Carnival of Monsters

A little over a week ago, we were in Didcot for the annual Christmas lights festival. It’s always a jolly affair: the streets are thronged with stalls, amusements and food stands, with parades and funfair organs and costumed characters. This year’s theme was Fantasyland, which included a disturbing Victorian house in the grotto, where a Grinch poked its head out from under the table, a disembodied child sat playing with a toy train (I am informed that the fact that it was missing a head was a complete accident), and what looked suspiciously like bloody footprints led down the yellow brick road.

It was creepy, and not really in a good way, but while we were wandering round Cineworld we bumped into this:

The chap standing to next to the Dalek works for This Planet Earth, who manufactured the Daleks for the TV series. “We’re the only officially licensed manufacturers,” he explained. “We did ‘Day of the Daleks’, and a bunch of other stuff.”
“Fantastic. I love stuff like this. We went to the exhibition in Cardiff earlier this year and my children were spellbound.”
“Yes, we did the Daleks in there, and various other things.”

I glanced past him to the table, where two blank eyes stared at me from a sleek and expressionless metal frame. “That’s an impressive looking helmet.”
“Yes, that’s from the eighties. ‘Silver Nemesis’.”
“That was Ace shooting pound coins at Cybermen, wasn’t it?”
“That’s the one.”
“I remember. Third-rate story, but the Cybermen were good.”

Seeing the impressive-looking Dalek reminded me of the Doctor Who exhibition in Cardiff Bay. It was closed earlier this year, a couple of months after we visited, so I’m glad we got to go when we did, regardless of expense. I can remember getting withering looks from Emily and our friend Beth when I pointed out the TARDIS windows were the wrong size (“It’s from Blink. I swear it’s from Blink”) and Joshua getting freaked out by the Dalek displays, the Weeping Angel and the talking Cybermen.

Creepy looking Cyberman. Talked, and everything.


Who turned out the lights? And can you make sure you turn them back on again tomorrow morning? The cleaners can never find the switch.


Dalek Sec. Your future, apparently.




Ood, glorious Ood.


Don't blink. Don't look away, and whatever you do -


K9, in desperate need of Rusteze.


Margaret the Slitheen. Or a native from Raxacoricofallapatorius. Or, as my youngest son referred to her, “Daddy!”.

And it’s funny, because I seem to remember Josh’s interest in Doctor Who first became apparent at a quite unrelated exhibition some years previously, in the Brading Wax Museum (now also closed; this stuff follows me round like a rash) and specifically the chamber of horrors. He was three at the time, and he’d already impressed us earlier that week by wandering up to a toy display in the Newport branch of Woolworths (closed; God this is depressing), lifting a plastic figure from the stand and declaring “Look Daddy, it’s Dalek Sec!”. But it wasn’t until we visited Brading that my worst fears at raising a geeky son were realised, as we stumbled around the torture chambers and shrunken heads, finally coming across the skull of an elephant headed boy. Behind the glass, sitting on a stand like some sort of grotesque trophy, was a human skull with a long, trunk-like visage hanging down.

Emily: Is that – what is that, an elephant boy?
James: It appears so.
Emily: That’s disgusting.
James: It’s horrid, isn’t it?
Joshua: Hey! It looks like a Ood!

I was so proud. And you should see what he does with spaghetti.

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