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Brian Wolfe

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Blog Entries posted by Brian Wolfe

  1. Brian Wolfe
    The British and Their Tea.
     History is not just about the dates of battles, there is the consideration of planning, tactics, and supply, as well as establishing objectives and the logistics in general to be considered. All of these factors and more could never take place or even be considered by the British Military of the Victorian era without the key ingredient; tea.
     Some background:
     Before we get out the Brown Betty let’s consider tea and the way different counties enjoy this beverage. I understand the British like their tea with milk and in some areas of the UK with the addition of sugar; this, along with the offer of “I’ll be mother”, a non-gender specific nor indicative of any genetic kinship, offer to pour the brew when ready. Those in Canada who, like me, hail from the far Northern regions of Ontario take our tea black. This is often made in an old tin pail over the noon-day camp fire (during hunting season), using water from a beaver pond, hello Guardia, (also known as Beaver Fever, which sounds like an emotional obsession of a teenage boy; only it’s much worse)  after skimming the green pond plants from the surface of the boiling water. No wonder you can’t poison a Canadian from the North. From what I have read the Americans like to bulk soak their tea in questionable harbour waters before the drink is prepared. The only reference to this comes from the Boston area so they may no longer practise this strange behaviour. Exactly how the Australians take their tea remains a mystery though I suspect water from a Billabong may be involved. If this is so then they too might be like Canadians and difficult or even impossible to poison. I asked a friend from Australia this question and was bluntly told to f**k off. I may have touched on a violation of the State Secrets Act.
     The question in the minds of many readers, unless I have already “lost” you, is when did the British stop transporting loose leaf tea on campaign? If you never thought about it, then you might just be doing so now. It’s OK, you can admit it, we’re all gentlemen here; it’s in the Club’s title. 
     While reading the book “In Abor Jungles” by Angus Hamilton, chronicling the Abor Expedition into North Eastern India, 1911 to 1912 (see page 180), I came upon this interesting fact.  A warning about the book in general: if you are not into in-depth studies of relatively obscure military actions then this book may not be for you. Mr. Hamilton covers the traits of the different tribes in infinite detail and these sections are about as exciting as the list of “Begets” found in the Book of Geneses. Just to be fair that section of the Bible is actually quite important as it sets out the lineage of a certain family. Just so I don’t spoil the ending I suggest you read the Book.
    The Quote from “In Abor Jungles”:
     “The tea was Liptons of very good quality and the subject of a somewhat daring experiment, as the well-known firm had been permitted by the Government of India to provide supplies of compressed tea for the use of the expedition instead of loose leaf that hitherto had been favoured. A special machine was sent to India for the purpose of compressing the tea; and, as it was the first time that troops on service in India had been given compressed tea, the military authorities were taking a keen interest in the experiment. Happily the departure from the customary methods of carrying tea was a great success and it was pretty well certain that compressed tea will be employed in future wars. The advantage in transport was very obvious, a chest of forty-five pounds only measured 20 inches by 15 inches by 8½ inches”.
    -First printed in 1912
    I say old boy, never thought your life would be enriched by an article regarding tea here on the GMIC, did you?
     Photo below is from the book, “Military Ink: A pen at war”,
    available through IMA (International Military Antiques Inc.

  2. Brian Wolfe
    You might not have much of a life if you are working on compiling material for a book titled, My Most Memorable Games of Solitaire, or writing a blog titled.
    Why Collect? – The Best Answer
    In my ongoing quest to ascertain why things are they way they are and why people do what they do, I offer the following blog.
    A question often asked on forums and by people we meet who are aware that we collect is “why do you collect”.  For the sake of this discussion I will stay within military collecting but the answer to that question is generic to all forms of collecting; Beanie Babies to bayonets.
    The classic answers to this question are quite varied and I have no doubt that some are actually truthful, or at least believed so by the orator. I should digress for a moment, which I am wont to do with more frequency than my readers would prefer. There is a tendency among us sceptics to treat many answers to this common and more or less personal question with a strong dose of cautious doubt.  The Internet makes it very easy for those who may not be on speaking terms with the truth to say just about anything.  There is no chance to apply lessons learned in the field such as changes in facial features or body posture to ascertain probable truthfulness or attempts at deceit.  As an example, many years ago I was assisting a Sergeant in an investigation and we were interviewing a street person who had been known as a storehouse of useful information.  This was a chance encounter and, in retrospect, interviewing her on the street was very poor procedure, the repercussions of this lapse of protocol is a subject for a story another day.  The young lady was known by the name of “Cigarette Mary”; and she had intimate knowledge of many of the local characters. After we had written down her information the Sergeant said, “That was a very interesting story, Mary; now tell me something I can believe”. Interestingly enough she did just that which eventually led to several arrests. I will admit that I was a bit naive and didn’t pick up on Mary’s body language; however the experienced officer “had her number” as soon as she began speaking.  This would have been impossible through emails and holds true not only for deceit but in cases where the truth is being related.  I tell you this as many of the reasons given for collecting may sound a bit contrived yet can still be one hundred percent genuine. To paraphrase Mr. Ed Haynes, “Anything is possible and can happen; and probably has; twice in India”. People also tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. A collector’s spouse says, out of frustration, “You really think you need another old gun”, all the while thinking that funds are stretched far enough and that the collector’s an idiot.  The collector in a vain attempt at transferral says, “It’s an investment for the future dear, it’s for the kids’ college fund”, even though the kids are as dumb as a bag of hammers and have no hope of attending college unless it is in a custodial capacity. He is actually saying, “Get off my back!” To which she says, “If you say so” at the same time rolling her eyes.  This is “woman-speak” for “Jackass”.  Don’t feel too bad if you didn’t know this as it has taken me two marriages and seven decades to decipher “woman-speak” and I still get it wrong most of the time. On the other hand it seems that womankind is born with the ability to recognize male smokescreens for what they are.
    By this I am saying that any reason for collecting has the potential for truthfulness or at the least the answer to the question is believed by the person delivering the response. I think it is a given that at times we all tend to give answers to questions from others in the form of what we believe they want to hear.  “Oh, sorry officer, I didn’t see that stop sign”, certainly comes to mind. In truth I saw the stop sign and I am anything but sorry yet I will not hesitate to insult your intelligence with this lame excuse.
    Other answers such as having a keen interest in history, or an urge to preserve history, a way to honour those who serve, a great need to research and investigate are all possible valid and truthful answers. While I don’t usually buy into these statements they are still better than, “Because I am a latent psychopathic homicidal maniac”. Though that might be a quite humorous response in certain venues, not involving an official police investigation in the sudden disappearance of your business partner.  The answer to the question as to why someone collects that I find hardest to accept with any degree of validity is as an investment.  True some may have found that magic formula to turn “war junk” into gold, however it smacks of alchemy to my ears.  Over all it is a very poor investment considering the return on your money over even a lengthy amount of time and certainly if you need to get your hands on the cash quickly...see how fast the dealer/sharks start to circle. Even the ridiculous idea of 50% on the dollar or pound would be a terrible return on investment; let alone the 20% or lower most dealers are willing to offer.  Either way it’s a loss.
    So what is the answer to the question of why we collect, barring any of the usual fantasy answers that may actually be true in a few cases?  I think the best and shortest answer in almost any case is, “I like collecting and it makes me happy”.  At the end of the day isn’t that what should really matter?
    Happy New Year Everyone.

  3. Brian Wolfe
    Today my Provincial Government has issued the list of essential services that will remain open with all those not on the list ordered closed “until further notice”. Contacts in the Regional Police Service (friends who still don’t have real jobs) have told me they are gearing up for a spike in the number of domestic disturbance calls due to the government policy of Social Distancing and Quarantining of those infected with COVID 19. It is somehow a little disturbing that two of the essential services that will remain open are the Beer and Liquor Stores. Domestic violence with the addition of alcohol seems an equation that just doesn’t add up; but then what do I know.
    Obviously I don’t always agree with my government but they are still my government and compliance (so far) is the only option open to a fellow like me. To that end my wife and I had decided to practise Social Distancing, though my dear wife, Linda, has suggested that knowing how I am a stickler when it comes to the law that I should move into the shop “until further notice”. I hope she was joking. Regardless I also decided to keep a personal journal of how this Social Distancing was going to affect me, here it is below.
    Day one 06:30 hours (6:30 in the morning for normal humans; those with real jobs):
    Today is “Garbage Day” the day where our garbage is picked up at the curb. Not wanting to wait until first light I decided to place the garbage at the curb in darkness so as not to be seen by others (a.k.a. “them”) who might want to socialize. Avoiding opening the garage door and triggering the automatic interior lights which might attract “them” I went through the adjoining shop. Cautiously opening the door and only exposing my head far enough to detect any potential socialisers I quickly looked both ways up and down the street. Seeing none I decided it was safe to take a second look, a slower and more complete surveillance of the neighbourhood. Again seeing none I, as quickly as possible, taking all of the garbage I could in one trip advanced to behind my truck which was parked just outside of the shop. Then as I decided the coast was clear I heard a noise and froze in place fearing to move a muscle least I give my position away. Could I have imagined it, was there a noise and if so was it from one of “them” walking their dog this early in the morning? Or, could I have stepped on a twig or scuffed the bottom of my boot on the driveway pavement. There it was again! I dropped the garbage and bolted for the shop door, slamming it shut behind me. Looking through one window then another, the blinds bent upward and downwards to allow just enough to see, I checked for danger. Nothing, no one; all was clear and safe. As quickly as possible I dashed out, grabbed the garbage, ripping one bag open as I ran, leaving a trail of trash behind me like the debris trail of the Titanic. Depositing the bags at the curb I sprinted back to the shop and safety. Now I was worried that I had alerted the neighbours, those socialisers, of our existence. I had waking nightmares that they would surround our home moaning and muttering, “Hi neighbour” or “Hello how ya doin” over and over in an attempt to break down my will to become “one of them, one of them”.
    After this scare passed I decided to check my i-Pad for the updates on the virus, more disturbing news. “Ok”, I told myself, check back in a little while and the screen will have changed revealing new information. I did so but the screen remained the same, again a while later and still no change. I threw the i-pad onto the couch with disgust as the news reports obviously were not coming in. What the Hell was going on?
    Later I noticed I was developing the “Repetitive Action Syndrome” doing the same movements over and over like the caged animal I was becoming. Then perhaps the most horrible syndrome I have ever experienced swept over me. This uncontrollable urge to leave the house and purchase as much toilet paper as possible (bathroom tissue to you more refined folks), but I don’t have time for niceties, I was in panic mode. Must have toilet paper, lots and lots of toilet paper. Oh my God, from what I have read this could be the first sign that was actually coming down with COVID 19. I was going out of my mind, trapped like a rat in my own home, possibly surrounded by socialisers trying to infect me. I had this overwhelming sense of impending doom or danger, a fear of loss of control and possible death, a rapid pounding heart rate, profuse sweating. I was trembling, shaking actually; I had shortness of breath and tightness in my throat, chills and hot flashes. We’re doomed I tell you DOOMED!
    Day one 07:00 hours
    Linda called me for breakfast and coffee. Things are much better now.
    Seriously, my friends, this COVID 19 is no laughing matter. It kills, not everyone but make no doubt about it, as they say on television’s Forged In Fire, “It will keel”. Think about a pair of tigers loose in your neighbourhood. Some will die some won’t. Ignoring this virus is like going out against the advice of smarter people after rubbing yourself down with pork chops chanting, “Here kitty, here kitty”. Don’t be that guy.
    Stay well and take care, we can’t afford to lose a single member: not even the “pork chop guy”.
  4. Brian Wolfe
    “It’s the Gospel”; a term meaning that something is beyond reproach, to be taken at face value, no questions asked. The Gospel also, of course, refers to a religious book and this is not the topic for debate today. We use the term, perhaps a bit liberally, to mean that any work, especially a work requiring research, is the definitive word on the subject.
     Here we are interested in military history and or collecting artefacts of historical military importance, at least important to the individual collector. In our search for information regarding our chosen areas of interest we might venture out and purchase a book or two or failing that refer to the Internet. Once we have such a book or information gleaned from the multitude of websites far too often we simply file that information away as fact, cold hard unshakeable fact. Accumulate enough of these factoids and you are an authority or expert on the subject; you might even decide to write these down and publish a book of your own, or post them a website or forum such as this one.
     Here’s a hypothetical problem, your research was flawed, for whatever reason you were incorrect about a fact, or two. Someone else reads your work and after a while felt they too would like to write a book and like a virus your error has been passed on, and on and on. As each new author researcher has taken your work as the definitive word on the subject, used your work, and those who followed you, to qualify their own work and now, the “virus” becomes pandemic.  
     We read the work by author “Z” (to indicate author zero in 1966) and take his findings as correct as we might for Author “Y” (in 1975, revised edition in 1988) and then Author  “X” (in 2003, 2010 and again in 2013) as we also purchased their books. I used the term “we” as I too tend to accept the works of researchers who then become authors. Why not, after all they have done the research and we (I) have simply taken the easy path and relied on their hard work. The problem was and still is that they all missed the research done in 1977 by another researcher.
     This is where I feel compelled to state that I am not criticising the work of any of the authors noted (or hinted at to be more accurate) as their work is for the most part completely on the mark. However, we need to remain sceptical and continue to ask questions and look for answers, not simply accept what others tell us is true.
     You cannot take anyone’s opinion either verbal of written as gospel. Well...except for mine of course.
    The sword I have managed to avoid to mention is the 1816 Baker Rifleman’s Sword which I will cover in a proper article later this winter in the section, “Let’s Talk British Swords”. I won’t go through the material found here again in the proper article but rather stick to the history of this very interesting and rare British sword.
  5. Brian Wolfe
    I Hate Gardening!
    Today, early in morning, I decided to get some long overdue gardening done. Specifically the removal of yucca bloom stems and young smoke trees growing where they are unwanted; they are a plague and I would not recommend them to anyone but the most dedicated gardener. I had a half filled garden waste bag that is of the type to be picked up by the garbage men for composting and decided to top that one off before starting new ones. It turned out that the stems of the yucca bloom spikes and the smoke trees had gotten too large for the small nippers so I went into the garage and retrieved the larger lobbers. So back to cutting up the heavy stems into small lengths that would fit the bag then using the nippers finishing off the flesher stems, placing both into the partially filled bag from earlier trimmings. The bag was pretty well filled to the recommended height so I decided to return it to the garage to await its transfer to the curb for pick up tomorrow morning. As I lifted the bag suddenly the weight was gone, nothing, no resistance to my arm muscles what-so-ever. A split second later I looked down to see a column of compressed vegetation the shape of the bag sitting there like some weird sculpture and me with the now paper bottomless cylinder still clutched in my hands. Within the next second gravity took over and the column disappeared leaving a pile of an indecipherable green mass of different species of weeds and leaves. The bottom of the bag, the "cul de sac" I suppose, had given way dumping its contents leaving me to relocate it into a new bag.
    OK, no need to call upon the wrath of Odin to fall upon all gardens, I just decided, for a change, to apply my favorite "stiff upper lip" British slogan from the War years, "Keep Calm and Carry On". Having finished with my retrieval of the detainees attempting an escape of their paper prison I proceeded to roll the lip of the full second bag in an attempt to close it somewhat. My efforts were met with a sudden ripping sound and upon looking down I saw that the end of a small branch, about the size of the lead pencil, had caused a rip to appear the width of the bag. Why we call them "lead" pencils is somewhat of a mystery as the rod in the middle of its wooden casing is actually graphite. There went my attempt to draw upon my British ancestry of stoicism and in its place language that would have made the roughest East End Londoner bush. In the end, I took a third bag and slipping it, much as if it were a boa constrictor, over the second bag top end in first making it ready for tomorrow's compost pick up.  The surrounding elderly neighbours could heave a sigh of relief and were satisfied that they need not press the last number of 9-1-1 in order to call the proper authorities to deal with some demon possessed psychopath about to go on a rampage through everyone's flower gardens. 
    Yes peace and tranquillity reigns supreme once again in our quiet little neighbourhood and the citizens, mind numbingly marking time until the end of their days, can sleep soundly in their beds this evening knowing that no one managed to summon Grendel; though history will argue that a serious attempt was made. 
    As for me the rage has turned to the realization that I hate gardening and this afternoon I am going to the hardware store and purchase 50 gallons of the strongest vegetation killer I can find.  Agent Orange, where are you when I need you! Bwahahaha.
  6. Brian Wolfe
    Serious Problem Solved – For Now.
    It has been a while since I’ve written a blog and thought I should catch you up on News from the Home Office. I would like to first reference a couple of earlier blogs dealing with collecting, “Space: The Final Frontier” and “Why Collect – The Best Answer” as a lead-in to this entry. We discussed the problems of a collection outgrowing the space available and the reasons for collecting. Thanks goes out to Beau Newman for his comment under the blog, “Why Collect” and pointing out that collecting is a poor investment; a topic that ties well into what I am about to talk about.
    I don’t know about you but I used to have a habit, perhaps bad, depending on your point of view, where I would attend a show and not finding anything that I was looking for purchase something that “fit into the collection”. Let me explain. As an example when my main focus was British military medals and finding nothing new and exciting at a show I would purchase something like a brass tobacco/candy box that was given out to the troops in WWI at Christmas 1914; or another such box that was given out in 1900 to the troops in South Africa wishing them a Happy New Year during the Boer War. These are real examples but could have just as well been an artillery shell, bayonet or even an elephant goad or ankus. You’ve probably heard or even said yourself, “That would fit into the collection”. You can only do that so many times until people visiting your collection use the term “eclectic”, but not necessarily in the best way. The Victorians liked clutter, but organized clutter. Their dens and collection rooms were a menagerie of things natural and man-made and photos of such parlours demonstrates this well; just Google this under images to get the idea of what I mean. My wife insists I was born in the 1850s and never really left that era. I might agree with her in that my collection room and office are indeed a somewhat organized chaos, I like to say it is organized, or even selective, hording.
    Rest assured that I have read and researched the Victorian period and back as far as the George II era and have no delusions about wanting to have lived in those days. There are children back then that had lives so much harder than mine as to make my life seem like extreme luxury by comparison. Having said that, I see no issues with wanting to study what I will term as pre-Edwardian eras.
    My past addiction to making purchases that “fit in” started to fill my available space to beyond capacity. These I have often said were those, “What the Hell was I thinking?” purchases. I realised I needed to make a change in my thinking, a paradigm shift so-to-speak. To this end I called a couple of local antique dealers, pickers, if you will, to come over and see if there was anything that they might consider interesting enough to purchase. This is much like the television program “American Pickers” or the poorer cousin program “Canadian Pickers”. They come to your home and look through your collection and if something sparks their interest and is for sale they make an offer and after some negotiation a deal may made. If you have seen or even see re-runs of the program “Canadian Pickers” and are not Canadian please let me assure you that these two DO NOT exemplify what Canadians are like. Enough about them other than to say I do not respond well to rude and crude people! This initial purge of odds and ends rid the collection of the most unwanted items but still there existed too many collectables and themes to which I no longer desired to continue to add specimens.
    A couple of years past and I started to become very aware that I had to do something as the problem of space to house the collections simply had not been alleviated. Looking at options: Option One: Take over the guest room across the hall from the main collection room. That might work but where would the in-laws stay when they visited, solution: SOMEWHERE...ANY WHERE ELSE! That was starting to sound better and better all of the time (in my head). Of course that would also include our grandchildren as there would exist no spare room, so that was out of the question. Option 2: Sell off a sizeable portion of the collection. I almost threw up a little in my mouth just at the thoughts of this; however, as time went on and the problem just got worse (it never occurs to me to stop collecting)  option 2 started to sound a lot more palatable.
    How to decide? Since the medals were housed in shallow drawers in several cabinets selling them off would not give me the needed wall space, especially considering that above each cabinet the wall space was already occupied. And that material is not up for consideration, for one reason or another. I thought about it and decided to apply something I had experienced years ago.
    Have you ever visited someone who lived in a house where the water contained an extreme amount of sulphur? If not allow me to say that it smells exactly like rotten eggs. I grew up on a farm so I have always assume everyone knows what rotten eggs smell like, the odour they add to natural gas smells like this. The people who live in houses where there is sulphur water get so used to it that washing in and drinking the water is no problem at all and they no longer actually detect the smell...they become “nose-blind”, to paraphrase a current television commercial for air freshener. We can also get so used to our surroundings that we no longer notice things like a messy garage or perhaps a storage room stuffed with odds and ends in boxes prompting us to keep that door closed for fear of a junk avalanche.
    Were there areas in the collection room where this applied; turns out that there was. The police headgear was the first to grab my attention. I really never looked at this display much anymore and usually when I did it was to dust off the hats and helmets. This was a good sized display and other than a few helmets that were gifts I felt I could part with them. On the opposite wall was another good sized display of modern firearms. I really like my British military musket collection (housed in another display that had originally been a wide closet and therefore has garnered the title of “The Musket Closet”. This display of modern weapons was situated in another former closet, a nine foot wide and 28 inch deep closet one of the many I had built in our daughters’ bedrooms, anticipating the day when they would hit their teen aged years and their wardrobes would explode, needing more space. While I dust, clean and re-wax my musket collection quite frequently I found that as time passed this became more of a chore when it came to the modern firearms.
    I called two dealers I have know for a long time, one who has several police collectors waiting for new items to become available through him and the other dealer who has a website and sells everything from muskets to land mines. I evaluated the two collections and decided on the price I would accept and made appointments for them to visit. I will admit that perhaps because I have known these two fellows for decades I was a bit “kind” with my expectations and both disagreed that I was too low on my estimates and offered well above my asking price. Perhaps they felt the same way toward me, being long term acquaintances, as this is a rare occurrence indeed when trying to sell to dealers.
    I finally had my space and lots of it. The office is now pretty much the police room with painted truncheons, tip-staves, headgear, lanterns and police swords. The collection room is now devoted mainly to Victorian and pre-Victorian items, after a small bit of renovation to the modern firearms area. Do I miss those items? No, not really, I think I was done with them and it was time they went to other collectors who would appreciate them a lot more. I have decided to let some medals and small odds and ends such as bayonets and police helmet badges go and will be setting up as a vendor at two different militaria shows in our area starting this fall. Of course one problem solved often results in a new issue. There were quite a few spaces to be filled in the new display area so some of the swords displayed will be “rotated out” as I upgrade and others are duplicates. OK, I’m really stretching things to call this a problem; perhaps a “happy results” to reducing the collection as a whole is more accurate. Collectors, like soldiers and police, are only happy when they are complaining.
    As to the idea of an investment, mentioned earlier. It is a poor investment concerning the return on the dollar, even when dealer/friends are involved. Here is something you will seldom here regarding “investing” in collectables. If we take $10,000.00 as a figure for example and invest that in true investments you will do better in the long run financially. However if one person, say you, takes that $10,000.00 and puts it in collectables and your neighbour spends his money on trips to some exotic locations then in ten or twenty years you both need a new roof on your house here’s the difference. You will be able to recoup at least a portion of your ten grand and after your roof has been repaired perhaps even be able to purchase some pots and pans to lend to your neighbour when it rains. If you want to use this angle the next time your hobby spending becomes an unwelcomed conversation between you and your spouse, just know that you are on your own. Your first mistake could have been taking my advice in the first place; my logic has a track record of being slightly flawed.
    Happy collecting.

  7. Brian Wolfe
    The Game of Thrones
    The Game of Thrones or How I Wasted 8 Years worth of Sunday evenings – and Enjoyed Every Minute.
    The television series “The Game of Thrones” (GOT) is ”all the buzz” at the moment, on the Internet and around office water coolers everywhere. I know as I constantly have to chase the staff back to their duties here at the Home Office. Just because I don’t pay them and they are not allowed outside...ever, should not give them the right to waste time. Ingrates! They should have read the small print.
    If you have not heard about the series, “The Game of Thrones” you are either hiding under a rock or have something actually important you would rather be doing then you might not understand much of this blog. When I think about it, how would that be different from most of my blogs? This series has had a longer run than the Seven Years War (easy math that even I can do) and has been compared with England’s War of the Roses. I really must read the full history of the War of the Roses as I’m not sure I can fully see the parallel but must let that go until I have a more informed knowledge of that conflict. I do have a question to all of the history buffs reading this and especially the British members of our forum. Wouldn’t the War of the Roses, in fact, be the first English Civil War?
    I won’t go into a condensed version of the GOT as that would be far too long even for one of my blogs. What you may not know is that somewhere around half a million viewers have signed an online petition (for all that’s worth) to have all of the current writers fired and the last season rewritten. I usually don’t make the type of comment I am about to make for fear of insulting a reader. This time, however, I must ask what sort of egotistical self-centered person with an over inflated sense of entitlement thinks GOT should be rewritten to suit whatever fantasy they may have. We must remember that the current writers have only 8 episodes to wrap up 7 years of plot lines and character building. One season to kill off the bad guys and finally see who will sit on the Iron Throne, that’s the one made out of partially melted swords. Man, would I like one of those for my collection room; it would go so well with what we call the “Death Chair”, a chair of which I am the 4th generation and 6th family member to own. But that’s another story, perhaps for Halloween. Speaking about subjects you might not want to know about. No! Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) why did you do that. I didn’t need to see that! It brought back the feelings I had when our daughter announced that that she was pregnant. Yes. I know how she got that way but I really didn’t want to shake the hand of my son-in-law and congratulate him for impregnating my little princess. Something much more sinister sprang to mind, “Have you ever sat in the Death Chair you little son-of-a-&*%$#?” Now back to the story.
    It could be that those unhappy with the eighth season simply don’t want to face the end of what has, in my opinion, been a great run. I can understand that emotion; however, it may be better to end it now rather than feel like is has been drawn out well past viewer interest tolerance. After all we are a fickle lot.  
    It’s a bit like reading about the history of the Napoleonic Wars and being upset that the Battle of Waterloo ended too quickly. Sorry, but I don’t think anyone is about to rewrite the Napoleonic Wars and then stretch out the Battle of Waterloo just to suit some fans of the era and its history.
    We have to look at The Game of Thrones in the same way we look at a history documentary, the ending has been written and that is that. The only advantage we have is in knowing, after watching this series for the past 8 years that it will all end this evening, Sunday the 19th day of May, 2019. A day which will forever be known as the “End of The Game of Thrones Day”, a day where we can gather around the Iron Thrones that will have been erected in every town square around the world, wearing our GOT t-shirts while we try to hum the theme music in unison and at the same time trying to forget that scene with Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie).
    (Shudder), I need a drink.
  8. Brian Wolfe
    In this essay I would like to talk about writing in general as well as blogs themselves.  It seems odd to me how we say that we are going to “talk” about something when it is actually in print.  I suppose I should have written, “I would like to write about...”, it would have been more accurate. The other issue that comes to mind is audio books. You don’t read an audio book, you listen to them; this being the case should they even be called books, since you read a book and listen to a recording. I can’t help but wonder how anyone can be so busy that they need to be read to, like a child at bed time; or is it a matter of limited reading skills or out and out laziness.  The books I like to read are historical and scientific [particularly earth science] and I confess to watching lectures on You Tube far more often than I like admitting.  If you are looking for a couple of good presenters on You Tube, pertaining to history, I suggest you try, Lindybeige or Matt Easton scholagladiatoria [just type matt easton into your browser and go to the choice that includes scholagladiatoria, this saves typing in a long Latinized name].  He talks mostly about swords and HEMA [Historical European Martial Arts] where Lindybeige talks on history as well as some quite philosophical topics.
    As to blogs, at least the one I attempt to pound out here, there are inherent problems.  For example it is difficult to stay away from politics and religion when they play such an intrinsic part of the story of military history.  It is also difficult not to unintentionally draw comparisons between the past and present state of what is going on in the world today. It’s not as if this is anything new, for example, a writer in the 1850s [an era in which my children are convinced I was born] could as easily have made a connection between the past and their particular time period.  The difference is that he or she is not taken to task today about what they wrote “yesterday”; a current writer on the other hand is quite open to verbal attack for such comparisons, intentional or otherwise. No one likes to constantly apologize for the misinterpretation of his work by others.  When it comes to religion I could say that I don’t care what your religious beliefs or lack thereof may be. However, that’s not completely accurate as it is not a matter that I don’t care it is a matter that I do not believe it is any of my business. 
    Then there is the matter of what words to use and how to use them.  Most people do not write the same way they speak.  The reason is simple, in my mind, as when we converse we don’t have the time to pick what we might think to be a more appropriate word. I will be honest here and say that I do at times stop in the middle of spoken sentence and say, “what is that word...let me think...oh yes”, then include it and carry on with the thought.  I know it drives people crazy; unlike religion, this is a case where I really don’t care. I also occasionally do use Latin terms when I talk with others, not a lot, but I use them.  My family has gotten used to it and friends pretty much ignore their use, and at times me no doubt. I do struggle with what words to use; should I go for the word I have in mind or try to find a monosyllabic word to assure all of the readers will understand and thereby avoid being seen as pretentious. I think that it’s better to be seen as pretentious rather than to feel like I am being condescending toward the reader, I’d rather be seen as being more pompous rather than risk insulting fellow members.   Yes, I see the irony in using “monosyllabic” over “single syllable” when I claimed that I wanted my writing to be clear to the reader. My thought on this point is and has always been that if you don’t understand a particular word then look it up; that’s what I did and still do; it’s basic vocabulary building. My last point on viewing people as being pretentious is to pose the question, ‘Did you think the writer opened the dictionary, picked out some very long words then wrote the article around those words.  Certainly he or she had foreknowledge of those words in order to have used them in the first place.
    The fact that some of the potential readers may not have English as their first language is not lost on me.  I come from a bilingual country [Canada] and stand as a proponent of bilingualism. Having said that my grasp of the French language is less than minimal; this is the very definition of hypocrisy.  I can imagine how I would feel attempting to read an article in another language other than English and I regret that I am unable to accommodate them...c’est la vie. I treat learning a second language much like living a healthy life style and getting plenty of exercise. I fully support those so inclined and enthusiastically cheer them on while they run by as I sit in my lawn chair, Pepsi in one hand and a bag of potato chips close by giving the participants a hardy thumbs up. Just remember that in 100 years we all be in the same condition, at least for me it will be no surprise.
    In conclusion, I will attempt to be more mindful of the need for clarity in my writing while not drifting too far away from what I term as a writing style. After all it has taken me decades to get to be this annoying and pretentious.
  9. Brian Wolfe
    Guarantees in Life – Guaranteed
    “If you purchase our product we guarantee it will improve your life and you’ll be a happier person”. “Use this product and we guarantee you will be 150% more likely to stop smoking.” First off there are no guarantees in life; based on the theory of probability some external force with assert itself which changes the basis of the initial guarantee’s claim. Secondly, in the second example, 100% is the maximum of any given quantity. One could argue that government could, and at times will, spend 150% of a budget. However this is far from accurate as “they” have, in fact, spent 100% of the budget and then exceeded that so-called set amount by an additional 50%. This would make a guarantee only a proposed likelihood of a claim based more on speculation than fact. That is, of course, negating the possibility that the guarantee is an out and out lie in the first place. Oh man, I just realized how obsessive I am!
    So, what guarantees, or more accurately “likely outcomes to a given action”, do we have in life? Well, if you cheat on your spouse there is likelihood (guarantee?) that you will be ordering dinner for one from your local Chinese Take-Out restaurant in the near future. There is the old joke of a guarantee of starting a business, any business, and after the first year having one million dollars in your bank account. The secret is to start with two million. If we apply this to collecting, and you know I will, and how to avoid fakes and counterfeit collectables there must be some rule of thumb that guarantees you will not be “taken in”. There indeed is a guarantee; one of the few cannot fail actions you can take to avoid being a victim. That action is to avoid collecting all together. If you are going to collect anything there will always be a chance you will run into the occasional fake on the market being offered as an original. You can, however, mitigate your chances of being parted with your cash by knowing your subject as well as possible. 
    It should be noted that there are several companies, both in the Western and Eastern “worlds” that produce excellent reproductions of historic weapons. These are meant for those who are engaged in historical recreations of battles as well as those wanting an ancient weapon without the horrendous cost of an original. For example those studying ancient Greek or Roman history may like to display one of the iconic helmets on the book shelf along with the appropriate texts. Even iconic movie swords and props can be purchased at a reasonable price compared with the original “used on set” props. The problem for the serious collector of authentic arms, or other militaria, is when these copies are aged and distressed to mimic originals. This is where the knowledge of your subject is indispensible. The one item that comes to mind at the moment is the WWII Japanese NCO sword, please, oh please do not call them “samurai swords” as they are not, these are made in China at the present time. The first tipoff is that they are pristine, a case of looking too good to be true. If you want one for your office or den and want to keep the costs down then by all means purchase one. I meant your home office not your place of work; we need to be considerate of those who do not appreciate weapons in the workplace. Personally I think a nice brace of duelling pistols in your office desk drawer sends a great message to staff. At least, here at the Home Office, staff is aware that I am open to discuss our differences, at least from ten paces away.  See image below.
    A resent post regarding a British police truncheon brought out several good ways to test for authenticity. Sending paint samples away for analyse, exposing the paint to black light were a couple I can recall. Taking samples is a bit too invasive for my liking though black light has been used for years on antique furniture as new glues are florescent and old glues such as hide or animal glues are not. The problem I find with any tests you can perform is that they are always after you have made the purchase. Many of the larger museums are allowed to perform tests prior to making a purchase however an amateur collector seldom, if ever, would have that luxury. This is not an indictment of those suggestions as they can indeed be helpful, but far too often we need to make decisions “on the spot” so-to-speak.
    This is where we discuss the real number one way to avoid being taken in by fakes; know your subject. Even if gathering information and getting familiar with the subject of your collecting delays the actual acquiring of specimens it will be worth it in the long run. Believe me sellers, dealers if you like, do like to gossip and being easily fooled gets around, and so don’t get labelled. If you make a purchase later on after you establish yourself as a more or less knowledgeable collector it will probably be passed off as’ “it happens to everyone”. As an example, I wanted a British Mk.III (Turtle Shell) helmet for my display of WWII British firearms. In the course of my search I found several Mk, IV helmets, at shows, which were clearly marked as D-day helmets even though the Mk. IV was not issued until well after WWII. The easy to discover give-away is in the helmet’s liner. The Mk. III liner looks a lot like the liner for the Mk. II, sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Brodie” helmet. The Mk. IV has a liner that looks like a sphincter...oh, grow up (I so hesitated to use that simile, as you can imagine). Knowing this and that the rivets are lower on the Mk. III making it ride higher on the soldier’s head helped me avoid purchasing the wrong helmet, regardless of the seller’s insistence that the Mk. IVs were examples of D-day helmets. I guess they thought D-day was in the 1960s.
    Swords, my current obsession, also have “tells”. If a British sword simply doesn’t feel correct in the hand, that is to say the balance is too point heavy as an example, you should be wary. This is not true of all British swords; however, if the “fit and finish” seem off then don’t touch it. Even if this particular sword is authentic you don’t want a specimen where the fit and finish is “off”. There will always be another one coming your way in time so be patient and wait a little longer for a better example; one you are comfortable purchasing.
    Another point I will discuss is in regard to dealer and collector/sellers. Dealers have, we hope, a reputation to maintain while a seller has little to nothing to lose if you are “taken in” by something he is selling. Caveat emptor [buyer beware] should be a warning for the buyer, however, far too often it is the defence offered by the scam artist; a defence minus a refund or an apology, of course. So should you trust the dealers? Oh, Hell no!  My advice is to trust no one, not until they prove themselves trustworthy. In collecting the question is not, “Are you paranoid?” but rather “Are you paranoid enough?” I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands to search for swords so I purchase all of my specimens from one collector/seller whom I have grown to trust completely. My spare time is limited so this makes collecting less stressful for me and allows me more time for our business which always seems to “run” into the weekend. I also like to handle specimens before I make a purchase therefore I avoid on-line dealers and certainly on-line auctions. It reminds me of the old saying about buying a “pig in a poke” (Google it if you have never heard this before).
    Finally do not get caught up in a collecting “one-upmanship” competition with a fellow collector. That often leads one to making rash decisions on purchases. That has not ever happened to me; however, one time at a show a sudden bout of the flu hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks (tonne in metric). I was rushing to get out into the fresh air and spied a sword, stopped and made a rash decision to purchase based mainly on price. I suppose there were alarm bells but I dismissed them as just the spinning and ringing in my head caused by my flu symptoms. Yes, it was a copy, which I gave away to a fellow who wanted it to hang in his living room over the fireplace. He was a happy camper, his wife not so much so.
    Last caveat and story, I promise. First the caveat; do not pay a nickel, or a penny for that matter, for a story. They are not to be confused with provenance and worthless other than for entertainment value only. While at a show I stopped at a table of a “seller”, a man in his mid sixties, I would estimate. On the table was a selection of Third Reich memorabilia and a few WWII Italian items. Among these was an Italian Fascists dagger that had an extremely elongated eagle’s beak. You see these from time to time at shows, the real ones (see image below), and they are called Italian Air Force Officer’s daggers or Italian Fascists Youth daggers, I’m really not sure which they are. I do have two originals in the collection, one that my father brought back from the war. He was flying British soldiers back from Italy to Britain and during a “lay-over” he purchased the dagger from a kid for two cigarettes, yes a kid and for two cigarettes...again grow up, it was the times.  Mean while back to the show, I said to this seller that the dagger he had looked like a piece that was made post war for sale to the returning veterans and not an original. This was fairly common and many returning vets wanted a souvenir of their trip. Everyone both in Italy and Germany in the post war era needed to make money so it was pretty well open season on gullible tourists. The seller was infuriated, to say the least. I will be blunt now. Why do fat guys think they are intimidating? One punch in the chest and they go down like a bag of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum, for you science guys and gals) and away to prison go you. It’s a no win situation so rein it in chubby! Yes, I too am over weight and old so I would probably not survive an altercation either; no prison for a corpse. Is that a positive spin to that scenario; perhaps not.
    He insisted that he got the items from a former high ranking German officer who was a friend and neighbour of Hitler himself (this just kept getting better and better). He went on to say that he had purchased the whole collection and had to take the “Italian crap” to get the good “German stuff”. I am part German and we know the Germans make good stuff, however my wife is part Italian and now he was treading on thin ice, not a good idea for such a rotund gentleman. I said, “So this German officer was a neighbour of Hitler’s?” “Yes”, he replied,” they lived on the same street.”  To this I quipped, “Do you think they car pooled to work every day?” To that I was told where to “get off”. You can always tell when a bully type is backed into a corner, they can’t control their temper. A little life skill tip: On the “street” the one who can’t control their temper becomes the target.” There is my community service tip for today. See what you can learn here at the GMIC?
    Interestingly, in closing, the dagger was worth something in that it told the story of the history of these daggers, in a manner. His story, while mildly entertaining was worthless, however pissing this fellow off was, for me, priceless.
    Until we meet again here at “News from the Home Office”, happy collecting.

  10. Brian Wolfe
    Space: The Final Frontier
    or the Confessions of a Addict
    It starts out quite harmlessly, perhaps at the insistence of a friend, peer pressure as it has become to be known. It seemed harmless enough; after all it was just a “one off”, and not something you were intending to become a habit. Not like those others, all consumed by the drive for more. You know them, with their excuses of being able to stop at anytime, no one is getting hurt and staying well within their financial parameters.  After a while you started to look for more sources, buying wherever and whenever you could, tying the purchases to every aspect of your life. Vacations, business trips and days off all centering around getting more until you start using money you have yet to earned, getting out  the plastic, the card, the old swipe and carry; “they” make it seem so easy. Then comes month’s end and payment must be made, made for product that you have already acquired and it seems pointless to have to pay for something you already have. Pay the minimum and you’re good for another month of obsession.
    Yes, it starts out as one item, a single item, a curiosity some would call it, then another similar or related object makes itself available and you have two; it’s only two, a pair nothing more. Besides they look good displayed on the mantle or bookshelf, what harm could that do? Then, much without you even realizing why, a third appears and you have three, you now have a collection my friend; a small collection to be sure but a collection all the same. No big deal it’s not that it takes up a lot of space; after all you can keep or display the trio anywhere. This is where a normal, rational human being would hear warning bells, a red flag would be raised or some sort of alarm would sound. You are not quite at the “tipping point” that point where you are still part of the majority of humans, functioning like everyone else.  Without warning of any kind a fourth item presents itself and you think, “Who wants to be just like everyone else”? You’ve now crossed that line, the Rubicon of no return; you are a collector my son, one of the lost, the hopeless; the obsessed.
    At first being obsessed is not a real problem for you or even your spouse, there is lots of room to accommodate your collection or in my case collections. It all fits well in a corner of the basement or your office/den and it keeps you occupied and it is all pretty harmless, or so it seems. As the collection grows ever larger, much like an infestation, hardly noticed for a long time, you find the little area that you have been allowed to use to amass your “stuff” is getting too confined. You and your collections are starting to feel choked, smothered almost trapped, the need for space, more space, is becoming a driving force in your life. Just when you and your collection are starting to suffer claustrophobic anxiety one of the kids is going to University. An empty space is now available and there is no need for an additional guest room and you certainly are not going to entertain the child’s moving back home. What to do. You and your spouse have joked about how to make the room unavailable in case the graduate decides to take up residence with you again until “they find themselves”; a common excuse to free-load off Mom and Dad.  The idea of filling the room to the top with concrete has been kicked around in jest, but you, you have a much better idea...
    Ah, your own room, the collection room, your sanctum sanctorum a place for you and the collection. Not you and “your” collection but you and “the” collection as it has now taken on a life of its own, ever growing, ever consuming resources and that most vital of all necessities, space. Life, my friend is indeed a cycle, an ever revolving wheel of searching, acquiring followed by more searching for material to feed the collection. Just as it seems as if the very walls of the collection room are about to burst the second child announces plans of “leaving the nest”. All praise the collecting Gods, you now have a second room ready to accept the overflow that has accumulated; and so the cycle starts anew.
    Oh happy days, the elation of space to fill, of territory conquered; no more stacking specimens in corners placing them in boxes for future display.  You think you are once again the master of space; oh you poor, poor deluded man.  It never fails that history repeats itself and room two, the room you now call the “Sword Room” has started to constrict you. “The Collection Room” is now the “Main Collection Room” as you feel the need for definition and while there is more in the new “Sword Room” than swords and because you have submitted to the reality that these collections have become living entities you know the rooms deserve names of their own.  “Surely this cannot go on”, is not a thought that crosses your mind, not openly that is; still there is that nagging feeling that space is once again at a premium.
    Strange how as each child has announced her decision to move out, to school, to get married or to find their own place they have become your favourite child. As life would have it, the third daughter is moving and at this point no one doubted the destiny of the newly emptied space. A new problem, however, presents itself in the form of a need for a permanent photographic area and a “shipping department’ for two businesses that have taken off and are thriving. So while the third room is there it is not open to the collections in the same context as in the past and while the photo area supports the hobby it is not intended for its residency.  What to do?
    After just over fifty years of collecting, the last twenty with your present wife, you have the whole downstairs (basement level) to yourself; with the exception of a guest room which has been declared “off limits” to the collection and any part thereof by the true ruler of your house. Three rooms dedicated more of less to your collections, a three piece washroom and the family room which the whole family calls “the museum lounge”; which it pretty much is. All of this and yet there is that need, the need to feed the obsession; the need for space..
    The only answer seems to be a reduction of all that is excess and not required to keep the collections alive and thriving. A call to two dealer friends and an antiques “picker” is made and suddenly the Collections are leaner and perhaps improved somewhat. Gone are three car loads of mineral and fossil specimens, two dozen surplus Bobby’s helmets, and a collection of cameras, firefighting equipment and military radios. So many collectables gone but in their place is a tidy quantity of cash. This scenario may sound quite desirable however it is much like a drug addict getting clean and as a reward he is handed the keys to a pharmacy. Still there is the matter of all of those items you worked so hard to accumulate being gone, gone forever, as you realize that you won’t live long enough to ever collect them or like objects back again. You look around the empty room, a vacant place such as you have always been striving for and now have gained. In shock at what you have done, you take a deep breath and before you utter a sound you realize the horror that...
    ...in space no one can hear you scream.
    Happy obsessing collecting.
  11. Brian Wolfe
    It has been a week since Remembrance Day and I still see people wearing their poppy, the symbol of remembrance, on their jackets, coats, hats and even toques.  The poppy is to be worn from November 1st until 11:00 o’clock November 11th at which time it is to be left at the cenotaph or at least removed from your apparel. To be without a poppy from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, for me, would be the same as being out of uniform for a service person.  Of course no RSM will ream you out and I’m not allowed to do so, such is the pity of that, still there is a protocol that should be followed.  One could use the excuse that you honour the fallen or those who served and are still serving all year long and that is why you are wearing the poppy long after the 11th.  To that I will call “BS”.  If you mean to say that every morning that you get out of bed, or not, you remember those who served then, unless yours is a recent loss of a loved one, you really need to get a life.  Seeing a poppy worn weeks or months after Remembrance Day, at times even on the right lapel of a coat, makes me think that person is either the laziest person around or just completely insensitive.  Following protocol honours those who served and serve as much as actually wearing the flower in the first place.  I’ve seen some old farmers wearing the poppy on the side of what can only be called their “barn hat” due to the layers of filth that has accumulated there over the years.  The red poppy is no longer even a shade of true red, more of a reddish brown.  Oh, that certainly honours the service people; perhaps you could have some poppy patterned facial tissues or bathroom tissues made up so you can honour them all the day long, everywhere you go.  True, I may have crossed the line with that last sentence however in my mind no more than continuing to wear a symbol of remembrance at the incorrect time of the year.  I often wonder if extended wearing of the poppy is more a matter of a display sanctimonious self-rightness than one of respect; “Oh look at me aren’t I the pious one”.
    In my time I have known veterans from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War and I never got the impression from any of them that they expected or wanted to be made a fuss over all year long.  Ass kissing was never an agenda of theirs and never expected from others. Each year my wife and I attend the local cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies, even though neither of us still lives in our respective home towns.  After the ceremony we leave our poppies on the cenotaph, returning home, usually in complete silence, deeply moved by the reverence shown by our fellow attendees and the thoughts of the sacrifice made by others, and perhaps magnified by the lone piper playing Amazing Grace.
    In closing, if this blog has hit a nerve, made you angry, made you think or just made me look like the pompous ass that I am, and then it was purpose served.  I will not apologise for your failure to follow protocol and will sign off with this note; Get With the Program People!
  12. Brian Wolfe
    It’s that time of the year when being a cynic and more than slightly sarcastic becomes just too easy.  With the in mind I decided that I would leave the stating of the obvious hypocrisies of the season to younger cynics just starting out in their careers and make this blog more of a public service to the members.
    It seems that all the yearlong we answer question after question solving problem after problem as they arise then that annual question that seems to have no answer is thrown at us. “What do you want for Christmas?”   The mind goes blank and all that we seems able to offer in the way of response is, “Oh, I don’t know, don’t worry about it; I’ve got everything I need.”  Well, my friend, if you have everything you need you just aren’t trying had enough.  I think books are one of the best gifts one can receive, if not books themselves then a gift card from a book store.  With this in mind I would like to suggest four books that I believe to be most useful for the collector and history buff.  I have not included prices as they fluctuate greatly from country to country and a search of the Internet will fill in any details I have forgotten.
    The first two are for those interested in swords.
    The British Cavalry Sword 1788 – 1912, Some New Perspectives, by Richard Dellar Is perhaps the best book on the market today that specializes in the British Cavalry Sword.  This is one of the newer books available and at 326 pages and with lots of photos it is a wealth of information on the British Cavalry Sword.  I spend a good deal of time researching British swords and cavalry swords in particular and would not want to be without this book in my library; to call it the definitive work on the subject would be a gross understatement. I have recently been in contact with Mr. Dellar and he informs me that a companion volume to this book will be ready for sale in the early part of 2019.  If interested in this book you can email the author directly at http://thebritishcavalrysword.com. You will not regret this purchase and I dare say the companion volume as well when it hits the market. 
    British Military Swords, 1786 – 1912, the Regulation Patterns, by Harvey J. S. Withers is a very good resource for the identification and study of British swords in general.  The 176 page book is crammed with photos of each sword and the details of those weapons in full colour and covers all British swords including cavalry, infantry and department swords.  This is perhaps the best book for any collector and especially for those who want a general and quick reference.  I find myself thumbing through this book over and over when I start to research a new sword for the collection.  The author also includes a price guide but I would caution the reader in using this guide for anything except museum quality specimens.  The swords you will encounter at shows or on websites are worth well below the figures stated. I would whole heartedly recommend this book to any collector at any level of sword collecting or for those who occasionally encounter a British sword and would like a quick reference book.
    The next two books, both by D. A. Kinsley, deal with British history and may easily be found for sale on the Internet.
    Swordsmen of the British Empire, by D. A. Kinsley is a collection of letters and memoirs of British officers, soldiers troopers and naval personal from time periods dating from before the Indian sepoy mutiny to the Boer War. These are personal accounts of swordsmen who were there and in the thick of battle.  The 630 page book, with the last 230 containing period artwork of battles is one you will find hard to put down.  Mr. Kinsley’s narrative between the sections only serves to heighten ones interest and adds greatly to this fascinating volume.  I would call this book an eye opener as to the effect of the sword in battle, a subject all but lost to the modern student of British conflicts.
    They Fight Like Devils, Stories From Lucknow During the great Indian Mutiny, 1857 – 58, by D. A. Kinsley is again a collection of letters and firsthand accounts of the taking of Lucknow from the hands of the mutineers.  At 224 pages it is another book that is hard to put down once you start reading.  Since these two books are firsthand accounts of the ferocity of the fighting, on both sides, there is no exaggeration through literary licence. Some of the actions are covered by two or even three different writers giving the most accurate portrayal of the fighting during this horrific struggle.  This is a very easy read and like the other book noted above the narrative written by Mr. Kinsley acts to set up the next section very well and makes for a smooth almost story-like book.
    If you are interested in any of these books but have further questions please feel free to send me a PM and I will try to answer them as best as I can. 

  13. Brian Wolfe
    Hello and welcome to my blog which may start out insulting some and to that I will apologize in advance as insult is not my intention; a serendipitous plus perhaps...
    Four years ago (2014) the Chairman suggested that starting with August and continuing to Nov. 11, 2018 might be an excellent time to run articles and content dealing with the First World War. From what I can see there has been little effort in that area, though I will admit to two factors.  First that I was away for some time fighting an ongoing medical “condition” that has, happily for me, gone into remission. Secondly, my main interest rests with the Victorian Period and just prior, that is to say from George III to the end of the Boer War in 1902. So my WWI material, other than medals, is limited.  I offer this glimpse into “The Life of Brian”, the non-movie version, to suggest that perhaps there was a lot more WWI content during the past four years than I was aware.  If you could have written more but just didn’t and cannot offer an acceptable excuse, such as I have, to cover your laziness, then think again.  If I can dig up an alibi then so can you, you’re just not trying hard enough.
    Seriously, as that last statement was purely in jest, I have an artefact in my collection that I have been waiting patiently for the past four year to post.  If I may digress for a moment I need to explain something else, an admission, to some small degree, of my compulsive obsessions, and that is the criteria I like to apply to as many collectables as possible.  I like to collect firearms that have a manufactured date that commemorates an historical even.  As an example of my criteria, I have a British percussion pistol dated 1842. During the retreat from Kabul in 1842 there occurred the Battle of Gandamak in which most of the British defenders of the position were killed.  There is a famous painting showing an officer with the same pattern pistol. While the pistol in my collection was never used at that battle, or not likely any battle for that matter, it still has a date that commemorates the events as well as being an example of the type of pistol used during that time. 
    The specimen I have so long wanted to post is a Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) Mk.III* date marked 1918.  The specimen certainly has the “look” of war-time use and the date made me decide to make the purchase, nearly ten years ago.  I could have purchased a better condition SMLE, that is certain, but I purchased this rifle for the significant date of 1918.  Since the purchase, and just prior to 2014, I read an article that stated that many of the rifles that were in the trenches at the moment of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918 were marked with the letter V by the soldiers who were present.  I recalled what appeared to be an “odd” damaged area on the stock of my SMLE example and when I looked at it again, this time more closely, there was the letter V clearly carved into the stock.  It looks to have been done a long time ago, though one can never prove it and the whole story of the carved V nothing more than urban legend, still there it is on my example.
    Provenance is a strange beast.  Many offer word of mouth provenance and expect that to stand, others doubt even the most detailed documentation.  The “experts” are only giving what should be an educated opinion and even if they document their opinion it boils down to just that, an opinion. I have no provenance to say that the V is original to the trenches on Nov. 11, 1918.  I will say that there was no “story” to this rifle offered by the seller, like me I do not think he had even heard of the story.  Bottom line is that I never, and I repeat, never pay a dime more for a “story” and of course neither should you.
    So where does this leave us?  On November 11, 2018 I will pick up this rifle and think of that soldier who may very well have held this firearm in his hands, in the trenches, at the very moment the Great War ended.  Is “it”, did “he”?  No one can tell for a certainty but what I can tell you, for me, is that it brings to life the struggle, suffering, terror and loss of comrades that lesser men such as this humble scribe cannot even begin to fully appreciate.  What was going through the mind of our hero as he sat in his trench, still half doubting that the war was finally over, with this rifle across his knees as he carved the V into the stock? That degree of relief and the pent up emotions must have been truly over-whelming.
    Let us all lift glasses to those who served, those who fell and those who still serve and give a moment’s reverent thought to them all.
    Respectfully yours,
    Brian Wolfe

  14. Brian Wolfe
    Yes, yes I am an Expert!
    Or, Experts and other random things I rant about.
    For years I have ranted and railed against the proliferation of so-called “experts”, especially on the internet; these people who seem to hold onto the idea that if they write something then that which they have written suddenly holds validation as the truth.  I am reminded of the old movies where the Pharaoh announces to the scribes and others in attendance, “As it is written so shall it be”. Well, it may indeed “be” such as a law but that is not necessarily true about every “so shall it be”.  Writing that all pyramids from this day forward shall be built with the point down will not make it so.  Besides if that were possible think of the impact it would have today on Ponzi schemes. 
    A few weeks ago we had house guests for a week in the form of my wife’s brother and his wife.  My brother-in-law is not the stereotypical brother-in-law featured in comedic performances but rather a highly educated man and to call him an extremely successful business man would be a great understatement. He related that he was once told that the definition of an expert was someone who has read one chapter ahead of you in the instruction manual.  He is an engineer so “instruction manual” suits him; my point of reference would have been “history book”. But, you say potato and I say, “ Solanum tuberosum”.  Put the cell phone down, no need to verify that botanical name, I already looked it up.  Yes, this time I cheated. 
    This whole “what is an expert” thing got me to thinking.  My brother-in-law is correct, an expert is not necessarily someone who knows everything about a subject, but simply is required to know more than you.  Did we really think that our math teacher in High School could calculate the mass of Epsilon bootis (it’s a binary star system)? Personally, the teacher who comes to mind had a bad habit of counting the number of weeks with his thumb on the fingers of the same hand to determine when the school year would end and “this insanity would stop”.  It was just a habit, one I have been guilty of from time to time, and I am sure it was an un-necessary exercise...or was it?  By the way, go ahead and fact check Epsilon bootis on Google I was just “winging” that one; though I think it is correct. Besides it was an astrological joke as the teacher I am thinking of would have had to use the fingers on both hands (binary system, get it; yah, you got it).
    Speaking, or more accurately writing, about fact checking though the use of Google on the cell phone, there was a time when students would attend a play bringing with them a copy of the piece and check to see if the actors knew their lines perfectly.  A number of years ago my wife and I were attending a Shakespearian play in Stratford, Ontario.  The play was the Tempest and stared William Hutt as Prospero in what was to be his final appearance on stage.  The front row was filled with High School students all armed with their copies of the Tempest ready to “fact check” the actors’ ability to deliver their lines to the text book’s exacting standards.  Ah, the school system, what better way to enrich these pudding headed accidents of failed birth control than to have them follow the performance word by word in a text book.  I suppose it was appropriate as in their future employment they would then be equipped to pose the question, “To flip the burger or not to flip the burger; that is the question”. I will pose this question regarding the education system.  When a student excels we credit their teachers, however, when a student performs poorly in school where should we lay the blame?  Of course, with a malfunctioning condom!
    Back to the play, as the play is the thing. Mr. Hutt was the first actor to insist that he perform using the English language commonly spoken by Canadians.
    It was most amusing to see the students flipping pages back and forth looking for the lines spoken by Mr. Hutt.  Don’t worry little ones that beeping in the back of your head, indicating that the fries are done, is simply your future calling you.
    Before you comment on my gibes at the burger joints I was there both on the grill and the front row at Stratford trying to follow along with the play Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Man, what was Bill Shakespeare on when he wrote that play; he must have been smoking some pretty righteous weed.
    To close this series of rants I will reaffirm that I am indeed an expert, as long as you don’t read ahead of me in the manual. Expertise is such a fleeting and very subjective state.
    By the way, did you catch my intentional error? I used “astrological” in
    place of “astronomical”. One is the study of the planets and stars; the other is right up there with the study of sugar plum fairies and unicorns pooping marshmallows.
    In keeping with today’s political correctness and a check of the forum’s rules I realized that astronomy may in fact be held by some to the degree of a religion.  With that in mind I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments. Also I am led to believe that if you consider yourself a “sugar plum fairy” that it is an acceptable life style choice and again I apologize for any offence I may have unintentionally given. It’s an age thing and I must admit to having not kept up with today’s trends.  I would ask that anyone, sugar plum fairy or otherwise, please carry an empty marshmallow bag and clean up after your unicorn, their droppings tend to gum up my lawnmower.
    As to unicorns, I have nothing against them in the wild or domesticated, just clean up after your tame ones.  See photos below for clarification.

  15. Brian Wolfe
    All of My Heroes Are Dead
    All of my heroes are dead and I have, for the most part, killed them.
    I’ve never been one to hero worship sports figures, those over paid adolescent jocks who actually think their political, environmental and economic opinions matter.  I find it strange that someone who hits a small ball with a baseball stick sending it over a fence then running around a diamond shape track stepping on pillows laying in the dirt is paid more than someone who will possibly be saving your life after a heart attack, a police officer or firefighter who protects you, your loved ones and your stuff or takes up arms to defend your way of life. I’ve seen the advertisements for the Fifa world cup which involves grown men again running around a field this time kicking a small white basketball and trying to get it into an extra large hockey net without using their hands.  The ball catcher/stopper fellow never seems to stop the ball, as far as I see in the commercials, and makes a futile dive in the relative direction of the ball, missing it by yards (or meters).  Then the fellow who kicked the ball last is mobbed by his team mates in jubilation.  What’s with that!  The net is the size of a school bus, how could you possibly miss?  At least in the game of ice hockey the net minder is almost as wide as the target net.  Often the net minder will fall on top of the hard rubber disk thing, which substitutes for a ball, to stop a score from being recorded against him.  Then the other team members who are close by will poke the goal tender with their curved bladed hockey spears until the referee, dressed in a zebra-like black and white striped shirt blows his whistle.  This is a signal that it is time for fisticuffs between the two teams. Sometimes the extra players the teams have brought along are allowed to leap over the fence, behind which they were sitting, onto the ice and join in the melee. After this some of the team members from both sides are given a “time out” and must sit on a wooden bench with the fellows they brought along to watch the game while their little friends get to continue playing. It’s all very confusing. These are great games for children but for adults, who often throw tantrums much like spoiled brats, it seems ludicrous to me. 
    I have stated that all of my heroes are dead, true enough, but I didn’t actually kill them (figuratively) myself; the culprit was the truth.  The other factor, for the most part, is that my interest lies with the Victorian era or more precisely starting with the Napoleonic Wars (pre Victorian) until the end of the Boer War (post Victorian).  Therefore, of course my heroes are all truly dead in that sense.
    It is not always the truth that “kills” heroes, or more accurately hero worship of historical figures.  A WWI Canadian hero, for me growing up, had always been Billy Bishop, the WWI leading flying ace.  A number of years ago there was a book written offering the mostly unfounded theory that he could not have actually shot down the number of enemy planes that he had claimed.  It was pointed out by some that it was ironic that a German had authored the book discrediting an allied pilot.  I have always thought it was ironic that a country that prides itself on its diversity would point out the nationality of the author.  All of this prompted the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa to erect a notice with the Billy Bishop display pointing out that resent critics had doubted these accomplishments.  Well done War Museum! As Canadians we seldom crap on our heroes but let someone else do it and we’ll be happy to take a stand were we don’t have to actually take a stand. We are positively and absolutely in support of taking a stand against taking a stand, unless that makes us look like we are taking a stand; then no comment. Or, “We’re totally against taking a stand against taking a stand, unless you are not upset, then we will strongly take a stand against not taking a stand”.  Please fill out the questionnaire below and we will attempt to come to a consensus, as our opinions may change without prior notification. Thank you for your understanding, unless you don’t understand then we apologize for taking up your time.  Have a good day, please call again.
    Then again if there are enough people who don’t like what the Canadian War Museum has to say with their displays, such as the bombing of civilian targets during WWII because it up sets the War Vets then they change it.  To Hell with the truth if it means taking a stand and we’ll be quite clear in not taking a stand, because we are not for or against it.  Facts are the facts and war is war, I would think the museum would have figured that out by now even if the public, desperate for heroes, wants to reject the truth. 
    Your dad (and mine) didn’t go out to kill civilians!  Here’s a shocking statement, neither did the German Airmen, in the beginning before Hitler decided to “punish” the British for bombing Berlin (arguments welcomed). There was no such thing as pin point bombing or taking out a target with surgical precision. You simply bombed the general area and trusted in a higher power to guide the explosives to the intended target.
    Heroes from the past seldom stand up to the scrutiny of time, the truth that was so carefully hidden suddenly shows these men for what they were; in most cases, human. The Duke of Wellington, Wolsey and Kitchener, all heroes of their day, or as a book I was just reading put it “Heroes in a time of heroes”, have had their darker sides. If we are to follow the Latin advice De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Of the dead, [say]   nothing but good), we sacrifice the truth.  If we are going to seek the truth then we must be prepared to live with what we find, no matter how distasteful. My heroes are still my heroes but now I see them as ordinary men doing extraordinary things that I would find personally impossible to accomplish.
    So let us lift a glass to the average man, among his kind have walked giants.

  16. Brian Wolfe
    Staying Sharp.

    Not too long ago I was attending a Gun Show in our area and had just completed a negotiation for the purchase of a Pattern 1908 British Cavalry Sabre.  The guard had “possibly” been repainted green in the same shade as the WWI models, though I see no indication that this is not the original paint job; some of these were green and some a khaki colour.  The seller stated that it had been issued to the Fort Gary Horse (Canadian) which to his mind warranted a slightly higher price than one might normally expect.  This example, I did agree, commanded a higher value but not for the reason he presented as the guard was stamped R.H.G. (Royal Horse Guard).  As a shameless fan-boy of Victorian era military, anything marked to the Horse Guard is prized.  “Hold on there sunshine”, you may be thinking, “haven’t you forgotten the dates of Victoria’s rein (1837-1901) or missed the fact that the sabre is a Pattern 1908?”  The Pattern 1908 was in fact accepted into service by King Edward VII (1901 –1910), rather reluctantly according to some sources as he considered it a very ugly pattern compared to those patterns that came before.  I considered this specimen a real treasure and therefore was prepared to pay a bit of a premium. For a change the lack of attention to detail was not mine and I came home with a treasure, in my opinion.  Granted I could have pointed out that the stampings did not support his original claim with the intentions of negotiating a lower price, however, since he felt the sword commanded a premium price and I agreed, albeit for a different reason, therefore I feel no remorse at withholding the information.  A case where Caveat emptor was somewhat reversed; Caveat venditor perhaps? 

    The Household Cavalry and I believe Royal Horse Guards still use their Pattern 1892 Mk.II for ceremonial purposes, however during the WWI period they were issued the Pattern 1908 while on active service.

    By way of some explanation as to why, if I am so inclined to collect Victorian era black powder military firearms and swords, have I added the Pattern 1908 Cavalry troopers sabre and the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sabre to the collection?  My collection theme, and I do have one, (a method to my madness if you will), is that I like my collection to tell a story and yet not necessarily including every Pattern of sword or Mark and Number of every musket ever made.  Therefore the Pattern 1908 and 1912 is the final chapter in the story of British Cavalry sabres.  Also, I do collect in the “other direction” so the collection also has examples of weapons from George III, George IV, William IV as well as Victoria, a range from 1760 to 1901 or 1912 in the case of the last cavalry (Officer’s) pattern. 

    I find it interesting that the Patterns still in use today by Officers, though for ceremonial purposes only, end with the Victorian Patterns.  One exception that I am aware of is the use of the Pattern 1908 by Canada’s R.C.M.P. in their world famous Musical Ride.  Now, finding one marked to the R.C.M.P. would be a banner day indeed. 

    After I had secured the sword I slipped it into what is called a “rifle or gun sock” for transport around the balance of the show.  My reasons for this, other than treating the sword with respect and protecting it from any damage while it is in my care, is the unwanted banter that often comes from the vendors.  If you carry around a firearm or sword, for that matter, every other dealer is shouting out at you asking if “it” is for sale.  I find it rather annoying though I understand their reasons.  Sword collectors immediately recognize the shape in the rifle sock and some will ask if they can see what you have.  Naturally one would never decline to show off a new prize and the resulting conversation that follows.  Eventually I came to a table of a long time acquaintance of mine who is also a fellow sword collector. He is a collector of ancient Japanese weapons and armour, the real thing not the WWII NCO and Officer’s katanas or the cheap scrap metal reproductions out of China. I showed him my latest purchase and he said, upon handling it, that it was a really poor sword and felt awkward in the hand and he thought it would also be a poor sword for fencing.  It should be explained that this is common between us, his running down of British military swords and me asking once in a while, when no one else can hear, if a certain blade on his table came out of China recently.  I would agree with his tongue-in-cheek assessment  that the 1908 Cavalry Sabre feels much different in the hand than a Japanese katana, and he was as usual joking, as I have a couple of Japanese swords in the collection dating from the early 1650s.  I also agree that the 1908 would make a terrible fencing sword based on the fact that in my younger days I belonged to a fencing club, using the epee for the most part.  Then he hit upon the obvious that the 1908 had no true (sharp) edge and was “too dull to even cut butter”,  I have not experimented but I assure you the butter remark was a little over the top.  My friend knows his swords so his comments only elicited a laugh from me as I knew he was kidding.  The downside is that he now has one up on me!

    This has led me to thinking about the current trend on television to run programs comparing different weapons systems and warriors throughout history.  Comparing a ninja to a fifteenth century fully armoured knight for example.  Who would win?  First off there is no such thing nor never has been a ninja outside the realm of fiction and fantasy, so let’s call our imaginary friend a samurai.  They were both in more or less the same time periods but the warfare they engaged in was completely different calling for different tactics and equipment.  Also the samurai portrayed in these silly “competitions” is almost always indicative of the warriors of the 1650’s period and probably should at least be the fully armoured samurai of the 1500’s. Total nonsense!  No different than comparing the Japanese katana of the 1650’s, of which I have two examples in my collection, to the Pattern 1908 British cavalry troopers sabre.  Katanas are cutting, or slashing, weapons and the 1908 is a “thrust centric” sword, not even a true sabre; it’s actually more of an estoc.  True you can thrust with the katana but just looking at it tells you that the principal use is as a cutter.  You’ve probably seen samurai movies where the hero has just polished off 1,714 of the opposition’s samurai then flips his sword under his arm and stabs another opponent who is coming up behind him.  Nice move for the camera but not one that would be very useful on the battle field. To make my point, the distance from the body of the samurai to the point of strike (about 4 inches from the tip) on the blade is 42 inches.  The point of fatal contact with the enemy approaching from behind is 10 inches taking into account a needed four inches of penetration for a kill.  Why would the enemy not simply strike his opponent, who is facing away from him, using a cut at 42 inches away instead of coming within the 14 inch strike range of his adversary?  If you stand 14 inches away from your opponent it is almost impossible to make a power cut or even “give point” (thrust, or stab).  You may simply say, “There he goes again, making unsupported claims”. Surprisingly enough, while I may blend a couple of stories together to make one better tale every now and then, I never make unsupported claims.  Today was a very nice day so I went out into the back yard with my wooden practice katana (officially called a “bokken”) and my tape measure and carried out some experiments. The neighbours are used seeing to my so-called experiments in archeology.  Some neighbours tend to describe me as eccentric, for some reason.  There are probably less polite terms used when speaking to each other about their neighbour, I am sure. 

    If we now look at the 1908 cavalry sword and read the history behind it we find that it was designed as a thrusting weapon only and only while on horseback.  It was to take the place of the lance for the most part.  It is not a fencing epee or a slashing weapon, this I assure you as I have studied and participated in both European and Japanese styles of fencing. 

    In conclusion there is no comparison, not because one is superior to the other but simply because you can’t compare the two; they are totally different “animals”, different time periods and using different tactics. 

    I apologize that I have not included photographs this time.  I am not set up for photographing larger items and had a lot of trouble when I tried to insert Photoshop reduced backgrounds (canvas). 




  17. Brian Wolfe
    Hoarder to Historian

    One of the types of articles I absolutely distain are the “personal journey” stories with some sort of life changing message at the end.  The only thing intentionally placed at the end of one of my blogs is a full stop.  That’s a “period” for our American friends.  I actually say “full stop” just to irritate my Canadian friends who insist on speaking like Americans, which is alright if that’s what you are going for.  I said it was “alright” with one exception. One of my all time favourite modern actors is Benedict Cumberbatch, a British actor who has brilliantly brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, “Sherlock Holmes” into the twenty-first century.  As an open letter statement to Mr. Cumberbatch, please, please do not attempt an American accent as you did in the movie Doctor Strange.  Listening to him announce that he (his character) was an Am-air-ik-an was painful.  It makes me wonder what Americans ever did to him.


    To get back on track, while I was making notes for this blog I suddenly realized that the topic was pretty much about my own journey in collecting.  As I have said I really dislike those types of articles so I will end this blog with a tip on how you can save money to allow you to do more collecting rather than some hippy-like transcendental useless spiritual advice.  Yep, another public service announcement from the Home Office.  I suppose you are surprised to read that I actually make notes prior to banging away on my keyboard.  If you think I ramble on and on now, you should read the unedited notes. 

    Getting back on getting back on track, see what I mean; and these are the edited results.  Many of us start out collecting as hoarders, to a point.  Not real hoarders such as seen on television programmes that deal with the physiological illness of hoarding but the accumulation of specific items at an accelerated rate to the exclusion of any in depth research and study. As an example I offer the short story of a fellow I knew who collected British War Medals and Victory Medals from WWI awarded to Canadians from a specific regiment.  This was the same regiment he had served in during peace time just before the Desert Storm era.  It is understandable why he would collect WWI medals from his old regiment and there is nothing wrong with that.  Another fellow from his regiment was also trying the “corner the market” in these medals and a stiff rivalry ensued on the internet auctions between them, complete with bidding wars and heated emails between the two competitors. The fellow I knew would receive the medal or medals he had won then place them in a large zip-lock bag hiding them in the attic space under the insulation.  He claimed it was to foil burglars, however, considering he left the small step ladder in the same place directly under the attic hatch it was obvious he was hiding the amount he was purchasing from his wife; a fact that I know to be the true reason.  He often said that he intended to open a museum  to his old regiment but in reality even a few hundred medals is not enough on their own to fill a museum.  I have 210 drawers (I just counted them) filled with collectables, mostly medals and even that would make a pretty poor showing for a museum.  The fact that he simply stored the medals away, out of sight and out of reach of his wife, she is quite a short lady, makes me categorize his as a hoarder.  I will admit that I was in much the same category for many years then something strange (not Dr. Strange) happened.  My collecting started to slow down and research started to interest me more and more.  I say “strange” because as I aged my disposable income increased.  I am much happier now than when I was driven by an obsession to add to the “pile”, as organized as it was.  Now the accumulation of knowledge, and still adding to the collection of course, has become paramount in my obsessive little mind. Perhaps it is age or perhaps it is a simple matter of available space to house my collection, I’m not really sure.  The one thing Nature and a collector agree on is that they both abhor a vacuum and will try to fill any void.

    Now for that money saving tip.

    One of the areas one can save money and therefore have more funds to spend on a collection is by doing-it-yourself.  Take the high price of children’s shoes for example; they’re just little shoes so why do they cost so much? Why not make your kids foot wear in your shop; no shop then in your kitchen, as the materials are cheap and tools readily available in the average home.  Take two cardboard boxes of the correct size, or cut larger boxes down to the appropriate size; use the ones your latest collectables from e$cam arrived in.  Once you have them to the correct size cover them with duct tape.  I used silver but it comes in black as well.  If your child is a boy then adding a strip of “camo” duct tape (I used Gorilla tape) will give it that masculine look that most boys strive to achieve.  If you have a daughter then duct tape also comes in bright colours as well.  Take a black magic marker and draw laces on the tops of the shoes, after all we don’t want to emotionally scar the little buggers too much, and besides we are not animals.  Once this is done, “Robert’s your father’s brother”, you have a nice pair of shoes, and darn sporty looking if I do say so myself. 

    Just another public service from The Home Office...you’re welcome.



  18. Brian Wolfe
    I Hate Moving!

    It has taken a while but the Home Office has moved two doors down the hall and the vacated room is now converted over to a second collection room.  My dear astute wife is starting to suspect a form of Lebensraum is taking place within our home.  She has countered my resent move, generated by the need to expand my territorial claims, with a policy of her own which states that she will concede the space but this is the last time appeasement will be offered before some undisclosed action is taken.  I have assured her that if this latest claim is granted then I will make no further territorial claims.  Of course the agreement was written on a piece paper which she proudly waved to the family proclaiming that there was to be peace in our time. This is strangely starting to sound familiar.

    Like the size of most collections mine has waxed and waned over the years yet continued to survive in one form or another to the point where the space is filled and a move was necessary.  You will notice, as did my dear wife, that the option to sell off large sections of the collection never seemed to enter this equation.  To be fair I have reduced the collections somewhat in the past couple of months, getting rid of a lot of “smalls” both military and non-military antiques.  Naturally some of the items were used in trade for other collectables and the cash realized from the balance of the sold items was quickly rolled over into even more military collectables.  My latest obsession is a renewal of an old passion for British military swords, specifically Victorian and older.  So while at first it might have appeared that I was indeed reducing the size of my collection (my initial intention) as soon as the cash was in hand something took hold of my better judgement and more items were secured.  The other factor that foiled my good intentions was that the items traded and sold were indeed “smalls” but the items I gained in their place were swords; so not so small.

    Even though the move was not of any great distance there was the usual complaining from the staff here at The Home Office.  The computer needed to be moved and hooked up and book cases relocated, new sword racks constructed and a lot of rearranging so that neither collection room  looked too sparse, though the new room (former office) has ample space for a couple more years of collecting available.  A large and very comfortable arm chair was “liberated” from the family room and after turning it on its side, with a lot of manipulation through the door way, found a new home.  I doubt this chair will be reclaimed by the family as it was very difficult navigating it into the room, though it may end up costing me for a new chair to replace the vacant spot in the family room.  Perhaps they won’t notice.   

    Since I seldom post photos of myself or the staff members here at The Home Office I decided to make an exception this time, especially for those who wonder if there really is a Home Office complete with staff.  The photo below is of us and our move and a second photo thrown in just for fun shows a group of friends at a military show contemplating the purchase of a new addition to one of their collections.  The fellow looking on from the right hand side of the photo seems to have done well, scoring some nice Swiss military equipment.  Well done!

    That’s all for now as I am going into the new room with a cup of coffee to relax in the arm chair and admire the new additions to the collection.

    Happy collecting.








  19. Brian Wolfe
    The Value of a Collection

    A lot is said by collectors as to what their collection is worth. Last month I threw out a subject for dialogue regarding the use of avatar names on the Social Network sites and one of the comments was in regard to collection value; more specifically that there is a need for anonymity to help prevent theft.  This is a very valid point indeed and one that could generate much discussion on its own merit.  It has been pointed out that one may even discover someone’s identity if they use an avatar on eBay, for example, and their proper name here on the GMIC.  This may be accomplished by paying attention of what is in the background of the picture of the posted item for sale then noticing the same background here on this forum.  I’ve seen this myself in regard to one of the GMIC members who also sells on eBay, though I only know his real name as we both have been members here for a long time.  I am also guilty of this in that I used to sell a lot on eBay and always employed the same grey corduroy back drop cloth in every photo both on eBay and on the GMIC. 

    I usually wait until later in a Blog to get sidetracked but this time I started with being distracted, though it may be argued that it was after the first paragraph when this blog went off the rails, so-to-speak.  I leave that up to you.

    One comment, last month regarding security started me thinking, which is the very reason for these Blogs, about my collection and the attractiveness to criminals that it might present.  I do have a security system but not of the James Bond laser, poison gas type.  The concept that someone could easily cut the phone lines just outside of the house has been eliminated when I built a shop attached to the side of the dwelling.  The lines all remained in the same location and the shop was built over them so the lines are eight feet below the surface of the yard and enter the dwelling inside the shop.  We live in a small community and an extremely quiet neighbourhood where the biggest event of the year is when the first robin arrives back from the south in the spring.  So it is a fairly safe and secure neighbourhood in a small and low-crime town.  This left me with looking at what my collection was actually worth and with this exercise came a rude awakening.

    Exactly what is any collection worth? Certainly if you have kept good records of the amount paid out for your collectables you could state the cost of a collection.  Probably a figure best kept locked away in a secret safety deposit box and the key hidden from your spouse.  What you paid and what it is actually worth are two completely different figures.  If a criminal broke in and was able to steal whatever they wanted what would they take?  Firearms would be on the top of the list I am sure and then anything they could easily sell, usually to support their drug habit. Unless you have diamond encrusted military awards or solid gold medals the criminal may have to sort through dozens, perhaps hundreds of military medals in order to take only those made of silver.  Keep in mind most thieves are “grab and run” types and do not take the time to sort, especially if an alarm system is blaring away. Most pawn shops are hesitant to take in any quantity of so-called collectables, though anything that could be easily melted down may be more desirable to the less honest pawn shop owner.  I would say that electronics would present a more attractive target than 200 bayonets, even with their original scabbards. 

    Moving on from the possibility of criminal activity because you have either taken precautions to “harden the target” (police terminology) or preserved your anonymity by not allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry in to see your collection, let’s look at post mortem sales.  This may be the fate of a lot of our collections. Certainly our own mortality is not in question; unless you have found out something I haven’t.  If you have, sharing it would be much appreciated.  So here we are in a state of personal extinction, dead as a dodo bird and securely under six feet of dirt, with your collection in the hands of your heirs. I have found that spouses and family are fairly quick to dispose of the deceased collector’s hoard. It is not because of greed and the desire to pick the carcass of the estate clean, in most cases, at least in my opinion.  It is a time of grief and your collection is a small part of the whole issue at hand.  One should never discount how much your hobby has irritated the family and their point of view may not be that of the selfless parent or spouse but rather has always been a silent point of contention.  There may be a small bit of resentment over the time and money you have lavished on your collection, time and attention, if not money, that could and should have been spent on them.  This could be a moment of self-reflection for me, if it were not for my deep seated lack of empathy; my dear wife calls me her, “cold hearted old bastard”; that rather sums me up on so many levels.  In retaliation I call her, “yes dear”. Perhaps that should make me even more reflective but, nope, it doesn’t.  I’m sure my collection will be sold as soon as they can pry it from my cold dead fingers.  At least I hope they will wait that long. 

    So you are gone and your heirs go to a dealer or two and offer your collection for sale.  What could they expect to see out of your “investment”?  We’ve all heard such discussions between collectors and it usually goes something like this, “Those @#$%& bastards (dealers) will only give you ten cents on the dollar”. With this in mind I asked around and found that the range from those dealers who would actually offer an estimate varied greatly. The highest was from an American source at 60 cents on the dollar with the average here in Ontario at 20 to 25 cents on the dollar, Australia came in around the same as here.  Bear in mind that any dealer must consider the purchase of a whole collection as a long term investment tying his money up perhaps for years.  The highest estimate was from a collector/dealer with the lowest estimate from a dealer with a “brick and mortar” shop and therefore with the highest amount of overhead to cover monthly expenses.  The average came from dealers who set up at shows with little to no overhead. 

    Looking over my own collection, which includes firearms (all deactivated except my muskets, they are all in working order), I realize that I have two room filled with history’s unwanted junk.  Obsolete tools of war and medals to persons long gone that tell no real story on their own.  All items that any self-respecting thief (an oxymoron is I ever wrote one) would not risk his freedom to take.  This, you may think, would be a bit sobering, even depressing for me and it would if I weren’t so self-absorbed and believed my collection is indeed my treasure trove of historically significant objects.

    So what is your collection really worth?  To others perhaps an average of 40 cents on the dollar for your investment but more importantly to people like us it’s priceless.

    Happy collecting!



  20. Brian Wolfe
    To the Point, Part 1

    British Edged Weapons Problems.

    Getting Bent.

    Yet another function where my attendance is somehow mandatory, seated at a round table with barely room for five couples none of whom I know; if I did get to know them I am confident I would not like their company. Men in suits that look like they originally belonged to their fathers with dress shirts that are so small that the top button can only dream of ever being reunited with its intended closure.  A failed attempt to hide up the fact that the shirt is far too small made by disguising the open space with the large King Edward’s knot reminding one of a convicted felon, neck in the noose, awaiting the final drop to oblivion.  Then there is the inane conversation.  The ladies content to swap stories of grandchildren and the men struggling to find a mutually respected sports team.  My wife has cautioned me on several occasions about my conduct and what I should and should not say or discuss among those of whom I am unfamiliar. To the question as to whether I follow or have an interest in a certain sports team I now simply say “no”.  Apparently this is preferable, according to my spouse, to replying with, “not in the least”, to the sports question.  Personally I can tolerate those with single faceted, career related, interests at least they can be interesting and there is a slight chance that one can actually learn something new, making the sacrifice of my time, a finite commodity, somewhat worth the expenditure.  I like to hope that at least a couple of these posturing male gorillas attempting to establish themselves to be the alpha silver back has enough intellect to avoid metaphorically throwing their own feces and even accidently offering up a topic of interest; but sadly, no.  It’s not that there are no topics that I could be engaged in to discuss, even debate.  Of course history, but also science and the feared taboo topics of politics and religion, both of which I am quite capable of carrying on a civilized, or a more heated, conversation.

    Finally there is an oasis in the midst of this sea of banality, the “seven minute lull”.  It has been said that during any conversation, I suspect even more so during trivial banter, there will be a lull in the conversation every seven minutes or so.  It is times like these that I find myself wishing there was a terrorist waiting in the lobby ready to rush in, encased with explosives, screaming some ridiculous babble, intent on ending our existence.  Oh, would it were so. I assure you that I would run up to this fanatic, hugging him, pulling the detonator pin myself; but, again, sadly no.  Just prior to the so-called lull and my wish for escape, any escape, someone said, “The problem with today’s society is social media”.  Eureka, the topic for this month’s blog suddenly came to me.  No, no, not today’s social media as my “world” is the mid to late 19th century; it is the media of the Victorian times and in particular the “fake news” (yes, I know the modern reference) as it pertained to the British military swords and bayonets of the day. Oh, yes, the topic of what is wrong with the world today quickly deteriorated into what was wrong with today’s youth.  From what I see today’s youth is basically not a lot different from the youth “of my day”. I just may not have yet reached the age where I am convinced that I know what the problems of today are and especially how to solve them.  Though I suppose some people are wise beyond their age; yep, sarcasm.

    We are all exposed to today’s media, be it through the handheld devices, laptop, PC, or traditional media.  It is apparent that some sources are very bias toward a certain political idealism or popular consensus but while we may think we “own” this phenomenon as it seems so relevant to our times it is nothing new.  Reports back to the home front from military actions, for example, have been common place for centuries in the form of official war diaries and more “as it happened” journalism through war correspondents. In the mid to late nineteenth century war correspondents were often “in the thick of it” during battles such as the Zulu and Sudan campaigns.  In the case of the Sudan campaign, the Battle of Abu Klea 16 January 1885, some of the war correspondents defended themselves during this vicious battle with their privately purchased revolvers. As a point of possible interest an ancestor of mine, Lieutenant Richard Wolfe, No. 4 Co., HCR/Scots Greys, lost his life defending the British square during this battle. 

    As I have stated above some of the news papers of the time were very quick to point fingers, as to blame military failures, on the political party in power, in particular the Prime Minister. It was found that some of the swords and bayonets failed to perform as needed during the fierce battles often resulting in the death of the British Officer or soldier.  This resulted in what was called the 1885 Bayonet Scandal.  Basic blame was placed on the poor quality of the swords and bayonets used by the troops.  In the case of the Officers they purchased their own swords as opposed to the NCO and other ranks who were issued government supplied weapons.  At the time many sword blades were made in Germany and then sold to sword makers in Britain who would then finish the sword and sell it to the government for issue to the NCOs and other ranks, then swords for the Officer class were sold to retailers for private purchase.  Some of the tailors, or retailers, would even place “proof marks” on the ricasso as if the sword had passed testing and were therefore “battle ready” which many were not.  The “scandal” resulted in the testing of swords and bayonets already in the hands of the military as well as those in stores.  It was found that a large percentage of weapons failed the trials; in the case of the socket and sword bayonets for the Martini-Henry this involved both the bending and twisting tests. 

    One of the early excuses for the failure of bayonets in the field was the accusation that soldiers used their bayonets as pokers to keep camp fires blazing.  This was a “smoke screen” used by authorities to hide the testing results and associated blame from the public.  An article in The Times, 13, January 1885 discounts this quoting an army source as saying, “Any use of a bayonet as a poker would not likely pass inspection the following morning”.  This served to discount the original accusation. While the contractors who produced the sub-standard bayonets were never officially named there were two factors uncovered by the investigation in the manufacturing process that caused the defects.

    “Firstly, the bayonets were all subject to bending tests and, so that the contractor could get the bayonet passed, he left them unhardened. This was necessary because, if hardened, they would break under tests, as inferior steel was used in the manufacture. The second reason was that some contractors used casehardening so that when bayonets were manufactured they were ground, then hardened and were then passed on for final grinding. If the bayonet was not much oversize then the bayonet would probably be all right, but if it were too much oversize all of the casehardening would be ground off, leaving the soft metal.”

    Source:  “British Military Bayonets from 1700 to 1945” by R.J. Wilkinson Latham.

    The Patterns involved in the scandal, the Pattern 1853 sword-bayonet and the Pattern 1876 socket bayonet, were replaced by the Pattern 1886 which brought to an end the problems experienced.  Future sword and bayonet manufacture was dominated by the firms of Wilkinson and Mole and manufacturing of weapons from firms in Germany ceased.

    In this blog we looked mainly at the British bayonet and the associated scandal, in next month’s submission (Part 2: Staying Sharp) we will discuss the earlier problems with the British Cavalry swords, in particular those used during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny).










  21. Brian Wolfe
    Avatar names; Why?

    What I would term as odd or bizarre human behaviour has always interested me and the search for why people act as they do has not only fascinated me but at times eluded my powers of comprehension. The person who said that there is nothing as funny as a barrel of monkeys obviously was not, at the time, situated in a room full of people. Since politics and religion are subjects non grata here on the GMIC, and rightfully so, I will resort to the plethora of other subjects that I personally find irritating; subjects upon which I obsess.

    Straight off I will say that I do not tend to keep up with modern lingo as used in today’s internet communications. Using the letter “n” to represent the word “and’ or ISO (in search of), IMO (in my opinion) and BRB (be right back) simply seems as foreign to me as putting maple syrup on your French fries (chips for those of the British persuasion).  This brings me to today’s rant, so get ready as this is probably going to ruffle some feathers.

    Why do people insist on using avatar names? For the most part I am talking about avatar names on the internet in general, You Tube, as an example rather than a forum such as ours. Since I have admitted that I do not keep current on modern terms perhaps I just don’t know what the term avatar means.  Upon looking it up I found that in Hinduism it is a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth: an incarnate divine teacher.  Well, this could not be the definition I am searching for as we are not allowed to talk about religion here and from some of the comments on the internet I can ascertain they not likely come from any form of divine teacher.  The next definition given was from the computing “world” as, “an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, Internet, etc”. Ah, there we have it a suitable definition from which to work; something that represents a person on the Internet. 

    Of course I knew this ahead of time but why say something in a few words when a whole paragraph will do (besides I am paid by the word). Again I will reiterate that I have no problem with avatar names here on the GMIC as we do have very good controls regarding ungentlemanly behaviour.  Over the years we have seen a few members “cautioned” as to their conduct.  However, on the Internet in general that seems to be exception rather than the norm.  I never use an avatar name whether here or commenting on the Internet because if I am willing to put something down in writing I am will to stand by what I say.  If I am incorrect in my convictions I do stand to be corrected followed by my apology or expression of gratitude whichever is appropriate. 

    On the other hand I don’t see myself as an offensive sort of fellow, I have never found pleasure in kicking a cat for example, not even unintentionally.  There was an incident a number of years ago when one of our daughters arrived home late from her part-time pizza shop job sans her door key.  She decided that sleeping in the car was a poor choice and rang the door bell to awaken someone to let her in.  This resulted in my rushing through a darkened house to let her in before she woke the whole household. I should mention that we had a cat; a cat whose name evolved in proportion to his girth to the point where the kids aptly renamed him “Fat Tony”.  Fat Tony was fast asleep, his natural state when not gorging himself on Fancy Feast, or some other over-priced cat food. Unknown to me this lump of a cat was transfixed, due to his preponderance, to the floor in line with my path of travel. My left foot apparently just missed him however my right foot made contact with the force of a footballer (soccer player for those of you of the North American persuasion). 

    As a science lesson this is an example of Newton’s First Law of Motion, sometimes referred to as the Law of Inertia, “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”. Just to clarify, the “object at rest” and the “unbalanced force” represent the lethargic and comatose Fat Tony. The “object in motion” being yours truly. Imagine, if you will, a football player taking a penalty kick or attempting to kick a field goal (depends on your definition of football) and the ball is replaced by an anvil.  Suffice it to say that the object in motion, in this case, still stayed in motion though transformed from a vertical state to a horizontal one in a split second.  Thus ends the science lesson and the answers the question as to why you never kick a cat, or at least not Fat Tony.

    To return to the question at hand, why do people use avatar names?  Do they feel more at ease giving an opinion and if so what is it about expressing their ideas that frightens them.  Is it giving free range to rude and crass people?  Well, sometimes. Perhaps it much the same as using an avatar picture, such as the Canada General Service Medal’s reverse that I use.  It hints that I am a Canadian and it is a bit of fun, after all life without a little whimsy would be most dull. At times I find it awkward to respond using the avatar name as it is just too impersonal, therefore I usually simply make the response and live with the feeling that I have failed to act in a polite manner by not starting with “Hello X2bKl9”, or whatever their avatar name happens to be.  I would like to see the use of a first name in the closing of an entry or response with “Regards (your first name here)” as an example.  At least a reply could be made to what would appear to be a real person and not some sort of Bot.  I do hope I used that Internet term for Robot correctly, in today’s terminology I run the risk that this is somehow an offensive term.  If so I apologize.

    By now you must have realized that I had nothing for this month’s blog but I hope this amused you somewhat and gave some folks pause to think.


    Brian (a real person not an Internet Bot).



  22. Brian Wolfe
    On the Lounge Paul asked the question, “What is the dumbest things you ever did” under the heading “Let’s liven things up around here” in the Lounge.  This is an excellent topic and one which allows for many different styles of response from serious to the jocular.  Yes I used the word “jocular”; only because it is a word you seldom see these days, much like “happenstance”.  Don’t worry I won’t use “happenstance” today but only because I couldn’t figure out where to work it in.  There’s always tomorrow.

    When I thought about Paul’s question and the possible real life responses I said to myself (I do that a lot the older I get) this sounds like it would require something embarrassing, a mistake or a regret from one’s past.  My personal philosophical take on this is that if one is happy with one’s life or circumstances then can you really say that anything that transpired in your personal history was a mistake.  If you could go back and make changes to your past then it could and very likely would have dire consequences on the present and therefore the future.  If you said that you are not happy with your present circumstances then you could make those changes by going back to school, for example.  I noticed that some of the members have done just that after retirement from their careers.  This thinking rather ruled out “mistake” from any response I might undertake to write.

    I do wish I could have made some sort of humorous reply, however a lack of any appreciable sense of humour on my part would make that an impossibility.  I blame a lack of comic ability on my rather stoic British/Germanic upbringing, which at times was rather Dickensian in nature, to say the least. That old “stiff upper lip” and “staying the course” or simply “man up” has left me the rather bland and linear thinking person you see today.  Just so you know, we anal retentive people tend to prefer “linear thinking” as a term to describe ourselves.

    I was left with regret as a subject for a response but felt that this would only serve to “pirate” Paul’s post somewhat; therefore, I decided to write this message as a blog. 

    Around Christmas time, several years hence, a very good friend of mine passed away.  We were extremely close and shared in numerous adventures including hunting and fishing as well as just “hanging out” together.  His passing had a devastating effect on me, not so much that he is no longer with us, which is a deep sadness, but because I never got to tell him something I think was very important.  Perhaps you know what I mean.  There never was a correct time or place; we were either having too much of a good time to possibly ruin the moment or the moment was too serious or sad to bring up what might have been an awkward subject.  Now my close friend has gone to his grave and I can never tell him that which I agonized over for many years.

    I so wish I had simply blurted it out regardless of the situation or the atmosphere of the moment.  Sadly my dog died never knowing he was adopted.

    Merry Christmas everyone!



  23. Brian Wolfe
    One of the greatest obstacles, ignoring spelling and grammar, in the way of writing pieces related to history is staying objective.  I have never made any secret that I tend to be a bit of an Anglophile, which is not the worst “phile” one can be, even though my family has been here in Canada well before Confederation and our roots are, for the greater part, German.   I recall, when I was very young, being in the classroom and seeing the large pull-down maps at the front  of the room showing the map of the world.  The British Empire was shown in red and the rest of the world in rather different shades of “we don’t care about them” colours.  I recall being told that we were to be proud of being a part of the great British Empire and will admit that the message left a lasting impression on my little mind.  Strange that we tend to tell children what they think and what they are proud possibly out of fear that they won’t see it the same way once they start to develop a more analytical mind.  I would have said an “adult mind” but let’s face facts what we are told as children sticks with most of us and conservation of energy being what it is we tend not to bother taxing our brains all that much.  The vast majority of people took a “sure whatever” attitude towards history taught in school so it could be argued that any potential self-serving propaganda inherent in any memoirs of the war years of modern history is lost on them.  Still there are those who took a greater interest and even went beyond what they were initially told to look for the truth or should I say accuracy as “truth” implies so sort of conspiracy. Gathering intelligence on a local Neo-Nazi group a number of years ago clearly showed what a little knowledge, perverted and distorted, can produce.  As a side note; at one of our debriefing meetings the question was posed as to whether gathering “intelligence” on a Neo-Nazi group would qualify as an oxymoron.  It was pointed out that it would be more of an “exercise in futility”.  While they were anything but a joke a little levity is often welcomed.  Changing the minds of certain fanatical groups is more or less an impossible task; however, our efforts certainly showed what exposure to strong sunlight and fresh air can do to stop the growth of a fungal infestation. 

    Some other issues effecting objectivity is around what we are told as the truth and perhaps as detrimental what we were never told.  Both of these issues are often cured through the passing of time and the expansion of our horizon.  As an example when I was taking some engineering courses there was a fellow student from Hong Kong who was already an engineer and was here on leave from Hong Kong Hydro and planned to return after his courses. Just to clarify I am and have never been an engineer.  He related a story about a question he was once asked, by a fellow student, soon after he came to Canada.  He was asked what he thought about the Opium Wars (First Opium War 1839-1842, Second Opium War 1856- 1860).  He told me that he was absolutely dumb-founded at such a question and had to admit that this was the first he had heard of such events.  At the time there was no mention in any school history books regarding either conflict.  There is no doubt, in my mind, that this was not simply an oversight but purposeful omission, possibly for political reasons.

    The second point is in what we are actually told compared with what actually took place or rather why certain events took place. Two good examples, from World War Two, would be the raid on Dieppe and the bombing raid on the island of Heligoland. 

    The Raid on Dieppe, 19 August 1942, has been shrouded in mystery by the Official Secrets Act until only a few years ago.  The raid was initially and officially touted as a raid to test German strength along the so-called Atlantic Wall. The raid was quite costly in lives and material with a total of 3,623 either killed, wounded or taken prisoner out of the 6,086 involved in the action.  It was only after decades that the real reason for the raid was made available to the public.  The raid itself was a diversion staged in order for Military Intelligence for secure a working example of the German Enigma coding device.  Unfortunately the machine had already been moved out of Dieppe and to make things even worse they were planning on adding another coding disk, in the near future, to make their messages even more secure.



    Another example of the reasons for a raid being kept secret was the 1,000 plane bombing raid in a small German island named Heligoland on April 18, 1945.  The reason given in the post mission briefings was that there was a need to completely destroy the last remaining German planes and the submarine pens located there to prevent any last minute suicide raids by the German personnel stationed there.  This seemed odd to many who took part in the mission as the island had been cut off completely earlier on and the fuel for any such retaliatory strikes unavailable.  The cost of the raid was nowhere as great as the Dieppe Raid with 3 Halifax bombers being lost due to malfunctions and not enemy fire.  As an aside; I personally knew two independent witnesses who saw two of the planes go down over the sea.  The planes were “stacked” one above the other in waves, the upper plane hit an air pocket or down draft and was forced down directly on the bomber below.  These two witnesses, both in separate bombers watched as the two planes spiralled, still one on top of the other all the way down into the sea below.  There were no survivors.  The true reason for the mission was to deny the Soviets any possible access to the submarine pens in the post war era.  The continued bombing of the island until 1952 as “practise” can be better understood in the context of, if you want to blow things up then better on your neighbours land than your own. 

    However, we are not here to judge history just to record and hopefully try to understand it.

    I suppose the two examples above could fall under things that frustrate and impede the historian in attempting to report on history accurately rather than preventing objectivity. The necessity to keep certain information from the general public has long been a reality and the current trend by today’s generation for “totally transparency” is rather naive and potentially dangerous to the security of nations.  A good historian avoids stating personal views so I would instruct the jury to disregard that last statement...has that ever actually worked.  In some cases the history of an action may have been recorded for posterity based on the facts given and the judgement of those recording the incident.  A good example could be post-coital regret, officially known as post-coital triestesse (PCT) or dysphoria (PCD) which in extreme cases could result in charges of sexual assault.  If the accused is found guilty then he could very well be labelled as a sexual offender for life; even though the original act was completely consensual.  Unlike post-matrimonial regret where the end result is coitus of an ongoing monetary expenditure nature. 

    In retrospect, looking over this blog, I have arrived at the conclusion that I don’t really have a problem with maintaining my objectivity; my problem is remaining serious for any length of time.

    Happy New Year to all who read my blogs and for those who don’t; well, what I can say that would matter, you’ll never see it anyway. 



  24. Brian Wolfe
    This Blog Could Save Your Life...well...maybe

    Ever notice that as you age you start to feel a lot more run down, tired, listless and perhaps even slightly depressed, though not really a depression per se.  Is getting through the day becoming harder and harder and staying focused has become a challenge.  Well, here’s some really good news for those experiencing those symptoms mentioned above.  You may be suffering from a lack of iron and other essential metals in your system.  After a good deal of research we here at the Home Office have developed a cure aimed at many of us here at GMIC and others worldwide. 

    With this in mind we (my wife and I) started on an experiment, which is not the first time here on the “News from the Home Office” blog, to cure the above mentioned symptoms with an increase in iron and other very important metals.  To begin with, just over a year ago, I purchased a 2000 GMC Sierra 4X4 truck.  This was one of those once in a life-time “barn finds” in excellent condition and owned by a car collector who had stored it in a climate controlled facility. 

    Once we had arranged the purchase the work started, even though it was in almost pristine condition.  The body was stripped down to the frame, then rebuilt, and the engine, a small block V8 (4.8 litre), and drive train completely rebuilt, with the help of a good friend of mine who happens to be a retired auto mechanic.  Any of the body parts that did show signs of deterioration were discarded and a new replacement piece was purchased from the GMC dealer and installed. The only section that was actually replaced was the box side on the driver’s side, known here as the “salt side”.   All parts such as brakes, rear axles, and exhaust system were discarded and new top of the line parts installed.  The interior was in almost showroom condition so that took no work at all.  The whole truck was painted black, which was the original colour with new black rims and large-lug truck tires just to make her look “bad”.  To date I have invested around the $18,000.00 mark for what is essentially a vehicle that looks like it did the day it rolled off the assembly line, though the parts you can’t see have all been upgraded.  There is absolutely no body fillers in this vehicle; it is all original steel parts.

    I have always wanted to rebuild a truck but could never afford a classic so when this came up for sale my dear wife agreed that I should “jump on it”.  At my age a “once in a life time deal” is actually that!

    The process from start to finish took over a year and while it was fun I would not want to do it again.  I did learn a lot, one of the most interesting things I learned was that mechanical and vehicle restoration takes a lot of time and seems to involve a lot of foul language.

    In addition to this project my interest in British military swords has been revitalized and along with the infusion of the new/old iron (truck) I feel middle aged again. Ok, so when I am in my truck I do feel like one of the cool kids.

    So when you are feeling low and just seem to be dragging yourself through your day add some iron to your life.  Medals, firearms, swords etc, also counts.  After all it’s not just collecting it’s a matter of your continued good health.






    Caution, this is not a substitute for real medical advice and I do not provide marital counselling in the event you follow my suggestions.




  25. Brian Wolfe
    Remembrance Day – Protocols – Comments

    November 11 is Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day where we remember and honour those who have and are serving their country.  During this time we, like people in many countries around the world, wear a poppy in honour of the fallen and those who served and still serve in our armed forces. 

    I felt it timely to post the protocols here in Canada for the wearing of the poppy and welcome the members to add anything regarding this practise in their own country.

    1.   Do not change the pin, not for a safety pin to prevent loss and not using a flag pin in place of the original. If you would like to prevent the loss of your poppy, as often happens, let me suggest that you take a piece of wide elastic or rubber band, fold it in half and pierce it with the pin.  When you pin the poppy on take this piece of rubber band install it on the pin, sliding it up to the closest possible point where it cannot be seen and your poppy will be secure.

    2.   Wear the poppy on the left lapel. No lapel? Then wear it on the left side (same side as your heart, unless you are an alien from outer space then you are on your own).

    3.   Wear the poppy from the last Friday of October until the end of the day on November 11. You can wear your poppy respectfully at other times such as funerals of veterans or official ceremonies.  Some wear it all year around stating, when challenged, that they remember their service people all year and not just on Nov.11.  For the most part I call B.S. on this statement.  I’ve seen poppies worn on greasy dirty old hats and you know that the poppy, being as dirty as the hat, that no thought was given to its significance once it was originally placed there. On your hat in the middle of your forehead is not on the left lapel, Buddy.  Before anyone replies with a scathing message let me just say ahead of time, “Yes, you are one of the few who honours our soldiers every day you get out of bed and before you say your nighty nights to your loved ones every night.  You are in no way feeling indignant and self-righteous and you do not wear the poppy to let others know how sanctimonious you are”.  Yep. I’m a bastard.  There I hope I saved someone a little time.

    4.   Anyone who is honoring our veterans can, and should, wear a poppy.

    5.   How many can you wear?  I would have said 1, until I saw a photo of Queen Elizabeth wearing several at a ceremony and checked the Canadian protocols, which I am sure, would echo the British protocols.  Besides if Her Royal Majesty wears more than 1 poppy then it just can’t be wrong. Is my monarchism showing?

    6.   How to dispose of your poppy. You can leave it at the memorial or cenotaph at the end of the day on the 11th.  Many will leave them on the cenotaph after the service, commencing at 11 o’clock, as a sign of respect. This has always been a problem for me the few times I have not attended the services. Like worn out Canadian flags I tend to place them in a box and store them away as I just can’t seem to bring myself to tossing them out.  I feel it is an insult to those I just honoured, but that just how I feel.  

    Whatever you do with your poppy at the end of the day, DO NOT reuse them!

    A number of years ago when I attended my first Remembrance Day ceremonies, in full uniform, which included the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Regional Police Services and the Fire Department I recall standing at attention while they played The Last Post.  My eyes started to well up with tears, which is odd as I am not known to show emotion.  I was wishing I could hold them back when I strained my eyes to my left (we were at attention remember) and next to me was an RCMP officer who must have stood 6 foot 4.  Tears were streaming down his face; there went any chance of me remaining my usual stoic self. 

    If you are able please attend the Remembrance Day services in your area, it means a lot to those who have and are giving so much for us.




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