As I expect most of us are, I am a bit of a music fan. I vividly recall the thrill of going into town on a Saturday morning after a week of uni to check out the secondhand record stores and see what I could find. You'd have ten or twenty bucks to spend, you'd pick up an album, head home, put it on, and really listen to it. You'd play it again. Then again. You'd play it over a couple of riggers with your flatmates. Then you'd play it again when you went to bed.
You'd get news that a new album was coming out, you'd get the date, and you'd go and line up outside the record store to make sure you got a copy. There was camaraderie. There were conversations. You could make friends based on a person's taste in music.
There were milestones. The first time that you heard something on a really decent stereo (INXS: The Swing). The first time you heard something on good headphones (Genesis: Genesis). The first time you bought an album (INXS: Kick). The first time you realised that you could say you liked certain albums and that would not be cool, whereas if you said you liked others it would be (Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms; Def Leppard: Hysteria).
Then there was the musical awakening, when you found something that made you go 'yeah!' (Deep Purple: Machine Head). Then you found something that made you want to tell everyone you knew about it, and lend it to them (Deep Purple: Made in Japan). Then you found something that made you realise music could lift you onto an entirely different plane, even if you didn't quite understand it (Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy). Then you find something that made you want to become a musician (Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here).
And then you discover parties, booze, smokes, new mates, girlfriends, pubs, student flats, car stereos. You find something that you'd learned to play, and discover other people who'd learned to play that too.
Of course, when you buy, you buy vinyl.
And it's really good.
And then you get older. You look for a job. Hopefully you get one. You get married or settle down. You have kids or pets, and slowly music stops being the priority in your life. You still buy, but you listen in the car. You play a bit, but you're rusty, and you don't like the way you sound. You buy CDs. You use the skip button, which you never did before. You couldn't recite the track list of the last album you bought. In fact, you may not even remember where you got it, how much it cost, what else it was in competition with that day, where you'd heard of it, which of your mates would also like it, or its title.
It all gets a bit sad. Music is important, but it's those older albums you remember. You get a bit funny about some songs now. They make you think of people gone. You revisit scenes from your past. You muse over old times and old actions. You wonder if you were really the person you thought you were. Then you find there's some music you can't listen to in company. My uncle? Yeah, you met him at my wedding. Yep, he did love Pink Floyd. Saw them in London, you know. Yeah. He did. It was unexpected. Yeah, thanks. It was just one of those shitty things. And now you can't listen to Comfortably Numb or Shine On You Crazy Diamond or Sorrow around other people anymore, and there's no way you could get all the way through Wish You Were Here on acoustic guitar for your kids.
And you know, wargaming gets to be a little bit the same. Not quite at the same intense level - there's no passion like teenage passion for music, after all! - but the same general trend is recognisable. There is an introduction, a fumbling around, then growing certainty. There are significant books, rules, armies, games, people. You buy, read, play. You buy, you read, you might play. You buy, you intend to read, you don't. You buy. You stop buying.
But man, that game. I can't be sure what year that was now. Remember when that happened though? Remember, man? Remember that? That's what wargaming is all about.