Friday, April 8, 2011

Another milestone...

It's been a busy week and if I'm honest, not an easy one. Work continues ever so slowly on the house. Sissi is in good kidney, growing and generally coming along by leaps and bounds, especially when it comes to discovering chimneys, holes in the floor and other new and interesting ways to get dirty.

One milestone that passed unnoticed was the arrival sometime last week of Joy & Forgetfulness's 20,000th visitor. This is no great shakes for a blog that has been operating since 2008, but curiously enough 10,000 of those visits have been since Christmas.

The other milestone was of course the delivery of the first book from abebooks or bookdepository to the new house - it was Henry Newbolt's "The Happy Warrior" - a collection of stories for boys from the Age of Chivalry. This is a book I have coveted since I saw Donogh's copy and abebooks did not disappointed. I have been a fan of Newbolt's work since I first discovered him in the pages of Donald Featherstone's "Featherstones Complete Book of Wargaming" on my eleventh birthday.

I shan't tarry, I need to get some sleep before I go to work, but I will leave you with what is to my mind at least Newbolt's finest work. I heard it last from Mrs Kinchs grandfather who recited it from memory with me last week; he stumbled over a few words, excusable for a poem learned eighty years ago, but the sound and the sense were there.

Vitai Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

Hopefully I shall carry on playing the game for some time to come. Good night all.


  1. Conrad Kinch,

    This is one of my favourite poems ... and all the more so since I discovered that the Colonel mentioned in it is one of my all-time Victorian heroes, Fred Burnaby.

    All the best,


  2. Awesome, Conrad.

    I can't help but wonder, did some poor sod in the Light Brigade utter those same words as they charged the guns at Balaclava?
    And one of the doomed soldiers at Isandlwana?


  3. Some of the 'hits' might count double if we look at more than one page, or the same one twice, but that's no bad thing. It's good.

  4. Love the poem too. Do tell us a litle more about the book and the stories -layout etc. By the by is the photo from "The Duellists"- I'm pretty certain that is Harvey Kietel with his back to us. I love the film and have watched it countless times since it came out.
    best wishes

  5. Bob,

    It's been a favourite in the Kinch household for quite a long time.


    The poem postdates both incidents, but I think I see what you're driving at. There are worse credos and I can't say it has served me poorly.


    Glad to hear from the demon chess player. I'm under no illusions that this means I have had 20,000 people look at my blog - but I'm still pleasently surprised by the figure.

  6. Tradgardmastre,

    I've been following your casting adventures with interest. It is indeed Harvey Kietel from the Duellists. I've always loved that shot, reminds me of an oil painting.

    I'll try and take some pictures of the Happy Warrior soonish, but I have some rather pressing tiling to attend to.