London Ramblings

Musings of a London Migrant

So, Here We Are at 2018...
The Wife and I had a quiet one, a very nice meal at The Chutney, our local Indian (I am really starting to like paneer, the Indian cooking cheese) then an evening cuddled up on the sofa watching "Wallace and Grommit- Curse of the Were-Rabbit", something of a tradition for us, alas for Peter Sallis, who died earlier in 2017. Didn't even bother staying up for midnight (although the fireworks woke me briefly).

Going to have an equally quiet day, bit of cleaning up, the Xmas decorations and tree are already down and packed away, but there's some dusting and hoovering to do, the last bit of new present stowage, get a walk in, grab a few things for dinner tonight (roast pork chops with roasted sweet potatoes and onions, some carrots and some other green veg, all in a tasty gravy made from juices left in the roasting tray) and get things for lunch tomorrow.

Yes, back at work for both of us. The Wife is quite keen to get on with things at here new job now. I should have a few things waiting for me, I mentioned I was getting "The Loop" RPG, well I've assembled quite a selection now from disparate sources, the main game from Shop on the Borderlands (with complimentary pdf which I already have), the GM Screen and Dice are waiting for me at Orc's Nest, I've got the "Our Friends the Machines" supplement pdf already from DrivethruRPG/RPGNow but I ordered the hardcopy directly from Modiphius and that should be there too by now (I normally send deliveries to the work address, it's safer). Do like the Norfolk Broads setting for The Loop in the new supplement, the advantage being that if strange radiations warp and mutate the locals, nobody would notice. "Normal for Norfolk" indeed, although I will continue to work on my "The Line" setting for South Wales.

Hopefully there should also be the present I was going to get my brother for Christmas, the Terran Trade Authority "Spacewrecks" book. He had the "Spacecraft 2000-2100" book in his youth and has been collecting the others in the series, although this one had always eluded him. I picked it up from an American seller via Alibris, the seller dispatched it to the Alibris sorting facility and it was supposed to be with me by the 15th of December, but hadn't arrived by the last day at work. If it's not there when I get back I'll have to give them a poke and see what's happened, get a refund if nothing else.

See the books are now also a setting for the Savage Worlds RPG, recently released and available via Drivethru.

What goes around comes around. Wonder what else the new year will bring. Hope it's a decent one for you lot anyway.

PS- The Spacewrecks book did arrive, as did The Loop. The supplement should arrive in the next couple of days. Will look forward to looking through it.

Also I just cooked (and ate some of) a bloody good chilli. Used peppers to bulk it out, dash of Worcestershire sauce, bit of Marmite in the stock. With wholegrain rice and a sprinking of grated mature farmhouse chedder on top. Plenty left to have with baked potatoes another day and possibly even a third serving for The Wife and I (which we'll probably freeze and which will taste even better for it).

Yum. Will have a tot of the Antiguan rum now I do believe.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...
A far older tradition then christianity and one I approve of. I bought our (artificial) one ten years ago and with it a generic box of gold ornaments. As the years have gone on we have supplemented these, a few at a time, every year, with some some more unique and individual ones (including a bunch of 6 Studio Ghibli keyrings I won for a cosplay skit at Minamicon many years ago). Last few were from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow which I would recommend as a nice place to visit. It's looking very fine now, we use all the unique baubles and then fill in with the generic gold ones, fewer every year.

So how was your Yule? We have just got back from Swansea, dreadful drive, the M4 was just hell, crawled around Newport, and up towards Bristol, and around Swindon and Reading. The M25 took pity on us and that was actually the quickest part of the journey, seven hours on the road as opposed to the usual 4 and a half. Oy. Still we're home now.

Did quite well, some lovely books, Ben Aaronovitch's latest Rivers of London novella "The Furthest Station", which I shall look forward to reading, "Strange Labyrinth" by Will Ashon, the folklore of Epping Forest (which I've already dipped into and is quite enthralling), the marvellous "Woodford- Then and Now" by Reginald Fowkes, a huge hardback photographic record compiled in the 80s (saw it in a second hand bookshop and couldn't quite justify the expense, but The Wife arranged it as a surprise Xmas pressie) and "Walking Inside Out- Contemporary British Psychogeography" edited by Tina Richardson, which I am very keen to get to grips with. The whole subject of psychogeography is one that has intrigued me ever since I came to London.

Quite a bit else but a huge (1.75l) bottle of Antiguan rum from my Father-in-Law stands out. Still waiting on the West End Games Star Wars RPG 30th Anniversary reprint from The Wife, should arrive towards the end of January now, and my present to myself, "The Loop" RPG, is in the post (I'll pick up the GM Screen and the dice from Orc's Nest next time I'm in London).

Got The Wife the Nintendo SNES Mini, the tiny version with 21 classic SNES games pre-loaded (including some that never made it to Western markets and one that was never released at all apparently). She likes. She got "Skyrim- Elder Scrolls V" for the Nintendo Switch as well, but she wasn't expecting this one and has been having a bit of a squee session over it, the original SNES being her first gaming console.

I've seen "The Last Jedi" by the way, no spoilers, but I enjoyed it immensely (a bit overlong and they had just a few too many battles), but Mark Hamill is brilliant. Alas for Carrie Fisher though. The Porgs are wonderful, they were added mainly to cover up the Puffins that live on the Scottish island standing in for Luke's refuge and insisted on wandering into most shots, they're protected so you can't interfere with them in any way, hence the Porgs. They are funny though. Will be interesting to see what happens next.

"Rogue One" is still the best film to date of the modern lot though IMHO.

Anyway I shall now unwind from the drive with a few bottles of cider and possibly a drop of Antiguan rum as well.

Felicitations of the season to you all, may you spend it to your best advantage and to your increased happiness.


Aaargh! This is bugging me...
There was a made for TV film (possibly a series) I saw a decade or so ago (possibly longer). Very "Edge of Darkness" style techno thriller, that ends with an artificial black hole, originally created for clean energy, now taking more and more energy to contain it and the Government desperately trying to cover it up.

I remember one scene where a guy falls against the containment vessel, held there by the black hole's gravity, and is cooked by the microwave radiation being emitted.

I can't remember what it was called! Can't find a mention if it on the net either, I just remember a few fragmentary memories. It's really annoying me.

This is all because I am very much considering getting "Tales From the Loop", the 80's set RPG with old wierd technology in a nearly moribund scientific facility causing all sorts of "Eerie Indiana", "Stranger Days", "Town Called Eureka", "Warehouse 13" oddness to happen to the communities that live near it. It's all based on the beautiful retro futuristic art book by Simon Stálenhag, set in Sweden but with a secondary setting in Nevada. A new supplement, "Tales From the Loop- Our Friends the Machines & Other Mysteries" has a new setting where the Loop is actually under the Norfolk Broads in the UK, so that's a nod to all the UK players.

But I had already been imagining a setting called "Tales From the Line", a earlier prototype Linear Particle Accelerator (a LINAC) called "The Line", 15 miles long and based in deep tunnels in South Wales (where I grew up), superceeded by the Loop in Sweden but then given a new lease of life with two devices created in Sweden and shipped over that allowed it to wrap the particles around the ends of the accelerator and send them straight back down the second "barrel". These "Graviton Reflectors" would of course be microscopic black holes and, now, in the 80s, the facility is concerned almost entirely with keeping them under control and reducing the strange effects they have on the surrounding landscape.

I took my inspiration from the aforementioned TV show, but I can't find out what it was!

Highly frustrating.

Any ideas?

PS- Got it, it was the 1999 "Doomwatch - Winter Angel" (a pilot for a remake of the old 1970s "Doomwatch" TV series, although this was the only one made).

An Elegant RPG... For a More Civilized Age.
Well, I know what I'm getting for Christmas! Look here-

Fantasy Flight, the company that produces the current incarnation of the Star Wars RPG, is doing a 30th Anniversary reprint of the West End Games Star Wars RPG first produced in 1987. The first edition of both the main rulebook and the sourcebook, completely and lovingly reproduced on high quality paper, hardcover and combined in a special slipcase. Most excellent.

Now if only they'd similarly reprint Galaxy Guide 6- Tramp Freighters...

In other news I am progressing, my finger has more or less lost it's alarming purple colouration and is looking almost normal. It's still very sore, but I think there's a better degree of movement now and the exercises don't hurt so much. I was also able to get my wedding ring back on the finger next to it which is a great relief. It's been a week since I last wore it and that's the longest time it's been off my finger since I was marrried over 8 years ago. Felt wrong not having it there.

We will have a quiet weekend, might pop over to the newly created Walthamstow Wetlands nearby tomorrow, but all we're going to do today is a bit of shopping for essentials and slob out. Last weekend I wanted something fun to watch (being quite shook up and sore all over) so we watched the extremely silly Kentucky Fried Movie. The Wife was amused by the "Fistful of Yen" sketch (and "Big Jim Slade") so expressed an interest in seeing the film it's based on, Enter the Dragon.

Just so happend the Fopp Records shop in London near where I work was selling the special edition for a few quid, so I picked it up and we will watch it this evening. One of the finest martial arts movies ever made and quite poignant in that Lee died a few weeks before it was released at the stupidly young age of 32.

That cat was, indeed, as fast as lightning.

Bwaaa-haaa-haaa!!! Greggs.
Oh yes, just saw this on the news and had mild hysterics. When America gets its first Greggs then we have true multiculturism in food.

Dammit, now I want a peppered steak slice...

Slightly Less Ow...
Well, been to the specialist at the London Hospital in Whitechapel. It's not quite as bad as feared, the fact that I have a near-full range of motion in my finge leads the doctor there to think it'll only be 2 to 3 weeks to heal rather than 5 to 6. I now have a stack of these odd crinkly compression bandages to put on to reduce the bruising and a nice custom made purple plastic splint to support the finger with velcro straps so I can take it off and put it back on when needed.Which means I can take a bath!

I usually shower to get clean, I've had less than half a dozen baths in the whole three years we've been living here in Woodford Green. I don't like to soak like The Wife so I feel that they're just a waste of water. But I ache, still, from the impact of hitting the pavement in that fall, not helped by the fact that I've picked up the bug The Wife had yesterday. So, took a soak in the bath when I got home this evening and I feel so much better for it. Also allowed me to get out some of the more deeply ingrained dirt on my palm.

I have also been given a range of tendon stretching exercises for the hand ro make sure everything heals up in the right place and I don't lose any mobility. Every two hours I have to make five shapes with my hand, hold each of them for ten seconds then repeat ten times. It is, at the moment, damned painful and I get the persistant feeling I'm doing that hand/tone signal thing from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Still, it's a necessity and hopefully I should all be healed when I have the follow up appointment in December.

The plastic splint is a worry though. On the way home yesterday it slipped off my finger and I was shot by orcs swimming across the Anduin.

No, hang on, that's the One Ring and Isildur isn't it. It was at Holborn station it fell off, I didn't notice until Liverpool Street so had to go back and retrace my steps. Found it though. Almost fell off again today, might rig up an elastic band "strap" to keep it on when I'm travelling.

Still achey, still a bit muzzy headed, but a couple of painkillers and a decent night's sleep and I will hopefully be over the worst of the bug at least by tomorrow. The finger I'll just have to keep working on.


What is it about November, injuries and me? Around this time last year I got shot in the head, this time I slip on a patch of wet leaves and fall flat on my face. Of course I put my hands out to catch myself and, since I'm sailing along at a fair clip end up with grating one hand over a rough road surface and twisting the little finger on the other. A nearby person helped me to my feet and the staff at the local train station I was headed for got me to a sink to clean the worst of the muck off and stick a bandage or two on..

Went into work but seeing the odd shade of purple my finger was turning eventually went into an NHS drop in centre in Soho and then got referred to the Minor Injuries Unit at St. Batholomew's Hospital who sent me for an x-ray (digital x-ray photography, no less, results were on the doctor's computer screen by the time I was back at the Injuries Unit).

So the end result is that I now have a large bandage covering lacerations and gouges on my right palm (some ingrained dirt in there won't come out for years, good thing I had a lifetime tetanus booster jab last year) and a splint on my left little finger thanks to a microfracture (a "volar plate injury" if you want to get technical, I shall spare you the cringe-making details), which might take quite a few weeks to heal up. I still have function of the finger, could even apply normal force with it, the fracture is almost microscopic, no snapped ligaments or displaced bones or anything thankfully. Been referred to a specialist hand unit in a Whitechapel Hopital on monday to get it checked out fully and any further treatment recommended. One of the advantages of living in London, so much expertise all so close.

Sore today, very sore, all across my shoulders, back and down my arms thanks to the impact. Could have been worse, could have been my head (or teeth!) that took the fall, but I could have done without it. Was scheduled to head over to a Housecon with friends at Ian Curtis' house this weekend but, as you can imagine, I just want to spend the day moving very slowly and carefully around my home and have The Wife look after me today. Have washed my palm in hot water with a splash of detol and applied savlon and clean bandages, really don't want to get this infected. The finger I just have to keep elevated to reduce swelling, will have a cup of tea and some painkillers in a bit.

Never broken a bone before, suppose I should be grateful my first is such a minor inconvenience all things considered.

Not looking forward to November next year though...

And the Sky Became as Black as Sackcloth....
ff work today, was working Saturday so took Monday off in lieu. Went for a walk up to Epping Forest.

You could tell something was up as soon as you stepped outside, the air smelled of hot dust, the sky seemed wrong, then we saw the strange pale hazy orange sun.

Ex-hurricane Ophelia is currently ripping up the length of Ireland and it's dragged a huge mass of warm air northwards with it, including a lot of Saharan dust and partculate matter from Spanish and Portugese forest fires. We stopped for a pub lunch on the way around half one and I kept watching the sky as it slowly turned dark orange in colour. It was eerie, as we continued our walk all seemed hushed and expectant under the trees, "Ominous" The Wife called it. Not helped by the fact that, as this was Monday, the place was relatively deserted, you could quite easily imagine zombies shambling out of the undergrowth.

As we passed Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge we noticed a group of students, some of whom were in period costume. I like to feel I enhanced the experience by an impromptu mad beggar performance, screeching "Verily the end times are upon us all!!!".

Most of them seemed to agree with me quite worryingly.

You could eventually see it clearing slowly from the South West, a lighter sky on the horizon but the light stayed strange and disorientating for quite a while, quite turned me around and we almost ended up going the wrong way, thankfully Google Maps steered us right.

This might also have had something to do with the two pints I had at lunch, but I digress (the Queen Elizabeth in Chingford, very nice pub, Cask Ale Mondays it's £2.49 a pint for selected beers).

Home now and teh interwebz are full of orange skies and red suns. At least we don't have it as bad as in Ireland.

Wierdlands and Windwagons
Picked up Paul Kidd's GeneStorm RPG, and the Wierd Lands supplement. I do like this game, written in Paul's inimitable style, pity I didn’t notice it was on Indiegogo as I would certainly have helped to fund it. It's not quite the same system as the earlier Heroes of Morhost game I mentioned a while back, it has what Paul calls the “Reciprocating Engine” an expansion and refinement of the system in Morhost. The game world is not quite as lethal as, say, the world of The Mutant Epoch (though still allowing one to be killed in a number of interesting and colourful ways), not quite as frantic as the more superpowered Gamma World and a lot more colourful than the one presented in Atomic Engine.

Paul's made it so that characters can now be created in even more endlessly different variations (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations indeed), reflecting the "Chop-Shop" virus that eventually toppled civilization 150 years ago, mixing and splicing the DNA of different created with abandon to create horrifically mutated monsters. Things have calmed down a bit now but your characters are likely to be a very strange hybrid of human, plant and/or animal. Cactus/bunny, kangeroo/moth or piranha/mice are only some of the possible combos (those piranha mice are really nasty).  The small dice game you play to resolve combat is interesting too, will be interesting to see how it works in practice. Once players are familiar with it I imagine it can be resolved very quickly and it does give the feel of a combat as a series of feints and manoeuvres rather than a single “hit”.

A slightly supernatural element is the inclusion of various hyperspace nasties. Turns out mankind's FTL drive damaged the fabric of space and now rifts are opening up, rifts to dimensions that are warped mirrors of our own, rifts that spew unearly radiations that twist mind and body, with eldrich abominations lurking at the back of them. Unfortunately once the rifts were created they tend to spawn around operational fusion power plants, such as might be present in old abandoned cities and bases. Seeing how nasty Paul has managed to make them I don't imagine I 'd want my charcter to go anywhere near, despite the promise of high-tech loot.

To get into the mood for the game's arrival I re-read Paul's Gamma World novel, "Red Sails in the Fallout", which GeneStorm is a sort of spiitual successor to, what Paul would have likes Gamma World to be more like. One element of the story is the big sail driven land yacht the characters make to investigate a town's failing water source at the end of a pipeline several hundered miles long. Land sailing is an intriging concept and I was wondering if anyone had ever made it work.I knew about the small sail powered racers you often see on big flat beaches, but the internet didn't seem to offer up anything larger.

Turns out I was using the wrong search terms, it’s not “land yacht” or “wheeled ship” that I should have been searching for , it was “wind wagon” (or “windwagon”). Loads of stuff there, there’s even a 1961 Disney cartoon called “The Saga of Windwagon Smith”, now Kansas folklore but actually based on a number of historical pioneers of land sailing. One in particular called William Thomas, who tried (and failed) to found the “Prairie Clipper Company” and whos first attempt crashed somewhat spectacularly. But after him was Samuel Peppard, who in 1860 built a windwagon that eventually came to known as “Peppard’s Folly”, but not before it had carried him nearly 600 miles! There was even a windmill variant made by H. M. Fletcher of Texas in 1910 that trundled along for 30 miles before stalling on a hill.
The Disney cartoon incidentally can be found on youtube, as well as the modern day version built by a bunch of Swedes and sailed over the Navada desert-
Disney-  Swedes-

Lovely, pity, I thought, that there's not an RPG supplement that might allow you to use the idea. Well I looked and roger me sideways with a radioactive carrot, there was! It’s called “Sail Wagons”, by Tobias Deißler of Pyromancer Press. And not only is this a generic supplement for any fantasy, medieval or post-apocalypse game, but it’s available from DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as a pdf. There’s even a second little pdf you can get where he explains the math.

The main booklet gives you three different wagons- cargo, scout and battle, with speeds they can accomplish in good terrain depending on wind direction (the cargo wagon gets different tables for empty, half-loaded and full). It gives you a rough guide to skill checks depending on the wind speed and various tables for stability and structural integrity.
One version I'd develop for would be a craft mid-way between the cargo and battle versions, useful for pirates, privateers and adventurers. I’d like to see a small two-man version as well, similar to the sporting land yachts of today, one pilot and one gunner. Land sail “fighter craft” as it were. Easy enough to work up stats for them.

Most excellent.

"Goin' to be an 'ard winter! Arrr!"
Autumn is now on our doorstep, what with the Equinox passing. Evenings are noticably drawing out now and the days are getting cooler. Mind you, never known a season for nuts and berries, especially acorns and conkers. We had a bit of a blow a week or so back, after a long spell of very calm weather and they were lying in carpets under the oaks and horse chestnuts.

The long avenue of the latter lining the main road in Woodford Green has suffered particularly badly this year from the wretched leaf miner moth caterpillars, they look like they're on the verge of winter already. I really hope the local council doesn't follow that of Wandsworth's lead. Tooting Common is going to lose 51 mature Horse Chestnuts because  they too are diseased, and this isn't an isolated incident, trees in other parks and commons in Britain have suffered the same fate.

I acknowledge that the trees have got a problem, but the sight of that line in spring, rich and green and covered in blossom lifts the heart, as does holding a newly fallen conker in the hand in autumn, fresh from its pod. Wish someone would come up with a way of wiping the moths out instead, it's not like they're indiginous (neither is the tree really) and they have no local predators to keep them under control.

Ah well, they do say as how a rich crop of berries fortells a hard winter to come. Total bollocks of course, but a good hard winter is one way of keeping the moths under control, they like things a little more Mediterranean, so here's hoping.


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