TV The last time I went abroad was to Paris, just over ten years ago.
Now, I could sit here and type a list of reasons why I wanted to go, but in reality it’s probably for the same reason plenty of Doctor Who fans visit Paris.
City of Death.
Tom and Lalla falling in love off screen as they rush around Paris on screen fighting the might Scaroth. It was my favourite story. Still is.
So when I became a fan again, I knew there was one place I wanted to go in the world that I could broadly speaking afford and I designed my trip to pretty much go everywhere the TARDIS team do, to see the Mona Lisa, travel on the metro, a café, though not it has to be said, a dungeon in a château though Le Defence was roughly the same thing.
The younger version of me has already written about the trip on this blog and the original posts are still here.
Above all I wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower and stand in the same place as Tom and Lalla and look out across Paris.
As I explain in the original post, the process of visiting the tower was everything I expected, with the queues, the tourists and the tourists kissing in the queues.
What I hadn’t expected was my rare moment of spontaneity. The night before I’d actually watched City of Death and transcribed the Eiffel Tower scene so I could include it on a surprise postcard home having not told friends I was going.
Standing in that spot, looking out the same view they had, I decided that there was only one thing I had to do. So I fished the transcribed scene from my pocket, opened it out, and began to read.
THE DOCTOR and his companion ROMANA stand on the top of the Eifel Tower in Paris looking down at view below.
Doctor : Nice isn't it?
Romana : Yes, marvellous.
Doctor : Marvellous, absolutely.
Romana : Absolutely marvellous.
Doctor : Well I think it's marvellous.
Romana : So do I. Though it's not quite as you described it.
Doctor : Really? How did I describe it?
Romana : You said it was nice!
Doctor : It's the only place in the world where one can relax entirely.
Romana : Mmm! That bouquet!
Doctor : What Paris has... It has an ethos. It has a life. A.....
Romana : A bouquet?
Doctor : A spirit all of its own. Like a white wine, it has...
Romana : A bouquet?
Doctor : It has a bouquet. Yes. Like a good wine. You'd have to choose one of vintage years of course.
Romana : What year is this?
Doctor : Ah well, yes. It's 1979 actually. More of a table wine shall we say? Hah! The randomiser’s a useful device but it lacks true discrimination. Should we sip it and see?
Romana : Ooh! I'd be delighted. Shall we take the lift or fly?
Doctor : Lets not be ostentatious.
Romana : Alright. Lets fly then.
Doctor : That would look silly. We'll take the lift. Come on.
Cut to ...
My Tom Baker impression was only serviceable; Jon Culshaw with a cold. My Lalla Ward was non-existent. I didn't read it that loudly, mostly due to embarrassment.
Now, I think I would have gone right at it, a full on, scarf wearing performance.
But I was meek, then, but still loud enough that when I’d finished, an American bloke turned to me, later he tells me his name is Bob, and asked me what I'd been doing.
“Were you sermonizing?” Bob asked.
“No.” I said.
“What was that?”
“Erm … did you ever see Doctor Who?”
Now remember, this was 2002, three whole years before the show returned to television and ten years before it arguably broke into the US in any kind of meaningful way. But I remember Bob knowing what Doctor Who was, unless he was just humouring me
I ended up telling him the whole story. About Tom and Lalla. About how it was filmed just where he was standing. He asked for a photo. I got one to.
Then he tottered off, his wife close behind, leaving me to take in, yes, the bouquet, and realising that over the next three days I would be sampling the rest too.
Later in the cafe (tick) I enjoyed a coffee and chocolate waffle and wrote some postcards, dabbing it in my messy chocolate drips on the table in an attempt to send some taste of Paris home. There was a post office on the tower and I posted them there. A Euro for the two. In all I probably spent about two and a half hours up there, but it seemed like years.
The experience was not unlike Christmas Afternoon. All of that build up and it's over in minutes.
As I queued for the lift down, I heared a familiar voice behind me.
‘Oooh look Mary – it’s Doctor Who….’