Elms

Sep. 30th, 2009 09:32 am
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We were playing a RPG last night. I'm GMing for the first time in several decades...

It's a fantasy world but with very little magic.

Last night the local mill exploded.

The subsequent events really made me aware of the age range of my players.  Three of the players didn't even consider sabotage as a possible cause.  Although the youngest player was also playing the character of the greatest degree of suspicion and paranoia, his immediate hunt for footprints on the other side of the river reflected his age and general knowledge rather more than personality of his character.

The older players simply took it for granted that they were dealing with a flour explosion -- and then had to explain to David what a flour explosion was.  He had never had that wonderful physics demonstration, that we all remembered, of how to blow up a custard tin.

Later on in the game, it was to hit me in a different way.  We were discussing the timber necessary to repair the mill.  Different parts of mill machinery use different types of timber.  I was listing them off: Apple oak and elm -- and got a total blank look when I said elm.  He was too young, born before Dutch elm disease destroyed millions of trees.  He'd never seen an elm.

Elm disease was a disaster that could have been greatly reduced if enough people had been willing to take action.  It wasn't a problem that was impossible, and I say that with all the clarity of hindsight.  I know it wasn't impossible becasue Brighton did take action.  Today, Brighton holds the national elm collection and still has hundreds of elm trees in the city.  They maintain an active programme of ensuring infected timber is not brought into the city and that trees are inspected annually and and any infected branches are removed.

I want to visit Brighton, and not just for the pavilion.

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Judith Proctor

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