New approaches for new work ideas

I’ve spent a few weeks defusing or debriefing myself from the old work ethics admittedly, but in that time, I’ve also set down some ideas on what I want to pick up on in the future.

I have an appreciation that I’m in a potentially interesting and even exciting situation at this moment in time. I have the opportunity to go it alone in setting up a company to cover any consultation work, especially in relation to international trade. And this is very timely when you consider the ‘Brexit‘ negotiations. No – I’m still adhering to my cardinal rule of ‘no politics‘, so the objective stance remains. What is important is that some UK entities will sink or fold without some assistance come the UK’s departure from the EU, and I may be in a good position to provide some help to them.

So it’s worthwhile sorting out what I would need to do to cater for this. Company name, company set-up and registration, tax obligations and proper accounting, using social media platforms to make a footprint, and whatever else is out there for a new singleton business start-up. I was always told my work was ‘pretty niche‘. So then, perhaps that permits me to know my limitations and boundaries early on, and will help target my attention properly to particular sectors. I know it’s unlikely that many others would know as much as I do, or have an appreciation of the impact Brexit will have, on those entities I know so that is an advantage in my favour.

And there’s no harm lost in trying this approach. I’m in a new situation (to me anyway) that I no longer have to have the singular career, the one profession I must follow as it’s my sole source of income. It’s quite a dynamic change to know that instead of that, I have simultaneous potential earning opportunities as a landlord, a games designer and publisher, a writer, an historical reenactor, and now potentially as a consultant too.

Scroll back to four years ago and I never thought I’d be in this situation. Interesting prospects indeed.

 

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Quills indeed

After a bit of thought on the matter, I’ve considered that now that the home-front is more settled and quiet, I should get back into my writing.

There’s a lot in notes and in my head that I should start to work on. Some of it is relatively easy – like drafting some professional stuff in relation to international trade to drop onto my LinkedIn profile. In addition to the old work items, I could also easily do at least two items on re-enactment from my own observations from 35+ years of being involved in it. There are also ideas on other matters, such as some of the gaming themes I’ve been exploring. This ties in nicely with the fact that I can now get on with games company stuff without fear of my previous employers creating intellectual copyright ownership problems. And finally, there’s some short story/fiction ideas rolling around in my head that I have already started notes on too.

I now have the hours, and the peace and quiet, to churn some stuff out. And when I feel lethargic for doing this, I can easily flip to the gaming stuff I’ve mentioned, like the various projects I have in mind. But the writing will be good for me – and should stretch the mind a little to ensure I don’t become too stagnant or complacent.

All of this needs to be tempered with the realisation that it is early days too. That other career has only just ended. I don’t necessarily need to leap in and make things too busy for myself. As I have been told, by My Beloved and others, I should take time for myself, and relax and unwind. Maybe a DVD marathon – maybe start reading a few books I promised to immerse myself in.

We shall see. But writing will be involved at some point.

 

Workstuff – one week & counting

It’s quite a peculiar situation to be in. I’ve completed over twenty years of service with my employer. Well, not my original and much preferred employer, but with the entity it was morphed into, when someone made a particular decision to conduct a merger, without ever really examining the facts. Proper impact analysis & assessment for decision-making. It never really happened. If only.

Anyway – reminder to self “no politics” – I’ve also completed fifteen years in the work area I still really enjoy, and I guess I’ve been quite fortunate in that. I had gone for promotion several times during that period, but never been lucky – or blood-related/partnered enough – to succeed there, but no matter, I’ve still enjoyed my role.

But, in a week’s time my employer will send me details of my ‘redundancy package’. I’m being made redundant because they have decided to close my current office for good, and because they have already closed other places nearby, under their ‘travel’ rules I have nowhere else to go too. And even if I did, it is to be entirely expected that the role I still have was going to relocate back to inside the M25-Ring anyway. A double-downer if you like.

Honestly, it has taken fifteen months to get to this stage, that by now I can admit to being a little ‘played-out’ or instead, just simply tired of it all. I have to cling to the hope that my employer has done the right calculations, but I’m expecting I’ll have to triple-check and challenge what’s sent to me. I anticipate that I will have to inform them of various errors and provide the necessary corrections. Like I’ve had too several times already during these past fifteen months. And all the time, in the back of your head, you cannot help but think “And you’re getting rid of me, and not these people who’ve made such a complete ricket of this?

But, luckily I am reminded of what’s been said often from several good friends during this ‘limbo’ time, with me waiting for decisions from people who’ve not once asked me what I do, who probably cannot read maps, and have no appreciation of the loyalty, knowledge and the experience of me and my work colleagues.

Why stay?

Why indeed. If there’s an escape route, take it. Just one more week to find out.

 

‘Mudd’s Martian Canals & Waterways’

‘Martian Canals & Waterways & the Native Vessels Upon Them’ – Captain William Mudd RN

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There is a wondrous beauty in the straight waterlines of this red planet. As meltwater flows from the planet’s polar caps, so you see the tidal surging, high and low, of the vast broad canals carved out of the surface by long forgotten masters. To have such power to score these lines is a marvel in itself. Today these waterways are the trading lifeblood for much of the heavier cargoes between the City States, and indeed if you are not blessed with the access to the waterways, with your docks, mills, bridges, viaducts, channels, ponds, acquifiers, weirs, gantries, promenades and embankments, many of those remote cities have settled into dust.

Syrtis Major and the Colony are blessed with well-maintained canals and waterways that have seen the city flourish, even more so now that we have brought the designs and formulaes of our Imperial trade and commerce. Fortunes are to be made upon these routes, many have relocated from the Empire on Earth to develop the trade routes on Mars.

And dear reader, think not of Birmingham canals with their tidy towpaths. These waterways are often two, three or even four or five miles wide.

The Martian watercraft, of which there is a breath-taking variety and number, are quaint contraptions from a bygone age back on Earth. Many are sail-craft, very much akin to the ‘dhows’ and ‘junks’ you would encounter from the Gulf of Aden eastwards to the South China Seas. Some are trading boats, fishermen, luggers, haulers, and some are even family residences. Many have some form of defensive armament, ranging from ballistae and catapults to small lightweight muzzle-loading cannon. All manner of cargo are carried from city to city, and to all the settlements along the well-irrigated and planted banks between the great residences.

Often you see the mightiest Martian vessels, the nobility’s own craft, quite literally you could call these vessels floating palaces. Some of these great rafts and barges will cruise for months upon end, touring the canals on some great parade, to demonstrate the wealth and rank of their owning clans and families. Some of these are transport hulks too, great freighters gliding silent in the Martian breezes, laden with goods of all forms and descriptions. While the skies still have much of the fast traffic, unfettered by the flow and direction of canals, the waterways still carry much of the everyday common trade.

The Martians have substantial naval vessels on the waterways as well. Many follow the similar design principles found on their aerial vessels. So that wind power from sails is still used for many boats, but so too will you find that the ‘handcrank’ has been connected to short stubby paddles. Great reserves of manpower from the lower Martian classes of the City dwellers provide the muscle needed. And of course, those same crew can easily be armed with all manner of weaponry. Frighteningly fierce boarding actions can erupt between hostile opposing clans. The Martian warships are an imposing presence in sight and sound, and thankfully the accounts of blatant piracy involving these vessels are very few.

Generally the Martian watercraft are simple straightforward designs, often locally built and fashioned from the wood resources not used for aerial vessels. Some are competently designed and built, some look more patched-up and ramshackle. Many of the smaller vessels are quite old, twenty to fifty years of service being a steady average life. With a minimal amount of marine life to worry about to degrade the vessels, much of the hazards to contend with are windstorms and tidal surges.

It is still most convenient to refer to the sections and components of any vessel – our own or the Martians – in the best terminology we have employed for the last few centuries.

While more humans employ and explore the benefits of the aerial ways, the canals and waterways will continue to prove to be the crucial arteries of this planet. For it is still Nature’s way that water – the life-giving liquid for humanity and Martiankind alike – remains the single most important asset in these lands.

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‘Taken from an early issue of the renowned Parhoon Gazette, this copy of Captain Mudd’s article is available from the library of the Traveller’s Club, Parhoon.’


This is a sample of some of the background material I have drafted for our Space 1889 campaigns. It means the players can collect an informative folder of details and extras, always useful for future reference. I have a lot scribbled down in notebooks that either needs scanning or transcribing. Another set of tasks for the ‘to-do‘ list.

 

 

Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 2

(This was the second part of the briefing for the same wargames weekend)

The SIAS officers, now reinforced by more volunteers, some of them armed, send out a patrol to establish just what has been going on in the countryside between them and the sea, while Judge Cooper and Mr Geach the Mayor put the town into a state of readiness. All set their hearts and minds to the task ahead and then grave news is announced – the Telegraph lines have been cut!

The two Police Constables finally make it back to town with their new ‘friend’. Hopefully, Old Jock Trubshaw is reasonably sober to have told of his midnight encounters “wiv some nasty ‘Uns..

But now more information is needed – as to how many, and where they are, and what’s their intentions in coming here? Who leads them in this odd ‘invasion’ of East Anglia – surely this isn’t some scheme dreamed up by the Kaiser? Is the ‘Teutonic Twit’ really that hair-brained? Or can it really be the Arch-fiend himself?

The Light Railway has already proven to be a valuable link to Leiston and the coast, and the Station staff and signallers have worked hard with the Enginemen in getting the light engines and carriages made ready for another venture out. With the sun slowly rising over the North Sea, time is crucial and the enemy must be found and observed.

The SIAS party and their growing band of volunteer forces must now defend the centre of the town of Saxmundham from these raiders, prevent them from looting and carrying off any spoils, and capture any of them to interrogate and find out why they are here.

The Judge and the Mayor have done a fine job in preparing the town against these foreign agents, and lookouts have been posted, a dressing station has been set up for any wounded, and gallons of hot tea and piles of bacon sandwiches are available for the gallant defenders of East Suffolk.

Now it’s known the enemy are coming straight for the town, but many rumours abound as to why. Some are saying it’s a deliberate attempt on the capital, seize the railway and ride into London, others say that Colchester is the real target, again by using the railway. But most have now heard from Old Jock that the raiders are after some sort of Viking item that’s here in the town – and yet no-one knows what or where it is. The Mayor has ordered a few trusted seniors to investigate further, but a scour around the Bell Inn, and the small Museum by the Market Hall have found nothing and now the town elders are pouring through the town records.

So all the defenders can do now is await the assault and to see where the attackers aim for – and hope to stop them in their tracks before they can plunder the town and escape.


This part of the briefing led all the players to participate in the tabletop battle, with a lot more forces present. The actual game saw Deveraux’s forces push aside some of the hastily raised and poorly armed civilian bands, and some deliberate evil naughtiness occurred when some of Les Enfants Perdu shot down some nuns that had been taken hostage. A typical Deveraux Outrage!!

Amongst all that panic and indignation the forces of villainy broke into Saxmundham Church to raid the crypt for the Viking treasure, and hot-footed it back to the coast. The SIAS re-mustered what they could, including some Volunteer Riflemen of the Suffolk Regiment who had dashed into town from Sudbury, but alas they could not prevent the ‘Man of Blood’ from departing.

All-in-all, it proved the variant SG2 rules worked, and that it was also possible to mix gaming styles together too, to satisfy both wargamers and role-players attending the same games weekend. It’s something I should plan to repeat again sometime this year, now that we have IHMN and TMWWBK – two sets of rules that lend themselves perfectly to this concept.

Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 1

(A prequel campaign, this was used as a ‘tester’ of the adapted Stargrunt II rules at a wargames weekend several years ago)

That ‘Man of Blood’ is loose again in the world. After his deprivations in Imperial China – taking advantage of the feuding Governors and Warlords – he’s now believed to be running opium again back into Western Europe. It’s also believed that Von Ludecke is still with him – Beck is reputed to be somewhere in North America & D’Allange is said to be in the Middle-East.

Deveraux has been gathering his forces of anarchy and mayhem, and the Imperial Powers have managed to set aside their differences and recognise his threat to all their regimes.

His many acts of outrage – the raiding and sinking of French steamships in the Gulf of Lyons, the bombing of the Hotel Excelsior in Sarajevo, the abduction and subsequent ransom of Princess Elenia of Moldavia, and the derailment of the Ottoman Army’s Smyrna Military Train – are just the latest in a long line of sinister events all perpetrated by Deveraux and his minions, Les Enfants Perdu. Their exploits blaze across the front pages of the Western Press and all clamour for direct action against the Arch-fiend.

Now, strange sightings of lights afloat in the darkness off the East Anglian coast has prompted Horseguards to send some officers to Saxmundham to investigate. Before they are able to arrive however, the train journey is interrupted.

The northward train has been stopped just south of Saxmundham by unknown hijackers, who have removed the engine and tender, leaving the passenger carriages stranded. The party of officers have then resorted to walking up the line, in the dead of night, to the station and there they meet the Stationmaster and two Police Constables.  On the Platform stand Detective Inspector Symonds and Judge Cooper, who address the assembled throng of servicemen in the Passenger Waiting Room. The London-bound Express has also lost its engine and tender, blocking the line coming south from Norwich.

Peculiar happenings have also been occurring in this area, in the dead of night, close to the shoreline, and two Police Constables managed to signal earlier using Morse Code with their patrol lanterns, that they have under guard a valuable yet delusional witness. Gun flashes and then a considerable noise of gunfire were observed and heard from their direction, and Symonds now needs assistance in finding and bringing back his two Constables and their valuable witness.

To that extent, Judge Cooper has just proclaimed the Local Emergency Powers Act in the town’s marketplace and a small band of volunteers have been gathered, some armed with shotguns, to assist. What’s desperately needed though, is leadership and military training and that’s why the Judge and Symonds are glad of the officers arrival.

The town is buzzing with unusual night-time activity, the gaslights are burning brightly tonight, and the townspeople move about the shadows with a determined purpose – what mystery waits out there in the darkness. Some of the apprentice boys have been dispatched westwards, on bicycles, to pass on news of the situation and to seek more assistance.


This was the first part of the briefing for the game weekend and was resolved with some combined ‘kriegspiel’ and role-play, along with a few tabletop skirmishes. The participants soon got ‘into character’ – it only needed some reminders of Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as that man Sherlock, and away the game went.

Dalliances with Danger – The British Make Plans

(More content from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service

Formed within the last few months and based at the mountain fastness of HMAS Collingwood, the Aerial & Telegraph Station in the Hindu Kush, the Detachment, as it’s more colloquially referred to, has the logistical backing of the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service under the guidance of the Procurement Section in the Foreign Office. The current main component part of the Detachment is the Aerial Gun Sloop HMS Alacrity.

And the Admiralty played its role too – placing a recruiting advert in the London Gazette, whereupon a special team then had to be drawn together to sift and interview the applications.

Gentlemen Officers To Be Recruited!

Gentlemen officers of either service actively sought after & encouraged to join the new Royal Naval Detachment – The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service.

Successful applicants should expect to serve away from Home stations & to barrack at the Aerial & Telegraph Station, HMAS Collingwood in the Hindu Kush. Service on board the Aerial Sloop HMS Alacrity will be taken at Naval pay equivalent to current rank, off-reckonings & mess bill accounts to be arranged with the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service.

Applicants can expect to serve all over the World as required by the Minister of War & the Admiralty. Life onboard HMS Alacrity will involve long flights & lengthy journeys, & we beseech you to consider this fully before applying – gentlemen of nervous flying dispositions & suffering from vertigo should consider that this service may not suit them. Able demonstrations of marksmanship will be standard & studies of anthropology & linguistics will be held as an advantage. The Detachment is keen to recruit medically & technically-minded staff as well. A familiarity with the Naval Aerial Service is preferred but not necessarily required. All applicants will be chosen on demonstrated merits, good conduct & excellent records of service.

The Detachment is also eager to encourage the recruiting of officers from the Dominions, Colonies & Dependencies of the Empire – in the case of the latter two, please provide a supporting letter of reference from your superior officer or civil administrator. Horse-riding & sports are actively encouraged as leisure pursuits. We regret that there are no facilities for Officer’s families & again beseech you to bear this in mind. Servants & batmen however can be provided accommodation & horse remounts will be provided for.

Duties will involve the positive investigation & prosecution of agents & provocateurs set on de-stabilising the trade & well-being of the Empire. An analytical mind is as valuable as a good strong sword-arm. Training & briefings will be regular & all Officers will be expected to attend. Battle drills will be carried out along with the Station’s garrison of Bluejackets & Sikh infantry & Officers will be expected to participate.

Interested parties should apply in writing in the first instance to:

Captain William H. B. Norris MC
Room 14 East, The Admiralty

For the main part, travelling expenses to the Hindu-Kush must be met in their entirety by the successful applicants. Advances may be made available.


This set the initial scene for the specialist British Imperial unit, it’s base and it’s initial vessel, for the very start of the campaign. Certainly the idea of a model of HMS Alacrity set a few of the gamers off with thoughts on modelling the Aerial Gun Sloop in 28mm scale.

The Gazette recruiting advert also made for an excellent poster in the right gothic font.