Thursday, 5 July 2018

Crime and Punishment Month

You’ll be glad to hear that this is not a month long review of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s master work, but simply a series of loosely related posts that feature man’s ability to inflict pain and suffering on his fellow human being.

It was whilst watching the BBC’s latest retelling of the Gunpowder plot, a lavish, action packed drama that spared no one in its gruesome depicture of torture at this period of time, that I was instantly transported back to the London Dungeon in the late Nineteen Seventies.  Then situated in Tooley Street, the London Dungeon was a must see attraction and in a flagrant disregard for their young son’s sensibilities my parents plunged, headlong, into the darkness!
At this time, the attraction was a series of gory wax works depicting the most gruesome of British tortures and methods of executions, something that young Master Awdry was fascinated by.  Unfortunately, it was the eerie sound effects and a sign that simply said, ‘Beware of the Rats’ that did for me and I have this undiminished memory of been absolutely terrified, sobbing the whole way round!
These gruesome encounters are so far removed from my everyday life that they have remained of interest to me.  The sheer barbarity and complexity of some of the devices and methods are incomprehensible today and as such their absurdness has had a sanitising effect on the pain and suffering they must have caused.

Let us be clear ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ does not condone the practice of torture in any way, shape or form, but the ‘Witchfinder’ world of the 17th Century was an unforgiving place.   Here extracting the truth from potential ne’er do wells or vassals of evil was an art form practiced by the dead of heart and strong of stomach.  As such it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have some acknowledgement of its existence on the table top.  To that end, I have scoured the collection and unearthed a couple of pieces that would not look out of place in any chamber of horrors yet I hope might make an entertaining series of posts – you have been warned!


37 comments:

  1. This should be a very interesting set of posts Michael, it's good to reflect on our species barbaric past, and how we treat our fellow man in order to learn from it

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    1. Thank you Dave and I hope not to disappoint.

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  2. I'm looking forward to the rest of the month.

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    1. Thank you Mike, I am hoping for half a dozen posts before the end of July.

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  3. Interesting.. I look forward to seeing what horrors you come up with.

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    1. Hopefully nothing too terrifying.

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  4. Well that gives us all an insight into you pedagogue! (JK but how many times will a non teacher get to use such a word?) I always like more witch-hunter stuff so more is very welcome.

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    1. I deliberately decided to wait until the start of the summer holiday before I started this series of posts, wouldn't want the two things getting mixed up. :)

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  5. What a cracking idea, and this promises to be a brilliant series of posts Michael :-)

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    1. Thank you, I have half a dozen ideas, just need to get them all done in time.

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  6. I remember it well. I found it grizzly but not as frightening as the gun deck on the HMS Victory mock-up at Tussaud - that really freaked me at age six.

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    1. It was certainly grizzly, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find any reference on the web of the original exhibits. By all account it is very much a theme park now. I remember the gun deck too, did it have smoke and sound effects or I am embellishing that memory?

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  7. The Inquisition museum in Carcassonne was a real eye opener when I was travelling through France.

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    1. Oh now you see that would be equally disturbing and fascinating in the same measure.

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  8. Should be an intriguing series of posts Michael - looking forward to them :)

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    1. Thank you Tamsin, just an idea to keep me focussed on one project for a while.

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  9. This whole genre cries out, "Vincent Price!" :) I can see it translating well to gaming too!

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  10. Seen through modern sensibilities, they were brutal punishents but in the periods used, life was particually brutal in comparison to now so the punishments, more bizarre and horrific than the hard lives being led, then probably seemed "just", as they now be seen as unjust. Torture was not as common as it seems..it has a facination (due to time distance? and as you say, it´s far emoved from nowadays) so recieves a lot of Attention.
    Most People (98 - 99%) would go before the towncouncil, get a fine, a kicking, the stocks, pay penitance..maybe if the area had a Gaol then a couple of days insde or at worse, be banned from the community. Also...it´s debatable as too wether all the devices were actually used..or there to scare the daylights out of People ? A sort of "if you don´t confess..well insert this hard spikey pointy scratchy boiling hot thingy into your *§*§*"
    I look Forward (through my fingers Held in front of my eyes) to what you´ll come up with.

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    1. Thank you Paul and I think that it is quite telling that the London Dungeon, certainly as I remember it, has long gone. Although grizzly at the time it seems that imagination has fallen foul to virtual reality and the exhibits no longer hold any fascination for today's audiences. Just like the bizarre torture devices themselves, the entertainment business is seeking out new and even more outlandish ways to shock us!

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  11. Sounds great and interesting, let's enter the Machiavellian world of the human being...

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  12. Interesting, shall be reading with relish!

    I like a bit of horror. (but don't like the sight of blood (well not mine at least).

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Hopefully not too much gore this time round Roger, well maybe a little. ;)

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  13. Crime and punishment month you say?

    I don't whether to be filled with dread or delight.

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    1. Hopefully a little of both, but I promise not to be too outrageous.

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  14. "a series of gory wax works depicting the most gruesome of British tortures and methods of executions, something that young Master Awdry was fascinated by"

    Thankfully there were no lasting side effects, right? :-)

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    1. I don't know what you are insinuating Mr. Mills? Now where did I put those thumbscrews? :D

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  15. You're beginning to concern me, Mr. Awdry. I'm going to divert my eyes for the next few weeks and think of pleasant things (and then come back to ogle it all when its up and done!). :)

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    1. I shall try and keep the gate done to a minimum. :)

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  16. I bought a nice selection of bits and bobs to paint up in the Challenge from Black Tree Designs. Alas time ran out. I wonder if I'll see a few of them here over the next few weeks?!?

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    1. There are definitely a couple of pieces from Black Tree Designs earmarked for the coming weeks Ray.

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  17. That does sound ominous, I cannot wait to see where you are taking us...

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    1. Great to hear from you Sander, we have missed you.

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  18. It's always good to do some research, even if it is in the less illustrious parts of history.

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