Day after day in the hot Mediterranean summer, I would sit on my mum's doorstep waiting for the postie. Anticipation would well up at the first glimpse of him at the bottom of the street and would rise to a crescendo the closer he got only to have it crash down catastrophically once he breezed past me without even a nod of acknowledgement to my presence. Deflated and dejected, I would walk back inside and resign myself to another twenty four hour wait. This daily routine carried on for days on end until one day the man actually stopped at our doorstep and handed me the much anticipated folded piece of paper. I had received a package and it was waiting for me at the post office! Needless to say I was down at the town square within minutes, the three-hundred-metre-or-so run dismissed effortlessly with the energy of youth. Once at the counter I was handed over the small thin package and in the blink of an eye I was back home, hands trembling and fumbling away at the cardboard outer. My first wargaming book had arrived!
In those days Airfix and Humbrol were all the rage - Airfix kits, Airfix Magazine, Humbrol enamels and what-not. They were the undisputed industry leaders, at least in this corner of the world. In 1974 someone at Airfix Magazine came up with the idea to start publishing dedicated modelling and wargaming guides and a series of 28 books were eventually published by Patrick Stephens Ltd between 1974 and 1978. All books were numbered in sequence but being just a kid with some pocket money I couldn't afford more than one book. My choice fell on Guide number 4 - Napoleonic Wargaming by Bruce Quarry, a small 64-page book with all you needed to get started in wargaming - with a full set of gaming rules included! This was the book I was so eagerly awaiting every day that summer of '74 and it was the book that set me off in this wonderful hobby of ours. That book still sits proudly on my bookshelf after all these years and although I have moved on in the hobby, it is still the book I treasure most.
My wargaming genesis - the book that started it all
Of the 28 books, I eventually collected the four that dealt with wargaming but then I moved on to other rulesets and eventually lost interest in the series. Recently, however, I asked myself why on earth I hadn't collected them all and after a flurry of ebay activity, I am now the proud owner of the entire collection. Granted, now that the modelling world has changed so much these last forty years, most of their content is obsolete but nostalgia overcomes everything and all twenty eight books now occupy a good chunk of my bookshelf, faded spines and all.
The four wargaming books in the series