Now and again, well most days actually someone will say or suggest something that elicits a response from me.The response is usually to shout at the television or throw the newspaper in the bin. It seems the 'normal' reaction nowadays to some crass stupidity, invariably from some politician, academic or 'influencer' desperate to gain notoriety.
Sadly the wargaming fraternity has such people who luckily are still in the minority, well I hope they are.
I was reading and I use the term lightly the latest edition of Miniature Wargames magazine [478 ] and made the mistake of reading 'The Last Word' this month and unfortunately also next month by David Hiscocks. Now I dont know the guy and would like to think he's alright if a little wet.
As I measure a persons worth by 'would I go for a drink with them' I probably would decline the offer of a pint and chat with him. Anyway this worthy has produced more words on a subject that has popped up with boring regularity in the wargaming firmament since the early 1970's. The subject of wargaming, its ethics and does it glorify war?
Being of a certain age it felt like I was subject of some dystopian Groundhog Day. His argument, if one can describe his article as that concerned his unease with wargaming whilst the Ukrainian war is still underway. Apparently since the start of the Ukrainian invasion '' some of his wargaming friends have been talking about how they have started to FEEL GUILTY for enjoying their hobby due to the association with the violence ongoing in the Ukraine.''
According to his argument this war is different because this is the first large scale conventional war fought in Europe since 1945???
I am always suspicious whenever politicians and the like, cite the term 'some' without actually providing details of how many, who they are and whether they are what could be termed ' a full shilling.' For me 'some' is a trigger word.
For example the other week the media declared that 'some people' are very seriously concerned about the so called cost of living crisis and that they are not hopeful that things will get better.
Of course they omitted to state that the people questioned were the poors souls who daily attended a Salvation Army food bank. So naturally they were concerned given how their lives are always in such a tenuous position, but to use this straw poll to describe the rest of the country is frankly pathetic, but of course it fits the narrative the media want to create.
So getting back to Mr Hiscocks.
He continued in a similar vein before in the final paragraph stating that some of his wargaming friends said they felt ashamed or guilty for sharing their hobby in public places ie the digital media.
He concludes the first part? of his article by stating; when the conflict is in living memory or has a particular contemporary relevance then such debates can become understandably intense.'' Apparently next month he will conclude his thoughts on this tricky subject. [I cant wait ]
So what is the issue? Well for me there a few observations. The first one being that I naively hoped that the wargaming press was there to actively promote the hobby and its wonderful benefits of which there are many. I dont need anyone to look at his navel and decide that they have 'issues' with the whole glorifying war thing. Been there and definitely done that. Wargamers of a certain age can remember the clowns from CND protesting [and I use the term lightly] outside of a couple of wargaming shows claiming we were wargamers and therefore the spawn of Satan or worse.
I remember how Sweden banned all war toys and plastic guns in the 1970's in the belief this was going to steer children away from violence. Well it didnt work for Andres Behring and certainly given the huge rise in extreme groups in that country it looks like as a social experiment it failed dramatically.
Amusingly enough, a couple of years ago a couple of so called Labour activists thought it amusing to label me a warmonger after they saw images of my toy soldiers. I found it funny because I hadnt heard that term for years which I thought very 1970's and somehow quaint.
But I didnt feel I should stop collecting my toys, in fact if anything it made me more determined to carry on, but then I can be an awkward bugger.
As for the argument that somehow the war in the Ukraine made our hobby shameful because of the size of the forces involved was for me laughable and to describe its impact as even more of a tragedy because it is taking place in Europe and was causing certain wargamers to be uncomfortable because it is a reminder of the reality of what our leisure activity portrays was actually pretty pathetic.
Looking back through my life, I can remember the Vietnam War, the tragic Biafran War, the terrible wars right across Africa of which there are too many to list. There were two Arab Israeli wars, two Gulf Wars, the wars in the old Yugoslavia that involved planned genocides,. And of course far closer to home the Irish conflict which dragged on for years killing thousands, and lets not forget the Falklands War, and Afghanistan all of which impacted heavily on families in the UK.
I know for certain that there are a good number of ex servicemen who have embraced our hobby and if they can handle it, Im certain I can.
Perhaps Im not sensitive although I do seem to tear up every Remembrance Sunday but I managed to paint, collect and play with my toys through all this terribly tragic conflicts. As Ive stated before, wargaming has been the bedrock of me coping, of dragging my sorry backside out of bed to face another day, whilst knowing I always had a refuge to escape to should things become truly difficult. Have I ever felt guilty? No. Well apart from when I overspent on some such book or figures when I knew things were a bit financially tight.
Have I felt ashamed. No.
Ashamed of what exactly?
That somehow my researching the military history of man was somehow condoning violence and war? That painting toy soldiers and then playing at war was somehow reprehensible and deserving of social protests?
To take Mr Hiscocks concerns to the extreme perhaps his friends should campaign to ban all war toys, and any associated games etc that are linked to war, ie Games Workshop in order to salve their guilt and shame. I dont play computer games but do know that the levels of violence exhibited in many of these games is extreme. Do the creators worry about the effect on the users of such games? Sadly I doubt it.
If these 'some' people are ashamed of what they do especially when posted on digital media outlets, I think we all know the answer, dont post anything or get another hobby. I hear Macrame is popular. Perhaps they would feel better if they donated to the Ukrainian war effort or helped some of the families currently staying in our country, NOW that would be a great thing, and guilt free.
So without an iota of guilt these are some of my latest toys. The crossbowmen are part of the Burgundian ducal guard, with a 'new' mounted Charles to lead them.
I was lucky enough to obtain some Garrison 'fantasy' knights from Rob over at the Eastern Garrison. I have always loved these figures and wanted some for my Lion Rampant forces. They are true 25mm so perhaps are a tad small but I have enjoyed painting them. Sadly my matt varnish malfunctioned and left a chalky effect on them. Hopefully they look okay now. So there you go, and not a sniff of shame anywhere.