What is the significance of the Wolf in American Indian teachings?
I had a job interview in Birmingham on Tuesday. Don't get too excited, I wasn't employed - they phoned me later in the day to let me know, and I received the feedback today and the interviewer listed everything I thought he would say was wrong. Although I'd researched the work I would have been doing, there was a killer question which I simply couldn't answer and which I hadn't predicted which is never a good thing. Some of my answers lacked structure too and as he said I 'bounced around a bit'. Even as I was leaving I was thinking of better things I could have said.
I'd had a bit of a nightmare getting there, with cancelled trains due to fog and having to change at Stafford and my focus drifted and I was over excited when I went in. But the interviewer said that wasn't really reflected and of the five whom they spoke to I was very high on the list. Oh and that they would welcome another application in the future which suggests to me that I'm not totally unemployable I just need to work on my interview style. It was my first in about four years though and it looks like I'm out of practice. But it was a good experience.
I think in the end two things might have done it in for me. Although the job was interesting and I would have loved to have joined the organization I don't think I reflected the passion enough - and the relevant experience I have is some years old now and that was pretty clear in the answers I gave. And at the very end, one of the interviewers told me she had gone to Leeds Metropolitan University and it rapidly became clear that we had been on the same course together and even, probably, shared some lectures and I was very 'Oh that's fantastic' and 'Imagine the odds' and 'This kind of thing happens to me all the time' which wasn't particularly professional probably.
All of which is also sure to disappoint Alan who was expecting a long flowing answer and to be honest I've tried to write an answer but I can't do any better than this website and since I'm really, really tired tonight after a busy week, I hope he'll forgive me if I'm a bad wolf and just offer the lovely picture above and a link to something I think answers his question perfectly and promise that I'll post something amazing tomorrow instead.
Incidentally, I just now need three more questions to take me through to New Years Eve so if you haven't yet, please do, while there's still time ...
Lovely post from Hilary about the place where I live.
This page features the Christmas card I bought my parents this year -- it's the picture of the Liverpool waterfront although the exposure on this photograph is rather lighter than the image. The card which is more atmospheric.
A few months ago a charity auction was held, the prize being a night out with a few Doctor Who writers. In the event loads turned up and the pleasure in this blog post is seeing the likes of Terrance Dicks and Steven Moffat rubbing shoulders.
A Lurker asks:
People say money can't buy you happiness. I find this an over simplification of a complicated argument. What is your point of view?
I forgot to buy a lottery ticket this week. It didn't dawn on me until the actually draw was taking place, as Jenni Falconer revealed the increasingly lower potential jackpot. This might not have been much a problem were it not that I play the same numbers every week and have done since the first time the balls popped out of the machine. Over the ensuing moments, I sighed with relief each time the voice of the balls confirmed that no, none my numbers were there and I had been reprieved. On the occasion, I was actually happy that my lottery numbers hadn't come up. I should note that a friend of mine was in the same situation a few Christmases ago and had missed out on a couple of hundred thousand because he'd been too ill to get the newsagents. That is depressing.
The thing is I know that instant wealth wouldn't necessarily make me entirely happy. I know that my family would be comfortable and I would be able to do all of the things I wanted to do, my big plan being to travel the world, see the sights, visit the festivals, friends at home and abroad. From a young age I've wanted to do the grand tour, and I'd be able to do that too. But I'd be traveling alone and in a magnification of my increasingly distant Paris trip I'd be living in hotel rooms and probably dreaming of home. But, if I was to find somewhere to live in the UK, or New York or wherever, I couldn't simply stay in one place if I had the choice to travel and to do things. I'm that kind of person, I have the itch to be doing something, never content to just be content.
In short, I think that if you're the kind of person who gets depressed easily, money isn't going to help. You'll fill your house with stuff, give your money away if you like, but you won't necessarily be happier and if you're someone who is born into wealth or has worked your way into it, you'll probably have even more demands so that you can keep yourself wealthy. You'll inevitably find something else to be depressed or angry about. If you're easily bored too, no matter how many new experiences you have it'll never be enough because you lack the get up and go - that why you were bored before. But if you're already a happy person, seeing light in everything, money will just become an extension of that, money will make you even happier. Although if you were to lose it all, that could make you depressed.
Joss is there obviously and great to see recognisable tv names like Jane Espenson, Drew Goddard and Doug Petrie in there too. It's essentially being written and run like the tv series and will be considered canon.
But Robin Hood got *better*. The disappointment should be 'Torchwood' surely. But then I would say that. SFX Magazine gave the dvd release a fairly glowing review this month although it did seem to boil down to what everyone was saying -- I wasn't really expecting *that* ...
The answer isn't quite what you would expect.
Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2006
Have you ever had any kind of casual/one of experience with a member of the same sex? Even if just a suppressed crush on an actor or musician etc?
I was reading the other day that Anthony Rapp, star of the musical RENT and film actor with a career stretching back as far as Adventures In Babysitting identifies himself as bisexual. Apart from having to watch his performance in the aforementioned film in a new light, I'm also filled with admiration that anyone can look at their life, more importantly their life experience and realise that actually they do have room for both boys and girls in their heart. Makes the attitude of some straight and indeed gay people look a bit one-dimensional.
Well, my life experience, everything that has happened to me and I'd identify myself as straight. To take the flippant attitude, lusting after Eliza Dushku and wanting to cuddle Ziyi Zhang (to pick two actresses) puts me somewhat in the area but also that I'm generally, always, crushing on someone female proves it to me. Not that there wasn't a period in my late twenties, when, if I'd had anyone to tell, that I did worry because I wasn't in love with anyone and genuinely wondered if I'd lost the capacity. Which is silly.
Anyone expecting some great revelation will be disappointed. I haven't ever had a suppressed crush on an male actor or musician and the less said the better about a drunken night in the Egg Café, during an office party, when after many wines and hearing the top five female lesbian possibles of some work colleagues thought it only proper to return the favour. The non-revelation is that I'm a relatively shy person, appalling at flirting, and that my undergraduate days, with all my gibbering naivety, were hardly the Animal House style sex comedy that I'd been promised. Which is when the one occasion that could at all be considered a casual experience with someone of the same gender happened.
It's my first year, possibly before Christmas when everything is still golden. It's a Friday evening and I'm at the Student Union with hallmates, in the city for the regular STOMP night, four hours of Brit pop and grunge. This is the early-mid-nineties so Oasis and Blur posters are on every student wall and Nirvana is filling speakers everywhere. I wasn't much of a drinker, if at all. But I was incredibly tired having been up early for a lecture (I think) and with so many other drinkers in the room it was almost as though I'd convinced myself I was drunk. I'm already dozy and drowsy, and the details of everything that's happening are already being fogged up ready for the revelatory morning 'I did what?'
I'm standing at the bar, hoping it isn't going to collapse and hoping that they're still serving soft drinks. A man approaches. I don't remember what he looks like, but I have an impression of him being thin with short hair. Somehow we start talking about issues ? I can't remember, although it was probably the wait at the bar. I remember us swapping names, I think, and suddenly beginning to feeling very uncomfortable. Somewhere in the back of my brain I'm beginning to realise that he's chatting me up. I thought I was being chatted up. I wasn't sure.
Not sure enough that I wasn't not suddenly, though slowly, given my condition, trying to size up if I should tell him I'm straight. It could be that he was just being friendly, passing the time, long wait at the bar, and might not like the idea that I was calling him gay in so many words. Even the early nineties weren't as enlightened as the metrosexual now, with it's Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (Victoria Woods' favourite television show apparently), The L Word and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? But then why did he ask for my name? That didn't seem right. People who are just passing time at bars don't do that. Do they? Was this a university thing, perhaps? Were everyone is friends with everyone else?
He was served first and bought many beers. And after succeeding in the human feat of being able to carry eight in two hands he walks away. Which should have been the end of the paranoia, but then I'm thinking. If he was chatting me up was it something I said? Did I put him off? Why is the first person to chat me up gay? What's that about? These are the kinds of things you only think when it's late at night and you think you're drunk I'm sure, and I was thinking them. I bought my coke, went and sat on the edge of the dance floor. And the following happened and it underlined for me what I knew already. I wrote the following the following day, I think, and although I know it's partly fictional and not great prose, the essence is true.
He sweated everywhere. Jeans, t-shirt, jacket all wet with the salty liquid, soggy with no clear way of drying himself out in this atmosphere, humid and steamy. The bench at the edge of the makeshift dance floor was low and uncomfortable. His knees were in front him, higher than his waist, his hands resting on them, his feet tapping in time with the drum-ridden rubbish that was being played, rubbish which had been in the music chart at sometime. Although not a drink had passed his lips all night, he couldn't think straight. He was tired, excited and jealous all at the same time.To this day I still don't know if I was being chatted up, but even if I was I wasn't confused by the outcome and what happened afterwards and what it meant to me. Some us are gay. Some of us are bi. And some of us are straight. That's the way we are. And if you're being chatted up by anyone you should probably be flattered even if there's no way you'd reciprocate.
Next to him, a weedy guy with national health glasses was comparing tongue length with a half- burned blonde. His eyes were close, as though he didn't want to realise that she was only kissing him between sips of lager and puffs of a half burnt cigarette, both of which she held with the hand that wasn't making the lonely dance under the t-Shirt of her 'stand' for the evening. It was a compelling sight. The other side, a woman a few years older than him, in a large, floppy maroon hat, seemed as bored as he was as she glanced at her watch. It was close to midnight. This was her celebration after graduation, but the friend she had come with had disappeared into the crowd with an ex- boyfriend. He thought better of striking up a conversation - the idea of screaming some half-hearted questions about courses over the loudspeaker which hovered above them, wasn't very appealing. He continued to sit and sweat.
Cigarette smoke wafted through the air, mixing with the fibres of his clothing. He thought of the launderette visit which would follow on the Monday, and the owner, who sat strangely, in the shadows, making dribbling noises occasionally. Unknown to him, the graduate had also been there once and a faulty machine had eaten her favourite leggings. Which why she was wearing odd ones tonight - pink and black, green and yellow, they clashed desperately, but worked - somehow.
She got up and disappeared into the dancing mass, as did the tonsil twins, still joined at the mouth. He waited hopefully for some rock. He could mosh very well, but anything would be better than this hell on vinyl which was making his heart beat irregularly. He crossed his legs, closed his eyes and placed his head on the wall of the stage. He was going to ride this out.
When he opened them, time seemed to have stopped, all movement being held stationary, apart from one thing. Just in front of, glazed in blue light, danced an apparition. Her body seemed to become the source of the music, not just ebbing and flowing with it. Nothing about her was that different from her fellow dancers. She was quite short - shoulder length brown hair. A stripy-blue tank top extenuated a ... generous figure. Though he was all too aware of her, she was only aware of the music - her feet sliding her across the dance floor, until the world she lived in eclipsed a party light.
It felt uncomfortable and excited. He knew he was staring, but his eyes would not leave her. What was she thinking? What memories were hidden under the hair which was hovering her hair and rapidly covering her whole face. He ran his fingers through his hair and she repeated the action, the strands disappearing behind her shoulders.
The drums ended, the synthesizers died. Time began again. The small pocket of reality she occupied that he had invaded disappeared. She smiled at some at some friends at the other side of the hall and disappeared into the crowd. He smiled broadly and stood up to rejoin his friends, who were crashing into each other drunkenly on the other side of the hall. He tried to join in, but it was only half-heartedly. The reality he had just experienced, which he had not asked for was infinitely better than the reality had chosen.
Who's your favourite and least favourite doctor, and companion?
When Doctor Who Magazine recently published the results of their periodical poll asking readers who their all time favourite Doctor was, David Tennant won by a fair margin, dislodging Tom Baker for the first time in years. Since he's the incumbent and a percentage of voters will be new fans who didn't grow up with the floppy haired one and already have that in built affection for him. Whoever takes over from Tennant has a fair chance in a few years time unless something extraordinary happens and they cast Jimmy Carr.
I didn't remember to vote but if I had been there I would obviously have picked Tom Baker. The man was in the part for seven years and defined the role. That's why everyone who followed seemed blander somehow. But actually for me, naming Tom as the best is like saying The Beatles are your favourite rock band. Yes, and? We love Tom. Tom is our hero. Tom is the hero. But even then, there are some stories were he's acting his socks off, doing everything he can to keep things moving and it just sits there. Season Fifteen might start out well with Horror of Fang Rock but by the end you're watching Leela being chased by a Sontaran through what looks like a leisure centre after hours. If Douglas Adams hadn't shown up as script editor a year later, I really don't think we would have held Tom in such high regard.
Which is why whenever anyone asks I tell them it's Paul McGann. It's the interesting choice. It's the one that raises eyebrows, especially with the people who think he got back into the TARDIS in 1996 and didn't come out again. But I don't think I've heard or read an Eighth Doctor story I haven't loved or at least liked. With the shortest TV screen time of them all, he became the experimental Doctor, a way for the many authors who'd written for him to play about with the format, of what a Doctor Who story is.
For the uninitiated, since his short burst on screen the Eighth Doctor has appeared in a series of novels from BBC Books, in an ongoing comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine and on audio with McGann himself in a series of cd plays for a company set up by fans called Big Finish (there was also a brief comic strip moment in Radio Times and a few novellas too). Because many of the writers work across these formats, using the TV Movie and the actors previous film and tv appearances they hashed out a character for him, so that this one voice is heard no matter were he appears.
He's brash and unpredictable, he's nervous but clever, curious yet all knowing. He'll bound into a situation, make mistakes and then relish dealing with the consequences. Unlike Tom you're never sure if he'll really win and sometimes he really doesn't. In the novels, he's literally lost one of his hearts, destroyed his home planet and been exiled on Earth for a century with amnesia. In the comics he took as his companions, a British teenager, a cyberman and a fish-like woman who'd tried to kill him on numerous occasions. On audio, he caused a rip in time, became his own mortal enemy and banished himself into another universe in which time as a concept doesn't exist.
But what I really love is the sheer randomness of it all. Unlike the tv series were all the eras are carefully mapped out and you know were you are with whichever Doctor you're watching, you're never sure what the Eighth is going to do next. In a special moment at the end of The Next Life, this non-reality he's been exiled to is caving in on itself and his only escape route into his real universe is fading fast. But he stops for a moment or two to chide his two companions for not being able be friends along and gets them to grudgingly to bury the hatchet because he doesn't see the point of carrying on if they don't see eye to eye. Life's precious but so is quality of life.
I'm happy the Doctor's back, but I'm sad to see the back of the Eighth. The fact the new men are being considered the Ninth and Tenth perfectly commemorates the work done by the various writers, authors and producers who've kept this multi-media incarnation alive as much more than an hour and half of Americanisms. It was exciting to see Chris stepping out of the TARDIS last March, but for me The Doctor had never been away. He'd just been traveling elsewhere for while.
[One of the, if not the best Eighth Doctor novel, The Dying Days by Lance Parking is available to download at bbc.co.uk. They also have the audio version of Douglas Adam's Shada which is at least worth hearing for McGann's performance even if the dialogue was mostly written for Tom].
Selecting a least favourite Doctor though is a bit like trying to choose the chocolate you don't like in a box of Milk Tray. There simply aren't any toffees. If I have to choose one, obviously it's going to be the Sixth, Colin Baker, although for reasons that will become clear that isn't as easy a choice as it might have been when he first appeared in the role in the Eighties. As I think I've already indicated, a Doctor is only as good as the production team and when Pete became Col, the late John Nathan Turner was the producer. Many fans don't really like John. The perceived wisdom is that he took what was an excellent show into the Eighties, turned it into a pantomime and sucked the pleasure out of it. Inevitably its not that simply because even the Peter Davison era is filled with gems, including Davison's final story The Caves of Androzani being an all-time classic.
The problem with JNT was that his decisions were inconsistent. On paper, the selection of Baker as the Sixth Doctor wasn't that bizarre. He'd already appeared in a popular show called The Brothers and had given a nice little performance in Doctor Who already as Maxill of the Gallifreyan guard in The Arc of Infinity. But then they took the collective decision of sticking him in a brightly coloured patchwork coat and making him an arrogant, unlikeable, shouty little bastard.
Post regeneration he was unstable and in the midst of everything attempted to strangle his current companion Peri, then proceeded to grump around for three episodes before regaining some sympathy at the end cradling a timelord mentor of his who is finally dying. The Twin Dilemma is an all time worst story for the series and coming after Androzani a catastrophic choice especially appearing at the end of the season. The summer gap is probably what did it for the fans as they wondered if they were just going to get another season of the same.
Actually they got a season of the production team trying to deal with a new episode format (45 minutes instead of 25) and the Doctor and Peri bickering constantly. It was fairly obvious that this was supposed to be gentle banter, the annoyance that develops between people who spend their every waking hour together (see also Steptoe and Son but often it got in the way of the story and such scenes usually went on far too long because the stories were being so badly structured. Sometimes it would take whole episode of them standing around in the TARDIS or traipsing around a planet doing this before they would become involved in the main plot and in some cases they'd frequently have little or nothing to do in or with the climax.
All of which has a knock on effect for the appreciation of Baker's Doctor who despite some moments of charm is often brash, conceited and egotistical. Whereas the majority of the other Doctor abhor fatal violence he'd often be in there with a gun or a punch, hardly ever solving problems with his mind. When the hiatus was announced I'm not sure that many people were surprised - even I wasn't at such a young age. If your main character is so unlikable, who's going to tune in.
When the series returned with The Trial of a Timelord, a story spanning a season, some thought had obviously gone into softening the Doctor's personality. There was a new warmth in his interactions with Peri and some of his 'humanity' had returned. Although the bluster was still in evidence in the trial scenes (essentially the story was portmanteau - a metastory framing three others) it was tempered with the obvious defense of his life. It made sense in context.
But by then, that was enough for me. I kept watching but I simply wasn't enjoying the show as before. It just didn't seem relevant, and as well as the production itself it was down the portrayal of the Doctor who'd become a distant figure and certainly not someone you could care too much about. It didn't help that the stories had become so esoteric with the Doctor once again going off the rails as the season progressed.
But it's difficult to say that I completely hate the Sixth Doctor because now, in the Big Finish audios, he's gone into something of a renaissance. Through a general tweaking of the character, this Baker Doctor has gained something of the schoolmaster with all of the bluster and arrogance being part of the bluff rather than a defining character trait. Shorn of the distraction of the costume, Baker's performance too has taken a step up and across the audio is much more coherent. The introduction of a new companion too has, helped with historian Evelyn Smythe telling him off when he's going just too far. Actually their relationship is rather sweet - like too old retirees on a day trip to Brighton, were Brighton is all of time and space.
[Brilliantly, BBCi have one of these stories, Real Time as a webcast.]
Oddly enough this isn't a question which the non-fan usually asks - it's mostly favourite Doctor and Monster. Yet, as Rose in the new series has demonstrated the companion is as much a part of the show as either of those elements, and to a degree more so, but often they're forgotten even though time and again they can be the prime-movers of the plot even if that is getting captured or stumbling into said monster just in time for the cliffhanger ending.
In the new series, Russell T Davies has gone for the iconic. The Doctor and his young female companion who he'll be teaching about the universe. It's the dynamic which has cropped up through all of the latter incarnations during the original series. The cliche is correct in this case, she will be asking him what's going on so that the audience can keep track. As with Chris and Neil, Billie Piper's performance and the writing of Rose Tyler have redefined the role of the companion for the television audience. Although Rose has still done all of the things you need a companion to do, it's been much more subtle and indeed often it's the Doctor who's been asking her for an explanation.
A pattern I've always noticed is that the stories are weaker when this dynamic hasn't been thought through. I've read interviews with former producers, well alright John Nathan Turner, whose attitude was to introduce a companion based on some basic attributes and let the actor fill in the gaps. The problem with that is that it doesn't take into account how that will play with The Doctor of the day -- there needs to be some kind of chemistry and to be honest a good reason for the timelord to choose them as a companion. When this doesn't work is when the companion seems to have been plonked into the TARDIS at random with the hope that magic will happen.
Which is why picking a favourite companion is difficult. The easiest way would be to choose the one you fancy. So either Romana on the beach thank you, with Sarah Jane Smith visiting later for drinks. As with Tennant, Billie Piper scored extraordinarily highly in the DWM poll and for much the same reasons. She was certainly the most clearly defined of the television companions, far more three dimension than most of the others.
But she was standing on the shoulders of giant. Once again we're in the realm of the spin-offs were the Eighth Doctor's companions have all contributed to the new approach. In the BBC range, his first companion was Sam Jones, a teenager from the East End of London (Coal Hill School) with liberal politics and a sharp wit whose in love with the Doctor. Sound familiar? Reading some of those books its often quite easy to imagine that you're reading an adventure for the Tenth and Rose.
But if I'm bring this to the realms of true appreciation, I'm going to have to go for the unusual decision again. Rose, Sarah-Jane and Romana aside, my favourite companion, for the purposes of the people who know what the hell I'm talking about is Charley Pollard. She's McGann's friend in the Big Finish Audio cds (also recently broadcast on BBC7) and over the course of five seasons, redefined the role of the companion to the extent that she's an equal with The Doctor (again sound familiar?).
For the uninitiated, Charley's an Edwardian adventuress who stowed away on an airship, the R101, and rescued by The Doctor just before it blew up in flames. Unlike innumerable television companions who seemed to want to leave the TARDIS as quick as they could (see Tegan etc), Charley genuinely wants to see the universe, grab hold of this opportunity which has been put before her. Aided by India Fisher's superb performance, we heard her present a feeling of utter wonder at what was being shown to her, time and again. But even more unusually considering the job description she's saved The Doctor's life almost as many times as he's saved hers, a hand to hold when the universe is falling apart around him.
The chemistry between Fisher and McGann is so potent that often you're happy just to listen to them chat as the plot passes by around them. One of the best stories of the era, Scherzo (written by Rob Sherman, who's contributed the Dalek episode in the new series) is just them, no other characters, stuck in blank universe where they just walk round and around and its utterly compelling. They were living through the fall out of a previous story, equally classic (for different reasons) Neverland in which Charley told The Doctor she loved him and for the first time we knew the feeling was mutual. Which was somehow less controversial than that kiss in San Francisco and just as touching if not more so than The Girl In The Fireplace and the close of Doomsday combined.
But what's perfect about Charley is that despite the time differential she comes across as a real person. There is the aforementioned outburst, but also her constant irritation that The Doctor drops them in it time and again, and that the universe never quite works right, ever. In later seasons, a third companion was introduced, the chameleonic Cr'zz and although she was polite there was a definite irritation at having to jostle with someone else for the timelord's attention. Such jealousy, as she might say herself it was 'Silly, childish and very human...'
In later stories, Charley has tended towards the generic although this is a side effect of being with the Doctor for so long having drifted beyond her Edwardian roots (which is precisely what Jackie warned Rose about in the last television series). Fisher's performance has still held up though which is why the rumour that her contract hasn't been renewed at Big Finish is a shame - it signals the end for Charlie soon, no doubt because of the introduction of Eighth's new companion Lucie, appearing in the new BBC7 series beginning on new year's eve and ensuing cd releases.
Selecting a least favourite companion should be easy, because there have been so many. One of the reason the series drove itself into cancellation bay in the first place was that the writers fundamentally misunderstood the dynamic of the companion being the viewer's way into the series by making them so alien even when they were human. At no point is anyone going to sympathise with a Tegan or an Adric even if vast android hordes with big guns are massed just inches away. When Adric flew a ship into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs in his exit story Earthshock, the only reason it was shocking and sad was because it had taken so long to give him something dramatic to do.
But if I was to give any of them the sharp end of a Dalek gun it would be Dodo Chaplet. Dodo was a companion of the first Doctor and literally stumbled into the TARDIS thinking it was a real Police Box when it landed at the end of a historical adventure when the Doctor's ship randomly landed in contemporary (for then) London. In her first story, The Ark she managed to pass a flu bug on to the last vestiges of the human race living in a space ark, giving room for their servants the Ood-like Monoids to take over. And that's about the most exciting thing to happen to her. From then on in she's a placeholder, someone for the other companion Steven to talk at, her only other high point being a song and dance routine in The Gunfighters. As an editor at the Wikipedia describes her: "Dodo's personality was a bright and happy one, but she was ultimately not very sophisticated."
It was probably not actress Jackie Lane's fault. For much of the previous story, the Doctor has knocked about with Steven the space pilot and the cool but ill-fated Sara Kingdom and there was probably some directive that said that the Doctor couldn't just knock around with another man. But Dodo was simply ill thought out and lacked depth and she found herself stuck into a string of not great stories - the tedious The Celestial Toymaker and the dry The Savages. She was eventually inauspiciously replaced by the far more swinging Polly in her final adventure The War Machines but wasn't even granted a proper farewell. Feeling ill she was shipped off to the country for a rest and never heard from or mentioned again.
Inevitably she gained an afterlife in the spin-offs and in David Bishop's Who Killed Kennedy by David Bishop is was revealed that Dodo had suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to remember her adventures with the Doctor, drifting in and out of psychiatric institutions. She eventually became involved with a journalist that was investigating the truth behind UNIT and was ultimately murdered by the Master. Unless you're reading Daniel O'Mahony's The Man in the Velvet Mask in which case its inferred that she contracted a fatal dose of VD.
The reason I've picked her as my least favourite that she's everything that people who know nothing about Doctor Who expect a companion to be - bland, lacking in characterization and a screamer. About the only good moment she has is in the beginning of The War Machines when the Doctor leaves an out of order sign on the TARDIS because they're in the 60s and its in its right era at least visually. She and the Doctor share a giggle and it feels right and finally there is chemistry. I can't remember a single thing that she did in the rest of her time on the show other than that she knocked Peter Purves's Steven, who was becoming one of the best ever companions, off his stride by stealing half of the material.
Not long now until Martha Jones takes a bow and like Rose she's appearing with a family and back story already in place. Although there's a debate about whether she's the first non-white companion (What about Mickey? What about Anji and Ros or Alison in the spin-offs?) its another sign of the new version of the show wanting to do more with the Doctor/companion dynamic. To what extent will her ethnicity be an issue when they travel into a past when the colour of someone's skin was still a barrier - will they confront or avoid? Either way its got to be handled better than Dodo's cockney origins ...
The titular phenomenon this time is a doomsday weapon born from the eclipse of three worlds, Janus Prime, Menda and their sun. Once again, The Doctor is fighting against big cosmic forces and race histories, and y'know just for a change an evil meglomaniac. The kind of pioneering colonists from Earth that Russell T Davies talks about all the time in interviews have crash landed and built a life on the planet Menda. They were guarded by a group of mercenaries who in an apparent fit of boredom used what appears to be a transmat to go to Janus Prime in an attempt to get back to Earth only to get stuck there, become infected with radiation sickness, inevitably go rogue. Their leader Zemlar has gone mad and is attempting to kill everyone and everything, partly using the indigenous species - a race of spiders. The Doctor and Sam drop into the middle of this situation and try and sort everything out whilst being captured and separated and all the things you'd expect.
The opening paragraph in which a soldier is chased through a forest by a giant spider-cyborg thing recalls uncomfortably War of the Daleks and I thought it would be another slog, but in the event this is a straightforward but nonetheless engrossing read. Baxendale's prose style is simple and mostly functional; this does however seem to be an adopted approach so that when he turns on his descriptive power the effect is all the more shocking or surprising. There is an excellent moment when the true horror of Zemlar radiation deterioration is revealed, the flesh dripping off his face. The book is filled with these moments of body horror, with none of the effects of radiation sickness whitewashed. By the end, Sam's skin is coming off in strips and I defy anyone to not skip through the yuckier parts.
Zemlar is an enemy from the old school, a real Zaroff of a madman - Baxendale obviously had great fun writing his dialogue. At one point, when it looks like all is lost he rants: 'I can't, Doctor. I've already told you - it's too late. […] I make sure the spiderlings were used properly. The control system is jammed. Nothing, no one, can stop it now!' I added the exclamation mark. He doesn't have any great aims - since he can't go back to Earth, he just wants to turn half the galaxy into a black hole. Of the other guest characters the most vivid is Julya, the Mendan who becomes the Doctor's surrogate companion when Sam isn't around. She reminded me somewhat of Ida from The Satan Pit, that kind of questioning wisdom and bravery.
Throughout the book the dialogue crackles. The Doctor and Sam are particularly well drawn, the bluff of the former and the passion of the latter. They're very content and relaxed and there are some lovely moments when the human chides the timelord when he's being particularly technobabbly (not unlike all the Spock talk from Rose in The Empty Child). Neither really develops although their mutual devotion does seem to be becoming progressively deeper which is never a good sign. My favourite Doctor moment is someway into the novel when the Doctor and Julya have found themselves on Zemlar's base and becomes apparent they're going to be locked up. The Doctor says 'It's about time we were locked up' and you just know that this exactly what he wanted to happen. Baxendale obviously has great warmth for both of the characters and it is to his credit that when he announces something very rotten about one of them it comes as a complete shock. I actually shouted out loud 'You can't do that' when I read it but rest assured its all ok in the end.
If there's a tiny criticism, it's that the book doesn't really do much that couldn't be done on a television budget. Well actually that's not totally fair -- when the giant spiders are attacking the action is cross between Eight Legged Freaks and Starship Troopers -- but very few actual locations are used and considering the number of colonists who are supposed to at risk we only meet a handful of them and they come across as a bit bland. But some writers have come a cropper in the past with introducing too many characters with irrelevant stories and it's perhaps it's good that Baxendale has streamlined such things as much as possible.
So all in all a very pleasant surprise. Unlike Kursaal which appeared directly after Alien Bodies and somehow through its sheer dullness managed to undo some of the magic, The Janus Conjunction is exactly what you need after the mind bending frolics of The Scarlett Empress. It's quite jarring in the arc infested waters of nu-Who for the events of the previous book not to get a mention, but these were still the days when the BBC were trying to attract a wide audience for the books and they needed to be as stand-alone as possible. I'm already glancing through the next book, Beltempest, and the line spacing is even wider, the text even larger and the pagination even shorter. See you in a couple of hours ...
The NYT review 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie' which is as bizarre as it sounds. “Hold the newsreader’s nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers.”
Posted on Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Next Saturday, I'll be back in Liverpool for the day, with my girlfriend. One of the reasons for the visit is so that she can get a better feel for the city because we're thinking of moving there. So, can you tell me where the hidden cool and interesting bits of Liverpool are?
It really depends on what you're looking for - sightseeing, eating or drinking and also I'm not sure if anything is really hidden anymore. So I'll try my best but forgive me if this isn't what you're looking for.
Liverpool Museum Planetarium It's a free show taking in both an explanation of some new astronomical phenomena and a tour of the night sky at this time of year. There's a silhouette of the Liverpool skyline painted on the circumference. Watch for the great moment when all of the lights are out and you're shown what the sky would look like if the light of the city wasn't blocking everything out. Check for opening times though and be wary of teenagers - last time I went some little annoyance was playing with a torch and it somewhat ruined the effect.
The Picton Library which is part of the Central Library, on the second floor. It's worth just going in to stand underneath the dome and take in the scale which is an utter surprise and not what you would expect from the street.
Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral If you like big humbling buildings, this is excellent too. Built over a hundred years, it's fairly modern in comparison to the big churches in the old Cathedral cities but it still has an impressive presence to it and there are daily tours up to the roof which I think, other than the restaurant tower probably gives the best view of the city available.
Sefton Park I'm bound to say this because I live here, but it's often forgotten on the sightseeing trail when it's actually easier to get to than the Albert Dock and its filled with little riches such as the Palm House, the statuary and the general landscape (get the 80 bus from outside Boots on Great Charlotte Street). Walking the circumference and you can pretty much see the history of the city in the buildings, from the slavery money through to the rehousing projects of the 1960s. If she does move here, can I recommend the range of regular tours given by Park Rangers which explain this history and also the nature within the park. You can request a programme from here.
Liverpool: Pevsner Architectural Guides by Joseph Sharples If you're feeling flush in fact you could do worse than this guide to Liverpool architecture written by someone I used to work with. Cleverly, the book is structured as a series of guided walks which tell the story of a particular area through its buildings. Suddenly places which you'd pass by without looking are illuminated in text that balances well the expected jargon with accessible trivia. Impressively the walks even go inside buildings and often if they're inaccessible there's an image to show what you're missing. I should say too that some of these walks could take all day so if but that's all you have, you might see more of the place and get a feel for it than if you were simply randomly walking about and get a feel for the place.
http://www.artinliverpool.com/ If you're looking for exhibitions and galleries that are off the beaten track, Ian Jackson's website and blog is the place to look. Although the Biennial obviously provides a brief spotlight and focus on art activities, there are still a range of exhibitions throughout the city pretty much of the time.
Radio Merseyside has recently moved into new premises on Hanover Street and you can now see into the studios while the shows are being broadcast. Fascinating to see local radio celebrities doing what they do.
The Barcelona on Renshaw Street. Until recently a bar but now the base for many of the shops that used to be in Quiggins. Expect studenty and club clothing, collectables, and second hand cds. But that's underselling I - it's worth visiting just for the décor and the keen way that a building can change use and still retain it's earlier fixtures. If you see what I mean.
Eateries I'm a creature of habit when I'm eating in town which means that I can only recommend three places. The Everyman Bistro on Hope Street is the place to go for the homecooked style meal with everything from soup to salads to curries and pies and stews. It's also a great space to drink too with its three room structure. There's buzz about the place which is hard to define but engrossing. I'd also add that if you're looking for something in the realm of pizza and pasta and more relaxed The Quarter at the other end of Hope Street is also excellent and has waitress service. If your looking for somewhere nice to stop off for a coffee during the day, The Door on Hanover Street is cool with great art on the walls and a friendly atmosphere.
Pubs I usually end up on Hardman Street and the off streets. There's the Philharmonic Pub which has the most ornate men's toilet in the country; if you're feeling very adventurous you could go to the bar at the actual Philharmonic Hall if there's something on - it too is worth a visitor for the décor and you can also hear whatever the show is as your background music.
The Pilgrim on Pilgrim Street under the shadow of the cathedral has booths and interesting paintings of The Beatles (in that they look nothing like them). But really the most interesting new bar is on Hope Street underneath the RoadHouse - it's a Sci-fi theme bar with tons of memorabilia with a bar modeled on a TARDIS and a stage in the shape of a Star Trek transporter pad.
But you could do worse than slipping down Wood Street too. That's take you past the FACT centre, and there's The Swan Inn (old biker pub) and beyond that Concert Square with all of the trendy place surrounding that with The Krazy House and The Camel Club towards the bottom. Which are worlds away from each other in terms of clientele but both amazing experiences.
I hope that is of some use, but please do let me know if there's anything else you were particularly interested in.
TV It's always very helpful when sitting down review something when one of the characters within has actually explained what's wrong with the episode. There was Jack, sitting in the hub, looking up at Tosh and actually saying (I'm paraphrasing) "These are just three people who are lost who can't go home. We don't have an enemy to fight this time." As he sat there, it finally felt as though the story had ground to a halt. I looked up at the clock and noticed that there was another twenty-minutes to go and wondered what the hell they'd be filling those twenty minutes of screen-time with.
Thing is, I was strangely upbeat going into this episode. I told everyone here I was looking forward to it and a particularly good episode of The West Wing tonight ('Hi, Senator. Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass. ' 'She's a fine looking woman.' etc) put me in a good mood. The episode began rather well with the lovely landing of the plane and the appearance of the three strangers in time and the explanations and then ... Asda? Immediately it began to become apparent that episode would once again be demonstrating the legion of issues the series has had so far. Having selected to retread one of the old, old sci-fi standard, off the shelf, plot-lines, they decided to trot through all of the expected scenes without putting a new spin on any of them whatsoever. Oh for goodness sake.
I should temper this a little bit by saying that even that opening scene in the supermarket was as funny as these things usually are with the accepted standards of our time being put under the microscope of another -- the children's tv presenter on the lad mag, 'smoking kills' and the price of eggs (or in this case junk food). Such scenes were splattered throughout the episode as Emma misunderstood the advances of the man in the club and John had to deal with the pipe smoking ban in the pub. The problem is that after a while they become repetitious and perhaps more damagingly for Doctor Who fans not anything that doesn't happen whenever the Doctor's companion appears in another time -- that misunderstanding of new rituals for comic effect.
Throughout I wondered if there would be a twist, such as that they're all aliens or they somehow planned the time slip or that there would be a way home or that they weren't time travellers at all just faking it for some nefarious gain. Perhaps the twist was that there was no twist in which case -- wah! I'm sorry but narratively chaining each of them to the one regular character who was most likely to empathise with them and their plight in the hope of illuminating a regular just isn't enough. It's all very well presenting what appears to be a grand romance about loss and sacrifice but you still need proper jeopardy, something to fight for.
I can absolutely see that this is supposed to be the episode about character building -- Gwen talked once again about having two lives and is seen to question her relationship to Owen; Owen on the other hand didn't seem to think anything about their relationship as he realised he actually had the capacity to fall in luurv; and Jack continued to come to terms with the fact that he too is a man out of time, as we gained some confirmation that he might have dropped through the rift and that he is indeed born in the future. The problem is, because of what I'm going to continue to describe as the random characterisation of the series, none of this seemed like a progression -- just an emotion of the week which could change next time. I can't simply start liking a character such as Owen when he's been so negatively written in the past, especially when he seems to have a silly walk - the whole wide shoulder thing is becoming increasingly old.
As with so many of these episodes, there was a tension too between the really great performances and the embarrassing dialogue. Example: No Angels' Louise Delamere sparkles away throughout the episode proving once again that she's one of the nation's hidden treasures and (I can't believe I'm typing this) actually some of the scenes with Burn Gorman had a light romantic touch. Except they're in the middle of one of the endless bed scenes, just as we're actually beginning to fall for the two of them, he gives a speech talking about how he's obsessed with her clothes, her look, what she's thinking about and oh yes, the face she makes when she cums, which strands the scene as you're simply not able to listen to anything else as you try to deal with the implications of that. It might sound real, and I'm sure it's perfectly good pillow talk in some homes, but it kills the mood of the scene stone dead. Was there any need for it?
The inability to close out an episode satisfactorily continues. In a bizarre coincidence, all three of the time travellers (whose connection at no point had been explained) decided to make big life (or death) decision at roughly the same time. It was almost as though they could tell that the episode was coming to a close. Although all television dramas with multiple plot-lines suffer from this issue (see nearly every episode of Boston Legal) here it jarred because with perhaps the exception of Emma none of them seemed to have a reason to make the decision right there and then. Diane didn't fly off because she'd heard about the death of John for example which would have made sense. And speaking of John what are we to make of Jack's decision to let him kill himself and actually sit in the car and watch? I can't decide if I really hate Jack now. And what are his colleagues going to make of the decision? Watching the series you'd never know (although reading the website you might). I guarantee it won't be mentioned next week.
I wonder if I've entirely lost perspective and I'm just off looking for flaws and unable to enjoy the show for what it's purporting to be. Whenever I write these reviews I'm always analysing the storytelling, how it fits within the overall structure of the series, the disappointments. Perhaps when I rewatch this I will be able to pay closer attention to the incidental pleasures -- the reappearance of Rees, Owen's charm (for once), the great performances. But I can't sit here and lie and say that I enjoyed these fifty minutes when I spent most of them literally groaning and shouting at the screen like a madman or a football fan watching their team go down five-nil in the FA Cup.
I just keep hearing that opening introduction:
"Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on earth and arming the human race against the future. The 21st century is when everything changes... and you've gotta be ready."
And wondering when we're actually going to get to see that series. That series sounds great.
Now that it's all done and dusted, what sequence would you recommend watching the six Stars Wars films? Although I've tried, I still can't watch them in I,II,III,IV etc order ?
When Sky recently, having gained the rights to the whole Star Wars chronicle from the Murdoch mothership, announced they would be broadcasting the shebang from the start everyone expected it to be the first time that the films would appear mini-series like in chapter order. Then they trotted out, what will be called A New Hope (just to save confusion) followed by the rest of classic trilogy and then dovetailed into the fall of the Jedi. This underlines that in the new age actually watching the series from prequels to sequels is not necessarily the 'correct order' to some.
I had planned to watch all six films in both orders to compare and contrast but since that would mean I'd have, once again to sit through:
I. The Phantom Menace
I've decided to write this from memory and hope that you'll forgive any inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
I can absolutely understand the argument for watching the films IV,V,VI,I,II & III. For a start you're beginning with (as the tv show Spaced memorably described them) 'the three good Star Wars films' which in and of themselves tell a perfectly good coherent story. It doesn't feel like anything is missing - it's not half of a narrative. It's literally a textbook narrative, with countless academic texts explaining the work of Vladmir Propp and Levi Strauss using the films to explain such things as standard use of characters, the concept of binary opposites and quest structure. People have even written coursework on the subject.
In addition, having at least rewatched the opening of both The Phantom Menace and A New Hope, I can't imagine how anyone would be able to follow the former without having seen the latter since vital exposition such as who the Jedi are is missing. Such concepts are slowly layered into Episode Four, but in Episode One it's simply assumed that the audience has an awareness of them already - in fact I'm not sure, even during the Jedi Council scene, that who the Jedi actually are is even explained. Note that Little Lord Anakin asking what midichlorians are doesn't count.
This is only relevant though, to people who've not seen any of the films and are having to deal with writer George Lucas's interesting attitude to exposition. The rest of us who've grown up with the films can approach them in a different way which is why I'm going to advocate that actually, despite the opening hour or so, you really should watch these films in the order that he intended, in episode order, I thru VI.
When Revenge of the Sith was being marketed, Lucasfilm emphasized that this would be completing the tale and the closing moments of that film reassert the icons of A New Hope, creating both a kind of nostalgia for the fans but also joining the two films together seamlessly. In addition, on the dvd for The Phantom Menace its stated quite clearly that in watching the prequels it'll become apparent that Star Wars, has always been about the fall of Anakin Skywalker and his eventual rise again in the final episode, the implication being that the title Return of the Jedi has a double meaning, not only because Luke becomes a Jedi Master but also because (and I don't think I'm spoiling anything) his Dad switches out of the dark side at the end when he saves his son and therefore a new potential Jedi order. Which is fine and actually quite sweet.
The nay-sayers suggest though, that the whole story isn't about Anakin - for this to be a whole complete story about him, he would need to be the main protagonist from the off and he's a good guy in the 'earlier' films and the dark lord of evil later. But actually one of the very clever things that Lucas has done with the prequel trilogy is to (despite the above pronouncement) keep Anakin as a supporting character and in the sweep of six the apparent main character in each film essentially shifts - from Qui-Gon Jinn to Obi-Wan to Luke to Han and back to Luke with their stories being the main focus. A case could be made though for the whole legend being a grand ensemble picture with other characters and stories shifting in and out, with the rise and fall of Anakin being just one of many.
Under these conditions, the yarn is very similar in structure to Richard Attenborough's war film A Bridge Too Far which tells the metastory of Operation Market Garden (the failed Allied attempt to break through German lines at Arnhem in the occupied Netherlands during World War II), with smaller, sometimes self contained acts of bravery described in between. Like Ben Kenobi in Star Wars, Lt. Col. J.O.E. Vandeleur (Michael Caine) is vitally important and has lots of screen time in the very beginning but disappears only to reappear briefly at the end. Like Lando, Major Julian Cook (Robert Redford) only appears towards the very end for vital bit of daring-do. And like Lt. Gen. Browning (Dirk Bogarde) who stage manages the whole sorry mess from the sidelines, it's Senator Palpatine/Darth Sideous/The Emperor/whatever he's calling himself this week in Star Wars who manipulates the development of the Empire only to let his own careless arrogance seed its downfall. Or whatever.
This truly makes the six films one story, not a quest of Lord of the Rings proportions but an epic in a similar style to The Godfather or one of the great Russian housebrick shaped books and really should be viewed as such. It's like a giant space soap opera, with personal stories weaving in and out of the rise and fall of the Empire -- love stories here, detective stories there. As Aiden Wasley notes, it could be 'The Greastest Postmodern Art Film Ever'. It's also why Lucas continues to tinker with the trilogy we know trying to make them as cohesive a story as possible and why the Ewok music was replaced at the close Return of the Jedi with shots from throughout the galaxy and a new, much more epic score from John Williams; it's closing up a much grander saga.
So the next Comic Relief single will feature the Sugababes vs. Girls Aloud which is fantastic idea for charity. I predict a riot amongst the fans. Imagine what an All Saints vs. Spice Girls version of this would have looked like back in the day ...
Actually a very cool extrapolation of the franchise in animated form. I would imagine that to some Trek fans it would be about as shocking as 'Death Comes To Time' was to Who fans, but it this seems much better thought out and canonical.
It's probably true and there's a pie chart to prove it. This year my cards featured Bagpuss or a snowy scene with tradional Pillar Box and Telephone Kiosk.
"With 280 milligrams of caffeine per 8.4 ounce can, it almost has three times the amount of caffeine in a can of Red Bull. I’m typing this at 3 o’clock in the morning and I’m frickin’ wired."
It's the art equivalent of the out of date stock sales they have in branch libraries.
"Both Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre, Paris' leading museums, are joining the cinematic world by underwriting films by internationally-acclaimed directors." Sounds beautiful.
"8:22pm - It's Tim Curry and the cast of Spamalot. I reach for the Sky+ remote then remember I'm watching in real time and there is no escape from the infomercial."
Don't forget Spike Lee's film is showing over two nights on BBC Four. Part One is on Monday 18 December 9pm-11.10pm with Part Two: Tuesday 19 December 9pm-11.10pm (although they may be repeated BBC Four does that a lot).
Posted on Sunday, December 17, 2006
Melissa of frizzworld asks:
What's the next new thing that's being talked as something that's going to 'revolutionize' our lives in say 6 - 10 years time? It can be in any sphere you like.
The reason the answer to this question has not quickly been forthcoming is that every time I've begun writing about something I think is either radical or interesting but logical, it becomes apparent that its already happening and has already created a revolution. I even wrote four paragraphs about how television channels will cease to exist and programmes will simply be selected not unlike people clicking through links on the internet when I remembered the adverts for Sky+ that seem to be on everywhere.
The problem I've inevitably been having is that I'm attempting to select something that's consciously the result of human achievement, scientific, artistic, whatever - the attempt to produce something life changing. What I should have been looking at is the inadvertent, something which is happening all around us which is a direct result of human achievement, but in a bad way. I'm sorry folks, but I'm going to be talking about the weather.
Of course, the weather isn't a new thing and I'm not sure it's what Melissa was really thinking about, but the new thing in this context is what the weather on Earth is going to become. Obviously, since I'm not a globe trotter (yet) I can't really talk about what's happening anywhere else. I'm not a scientist and I'm not going to pretend to be simply because I know that some of you are. It's simply that I was watching the rolling news channels a few days ago and saw that a tornado had hit parts of North London. In Britain, England, this seems very wrong to me.
Then this morning when we went out to buy a Christmas tree we passed through a part and already noted the appearance of daffodil bugs through the grass apparently two months earlier than normal. At the tree shop we were commenting on how tall the trees were but also how they lacked girth. The tree seller explained that because of the unusually warm weather the tree are growing higher than normal because they're not being held back by the branches that usually spread to capture what sunlight they can during the cold weather. The Christmas trees are wrong this year too.
The seasons are becoming increasingly -- flexible. In a few years, because of climate change, Spring and sadly Autumn or Fall will lose their particular identities. Somewhere in April or May the really cold weather will give way to really hot weather and it'll be mild right through to November when the temperature will drop and we'll wonder what hit us until the following April. This year, Autumn seemed to last about a fortnight.
The flat were I live overlooks the park and for the decade and half that I've been living here, in September the trees have gone the lovely various shades of brown and orange that I love. This year I think the process began as late as mid-November and they only fell from the trees in one night of particular bracing wind at the beginning of December. What was once a gradual process took a matter of weeks. As I was walking back from a night out, the whole pavement and road were covered in a mass of leaves and I actually had to wade through them.
I'm willing to concede that this might be perceptual - that it only looks that way and next year everything will be back to normal. But I really don't think so, unless everything levels itself out and environmental initiatives actually work. But the question asks how this will revolutionise our daily lives.
The word implies a positive change, at least that's the sense in which it's used by politicians in relation to the health service and by newspapers when reporting some new medical breakthrough. But actually it can relate to any complete change and unfortunately that's what we're seeing. Rather than talk about how nature will alter, though, I'm going to concentrate on how I think it'll effect us people.
The change could be as simple as not knowing what to wear when you go out. It used to be that pretty much everyone shopping or going about their daily lives in a city centre would be wearing similar clothing - warm coats in the winter, t-shirts in the summer. Now everything is mixed up, because put simply, getting dressed in the morning has become such a random process.
I might have found a magic jumper which somehow manages to be warm or let the air out whatever the weather but that didn't stop me from putting on a coat the other day as well and absolutely baking. I'm not saying this kind of thing didn't go on before it just seems to be happening with increasing regularity. BBC Radio Four's weekday lunchtime programme You & Yours in waggish mood the other week did a whole entire slot on this and called it SCD or Seasonal Clothing Disorder.
In the long term it could see cultural shifts - along with the increase in available home entertainment - people will begin to spend more time at home rather than going out during the winter. Again I can see this happening now - during the winter, especially when students have flooded the city, the city centre used to be at breaking point in the evening. Now as I pass through on my way home, I'll persistently be told by taxi drivers in small talk that 'It's been quiet in town tonight. It hasn't been chocker in weeks.' It's too bloody cold.
The flop of this is the summer, when I suspect it'll start to get busier as people who would have flown abroad for holidays, with new environmental policy led price increases on low cost airlines, will stay in the uk, and there will be a renaissance in British holidays. People will still travel but it'll be far more of a special occasion than the ten trips a year I've heard of some people and even families taking. But they'll stay in cities, with destinations such as Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow making the biggest gains.
Again, you could equally say that this behaviour is already in place - that the city centres are empty in the winter because people aren't staying at home but going on holiday. And that the summer nights will be busy because it's warmer. But I think they're just the opening shifts. In time it'll become much clearer. And because these are social changes affecting the young, they will become habit and as those youngsters become older it'll become ingrained.
Counter to Gil Scott Heron's expectations, the revolution will be televised, especially during weather forecasts.