Many years ago I used to go and watch comedian Al Murray do his hilarious Pub Landlord show.
|That joke isn't funny anymore|
That character - a moronic Little Englander who loathed the EU and all things foreign, who wallowed in all the hilarious cliches of a once Great Britain, harping back to Lancaster bombers and the glorious Few while, himself, having never done anything more heroic than open another packet of crisps and pour another pint - was extremely amusing at the time. That was because, in those days (around 2000-2006), such a character was a dying breed, pathetically clinging to the 1970s when such casual bigotry, sexism and boorish nationalism were commonplace. It was very funny watching Murray putting the boot into this stereotype as we watched that generation and mindset slowly die out.
But how wrong we were. Fast forward to 2016 and I am sure I am not alone in finding it difficult to laugh at Murray's old routine. His character's tiny-minded, isolationist, "let's-get-back-to-the-good-ol-days" brand of xenophobia has somehow triumphed in real life and, thanks to the dripfeed of lies and vitriol from the likes of The Daily Mail, The Express and The Sun, the nation is about to commit economic suicide so that Rupert Murdoch and a handful of other billionaires with vested interests can finally be freed of the shackles of EU regulation. A poll pre-2016 showed that 0.4% of the population rated the UK's relationship with the EU as their key political concern (the NHS and education were top) yet somewhere here we now are, hurtling down this road towards this ludicrous clifftop.
I spent almost a decade of my life living and working in various European countries. It was a wonderful experience that really broadened my mind and it sickens me to think that the younger generation will be denied that freedom to be part of that community, to just catch a train to a new country and start work there the next day, and to live there for as long as they wish without having to get visas or go through the rigours of applying for citizenship. And for what? Who will benefit? Trump and Putin want Brexit, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg want Brexit, Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre want Brexit. Madness. I feel ashamed when I talk to my European friends who live in the UK, that they have gone through these two years of uncertainty and fear, that they have been made to feel unwelcome. Unsurprisingly, they all now talk of leaving the UK, their home, and that makes me so angry. My friends will be gone and instead I will be left with the smirking face of Farage.
It probably seems silly, but in the same way that Al Murray is probably having to radically rethink his career and his past views on xenophobia and nationalism, so my own trivial little project - representing every soldier in the British Army at Waterloo, has given me pause for thought. As a boy, all the books I read on Waterloo were extremely Anglocentric - if the Dutch-Belgians were mentioned at all it was only to describe their cowardice in fleeing the battlefield at the commencement and never being seen again. Mercer's line about Brunswick squares looking shaky was de rigour in every 1960s/1970s account. There was scant mention of the KGL and the British Guards held Hougoumont alone. Happily, this has now been set right and my shelves are full of excellent books that give a much broader and less jingoistic account of the battle.
My focus on ONLY researching the British Army never had any patriotic element - I have always been interested in the story of the forgotten "unimportant" man in history, the lowly Private in the ranks, rather than the Wellingtons and Napoleons. If records existed for other nations as they do for the British army and were also kept a short train journey away at Kew in west London, then I would have been just as interested in researching those other countries' records.
All of this has been irrelevant until 2016 but since then all of my endless ranks of redcoats and fluttering Union Jacks have started to leave a slightly bad taste in my mouth. So, for the last few months I've been working on my first French regiment 1-to-1 scale to be ready for 29th March 2019, the date that the UK was originally scheduled to leave the European Union. The next few posts will be pictures of thee Dutch, Belgians, and Germans that I am currently working on.
Here then is the 25ème Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne - part of Marcognet's 3rd Division. My plan now is to (one day!) do the rest of this Division to represent it in its attack on Wellington's line. This formation advanced with each of its eight battalions in line, forming one huge column. Unfortunately, my garden table is not long enough to fit on even this one battalion when extended into line, so most of these pics show the battalion advancing in the more traditional column. The next battalion I do will be in greatcoats (much quicker!)
The figs are nearly all Perry plastics, bolstered by a few Perry metals and Calpe and Victrix officers. The mounted Colonel and adjutant didn't make the deadline! They're nearly finished and will be added soon.
One small obstacle was finding enough Sergeants - although Perry and Calpe make some (with musket carried in right arm), they were either with discs (not pompoms) or in greatcoats. So, I set about trying to make some conversions:
Some of them I really like, some of them are a bit rough and ready! The guys in gaiters make me smile, they remind me of the Airfix French that started me off all those years ago.
And finally some corporals
|Flank company corporals|
|Centre company corporals|
So that brings me to the end of this rather atypical post. I generally paint toy soldiers to get away from the depressing aspects of the world so I won't use this blog to rant again. Hopefully, you can forgive this one-off outburst and enjoy these pics!