He wasn't sure.

Life To offer something of a clue to my vocation, I only work nine months of the year. I get paid for the twelve which is a double edged sword for various reasons. Look it's complicated. Anyway, so all you need to know is at this time of year we have a last day of work and as far as we knew it was tomorrow.

Then we got to work today and found out that as far as people who aren't us knew it was last week. Which meant we'd turned up without actually needing to. I have done this before -- misread a rota, misunderstood a shift swap and there I am in a manager's office looking foolish. At least on this occasion everyone was there and no one could really decide who was right.

Half an hour after reaching work I'm walking away again. The feeling is not unlike one of those days as school when you'd arrive and the heating was broken or the toilets had frozen over or the teachers were on strike and you were sent home. It didn't seem right -- I felt like I was skiving. I still feel like I should be going to work tomorrow. I had nothing planned for this weekend. I didn't really get the time back either because I didn't know what do with it so couldn't use it to the best advantage. What to do...

I went to John Lewis to ask about one of their bargain computers. I'd called them yesterday and they'd said there was a £250 Hewlett Packard desktop pc on display in the Liverpool shop. Inevitably they had some in stock but no demonstration models and the salesman who served me was really helpful but couldn't tell me much about it, other than that it was fast enough to run Vista. He didn't even really know how fast the chip inside was. I told him I already had a 1.6 giger and he said it might be the same. He wasn't sure.

Anyone ever order a computer from Dell? How did that go?


TV Sorry Mr Tennant, I don't actually have first memory of Doctor Who. Actually I generally draw a blank on whole sections of my childhood and I have a horrible feeling that like the shadows that follow Jim Carrey about during the eternal sunshine of his spotless mind every now and then whole decades are doomed to become blurry, only memorable through the application of my videos of the 'I Love...' series of the early naughties. Who knows, in about ten years time I might look back at this review and ponder exactly where it came from.

What I can say is that somewhere along the line, I drifted from reading Topsy & Tim books, Grimm's Fairy Tales and a book of Greek legends to John Masefield and C S Lewis and then on to Doctor Who (and then to He-Man and Transformers and Star Trek and then back to Doctor Who when I matured) but that I didn't see a difference between them. They were all fantasies firing the imagination of the younger version of me in different yet similar ways.

If I did have to really strain my brain, I do remember a POV shot of Leela with a knife prowling through corridors only to fall over K9 at some point, but I don't even know if that was in an episode or something I dreamed. There's a miasmatic process I think that happens where your childhood memories of watching stories somehow become mingled with watching the UK Gold repeats, where the vividity of the original happening becomes mixed with the later viewings. Did I really see Tom Baker regenerating under a pylon all those years ago or just assume I did?

But something else that happens is that you begin to take these things too seriously. If you're so inclined (and most of the people reading this will be) somewhere along the line the fantasy begins to break down and you can see those sets and special effects and production problems and you stop being able to take some of the scary bits seriously. Paradoxically though a percentage of those people (probably the one wondering where this is leading and whether I'll be offering an opinion of tonight's episode any time soon) find another way of taking it seriously, carefully putting them all into a continuity, rigidifying the continuity and searching for inconsistencies.

I used to be like that. I'd wonder why after all of these alien invasions there are still people living in the south-east of England let alone the capital; the chance of mortality must be miles higher than the national average. If it was a rational Whoniverse, the top story on BBC Breakfast (because it's always some kind of Daily Mail-friendly shock statistic) would be 'People in London are 30% more likely to die from an alien invasion than people in the north. In Wales the percentage is greatly reduced and Scotland, apart from a minor incident, is unaffected'. I'd rip my hair out about UNIT continuity and the fact that Britney Spear's single 'Toxic' survived eons longer than her actual pop career and that Shane Ward was only releasing (his surely brief) greatest hits album in 2012.

But somewhere in the middle of the past fortnight's triumphant story, somewhere in the middle of the flash forward to John Smith's potential life I remembered. It is a fairy tale. It is all a fairy tale. A wonderful, magnificent fairytale. It's also, myths and legends and half remembered anecdotes. It doesn't need to be consistent. There doesn't need to be some great continuity because there isn't supposed to be. And it knows. Time and again, in the new series and the old series and the spin-offs between all of this has been referred to. And if you you keep this in mind, the subject of whether two versions of Human Nature can exist in the same canon and this week how two different Sally Sparrows can help the Doctor disappear. It's just the same story being told in range different of ways.

It also means that you don't get yourself in the kind of twist that a correspondent gets himself into in SFX magazine this month trying to work out how Martha can come from a future that doesn't exist yet forgets that the series is about a man who flies through time and space in a police box as if that's acceptable. Isn't it interesting that people will do this but they don't sit around debunking the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk or what Rapunzel does when she needs to spend a penny.

Why not treat Doctor Who the same way? Tonight's episode Blink is tied up using what I think some people call a predestination paradox. Sally gave the Doctor a list of the dvds she once owned, a transcript for a conversation and other related gubbins for an adventure he hasn't had yet and which he'll need in order to bring himself home -- but which he wouldn't know that he needed until she gave them to him. Within the episode the explanation given is that essentially time is complicated (basically the explanation I was giving for years when I was taking this stuff seriously) its all 'big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff ' or whatever. But the better explanation is -- it's a fantastic, epic idea and caps off a really entertaining episode in the same way that a princess kissing a frog turns him into a human. With a bit of the Back to the Future theme on the soundtrack. In other words, Mr Paul Cornell, I'm with you. There is no canon. And I love that you managed to post that blog entry without actually mentioning what probably caused it -- Human Nature redux.

Which is all why my fanboy glow (or whatever Sean Alexander called it) has returned. Why I can deal with the appearance of another army of marching whatevers and the repeated appearance of mind control. They're for the kids. Everything else, the big huge, as Steven Moffat said in tonight's Doctor Who Confidential, movie sized fairytale concepts are for the rest of us, and if the two can fit together as has happened this past three weeks, so much the better. Plus in Blink the weeping angels marched off camera and somehow managed to be even more terrifying -- the illusion of movement created through editing and repositioning of statues, mimicking the blinking of the eye. Hitchcock used similar techniques throughout his career, where its what the mind thinks its seeing that terrifies -- everyone thinks they see Janet Leigh being stabbed in the shower scene in Psycho and at no point to you actually see the knife puncturing the skin.

Of course it also helps that we've had such a good run of episodes ... about the only duff chapter we've had this year was the one where I had my wobble, Evolution of the Daleks and I think that was probably because of the half-decent build up. Blink continued that run in fine style with its Primer-style time travel escapades, wonderful script which was an excellent cross between The Twilight Zone and those chilling Christmas ghost stories and intelligent dialogue and characterisation. I think this is the first story to be script edited by Gary Russell and it was impeccably paced, every scene dragging the plot forward. Certainly it's not a new concept (it's unfortunate that the BBC decided to show Frequency recently which did some of the same things) but like the other shows this series without really new ideas, it presented itself with such panache and punch it didn't matter. Once again we received a climax outside of the main narrative designed to scare the bejesus out of kids. Although I also think that having kids not being able to take their eyes of public art is also an amazing way of introducing them to a bit of culture.

Overall, director Hettie MacDonald brought a visual palette to the episode very unlike the house style we've come to expect which made it look totally unlike an episode of nu-Who which is probably what made it even more special. As well as the Hitchcockian editing style, there were transitions, crane shots, push ins, everything looked like it was location (which is also a complement to the lighting team who worked on the house interiors) and the contemporary scenes all looked like they were happening now, unlike most episodes which seem to be happening in a Whoniverse version of now for the first time since the seventies, scuzzy and dark and not afraid to be grimy in places. If Murray Gold's music now and then seemed to have intruded from his score for Rose and Moffat's own sitcom Joking Apart it somehow never worked against the visuals even though they were cry out for a bit of the Bernard Hermanns.

The other reason I'm warming again to new Doctor Who is the approach to performances or more particularly the fact that in the main unlike the old series, most of the characters act like human beings. Given the material and the fact they you're in Doctor Who, the temptation for most actors must be to go large (see Torchwood). But Carey Mulligan's perfectly measured work expertly carried the episode and actually at no point did you feel the absence of the Doctor which is no mean feat in a series which is supposed to be about him. Sure, the script had something to do with that ... and indeed now and then, perhaps intentionally you saw in her flashes of his questing approach to a problem ... but Mulligan had an instant likeability and grace (I know, I'm gushing). But that empathy spread across what was a surprisingly small cast with even a small character like Larry Nightingale given weight because of Finlay Robertson's charisma. How can I dislike any show that week in and out casts so well?

I would imagine, like those of you I mentioned in the brackets earlier who where waiting for me to get around to reviewing the episode, there'll be some wondering why they're watching the story of a cute middle class girl for so longer before David Tennant arrives in person but more fool them. The rest of us are enjoying this spectacular format bender which if it had been a US show would have been presumed to be a backdoor pilot ... in much the same way that Assignment: Earth showcased a new format that didn't fly in classic Star Trek. But unlike the Gary Seven character in that thing, I'd love to see the further adventures of Sally Sparrow (the best companion The Doctor never had) and her best friend's brother, perhaps searching for the fate of all the people whose cars ended up in the police store, especially if it was as well crafted as this, and I don't think it would be too ITV. Any chance of an Easter special where they meet up with Elton and his paving slab and they go on an adventure together?

So yes, in short (or in this case long) as if it wasn't apparent already I'm back. One of the themes of Blink was that it doesn't matter when you live your life, so long as you do something with it. Even the Doctor and Martha seemed to settle down whilst trapped in the past City on the Edge of Forever-style ('I'm working in a shop to support 'im...') living their lives until they could be saved. That's a great philosophy and I can't think of anything better than spending some of my life watching and loving this new series of Doctor Who. And unlike the seventies, when I do start to forget the details I'll have the dvds to remind me of what I've forgotten. Unlike half the people speaking on Confidential tonight whose first memories of the series have apparently been wiped from the BBC archives...

Next week: Captain Jack's back and I can't wait to hear how they're going to explain what he's been doing to a family audience.

Sorry explain to a family audience what he's been doing.

All in the eyes.

Art So yes, I visited Sudley House in Liverpool on Tuesday as I continue to work my way through the Public Art Collections in North West England book. Its recently re-opened after a couple of years of restoration, renovation and redevelopment and unlike most of these visits I managed to be there and back in a morning.

It helped that it was within walking distance, about half an hour away from home – well actually longer since I somehow managed to get lost in Sefton Park on the way (which considering I’ve been living next to it for over fifteen years is something only I could do).

You can read about some of the history of the house at the National Museums Liverpool website. It’s the only surviving merchants house from the period with most of its original features and art collection intact. The building is now straddles the formats of a National Trust style recreation of the period on the ground floor and an exhibition space on the floor above.

Downstairs, even with the replacement furniture (the originals were apparently sold off in the 1940s) you can definitely get a flavour of what it must have been like for the Holt family in this time when people entertained themselves and visitors. You could imagine them idyllically collecting in the Morning Room, the view of the grounds through the window. About the only thing which spoils the illusion are the slightly incongruous but undoubtedly educational plasma screens in some of the rooms featuring actors playing members of the family and their help.

It has to be said that George Holt had an eye for the ladies since most of the paintings in the collection are of the fairer sex, either members of his family or in works illustrating myths and literature. ‘In A Convent Garden’ by George Dunlip Leslie is a love picture of what looks like a society girl hiding below a low wall with a lute out of the way of a Mother Superior. Also striking is ‘A Girl With A Basket of Apples’ from Hugues Merle, a woman with an angular face but bottomless eyes following you about the room.

The pearls of the collection and the discovery for me is the work of the interestingly named John Melhuish Strudwick a follower of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones. Frankly that’s a bit like saying Oasis sound like The Beatles but glancing at 'O Swallow, Swallow' for the first time before glancing at the provided information sheets I thought it was Burne-Jones, so close in aspect is it to a work at Leeds Art Gallery (I’m learning to speak Edwardian). I suppose what divorces the styles of the two painters are the faces – even though Burne-Jones painted stylised figures there was always a glimpse of humanity in the eyes – whereas these Strudwicks all have a slightly vacant expression.

Upstairs in Sudley is now split into three main areas. As education room featuring a collection of period children’s toys, a neat display of women’s costumes that would have been worn by Holt’s contemporaries and a temporary exhibition space, currently showing images of the interiors of lost Victorian and Edwardian mansions from throughout the local area. For some this will be an exciting way to compare the interior designs of the past with the present. But for me it was an eye opening exercise as I saw a range of painting which now deck the walls of the Walker and Lady Lever Art Galleries within their original domestic setting. Imagine having Adam and Eve at ‘The Tree of Forgiveness’ looking down on you as you munch through your breakfast.

"I can't believe it's not Doctor Who..."

Elsewhere Yes, it's at the Hamlet blog again, this time a review, my thirteenth production, unlucky for some etc. In other news, I have resolved to buy a new desktop computer using some of my savings. Any recommendations? Are the cheap(ish) Dells any good?

13 Derek Jacobi

Hamlet played by Derek Jacobi
Directed by Rodney Bennett

I knew when I began this process that there would be certain 'tentpole' productions, so renowned that I'd want to save them and relish them. The BBC Shakespeare Hamlet is one such presentation with its central performance from Derek Jacobi, Patrick Stewart's Claudius and Claire Bloom's Gertrude. But for this fanboy there's an extra level of interest because glancing through the cast list beforehand it would be quite easy to say 'I can't believe it's not Doctor Who'.

In casting terms that means Geoffrey Beavers who played the Doctor's nemesis The Master during the eighties, Lalla Ward (Ophelia), who famously companioned Tom Baker's timelord as Romana (before marrying him in real life) and Jacobi who would later go on to play a version of the Doctor on an audio cd (Deadline), The Master in an animated story for the BBC website (The Scream of the Shalka) and is soon to appear in an episode of the new television series (Utopia).

But a range of actors who filled bit part roles in Hamlet would go on to do the same in Who. Geoffrey Bateman (Guildenstern) played Dymond in The Nightmare of Eden), Emrys James (First Player) was Aukon in State of Decay, Peter Burroughs (Player) was the Jester in The King's Demons, Peter Benson (Second Gravedigger) essayed the role of Bor in Terminus, Stuart Fell (Player) has been a whole vast range of different characters including Alpha Centuri in The Curse of Peladon and Reginald Jessop (Messenger) was type cast as a Servant in a number of episodes.

That connection continues behind the camera as the production is kinetically directed by Rodney Bennett who helmed a range of stories for that series in the same period (The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment and The Masque of Mandragora), the fights were co-ordinated by B.H. Barry (The Mind Robber and Four To Doomsday) and the vision mixed by Shirley Coward (The Tenth Planet and Remembrance of the Daleks). The music too is supplied by that series' main composer during the Baker era, Dudley Simpson and indeed one of the few distractions is when Simpson's familiar brass section clashes in between acts or scenes, so redolant of a cliff hanger or the attack of a Wyrrrn.

This is a wonderful production. Tied though it is to the BBC drama department's idiom of the time, all studio bound, multi-camera setups shot on video, it straddles the divide between pure theatre and television and is one of the jewels in the BBC Shakespeare series, so traditional in many ways but radical in others. Perhaps acknowledging the limitations of the medium, Bennett favours performances over setting, a decision that pays dividends.

Series producer Cedric Messina's hope was that the big roles should be played by renowned actors and Jacobi certainly fitted the bill, having seen him in a famous 1977 West End production (more on which at a later date). At the planned time of taping, Jacobi was contracted to play Richard II on stage, so Messina waited until he would be free and thank goodness he did -- this recording captures one of the best characterisations of the role I've ever seen.

I don't I've seen Jacobi give a poor performance -- even in Evolution: Underworld he managed to keep his dignity. What makes this so special is that the actor absolutely understands the range of emotions that Hamlet is dragged through and is able to successfully layer in the sheer frustration of not being able to carry out his dead father's wishes either because of the situation or his own falabilities. Watch his face during The Mousetrap as he realises that his uncle hasn't reacted to the mime of the death of Gonzago and that he'll actually have to talk him through the deed, hammering home the message that he knows of the murder.

He's so very vulnerable too, slightly nervous, never entirely sure of his actions even when he's addressing the audience during soliloques; rather like other fourth wall breakers in such films as High Fidelity, Alfie or Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there's a bond of trust between him and us as he imparts his feelings -- a connection which isn't granted to Claudius when he too sits alone and faces the emotional consequences of his actions (Stewart looks away from the lense even in close up). Only towards the end does Hamlet's loyaly really shift to his good friend Horatio, loyally played by Robert Swann with just a hint of homo-erotic tension.

It's also a very droll turn as Jacobi mines the seam of black comedy that Shakespeare has threaded through the dialogue that I've seen so few other actors take advantage of. Some moments are laugh out loud funny, such as his treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, here portayed as nothing more than acquantances suddenly dropping in unannounced rather like that email you sometimes get from someone you hardly knew at school who's signed up to Friends Reunited.

Some of this is made possible because of the choice to use a near complete text, allowing the actors the space to provide a more complete pschological arc for their characters. In this reading Claudius becomes a full blooded antagonist with almost as much screen time as Hamlet, Stewart relishing the opportunity to show both sides of the character, the public statesman who is privately guilt ridden. That tension is particularly clear in his dealings with a grief stricken Laertes (David Robb), nervously turning parental and sibling loss to his advantage.

There's certainly a grey area as to who the audience should be sympathising with. Although Claudius's murder of Hamlet Snr is inconscionable there's an inferance that he took the action for the good of the country to help the peace process with Fortinbras who to my understanding lost part of his kingdom in a previous war. To an extent it's almost as though Hamlet isn't seeing the bigger picture, putting his own revenge plot ahead of the country's needs, Denmark's strength. This production makes plain that if Hamlet Snr hadn't visited his son the stable status quo would have continued -- it's Hamlet Jnr's plans which lead to the death of a family and the downfall of the kingdom. Comedy, tragedy, irony.

It's no pleasure though to report that I don't think Lalla Ward's Ophelia really works. Perhaps it's because her noble Romana in Doctor Who is so effective that here she seems defeated by the text, never once coming across as really being Laertes sister or in love with Hamlet. Only later, during the descent into madness does the performance gain power but even then it's a forced mess of histrionics. Claire Bloom's Gertrude, by contrast, exudes nobility and a surprising eroticism (frankly she's a babe). Throughout there's an implication that her marriage with old Hamlet was rather boring one and her shift to his brother not too difficult a choice and indeed that the bond with her son was broken long before his father's death.

As Susan Willis notes in her wonderful book, The BBC Shakespeare Plays: Making The Canon, from an initial push to produce backdrops that attempt to create a realistic period setting for each of the plays, as the productions drifted onward, taste shifted from representation to abstract with Don Homfray's designs for Hamlet being one of the first experiments. The exteriors then occur in a large empty studio, a grey void ringed with flooring at a slight incline, filled with mist for the battlement scenes, the sounds of the sea for the departing of Laertes and soil and a grave for Ophelia's funeral (which includes the sight of poor Lalla wrapped in drapes lying actually in the grave with mud dropped on top of her).

The interiors are even more experimental. Partitians have been painted with columns and vistas, bookshelves and libraries, paintings and wardrobes but they're generally used without regard for what's on them. During the scene when Claudius and Polonius spy on Hamlet's disposition with Ophelia they hide behind a wall with a landscape painted on to imply the view from the palace and Hamlet opens up the wall to see if he can find them hiding. It's the representation of a palace without regard for its geography which is by turns confusing and exhilirating and could be interpreted as an example of Hamlet losing his grip on reality, of the details of his surroundings losing their importance in comparison to his cause.

Having bought the boxset, I'm slowly working my way through all of these BBC Shakespeare 'performances', geekily in production order minus the histories which I'm going to watch together at the end. Some have been better than others but I wouldn't describe any of them as awful. Inevitably I've loved the Measure for Measure and the As You Like It is far from the disaster its reputation suggests (with it just see a young Helen Mirren and an old David Prowse acting in the same scene). If the Romeo and Juliet shows signs of early nerves, Twelfth Night is a lovely romp and The Tempest has real power. But I think this Hamlet almost towers above them all and will be hard to beat.

[Updated 07/12/2012!  BBC Worldwide has now made this Hamlet available to watch on YouTube.]

"I can't believe it's not Doctor Who..."

TV As they say on ebay, Doctor Who interest. Just thought you might like to read this review I've posted elsewhere of Utopia's Derek Jacobi in the 1980 BBC Shakespeare production of Hamlet. Warning -- contains paragraphs of stunning geekery as I list all of the actors and crew members who've ever had anything to do with the series.


Life Snazzle-razzle-rick rastedly. I visited Sudley House, the merchant house in Liverpool this morning and although I was going to surprise you with a review this ancient computer of mine crashed towards the end of the writing and since I'm stuck using wordpad which I'd forgotten doesn't have an autosave feature I lost the whole thing. I really need to get a new computer. Really, really.

The debate about the Olympic logo rattles on. It does indeed look like Lisa Simpson doing something unmentionable to some bloke and as Tom notes the cover of an old NOW album. This Tiswas comparison isn't that far off the mark either. As soon as a I saw the apparently 'better' moving version it reminded me of the opening title sequence of Going Live echoed by someone in this amusing Metafilter thread -- that's having to be edited too because it could cause epilepsy.

It's very easy to criticise something that's obviously taken months to design and been through countless consultations, but reading the defensive retoric of the likes of Seb Coe there's a definite element of emperor's new clothes at work, of a gulf between what the Olympic Committee are saying is implied by the image and the reality. If you're older than a young person you have to be careful when you're trying to suggest what might inspire a young person. Considering how dated the thing looks it seem apt to mention David Owen's rap during a general election in the eighties.

This won't go away. Over the next five years I would expect that it'll be redesigned again when it's shown not to be having the desired effect, or relegated during ad campaigns for something far simpler, font based and future proof. Like the dome, so far the London Olympics has lacked a single clear voice and message, too many people with their own ideas all being listened to and agreed with at the same time. There is the potential that everything will be sorted out by 2012 and it'll be a massive success, but it's going to take a few changes and less egos in suits for that to happen.


Jobs I've just read this. Any ideas what exactly this job, with a title of 'researcher' actually entails (other than, cough, research)?:
"As part of the RRT, you will support and exploit synergies [...] gathering scenarios and use cases from projects, liaising with other national and international repositories activities, synthesizing project and programme outcomes, and engaging with interoperability standards activity and repository architectures. Some travel is envisaged."
Is this a case of if you can understand the job description you're half way there?


Life So I'm back in a holding pattern, keeping myself active whilst I look for some extra work during the week which is why the Hamlet blog is busy of late -- I'm trying to keep my brain active. Plus and feel free to hurl suggestions (or insults) but something at the back of my mind suggests there might be a book in that there weblog (even though I haven't the first idea of what to do about it or who to talk to).

I'm Not Dead

Elsewhere Hamlet cropped up in the slightly underwhelming second series of Dead Like Me and I've written about it here. I'm six episodes in and it feels like it's treading water and the storyline about Georgia's family is very nice in places but feels like its from a completely different show. It just seems less funny than it used to be and really misses Bryan Fuller's wit. Except for the wicked Hill Street Blues homage in the opening episode.

Extract from Dead Like Me.

Another Hamlet sighting, this time in the US fantasy series Dead Like Me. For the unitiated, this ran for two series in the mid-naughties and is the story of a group of photogenic grim reapers tasked with collecting souls at the points of accidental deaths. Although notionally an ensemble, the general focus is Georgia, a post-teen who was hit by a falling toilet seat in the first episode and who provides a voiceover reflection across the rest of the series.

One of the twists is that the reapers still have a corporial existence and have to hold down jobs and pay rent and eat and do all of things they would have had to before they died, lingering on Earth until they've reached their reaping quota. Georgia works at Happy Time, a temping agency and in the episode In Escrow has to interview and select a candidate for a job with an important client. She can't decide -- one flatulent, one's too pushy and the other's too needy.

Towards the end of the show she sits on a bed with the candidate's application forms in front of her in the apartment she shares with fellow reaper Daisy Adair, an actress from old Hollywood who apparently died in a fire on the set of Gone With The Wind. She just can't decide between them:
Why on earth is this so hard for you?

Because they all want it and they all can handle. Who to choose. How to choose.

You sound like Hamlet.

What do you mean I sound like Hamlet?

Indecision. I was Ophelia in Province Town.

Seems appropriate. Ophelia was the one who drowned right?

Yeah. Six nights a week and twice on Sunday.
After they're interupted by another reaper, Mason, seeking to use their record player, Daisy suggests, 'Let God decide.'

I can actually see a link between the episode and Hamlet. Something the series always tried to do was thematically join many of the stories together with the title as the hint as to what that theme might be. In plot terms, the title In Escrow describes the story of how Georgia's mother and sister are selling her old family home (one of the attempts to ground the series in reality is to keep those characters around even though they're not connected to the main body of the series) and their portion of the episode is about coping with the period before the closing of the sale.

Hamlet is all about waiting for the right moment, between the prince finding out about the murder of his father and carrying out his revenge. But the indecision is in when that revenge will be carried out -- it doesn't happen when Claudius is at prayer and actually some critics have had problems with dealing with the length of time it takes him to do the deed. If he didn't care about it being in a public arena why didn't he just carry out the execution much sooner. Instead he leaves enough time for Claudius having realised that his nephew is aware that he is his father's murder to develop a range of schemes to bring his downfall. In the end, it's Claudius who forces the issue and Hamlet who leaves his fate in God's hands. He lets God decide.

Which is also what Georgia does. Towards the end, she lays the application on the table and places her pet frog in from of them. 'To jump or not to jump...' she says as the frog steps forward. For reasons that spoil the ending of the episode it turns out that her choice, whatever it might have been would have awful consequences. At the close of the episode, Georgia reflects: "I actually read Hamlet in high school. The guy can't make a decision and everybody dies. [...] I am Hamlet and everybody died."

Running In The Family

In my review I forgot to mention the hymn at any great length, 'To Be A Pilgrim' which I remember singing when I was at school -- right through primary into secondary. I wonder how many other people were suddenly shocked back into their school days by the sound of those voices. Anyway, the ratings direct from the outpost of Gallifrey ...

6.6 million (39.1% share)

Which is fairly predictable -- nice evening 'outside' (whatever that is) etc. Both ratings and share were enough for it to be the highest rated show of the day.

Classification revoked

Libraries Some time, though not an eternity ago, I suggested that local libraries could reorganise themselves around the geography and display format of bookshops in order to survive. Although I talked about the arrangement of the books, I didn't mention the classification system which as far as I could tell would have to remain.

Now comes the news that a library in Arizona is doing away with the Dewey Decimal Classification system altogether and 'tens of thousands of books in the Perry Branch library will be shelved by topic, similar to the way bookstores arrange books (because) it's just too confusing for people to hunt down books using those long strings of numbers and letters.'

I've always found Dewey easy to use when finding materials but when I have worked in libraries and been cataloguing items there have been issues related to how some books might be labeled -- should a book about Shakespeare on film be put on the literature, theatre or cinema shelves? Under the Arizona method you'd probably have three copies, one for each area of the library.

I can't imagine this would work for all institutions, especially those in which it's important for someone to be able to find an item for study purposes. But for places in which the majority of the users browse it seems perfect. I wonder if it will catch on.