Saturday, 18 February 2017

Listening whilst I work

When I am working on wargames figures, vehicles, and terrain in my toy/wargames room, I like to listen to the spoken word as it seems to help me to concentrate on what I am doing. During the summer this usually involves listening to Test Match Special on the radio, but at other times – when the weather or the time of year prevents cricket from being on air – I listen to recorded books and radio plays.

Over the past few years my favourite recordings have included:
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories
  • John le Carré's books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
  • Margery Allingham's 'Campion' books
  • The Father Paolo Baldi Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and Franciscan priest – Father Paolo Baldi)
  • The Charles Paris Mysteries (radio plays about the amateur sleuth – and actor – Charles Paris)
  • The Inspector Mclevy Mysteries (radio plays about the criminal cases dealt with by a Police Inspector in the Leith area of 1860s Edinburgh)
  • Recordings of Dorothy L Sayer's 'Lord Peter Wimsey' books and the BBC radio play adaptations of them
More recently I have 'discovered' recordings of Terry Pratchett's books, and I am about one third of the way through THE TRUTH.

I know that some wargamers like to listen to music whilst they work, and that others watch TV or DVDs, but I find both of these activities distracting when I am trying to concentrate.

My 'discovery' of Terry Pratchett's work is only recent because of a number of factors. One of these relates to the fact that for over ten years I shared an office with a serious Terry Pratchett fanatic ... and this rather coloured my perception of the books. My colleague was such a fan that he bought a limited edition resin model of the Unseen University that was so big that it covered the top of a large coffee table! When you have worked with someone who is that dedicated to the work of a particular author it can – and in my case did – rather put you off their work.

Another factor was down to my own sheer cussedness. I was told by all sorts of people how great the stories were and how much I would enjoy them ... so I didn't even bother to look at them.

More fool me, as I have now discovered.

14 comments:

  1. I was an early resister as well. The odd thing was that I started three of his Discworld books and left them unfinished before finally starting, and finishing, the fourth. This would have been about the mid-90s. Since then I have been a T. Pratchett fan.

    My favourites have been the stories about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, my favourite character Commander Sam Vimes (though he has stiff competition from Lord Vetinari, Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax... and Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter... and Death himself...).

    I also recommend the so-called 'children's books'. The Bromeliad Trilogy has a whole different style about them, 'The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents' (Discworld), and the Tiffany Aching stories.

    I have a feeling that advancing Alzheimers might have affected his writing a bit as his last couple of titles seems to me to lack that 'edginess' that made his humour and the plots so entertaining. When you read (or hear) them, you might take a different view.

    Incidentally, who does the reading of these books?

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    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      At least you made an effort to read some of Terry Pratchett's books; I even didn't bother to do that.

      What I hadn't realised was the satirical nature of his work, and I have been wondering how he would have produced fantasy analogues of things like Brexit and the recent US elections. I suspect that in his prime, they would have formed the basis of several books.

      Of the people you mention, I have only come across Lord Vetinari, The Watch, and Commander Vines so far, and I am looking forward to discovering more about the other characters you mention.

      The recorded Terry Pratchett books are read by Sir Tony Robinson, and his voice seems to perfectly fit the text.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. The Tony Robinson ones are abridged, so be aware that you can get the "full" versions too. I have an Audible account which works out to be pretty cost-effective if you pay an up-front fee for 24 "credits". Once I've dowloaded 24 I cancel the subscription until I want another 24. This works out at just over £5 per audiobook. There's lots of good stuff there including the entire runs of some radio 4 comedies (1 credit for the entire Yes Minister/Prime Minister). Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" novels make for a good listen if you are interested in the adventures of a trainee wizard in the modern metropolitan police (a bit of bad language here and there).

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    1. Steve,

      I find that the abridged versions of books - along with the recorded BBC radio plays - suit me very well because a disc plays for between 45 minutes and an hour ... which is usually about the time I want to spend painting etc. at one sitting. I've got a few unabridged books, but I tend to choose to listen to them when I have a big project on my hands.

      That said, I'll look at the Audible account that you mention as it might well offer me stuff that I cannot easily get on a cheap DVD from 'The Works' ... and at a reasonable price as well.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. A friend turned me on to Pratchet (Discworld) years ago--I also was leery given his enthusiasm, but it turned out well (can't say I've gone on to read them all, but I did read through a few and found them clever and worthwhile).

    Always interesting to see what diversions others have while hobbying...at the bottom of a post about painting on my blog I shared a list of my own:

    http://edmwargamemeanderings.blogspot.com/2017/01/an-interlude-painting-miniatures.html

    Best,
    Ed M

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    1. Ed M,

      I am really enjoying Terry Pratchett's work and may well look at acquiring some of his books for my Kindle.

      I've had a look at the list on your blog, and think that it is not that dissimilar from what I would probably choose if I lived in the US. It's is interesting to compare and contrast this sort of thing.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob,
    I tend to enjoy listening to music - either from the Radio Channel or from a CD...sometimes whilst modelling/painting figures I like to listen to 'Talk-back' Radio...recently I've been listening to the BBC Radio 'World News'- most interesting programs there. Unfortunately lately I've encountered a bit of a purple patch and do not seem to be as productive as I'd want to be - getting very little done in fact...hopefully as the year progresses this lack of effort will right itself and those fond projects will begin to be progressing towards completeness.
    Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Kev. Robertson.,

      It is interesting to compare the different types of audio stimulation that us wargamers like to have when modelling or painting. I will listen to music occasionally, but it tends to be light classical or military band music rather than pop.

      We all go through phases when we lack the motivation to 'do' anything with regard to our hobby, but I find that sooner or later they pass, and we can get back on track. Having a project or two that you want to complete helps as well ... and we both seem to be in that lucky situation at present.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Hello Bob (and Kev)
    Sometimes when I'm painting, flocking or basing I am in the right mood for talk radio or another in the (for me newly discovered) gaming podcast (like Meeples and Miniatures View from the Verandah or the Veteran Wargamer). Most of the time however I go for suitably period music for the figures that I am working on at the time, using some of the freely available period music pot luck / playlist selections on YouTube.
    Hopefully these marching songs, period tunes and folk songs, military band music, Marches and popular tunes of the period in question etc infuse themselves into the paint and inspire the tiny men of tin and lead with suitable national and period feel for forthcoming campaigns and skirmishes. I do skip some of the duller music pieces, if "Ten to one you can't dance (or March) to it".
    When painting my WW1 / WW2 period Peter Laing 15mm Germans there was the tiny question of avoiding anything too overtly Nazi ...
    Apart from that, I'm not sure what it will turn up for painting or rebasing Peter Laing Ancients or Romans.
    I suppose there are always suitable film scores!
    Many (musical) best wishes
    Mark, Man of TIN blog.

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    1. MIN ManofTin,

      I've never tried listening to podcasts ... and I really ought to give them a try sometime. They sound as if they might be an interesting alternative or addition to what I currently listen to.

      Painting to appropriate music is something that I have tried, but I don't find it as helpful for my concentration as listening to the spoken word.

      I suppose that you'll have to listen to the soundtracks of various movies for your Romans/Ancients as I cannot think of another source of suitable music!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. A big fan of Pratchett's Discworld series here Bob, no other author has made me literally laugh out loud so much, I think 'The Wee Free Men' remains my favourite :)

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    1. 'Lee.,

      The more I hear, the more I am enjoying Terry Pratchett's books. I'll certainly look out for 'The Wee Free Men' when I buy the next batch of recorded books.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. I have also ignored them for years for no other reason than I found the covers annoying. Then about 2-3 weeks ago I watched a programme on Pratchett on TV which I actually thought was quiet good.

    So for a complete Pratchett novice, where should I start? Can someone recommend 2-3 books.

    Guy

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    1. Guy,

      I'd also be interested to to know where to start ... although it's probably a bit late for me!

      All the best,

      Bob

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