Doctor Who Experience

Holding the TardisMy 42nd birthday outing from Mum!Vampires of Venice costumesVampires of Venice costumesVampires of Venice setCovers of the Radio Times
Outfits for the First to Fifth DoctorsOutfits for the Sixth to 10th DoctorsThe Eleventh Doctor & TardisSonic screwdrivers2005-present day CybermanThe Silence
The SilenceThe Ninth & Tenth Doctors' TardisChildren of Mine on the TardisFifth - Seventh Doctors' TardisNinth & Tenth Doctors' TardisThe Companions
The 1980s TardisThe Time LordsMum enjoying her birthday outing!A Cyber-Controller1966 -  The first Cyberman in 'The Tenth Planet'Davros

Via Flickr:
Mother of Mine treated the Family (well, it was my 42nd birthday present actually!) to a ticket to the Doctor Who Experience at Olympia.

The Experience itself immersed the Family in their own Doctor Who adventure with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. We stepped through the crack in the wall, ‘flew’ the Tardis, avoided Daleks and Weeping Angels, and battled aliens in a 3D time vortex to defeat the enemies and rebuild time.

Who is the love of my life?

So last night was the night I had been waiting for, excitedly, along with the rest of the country.  For this year’s Easter Sunday brought a modern-day resurruction of its own – the return of the intrepid time traveller, the Doctor, newly regenerated in the body of Matt Smith.

I think it is true to say that Doctor Who is a big part of my life. Not in an ‘I’ve-got-a-huge-crush-on-David-Tennant’ or, following last night’s opening episode, an ‘on-first-impressions-oops-I-actually-fancy-Matt-Smith’ kind of way. (He’s just too new – not to mention too young – to float my boat on that score).

Although I admit David Tennant was rather ravishing as the Doctor when he brought out that teary-eyed, far-away look. Then again, so was Bernard Cribbins. Age is no barrier to provoking an emotional response. Whether the eleventh Doctor can tug at my heartstrings is yet to be seen; but he certainly made me laugh during the opening scenes of  last night’s episode.  Fishfingers and custard, anyone?

Of course, the Doctor has never left my screen really, since between the last series and the special episodes that aired last year, I have been watching the boxed sets of the Christopher Eccelston/David Tennant era again from the beginning. Son of Mine is now old enough to watch them, so in true DW fan club style, The Family have sat down together on most Saturday nights to absorb the phenomenon of the Tardis and all who travel in her.

My earliest memories of Doctor Who go back to when I was 5. It would have been Series 11, with Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen making her first appearance as Sarah Jane Smith. I don’t remember detailed storylines, just the scariness of the ultimate of Doctor’s Who’s enemies – the Daleks. My memories are of my grandfather, ‘Pops’, and I playing our own version of Doctor Who, with me of course as Sarah Jane. This role playing took place in the kitchen, where I used to ‘help’ with the washing up. Sound effects were provided by a door stop, one that was attached to the wall and consisted of a coiled metal spring with a rubber bung on the end. I suppose up close it looked rather like a Dalek’s plunger, but it made a satisfying ‘boinggg’ that sufficed as the noise of the Tardis taking off on another journey through time and space.

Daughter of Mine asked me last night whether, given the chance, I would marry David Tennant.  Or, seeing my facial expression change ever so slightly, maybe Matt Smith.  “Of course not,” I replied, “I’m married to Daddy.” 

But if I was given the chance to go travelling amongst the stars, in a blue box, then yes, I would be off like a shot.  I just know Who my Doctor would be.

The Stuff of Nightmares

Hey there, visitor number 0004 – bet you missed reading about my scintillating life yesterday. You see, I had that day off that I had promised myself on Friday.

Actually, I couldn’t think of anything yesterday that I felt compelled to write about. It was a pretty ordinary day really; the Family popped into Chichester, and left me to amuse myself in town while they went swimming.

I have to be really, really hot before I have even the faintest desire to get in a swimming pool, and even then, can think of nothing worse than going to the leisure centre with the masses for a public swim. Not that I have a problem with taking my clothes off in front of people (just refer to my earlier posts) but I just can’t bear the whole indoor water thing. Water, for me, is designed to be dipped into outdoors, when it is very, very hot – and just enough to cool off and nothing more.

Anyway, the pretty ordinary day ended with a Family screening of The Monolith Monsters, and what a film! All the elements I remembered were there; the small American town; the gigantic black columns towering over the terrified population, and even the dam, which played a vital role in saving the town from the alien rock which had spewed from the fallen meteorite. I had completely forgotten the impact on the human population – the falling monoliths turned people in their path to stone by gradually extracting the liquid from their bodies. It was quite selective as to who it acted upon though, as the hero of the film suffered no ill effects (as heroes do) despite being in close contact with the rock several times.

The Monolith Monsters

Children of Mine gave it 3½ stars out of 5.  Interestingly Son of Mine didn’t find it scary at all; Daughter of Mine found it only marginally scary (she was the one who let out the odd whimper last night as she was watching it).  Both thought it would have been better in colour, rather than black and white and this sparked some deep discussion as to the actual colour of the monoliths themselves – they settled on deep purple.

We all picked up on how sci-fi films of this era seemed to give no thought to what would happen after the film’s conclusion. In this case, the monoliths were stopped in their tracks by a simple water and salt solution; the afore-mentioned dam was blown up to release the water down the mountain and across a salt mine, creating a salt water barrier across the route to the town.  As Husband of Mine commented wryly, some poor sod would have to traipse over hill and down dale in search of every piece of shiny black meteor, and all before next rainfall. Maybe there was a sequel?  Revenge of the Mighty Monolith Monsters?  Perhaps I wasn’t so far off after all with the Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles.

However,  Husband of Mine has earned a significant number of brownie points with this very personal gift.  Awww.

Having re-read this post I must now apologise for waffling on so.  This was never intended to be a review of a 53-year old sci-fi movie.

As I’ve already said, I didn’t really have any inspiration yesterday. And then it came to me in the middle of the night. Or rather, Son of Mine did, actually, having had a nightmare.  “About The Monolith Monsters?” I can hear you exclaim! “Why on earth were you letting him watch a scary movie, made before film classifications made parental decisions for you?”  And before you ask, it wasn’t about the Minotaur or the multiple-headed Hydra from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief either.

My point is that his nightmares don’t follow the pattern of the nightmares of my own childhood. He doesn’t wake screaming hysterically, demanding the light be left on, or one of us to sit with him until he falls asleep again. Instead he just wanders into our room, mutters matter-of-factly that he has had a scary dream and quite often is happy to just go back to bed on his own. He couldn’t even say what last night’s dream was about.

I had two recurring nightmares as a child. The first was about diggers – the big, yellow JCB kind. I think that is why I have a lot of empathy with Arthur Dent. These colossal diggers would chase me relentlessly along pavements, paths and roads, with nothing stopping them, not even hedges and walls – they were able to travel along them with ease.

The second, perhaps more sinister dream, involved my family who were living in an unusual round house. We would be busy doing something normal that a ’70s family would probably be doing, say, watching the Generation Game or painting our wall bright orange.  Suddenly, there would be a grinding noise, like a series of giant cogs starting up, and the whole house would slowly start to spin and sink into the ground with us all trapped inside.  Sometimes one or more of us would make it out into the garden or street, and stand there, transfixed, as our circular house disappeared into the soil.  Rather like The Monolith Monsters in reverse. Or that giant drill in Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

I’m not sure what today’s psychologists would make of this – probably write me off as a disturbed youngster and give me a fancy label.  My own theory, with the circular house at any rate, is that I read too many books in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. Re-reading this with Daughter of Mine recently, I think I was obviously negatively influenced by Moon Face’s circular house with its curious Slippery-Slip – a slide which allowed the characters in the story to descend to the bottom of the tree.  At the top of the tree, reached by a ladder through a hole in a cloud, were a series of enchanted lands, not all of them nice, which ‘move on’ from the top of the tree at an alarming rate, getting the poor children and their magical friends into all sorts of scrapes if they happened to be left behind.

I have no understanding of why I had nightmares about diggers, but do sometimes shudder when walking past one even now.

So are children today desensitised to fear, by the images that bombard them throughout their early childhood?  Or are some, like me, just predisposed to more vivid dreams?

Perhaps I just watched too much sci-fi in my formative years…

Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles

During the recent snow, Children of Mine and I had embarked on an Arctic Adventure (to the local shops), bumping into friends on the way there via the local copse known as ‘The Plantation’.  Before I knew it I had opened my mouth to invite nine children and four adults back to mine for a cuppa. With adults snugly in the warm kitchen, the children –  to be more accurate,  just the boys – had begun to terrorise the pristine peacefulness that had been my winter wonderland and within minutes had managed to snap off all the icicles that had been slowly descending from the roof of the wooden cabin.

“But I haven’t taken a photo of them yet!” I cried.  Later that day, undeterred by seeing the remains of those beautiful icicles lying smashed and shattered on the frozen ground, we gathered up the best of what was left of them in a bucket and set about creating a snowy birthday cake, complete with icicle candles, on top of the small hexagonal table on our patio.

Ice columns from another world?

And here’s the resulting photograph.  Captured like this; set so eerily against the silhouette of the trees and the fading sun to the west, it reminds me of a
sci-fi film I once saw as a child.  It was a black and white, 1950s B-movie type, that I remember watching on what was probably a rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  The plot, as I recall it, involved some kind of alien species that had fallen to Earth, creating what appeared to be columns of black carbon that grew out of the ground across the suburbs of a quiet American town.  The columns grew ever larger, until they were eventually the size of skyscrapers; towering over the town and causing havoc by collapsing, damaging property, injuring civilians and destroying a nearby dam. 

Husband of Mine remembers this film too – and we believe we probably watched it at the same moment, one weekend sometime in the late ’70s, when he was about 10 and I was about 9.  Over the years I have asked many people about it and there are some who’ve said, “Yes! I saw that too!”, and some who have even remembered the film’s title.  I am cross with myself for never writing down the title, as I’d love to watch it again with the Family and see how little it scares those Children of Mine.

So.  If you know the title, why not indulge me and reply to this post.  Come on, sci-fi fans – what are you waiting for?