Monday, 18 January 2021

I am a dwarf and I'm digging a hole...

...diggy diggy hole
diggy diggy hole

(thanks Erny for getting that song stuck in my head when I played a game in his years back)

I take part in the Monthly White Dwarf Painting Challenge over on facebook. Every month Jamie Loft picks a classic issue of White Dwarf from the oldhammer era, and our challenge is to paint a model featured within it or inspired by it. January's challenge has been WD #109 from January 1989 and I've kept it simple, choosing to paint one of the minis lurking in the back page diorama: a Citadel dwarf sapper sculpted by the Perry brothers.

A humble offering... but a significant one for me, as this is the 10th and final member of Arka Zargul's Dwarf Miners for when I finally get around to playing McDeath! Here's the whole Militant Tendency in their splendour:

At this stage I've now painted 24 miniatures for McDeath: the miners; the Greevant clan at the Battle of Winwood Harbour; the Monster at Loch Lorm; and Raybees the halfling. I have a handful of the character models, but given that the campaign requires 202 miniatures (I think) and it's taken me since 2014 to reach this stage, at this rate it will take me another 50 and a half years to complete the project.

So may I take this opportunity to cordially invite you all to my 89th birthday party, where we will FINALLY PLAY MCDEATH! If the lead rot hasn't got to us first...

Monday, 11 January 2021

Straw Bear and Molly Dancing Boggarts - Happy Plough Monday!

Throughout Little Albion, the plague leaves humans cowering in their houses. Meanwhile, the boggarts come out to dance and play. In their wake lumbers the Straw Bear, the spirit of new growth...

Pains within and pains without
If the devil's in, I'll fetch him out
Rise up and fight again...

- Plough Monday mummers play, as remembered in Sybil Marshall's Fenland Chronicle

Back when I lived in East Anglia, this was my favourite time of the year. In parts of the fens, the celebration of Plough Monday - a last gasp of mischief and drunken high spirits before the start of the new agricultural year - lives on, or at least has been revived. And the boldest expression of Plough Monday's spirit of misrule is the Straw Bear who roamed the streets of Whittlesey and Ramsey.

The venerable bear even makes an appearance in Frazer's tour de force of anthropology The Golden Bough: he writes that "we may confidently assume that the Straw-bear who makes his appearance at Whittlesey... represents indeed the corn-spirit. What could be more appropriate than for that beneficent being to manifest himself from house to house... after a magical ceremony had been performed to quicken the growth of the corn?"

This was always the time of year when we'd set out to follow the bear... At Ramsey in recent years the local schoolchildren danced through the streets with a Straw Bear in their midst

while at Whittlesey the Straw Bear made his appearance in a riotous festival of folk dancing and pub crawling the following weekend.

This year, sadly, I'm too far away to be caught up in the path of the bear. And besides, the bear itself will have to hibernate through COVID-19. But when I saw that Crooked Dice made a mummer's procession complete with Straw Bear I was compelled to purchase this great lumbering beast and bring him to life in Little Albion. But what's a Straw Bear without the surrounding chaos? Who will follow the Straw Bear through the streets spreading mischief? Once again, Geoff Solomon-Sims comes to the rescue, with his OOP Oakbound Miniatures Boggarts, dressed in suitable Molly Dancing Attire.

Happy Plough Monday! Happy New Year!