Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Loss of the Hood

Phil of The Wargaming Site has put up a post about wargaming bugbears. In this particular post he talks about that nightmare for all wargamers - the dropped figures.

I've dropped and broken a few figures in my time, each time was like a knife being stabbed into my entrails as I would survey the broken ruin of the figure that I had spent so long painting. I have, though, been spared (touch wood here) a major catastrophe such as those who have commented on Phil's blog about this topic.

It did, however, make me recall the day, many, many, moons ago of the one and only time I built the Airfix model of that pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood.

I had got the 1/600 scale model for my 15th birthday in [censored] . Up until that point I had only built 1/72nd scale planes and tanks, so this was a considerably larger model than I was used to and to be honest I didn't fancy the challenge.

So it stayed in it's box.

Then I got chickenpox.

(sorry unintentional rhyming couplet there).

Great! 2 weeks off school! However, these were the days before personal computers and day time tv and after the initial couple of days feeling pretty rough and stuck in bed, it soon became pretty boring sitting about the house with nowt to do.

So, out came the Hood. All the bits were carefully cut off from the sprue. I did lots of dry runs making sure the parts all fitted together and used my best paintbrush to try and pick out all the little details on the pom pom guns and so on.

I didn't rush it, I wanted to take my time and do a really good job and produce a model to be proud of.

Finally, the ship got it's final touch up of paint. In those days I was using Airfix and Humbrol enamels and as anyone old enough to remember those, they were a bit smelly and took ages to dry. So, in order to help the drying process I would put the masterpiece into a shelved larder in the kitchen, out of reach of annoying siblings. And so I did so again knowing that in a few hours the ship would be ready to take pride of place in my bedroom.

In those days, my mum was a member of the local WRI (that's Women's Rural Institute for my foreign readers). This was/is some sort of club for ladies of a certain maturity to go and entertain each other with their feats of Home Baking, Jam Making and so on. Actually, it was pretty serious business and to take home first prize for the annual pickling competition was a highly regarded honour.

On this particular occasion, my mum was trying her hand at making home made Ginger Beer.

I've never liked Ginger Beer. It stems from one New Year when I was about 5 and I had sneaked a swig out of my auntie's bottle of Ginger Beer that she had left sitting on the kitchen table. Unfortunately for me (remember I was 5) it was not Ginger Beer in the bottle but neat Vodka. I remember running to the sink in the bathroom and swallowing gallons of water trying to put out the fire that was burning in my mouth. Since that day I have avoided Ginger Beer like the plague (although strangely, enough I don't mind Vodka now).

Anyway, mum's Ginger Beer concoction had not long been made and she had spent the morning bottling up some of the brew. Apparently, it had to sit for some time in the bottle to let the fermentation process complete or some excuse like that but anyway she put the bottles of the offending brew in the same larder that my pride and joy, the Hood, was sitting in.

A couple of hours later, there was this almighty bang.

Initially we thought it was the sound of a car back firing on the street, but a quick glance out of the window and there was nothing to be seen. What could it have been? A few minutes later, I heard my name being shouted from the kitchen and so I wandered through wondering what on earth I was going to be accused of.

My mum had the door of the larder open. To be fair she looked a wee bit guilty, although it took me a few seconds to realise why. Inside the larder, a horrible sticky goo was covering it's walls, the back of the door and the contents. One of the bottles of ginger beer was no more - the bang had been this bottle exploding, no doubt as a result of the vile stuff inside going into fermentation overdrive and had vomited it's contents all over the inside of the larder covering everything

Including the Hood.

My work of art, that I had spent days slaving over was covered from bow to stern in this yellowey, sticky, foul smelling plasma.

"You could try washing it off?" advised my mum, sheepishly.

I took the model, turned around and dropped it in the kitchen bin.

I really hate Ginger Beer.


  1. Funny how these things stay with you, though I can see how that one would. Lesson learned. Though did you ever try to build HMS Hood again?

    1. No H - never went near it again. I don't even have the ship in 1/3000 scale despite just about having every other WW1 British capital ship

  2. Clearly an ill-fated ship in model form as well!

    I had a model of a Havoc bomber I'd built with my Grandad that took a nosedive from a high shelf thanks to some heavy handed dusting from my Mum. Bless him, my Grandad repaired it while I was at school and I still have it!

  3. And he still hasn't forgiven her ;-)

    Fortunatly my hood has met no such fait, mainly because, like the rest of my collection, it is sitting unpainted in a drawer.

    You don't seem to have any luck with ships, how are Raurdh's orc ships doing? ;-)

    1. Your granny's official line is it was all my fault as the model shouldn't have been there in the first place.

      They just don't understand do they?

  4. That is a great story and really well told.

    You've reminded me of a pre-wargaming nightmare I had. I collected Airfix model plans and had quite a large collection - mainly WW2 including a Swordfish, Mosquito, Junkers 88 etc. Probably 20 all told.

    Long story short, Mum gets some bloke around to do some decorating and he brings his 6 year old son with him. While I'm at school and Mum is at the shops the workman allowed his son free run of the house. He goes into my room, finds the planes and - one by one - tries to fly them down the stairs.

    I get back home to find every one of them smashed up. Every one! I complained to Mum about this but she didn't think it was that serious (!!!???!!!) and she didn't - as I wanted her to - go immediately around to his house, demand the cash for the smashed models (worth more than the crappy decorating he'd done) and allow me 5 minutes in a clised room with his brat and a baseball bat.

    I never built a model again.

    1. OMG Phil! That is totally crap. The little sh1t should have the crap beaten out of him.

      That would definitely have scunnered my model making career as well

    2. That is pretty crap, I remember one of my mates seeing if one of my airfix one-ho-nines could fly, he just about died, had it been 20 odd, they would have been going home in a match box :-P

      But still, dad, really? "OMG"? I'm cringing for you :-P

  5. You did the right thing and ginger beer is the devils arse water.....

  6. Fran, I couldn't have put it better myself....

  7. A beautiful story. It has me thinking back to my school days in the mid 70's.

  8. Sad but also entertaining story(s). The only thing that happened with my models, is that I found a railway station painted completely red, after we had some family visit. One of the girls found my room, a brush and a can of enamel red that was open because I forgot it to close, cause of the family that visited us. When I discovered she was in a car back to her house. Never had the chance to paint one of her dolls red! ;-D


  9. What a horrible story that every modeller can relate to. I too have tales of woe concerning a moulting cat, Humbrol enamels, and a Folland Gnat painting in the red arrows colours...

    I share your pain.