Friday, October 17, 2008

Tiny soldiers farewell their general

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THE language of classified advertising gives a snapshot view of an intriguing cultural mix that surrounds us all, while most may blunder on in blissful ignorance of the depth of passions reflected in just a few words of small type.
Coupled with this cross-cultural smorgasbord, the abbreviations and the jargon may excite curiosity. A scan of the classifieds can be a more absorbing mind game than a cryptic crossword.
A recent notice offering Warhammer warriors for sale offered a collection of terms that begged explaining. "LOTR", "tau", "rua", "minis", "tirith"?
The definition from the website, games-workshop: "Warhammer is a miniatures wargame, where players command vast armies of model soldiers … on a tabletop battlefield … set amid a fantasy world like no other, where sorcery and monsters are common on the field of battle."

THOSE cryptic terms are no longer such a puzzle. They are Lord of the Rings army names, losing any proper noun status and melding into the language of the world as phonetic expressions of generic fact.
Thornlands mother Susan Neil has come to know the words very well for the past three years while her son James joined the Warhammer culture and waged wars against other similarly interested and obsessed teenagers.
Susan is sighing with relief that James, now 15, has not only drifted away from Warhammer but also gained a little speed on his BMX bike.
Nowadays, James is more likely to be riding at the Thornlands and Victoria Point skate parks, playing tennis at Cleveland or competing with Coochiemudlo Surf Life Saving Club than plotting the massacre of a few dozen troops.

SUSAN says she has seen the ability of Warhammer to keep some of its generals presiding over their armies until well into their twenties and she is grateful for her son’s early discharge.
"It’s a hobby and a good indoor activity," she says.
"It suits some children and it’s better than watching television but, as harmless as it is, it’s not as good as kicking a football.
"It’s better they get out there doing things."
Mum says it’s worth nursing a few minor BMX-related injuries to see those little characters march out of the household, a pleasure when James clinches a sale for the collection he advertised at $140.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland City, Queensland, Australia.

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