It’s been a while – six months, almost to the day – so what on earth has been going on?
The word “challenging’ comes to mind when I try to sum up the period since I last added to this blog.
There have been health challenges, including a bout of viral bronchitis that started in mid February, laid me low for weeks and still has me coughing morning and evening even now.
There have been family challenges, as the health of my elderly mother declines and stuff has to be organised around her care regime at her home in Essex, which means 200-mile round trips and trying to deal with businesses and organisations that seem to deliberately make life difficult. I’m sure many of you reading this know what that’s like.
There have been professional challenges, the most recent of which has been the surprise sale of Miniature Wargames with Battlegames by Atlantic Publishers to Warners Group Publications with no warning whatsoever – I received the call telling me about the deal the day after it was done, and was left hanging for nearly a month before I was able to have the meeting I wanted with the new owners to clarify my situation.
And there have been technical challenges: the hard drive of my top-of-the-range iMac failed in early May, just days before an issue of MWBG was due to go on the presses and I was forced to work 72 hours straight on an elderly laptop to ensure that I met the deadline. It also became clear that my automated backup system had quietly switched itself off in mid December 2014, and I’m still sifting the digital wreckage to salvage stuff, but something like five months of emails (equalling several thousand messages), hundreds of photos and a substantial amount of work has disappeared forever.
Lastly, I have also been deeply affected by the deaths of two of my heroes in quite different fields. Sir Terry Pratchett provided me with countless hours of delight with his Discworld series and along with many others, I shed heartfelt tears at his passing in March, overwhelmed by a sense the loss not only of a great writer and artist, but also of a man truly loved by his fans. And more recently, just after the general election which saw the virtual annihilation of the political party I have supported for years, the sudden and tragic death of a politician who was admired and respected on all sides, Charles Kennedy. There aren’t many politicians who I would actually want to meet, but he was certainly one of the few, and the loss of his level-headed good sense and heartfelt oratory leaves British politics the poorer.
On the upside, I have managed, despite everything, to produce half a dozen issues of the magazine, on time and to the expected high standards.
And I do still have a job: I finally got my meeting with the new owners of the magazine on Monday last, and they have not only made it clear that the magazine has a long-term future, but also that they want me to be an integral part of that future and have improved my financial package in a modest but meaningful way to make that clear. In addition, they have promised to give at least three months’ notice should the situation ever change – any freelancer will understand that is a position of security that few of us ever enjoy. They have also agreed to something I have wanted to do for ages involving the Battlegames brand I created back in 2006 – I can’t say more just yet, but let’s just say that I am very satisfied that they have acceded to my proposal.
What this means is that after a pretty rough ride in the first half of 2015, I can look forward to a period of stability and, with luck, make serious progress with some fun projects in the second half of this year, with a book to get written for Pen & Sword and… oops, I can’t tell you the other thing, but I know some of my faithful magazine subscribers will be happy.
On 10th June, Annie and I were invited to join other supporters of Combat Stress to watch Beating Retreat at Horse Guards Parade in London. This was a “thank you” from the charity for the appeal I’ve been running in the magazine for several years, which has recently topped £20,000. After drinks and nibbles in The National Liberal Club, more than a hundred of us marched the short distance to Horse Guards to watch a spectacular show, which included a commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo, the 200th anniversary of which is tomorrow, 18th June.
And something else I plan to do from now on is to blog much more regularly! I’ve been inspired in recent days by stuff from Roz Morris, Joanna Penn, Juliet McKenna and my old chum Cliff Beal, as well as the completely daft and wonderful members of The People’s Republic of Brighton & Hove, for which I hold the post of Plenipotentiary Without Portfolio For The Placing Of Words With Or Without Appropriate Punctuation On Paper And Digital Devices. I flush with the honour of it.
Thanks for stopping by!