How Did You Know It Was Me?

a. The charred remains.

b. The characteristic smell.

c. The business card stapled to the victim.

d. The blood sample, hair clump, fingerprint, footprint, nose print, newsprint, and signed confession. Have you never watched CSI or read an Agatha Christie novel?

e. Your invoice for bullets and petrol. Bit steep…

f. The CCTV coverage. Was it necessary to take a bow? Three times? And hold up a credits sign?

g. The testimony of your ex. And the milkman. And the Dalai Lama. You have seriously pissed some people off…

h. Satellite images from Google Earth. We missed out on Boulder Dam but we saw you…

i. You wrote a full confession and mailed it into the office. In duplicate.

j. The little grey cells. And you are headed for one right now…

k. We have a book: ” 101 great mystery plots ” and you fit No. 46 perfectly.

l. Your mother turned you in. Also your father, three aunts, and the woman who runs the deli. You should have paid your tab up long before this…

m. We guessed. Okay, we’ve hung three other people so far for the same crime, but hey – you can’t get it right first time all the time. And they probably deserved it.




Did You Hear Something, Watson?


That faint sound of a destroyer siren at 10 paces?

I think it’s the car insurance company again. This time it is another pleasant young man from Manila…taking up the slack where the last pleasant young man left off. He has apparently been in contact with PYM1 and is going to contact his manager to see if he can secure an insurance quote for me that is as low as the insurance quote that his firm already sent to me in the post…

Say what?

Yes. Indeed. Over the weekend the insurance quote has climbed from $ 606.43 to $ 739.00 – but he will do his utmost to try to persuade the manager to only take $ 606.43.

We’re talking about a 5-year old Suzuki hatchback here – my wife’s one-month-old car was also insured with the same firm for $ 606.18. In one case an old car that rates at $ 9500 and in the other a new car at $ 30,000… Same address, same drivers…but the same premium. Say what?

I do wish they would turn off that diving klaxon so that I could think…

A round of the local internet has turned up insurance with the same specs for the old car for from $ 440 to $ 534. Major player firms that pay up on claims properly. Firms with which I already deal in other insurance matters.

I am grateful to PYM1 and PYM2 – they have provided me with a timely reminder to be vigilant and prudent in my financial dealings, and as there is a month to go before I need the new cover, I should be able to make a sensible decision.

My goodness those fire alarm bells are noisy. And where did all the ” Achtung: Minen ” signs come from? Is there a message here?

We See But We Do Not Observe…


I hope that was Sherlock Holmes who said that…the original SH and not the latest tele-vision of him. I think he was castigating Watson for not being able to tell the profession of a passer-by in the street. As it is, it serves as the perfect introduction to this blog about miniature building.

I am currently discovering how true Holmes’ statement was as I try my hand at 1:18 scratch building. There have been projects like a Sherwood diner, 14 cu yd roll-off trash bins, and any number of small accessories. Currently a service station and a mobile home are under construction. All these have been jolly eye-openers… as to just how closed my eyes have been in the past.

Today I realised that if my 1:18 mobile home is in Alberta, it will need heating in the winter – a lot of it out on the prairies. I can choose oil for the furnace or propane. As it is a stationary trailer I decided on oil, and have had to research what the older forms of heating oil tank looked like. Hard to do when you find that oil heating has gone out of fashion around here and all the tanks and accessories have been scrapped. Fortunately I turned up a picture of a tank beside a house in Maine and that will do nicely.

Nagged by the thought that I still needed a propane bottle. I researched the appearance and dimensions  from the firms that supply propane in Canada. Fortunately the 200 lb. bottle is the same size as plastic water pipe from our local hardware shop. Balsa ends, plastic bands, and a paper cap make it the perfect way to supply gas to the stove and oven.

Now I gotta research the mobile home stove and oven. And bathtub and toilet. And so on.

The maddening thing is I lived in exactly these circumstances but did not observe the precise shapes of things at the time. I never bothered to take pictures of such mundane objects. I can remember smells, and textures, but until I see someone’s old photo so many good details are a mystery.

It will be interesting indeed to see if there is any reply to an enquiry I sent to the A&W root beer people in Canada regarding some views of their older stands. I can build if I can see it. I hope they have a sense of humour and adventure.


How Does An Atheist Bless You?


Well, it’s not as silly a question as you might think. If an atheist does not imagine or believe in any deity but still wants to give out some sort of non-committal promise that you will be happier because they said so…they have no mechanism in place to project it from. They can’t really promise you kindness from the government because they know what the government is like – and they can’t promise you the fealty and love of other people because the other people might know what YOU are like.

About the best they can do is assure you that they hope you are not run over by a street car. And even this is difficult to promise in Melbourne.

Atheism is a tough row to hoe. All the work of being moral and no relaxation afterwards by killing your enemies in the name of superstition. You might get a chance to kill them in the name of economics or theory or a coloured rectangle of cloth on a pole, but like as not someone will write a book about it 50 years later and try to make you look bad.  It almost takes the fun out of explosions.

The other tough part is there are no feast days for atheism. And feasts involve food and drink. Oh, you can go to the local hotel and order a counter lunch and a couple of pints on Tom Paine’s birthday but no-one puts up a tree or makes presents or takes you into the broom closet for a cuddle because of it. ” Joyeaux No ” as a song has never made it to the charts.

Worst of all is there is no money to be made out of atheism. No cards, no gifts, no food, no booze, no sleigh rides in cold climates or slay rides in hot ones. No-one ever gives money to the No Salvation Needed Army. Even when their lassies are not blowing trombones and tambourines outside the pub.

I tell you, it’s enough to shake your faithlessness…



Re-enacting Re-enacted…Or, The Other Side Of The Coin

Cabinet Card_edited-1


I have just written a blog article that would have seen my friends in the Middle Eastern Dancing sorority turn on me and rend me asunder. Wisely, once it was written, I erased it. These things should be said but need not be spoken above a whisper. To do so would be unkind.

But wisdom only works for a short time with me, so having used it up on that unpublished essay, I will revert to folly in this one. As I am aware that my friends in the re-enacting scene will be reading this directly or through the Facebook page, I will say at the outset that I do not mean to cause distress. This is not a Guild matter.

I’ve been pursuing something in the living history or re-enacting hobby since 1988 – not long in the terms of many in the game, but long for me. I have an attention span of about 7 years with any leisure interest unless something really sparks it along. My history has been detailed before with this blog – muzzle loading rifle shooting, various dress-ups and rendezvous, Waterloo as a 42nd Highlander, and the last 19 years as an ancillary member of a Medieval/Dark Ages society. A few side dashes to the Sherlock Holmes Society and the new Steampunk parties. It has been a marvellous time and has cost a great deal of money, which I do not regret spending. All this having been said, I am currently surveying the scene and wondering at the way that history is being re-enacted…

At any hour of the day or night my family can turn on the television – and frequently does – and violence pours out. Murder, arson, incest, war, executions, terror…and that is just the mini-series…real life news broadcasts are worse. Thinking back on it, this has been so for a very long period of time. In the re-enacting life, apart from the shooting contests at the rifle range that were conducted with sportsmanship and safety, all the rest has been pretty much the same. Excellent theatre of infantry assaults, viking raids, turkish massacres, and every other form of bloodshed imaginable. The performances of my friends has been exemplary – they have been decked out to perfection in armour and wonderful costumes and have played at slaughtering each other  – to the delight of the crowds – for years. They really are good at slaughtering and hardly anyone has been hurt over the decades – a few scars and one chap who lost a tooth, but very little cause for the first-aid box to be opened.

Bravo. I think.

But I am starting to crave another form of re-enacting these days…the re-enacting of non-slaughtering. The recreation of societies that thought rather than fought. A theatre of reason and…dare I say, kindness. I can find some of this in reading the works of Paine, Hume, Franklin, Voltaire, etc. and this is good preparation for participation in …I do not know what. I think it is time to explore other possibilities in performance, even if the audience is only amongst a few.

I am encouraged to read on Facebook that there are reading societies out there that meet regularly. Not sure if I want to sip tea and hear book reviews, but something of that may be a step in the right direction. I am coming to suspect that I am looking for an English coffee house of the 18th century or a Viennese cafe of the 19th but I cannot say where this would be or who would form the intellectual center of it. I hope it will not be Dr. Johnson because I think I would have liked to stab him with a fork. I do not expect it to be me because I am afraid of being stabbed with forks. I have a vision of a party with the Dalai Lama carving an enormous round of beef and drinking a foaming tankard of ale while telling a lewd story, but I suspect it is just a dream…

At least I can say that I have found a couple of cocktail bars that seem satisfactory – this is a start.


Vas You Dere, Charlie?


No, I vasn’t. But apparently that didn’t disqualify me from making an eye-witness report of a recent commercial event. I was given pictures from the evening – a presentation in a restaurant by salesmen from a camera company – and told to write it up for the work blog.

Duly done, and it was actually more fun than I anticipated. You see, I treated it as a Sherlock Holmes story and used the photographs to give me clues as to what actually happened. It was fairly simple –  salesmen from the camera company and salesmen from our shop corralled 30+ punters in a small cafe, did a slide show about the newest of the company’s cameras, and then the customers got a meal to photograph and eat. They paid for it, of course, and from the looks of the food it would have been delicious.

I was able to identify the clients, the salesmen, and many of the dishes. As I was put on the next nights shilling – catered with bottled water and a plate of potato crisps – I am naturally a bit peeved. Admittedly the equipment featured on the second night was more interesting, and you can’t go to every thing…but that cafe food looked good. And there were bottles of beer…

On another level, I wonder how many eye-witness coverages of other commercial events are real? If I can hack it out on a laptop with just a thumb drive of pictures and a lively imagination, what are the real reporters doing to the real news? Is anything real? Are there bat-people in caves in New Mexico? and do they get to eat in cafes or are they stuck with plates of crisps?

Ve’ll never know.

* Heading photo: Ethiopian food.




Some little time ago I joined friends in the Sherlock Holmes Society of Western Australia. It involved social evenings and outings to restaurants, croquet grounds, and pioneer towns. We all dressed up and adopted aliases ( I never progressed past “Mr. Hudson”) and it was jolly. We were expected to know ” the canon” back to front and be able to place any little reference exactly into Holmsian context.


On a trip to England in 1995 I did just that with a visit to a recreation of the Holmes flat near 221B Baker Street in London. I might add  – for all the Holmsian kitsch, the actual location of 221B is a corner of a boundary between a bank building and some other nondescript. The Holmsian museum I visited was on the other side of the road – all this notwithstanding it was a delightful evocation of the stories.


So, too, is this little miniature cased diorama from the recent WA Miniature Exhibition. It is held within a travelling case or box of some sort. The builder has thoughtfully provided excerpts from the stories at the front of the piece to alert you to the details you see. It is remarkably like the real-life museum – but then again I suppose that would follow if both constructors were reading the stories and providing the decor based upon them.


I am glad that the miniaturist has resisted the temptation to put Sherlock, Watson, or Mrs. Hudson in the diorama as little figurines. Earlier readers of this blog will remember that I inveighed against this – it tends to draw the critical eye and spoil the flavour of the rest of the piece. Either perfect models, or no models at all.

Is is fun to look at? Did it deserve a prize? Is it art? I think so on all three counts. I do hope that the builder will dive into literature again for next year…may I suggest the castle of Zenda…? Go-on – imprison us.