Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support. I see I'm not the only wargamer in this particular circle to be visited by the "Black Dog", which by the way is an absolutely perfect description for the benefit of those of you lucky enough not to be familiar with that particular bitch.
To answer a couple of your queries and comments - I am still "under the doctor" for the after effects of the January flu, so the physical health side is slowly being taken care of. Seeking professional help for the depression is more problematic - we don't have the same "therapy culture" in the UK as the US, and I know that the local NHS Mental Health services are overloaded with people with far worse problems than mine. I'm confident and determined that I can sort myself out "with a little help from my friends" as the song says, so that's the path I'm choosing to try first. That said, I'd be the first to tell anyone else in my situation "talk to your doctor." Just like any other faintly embarrassing symptom. Blood in your stool? Talk to your doctor. Coughing for three weeks or more? Talk to your doctor. Feeling like you want to just lie down and wait for the end? Talk to your doctor. Nine times out of ten it's overwhelmingly the right thing to do. For me, right here right now, it's definitely Plan B
I'm lucky enough to have a great network of friends who I know will give me a ton of support. For example in his comment r1ckatkinson made reference to one of the reasons the Big Birthday Bash didn't happen last year - a group of friends clubbed together to buy me an hour's "discovery flight"with the local flying school, which became the focus of the birthday weekend. Or how about earlier in the year when a different subset of friends turned up unannounced on my doorstep bearing meat and charcoal for a surprise barbecue.
But with that all said, I want to reassure everyone that this isn't going to turn into a mental health blog or a general "dear diary". The focus at the Axis of Naughtiness is going to stay firmly on wargaming, more specifically the highs and lows of being a grown-up, non-commercial wargamer. Part of that is that sometimes other real-world things get in the way of rolling dice, and that's something we have to contend with.
So on with the gaming news, and this evening when Mi Hermano Cartero Jonesy arrived for our weekly "Boys' video night"* bearing a huge and suspiciously heavy box. Dave, our mutual friend (and reader of this blog) had been downsizing his wargame collection in preparation for a house move, and was forced to find a new home for his old England Invaded collection, which he very kindly gifted to me. If you haven't heard of it, England Invaded was a wargame and figure line from Wessex Games that was essentially a steampunk World War I . I'd used some of their early war Germans as Zeptruppen for GASLIGHT, and on the whole they're rather nice and very inexpensive figures.
Dave had already passed on some odds and sods to me, some half painted sky pirates and some plastic toy vehicles, but the box tonight held the motherlode. Over a hundred assorted figures, British and German, fully based and painted. About the same number of unpainted Turks, Arabs and Boers intended for an ANZACS type game. Three plastic vehicles, resembling GW Rhino APCS though I suspect they're copies from the ill-fated Havok wargame from Bluebird Toys. And finally ten... count them TEN of the Havok "dreadnought" style mecha - the same type that I've used in GASLIGHT as Professor Pondsmith's Perpendicular Perambulating Powersuits (or P5s for short).
Although Stahlhelms and Brodie helmets don't mesh well aesthetically with the Pickelhaube and Home Service helmets of my existing VSF armies, my mind's still buzzing at possible ways I can use these figures. The khaki-clad British could easily be matched against my regular VSF Germans in Prussian Blue. Either side could work well against the Fenians or the Evil League of Evil and many of my Victorian civilian figures will be quite usable as Edwardians. On their own, the England Invaded figures would give a different feel of game to the "Victorian techno-fantasy" I normally aim for, with man-portable heavy weapons and machine guns. I've also somewhere got a bag of plastic "Mutant Chronicle" figures, whose uniforms were inspired by WWI British and Germans, which should make for decent "shocktrooper" types. Beyond all that, the Havok mecha are worth their weight in gold by themselves.
Needless to say Dave, if you're reading this, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. Rest assured these figures are going to be put to good use, possibly sooner rather than later.
As if that wasn't enough, as he was leaving Mark also handed over another box, this one containing what looks like a Lego ghost pirate ship, possibly modelled after Davy Jones' ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Another princely gift, which will join the half dozen other ships I have stockpiled for a future conversion project "one day".
Finally, the wargaming gang are going to Sheffield Triples on Sunday, and I'm tagging along with them. There's nothing I particularly want to see or buy there, having more than enough of every kind of hobby-related "stuff" to keep me busy. But who knows what might turn up there, or where inspiration may strike?
(*I still call it that, though both of us are well on the leeward side of forty summers!)