Posts Tagged With: tardis

The Time Wind in the Willows

Going through the archives for an article I’m writing for Kasterborous, I discovered an odd thing that I wrote back in December 2011. If I were being silly I might almost describe it as fan-fic. As it is we’ll go with pastiche.

Today, just for the hell of it, I’m reproducing it again, only this time you get added pictures.To fill you in, the story as I envisaged this version of Kenneth Grahame’s classic is that Toad has nicked the TARDIS, only he calls it the TOADIS. When I originally spun this to Gareth, he suggested that “Toad presumably follows clues that read ‘Badger Wolf’ to find the Tower of Rattylon, and there engages in some pun involving ‘mole’ that I can’t think of this early.” (He had been interviewing for three days straight, so all things considered…)

‘The three animals regarded the bright blue box once again, as it stood there in the middle of the drawing room. Eight feet high it stood, reaching almost to the ceiling, a dark blue it gleamed – gleamed, perhaps, not being the word; I should say instead it seemed almost to glow. For all its apparent grandness, it seemed somehow fraudulently manufactured, as if certain nuances and details had been falsely inserted to misguide the curious passer-by of its true purpose. Rat observed that the telephone in one corner appeared to be unconnected, and the windows seemed of unorthodox size compared to others he had seen.

“Are you trying to tell us,” said Mole, slowly, as if only just grasping the facts, “that someone built a time machine out of a police telephone box? And, indeed, that you stole it?”

“Stole?” cried Toad. “Of course I didn’t steal it! To steal would imply that I’d had no mind to return it, and for all my adventurous spirit I am not a dishonest animal. I merely borrowed it. And when I am done with it, it shall indeed be returned, cleaned inside and out and polished like two new pins.”

“When you’re – done with it?” asked the Mole, hesitantly, uncertain as to whether he wanted his question answered.

“Oh, come now Moley!” was the good-natured response. “Surely even you can’t envisage me borrowing a device like this and not using it! Imagine!” Toad went on, leaping now on a sturdy writing desk to emphasise his point. “The vast expanse of the American wilderness set out before you, ripe with buffalo and bear! The glory of Rome, not in its present decayed majesty, but new, and white and shining and filled with gladiators and dignitaries! Picnicking outside the Coliseum! Taking tobacco with Wellington! Snuff with Shakespeare! Seeing Da Vinci paint and Michaelangelo chip away at stone! And then, when culture bores you, journeying to the bottom of the sea, to find the sharks and rays and angler fish and other such strange creatures that you normally only read about in books! Time travel, now, that’s the life! To go where you please and when you please…why, think of the adventures we’ll have!”

“We?” asked Rat, to which Mole added, under his breath, “Just what I was thinking.”

“Why, of course! You’ll all be coming with me. This beast is burdensome to control entirely by oneself – how its original owner, a solitary gentleman as far as I could make out, having no visible companion to speak of – ever managed it is quite beyond me. I had fair problems dashing around inside the thing pulling levers and twisting dials, and the juddering shake of the thing is quite something to behold, although of course you get used to it. And the layout! My word, Ratty, you’ve never seen the like of it! Passages here, tunnels there, sleeping compartments and cavernous walk-in wardrobes – and a library, of all things, inside the swimming pool! I shall want navigators and people willing to share the cooking duties, and some baggage carriers and general help. And you needn’t worry about leaving your homes unattended for any great length. This being a time machine, we can have it back in a jiffy – less than that, even – however long it’s in our possession. I can return it to its exact point of reference, right to the last second. The owner need never even know it was gone!”

“Now, see here, Toad – ” interjected the angry Rat.

“See here! See here! I should think so!” replied the excited Toad, hopping on one foot around the parlour. “I can see here, and there, and everywhere – anything, and any time! Here today, somewhere else last week!”

“Toad!” said the suddenly apoplectic Badger, very sternly, sitting up in his chair and leaning heavily on his walking cane, regarding the now quivering Toad with contempt and disdain and anger. “You miserable wretch! You worthless excuse for a civilised animal! Have you learned nothing of the dangers these machines possess? You could be flung anywhere – into a stampede of wildebeest, a pitched battle at sea, or even an active volcano! And that is to say nothing of the sheer folly of travelling through time, the lunacy of brazen interference! You might wipe out your own grandfather, destroy the Wild Wood, or even worse! In the hands of even the most sensible person such a vehicle would pose a tremendous risk. In the hands of an idiot and a lunatic, it’s a recipe for absolute calamity! The theft is bad enough. Your intention to actually use the thing is tenfold worse! Wicked, wicked Toad!”

So ferociously choleric was the Badger’s tone, and so potent and compelling the content of his speech, that Toad’s knees began at once to knock. In an instant his facial expression had changed from one of utter confidence in his abilities to handle the time machine to one of sudden and serious doubt. Could it be, he thought to himself, that he had thought himself more capable than he was? Had he become so excited in the possibilities that the pitfalls had evaded him? And then he saw, as if in a dream, but waking, a flash of hidden insight that rose to the surface like the bubbles in a mill pond, a world hideously altered by his meddling, a world of continents in upheaval, towns overrun with plants, old dictators given new life, and – oh, the horror! – the weasels lording themselves over his manor and estate, and indeed the whole of the surrounding countryside, while he, poor Toad, was reduced to nothing but a common servant, doomed to a life of servitude, misery and poverty.

The vision had shaken him. Removing a pristine handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket he mopped his brow, which had become bejewelled with sweat, and with shaking hands he moved to the fireside armchair, and gingerly sat down. When he had recovered sufficient composure, he said “Oh, Badger. You’re right, of course. I had thought my scheme well-intentioned, but I have been foolish. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”‘

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The Clarkson Exposition

snickers-top-gear

I always try and have the coffee on by the time Emily gets back from work, but the other morning, I forgot. So I offered her a cold drink instead. She gave me a black eye. Then someone pointed out that she has more Facebook friends than I do and therefore I shouldn’t complain.

Put like that, it’s ludicrous, isn’t it? But what happened with the Top Gear host the other week isn’t really so different. There’s a lot of rank stupidity when it comes to media exposure these days. We live empty, leisure-filled lives where overreacting has become par for the course, and getting offended comes naturally when everything profound that’s said is usually said online – or on video, where it can be embedded online – to be dissected, retweeted, screengrabbed and analysed to death. The slightest complaint is a viral headline. So it’s easy to think that the news that Jeremy Clarkson had punched a producer was just another in a long line of “Oh, that Clarkson, he’s such a wag” stories by one of the ‘characters’ of BBC TV. We put up with Clarkson because he’s fun, and politically incorrect, and ‘tells it like it is’. (Well, so does Katie Hopkins, I’m informed, and she’s a provocative bitch whose views on mental health alone have made me physically nauseous – despicable if they’re genuine, and colossally unfunny even if they’re meant for pure headline-grabbing sensationalism. I’m not even going to link to them, because, you know, oxygen of publicity.)

But consider this. If a popular but immensely volatile member of your office staff decked one of the marketing heads, and wasn’t disciplined for it because of his exemplary sales record, wouldn’t you feel the teeniest sense of injustice? Wouldn’t you think that perhaps the disciplinary procedure was not quite as well-oiled as the HR department would have you believe? Wouldn’t you say “Hang on a minute, this really isn’t fair? There’s Pete with a broken nose and he has to suffer in silence, while all Bill gets is a slap on the wrists before sloping off down the pub? And this is after the racist joke he cracked the other week? There’s something fishy going on in that boardroom.”

Listen, Tom Baker was notoriously difficult in his final year, but I don’t think even he resorted to laying out the crew, even when Alan Bromly was directing. It’s not a question of putting up with the primadonnas because they bring in the coffers. It’s about having a chain of command. Clarkson’s not untouchable, nor should he be. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the camel has had enough. This will cost the BBC millions and I’m sure they didn’t strangle their golden goose without careful consideration; if they’re guilty of anything it’s that they never trained it to stop pecking. And you know what? Just because you pay your license, you don’t get a say in how they run their organisation. Throwing in a hundred quid a year and then whinging about it in a hundred Daily Mail threads does not make you a shareholder, nor does it give you a democratic right to dictate policy. Clarkson attacked a man for thirty seconds because the hotel had stopped serving hot food, because he’d been in the pub for hours. That’s not a delicately balanced hardworking trouper who’s suffered great misfortune for his art. That’s the hallmark of an obnoxious bully who’s fired up by Dutch courage. Wars have probably been started over less. And as for those who complain about the Jimmy Savile parallels, I’ve never heard such an outrageously misplaced analogy. It’s not even worth telling them how stupid it is.

I stopped reading the comments eventually. I’m not really a grammar snob – at least not online, where I’ve learned that it frequently doesn’t matter – but in this instance there really is a direct correlation between the ability of people to string a coherent and reasoned argument together and their ability to spell. “BOYCOT THE BEEB!” the Facebook comments scream in abusive capitals. “BRING BACK CLARKSON NOW OR WE DONT PAY NO MORE!” You cannot get through to these people. They’ll see what they want to see, and read what they want to read. It’s like the Dwarves at the end of The Last Battle. You can’t always open the eyes of the ignorant and stupid, nor can you consistently educate the naive.

So I have kept my distance. I don’t need the blood pressure. If anything, the whole incident proves that eating meat of any sort just leads to barbarism and that we’d be far better off switching to the sort of vegetarian tree-hugging lifestyle espoused by Clifford Jones in ‘The Green Death’.

Green-death

Anyway, Jeremy’s out of a job now and word on the street is that ITV, Sky and Channel 4 won’t touch him with a barge pole, so if he needs a new gig…

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Doctor in This Dress

I genuinely can’t work out whether this TARDIS is gold, white or blue.

TARDIS-Ring-Single-Band-Gold

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Five rounds (of beer) rapid (drinking)

TARDISes I have known and loved.

TARDISes

 

I realised that it really was time to take this photo after we visited Techniquest. Located on the university campus in Wrexham, it’s one of those hands-on places with rooms full of fans, heart monitors, light-and-sound displays and other stuff. There are many such places dotted around the country, and the first time we visited one since we’ve become parents was on a cold January morning back in January 2013. I had a raging hangover, but it was worth it just to see this.

DavrosPyramid

 

On this particular Sunday, my head was clear, which was a good thing, because some of the optical illusions would likely induce nausea if you’d had a few. Life, as it turns out, is all about perspective.

Techniquest

Or, as Gareth said, “That’s silly!“.

The day before we visited Techniquest we’d been in Shrewsbury – a place which has very little connection with the Whoniverse outside some of the novels. It’s also not too far from Ironbridge, as the crow flies, which I’ve talked about before

Ironbridge_3

 

Shrewsbury itself is the hometown of Wilfred Owen, war poet of legend, who was one of several famous locals to be commemorated with a memorial set up on Smithfield Road in the summer of last year. He appears alongside the town crier and Sabrina, goddess of the River Severn (I swear I’m not making this up).

The funny thing is that when you look at it from the road, Owen’s statue really does look a bit like the Brigadier.

Shrewsbury

 

Sort of. If you squint. And that’s nothing more than wishful thinking on my part, perhaps, until you drive down to the river and reach the local park, and the Doctor Who influence on the whole town becomes strikingly clear.

IMAG0261

 

You see what I mean…

 

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Riddles and sheds

So what have I been doing when I’m not either writing reviews, refining satirical conspiracy-laden theories about the arc or convincing the Metro readership that Classic Doctor Who was better?

Well, reading the news. Doing any sort of journalism, however low-key, requires a finger on the pulse. But even if I’d gone dark, it was hard to miss the Apple iPhone 6 Songs of Innocence debacle.

I also spend a lot of time answering email, and summarising plot threads to Gareth, who has yet to watch any of the new series on the grounds that “You aren’t exactly selling it to me, you know”. It’s true that the quality level has been variable: patches of good and patches of appalling, with one entire episode (‘Into the Dalek’) that lies squarely in between. Capaldi is great, but the scripts are not. I more or less accept this as par for the course these days; I can’t help feeling we’re all marking time until Moffat steps down and Gatiss takes over as chief writer – a prospect which, thanks to his recent output, actually no longer appalls me as much as it once did.

When New Who is proving to be a less-than-fulfilling experience, I go back to the old stuff, which isn’t always a good thing. The other week, for example, we watched ‘The Two Doctors’, which is (as Gareth says) “a tremendous waste of Patrick Troughton”. The basic problem is that there is no story: it takes two and a half hours for the Doctor to have two or three one-minute conversations with his past self, visit Seville and tussle with some comically tall Sontarans. The Androgum thing is a good idea that never convinces, because they’re so downright irritating. On the plus side, Colin Baker does manage to take Nicola Bryant on an early tour of the Google server farms.

Two-Google

Google actually figures – in a manner of speaking – in ‘The Ice Warriors’, which I finished this morning, and in which a group of isolated humans have become so reliant on technology that they are incapable of rationalisation or even thinking for themselves, relying exclusively on technology. When it’s suggested that Director Clent forego the I.T. consultation process and actually make a decision, he freezes and panics. In the 1960s the idea of a supercomputer that could answer any question and suggest a course of action for any situation was still buried deep within the realms of science fiction – but as time passes, and dependency on the internet and the cloud increases, I can’t help wondering if we’re breeding a generation who’d rather use a search engine than cultivate a thought process. Why bother finding out what happens when you drop Mentos in Diet Coke when you can just see it on YouTube?

It needn’t go this way, of course. It’s just a question of encouraging independent thought, which is what I try to do when I tell my children not to believe everything they read. We try and bring a little philosophy into the dinner table conversation. Occasionally this backfires. At Beaver camp earlier this year I spent half an hour in a forest clearing trying to explain the door riddle to Thomas, after he’d seen it in ‘Pyramids of Mars’. In the end I found three trees in a line, and took it in turns to be the guards in front of imaginary doorways. The conversation lasted most of the evening, on and off, in between the games of snap and the s’more session round the camp fire. What I should have done, of course, was this.

Anyway.

My parents have just got back from a holiday in Norfolk – a place that forms what may just about be my first memory, besides the one that I wrote about way back in 2011 when I started this blog.

“This,” said my father, “was in a garden just up the road from us.”

DSC04830

(The TARDIS in question is, I’m told, in Stiffkey, near Wells-on-sea.)

“We knocked,” said my father, “but the Doctor was out”. So they didn’t see inside, although if they had, it might have looked like this:

TARDIS_Int

Edward, meanwhile, has developed the annoying habit of pulling any DVDs he can reach off their shelves, spilling them on the floor. This means that the carpet of my study is at this very moment covered with plastic boxes. Unfortunately the only ones he can reach are the Doctor Who discs, because I like to keep them close to hand, and THEY HAVE TO BE IN THE CORRECT ORDER. Thus, in the process of returning them to their rightful places these last weeks I have become highly prolific at the story sequence for Baker through to McCoy, and could probably tell you them by heart.

But here he is, embroiled in our now daily ritual that is the Touching of Peter Capaldi’s Head.

Capaldi

The other day I put on the recon of ‘The Wheel in Space’, and as soon as he heard the theme music, he clapped. I have trained him well.

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“It’s a disguise”

Crumbs. Screen grab from BBC News. (The actual page is currently unavailable, unfortunately; they seem to be having server problems this morning.)

TARDIS_story

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Top left, meet bottom right

Stella Creasy, as she appears in today’s Guardian. I assume this was an accident.

Creasy

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Protected: Encounter at York Maze

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The Hand of Beer

I was about to open a bottle of Speckled Hen, which seems as good a time as any to mention this little find from Gareth.

blue-box-ale-shirt-600x564

What we’d both like to know, of course, is whether it’s lager on the inside…

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“These are small. The ones in the field are far away.”

It was a Saturday morning. I was feeling creative, but conscious of time.

Mini-Doc

Twenty minutes later, Gareth had done this.

And lest you missed the joke, watch this.

In fact, just watch ‘The Robots of Death’. It’s fantastic. You will be saying “Please do not throw hands at me” for weeks.

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