Edinburgh, Claymore and the 69 position

Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh beckons. On 2 August it is the location of Claymore, the annual wargames show run by the South East Scotland Wargames Club. How much longer the show is held there is in question owing to plans to demolish and redevelop the stadium, but that’s a story for another entry.

I like Claymore. Scottish wargamers seem very friendly and always pleased that someone from as far south as I am makes it up each year. I usually travel by train, which is convenient because after the short link service from the ferry at Lymington Pier to Brockenhurst, in the New Forest, I can stay on one train all the way to Edinburgh Waverley. No changes, no hassle: the worst part is hefting two bags full of lead soldiers over the footbridge at Brockenhurst on the outward journey.

Since the change of franchise, however, the train journey is not as convenient. Virgin used to run the cross-country service all the way, and there used to be more choice of trains with only the one change at Brockenhurst. Now Cross Country holds the franchise from Bournemouth to Birmingham, plus the slow east coast route from Birmingham to Edinburgh, and the choice for travellers like me has got worse. I liked the Virgin service. I could choose to go via either the fast west coast route which is an hour faster than the east coast route – the west coast route passes through the striking scenery around the Lakes and Carlisle – or pick the leisurely east coast route that has the awesome coastal views in southern Scotland.

And I could make feeble jokes about taking a Virgin all the way to Edinburgh and back.

I used the Cross Country service to travel to Edinburgh in May, and thought it slow and inconvenient, because I had to travel later on the way up, and earlier on the way home to minimize the changes. It has made me think about how I attend Scottish wargames shows.

Still, no such worries for Claymore. Mike, one of two friends from school with whom I am still in touch, and the owner of Black Hat Miniatures, has a stand at Claymore this year and because he can drive (I can’t) is taking a Transit up. I am tagging along in my usual role as navigator and loader/unloader, and to remind Mike to take breaks. It’s a real bonus because I can take a huge amount of stock to the show, and while I recoil at the thought of the cost of diesel for the trip, that’s offset against the 40 quid of taxi fares and a train fare of around 130 quid that I’d be looking at to do the show the way I usually do.

The real bonus of the Scottish shows is that I get to see friends Adrian and Noelle, who fortunately moved to Edinburgh some years ago and provide a comfortable base in Morningside. While I mourn their moving from Southall, west London, because it deprives me of the fantastic vegetarian curries available there, their Edinburgh base is even better. This is particularly so for Claymore as it coincides with the first week of the Edinburgh Festival, and Edinburgh simply buzzes.

So how do we get to the 69 position? It’s simply because with the arrival of Mike and myself in Edinburgh, the old Hoobie Quiche (the mythical hobby clique) of the 1980s roleplaying fan scene reaches pretty well the most critical of critical masses as the city is littered with the ageing shambling mounds that were once pert and trim roleplaying geeks. OK, pert, trim and spotty. We’ve all got older, greyer, married or gayer.

The 69-meet, a gathering of beer-swilling pert, trim and  – well, you get the picture – used to take place at the Sun in Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, a pub that used to boast it had 69 real ales on its list. The pub transformed, tragically, into an Irish theme pub; no-one has been back: the meet has moved on. The 69-meet was probably, definitely, not instigated by the young handsome and bouncing Trevor Mendham; I honestly can’t remember anything straight in this regard, except that Trevor will deny everything, and that Trevor hates real ale and only drinks lager. The choice of The Sun was always a perverse one for him as it served probably the worst lagers in the world.

And so the 69-meet resurfaces. Saturday 2 August is the date (same day as Claymore), the time is 8.30pm-ish, and the venue is The Morningside Glory in Edinburgh. It may move possibly to The Waiting Room, because one thing I have learned is that Scottish draught beer is in general vile, with all the appeal of iron filings dissolved in rat’s piss, and thus going to one Scottish pub only leads to a rapid move to another in the hope of finding something drinkable. Watch out for fat grey-haired buggers talking about elves, trolls and the state of the games industry: they are not the Hoobie Quiche.

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