Doctor, Doctor; Can’t You See I’m Fuming, Fuming?

Well!  They’ve been and gone and done it now!  The fat is out of the bag and the cat is in the fire – and yes, I did mean to Spoonerise my metaphors in that way because the Whole Order of Things has Been Upset.  It’s women priests all over again; it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad!  How many more male strongholds will be feminised!  How can the Doctor, an intrinsically masculine figure, a repository of – well, maleness – I’m not sure how but he just IS because – well!  I mean, every time he regenerates he’s a man!  Isn’t he?  I mean, that proves it!  The Doctor is male, all right!  He cannot be female!  It just won’t work!  He’ll – she’ll – be crying all over the place, she’ll be all warm and fuzzy and not dangerous or eccentric because everyone knows women can’t be dangerous or eccentric – and the TARDIS WILL BE COVERED IN DOYLEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deep, calming breaths, deep calming breaths…


So, the news is, if you haven’t yet caught up with it, that the latest regeneration of Dr Who has been announced and it’s a woman; Jodie Whittaker, to be precise, of Broadchurch fame.  I have no idea if she’ll be any good , but in principle I think it’s great that they’ve gone this way.  I see no reason why the Doctor can’t be female: coming from Gallifrey there is no need for the character to confirm to any earthly genders (or colours, come to that) so it’s high time these boundaries were breached.  I look forward to seeing what she makes of it.

But never mind guys, there’s still one or two niches left for you.  After all, most MP’s, CEO’s, film directors, Head Teachers, rock musicians, Chief Constables, firefighters, surgeons, lorry-drivers, bus-drivers, train-drivers, bishops, scientists, engineers – are still men.  At least, last time I looked.  So you can’t be the Doctor for the next few years?  Never mind.  A man can still be Prime Minister.  In fact with any luck a man will be, very soon…

Kirk out




Dr Rebus Wishes You All Happy New Year

I hope you all had a good night last night and saw the new year in if that was your plan… sadly I have to report that around eleven I caved in and headed for my pit.  Not that anything exciting was happening – in fact I’ve rarely been so underwhelmed by a new year as I have by this one.  Which is not to say that I’m indifferent – just that I didn’t feel like celebrating.

I’ve been reading a book Mark got for Xmas, which I think I mentioned the other day.  It’s based on Neil Perryman’s blog  where he sets out to watch every episode of Dr Who and is joined by his wife.  Here’s the blog:

It set me thinking about my own possible book based on this blog – a blovel, if you will, or possibly a nog.  Or, since it would be mainly biographical, a bio-blog.  Or blography.  It also brought back memories of early Dr Who episodes.  Patrick Troughton was my first doctor and Tom Baker was (and is) my favourite, though David Tennant comes a close second.  I also like the current incarnation’s return to a sort of severity, though last week’s episode came too close to romance for my liking.  The Doctor doesn’t do romance.

I’ve also been watching something I bought with my Xmas HMV token (thanks Holly) namely a box-set of the Rebus series.  I had yet to see a single one of these and I was clear that I wanted the Ken Stott version, not the John Hannah ones.  And so far I have not been disappointed: Stott is very much my idea of Rebus, albeit softened a little.  However they have tampered with the stories a bit.  But very enjoyable.

Happy new year to all and may you find all you seek in 2016.  (Hint: it’s behind the sofa.)

Kirk out

Doctors and Patient

Well!  I have rarely seen an episode of Dr Who which bored me, but I have to say last night’s was 45 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  Hm – how DO you get time back?  If I was a time lord (or lady) I guess I could go back in time and live it all again, like Hermione in the third Harry Potter.  You can buy those time-turner things on the internet and I strongly suspect they don’t actually do what it says on the tin, though if they did, we’d all get very tired.

Which was the precise subject of the episode before last, in which an app called ‘Morpheus’ could be implanted in the brain and override the need to sleep.  That was an excellent episode, as was last week’s in which Clara died.  But this week’s!  I couldn’t follow it and eventually I lost the will to understand and even to live.  The major problem was that the Doctor had no companion and therefore had to spend the entire 3/4 hr monologuing.  That was bad enough, but on top of that he spent 7000 years in hell (I know how he felt) having to repeat actions over and over until – well, I’d lost track by then so I don’t know exactly what he had to do but he had to do it and then he could get back to the Tardis which was encased in some kind of material harder than diamonds and ……….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I sincerely hope next week’s story is better.

It’s been quite variable, I think, this season.  I’ve liked some episodes and hated others.  I wasn’t at all grabbed by the Zygons, though I did like Mark’s joke ‘let Zygons be Zygons.’

Apart from that I’ve been watching just about everything available on the iplayer.  For yes!  I have been quite poorly.  Two weeks ago I was prescribed both antibiotics AND steroids and after that I had to get another lot of antibio’s which I am just now finishing.  Then this week I’ll have to go for a chest x-ray just to check there isn’t anything else wrong.

Hey, ho.  That’s life I guess.  Incidentally, where does the idea come from about eternity being like a mountain of sand from which a bird removes a grain every thousand years?  I remember it from James Joyce but I think it’s a reference to something else.

TTFN.  I still haven’t been on Facebook…

Kirk out

A Perfect Branestawm

I have rarely, if ever, seen such a perfect, spot-on and generally whiz-bang, tally-ho and ram-jam lickety-split adaptation of a book as the Beeb’s recent Professor Branestawm. I loved Norman Hunters books as a child: illustrated by the illustrious, not to say splendiflicate Heath Robinson, they were children’s comedy classics, and this adaptation everyone and everything is perfect, from Harry Hill’s Prof with his seven pairs of glasses on his forehead to his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop spouting malapropisms and his best friend Colonel Dedshott of the Catapult Cavaliers (Simon Day) being thoroughly military all over the place.  There were squeedles of Pagwell-based fun including an exploding but ultimately fire-extinguishing automatic tea-maker, the wild waste-paper which brings photographs to life and oodles of other stories.
It was an excellent start to Christmas Day, though later on I thought the Dr Who episode was not the best.  The dream idea was a bit drawn-out, and it was somewhat light on action.

We did have a great day, however, with Peter coming over for a thigh of turkey while we had the traditional nut-roast with sausages; all accompanied by pots, parsnips, sprouts, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce and washed down by Rioja.  Then there was Prosecco to go with the pudding and mince pies.

Yesterday I did little but slump in front of the telly and eat cheese: I watched Victoria Wood’s prog; very funny and featuring just about every British actor still living:

then in no particular order, ‘Chicken Run’, a couple of ‘University Challenges’ in which I scored well over a hundred points, Rory Bremner’s review of the year – brilliant – and before deciding that my eyes were square and I’d better read a book instead, we all watched ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’. This turned out to be a cracker.  There’s an unusual role for Ewan McGregor as a civil servant asked to assist in a rich sultan’s project to dam a river, irrigate the desert and bring salmon from Scotland to populate it.  It sounds like a rich man’s folly, but all his – and our – assumptions are overturned in this understated and engaging film, the best feature of which is that the two protagonists are attracted to each other but maintain a respectful distance and do not instantly fall into bed together.

Apparently Ewan McGregor had to learn fly-fishing for the film.  There are some amazing shots of salmon leaping, and also a scene where he makes a fishing-fly, which reminded me of J R Hartley.  Now, who can tell me who J R Hartley was?  Anyone?  Ms Vanilla Rose, I bet you can.  Or Tottnm.  Come on now, no googling…

Kirk out

The Blind Leading the Deaf: Life on the iplayer

It was like an episode of Fawlty Towers last night in our house.  There was me trying to work my way through old episodes of Top of the Pops

including Chic (so-so) Elton John (great) Darts (awful) and the Barron Knights (cheesy but fun) when Mark emerged from taking his nightly dose of gloop.

‘I need some more sleep mix,’ I said.  ‘Have you got any?’

‘Mwffle-mwf-mwr-mog,’ he explained through a gobful of gloop.

A simple shake of the head would have sufficed, but he continued to try to convey further information by means of his nostrils, all the while making ferocious grimaces with his mouth firmly closed.

‘Mark!’ I said eventually in exasperation.  ‘I can’t understand a word you’re not saying!’

He laughed, spraying the table neatly with gloop.  Then he got out the tablet and started to type, handing it to me when he’d finished.

‘I can’t read that,’ I said.  ‘I need my glasses.’

I’m telling you, Fawlty Towers rode again.

Also on iplayer, we didn’t have to wait too long for the latest Dr Who.  And was it good?  Yes – I guess – but I thought some of it was a bit cheesy, and some a tad smartarse.  I didn’t go for the ‘Tardis hanging from helicopter’ trope, and the scenes with two or three doctors were a little uneasy.  I didn’t much like John Hurt either, which is unusual for me as he’s one of my favourite actors.

So… the highlight of the iplayer week is still my radio appearance:

1 hour and 12 mins in..

Kirk out

What Was That? That Was Your Life Mate…

Yesterday was terribly exciting: it started with an email sent on the off-chance.  I was listening to Saturday Live when they asked listeners for stories of things that had gone missing or been lost in their area.  Sounds like a job for SuperPoet! I thought, or something like that – so while my egg boiled I dashed off an email about the Bowstring Bridge, adding that a Respectful Pooh Song had also been written about it.  Ten minutes later as my egg was gently dripping from my soldiers, I got a call.  Could I tell them more about the Bridge?  I did.  And did I know who had written the poem?  I did, and it was me.  Could I give them a blast?  I could, and did.  Could I come on the programme later, say after the ten o’clock news?

Could I?

I think I could…

I spent the next half-hour on tenterhooks, wondering whether after all I’d be squeezed out for lack of time, putting increasingly tense updates on Facebook – and at ten oh five the phone rang.  It was J P Devlin himself, very friendly and chatty; he talked me through what we’d be doing and how many lines of the poem I should read.  I stayed on the line where I could hear the programme going on like a radio playing in the background.  Then they came to me.  I talked about the Bridge, how iconic it was, how individual and how much missed – and how it had left a gap in the environment.  ‘A gap which has been filled by a poem,’ he neatly segued.  And so I went into the now-familiar performance of the Ballad; they laughed at the rhyme Bridge/smidge – and that was that.  So apart from a frog in the throat it was fine.

It’s at 1 hr 12 mins in, after Charlie Higson’s inheritance tracks.

And so to the Vegan Fair which was less satisfactory.  They were running late and it became clear that poetry would be next to impossible in a room heaving with people all buying food and drinks and with no microphone.  The previous two singers were good but almost inaudible, and I wasn’t sure what I should do as I didn’t have enough songs for half an hour.  So I raised my voice and tried to get people’s attention – and the nearest tables did join in with the Ballad’s chorus – but after a couple of poems I just gave up and stuck with the songs.  Mark helped me on some of the songs, but I was still hardly audible and not well-received.  So that did not feel good.

Thanks to Jane and Ian, anyway, who did their best.

And so to Peter’s, where after yoga and dinner an entire cast of Doctors made their appearance.  Worth seeing?  yes.  Worth going to see?  Again, yes – but not worth all the hype.

And so to bed.

Kirk out

Do Androids Dream of Electric Filk?

Today we are taking a sideways step from reviewing books – since I haven’t read anything new – and into music; and more specifically, into deep space as I take a look at Chris Conway’s latest CD, ‘Deep Space Love’:

The album is a showcase for the kind of music known as Filk; ie Science Fiction Folk.  Now as you know, I am not a science fiction fan: I am, in the words of one of the songs on this LP, a ‘heretic fen’ who dislikes all forms of Sci-fi except the comedic – and, of course, Dr Who… but if this is representative, then I guess I do like Filk.

The album starts with the boppy and amusing ‘Three-headed Girl’, a love-song about – well, a three-headed girl.  This has some great lines in it and sets the lyrical – if not the musical – tone for the rest of the album.  ‘Three-headed Girl’ is followed by the slower, dreamier ‘Love Space-station’ with more whimsical lyrics – the lyrics are in fact what keeps me listening, although musically the album is interesting too.  With ‘Monkeys on the Moon’ we are back in the realm of the comedic and we stay there – albeit taking a sideways step into the absurd – for ‘Zonky Ponky.’  Yes, everyone really does have a zonky-ponky – and if you don’t know what that is, you have to ask some guy on Betelgeuse.  Sorry.  Then we are ‘Out of this World’, another dreamlike number, before suffering from the ‘Replicator Malfunction Blues’ (we never had this problem on Deep Space 8′) and that concludes the first of three sections, each of which is separated by a space-type announcement in soft, robotic tones.

In section 2 there’s a kind of bossa-nova feel to ‘Death to the Immortals’, another whimsically comedic number about trying to kill all your immortal friends, and the immortal theme continues with ‘Superheroes Never Die’: though Superman is no longer a hero ‘some habits cling on from his youth/he still changes his clothes in a telephone booth.’

The initial chords of ‘Vegetarian Vampire’ – a socially-responsible blood-sucker who ‘hasn’t tasted blood for more than a century’ and wonders ‘should I give up dairy?’ – sound a little like ‘Stairway to Heaven’,  I couldn’t decide if that was deliberate or not – but there was some nice Jethro Tull-like flute playing later on.

My favourite track is ‘Orbiting Filk Recording Studio’ which is about song-recording and has some great lines (‘they’re recording with a new percussionist/he’s a monkey with a hockey stick’; ‘Last night I recorded a ballad/I was going to have dinner but an alien jellyfish stole my salad’; ‘ tell me why the best music happens when I forget to press record?’; ‘Paul’s been a Dr Who fan for years/and has been rewarded for his persistence/ he’s singing in a choir made up entirely/ of female Dr Who assistants’).  This is neatly followed by ‘Downers’, a song about trying to write upbeat songs and failing (I guess that could be a Leonard Cohen anthem, LOL) and then a primitive feel on ‘Burn the Heretic Fen’ takes the piss out of dogmatic Sci-Fi fans who can’t comprehend anyone not liking Star Wars.

Comme moi…

I’ve never seen Star Wars.  No, honestly.  And I’m with him nearly all the way on this one.  ‘What a lot of fuss about a little ring’ indeed… then we’re in the realms of folky fun with ‘The Fish Song’ where ‘fish’ is spelt ‘H-AT-S-T-A-N-D (instead of GHOTI as it ought to be spelt)*
and that’s more or less it.  The album ends dreamily and robotically (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) with ‘Circle of One’ and there we are, back to where we started.  I think I’ve proved that you don’t have to like Sci-fi to enjoy ‘Deep Space Love’ – you just have to like music and lyrics.
Go listen…
Kirk out