One of the supposed good things about working in a city is that you can get in a bit shopping in during your lunch hour, but it doesn’t really work like that, at least not for me. Lunch hours are almost what they say on the tin — hours to grab lunch, except it isn’t an hour, more like 30 minutes max with a sandwich or a healthy pasta salad from the nearby M+S food hall.
Lunch hours are almost what they say on the tin — hours to grab lunch, except it isn’t an hour, more like 30 minutes max with a sandwich or a healthy pasta salad from the nearby M+S food hall.
But there are only so many sarnies and healthy foodstuffs that you can take, so today saw me take one of my rare forays into Manchester. I was soon reminded why. There are about 25% of folk like me, time-limited, you know where you want to go — Debenham’s, HMV, maybe Dillon’s if I can make it, so get your feet moving, laser-guided precision.
Then there’s the others. The ones who have all day and no plans other than to meander around the streets getting in the way. You know what I mean, the sort that doesn’t walk up and down Market Street, but drift from side to side, gobbing chewing gum and tripping up those of us on a mission.
Today was one of those rare days. I had a bit of time on my hands and took myself down the shops. I didn’t make it into Dillon’s, but HMV was on the list. I had a look at the games on offer, more out of casual interest than intent to purchase.
One I pulled off the shelf was The Punic Wars — A Clash of Two Empires. I read the blurb on the back and thought it sounded okay. Hannibal has been a hero of mine ever since I read his biography by Ernle Bradford.
The thing about Hannibal is that he was a tactical genius and a strategic cretin. As his brother Hasdrubal had it, “You know how to win a victory, but you don’t know how to use it.” By which he meant that his bro’ terrorised Rome for 14 years, but couldn’t hit the knock-out blow.
Anyway, I flipped back to the front of the box to check the price. Ah, £1.99. What? One pound bloody ninety-nine? Which may mean it’s a dog, but I bought it. At that price, I reckon I only need about 30 minutes entertainment to get my money back. (See, less than the minimum wage and I’m happy.)
On which note, favourite Ernle Bradford quote: “Hannibal, the boy from North Africa, who grows up to dominate European history for sixteen years, seems to vanish like the mist rising off Lake Trasimene on that fateful day: or like the south wind, the sun and the dust, that blinded the Romans at Cannae.”
Great man, great general. Crap strategist. It would be an interesting ‘what if’ if he hadn’t been the latter. Had Europe not been dominated by Rome, but by the Cathaginians instead? I have my own thoughts, but I’d be interested in your’s.