One of those false senses of security one tends to get lulled into as a human being is the assumption that you have decades ahead of you, including for gaming and everything else you want to get done before your existence on this planet finally comes to a conclusion. That is not, however, always the case. I'm still getting over the passing of Pete Armstrong, aka the Mighty Greblord, one of my gaming buddies. He and I had been planning to get together to play some Dystopian Wars in the very near future, but given how busy I was on the business front, there never seemed to be the right time to set something up. I was also aware he was juggling child care duties, which were keeping him busy.
The Greblord first introduced himself to me when I was umpiring a game of the Battle of the Nile at Salute. Myself and game organiser Mark had advertised ourselves as Brighton-based wargamers and he stopped by to say hello. Following that, we went on to be part of the same RPG group and also played numerous miniature battles games as part of the Hove Area Wargames Society, including Warhammer 40,000, Victory At Sea, Song of Arthur and Merlin, and Fear & Faith.
Pete was a keen collector and painter of miniatures and used his blog to promote his interest in vintage Games Workshop figures as well as some highly sophisticated modelling projects, including an Antarctic fortress for Dystopian Wars. His painting efforts always put mine to shame - I recall being quite pleased with my Necron fleet for Battlefleet Gothic before they went onto the table to take on his Chaos ships, next to which they looked awfully bland, such was his ability to make a Nurgle-infested battleship look truly rancid.
I came to realise that the Greblord was also a walking piece of Games Workshop history (and knowledge) as well as more widely gaming history, and had worked as a store manager for GW in Hammersmith in the late 1980s. He is even cited by Marcus Rowland as the inspiration for a Paranoia scenario in an early White Dwarf magazine.
Greblord was a Yorkshireman, too. I know he was an active member of the Sheffield wargaming scene before he moved south and regularly made the effort to go up to Sheffield for the Triples show. Salute was another high point in the annual war gaming calendar for him. Like many Yorkshiremen, including my own grandfather, he said what he meant. For many other English people, this can come across as a bit abrasive, but the Greblord was someone who did not believe in pussy-footing around or the habitual double-speak embraced by much of the nation.
Greblord's death was sudden and shocking. When, now, will I have the opportunity to pit my 6mm Carthaginians against his gorgeous army of Spartans? And my Russian Dystopian Wars fleet will not get its opportunity to sail - and no doubt be decimated by - his Covenant ships.
His loss has convinced me that I must spend more time doing what I enjoy today. Too often we put things off for when we have more time or more money. But those circumstances may not arrive. While it often seems there is never enough time in the day, we need to make time to see friends and play games with them.
Greblord's spirit lives on - you can view his blog here, with many examples of his collection of classic Citadel miniatures and gaming/modelling projects. Farewell my friend. We'll miss you.