Here’s a bit of pub-quiz nonsense for you: according to chess.com, and proven by the above gif, the knight can legally pay a visit to every square on a chess board without visiting a square twice. If you can memorise the order well enough you can win bets and bore nephews for the rest of your life.
I’ve a tremendous and unapologetic fondness for anything that involves swords, wizards or orcs, and that includes roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. I also love miniature model environments: model villages; train sets; those scale models of how a castle looked in the 13th Century that you find in visitor centres (not dolls’ houses though- they’re ALL haunted and they give me the creeps). This sort of thing, then, is a sort of perfect storm of nerdery for me:
These modular sets are made by Dwarven Forge for roleplayers, to represent dungeons, taverns, caves etc. They’re gorgeously designed and detailed by one man- Stefan Pokorny: a lifelong D&D gamer, and a skilled sculptor. At college he ran D&D games for which he made incredibly detailed maps of castles, villages and dungeons. Dwarven Forge bring that obsessive passion and attention to detail to everything they do. Each piece is so obviously the output of someone really enjoying their job. The prices will make you feel like you’ve swallowed something hard and jagged (the picture below represents a few thousand pounds), but if I had the disposable income, I’d be covering the kitchen table with an orc-infested labyrinth before my wife could check the bank statements. Available here, from £50.
One of the unexpected fillips of escaping my twenties is that being wilfully unfashionable no longer arouses comment. In fact, unfashionable clothes are superior in all sorts of ways. They are often better made. This is because teenagers, though fashionable, cannot gauge quality (hence Topshop). They are often cheaper too, and they lend the wearer a sort of semiotic null-value by dint of their neutrality. I find this phenomenon hugely appealing, which is why I’ve just bought these extravagantly unfashionable training shoes, from that temple of the prudent purchase, John Lewis. What finally swung me was that nowhere on the product page could i find a button to share my purchase with Facebook. I’ve chosen not to dwell on the fact that I’ve written a blog post about them instead. That way madness lies.
Having just moved into a Victorian terrace house in need of all the small attentions you’d expect, I find myself darkening the doormat at Wickes and B&Q more often than before. There is something magical about B&Q: the smell of varnish and sawdust; the metallic echo of the cavernous roof; the reverent, library-still calmness of proper grown-ups sizing up 15 x 12.7mm female-compression-elbows or single-architrave-flush-metal-back-boxes.
The Stanley 199 distills all of this manly magic into a solid little talisman of great charm. Practically unchanged in 70 years (note the flourished escutcheon on the handle), it resonates with understated, practical beauty.
When Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, said “from its beauty, everything is illuminated”, he may not have been contemplating the Stabilo Boss highlighter, but even so, he chose the absolute mot juste to describe these stubby little wonders.