to my attention that the partnership were offering a second collaboration. That game was Space Crusade. The company? Games Workshop. I shudder at its name now, but it was to become an obsession of mine for nigh on three years . . .

Cyclical

October 28th, 2005 by

Did some cycling today for the first time in I don’t know how many years. Felt odd to be on a bike again after so long without, but all the old instincts came back pretty quickly. First time that I’d ridden in a city since the ‘incident’, which I’ll likely touch on in greater detail in A History of Collecting within the next month or so. Despite the saddle being a bit high for me (odd considering my towering height), the perpetual drizzle and not noticing the presence of gears until over halfway through my journey, the ride was surprisingly enjoyable. And it wasn’t a girl’s bike. It just happened to be pink and the top bar was coincidentally a bit on the low side. But it wasn’t a girl’s bike. Though I did borrow it from a girl.

Crapness

October 27th, 2005 by

Switched the computer on almost three hours ago, planning to write something. Have spent the hours since then playing Spider Solitaire. I am crap.

No, not the one out of Jamiroquai . . .

October 26th, 2005 by

This is what they call her in the Czech Republic. Well, I thought it was amusing.

Dear God, NO!

October 24th, 2005 by

The horror, the horror.

Erratum

October 23rd, 2005 by

Lodger does actually feature ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, which was and is quite well known and was almost certainly a single. I’d only listened to half the album when I wrote the last post and hadn’t got to it by then. Plus I thought it was called ‘When you’re a Boy’. That’s how the bit in the chorus with the harmonies goes, so it seemed sort of logical. Anyway, I admit fallibility. That’s not going to happen very often. Next Sunday – the possible return of a feature I’ve not touched on for far too long . . .

Reapp – no, that’s a shit name

October 20th, 2005 by

Three days in a row? My adorability must be on a downward spiral. I was listening to Bowie’s Lodger album earlier today. It is an odd beast. It was the album that came after his last truly great piece of work (not including the twenty first century recordings, which have their moments, but I’m discounting here for the sake of ease) “Heroes” and just before his first ‘only partially listenable’ album, Scary Monsters. I think that pretty much all of the material that followed that flawed little entity during the eighties and nineties can be pretty much ignored – something I have successfully managed for some time now. Especially Let’s Dance. I should also add that every album before it is glorious and an essential addition to anyone claiming to have musical taste’s collection. That’s what makes Lodger all the odder. Unlike any of his albums before it (with the possible exception of Pin Ups, but that was all covers) it doesn’t contain any hit singles. Perhaps one of them was when it was originally released, but there’s nothing on it that has had as much radio play in the intervening years as any taken from his previous releases. Even Low had Sound And Vision, and half of that’s bloody instrumentals! Which is a bit of a shame as some of the stuff on Lodger isn’t all that bad. Granted, you can hear the eighties rut encroaching in places, but the sound is more akin to his seventies output and nowhere near as cringe worthy as Scary Monsters’ synthscapes. It’s possible that it has something to do with Eno’s influence on proceedings. It was the last of the trio of albums they collaborated on and, if memory serves, the least commercially successful of the three. Certainly Eno’s alchemical ability to turn shit into gold could be the grace that saved it from sounding like the proto Tin Machine of Bowie’s early eighties career, but I think that a lot of the tunes hold up to some level of scrutiny. Plus I think that Madness nicked a bit out of one song for Uncle Sam. Perhaps it does sound a bit more eightiesish than I’ve been making out. Is there a point to any of this? No, not really, just thought that I’d share.

Name ‘gain

October 19th, 2005 by

I’ve written about my inability to remember names on here before (I’d link to it if I thought that you were remotely interested). Of late I seem to have been trying to counter my tendency of addressing people whose names have been temporarily forgotten as “you”. I don’t recall having made a conscious decision to do this, but nevertheless my brain appears to have rewired itself in this fashion. Unfortunately this rewiring doesn’t seem to have gone to the extent of actually putting the names I’m looking for on offer. Instead on some occasions it will allow the correct first letter to form in my mouth before giving up entirely and just allowing another word to form after it, normally in some unformed slur. On others it will simply fire the name of the last person I thought about down, leaving me to shout that at some bewildered acquaintance passing in the street. For this reason I ask, nay implore you all to get name tags. That way everyone will be happy and we can all live in peace and harmony forever more.

Ills

October 18th, 2005 by

Been a bit poorly. Mainly self inflicted, through either alcohol or slightly out of date pasta sauces, leaving me uncertain as to whether I have hunger pangs or nausea. My body clock is utterly shot to pieces, leaving me exhausted and a little grumpy at all times. Getting twinges in my back when lifting things which can’t be a good sign. My hands have always shaken a little, but it seems to be becoming slightly more pronounced. Fairly certain I’ve screwed up one of my knees jumping down a staircase and one of my hips doing that odd thing where I put my foot under my ribs. Getting a weird feeling of numbness below my left eye, almost like the trapped nerve the dentists put in my lip ten years ago and I still haven’t got round to sorting out. There’s a strange line of bruises at the top of my legs which looks as if someone has been caning me across the balls. Thankfully they appear unscathed. So I shouldn’t grumble really.

Jog Blog

October 12th, 2005 by

The other day I must have been passed by close to thirty joggers on one of my daily constitutionals. Not in a single group, mind. Mainly groups of three or four. As far as I know there was no marathon or organized fun run (a misnomer if ever there was one. And yes I have taken part in one. Managed to do the mile I was supposed too – running circuits around a field – and then spent the rest of the afternoon looking on in disbelief as local nutters continued to plough on into the early evening) taking place. As you might have surmised from the digression, I’m not an enormous fan of jogging or running. Or joggers for that matter, but I suppose that’s their choice. Surely the other option, whatever it may have been, was better, but you can’t argue with these people. You have to run to keep up and argue at which point you’re as bad as them and the argument is lost. Unless your like me and take six half hearted speedy paces before collapsing into a heap, coughing up blood. I had a point a minute ago. Where did I put it? Oh yeah, this was a phenomenal number of them to see in a twenty minute walk. I know it’s been unusually clement for the time of year, but that doesn’t seem like a logical justification for that many of the freaks to suddenly start clogging up the pavement. The only rational explanation I’ve come up with is the fact that the universities in town have only just started up again. Most of them looked fairly young, so my observations do back me up. But is this really what the youth of today have become? Rather than wiling away their student loans in the union bar, dabbling in narcotics or trying wheedle their way inside undergarments of anything with a pulse (and I’m including bags of lentils there) have we instead bred a generation of health obsessed automatons, hell bent on living to a ludicrously ripe old age by which time their faculties are so dim that they could barely power a twenty watt bulb? Is this what is to become of our fair nation? Fit and healthy people dashing about as if they own the place, while I sit at home in my iron lung, watching reruns of The Good Life? Actually it doesn’t sound that bad. Hopefully the majority of them were just following resolutions to keep fit when they got here, which will quickly vanish as the booze begins to flow. At least the encroaching autumn should put some of them off. That and the series of tripwires I’ve erected.