Posts Tagged With: politics

Have I Got Whos For You (Boris Bumpus Maximus)

We open in a quarry somewhere in the home counties. Following a disastrous headline-grabbing scandal, the producers of Doctor Who have elected to stage a photoshoot in order to salvage the reputation of the show, featuring current stars Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford. Only the public smell a rat, and of course are having none of it.

Do I think Boris’s private life makes him a poor choice for prime minister? Not necessarily, no. It simply makes him a twat. There is, as Kenneth Clarke pointed out on Radio 4 this week, ample evidence of Johnson’s general cluelessness when it comes to Brexit and pretty much anything of political substance – The Sketch makes that clear, and it should be obvious to all but his most strident followers by now that the clownish exterior is going to wear very thin indeed once we all remember that we’ve just given him the keys to the Big Red Button. Kenny Roger’s Gambler made a career out of reading people’s faces; Boris has made a career out of having other people read his, and generally giggle. He exists in a state of perpetual frivolity, apparently unable to take either himself or anything else seriously; whatever he gets up to in his flat, do we really want a man like this running the country?

Anyway, there was something fishy about that publicity stunt the other day, as this leaked shot from behind the scenes attests.

Yes. Well.

The second half of this week’s instalment incorporates a bumper crop of birthdays – including mine, come to think of it, although I spent the day tidying and then driving to and from Oxford with the boy. For years I’d thought the piece de la resistance of my birthday-sharing duties was Igor Stravinsky (along with Methodism founder John Wesley, who was renowned for taking the gospels to localities other denominations couldn’t reach). But it eventually transpired that I share a birthday with none other than Jodie Whittaker.

Oh, and Arthur Darvill, who is pictured here with another Arthur.

Supposedly it was Paddington’s birthday yesterday – although the duffel-clad bear has two birthdays, rather like the queen..

(Hmm. I’m still not sure I pasted that TARDIS in quite the right place. It looks like it’s floating.)

Also celebrating a birthday this week: Tim Burton’s Batman, the film that arguably saved superhero films (at least for a while), although it opened a floodgate of Interesting Actors Playing Established Characters that, it could be coherently argued, was ultimately damaging to Hollywood’s ability to craft original stories. When was the last time you truly latched on to someone who saw their genesis on the big screen? No, I mean someone who isn’t in Star Wars? And let’s not forget that, for all its brooding brilliance, Batman is guilty of some pretty shocking departures from the source material. Alfred gives away Batman’s secret identity, for pity’s sake. Oh, and at the end of the film an injured, borderline psychotic caped crusader lunges at the Joker in the belfry of Gotham Cathedral, furiously announcing that he’s going to kill him. I mean, it’s good, but…well, had it happened today there would be a hundred and fifty BuzzFeed articles, all of them dreadful, so let’s be grateful it was back in the 80s and the worst you had to contend with was a bit of griping in the fanzines.

Anyway, here’s Batman on downtime in the Batcave.

Episodes used: ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, ‘State of Decay’, ‘The Mind of Evil’, ‘The Romans’, ‘Caves of Androzani’, ‘Vampires of Venice’, (you will notice a bat theme going on here), ‘Twice Upon A Time’, and a couple I can no longer identify – oh, and ‘The Witchfinders’. Which is mostly there to annoy the Jodie haters. Who will doubtless leave angry emojis, JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN.

“OK, you wanna get nuts? C’mon. Let’s get nuts.”

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Have I Got Whos For You (Winter Is Coming Edition)

To kick off today, we honour the late, great Peter Mayhew, as he interrupts the Doctor’s naptime.

Mayhew was a legend, a seven foot icon who managed seven Star Wars films and who was listed, somewhat bizarrely as ‘Chewbacca Consultant’ for The Last Jedi; my children didn’t notice he’d been replaced and in any case it’s the sort of thing very few people get to put on their CV, so I suppose he could retire happy. It’s difficult to tell just how much of the growling Wookiee’s endless appeal was down to the fact that he was a badass in a fire fight or the fact that he had a surprisingly tender side to him, as witness any scene where he gets to hug someone, or wail because Harrison Ford’s just fallen off a bridge. Star Wars has changed a lot over the years, but Chewbacca has been a constant – even though his cameo in Revenge of the Sith amounts to three or four seconds, the guy’s two hundred years old and you nonetheless know that whatever else is going on he’s kicking around somewhere in the galaxy, raising havoc (and a family) while Jake Lloyd rides off to do his Ben Hur thing. It’s like Mace Windu’s lightsaber: when asked, during Phantom Menace promotional interviews, why he didn’t have one, he replied “I did. I was wearing it.”

“But you didn’t actually use it.”

“Yeah,” replies Jackson, licking his lips. “But I was wearin’ it.” Intended meaning, it appears, counts for a lot.

Here’s a pet hate. Can we please have an embargo on ‘Rule one’? Rule one only applies for series 6, and even then it’s inconsistent, given that its most famous use comes courtesy of the world’s most unreliable narrator since Tyler Durden. Certainly it’s not something we should be using to cover up things we can’t be bothered to explain, which is what I see an awful lot. There is enough confusion in the real world without us having to deal with the reliability of TV characters. Can’t we just accept that they’re basically trustworthy and that sometimes we’re just mind-numbingly thick? There’s no other plausible explanation, surely, for the staggering levels of stupidity I see among the general populace, or the fact that a huge number of the votes cast in last week’s local elections were apparently protest votes. “You can’t deliver what you promised,” says Mr Finch of Tunbridge Wells, “so I’m voting for the independent candidate, despite the fact that I know bugger all about his policies and his leaflet was a copy editor’s nightmare”. Call me picky but that seems like a ludicrous way to decide who gets to sort out the local pot holes. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Of course, we talk about being in the dark about Brexit, but darkness is something we should all be accustomed to, at least lately.

Did I tell you I’ve never watched Game of Thrones? I’ll do so, perhaps, years down the line, having heard all the spoilers about the Night King and Ned Stark and poor old Hodor. I was chatting recently with a friend who told me about a prominent young Christian in his college church who had once told him that watching Game of Thrones was the path to ruin, and that as Church we must be in the world but not of the world, and that it leads to desensitisation and all sorts of other stuff you normally find in a Jack Chick tract. Call me a heretic but this sort of reaction has long since baffled me – not so much the wish to avoid such things (which is entirely a personal choice) but the fervent desire to preach it as gospel. If your faith is sufficiently wobbly – or dogmatic – that you do not feel you can engage with popular media, or if it’s some kind of principle that leads you to believe that fake people engaging in questionable activities is somehow unacceptable as entertainment, that’s entirely your business. But to teach it as some kind of worldview, and to tout your own approach not only as a feasible alternative but as the moral high ground, it’s…well, let’s just say it’s precisely the sort of thing I was talking about last week.

Still. It’s just never been particularly interesting, this tale of dragons and feuds and general silliness. I’m sure it’s lovely if you’re a fan, in the same way that Doctor Who is lovely if you’re a fan (unless you’re watching series 11, which apparently everybody hated except me). A lot of it is down to time. I barely get time to watch the stuff that actually interests me – most of which is Scandinavian – without having to wade into seventy-odd hours of Cornish scenery. You have to pick and choose, which is one reason I never watched Breaking Bad or The West Wing.

Sometimes you just have to prioritise, even if you’re a Time Lord.

It’s weird, though; I’ve watched ‘The Woman Who Lived’ at least a dozen times over the years and I’ve only just noticed this.

(You would not believe the social media reaction I got when I uploaded this one. Amidst the giggling, there were a number of people saying “Oh, wow, I can’t believe I didn’t see that before now! I feel stupid”. Sarcasm is difficult to detect on the internet but at least a few of them, it turned out, were absolutely sincere, which makes me weep for the future of humanity. At the other end of the spectrum was the woman who grumbled “Obvious Photoshop”, thereby completely missing the point. Middle ground: it’s nothing but a fable.)

It’s a different world, these days. Time was you’d get away with something like that. The wobbly sets on ‘The Aztecs’, for example, show up rather nastily on DVD but on a twelve-inch screen in 1963 no one bats an eyelid. These days it’s far easier to rewind and scrub and freeze frame and zoom with minimal pixellation, to the extent that repeated viewings to spot the hidden details are something that certain writers and directors actively encourage. Witness Steven Moffat, for example, who in his Sherlock interviews rambled about “a clue that everyone’s missed”, prompting eagle-eyed fans with too much time on their hands to go back and look again.

Still, at least he’s never done that sort of thing in Doctor Who.

Yes. Well.

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Have I Got Whos for You (Indicative Vote edition)

Keep your eyes peeled for another video roundup coming not-exactly-live and by-no-means-exclusive to Brian of Morbius. That’ll be online in a week or so, once I’ve written it.

In the meantime, here’s a little something we made earlier. Well, several somethings, collated. In the first instance, it was National Potato Chip Day the other week. I didn’t even know National Potato Chip Day (or Crisp Day, if you’re British) was a thing. And while I love a bag of salt and vinegar as much as the next man, I’m really not sure whether their adulation warrants an entire day.

Still, any excuse, right?

Also, can I take this opportunity to say how much I miss Brannigans? Oh, I know you can still buy them on the internet. But it’s not the same as wandering down to your local Rusts and getting a packet of beef and mustard to have along with the wine gums and ginger ale you were going to scoff while watching Heat on rented VHS. Those were the days. I’d rent three videos and watch them over the course of a weekend, on my own, because I had no life. Or I’d buy them in the 3-for-£12 sales they’d have every week at HMV. I never saw anybody, except my parents. But I did become quite au fait with the classics, and enjoyed a great many of them, even if I still think Citizen Kane is mostly shit.

…Where were we? Oh yes, International Day of Happiness.

We could all do with a little happiness right now. Certainly it feels as if Britain is temporarily broken. It’s not so much a problem with whether or not we leave the EU – I am resigned to the fact that we probably will, and I can’t help thinking it probably won’t be as bad as the militant Remainers insist it will be. Nor will it be as rosy, of course, as the Leave campaign insist it will be, although that could all change if they keep shifting the goalposts – first it was going to be marvellous and we’d get a fantastic deal; then it wasn’t going to be quite so marvellous and yes the NHS figures were fabricated but it would still be great; then it was going to be difficult but worth it in the long run and we knew that when we voted; then we’d be better off with no deal, then the deal we had might be the best option after all, and then there’s a lot of vagueness about WTO from people who don’t actually know the first thing about it.

I mean, I don’t have a clue. I don’t! But I voted Remain not because of any particular affinity towards the EU – I am always one to err on the side of caution in these matters, and defend the status quo unless the boat is in severe need of rocking – but because I could see this referendum for what it was from the outset. It was a grab for power: a vote-winning fiasco made by a desperate man who jumped ship (to extend the metaphor) as soon as it didn’t go his way. I firmly believe that you shouldn’t let the man in the street decide this sort of thing in any case – at least not these days, when people are so unilaterally thick – but if it’s unavoidable it needs to occur under the right sort of circumstances, and this was a political hotbed. How many people do you know who voted Leave simply because they despised Cameron? Exactly.

We saw this again in the Commons, just last night: support for Theresa May’s deal improved when she said she’d resign if they voted it through. If you can’t trust MPs – who are supposed to be sensible about these things – not to be fickle and spiteful (or, if you’re Rees-Mogg, just a shade Machiavellian) when it comes to making incredibly important decisions, then what hopes for the rest of us? This was not something that should ever have been decided by the ballot box, at least not under the current administration, who are too out of touch, too insular and frankly too incompetent to carry this through. I knew that back in 2016, and that’s largely why I stuck to the Remain camp. And three years later, I turned out to be right.

Certainly there is a tangible sign of Referendum Fatigue – as up in the hills, despite the local area being a strong Leave constituency, there is a disappointing turnout on Nigel Farage’s March For Brexit.

Here’s the problem. It’s not so much the deal or no deal fiasco: we will, eventually, get through that and come to some sort of slim majority that will be heralded as a great victory by the winning side and a fraudulent travesty by whoever came second. Parliament will move on, and we’ll survive Brexit, in whatever capacity it occurs, or doesn’t. But there is a schism across our country now. You’re either a Brexiteer or a Remainer, and there is apparently very little room for middle ground. There is a sense of division, as espoused by both sides, and the fact that most of the arguing takes place on social media (which is, let’s be honest, an absolute cesspit) doesn’t help matters. Theresa May has been appealing for calm and unity – shortly before she gave up and announced “That’s it, I’m off” like a geography teacher who’s fed up with a rowdy class – but it doesn’t help that her idea of unity is that everyone do exactly what she says, however ludicrous it might be. I don’t know where we go from here. I truly don’t.

In the midst of this week’s chaos the ‘official’ Facebook page for Britain Bites Back ran a poll about whether we should leave or not, only to throw their toys out of the pram when it didn’t go their way. They then ran a second poll, which had a similar response, and then proceeded to vent about how you should only be on their page if you agreed with their views, dismissing anyone who didn’t as a ‘hacker’. You can read all about the saga here, although the jury is out as to whether this really is a genuine page or a spoof. If it’s a spoof, it’s frighteningly convincing and Poe’s law is in full effect, but I can’t help thinking the joke’s over now and they ought to back away, because somewhere along the line it stopped being funny.

At any rate, a friend of mine asked me to do something Who-related with it. So –

We end today’s little missive on a lighter note, with the news that the Toy Story 4 trailer has finally dropped. Those of you who felt that the story drew to a natural conclusion at the end of the last movie – as the characters found a new home and said goodbye to Andy – will undoubtedly consign this to the ‘sequel too far’ drawer (you know, the one that’s chronically overstuffed and has just about fallen off its runners). I can’t help thinking you’re probably right, but I’ll see this anyway because the concept fascinates me: given that the new guest star, Sporky, is a piece of living cutlery, at what point do creatures in the Toy Story universe gain sentience? Is it all about loving something enough to make it real, like it was in The Velveteen Rabbit? Do you have to cast a spell, or breathe over them like Aslan does at the end of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? Or is it simply a matter of sticking a pair of googly eyes on something and then standing back to watch the fireworks? I think we should be told, and even if we’re not I suspect there will be several BuzzFeed articles about it.

In any event, if you think you’ve seen Sporky before, he crops up in a deleted scene in ‘The Doctor Falls’.

“I’M NOT A COMPANION!!!!”

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Have I Got Whos For You (Part 379)

There’s nothing like a bit of dumbing down, is there? I mean it even happens in here. There was a time when this site was more than simply a glorified meme collection, but most of my sensible writing is reserved for other pages these days. I do have another video collection coming up, but that’ll have to wait for a bit.

What’s been happening this week? Well, the staff at Holby City had to deal with a devastating Cyber attack.

(Yes, that is a Cyberman smoking a fag in the background. You get ’em outside every hospital.)

If you actually saw the thing, it was a two-part story which incorporated various characters from both shows interacting in a joint storyline which put two of their finest on the operating table. While Connie tried desperately to save Ian, who’d overdosed to get away from his incredibly annoying sister, rival queen bee Jac Naylor was fighting to get to the sole working theatre in the building in order to save Sacha, who was clearly in a worse state than he was prepared to let on after he climbed out of the car he’d just crashed. (Inevitably they wound up saving each other’s patients, and everybody learned a valuable lesson.) Meanwhile Sacha’s daughter was downstairs with Essie, who’d had a diabetic attack and was lying prone on the floor of the radiology department, which led to Ric Griffin crawling through the ventilation ducts in a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Alien. All the while, the lights were going out along the corridor, one by one, which is really not how power cuts tend to work.

It did rather remind me of The Stolen Earth. Josh watches Casualty on Thursdays with Em (yes, I know it’s broadcast on Saturdays, but they watch it on Thursdays), and Em and I watch Holby once a week. She is the only one who watches both, which led to Josh filling me in on the Casualty cast and vice versa. But when you drop in characters to both shows it gets awfully confusing. Or, as Gareth put it when Ianto and Gwen were facing off against that Dalek, “Oh great. More people from spin-offs I don’t watch and therefore don’t care about”.

Last Friday, of course, was Women’s International Day.

What? Oh. Oh well, have this anyway.

“Why oh why oh WHY,” someone said, after a fashion, “did you go with a picture of Davison when he didn’t like the idea of a female Doctor? Or are you deliberately trying to get someone to retaliate?”

“I just went with the cricket vibe,” I said. “I don’t think it matters.” You can have great fun mashing up things like this. It annoys the heck out of the traditionalists, and people who don’t understand why you’ve posted this in a Classic Doctor Who group when it’s been tainted with the ineffable stench of something that was created nine years (or sixteen, depending on how you count) after a designated cut-off point. I mean, there’s a market for separating old and new, for certain, because they are very different shows. But it inevitably leads to fallout. How long is that going to last, do we think? Will there be a point at which it’s all…I don’t know, Doctor Who?

Presumably, if and when that happens we’re going to have to find new ways of annoying the puritans. Luckily I’ve got a stack of them lined up.

This one was funny. I had someone tell me that the Daleks were older than Vader.

“No they’re not,” I said.

21 December 1963 to 1 February 1964 first appearance of the Daleks. 1977, first appearance of Darth Vader. Yes yes they are :/

“No, no they’re not. The Genesis of the Daleks happened thousands, if not millions of years in our future. Star Wars happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

“The Daleks have a time machine and were created outside of time and space by a fallen Time Lord. There’s nothing stating that it happened in the future but according to several episodes the Daleks and their creators were at war with the Daleks in the time before time began. Ergo still older.”

“Somewhere along the line I fear you may have rather missed the point of all this.”

“No, I caught on when you commented but decided to just continue being sassy. :P”

GAAAH. I hate it when they catch me out.

What else has been happening? Well, there was tension at a house in London when Dr Simeon elected not to dress up for World Book Day.

And in politics, Theresa May isn’t having the best of weeks, but she did have time to upload this to her Twitter account.

(If you missed the reference, have a read of this. It was almost certainly down to the person who runs the Downing Street Twitter account, and as is the case with most things of this nature, it is very churlish to blame her directly. Watching her handle this train crash of a government I happen to think she’s probably a very nice woman in an impossible situation, and whatever my misgivings about Brexit she’s the best of a very bad lot. I also imagine she’s a lot of fun at parties.)

Much of the Brexit campaigning, of course, consisted of both sides telling us about dreadful things that would happen if we stayed in / left the EU, most of which probably weren’t true at all. It was done largely to scare people, which in turn distracts us from the really important issues and drives up internet traffic, and what was weird about it was that it isn’t something that normally happens, at least not in popular culture.

Away from fake scare stories there has, at long last, been word from the Disney front about the upcoming Aladdin remake, with a full length trailer finally released this week. And for all you Doctor Who fans, there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter Egg during the magic carpet sequence.

“A whole new w-”

THUD.

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Have I Got Whos For You (Winter Warmer Edition)

I mean, I made this one weeks ago, the last time it happened, but it seems fairly topical right now.

You have to feel a little bit sorry for Theresa May. She inherited an absolute dog’s breakfast, a situation that no one was going to be able to resolve because the concept of government in this country (and, indeed, in many democracies) is far more about the acquisition of power than it is about getting things done. No one had a clue how to pull out of the EU, and from what I can see we still don’t. And as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I got to say about that.”

Talking of Brexit:

You will have your own suggestions: please leave them in the usual place.

Brexit is having an effect on the economy, of course, with yet another great British retailer headed firmly down the tubes.

Actually I haven’t been in an HMV for years – well, specifically the last time I was in London alone, which would be for the ‘Twice Upon A Time’ press screening back in December 2017. I’d tried unsuccessfully to buy my mother gloves (no suitable gloves – in Oxford Street!) and wandered in; I’d been briefly tempted by a bobble-headed John Hurt, but in the end had left empty-handed. The unfortunate truth is that I don’t really like the place very much. It’s expensive, unless you’re multi-buying, which is what I used to do – come away with five CDs for £30, or two or £15 if it was the newer stuff – and they would sit on my shelves and never get played, another contribution to the great accumulation of stuff. Just before Christmas we had a big clearout of stuff, and the local charity shops were seeing me almost daily. I feel as good about it as I did a year back when I got rid of all my Doctor Who DVDs. (They’re still here digitally, of course, but hard drives are much easier to store.)

I once passed out in the Reading branch of HMV; did I ever tell you that? It was a hot summer’s day over two decades ago, and I was temping at the civil service, earning a little cash to see me through university. I’d while away the lunch breaks wandering the shops and would often find myself casually re-filing all the CDs that punters had left in the wrong places, only to have other customers assume that I worked there – at least that’s what I assumed, seeing as they were asking me to direct them to the Classical section. On this one particular Tuesday I dropped off in a dead faint not far from the video section and awoke as I was being shepherded down the escalator by two paramedics. I spent the afternoon in hospital. The next day I was back, moving Bob Dylan back to the D’s.

Moving on to other matters, there’s been drama over at Sandringham this week.

I was in an Oxford leisure centre yesterday when I overheard two elderly gentlemen remarking that “Young people have accidents too” – a sentiment I would not in any way disagree with. The remarkable thing about this was that I had genuinely forgotten that Prince Philip is standing there with his TV doppelganger, although Smith only plays him in the first two series, with Tobias Menzies taking over for series 3. The question of who they’ll get to play him in later series, as the televised queen approaches middle age, is still open to debate. Timothy Dalton, perhaps?

That episode was almost a decade ago. Can you believe it?

Yes, well, I can.

<giggles>

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Have I Got Whos For You (Brexit Edition)

You will notice – or at least you will when it subsequently doesn’t show up – that there is no God Is In The Detail post this week. To be honest I thought it best if I leave this one; it seems disrespectful.

Let’s talk about something else, shall we? We’ve got a stack of episode 5 and 6 memes coming your way soon, but they can wait a bit. We’re getting behind in our coverage of current events; for example, 5th November came and went.

So, for that matter, did National Sandwich Day.

In music, news emerges of the other Spice Girls reunion.

And there’s conspiracy and intrigue over at the BBC when a certain entertainment journalist meets a sticky end.

All of which brings us neatly up to today, when Theresa May unveiled her new Brexit secretary.

Ah, the Brexit secretary. The only significant Civil Service role where the occupants last less time than the Chelsea manager. I have watched today’s events with an unhealthy mixture of amusement and alarm. How did we end up here, with this dog’s breakfast? What was the point at which people lost their minds? Perhaps my spectacles are rose-tinted but I’m sure – in fact I’d stake my reputation on it – that there was a time we were sensible about these things. There was a bit of politeness. We listened to each other, or at least we were sufficiently reserved to give the outward appearance of listening, rather than simply waiting for the other person to finish so we could say our bit.

My grasp of the situation is somewhat limited, but from what I understand, a year or two ago somebody made a controversial decision to shake up a system that a number of people – a large number, or a small-but vocal number, depending on who you talk to – didn’t seem to like very much. There are all sorts of reasons why this might have happened, but the fallout was anger and division and an awful lot of arguing, and now the woman who’s acting as figurehead is getting heaps of abuse even though most of the problem has nothing to do with her.

Some are saying we should have done this years ago: others are saying it’s a bad idea full stop. And there are a few people saying “Told you so” in response to a much larger group of people who are complaining that while they wanted change, they really didn’t expect it to be quite like this.

So that’s where we are, in a nutshell. I think I might go and watch some Doctor Who now, to take my mind off things.

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Have I Got Whos For You – part 321

It’s been a bad week for Theresa May at the Gallifrey Party Conference.

Elsewhere, the Twelfth Doctor is down with the kids, innit?

And finally, here’s that photo of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage in an elevator, only…

Enjoy your weekend, kids.

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Have I Got Whos For You (Election Special)

Friday morning? This was where we were.

Don’t get me wrong. A coalition of any sort isn’t a great result. It’s the one we deserve, but not the one we need right now. Prediction: four years of squabbling while the rest of the country sits in limbo, followed by a narrow victory for Labour in 2020, assuming their leader manages to hang on. And if he doesn’t, all bets are off. Economically, politically, ideologically, this is not a good place to be.

Nonetheless, I gained a certain satisfaction in watching a nasty, embittered party push itself to breaking point as it embarked on a series of personal attacks (“the last refuge,” writes Edmund Burke, “of the scoundrel who has nothing left to say”) on Jeremy Corbyn, while its leader became increasingly panic-stricken. It’s hard not to look at both the election and the decisions that were made in its immediate aftermath as the standard political gambit of retaining power, although you can’t blame Theresa May entirely. You have no frame of reference, and neither do I. There’s a scene in series 6 of 24 in which a weary, chastened Noah Daniels – thrown in, much as May was, at the deep end, inheriting a presidency that had suddenly become vacant – says “It’s easy to think you’ve got all the answers, when none of the ultimate responsibility lies with you, but sitting in this chair…until you sit in this chair, you don’t know anything.”

The irony is May is probably quite pleasant if you meet her in real life. But power corrupts. You don’t have to listen to your advisers. And hence we woke on Friday – in the small hours, as Emily and I scrolled through BBC news feeds at four in the morning, scarcely believing, in the wake of my rampant pessimism, what we were actually seeing – to discover a country that had hit back, and a voting populace who had surprised me. Alan Sugar insists that the Corbyn-advocating twenty-somethings were “not experienced in life” and “didn’t know what they voted for”, and there’s probably a ring of truth to that – but the same could surely be said of Brexit (of which Sugar was also not a fan, although his political allegiance has shifted towards the Conservatives in recent years).

Still, it was great to finally discover what DUP actually stands for, right?

I jest, but this is the sort of thing we’ve seen happen quite a lot in Doctor Who: humans who genuinely believe that they can ally themselves with dark forces and get what they want. The idea that said forces might betray them genuinely doesn’t occur to them. It’s the sort of Faustian pact that has you screaming at the TV – “DON’T TRUST THEM!” is the soundbite of choice, “THEY’RE DALEKS!” – but unlike us, none of these people watch Doctor Who. I watched the second Ninja Turtles movie with the boys the other week and we were pleasantly amused by the irony that Shredder utilised the talents of Baxter Stockman and promptly betrayed him, only to find himself receiving exactly the same treatment at the hands of Krang. It’s the kind of thing he really should have expected. (We don’t have time to unpack this properly, but I wrote a lengthy article on human-Dalek collaboration for the Doctor Who Companion, if anyone is interested.)

To be fair to the DUP, they’re not quite the monstrosity they’re painted as in the press. Creationist? Unfortunately. Pro-unionist? Certainly. Anti-abortionist? You bet. So is half of Ireland. This is not the same as being anti-women. Arlene Foster is a woman, for crying out loud, although I would point out that I’ve never seen her in the same room as Paul Merton. They’re also welfare-conscious: their members are right-wing Christian, but many of their supporters are on the breadline. Essentially they’re a party run by evangelicals; this may be seen as backward-thinking but they’re possibly a good deal more altruistic than many atheists. And in a best-case scenario, they’re going to be a thorn in the side of Theresa May’s benefit cuts, forcing the tempering of policy and a recognisable shift back towards the sense of compassion that all but vanished once the last coalition evaporated in the wake of 2015. Realistically this turn of events is not likely, but stranger things have happened.

Still, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that this may end up breaking the Tories: I’m no political pundit but surely they run the risk of losing the support of the moderates by getting into bed with the fundamentalists? However you look at it, this is a simple power grab, just as it was for Labour – and people seem to be waking up to that. And hence, this.

May retained her own seat, of course – although it wasn’t without stiff opposition from Pat McDonald, Tony Hill, and…well, a man with unusual headgear. This is the sort of thing that benefits from a man in Havana; luckily my brother lives in Maidenhead.

“Admit it,” I said to him, by text. “You’re one of the two hundred and fifty who voted for Lord Buckethead, aren’t you?”
“Got me,” he replied.
“I knew it.”

Anyway, I spent much of Saturday trying to work out Lord Buckethead’s cosplay lineage, and –

Sutekh. Definitely Sutekh.

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Look to your left (part 304)

The other morning, I spotted this story in The Independent, and for reasons that ought to be obvious it reminded me of David Tennant.

obama

I mean, you can see why, can’t you? “Don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…”

Anyway: I posted this in several Facebook groups with the words ‘Americans and Doctor Who fans. They’re not so different’, where it received a generally favourable response, and sparked a couple of interesting conversations about Theresa May. Except in one group (which I will not name), where one user (whom I will also leave anonymous) got quite hot under the collar about the fact that he wanted to talk about Doctor Who, and that we shouldn’t be mentioning politics. When I checked back later, the post was gone: given that I’ve posted other stuff in a similar vein there before, I am assuming that it’s because he complained.

I do try and avoid talking about butthurt in this blog, but this bothered me immensely. It bothers me for the same reason that people complain about religious leaders holding political views (or, for that matter, political leaders holding religious ones) or celebrities espousing particular values. J.K. Rowling is currently mocking supposed fans on Twitter who have seen fit to hold her to account for her views on Trump, suggesting that they might have missed the point of the books. Both holding and expressing political views is a cornerstone of democracy, and you do not forfeit the right to express those views because of a position of privilege. There is a right and a wrong way to do it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s off the agenda. Nor does it mean that political conversation is irrelevant or unwanted. It’s entirely possible to enjoy Doctor Who without having any idea of the allegories therein (my children do it all the time) but this does not in itself mean that a political reading is invalid. Or, as an acquaintance pointed out on Twitter the other day, “subtext clearly goes over people’s heads, but in the case of Harry Potter and Doctor Who, it’s text. It’s explicit!”.

helen_a_fifi

Anyway: here’s my open letter to the group, which explains things a little further.

I’m scratching my head a bit this afternoon.

Earlier I posted a photo of Barack Obama – making what I felt was a salient point about Americans who wanted the impossible, and comparing them to Doctor Who fans who also want the impossible. Eventually it was removed.

I am assuming this was because of political discourse: I had one person say “we don’t want this political crap”. That’s the sort of thing I hear quite a lot when I post things that touch on politics, mainstream or otherwise. The idea, supposedly, is that politics are off the agenda, although I can’t find anything within the guidelines to support this.

But here’s the thing: Doctor Who is a political show. It has been since the first Dalek raised its sink plunger back in 1964. It’s not a show that can be interpreted in that way if you want – it is a show that has been overtly political for a long time. It has a long line of left-leaning writers who held strong political views. It is a show that asks awkward questions and we love it precisely because of this. If you want to censor political discussion because it makes you uncomfortable, that’s fine. But you can’t stop there. You also need to ban discussion about The Daleks, The Mutants, The Curse of Peladon, The Green Death, The Silurians, The Sun Makers, The Happiness Patrol, World War Three, The Zygon Invasion / Inversion, Turn Left, The Christmas Invasion, and Kinda. Among others.

I don’t want to start an argument about Trump or Brexit or the alt right, and would dissuade any outright attempts to do so. I post these things without comment: they are there only to make people think, and I am hopeful that the bulk of group members would have the good sense to stop at the thinking part if they can feel an argument brewing. The role of art is to challenge and commentate as well as entertain – it’s been that way since ancient Greece – and this is occasionally done through the use of political satire. Doctor Who is no different in this respect from Yes Minister, or even Harry Potter. It’s not about possible interpretation, it’s about the actual subject matter.

So this is not a rant against the moderators, whose right to run the group the way they see fit I fully respect. But to those of you who complain (regularly) that “This is a Doctor Who group, can’t we leave politics out of it?”, I’d suggest that you’re not watching the show properly.

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A Trumpmas Carol

scrooge

You know what’s great about Christmas? Ghost stories.

I had a story I’d planned to share with you – it stars the Third Doctor and a familiar-looking Santa Claus creating havoc at a Christmas party – but I haven’t had time to finish it. Still, that’s OK, because Josh has stepped into the breach. His school project this term was to produce something in the Dickens vein – a stage adaptation, a graphic novel, a contemporary retelling, or a fact file about the man himself. After a brief family discussion, he opted to retell A Christmas Carol (chiefly because it is, as you may expect of a boy of eleven, the only one he really knows well) starring you-know-who.

It’s been done before. But this is his version, and he’s proud of it, and I felt it warranted sharing. I get the feeling that this is the only year I’d get away with printing this here – while Donald Trump is, as we go to press, still President Elect instead of President. I wonder if, a year down the line, it might be something we no longer want to talk about – or perhaps the miracle will happen and there’ll be no need. In any event you will forgive the inevitably unrefined political views therein, coming as they do from a first-year secondary schoolboy (who is, nonetheless, rather wiser than his years, and I suspect wiser than many of the electorate). It was done with minimal help from us – a few creative nudges aside, the ideas and the story are by and large entirely his own. I cleaned up the grammar and punctuation a little but didn’t touch anything else, restricting myself instead to the Photoshopping (with the exception of that image at the top, which I nabbed – and you can tell, because it’s the only one that’s wholly successful).

Take it away, Josh. And incidentally, a Happy Christmas to all of you at home.

A Trumpmas Carol

The day Donald Trump was elected great cheers erupted from his supporters. He grinned and made his speech: “Fellow Americans, to celebrate my victory I will start building this great wall to stop Mexicans entering our homeland, our country, our city!” More cheers. “I will start building it on Christmas morning, 8:00 AM to be to exact, also all Mexicans who happen to live in here will be thrown out back into Mexico!” At that exact point every Mexican in America sighed dismally but the ones who sighed the most were the Gonzalez family as they sat in a house the size of a shoe box right next to the Whitehouse.

Months passed as Trump got his blueprints ready for the wall and on Christmas Eve he had just arrived home to check the blueprints and as he was looking at them they shifted around to form Margaret Thatcher’s face. Donald Trump suddenly dropped the blueprints into the fire. They burst into flame but Margaret T was not done yet. From out of the smoke arose her ghost and she said in a grave, gravelly voice “Donald Trump, you will be visited by three Mexicans at midnight!” before drifting off into the night air…

trump_thatcher

Donald Trump could not sleep, every time his eyes closed fear and anxiety twisted his insides violently, forcing him to stay awake. All was silent excluding the large grandfather, “Tick Tock Tick Tock!” it screamed. “Oh great,” he muttered. Tiredly he walked towards the door but the door slammed shut before he got to it. The clock chimed midnight. The room went cold. Very very cold. Very very very cold.

Suddenly through the (locked) window came a small Mexican girl. She grinned and took out a list of her and started reading the list, her eyes scanning down it, “T… T… T… Thomas… Thompson… whoa you Americans have some funny names, aha Trump. Oh my name’s Maria by the way” she said as she pulled him out the (still locked) window.

Whilst in flight Donald Trump spent most of his time picking glass off of his dressing gown while Maria kept apologizing, “listen Donald I’m sorry, okay. I forgot about the mortals can’t fly through windows rule.”
“Whatever, just wondering what’s that big blue light?”

Maria looked off into the distance. “Ladies and gentlemen you reached your destination, please fasten your seat-belts and hold on tight!” then… silence… nothing… they were blasted into an icy cold void.

trump_flying

“Yay, let’s do that again!”
“No let’s not!” Donald Trump had nearly fainted and also dripping wet. While Maria observed the area, “Look Trumpy a fight! Who is against who? Look Trumpy you’re fighting someone!!… soon punches were being delivered by either side. Then with his last burst of strength Donald Trump pounded the other kid to the floor. Then there was a bright flash of white light and the ghost, the school field and the school where he grew up in faded away.

Somewhere in the distance a clock chimed one o’clock.

Donald Trump was back in his bedroom when a cry like thunder shook the room making him jump. “HELLO AMIGO MY NAME’S PABLO!” said a big booming voice…

Donald Trump gaped as a massive bulk of a man came crashing through the roof almost crushing the enormous four-poster bed, which moaned and groaned as he plunked his heavy backside on it. This big bulking figure made Donald Trump look like an ant. In one hand he was holding a mug the size of a barrel full to the brim of beer. In the other hand he was holding a ripped untidy list full of names in scratchy untidy handwriting. He took a sip of beer and burped loudly. Then he grabbed Donald Trump by his shirt collar and lifted him off the ground…

Donald Trump was not aware were they were going nor did he know what travelling by giant was like but he soon found out the answers to both of these questions. First off travelling by giant was absolutely preposterous. He settled down on a comfy spot (as comfy as sweaty matted hair can get) and tried to get some rest but soon discovered it was impossible to rest when head-lice the size of horses are chasing after you.

Answer two: the Gonzales family house. “Why are we here?” asked Donald Trump. “Why won’t you shut up!” shouted the giant. Then he bent over and shook Donald Trump off his head. Even though he was only a couple of metres off the ground when he landed he felt a searing pain in his left leg. Donald Trump looked at the cracked shards of glass that they called a window. The children were tying pine-cones onto some string as they were too poor to afford real baubles.

trump_present

“Santa will love these I hope I’ll get another bag of cheese crisps, they lasted for months,” said the youngest, “mummy do you think Santa will like my decorations?”
“I’ll bet he will Antonio” said Elisabeth Gonzales. “Now why don’t you get to bed and maybe…” There was the sound of church bells chiming and all was still…

There was a looming menace in the air as a ghostly hand drifted through the key hole and ushered him out of his bedroom and towards the graveyard. “Where are we going?” The streets were full of people going around shouting “HE’S DEAD YESSS HE’S REALLY DEAD”. Donald Trump stared at these strange people. “Who’s dead?” The hand said nothing…

The graveyard was an unpleasant place filled with unpleasant corpses in unpleasant and rather ugly graves while he was there he saw one gravestone that caught his eye: RIP the Gonzales family: died of hypothermia. A tear welled up inside his eye as he respected those people, those good good people but there was no time to lose the hand dragged him on to a shallow grave already with a gravestone: RIP Donald John Trump: the nightmare is over then in his own handwriting was written “No, it’s only just beginning”…

Donald Trump was falling… falling… falling… down… down… down… into a bottomless pit falling… falling… Then he landed in hell’s fiery depths. It was so hot in there that I’m rather surprised these pages weren’t scorched to a crisp. But like it said on the gravestone the nightmare was only just beginning. The devil walked up towards him, a permanent sneer was fixed on his face. Then he said two words. “You’re fired!”

Suddenly Donald Trump found himself tied to a large wooden catapult, like the ones they used in the middle ages to catapult rocks at a wall. This was going to be used for a far more grisly use. Before he knew it he was strapped on to this big lumbering beast then was in a room full of speakers. Soon the theme tune for The Apprentice filled the room. Then the wall of speakers directly ahead of him burned and was soon filled with shards of glass then he was catapulted toward them as two words came out of the speakers: his own voice said “You’re fired!” He screamed.

trump_hell

Donald Trump woke up screaming with pain, surprisingly he did not wake up buried alive in a coffin but in his own bed in his own house in his own street in his own city in his own country, yes he was Donald Trump and he ruled the country. He looked over at his alarm clock, 7:30. Unless he wanted to end up in hell’s fiery depths again he would have to change quickly. Donald Trump smiled. Today was going to be a good day.

8:00 AM, that is what it said on the clock. His butler walked in “Excuse me mister president but it’s 8:00 AM,” Donald Trump looked over at the clock. “Yes yes, indeed it is, do you have the blueprints?” The butler nodded. “Here they are Mister President,”

Donald Trump looked at them then ripped them up into tiny little pieces. The butler looked astonished. “Mister President are you feeling oka…” Donald Trump laughed “Yes yes I’m feeling fine,” then he leaped out of bed and made a bolt for the door then he walked slowly back in. “Oh by the way is my car in the garage?”

Mexico was now one of the richest countries in the world now thanks to Donald Trump he told his chauffeur to drive around Mexico’s streets at 300 MPH (so it didn’t take too long). Then he attached bags of money from the wall building profit then a couple of hours later he was back and Mexico was rich as a fruitcake but Donald Trump still had one big bag full to the brim with bars of gold. He scrawled a quick invitation and stuck it on to the bag: Dear the Gonzales family you are invited for a Christmas party in the Whitehouse – Donald Trump…

Donald Trump was now poor, but he was also loved, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

The End

Epilogue

“Hank! I owe you 50$,” shouted Frank towards the vague direction of the kitchen. Hank walked in. “No you don’t.” Frank pointed at the headline. “He didn’t build the wall.” Hank shrugged. “Who cares. It’s Christmas!”

trump_mexico

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