Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A very interesting evening...

So how did the meet the authors evening go???  Very interesting I thought and I enjoyed it far more than (to be honest) I expected to....

I have long accepted that to most people I'm a bit of an oddity, a geek in fact, with an interest in military history that seems to most people in these politically correct days to be somewhat distasteful...  Having said that I have a view of myself as being fairly normal (other than a liking for Crocs) so my hesitancy was based on previous such events which tend to be packed with older gentlemen with a military bearing dressed in blazer and slacks, or slightly younger types with the personal  hygiene issue that is common to anyone who has been to a large wargame show... neither of which I have much in common with....

For the evening in question, the audience was heavy on the former, but we were short on the latter, and some of the former had even bought their wives...!

The event started then with the opportunity to have a look at the exhibits in the (comparatively) new Chichester Novium Museum, which opened to much fanfair a few years ago, and has quietly sunk out of site ever since  - it's an architectural eye sore (modernist concrete block), with high entry fees, and given I had a free entry given I was going to pay to see the authors anyway I was keen to see if I had missed anything...  not really....  the best part is the exposed basement - the museum was built on the site of a Roman bath house, so they left that open to view - quite amazing to see..  the rest of the museum, is spead over two other floors, which are fairly small in area, but have very high ceilings (they should have put in another floor) so don't contain much - and what little space they do have contains art pieces illustrating the subject in question rather than exhibits.... I got the impression the curator was fresh out of museum school...  4/10 I'm afraid...

The talk didn't start well as one of the two authors (Robert Wilton [clicky]) had been delayed returning from Kosovo so Michael Arnold [clicky] started by giving us a fairly extensive descriptive run through his books, his main character, the reason he had written the books based in the English Civil War (basically, no else had), his premise that after 20 odd years of peace the English civil War armies were run by mercenaries - Englishmen (British men) who had up until then hired their swords to either side in the European wars particularly the 30 Years War..  he has a fairly populist outlook, he came across as a (clean!) wargamer to be honest - he has a clear interest in military history, and told the story well...

After a break, Robert Wilton then did the same - I was far less aware of his books, in fact until that evening I'd not not heard of him, and also to be fair (as he said) only one of his books is actually set in the English Civil War...  I was most impressed - he's spent a lot of time in the British Civil Service (the link above takes you to his biography) and he speaks clearly and lucidly..  his book is far more about the growth of ideas than military hack and slash. His premise, and reason for writing the book, being how could a country go from 20 years of peace and prosperity, and a position where the prospect of killing a King was so far out of the ordinary as to warrant a claim of "madness", to a point less than 10 years later where a Parliament did exactly that. He was particularly interested in the growth of the various religious groups (Levellers/Diggers etc) and where that had come from. In essence he believed that this was mostly due to better education and the printing press....  I was enthused enough that I intend seeking out his book when I can....

Questions were many and varied, and despite the fact that they were not historians, I thought the authors did well, and both had a coherent view of the causes and outcomes of the war, add in a well genned audience, a few that clearly loved the sound of their own voice, and a very entertaining evening was had...    In summary, 8/10


  1. Sounds like a good evening Steve. I took my late father to a similar evening at Bovington Tank Museum to hear Bernard Cornwell. It was a never to be forgotten evening. Delightful. As a side issue I have always enjoyed your blog and the way your personality comes through is what makes it enjoyable I think, but.... Crocs? Really?!!

    1. PW.. Crocs are mans greatest gift to mankind.. pencillin?? splitting the atom?? anaesthetics?? psh... Croc Yukons my friend!

  2. Thanks for the enjoyable post.

    1. Thanks Alan... hope all goes well today in your neck of the woods... these are momentous times...

  3. I have a couple of Michael Arnold's books I bought at a Sealed Knot event from Michael, as you say an interesting chap. I still have not got round to reading them yet but you have reminded me to get going


  4. Ian - yes - he had the look of a Sealed Knot type (is there one?) - tidily rolled up sleeves to just above elbow... :o)

    The books are well worth a read (in my view)..