Monday, June 30, 2008

Chris Moyle's 'Somerset Boy'

A parody of Estelle's American Boy - this is pretty funny - mentions scrumping which is good - it tails off towards the end but on the whole this should bring a smile to your face and is interesting from a point of view of seeing how people view Somerset culture. I like the 'Never been to Yeovil' line.. lyrics here

F&I in the UK

As the weekend for the big Ticonderoga 250th reenactment in upstate New York approaches I thought I'd post these pictures of me 10 years ago with my French unit, I am on the right in the white. Those were fun days - it was pretty much a craze reenacting the F&I - everyone wanted to do it at one time - it was bizarre. Anyway the F&I in the UK lot are still going - check them out here

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Frome in Times Online

As it's nearly time for the Frome festival I thought I'd post this description which has appeared in the Times 'Best of Britain Bit... personally I preferred it in the old days. There are some interesting things going on at the festival though - blues harmonica workshop looks good, Andy Fairweather Low might be a good night out and of course the UK Stiffs and the Bad Detectives at the Griffin will be a guaranteed good time.

FROME, Somerset
There are some people who spend a fortune seeking peace of mind on a psychiatrist’s couch, or who follow hairy gurus into the mountains in search of inner calm.
But some of us know that all you have to do is drive to Somerset and walk into the nearest greengrocer’s. “Hello, my loveleey! What can I do you for on this beautiful day?” Now that’s therapeutic.
Frome (it rhymes with broom, my lovely) is situated deep enough into the West Country to be sedated by the local languor but it’s not so far gone that you need a magic carpet to get there for the weekend. The town’s special character is, ironically, the product of what was once a geographical blight – throughout most of the 20th century, isolation and local industrial failures put Frome to sleep, but when it awoke, street upon beautiful street of terraced cottages were still standing, while in the neighbouring boom towns they’d been flattened.
Frome now has more listed buildings than any comparable town in the region, and all those lovely cottages have drawn in an army of artsy, folksy-lifestyle refugees, giving this minute metropolis a cultural life to rival somewhere thrice the size.
Three art galleries, two theatres, a concert venue, a crafts centre and a blossoming spiritual-therapy and alternative-health industry – no wonder some of the town’s more, erm, prosaic inhabitants look a little bemused by what’s happened here.
For a visitor, the chief pleasures are shop-pottering along Cheap Street and Catherine Street, visiting the Black Swan Arts centre (; 10am-5pm) and the Saturday farmers’ market – and then heading out into the Mendip countryside. A spot to consider with kids, Frome is four miles from Longleat, stately home of lions and tigers, and a polyamorous marquess, (, and the nearby caves at Wookey Hole are a child-spooking favourite ( If you’d rather just stroll in some of the nicest country in the west, pick up walking route maps at the town’s tourist centre.
The tourist centre (in the Black Swan complex) has, they reckon, the best events-diary website in small-town Britain:
Brian Schofield

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Fall 'Two Librans' (2000)

Excellent video by Pascal le Gras for this track off the 'Unutterable' album - Le Gras used to design the Fall album sleeves...apparently he wasn't paid for this - great bass sound on this record though.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Phillips Norton

Today is the anniversary of this battle in 1685 when the Monmouth rebels fought the army of James II to a draw and then heavy rain terminated proceedings, and the Rebels marched to Frome in thick mud. It always rains this weekend... Anyway this is the pub that was Monmouth's headquarters at the time of the battle - an assassination attempt on Monmouth took place here too. An amazing pub it has played host to Pepys and Henry VIII.

Wars of Louis XIV

I've started a new blog - I was getting jealous of all these niche history blogs so I started one myself on the period of the last third of the 17th century. I am not expecting a lot of visits. Not much there so far but hopefully it will pad out in time. Send me any bits and pieces that might be interesting...

The Skivers

Great name - do you know what a skiver is? Is it universal this term? Anyway they're a great new/old band from Frome - the home of skiving - that mix pop with good old rhythm and blues...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

pikeman 1671

Detail from J Meunincxhove 'Charles II and James Duke of York in the Gardens of the guild of Sainte Barbe'. Interesting to see a pikeman of this time complete with sash.

Attack of the Ghost Riders

I was busy downloading images of the battle painter Van der Meulen and came across this interesting half finished canvas showing the siege of Narden I think but as you can see, if you look full screen, all the figures are mere silhouettes - and as I was showing Susan the Raveonettes song Attack of the Ghost Riders off their new rarities album came on - spooky...

War of Devolution

Here's a lovely image of Louis XIV visiting the siege lines at Tournai (artist Van der Meulen) in the War of Devolution between Holland and France. Shows the multicoloured and varied look of the French army at that time. The reclining Swiss pikeman in red in the foreground is replaced in other editions of this picture by a bale of hay - presumably his posture wasn't right for a visit from the King. I sympathise with this fellow as I am the sort of person who gets regularly airbrushed out of history because of slouching... These early wars of Louis XIV are unusual in that they have the English fighting alongside the French.

Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678)

Been revisiting my pike and shot past and musing on things and found myself looking on the web for material for the Franco-Dutch wars of the 1670s and found this image of the Siege of Graves 1674 which I cropped to more easily see the details. This is a really neglected period - maybe I ought to make another webpage for nobody to read... Found an American group who do Dumbarton's regiment for the period....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monks chant

Time for a bit of old Monks footage.

54mm English civil war blog

Ever since as a young lad when I got a Herald mounted cavalier and roundhead figure (maybe I'll take a photo) I've always thought 1/32 as the scale for the English Civil War and therefore I'm full of admiration for the Call to Arms figures - you can do it properly... this blog is charting a project after my own heart of collecting and converting the figures to build an ECW army. This 40mm English Civil War blog is also well worth a look for inspiration too.

Valhalla Rising

While on the subject of Vikings this movie is being shot in Scotland apparently...

Alfred the Great (1969) trailer

This is a vastly underrated 60s movie - it should stand alongside the best historical pictures of that era - this one had quite an influence visually on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (To corroborate this fact look at the Vikings' shields - completely copied for one of the characters - Aragorn - the black garbed Norse are basically the blueprint for the Gondorians) Filmed in Ireland, Galway and Meath - sadly - if it was filmed around the West I suppose it would have been perfect but it has beautiful photographed scenes that really capture the essence of England at the time. There are lots of interesting facts about its location and the papier mache standing stones and so on at this website.

I remember seeing this film at the pictures when I was a kid and being totally petrified by the chanting Vikings. I wonder whether there is a slight subplot about Mods and Rockers or Hippies and Hells Angels - you probably have to see the movie to see what I mean but Alfred's bible loving pacifist in caftan takes on the black leather clad pagan pychos....what else can you conclude? Actually this trailer doesn't do justice to the cinematography - to get a flavour watch this clip.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Duking Days

This is the time of year that most people round here associate with Glastonbury festival - it's a big employer and it involves a lot of local people but I - in contrast associate this time of year with the Duke of Monmouth and his rebellion. From June 11 when he landed to early July is a time of historical significance in the West as the time when the Duke of Monmouth was declared King and took his place as the last pretender to the English throne. I started revising my book on the Monmouth rebellion and started thinking about this time of year and happened on the site of the Taunton Garrison and was pretty impressed by what they were doing - all the better as they were once comrades in the 1685 society.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers 'New England'

From 1978 - if you find the music that I post a little not to your taste maybe you ought to try this ditty from ace songwriter JR - only someone made of clay could resist this slice of apple pie.

The Sax-free 60s

I was just musing on the clip below and I came up with a possible game to play while on a long journey or something - name records from the 1960s that have a saxophone in it - orchestral pieces like Henry Mancini don't count. It seems that the whole beat group thing as purveyed by the Beatles and their ilk (the Ilk - that would be a good band name) were sort of skiffle orientated and therefore you were more likely to see a harmonica wheeled out than a sax which seems to have been rendered redundant... like fins on cars, or hair grease. You can imagine poor old sax players sitting out the sixties waiting for a revival. Ilk by the way is often used to mean 'of the same name or family' or 'of the same type': maybe we could start using it instead of genre.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beat Girl (1960)

I hope you all checked out the British b-movie show on bbc 4 (see below) - this scene featuring the John Barry Seven and Oliver Reed dancing in Beat Girl aka Wild For Kicks shows the genre off to a tee. I am a bit sick of the word 'genre' though - is there no other word for it these days? I must have heard the word genre about 75 times during the course of 'Truly Madly Cheaply' - get a thesaurus!!

Pussy Galore 'Dick Johnson'

If you like raw garage rock and roll punk music then you'll love this...

Krefeld 1758

It's 250 years today since the battle of Krefeld in the Seven Years War. So I thought I'd post this sequence from Kubrick's Barry Lyndon to mark it. Very picturesque - lovely to watch. Knotel's picture Schlact bei Krefeld.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Image search Ralphadeus

Hey this is fun - image search Ralphadeus and see what comes up!

Franco-Prussian war blog

A very visual blog that covers more than just the FPW - don't worry if you don't speak French - it's all self explanatory.

Austro-Prussian War Reenactors

I am not sure whether the Austrian army reenactors who do the Austro-Prussian war would be involved in a reenactment of Solferino - there's only 7 years or so difference but anyway I have been really impressed by the images of the Austro-Prussian war being reenacted - and now on one of the sites there is a really good video. I think I would have to be an Austrian if I was invited over to do a battle of this period. Here's Austro-Hungarian infantry and a horseman of the time. I love looking at these photos - so refreshing to see what counts as a UK person as an obscure time in history being done so well. Of course that's really anglocentric but it's easy to get locked into your own English-language oriented worldview, but I suppose ever since the internet was invented it's easier to see what is going on around the world.

Solferino 1859

I noticed the EU have put up a large amount of money for a reenactment of the battle of Solferino as part of the celebrations to mark the anniversary of the founding of the red cross. This is a particularly interesting period of history and so I will do a few postings to tempt maybe some American Civil War reenactors to consider doing French infantry of this period. First up is this lovely image of a bivoauc - line infantry would have some differences but not that many.

Au lendemain de la bataille de Solferino. Bivouac des grenadiers de la garde. 26 juin 1859. Journal de campagne de Charles Robert.

The other image is a Louis Delperier reconstruction of the period - from Tradition magazine.

Where was Hot Fuzz filmed?

I get a few people searching my blog for the answer to this question. It's becoming a cult movie in the US, I reckon. The answer is the tiny Somerset city of Wells - which is a place I used to work when I was a printer. Some of the scenes like the supermarket fight were filmed in Midsomer Norton Somerfields. The church where Adam Buxton gets killed is St Cuthbert's and the pub featured in the movie is to the right of this photo.
I recently wrote some sleeve notes for an lp of our stuff and I compared Frome to the town in Hot Fuzz - this isn't quite so fanciful as the writers mention Frome as part of their inspiration for the movie. Wiki on the movie.

New York Dolls at the Thekla Bristol

We have our tickets to this gig which is on July 2, a wednesday. See you there? Should be great fun. I've never seen the Dolls - although I did see Thunders and Nolan when they were the Heartbreakers.

'Truly Madly Cheaply' British B movies

This documentary on British low budget movies is available to watch on the BBC i Player for another 6 days and I recommend you watch it. It covers quota quickies, the War years with such classics as Old Mother Riley - through the 50s including the Konga gorilla movies through to the exploitation movies of the 70s. A fascinating look at some of the most obscure but also the most charming of all the British movies of the 20th century.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sausages - Adam Buxton

Five a day

As someone who eats a lot of meat I decided to see whether the practice of eating 'five meats a day' would have any consequence. First of all I don't eat chicken or fish for emotional reasons so it is not really a case of 5 animals a day - more like 5 meats. Salami counts as a meat as does bacon and black forest ham. It's relatively easy to follow this diet especially if you adopt a rolling fridge - if you roast a joint of beef keep some back for your 'five' for the next day. Sausages are another good source of variety and again can be kept in the fridge for a quick sausage sandwich if you need a top-up. So are there any downsides to this diet? Not really - one has to be opportunistic and eat the best quality meat for the least money to keep the costs down but so far so good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

T-34 Museum

My son picked up an excellent book the other day - called 'Tank' by Patrick Wright it is a cultural history of the tank - no technical details to bore you - more like charting the 20th century's love hate relationship with these juggernauts of war. It's a fascinating read that takes in Tienamin square, Aleister Crowley - all sorts of subjects - and one I recommend. Anyway it got me thinking about these beasts again and it turns out there is a new museum near Moscow dedicated to that war winning piece of engineering the T-34. Excellent. I wonder if they know about the abandoned graffitied T-34 in SE1 - photographed in the book Derelict London.

Edward Zwick and Belarus partisans

The director of the movie Glory and the Last Samurai Edward Zwick is currently making a movie Defiance about the Bielskis - Belarus Jewish partisans...these were the subject of an interesting documentary a few years ago with Ray Mears (a British survivalist broadcaster) - showing how they lived in the freezing conditions defying the German army. Watch Extreme Survival episode on the Belarus partisans with Ray Mears here
If the idea of an extreme survival programme sounds naff to you - its more of a history programme really with interviews and so on.


This is the opening scenes from the movie Glory (1989). It's a really evocative and intelligent appraisal of the type of warfare of the time. I don't know much about the American Civil War so I can't say whether Antietam is well represented but in general this clip is to me what I associate with the war - without any of the mawkish sentementality of the Ron Maxwell films.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Scars 'All about You'

The Scottish band - here in 1981 on the OGWT. They made some great singles - notably 'Horrorshow/Adultery' but by the time their album came out they were - as the Scots say- a bit shite. Why was that? Anyway - they weren't alone - most punk bands failed to keep their teeth once signed up and on the gravy train. They seem to be back - I would go and see them again. Their Myspace

Captain Beefheart in 1968

Not a big Beefheart expert but thought this song 'Sure Nuff and Yes I Do' might be a good next step to chart his fascinating career. Nice harmonica too for harp fans.

Battle of the Boyne reenactment photos

Images from the BBC of the recent Battle of the Boyne reenactment in Ireland.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Captain Beefheart Beginnings/Diddy Wah Diddy promo

Time for a Beefheart revival and where's the best place to start? At the beginning back when the band were interpreting the greats like Howlin' Wolf and also being a great garage band to boot.

Dale Hawkins 'Oh Suzie Q'

A hit on the Checker label this piece of rockabilly is most famous for the guitar picking by the legendary James Burton who was then about 15.

Waterloo movie - French cavalry charge

As today is the anniversary of that famous battle in Belgium I thought a little Bondarchuk is in order. This great Russian moviemaker seemed to specialise in these great helicopter shots - showing the thousands of extras from an almost God-like distance - extras in this case that were soldiers from the Red Army... 15,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry in all - it was said that during filming Bondarchuk commanded the seventh largest army in the world - some of them were cossack cavalrymen doing their business - though if you watch this clip to the end you will see the British squares breaking up - quite bizarre as if that had really happened Napster would have won the battle. I do love big battle movies - even if these days we have to put up with digital manipulation which sort of spoils it a little. I really want to see the 4 hour version of this film...maybe it should come out in 2015... watch the 'Why? Why?' sequence - cut from later versions.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

'Most complex crop circle ever' found in Wiltshire

According to the Telegraph this represents pi to the tenth digit or something like that...astounding...


Cider is much in vogue at the moment so maybe a visit to Thatcher's site to see how it is made will be something that might interest you, gentle reader. Scrumpy is a farmhouse cider that used to be made to pay farm workers as a supplement to their wages - nowadays you can buy it almost anywhere in the southwest but maybe further afield you might have to get stuff online if you want the good stuff. Looking on Thatcher's site it looks like they do free UK delivery so there's really no excuse is there? I recommend the 'Scrumpy' pictured - ideal for a first timer or innocent abroad in the world of apple based insanity. They also do a Wurzels themed cider.
Another great maker of cider in the region is Rich's cider. It has magical qualities that almost straight away make you behave like a sixth generation dribbling village idiot. Recommended.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The She Creatures

This Bristol band are playing the Thunderbolt Inn on Thursday - check out their video for their brand of outer space rock n roll trash pop.

Ligny 2008

Today is the anniversary of the battle of Ligny - a part of the run up to Waterloo - this film of a reenactment of the battle is pretty good = worth watching if you like that sort of thing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Fall 'Squid Lord'

What do you suppose this song is about? Lyrics here. Great song from the Fall from what I might call their Golden Age...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cortinas 'Television Families'

This classic punk song from Bristol's own new wave act, the Cortinas is one of my favourite records of all time - this video made to go with it is brilliant - until someone digs up the band playing on the local BBC news this will have to do. Please play it -if only to imagine 1977 in Frome, at a disco with about 12 punks throwing themselves about to this while all the rest of the punters just watched open-mouthed. Sometimes we were attacked for our pains but it was all part of the mayhem.

Indiana Jones 3.75 inch figures by Hasbro

If you have a World War Two 1/16 scale tank you might be interested in these figures in the toy shops now - I'm not sure what the scale is - I think it's 1/18th scale (same as the Star Wars figs) but anyway they are quite pleasing models - Afrika Korps and a despatch rider pictured -from a range which I like that are not expensive.

Wargaming the Wild West

To celebrate the BBC Four Wild West Weekend I thought it might be interesting to look at wargaming the American frontier in the late 19th century. My choice is to do it in 1/72 scale simply because of the large amount of good figures and accessories available these days. Plastic Soldier Review gives a listing of what is available. American company Imex do the best range with pioneer families, stagecoaches and wagons with more in the pipeline like pony express riders and animals. Buildings are cheap and plentiful in this scale too with an excellent Cut and Assemble Western Frontier Town in HO scale to get you started with some useful card houses which can be strengthened to make them last longer. What about rules? Free wargames rules has a good few, though the Warhammer Historical Old West book looks fine if you like spending money on such things but I kind of like free as the adverts say. So what with plastic cowboys and card buildings, free rules you could have your first model gunfight for quite a small investment.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

1944 Captain America season trailer

Excellent stuff.

Military Music at Louisbourg

There is a pretty good military music section at Louisbourg - which kind of shows you what you can do with funding.

Siege of Louisbourg

250 years ago in 1758 the siege of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia began - signalling the beginning of the end of French rule in Canada. There is now a huge reconstruction of this fortress which the video shows - the original was destroyed but in true North American fashion a new artefact was created as a tourist site in the 60s. Watch the video and marvel at the recreated buildings, if you like that sort of thing... Celebratory events at Louisbourg this summer

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

circa 1690

I have started this webpage to promote the idea of doing French troops of the period of the war of the Grand Alliance. Trouble is - a lot of my source material is missing so I can't do much on it - if any of you have any pics from 1685-1697 - Guerard etc please email them to me.

Preparing for Poltava 2009

The Great Northern War battle Poltava is one of the landmark battles of Russian history and so next year's tercentenary is going to be important with groups from all over the Ukraine and Russia attending including of course our friends the Preobrazhensky Life Guards. Here's an album of photos of a preparative event.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trio 'Sunday You Need Love Monday Be Alone'

We first encountered this song as played by the Oblivians but I think the original by this German act from a small town is well worth watching if you like minimal punky pop.

Primal Scream Vs The Wolfmen 'I Put a Spell on You'

Had a nice card from Dave Mackay and Caryne so I thought I'd post something they'd like - Marco Pirroni guesting on guitar with Primal Scream doing Screamin' Jays classic... and it's not that bad either...see what you think music lovers!

Battle of Glen Shiel 1719

As it is my birthday today I thought I'd look on wikipedia to see what went on today in history and only really came up with this battle in 1719. An interesting episode in a little known war that involved an invading Spanish army. Unfortunately the main Spanish invasion fleet that would have landed in the South west was cancelled - which is a shame as it would have been great for reenacting... picture by Peter Tillemans. Broadsheet ballad Hymn to the Victory in Scotland

Monday, June 09, 2008

Early Wars of Louis XIV figures

The 1660s and 70s, known as the Restoration over here, is not a popular period for wargaming - so I am thrilled to see Irregular Miniatures have done some figures in the 54mm scale - I shall have to buy some. Finding out about the War of Devolution or the Franco-Dutch war is not easy... if I find anything out I'll let you know.
I would like to see these figures expand into the era of the Scanian War - the Danish and Swedish troops could double up as Dutch.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbird

Some guitar porn for Bo Diddley lovers. I know we shouldn't but what the hell - it hurts noone!
Lusting after objects isn't my thing usually - but this just hit the spot - a revamped version of the guitar used in the Bo Diddley is a Gun Slinger pic as made by Gretsch and revamped by Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.
I want one but I am not worthy of it.

Warhammer historicals 'The Great War'

This should be a pleasant introduction to the world of Great War Wargaming which is not as popular as it should be. Might get one myself.

Blame it on Bo Diddley

We've decided to put together a compilation of songs from bands influenced by Bo Diddley. Original material or covers welcome. Working title Blame it On Bo Diddley. We're hoping to get some of the more obscurer items in his repertoire done - how about the London Stomp, or as someone suggested Bo Diddley's Dog? Get in touch if you're interested...

English Civil War

I stayed up last night to watch the awful movie 'To Kill A King' about the relationship between Fairfax and Cromwell in the English Civil War which if viewed as an unintentional comedy it is actually worth watching. But it got me thinking about my old days in the Civil War back in the 80s and I checked out the Fairfax battalia website.
Fairfaxes, despite my bias, are easily the best ECW unit in this country and manage to get some pretty good events so the website has plenty of interesting photos and they don't spend too much time boring people - keeping it very visual which I approve of. They even have a nice feature on K Lowry - an artist that's producing some great prints on the Civil War available from here

Mongol movie

It's not that often you get a big historical epic getting tv advertising and all the hype treatment - it's even more rare when that movie is Russian in origin so let's celebrate the launch of what will be an epic trilogy by all going to the pictures to see it. Maybe not but it does look pretty good and I hope it does well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Kills 'Last Days of Magic'

Great song great video - from now.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Love Bandits

I had, for about three days, a band called the Love Bandits in about 1984 (named after a brilliant song by the Cadets that is worth tracking down)- it was a rhythm and blues idea - so when I saw this French band had that obviously brilliant moniker I had to check them out and guess what? They're brilliant! They cite Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo as influences but they have a now sound - though with amplified harp. Got ta listen to them...ok? Sound of groovy 'now' French garage punk blues.

Pravda 'Body Addict'

This brilliant Parisian duo like us (animals and men) and have passed on our details to a Paris club. Great! Even better as Pravda are on our playlists all the time.
PRAVDA - Body Addict

Le Roi Danse

Excellent sequence from the Lully biopic. I'm wallowing in the world of Louis XIV at the moment but it's a great sequence even if you are not into the period. In fact if you have any interest in history or music, then watch this clip.

Monday, June 02, 2008