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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in alex_wilcock's LiveJournal:

Friday, March 18th, 2011
3:58 pm
I keep wishing I was writing a piece on here about exciting Doctor Who convention anecdotes. That might be fun, and might justify keeping this account open (hello, tiny but nice band of readers).

But there are problems with that.

I suppose the major one is that I find it almost impossible to write at all now. Certainly anything that means my brain gets engaged (my arm and hand is increasingly painful, of course, but it’s my head that really stops me). My only blog post in February was basically a list, written on the 28th so as not to have a blank space for the month, and summing up Doctor Who DVDs in a way that had me comfortably cruising along in neutral (whatever that means); I could probably have typed it in my sleep at any time since I was fifteen. And I seem to be going back mentally and emotionally to where I was then, just with all the interesting bits gone.

It probably doesn’t help, either, that the last three Doctor Who (hmm; I think one was The Avengers) conventions I bought a ticket for, I didn’t go to. It’s been about six months now, and each time I’ve found on that day that I’ve just been too ill to get out. Which is most days.

This is getting to be a bit of a vicious cycle. Those were the two main ways in which I screwed myself up to be what passes for sociable.

Sorry, if anyone is actually reading this. It’s just going to be a self-pitying whine of despair. But I want to let it out rather than just snapping at Richard again, and this journal has the advantage that it’s the one Richard doesn’t read, and he can do without any more of me like this right now. I love him desperately, and I'm nothing but a source of rubbish to him now.

I feel broken. For years now, I’ve been less and less functional, and less and less like me. It’s not a ‘lost weekend’ that worries me; I have whole lost years. Every day I try to set myself some pitifully small goal, like maybe walking the half-mile to ASDA and back, every day I fail, every day I tell myself well, tomorrow I’ll get such and such done, and everyday it all repeats. I’ve heard that taking things ‘one day at a time’ helps, but when I can’t think of anything I achieved in 2010, or 2009, or 2008… I don’t think it’s working. I’ve been out of the flat fewer than a dozen times in the last couple of months, and most of those have been to hospital. Not counting at least four medical appointments of one kind or another which I didn’t get to because I wasn’t well enough (usually physically, though not always). And even on the less depressive days, my head feels like it’s filled up with sludge.

Richard’s going through one of the worst times of his life right now, and I’m being crap about that, too.

I don’t really know where to start, here. It’s pretty much one thing on top of another, dragging me down until I reached the point where I noticed I’d given up some way back down the road. When did I stop having ambitions for the future and start just breaking out in a cold sweat and nausea at the thought of it (you know that ‘Where do you see yourself in five years time’ question? Most terrifying question in the world. ‘The same, but much worse, yawning in front of me’. I can just look at the last several years’ annual 312-page Incapacity Benefit questionnaires: nothing’s ever improved, but either something that was bad already has slipped to worse or there’s something else that’s failed: chest, hand, arm, shoulder, feet, legs…)?

I’ve always been a bit susceptible to depression; I’ve always been rather susceptible to being physically ill. But I always used to be able to manage them, up to a point. I think the turning point was in my mid-20s, when I had a particularly horrible stomach bug for a couple of weeks, and ever since was left with IBS, which has grown steadily worse over the years. So, thanks to that, I’ve not been able to work for, what, about seven years? I can’t even quite remember any more. My thirties have been a bit of a blurry mess. And the more I spend most days sitting on the toilet or afraid to go out just in case, the more I give way to depression. Which feeds into the IBS. Which feeds… Well, you get the idea. I do know that, as those two big things got worse and all sorts of subsidiary things went wrong with me, I was gradually overwhelmed and eventually defeated. Which brought me long past humiliation and into a sense that the bits of me have been slowly drifting apart.

I rarely drink or take anything else mood-altering; back to my teenage years, really, and the combination of being an outsider and so not feeling the need to develop the taste for it, and being terrified of losing control (back before I came out, long, long ago, but it’s stuck with me). But I eat. That’s always been my way of coping – and when I walked a lot, that was fine. But stuffing my face when I can’t cope is a bit less useful (vicious circle again) with IBS. And when I hardly ever go out… Whee! I’ve put on five stone in the last two or three years, excitingly – so it’s not just that I spend all my time on the loo, but that I have very few clothes that fit me. Like one pair of jeans, and favourite shirts with buttons that pop (I’ve just had to spend lots of scarce money buying a suit online for a funeral). Which means I don’t get out. Which means…

And so on.

I’ve never been good looking, though there’s an element to which my self-image recoils a bit from being literally twice the weight I was when Richard met me (and can’t help feeling he must be recoiling too. Though more so from the person he met who was outgoing and going up, and who’s now damaged goods who’s never going anywhere. He must feel like checking my warranty). And my skin, never good, seems to be getting worse and worse. But they’re subsidiary things to worry about, really. What’s most humiliating? Take your pick. Gay / arse a source of utter daily fear and loathing / humiliation. Never fit, but at least I could always rely on my body to keep going for long walks / can’t get out at all / humiliation. Yep, even that half-mile walk to ASDA usually means agony and desperately trying to get to a loo. When going out means a constant (and justified!) fear of being caught short, that’s something of a disincentive. Often I’ll get half-way to somewhere, then have to get off a bus or train, spend an hour in the nearest public loo, and then – often – that’s that appointment gone down the tubes. Never mind my body, always prided myself on my brain / depression so bad it’s simply non-functional / humiliation. And I worry that I’m increasingly unable to remember new names (or sometimes old ones). Had to joke with Richard that I’d deliberately got the title character’s name wrong for a series we’ve watched, what, twenty-odd episodes of, when actually I couldn’t remember the name of a single person in it and, mentioning the eponymous hero because that was safe, was completely wrong.

So I feel I’m teetering on the verge not just of physical but personality disintegration.

In the absence of getting out, I keep having to stop myself buying ridiculous things online (o just more, for something to do; not that they make me happy, but the obsession completist in me demands them) that chomp through my meagre savings – and then of course I have to stay in for them to arrive. And then… Well, poor Richard’s very depressed that our ‘spare room’ has become a ‘box room’ and I never do anything to remedy it (the ‘spare bed’ is something upon which boxes are stacked to the ceiling), which makes it even less likely we’ll ever have anyone round. Yep; I can’t even be sociable at home.

I find it increasingly rare that I take joy in anything. I seem to have lost the knack. If I watch something for fun, I have to be doing something else at the same time to keep myself to it, or it just feels like a chore; I’m reading far less than I have done at any time since, oh, about the age of five and a half, when I got the habit. I fill my days with – I was going to type mindless, but no, mind-occupying but meaningless activity to keep myself from sinking into the pit, or just sleep. I sleep very badly at night but am so exhausted that I find it very difficult to get by without sleeping during the day. I know part of that’s side effects from the eight or so medications I’m on; part because I’m so very unfit; part something else. No joy, no rest…What haven’t I typed yet? Oh, no sex, obviously. Apart from brief spurts (as it were), libido totally crashed. On the rare occasions Richard tries, I send him away disappointed. Usually he doesn’t try, and sticks to more interested guys on the computer. When I am interested, either he’s not there, or I simply don’t have the self-confidence to ask. I don’t exactly have a positive self-image, let’s say. And permanently run down.

Not typing, not getting out, I curl more and more inward. I see Richard, and nobody else. As I get more and more unsociable, I find it more and more difficult to be sociable or even reply with a few lines when nice people dig me up. What’s to say? ‘How are you? Have you done anything lately?’ ‘I’m really ill, in lots of different ways, and I can vaguely remember having had quite a good day when I went out last August.’ How do you keep up a conversation when you never do anything with which to fill it?

Last year it all got worse. Just after the General Election was called, instead of the usual chronic IBS, I started on constant diarrhoea and vomiting. They only stayed constant for a month or so – but they’ve not gone away. And more than most of the things wrong with me, they worry Richard, because they’re more difficult to hide. I worried last week he’d be able to tell I was vomiting just as he was getting the shopping in and worry about me because my eyes go instantly red: no, it was simpler than that. With a tiny bathroom window, a first-floor flat, and a car round the corner, he’d still heard me very loudly.

I’d probably invested too much of myself in getting out to Doctor Who conventions every couple of months. Small, friendly, I thought, with interesting people and feeling I’d got out and done something. So it’s all the more crushing when I’ve missed three in a row because I’ve just been horribly ill. What do I say to people? It’s very tedious. And humiliating. So I’ve just stopped buying tickets. What a tragic thing to be my last life-line to having a life, you think, and probably right, but cut off now anyway. I probably tried too hard; but also crushing when not one of the people I got on with, or thought I did, have dropped me a line in six months to see how I am. And as one person was ludicrously, shockingly nasty to me at the last one out of nowhere, it feels like it wouldn’t be fun any more if I was able to get out. What’s the point? And even before then, I’d managed to peel back twenty years of determined socialisation to the point where I’m now scared of going back into groups and general interaction in a way that I thought decades of politics had well and truly cured me of.

So I thought this year couldn’t possibly be worse than last. It’s worse. A pile of hospital appointments, both chest- (one, hilariously, in an ambulance) and stomach-related, and Richard having to take a day off work when I was sedated for a double-probing with cameras and pincers. Trust me; it’s a long while since my last spit-roast, and what you get on the NHS really isn’t worth comparing. Then the usual hilarious inability to find a vein. Not as bad as when I was in A&E last month – when I went in I was one of the few people who wasn’t bloodied. After multiple attempts to get stuff out of me for tests, both my arms were bloodied. And Richard spending literally the whole night with me at A&E while desperately worried about his mum and having to drive off to see her as soon as he’d snatched a little sleep…

And I was called out – and missed, the first time, because I wasn’t well enough – a bizarre and peremptory Job Centre Plus interview in January to say I’d be having lots more interviews to get me off Incapacity Benefit (or whatever it’s changing to) and into work. But no idea when, or how, and given the strong impression it’ll be at random. And you know what? On the very rare days I can get out at all, that means by definition I’d be able to get out, so they’re likely to say I’m fit; and when I don’t turn up, I’ll be breaking the regs, so I can get thrown off. Joy. Lots more stress. And I don’t know when that will strike.

But what’s really breaking me down this year is Richard. He works harder and harder and longer and longer, and increasingly I’m just a burden. He loves me and he gets worried about me to the point of exhaustion as I try to conceal just how my life’s broken and he’s the only thing I have to hang on to. But his mother’s spent many months deteriorating both physically and mentally, and the first week of the year was rushed into hospital. So in addition to his working until eight or nine every night and having a useless lump where he used to have an interesting partner, every single weekend he’s done several hundred miles of driving, trying to look after his dad, and getting literally no time to himself at all. Last week, his poor mum died, and he wasn’t there. And even though he’s been there as often as he could to the point of exhaustion, he’s been beating himself up over that. And when we drove there immediately afterwards, he stayed for five days, while I got the train back to London the next day for yet more hospital. And failed to come back to be with him because I just keeled over. And failed. And failed. So that when he finally came back home, he was hurt and disappointed with me for letting him down, but trying not to think it because I was ill. And what could I say, after saying each day that I’d travel the next day? Because I’m more disappointed in me than anyone else could be, and now I’m failing him every sodding day. He needs me to be there for him but I’m not even there for me, and I don’t have a clue what to do (and it doesn’t help that, I admit, I feel massively stressed and unwelcome at his dad’s, and no, I don’t want to go). I keep blowing up when he needs me, and I feel an utter shit. He’s expended so much energy on being torn between being worried about me and being worried about his mum, and I’m simply rubbish. The flat’s a tip, I can’t manage to deliver the simplest things for us, and now I find I behave like a selfish shitbag when he needs sympathy. I’ve been feeling for such a long time that I’m simply broken. Shame the proof’s come along in such a horrible way.

Current Mood: Broken
Friday, May 7th, 2010
10:22 pm
If You're Looking For Me...
One day I'll post on here again properly. But not today - and it'll be about Doctor Who, not knackeredly on the General Election.

If you want me, the real places to look are where I appear more often - blogging here:


And tweeting here:


There's sometimes Doctor Who on those, as well, but you'll also find a lot of politics. And all the better for it.

Current Mood: contemplative
Saturday, June 13th, 2009
3:05 pm
Some Roles Are Naturally Ironic
It’s one of those Saturdays; large pieces of housework have been piling up for weeks, so yesterday I spent three hours (listening to a mixture of soundtrack from The Prisoner and a Bernice Summerfield CD that I thought might involve the Timewyrm but didn’t, though was still rather amusing) shifting things about, clearing space and breaking up a very large box to go to the recycling, with the added bonus of cutting myself open on it several times. The preparation done, Richard and I staggered about the flat this morning with some remarkably heavy items. As a result, each of us has new cuts, and my poor beloved appears to have pulled a muscle in his left arm.

Sweaty and dusty, I’m still pottering about shifting the odd box and finding non-precarious places to heave the spare telly onto, while Richard has sat down with a Poirot. And what do I see?

A well-known actress of a certain period telling off Mr Poirot for being so high and mighty as not to want to investigate her missing cook, because cooks are important too.

Pretty much dead-on twenty years ago, while at Sixth Form in the week, I was working weekends in a small restaurant in Stockport. I’m not a brilliant cook and only learned the odd thing or two while helping out in the kitchen; those of you who’ve got to know me since may be flabbergasted that I mainly put my hand to whatever most needed doing, being the one regarded as able to keep the different bits of the place running smoothly with each other. Yes, I know. So sometimes I’d be making garlic bread or something with cream and tagliatelle, sometimes washing all the dishes and sometimes waiting on tables. Usually the latter was left to the teenage girls, who were much prettier than the teenage boy, but there were two reasons I’d take on waiting duties (and, I might add, get the best tips, because I was crushingly shy with handsome chaps in private but could be charming and mildly flirtatious with customers of all kinds). Obviously, I’d be out there when it was very busy – and also, when there was a customer making trouble. Because I could be level-headed as well as flirty (as I said, this was a long time ago).

I vividly remember one evening when a party sat round the big table dominating the ground floor dining room, the most voluble of whom was a moderately famous sit-com actress. And she was throwing her weight around and making the girls’ life hell. She was the rudest customer I can remember from my time there, and I was sent out to wait on that table because I’d stay polite, wouldn’t be offended, and wouldn’t lose my rag. Yes, I know, it must have been a long time ago.

Who knows? Looking at the timing, she might have been celebrating the filming of that very Poirot role when she came to Valette’s. It just goes to show – you should never confuse an actor with their part. On screen, she might play someone who values cooks and takes anyone who doesn’t to task as “high and mighty”; in real life, she might treat cooks and waiters with contempt, be the very soul of “high and mighty,” and in short a total cow.

Current Mood: exhausted
Sunday, June 7th, 2009
11:40 pm
Doctors, doctors and Doctors
Having thought of nothing but elections for days, if not weeks, I was out all yesterday at a Doctor Who convention near Marylebone (you know, where everyone staggers out, dying of Silurian plague). Fun day, but I was a little out of it, at the crossover between my three main states of being: Doctor Who; politics; poor health. And lots of the gayery, obviously (it was a Who con).


OK, not a huge amount, but I met a fish person who’s a Labour activist, discussed the BNP with a Toclafane’s minder and jotted down the main election bullet points for a Doctor Who author who’d been working hard and missed the news. The main impact it had on my day was down to having been on edge and had very little sleep for the past few days – typical election time symptoms – and when I’m very short of sleep, I either get grumpy or I lose my inhibitions. So… I wasn’t grumpy. But more on that story later; I suspect everyone knows I’m a gayer (getting everything signed to “Richard and Alex” is even more of a giveaway than telling inappropriate men they’re pretty), but, er, this’ll be the day when most people will assume I was drunk. Hey ho. Just a bottle of still lemonade and I’m a sabre-toothed tart, apparently.


Oh, more zonked even than usual, and having a lot of pain walking by the end of the day. Haze of pain on tubes home. That and sitting next to woman standing on DLR with really impressive ‘don’t look at me’ radiation. You know the sort of thing; when my keyring used to mutter “This is the voice of the Mysterons” at awkward moments, I’d stare into space as if it was nothing to do with me. Well, this smartly dressed woman in a very vivid blue coat stood looking firmly into the middle distance as if everyone was completely unaware she was carrying two overstuffed bin bags floating in mid-air. Striking. Anyway, my lovely Richard came and picked me up from the station so I didn’t need to hobble the last stretch home. How can I thank him?

By telling the story to his visit to the doctor, of course. I went to the doctor’s a couple of weeks ago, very unusually, not for me – but to hold Richard’s hand. I’m always ill and go to different doctors all the time; Richard’s health is as hardy as mine is rubbish, so he really isn’t used to it. And we had a fabulous time. A doctor I’d not seen before, either, just the one who was available for booking first thing in the morning so Richard could get off to work, and she was a little unexpected. She was, ah, almost aggressive to Richard over leaving things and not coming to a doctor when he was in pain, while I sat in the corner nodding and feeling like a frumpy embarrassing wife from a Carry On. Most importantly, though, the doctor looked like former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel. Same rangy frame, same not-quite-shoulder-length dark hair, same cheekbones and an uncanny facial resemblance. Really, all that set her apart was that she lacked the sticky-on beard. I found this hugely distracting, and was constantly having neither to stare nor to laugh. Fortunately, she only bothered to ask who I was after about five minutes – wouldn’t it be the first thing you did, if some strange person came in with your patient? – so I had time to compose myself. Richard and I giggled rather too much in the car home, and I nearly make him swerve when I suggested that I should have said, ‘Actually, doctor, he can’t see me – I’m just a figment of your imagination’.

I shouldn’t tease Richard, though; even though I go to the doctor all the time, I have such a drearily familiar catalogue to go through that I can get a bit embarrassed, too, if I have to bring up something extra. So, after a couple of months where more and more I’ve been hobbling, with my left big toe becoming increasingly painful to walk on and making alarming cracking noises, I finally decided it wasn’t going to go away. Look, I broke a different toe last year, all right, and I can tell that this one’s not dark purple and twice its normal size, so I hoped it’d get better on its own. What did the nice doctor say? Might be a slight fracture. Or rheumatism. Or arthritis. Or gout. Pass me the port and the pension book! Cue entertainment hobbling to hospital for an X-Ray, where the doctor called for an “Alexandra Wilcox”. “That’s roughly like it,” I said. Maybe just a little sourly. Carrying on with the Carry On theme, I was asked to hold my foot at an angle for the machine, which left me wobbling unsteadily and thinking of Frankie Howerd falling off the couch as the X-Ray machine blew up. I managed to stay on. Anyway, after a more than uncomfortable day of standing up yesterday, I get the results this week, and maybe I’ll find out what I can do to make walking easier…

But you probably want to read more Doctor Who stuff, don’t you?


Well, this was Utopia, the first full-day (rather than half-day) convention from Fantom Films, a very nice bunch who’re doing a lot at the moment – small conventions, great guests, very friendly, organisers Dexter and Paul both very decorative welcoming, and a mercifully low price. This one wasn’t quite as well-run as they’ve been before; a full day, more guests and more attendees all made the queuing a bit hellish. Normally I get to sit in the theatre and see most of their interview panels, perhaps even ask a question from the floor (I harried people a bit at their Curse of Fenric one a few months back – which reminds me, I’m typing while watching the nerve-wracking European Elections coverage, and at that one a very charismatic Polish actor recounted how there’s even more censorship now in Poland than under the communists: “We are not a democracy. We’re a Catholic Church theocracy,” he said then, when I mentioned who the British Conservatives were bunking up with, “I hope they die a lingering and painful death”), but the autograph queues were so long and so chaotic yesterday that I got to see about one and a half of the interviews, spending all the rest of the time standing.

Special points for the queue snaking up the spiral staircase and staying absolutely motionless for half-hours at an end – the upstairs studio rapidly became absolutely full in the morning, with six different queues that absolutely no-one could distinguish and almost no ventilation. Among my many rather undiplomatic slips was, on getting to the front of a queue to meet an actor at his first convention, telling him it was a baptism of fire, “or, rather, a baptism of sweat”. Way to encourage people, me. That and brightly chipping in to another first-timer amazed by the number and enthusiasm of people queuing for them, “You’ve got stalkers for life, now!” I will praise the organisers, though, for realising the morning was a nightmare and bringing some of the guests downstairs after midday, which meant the queuing from then on was much more bearable.

Despite all that, I enjoyed it, basically because most of the people were lovely – on both sides of the table. Meeting friends who I’ve not seen for ages, meeting actors or writers I admire, getting to chat to lots of them – despite the leg, it was fun. The gorgeous and wonderful Anneke Wills has just launched the second part of her autobiography and read a CD of the first book I ever read, and she’s a huge pleasure to talk to. Tracey Childs looks stunning and had real star quality, though it’s possible I may have made another slight faux pas… The woman in front of me in the queue for Tracey offered to hold my place for a different actor who didn’t have a queue for the moment, and I had such an entertaining conversation with him that, er, I missed that place in the queue anyway. So when I’d queued again for Tracey, she knew who I was, as I’d apparently been pointed out chin-wagging obliviously when the woman who’d been in front of me got to meet her. Tracey didn’t object, though; she approves of people who stop for a chat, and finds those who stand in front and say “Just a signature!” then go rather offputting. “Like sex without kissing,” I suggested. Cue raised eyebrow from Tracey (“Too much information, perhaps?”) and face in hands from her minder. Well, it’s true, isn’t it?

A really impressive set of guests for The Sarah Jane Adventures, this time – Sarah’s ‘mum and dad’, Christopher Pizzey and Rosanna Lavelle, were both lovely (and Christopher quite cute, certainly better-looking than he comes across in his Burger King ads), composer Sam Watts was rather nice, and though I missed Julie Cowan (Maria’s mum), she did pass me in the foyer; blimey, she’s tiny! Writer Joe Lidster was there, too, and I’ve vaguely known him for years, so it was a pleasure to have several chats through the day (and maybe scare him by mentioning a mutual friend who thinks he’s very pretty). I did tell one guest he was pretty on my own behalf; Planet of the Dead’s David Ames scrubs up very nicely, I have to say, and was great to everyone he was signing for – I was, though, the only one who expressed relief that he wasn’t a Tory MP, being almost certainly nicer (a backhanded compliment) and much prettier. Well, he didn’t complain.

As well as Joe, writers Toby Whithouse (creator of Being Human) and James Moran were very engaging – I told the latter he’d written my favourite story of last year, though I refrained from saying what I thought of his Torchwood, and we discussed his torrid affair with my friend and other author Simon Guerrier. At the other end of time, some engaging guests from William Hartnell’s era – as well as Anneke, Peter Purves, who’s still awesome, director Richard Martin (goggling at signing a Dalek), brilliant Doctor Who and Avengers guest star Jeremy Young, the series’ very first villain. The Daleks and Davros were no-shows, though, in the forms of Nick Briggs and Rory Jennings, but the fish person who was reported to have slipped through the net turned up in the end, the organisers having fortunately kept a plaice for her. And, of course, all those at the Big Finish table were delightful, particularly Lisa Bowerman – Bernice Summerfield herself, soon to star alongside David Tennant in a Doctor Who cartoon, who now recognises me (having shared my lack of enthusiasm for a recent con in Manchester with the world’s most horrible loos) and signed two recent releases for me. The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel and The Mahogany Murderers are both set in Victorian times, one a brilliantly New Adventures-flavoured Bernice Summerfield adventure guest-starring David Warner, the other a Doctor Who spin-off blissfully reuniting The Talons of Weng-Chiang’s Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot, both stories rather fabulous.

I’m spending less and less time typing and more and more glued to the election results, but four fellow queuers spring to mind: the dyed blond who I had to keep staring at because he looked so remarkably like a friend from Wales who often comes to these things; the friendly gay guy who I did a lot of queuing with last time; the father who shamelessly marshalled his three kids to different queues so he could cut his queuing time by three; and, of course, a friend of mine who’s a very talented actor, writer and at these events interviewer – one of the conventions I never got round to writing up last year involved his memorably exclaiming “Brotheltastic!” during an on-stage interview, and Sophie Aldred flashing me – and who’s just grown a full reddish beard, which he invited comment on. ‘It suits you,’ I might usually say to a straight friend, but yesterday I may have stroked it, stood back, looked him up and down, told him he looked older (not in any way a bad thing), then suggested that he list in his Spotlight profile that he can now do either “young and hot” or “gruff and raunchy”. Cough. At least the nice man whose chest hair I ruffled was definitely gay, as was the one I kissed, so they were less potentially embarrassing…

Current Mood: pensive
Saturday, December 20th, 2008
12:20 am
Ian McKay and Michael O’Connor
A lot’s happened since I last wrote about a signing on here, and most of it – as far as my fannish activities go – not good. Poor old Tenth Planet folded six months ago; my good friend Paul’s still out of a job, though Derek’s been running the occasional signing; I’ve been to fewer events than before, and several of them have been rather disappointing… But by a long way the thing that’s most upset me was the sudden, unexpected and appallingly early death at the end of June of my friend Ian McKay. I can’t separate the first event from sort-of-Tenth-Planet after proper Tenth Planet went under from Ian – Mark Strickson was there, and had aged fantastically well, and was very funny (of which more later, on a cheerier note), but I kept looking round for Ian, and realising why he wasn’t there, and all the conversations were about “Have you heard…?” and breaking the news to some people, and commiserating with others, and all just about the shock.

You see, Ian was only 48 when he died, having just suddenly fallen ill, on June 20th this year. And it’s taken me all this time to write about him. I remember at the time – an e-mail from his partner Sandra early on the Sunday morning, and then a phone call from his son Peter (can you imagine? An 11-year-old having to ring round all the numbers in his dad’s mobile to let everyone know?) – that I was sure I was going to write a little tribute to Ian straight away. And then after his funeral. And then throughout November, when it would have been Ian’s birthday, and I’d been thinking about my Grandad’s death on Halloween two years earlier, and our old family friend Michael had just died, and his funeral, and then a Lib Dem I knew who was younger than me… I had rather a glum November. But the truth is, I just couldn’t bear to. I’ve written obituaries of people I know before, I’ve delivered an hour-long eulogy disguised as a political speech for one friend four years ago, I wrote when my Grandad died…

I never deal well with death, but there was something about Ian’s death that was just peculiarly horrible. And each time I made up my mind that I was finally, definitely going to write something about him, all I’d get done was to write nothing about anything for a few weeks, until I decided it wasn’t going to happen just yet and wrote about something completely different. I’ve only finally written now on writing about Oliver Postgate today, which I made myself do because today would have been my Grandad’s birthday. I can put things off for a long time, but this is perhaps unique for me; not the usual procrastination, but simple grief and shock. It’s even taken me until today to listen to the Professor Bernice Summerfield audio play The Wake; I’d been almost keeping up with the series, and then that was the one next in line to listen to when Ian died. So it’s been sitting on the shelf, and it would have been gathering dust if I’d not been piling the next ones on top of it and not listening to them either. It’s really rather good, by the way. And I cried when I watched Michael Jayston’s character’s funeral in A Bit of A Do. Sometimes I’m as soft as our elephant.

Remembering Ian

I’d known Ian for something like four or five years, and despite what I’m sure he’d have called his shock of prematurely white hair, he was lively, vivid – he seemed in far better health than me. I’d got to know him and his son Peter in the queues for Tenth Planet signings, mainly, and the odd, rare convention I’d trundle more nervously up to. And he was such a lovely, friendly guy, with an infectious smile, and who would do anything for you. And, yes, I know, that sounds like some reporter had just stuck a mike in front of my nose and my brain had switched off and I’d just said what people always said. But he was. I’d see him, or e-mail him, or be on the phone to him at least once a week, and I miss him terribly. I still catch myself expecting to see him in a queue. It just seems so appallingly wrong that he’s gone, even six months later (it really doesn’t feel like six months).

Voice of the Daleks Nick Briggs signing for Peter (small person) and Ian (shock of prematurely white hair) last year

If you ever venture into the strangeness that’s the Doctor Who Forum, he posted on there as Draconian Emperor. If you didn’t, but went to conventions and things, or to Fulham matches, where he was a steward, he looked a bit like Hugh Futcher. You know, out of the Carry On films? He’d drive the guests to the conventions, and Hugh Futcher did a signing this January, for The Sea Devils. I’d once made the mistake of telling Ian I thought they looked alike, so the two of them arrived together – of course, Ian had picked him up, and they ganged up on me. Ian introduced me, and they both said, “See, nothing like me!” and threatened to duff me up. And what I didn’t say was that, obviously, plainer than ever as they stood together, they were both the same height, and build, and had the same shape of face, nose and hair… Though it was only Ian who said “To be fair…” all the time. The last time I ever spoke to him was a week before he died – he was off to a convention in Gloucester that I couldn’t make, ringing me to see if I wanted anything signed. He always did. The last time I saw him was on a quiet Saturday, not a signing day but just to shop and mainly gossip with Paul, back in Tenth Planet, and he had a giant new print. It was a cartoon of all the Doctor’s female companions screaming in unison, and Rose at the end complaining that she thought she was special, and Ian was already working out when he could get which actresses to sign it. I wish I’d taken him up on his offer sometime and gone along with him to a stage door.

Ian would have laughed if he’d seen his funeral. Well, not the funeral itself, but what happened afterwards. It was, I think, at Putney Crematorium, and it was packed with fans and friends. And then, once it was over, we all went off to the pub for the wake. Except that no-one knew which pub we were supposed to be going to, except that it was close to the crem. Then one person said that he thought he knew, and was it the one next to the train station? So we formed up a crocodile and we walked, and walked, and walked. And we got to the pub, and the guy there said, no, it was right back the way you came, and next to the crem on the other side. So all the family had made it to the wake, and all the fans had managed to get utterly lost. Richard and I walked back to the crematorium, and came back in his car, aiming to pick up other drivers so we could then form a convoy. But people were tired, and sweaty, and embarrassed, and it was right next to the trains, so a lot of them had gone by the time we’d hiked all the way back and (rather more swiftly) driven all the way, er, other back. So as there were only four guys left, we crammed three of them onto our back seat, and folded the long thin one across them. To this day, I’m not quite sure how. But if that had been someone else’s funeral, Ian would have been first to give a lift, and when we bolloxed the whole thing up, he’d have laughed and laughed. He’d have laughed, too, when – after finally getting to the right pub, and a lot of food – we were walking back to our cars in the crem car park and I had one of those inappropriate laughs when an inappropriate thought came into my head. Walking just ahead of me was, let’s see, not a guy I know that well, but friend of friends, and he’s rather a looker and, it’s like this, I was absently eyeing his arse. But the wind caught the back of his suit jacket, and it flipped upwards, and I laughed at the purple lining of his black suit. “What is it?” he asked, paranoid. And obviously I, emotionally vulnerable, distracted, full of food, whatever other excuses I can think of for just opening my mouth without my brain getting in the way, said “Oh, it’s just that your suit jacket flashed up purple in the wind and it looked like you had a baboon’s bum.”

This is one of the many reasons why Richard doesn’t worry about me carrying on with anyone else.

Remembering Michael

The other person I want to write about is Michael O’Connor. And, unlike Ian, I’d known him all my life. I call him a “friend of the family,” but that’s anaemic. As my Dad said in his eulogy, he was to my brother and sister and me growing up the nearest thing we had to an uncle. That sounds a little strange as, technically, we had three uncles when we were kids – my Mum’s three brothers. But they lived in the States, and were names on birthday cards, and Michael came to stay with us, or us with him, several times a year. And he once made David Laws really nervous.

Michael in either Portobello Road or Camberwell with my Grandpa, Grandma, Dad and, it being a family photo, the top of my head (plus, not unusually, an alcoholic beverage)

My Dad spent many years as a librarian (my Mum a few, too – it’s how they met. She came to this country for a year on an exchange. Forty-one years later…), and he was in charge of new book purchases for Stockport Libraries. It was great. I’d get to see Doctor Who books sent along ‘on approval’, in hardback, as soon as they were published – I could read them six months before the paperbacks turned up in shops! And, in pre-Internet days, booksellers would send along parcels of books, or independent booksellers would send along people like Michael – no, there were no people like Michael – with his huge Dormobile full of boxes of books, and a single bed, and his own bodyweight in Guinness. Apparently there was a postal strike in 1971, you see. No, wait, it’s on topic. My Mum had just become pregnant with, well, me, as it turned out, and she couldn’t tell my Grandma in the States because there was a postal strike. And, similarly, the usual book deliveries weren’t happening, so for the first time Michael belted up from London with a selection instead, and of course my parents offered to put him up. And it carried on that way for twenty years.

Michael was tall, gangling, iron-grey-haired and raffish, and he lived in a hugely exciting basement flat in Kensington piled with far, far more books than even my parents’ house (I grew up in a house with seventeen bookcases, and I’ve always been a hoarder. Poor Richard). It was only a couple of years ago, catching repeats of Upstairs, Downstairs, that I realised it would have been old servants’ quarters. Sometimes we’d go and stay with him and his cats Jerome and Tarka Dahl, and he’d cook up huge plates of eggs, sausages and beans that we’d previously only seen in the Beano. Sometimes we’d go to visit his bookstalls on Portobello Road and in Camberwell, with his assistant Young Michael, who had very long hair and who was a man I only realised on seeing three-decade-old photos of him at Michael’s funeral was really much younger than I’d thought, looking about twenty, and kind of hot. Sigh. Wonder whatever happened to him. Or to that parrot pictured sitting on my head. My blond, curly hair. Yes, that was quite a while ago. He moved to another basement flat and never enjoyed it so much, but at least there was a pub across the road – I went there a few weeks ago and, a solitary pub drinker as many times as the fingers of one hat, had some wine for him, because he’d never have walked by. I still remember dinner in his flat with one of Tom Baker’s drinking buddies, not dinner with Tom, tragically, but with a guy going very red in the face and invoking the ancient Welsh gods, which is a powerful childhood memory for being one of the few times my unflappable mother really didn’t know where to look. But Michael had a huge number of friends from a huge number of callings in a huge number of countries, like his friend Hank who he drank with and swapped sketches with, who we heard at Michael’s funeral (as well as seeing all his striking political cartoons) got awards for saving Jews in World War II and belatedly became a minor celebrity in Guildford.

When Michael came up to stay with us, he’d take us to fantastic Greek restaurants in Manchester, like El Greco’s, which has long since gone from Oxford Road, and The Five Kings, which has long since become part of a motorway. I’d have kleftiko, thinking, wow, this is the only place where I get to eat chunks of lamb huge enough for my eyes as well as my stomach, and Michael would laugh and rumble that “meat makes ’em wicious,” as Dickensian as his “Shut up and drink yer gin” if one of us complained. He’d bring me Doctor Who books, or pretty Bavarian dresses for my sister from all his trips, and I still love a Bavarian board game he brought called Sagaland, a mixture of fairy tale and bluff. He was disappointed when my parents decided we wouldn’t all join him in a South of France commune (visiting his sister, Biddy, a nun at New Hall, was more their scene), and he eventually retired to Somerset, then – too rowdy – to near Watford. I regret, as you do, not keeping in touch, and not seeing him for nearly two decades, but he was astounding. He left huge piles of his stuff with us when he left his last London flat, and by “with us” I mean “a bit of a Stockport library building basement that my Dad had the keys to.” Which is why one day, when the council reallocated those, ah, empty rooms to social services, my Dad had three days’ notice to hire a van and belt down to Somerset and back overnight to give it all back to Michael, with an apprentice priest friend at his elbow to keep him awake.

In keeping with my ability for cock-ups, I had a bit of a time with Michael’s funeral last month, too. Did I look up Enfield Crematorium online and work out the scale? No. I listened to my Dad’s directions, and that it was about half a mile from the Tube. My own fault: I’ve known him thirty-seven years, and known that accurate estimates are not among his wonderful qualities. Nor among his eldest son’s, really. So, it took me forty minutes to slog from Tube to service, with me hilariously developing a painful leg from nowhere and having to stop every few minutes (yesterday I was in A&E having a broken toe tied up, you know, but it wasn’t that then). It was probably while I was sitting and rubbing it that my parents completely failed to spot me and drove past me on their way, as they admitted later. And of course my hope, coming in ten minutes late, that I could slip in at the back, perhaps during a hymn, failed spectacularly when, of course, I opened the door during my Dad’s eulogy to him, meaning I not only failed not to be noticed but was introduced, loudly, to the assembled throng.

Phew. It’s not the 19th any more, and I’m very bleary, but I think I’ve finished writing this after only one month and six respectively… I feel better for it. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve loved remembering them both.

Oh, and David Laws. He came up to me in 1996 or 1997, rather nervous, saying he’d been canvassing – this was when he was first standing to take over from Paddy in Yeovil – and a tall old man had given him the most terrifying question ever put to a Liberal Democrat candidate on the doorstep: “What do you think of Alex Wilcock?” Fortunately for David, or maybe not so fortunately from another point of view, he knew me, so he was able to answer. I’m not sure I ever heard what.

Mark Strickson Anecdote To Cheer Up With

And finally, for those of you who’ve made it to the end, as promised, something cheerier, which Ian would have loved. Mark Strickson, signing autographs and then basically doing stand-up in a dingy pool hall in Barking, opposite Woollie’s (gah, even that’ll have gone now) on the last Saturday in June, answering questions and telling anecdotes, with stories about his fantastic work as a nature film director, and exciting snippets about seeing the special effects on the new edit of Enlightenment, and telling us that there was much more skinny-dipping around Planet of Fire than the famous story of the German nudist would suggest, but the one that really stuck in my mind was a moderately printable one about the fabulous Peter Wyngarde.

While filming in Lanzarote, obviously not every scene involved every actor, so attempts were make to group scenes with guest artists on the same days – though, Mark said, the regulars weren’t so lucky. One of these, of course, was the big guest star Peter Wyngarde, who hired a Suzuki Jeep to go bombing around the island in. Unfortunately, on one of the days when Peter W was working, several of the younger actors led by Edward Highmore asked if they could borrow it for a day’s drive. “Of course, of course, dear boy,” recounted Mark in a rich Peter Wyngarde voice. And of course Edward drove it into a ditch, and dented it, and tore the canopy, and when they got it back to the hotel they were terribly apologetic and fearful. “Not at all, dear boy,” said Peter. “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with it.” So when he went back to the hire car company, he told them [BELLOWS]:

“I’ve hired cars from agencies all around the world, and I’ve been doing it for twenty years – and I have never been given one in such appalling condition as this Jeep! It’s a disgrace! Look at it! The front’s dented, the canopy’s torn – well, I shall expect a reduction in my bill!”

And he got it.

Current Mood: melancholy
Monday, March 12th, 2007
6:08 pm
Good Luck, Jacqueline Pearce!
I waved goodbye (well, actually, I kissed her hand and called her “ma’am”) to one of my icons on Saturday. This was fairly unexpected: until a few days before, I hadn’t even known Jacqueline Pearce – famous as Servalan from Blake’s 7 and in Hammer horrors – was moving to South Africa to work with endangered monkeys, but thanks to a fab little shop in Edinburgh, I got a chance to see her. So, if you feel like wishing Jackie luck, drop by her blog, and if you visit Edinburgh, saunter all the way down Lothian Road to visit Voga. It’s small but packed full of exciting Doctor Who and similar bits, and they’re very friendly… And, as it’s four hundred miles from my favourite shop, East London’s Tenth Planet, I reckon that’s far enough for them not to be competing too directly with each other (both shops are named after worlds from Doctor Who stories involving the Cybermen, you know).

Jacqueline Pearce and Servalan

Jacqueline Pearce has been one of my favourite actresses for almost as long as I can remember. Servalan was certainly always the character that most grabbed my attention in Blake’s 7. Like Livia in I, Claudius, she was both brilliantly played and an outstanding political anti-hero. I thought she was fantastic growing up, and though it’s fashionable to knock strong woman characters like those two for being bad for women because they were villains, I have to say that’s rubbish. I can’t think of a stronger female role model on TV at the time, and that she was charismatic and three-dimensional enough to win me over despite being, ah, essentially appalling, tells you how impressive she was. Well, I always loved a great villain, and like Francis Urquhart, her mixture of stunning camp and intense emotional drama meant there were points where I definitely rooted for her scheming to pay off, perhaps indulging the side of me that doesn’t want to be so nice, open and constructive about politics. You might also have seen her in Doctor Who’s The Two Doctors (another striking villain, but with a dreadful wig and bacofoil frock), a fanatical nazi in Dark Season (Russell T Davies’ tryout for Doctor Who), The AvengersA Sense of History, Hammer’s The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, among many others. In recent years, she’s also been much in demand for audio plays, with perhaps the most outstanding being Big Finish’s terrific Doctor Who drama The Fearmonger, in which to no-one’s surprise Jackie played a far-right political leader. She was also great fun as a starry-eyed fanatic and recurring villain in their second Sarah Jane Smith series, though – as Millennium observed on reviewing it – she’s not as multi-layered a character as she seemed to be building up to be. But I digress, so back to Jackie, and scroll to the bottom of this piece instead if you want spoilers for the climax, or anti-climax, of Big Finish’s Sarah Jane Smith stories…

Blake’s 7 started off in concept as something like Robin Hood in space, but while Servalan occupied the Sheriff of Nottingham role, she got far more character development than any Sheriff. She starts off as Supreme Commander of the military wing of the Federation, a vicious totalitarian dictatorship, but after a couple of years takes advantage of a galaxy-wide crisis to mount a military coup against the civil administration. That never happened to Bad King John. Before long, there’s a counter-coup, and the show’s final season sees her gradually climbing back to power, with considerably more resolve and success than our heroes’ fight against the Federation managed. It’s no surprise, then, that my favourite episodes of the series remain Star One, in which she declares herself President and has her civilian predecessor arrested, and Rumours of Death, in which an abortive coup against her tangles with a personal vendetta and a love affair gone wrong (yes, it’s all film noir again) to overthrow the usual pro-rebellion course of the series. Sand is another episode to look out for, exploring Servalan’s early life and with her seducing one of our heroes. It’s fascinating to watch the change in Jacqueline Pearce’s performance after assuming the Presidency: is it because the script now calls for a charismatic figurehead rather than a ‘harder’ military commander, or, as Jackie said in one memorable interview, “Because that’s when I discovered sex”? It’s always amused me, too, that I became President of my university students’ union on the anniversary of Rumours of Death being shown, though the coup that removed my predecessor was less bloody and my title wasn’t quite as impressive as ‘President of the Terran Federation, Ruler of the High Council, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies, and Defender of the Earth’ (no, not even when I was Vice-Chair of the FPC). Often described as striding across a quarry in heels and a cocktail frock – because she often was – she looked terrific and, I suspect, may have had something to do with my taste for monochrome, with close-cropped black hair and outfits nearly always in stark white or black. Of course, I wasn’t the only one to notice her looks, nor the most passionately: Jackie gives great interviews, in one of which (for BBC2’s I Love 1978, I seem to remember) she proclaimed with pride, “I was a masturbatory icon to an entire generation!” before throwing her head back and cackling at the thought of it.

Jacqueline Pearce in Edinburgh

Jacqueline still looks very striking now, though her long hair is streaked with grey: well, I think of it as ‘long hair’, but that’s merely because the picture of her in my head has such very short hair and in fact It’s only just long enough to have a bit of flow to it. Knowing she’s recovered from cancer in the last couple of years, it was great to see her looking so healthy as she prepared to set out on a great adventure that’s clearly making her very happy. And, with Voga being a friendly little shop – particularly Brian, on discovering that, almost on the spur of the moment (well, two days’ notice), I’d come up from London specially – and not a huge crowd there, she was happy to sign quite a lot of different things. Yes, I’d lugged several items with me, though I wasn’t the most extravagant, and of course I bought a couple of glossy photos for her to sign to help raise money for her monkeys. Glossy photos aren’t usually my thing, but just this once…

We all had a great afternoon, too. She’s a great attention-grabber, and all the wine helped (what a very nice man Martin at Voga is); I think it helped Jackie, too, though she did claim that she’d never tried any before. Well, all right, she subsequently modified that to saying that she’d not previously had any that day. I’m sure you’ll know the myth that the Eskimos have dozens of different words for snow; well, in a reversal of that idea, Jackie has her own language that consists entirely of the dozens of meanings with which she can imbue the word “Darling”. Indulgent, ecstatic, interrogative, flirtatious, warning; it’s uncanny, but more repeatable than the line from White Mischief she declaimed after hooting with laughter on seeing a large print of her from that film which someone had brought along, exposing her breasts to, well, critical attention. I think the three and a half-month-old baby in attendance had to have his or her ears stoppered. I suspect I can’t print most of the stories she came out with about people she’s worked with, either, though she agreed that the cover of Hammer’s stylish The Plague of the Zombies (in which an eerily zombified Jackie quite loses her head) was peculiarly unattractive – the male lead, not much of a looker, being goosed by a zombie, even less of a looker – and could have done with her name in larger letters. And spelt correctly. I enjoyed her dazzling smile, too, as I produced a booklet from Dark Season for her to sign and declare, “I did enjoy making it. For all the wrong reasons!”

I think the second biggest cheer of the afternoon was the moment when the sound was turned up on the Blake’s 7 DVD that had been playing in the background so we could hear her ordering a sinister nurse about with huge aplomb (it was Powerplay, if you want to watch it). For most of the afternoon, the picture was Blake’s 7 but the soundtrack was an assortment of Carry On themes, which was faintly disturbing, though I notice they didn’t dare put on the Carry On in which Jackie actually appears. However, the biggest cheer was for a startling cameo. Jackie had finished signing all the memorabilia brought by the group who’d been waiting for her, some had moved on, and the rest of us were standing around with drinks in our hands while Ms Pearce held court when a familiar white-haired figure appeared at the door. It was Gareth Thomas, an actor best known as the eponymous Blake, come simply to pop in, thank his opponent for 29 years of knowing her, hope that she would one day return, and wish her luck in working with real monkeys. Then he blew her a kiss and was gone while we were still gawping.

So, I had rather a lovely Saturday afternoon, though I couldn’t do it every week (physically or financially). “You’re insane,” was the view of one familiar face who I often see at Tenth Planet, and indeed of Richard a little before six that morning as I left to get my train. But I’d not been to Edinburgh for years and I’d been tempted just the previous week while watching BBC4’s new drama (surely some mistake) Reichenbach Falls, so when I saw that Jacqueline Pearce would be making probably her final public appearance in Britain there… Well, it was worth it, despite the long rail journeys being completely exhausting and packed with noisy, drunken rugby fans particularly between Edinburgh and Newcastle (“That was the longest hour and a half of my life,” breathed one woman to me as she fought her way out at Waverley, evidently spotting I wasn’t a scarf-wearing fan). Besides, I had time to stroll around for a bit, even taking a little while to sit and relax half-way up the Mound on the same rock I always used to sit on and read when getting away from family holidays there. With only seventeen hours between leaving my front door and staggering back in, though, there was no time for any Lib Dem canvassing. Shucks.

13 March update: The Voga blog has very kindly linked to me today, complete with a lovely picture of Jacqueline Pearce and I (and my chins). You can also find a link to other photos from the day, including a few of me and many of Jackie. Look out for an especially great photo of a laughing Gareth Thomas (and, as chance would have it, I’ve just been listening to the radio version of The Naval Treaty; Gareth played one of the main characters in the Jeremy Brett TV version of this Sherlock Holmes story). In another post, they have a video clip of Jacqueline in the shop.

SPOILERS for the climax, or anti-climax, of Big Finish’s Sarah Jane Smith stories:

The second Sarah Jane Smith audio series was, for the most part, pretty gripping, and all a huge improvement on the first (the five stories in which were, respectively: tediously uninspired; tediously uninspired, idiotic, and homophobic; a bit crude but rather exciting; tediously uninspired again; and not bad. Best to start with the second season, then, or at least miss out 1.2 and 1.4, which add nothing). The real problem with it was that the only ‘episode’ that didn’t deliver was the final one, and not just because by the time that CD spins, Jacqueline Pearce’s character has just died. No, it’s the story: all the wheels suddenly come off. It’s always irritating when you think you’ve worked out a plot and your version is better than the one the author goes on to reveal, but, with two rival secret societies plotting around the return of an evil alien entity that Sarah had previously fought with the Doctor, I’d worked out that Jackie’s ‘nasty’ lot believed the entity was an evil conqueror and were therefore ruthless in killing all who might help it, while the new-agey, hippie-shit cultists protecting Sarah were of course deluded in welcoming their astral tyrant. So I reckoned the final episode would see Sarah working out what the alien force behind it all was, and being forced to ‘switch sides’ because the ‘villains’, while murderous, had the right idea. Instead, she works it all out but, er, seems to be so desperate to relive her outer space days that she goes along with the hippies to welcome their alien overlord anyway, rather than trying to stop it. Then the ambiguous ending implies that they were all so deluded anyway that they just expire while waiting and it didn’t bother showing up, if indeed it was ever planning to. In both ways, this seemed dramatically unrewarding.
5:21 pm
Still Excited By Terrance* After All These Years (*clean version of title)
Yes, after a mere… Well, perhaps I shouldn’t count up just how many months it’s been, I’m making another visit to this poor derelict journal (and the one I mentioned in the previous entry has fared almost as badly). I’ve been to several signings recently, so it seemed only fair: particularly as the next one is a piece that’s appearing on my ‘main’ Love and Liberty blog, too, which seems like cheating. It’s been a strange few months, and not conducive to a lot of writing: September consumed by Liberal Democrat Conference and related matters, then a horrible Autumn in which injuries to my right arm that made it very difficult to type even when I was feeling sociable played a large part. So, my health has been even more ludicrous than usual, but after months of having problems using my arm, the physiotherapy had just got to the point where I could start some proper typing again when my glasses fell apart, a month and a bit ago. It took a while to get an optician’s appointment, then for the glasses to be made up… Then the prescription was slightly wrong in one eye, so I had to wait for a re-test, then sent them off to for a lens to be replaced. Oh, how I laughed as I was blind as a bat and made the mistake of telling Janet Fielding so just after complimenting her on her appearance. D’oh! No, really, from a couple of feet away I could make an informed comment, but it didn’t come out well…

Anyway, the latest signing hosted by those nice people at Tenth Planet was their third annual Doctor Who Day, with guests spanning old to new Who, a display on the stage of the shopping centre and free goodie bags and face-painting for the children. A jolly afternoon out, though I’d come for the guests rather than to have ancient sigils indicating my possession by the Beast tattooed on me. From the world of new Doctor Who celebrity cameos and TV’s Blue Peter, there was Matt Baker; from the world of audio Doctor Who and of course Eastenders, they had Anita Dobson, recently heard in Big Finish and BBC7’s Blood of the Daleks; and then there was Terrance Dicks, once script-writer and script editor for the TV series from as far back as the 1960s, writer of innumerable books, and there signing Made of Steel, the first novel published with the Tenth Doctor and Martha (yet to be seen on screen, unless you count the teaser trailers that have just started up).

I’d like to say that I turned up mainly to engage Matt Baker in hip observations about Never Mind the Buzzcocks – and I like to think I made a stab at that, too – but you know that I was really there not for either of the household names, but for the man considered a deity on some planets, where there are gigantic sculptures to which human sacrifices are made (according to Paul Cornell, anyway). So, yes, I did something I rarely do and, rather than just get a couple of things signed, splurged out an extra fee so I could get (cough) ten items autographed and not be glared at by the minders for holding up the queue. Well, it was a shortish queue by the time I got to the guests. But what could I do? Terrance Dicks has written so many things over the years that ten was my shortlist – I daren’t tell you how many books and DVDs I initially brainstormed.

And, you know, though he’s been signing appalling amounts of merchandise for about as long as I’ve been alive, he was absolutely lovely. I’d never call him the best Doctor Who writer, though his first book is still just about the best in the series, but he’s solidly professional (I’ve written about him before), and his style’s kept me reading all these years. It virtually got me reading in the first place, as his books were pretty much the ones on which I learned to read. It’s difficult to imagine life without reading (and of course writing) so many words, so when I meet one of the men to whom I feel I owe a lot of that, there’s a certain amount of awe. And yet, what a nice man – so practised at putting you at your ease. Unused to waving quite so many items at a guest, I apologised for the number, and he waved it away; “At conventions, small boys come up to me with two shopping bags full of books, and I sign them all,” he said (NB, readers: this is not a contractual obligation. And he did nod when I suggested that a lot of those little boys might have their dads behind them nudging them in the back to make sure they get them all done). He expressed surprise anyone should want to listen to a DVD commentary, so I congratulated him on doing his in such an entertainingly acerbic style. Some of them are desperately flat, but he’s definitely one of the contributors worth listening to – his bitching about Eric Saward’s Cyberman fixation greatly enlivens The Five Doctors, for example, if you pick up the Region 1 disc with the commentary on it. Prompted by that observation, he recalled that, on visiting Mr Saward (then Doctor Who script editor) to discuss writing The Five Doctors, he’d noticed a Cyber-helmet on the back of the door. And Cyber-boots. “Do you dress up when there’s nobody here and stomp about in all that?” demanded Terrance. Well, if you’ve seen The Robots of Death, you’ll know Eric’s not the only transistorvestite about. One book I didn’t bring along, though purely because my copies seemed too knackered to bother getting autographed, was his novelisation of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. In many ways the best of the three versions of the story, it does open with my favourite sentence of his, and I know several other people who’ve quoted it to me as the perfect establishing line. Explaining this, “Through the ruin of a city…” I started – “stalked the ruin of a man,” he finished, beaming.

I don’t want you to think that I ignored the other two guests. Actually, all three of them were wonderfully enthusiastic. I felt I had to apologise to Anita Dobson for spending so long with the chap sitting next to her, explaining that I learnt to read on his books (well, in a diplomatically quiet tone). But she was lovely, too, and thrilled to have been in Doctor Who at last, heard as the unloved ruler of another ruined world. Having heard all my conversation with Terrance, though, she wondered if she could ask me a few questions. Well, of course I said yes, and of course I knew the answers, and of course she marvelled that I was “a mine of information” – though no doubt 90% of the queue could have done the same. “Fans know everything in the world,” Terrance wisely advised her, though he knows a bit as well: she was trying to work out how many Doctors there had been, and after I’d given the simple answer of ten (there are many other answers, but that way madness lies), I added that Paul McGann, with whom she’d done her story, was the eighth. “Does he count?” she asked, forcing me to hold in any references to Queer As Folk lest she run screaming from the room. “He wasn’t on the telly.” “Well, he did one TV Movie in the ’90s,” I started to explain, “And it was rubbish!” boomed Terrance, before pithily explaining just what was wrong with it in terms almost suitable for children. So, he’s a Queer As Folk man, though apparently Russell T Davies isn’t. I stood my ground, and said that, while it desperately needed a script, on the bright side I thought Paul was very engaging in it as the Doctor. “Well,” said Terrance grudgingly, “casting him was the one thing they got right.” Making my escape to Matt Baker, he’d obviously heard it all and started asking the “mine of information” questions, too. But I did get to talk about Buzzcocks, and to confess that, when we had friends round to watch the whole of the 2005 season with an exciting array of food, though we’d considered his ‘spaceship cake’, it just seemed too complicated and that we didn’t actually make one. Neither, you’ll be shocked to learn, did he. I know: it’s like finding out about Father Christmas.

The moment of the day was still Anita Dobson’s peals of laughter as she played with a two-foot talking Freddie Mercury doll, though.

Current Mood: enthralled
Monday, August 28th, 2006
8:26 am
A New Bloggy At Last
Now that I’ve finally hit on a way to give this journal a bit of the attention it needs (poor wilting flower) with occasional posts about signings to give it its own identity, I’m going to spoil it all with a plug for a new other blog. I know, I’m just unfaithful in my blogging.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, you’re probably either a Doctor Who fan or enjoy horrific tales of dental torture. Sorry, but with any luck I’m going to be a bit slack on the hideous torture side of things in future, but to the other readers, you’ll probably have heard of Doctor Who Magazine. They have a splendid project called Time Team reviewing the whole of Doctor Who. After sending in my ‘reader’s thoughts’ for some years, on Saturday I created a blog to record them all, beginning with the experimental Pilot episode of Doctor Who, judged unsuccessful at the time and remade before the series started – the only piece of TV Doctor Who the Time Team don’t cover. This seems an opportune moment to start this selection. So, I’ve started my third blog: Next Time, I Shall Not Be So Lenient!

Yes, I know, starting a third blog when I can’t keep up with the two I have sounds a bit silly, but bear with me. I’ll still be doing all the usual Doctor-Who-and-lots-of-other-things at my main Love and Liberty, and posting the odd crazily stalkerish name-drop here. Just so this one feels loved. The new one’ll be occasional, too, and again with its own identity. I’ll start at the beginning of Doctor Who and simply publish all the random thoughts I’ve sent into Time Team over the years, so it’ll be less a set of reviews than a bunch of bizarre fragments. As I didn’t start sending in comments to DWM until the end of William Hartnell’s time as the Doctor, there are a couple of dozen stories I’ll be doing slightly more coherent reviews for at the start, to lull readers into a false sense of, well, making sense. I’ll be posting a few pieces over the next week or so to explain exactly what I intend to do with the new blog, but after that it’ll probably settle down to about once a fortnight.

As well as being a partial solution to three blogs by someone who’s not exactly fast at putting an article together, although for most posts to the new one I need in theory just copy in something I’ve already written, it’s taken the Time Team since 1999 to get from the Doctor Who stories of 1963 to the cusp of 1982. It wouldn’t do to overtake them.
Thursday, August 24th, 2006
8:16 pm
Writers, Writers Everywhere
Tenth Planet’s had rather a lot of signings over the past couple of months, before taking most of August off; I might return to the first weekend in August later, but in the meantime, the most recent signing I’ve been to was, unusually, at Forbidden Planet instead. I’ve only been to a couple of signings previously at their Central London megastore – in part because they don’t have nearly so many Who-related guests, in part because Tenth Planet are terribly nice chaps and I don’t know these ones, and in part because Tenth Planet are in a lovely, practical, heated indoor arcade, while Forbidden Planet requires you to queue in a seedy London backstreet for hours in the rain. Queuing there last year I got so sodden that I developed a cold I couldn’t shake for about three months, so this time I brought a brolly, and needed it.

Anyway, this was back on Saturday 12 August (‘from 1pm to 2pm’, they advised optimistically), for a very impressive lineup promoting The Doctor Who Storybook 2007, a rather groovy annual-sized publication from the publishers of Doctor Who Magazine. In we trooped, weary and dripping, past a long set of tables festooned with the most extraordinary collection of authors: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Gareth Roberts, Tom MacRae, Robert Shearman and Nicholas Briggs, plus DWM editor Clay Hickman and fabulous artists Alister Pearson and Martin Geraghty. I mean, wow. In theory, a fantastic lineup, particularly for someone like me who’s as much or more excited by authors as I am by actors.

And it was exciting, up to a point. The trouble is, there are one or two logistical difficulties when there are multiple guests in attendance, and while conventions have generally learned to solve them, it’s difficult to manage in a shop. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that – er – a friend might have brought along a complex selection of things to get signed by thrilling writers who rarely turn up to such things. Then imagine the difficulty I (damn, what a giveaway) might have, ushered in, dripping, to see a table side-on. Not only can you not get your things ready in the rain, but it’s impossible to see the order people are in even once inside before they’re actually signing. Being a relatively well-brought-up chap who doesn’t want to cause a tailback, it inevitably meant getting to the end, finding an item buried under the rest, and thinking, “Bugger, and that was his best script / book / piece of art, too.”

There are other problems, too. I like to say hello, but it’s very difficult to make conversation when the people all down the line of signers will hear you long before you get to them, or to remember what tack you were planning to use when there are nine in a row. The poor guys were so cramped together they were like a chain gang, but there’s also the problem of how to be, ah, differently enthusiastic to people; there were ways I could praise all of them, but I found it difficult to say to one author “I thought your story was brilliantly plotted, what a superbly crafted ending,” when I’d have been left telling the next one “And yours… Looked nice.” It’s like sitting two Doctors together (whoops, Tenth Planet are doing exactly that next month).

Still, a few interesting exchanges, and good to pass the time with those I’ve met before and recognise me (and goodness, hasn’t Rob lost weight). The longest chat was, of course, with the one in the book who, like the evil fairy (despite, I believe, being one of the straight ones), hadn’t been invited but turned up anyway, lurking at the back of the shop ready to cast a curse when it came to the free drinks. I wonder if any of them now have 5198 weeks of sleep left to go?

It feels mean while so enthused by all these people to mention that the real star of the day, while also an accomplished screenwriter with a feature film and work on Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood to his credit, wasn’t someone people saw as an author and wasn’t even on the bill. Yes, all the poor, soaking children in the queue cheered when Noel Clarke, Doctor Who’s own Mickey and Ricky Smith, turned up to shake hands, pose for photos and sign the odd thing that a kid didn’t mind turning into papier maché. This unexpected bonus definitely cheered everyone up on the three-hour wait. I must admit, I nabbed him for a signature inside afterwards, while he was talking to a shop assistant who was practically drooling on him (well, yes, he is jolly handsome as well as a jolly nice man) about the distinct lack of Mickey figures in Forbidden Planet’s toy section. Why is there, for example, a toy Chip, Cassandra’s unassuming sidekick, and not a slash-fiction special double-pack of his Defenders of the Earth? Bless him, he was insisting on a Jackie and Pete pack too. Awwwhhh.

If you’re wondering why he turned up, unexpected and unpaid, the secret lies with one of the authors who I chatted to briefly on his way back from the loo. I’d better not name him, but he’d been having lunch with Noel the day before and mentioned the signing: “Shall I turn up and cause chaos?” is an approximation of Mr Clarke’s reply. And, of course, everyone loved him for it.

I notice, by the way, that the BBC’s own Doctor Who Annual this year is labelled in huge letters as DOCTOR WHO – THE OFFICIAL ANNUAL 2007, as if trying to imply the DWM Doctor Who Storybook is some cheap knock-off and not something they’ve very expensively licensed from, er, the BBC.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
11:14 am
“I Am Not Worthy”
Yes, I know this has been neglected for much too long, but when Nicholas is kind enough to syndicate my other blog, just re-posting it doesn’t seem that exciting…

However, I’ve thought of a few things that I don’t put on Love and Liberty; no, don’t worry, it’s not more agonised surgical detail. Some would call it name-dropping, some a stalker’s diary, but actually it’s just going to be about some of the people for whom a gushing fan is prepared to queue.

I’m a frequent visitor to top Doctor Who shop Tenth Planet, out in Barking, not just to pick up the latest Who-related tat and have a bit of a gossip, but for their recurrent Saturday signings with special guests.

I was there last Saturday after the release of Doctor Who DVD The Hand of Fear, one I remember very fondly from my childhood, to get my copy signed by two icons of the period. For those of you who don’t know, The Hand of Fear features a fossilised hand which starts to move – in one of the two or three most terrifying moments of my childhood – then grows back its body into the rather stunning form of an actress called Judith Paris, playing an alien made of living stone. Things go a bit to pot later when she further transforms into a male alien in an ill-fitting costume who shouts a lot, but while Judith was on screen, I remember being enthralled (though not for the same reasons Tom Baker relates in the DVD commentary). I always loved a good villain, and unlike today’s series there weren’t many female ones in Doctor Who at the time, so she had novelty value as well as being terrific in her own right. Well, she still looks rather stylish today, and seemed to enjoy herself tremendously.

Oh, she also knighted me at one point, as ‘Sir Richard or Alex’ (you can probably guess what I ask people to write when they sign an autograph). Apparently I was the only person who knelt in front of her. Well, I always think it’s rude to tower over someone when they’re sitting down and would rather converse at the same level, wouldn’t you?

The other guest was former Doctor Who producer Philip Hinchcliffe.

Now, I’m usually pretty self-confident, some might say gobby, meeting people one-to-one. I tend not to be nervous even saying hello to fabulous heroes of my youth (while Richard blushes and hides, bless him, so he tends not to come along. That, and not seeing the attraction of a two-hour queue). The main exception since I started going to these events was meeting Julian Glover last year – possibly the most dependable villain on screen, and an actor I’ve been in awe of since I was a boy. Everything went out of my head and I just gushed embarrassingly. Philip Hinchcliffe wasn’t quite that bad, but ‘awestruck’ still sums up my reaction. Stony-faced and impressively-eyebrowed, this man was the producer of Doctor Who for the first three years I watched it, and his vision of the show – horror, history, wit, memorable images – utterly captivated me. It’s a period that I’d still say is the greatest the series has ever had and, yes, meeting him was like an audience with God (or more appropriately, as Mrs Mary Whitehouse saw him, the Devil). I’m enormously grateful to him.

So there was a bit of gushing for the man who got me into Doctor Who and, by extension, probably reading, politics and getting me to meet Richard, and the eyebrow raised. Still, it raised a lot more for the couple of very fixed views who were queuing a little way behind me, so at least I wasn’t the worst…
Sunday, May 14th, 2006
7:45 pm
Tooth and Awwwgghhh! – The Aftermath
Several days later, the tear at the edge of my mouth (yes, it is possible for even me to open my mouth too wide) has just about healed, but my gum is still swollen, painful and strange-tasting. There’s also a hole in it in the middle of the lower left side that seems about the size of a house. It’s so big that I counted the teeth on the other side and, yes, there are two missing. I don’t remember having had one out before. Was it so long ago that I’d forgotten? Or did she just break and uproot a neighbour during that no doubt exhausting ordeal? I’ve not dared ring and ask, but it’s left me feeling suspicious as well as sore. My Mum also gave me a heavy cold to take home, so I’m still not quite as healthy as usual (which, you’ll be shocked to learn, isn’t very).

Had this taken place this week rather than last week, and had I therefore seen last night’s Doctor Who, I’d have had Tight Fit going through my head instead. Probably a good thing I didn’t.
6:33 pm
Tooth and Awwwgghhh! – The Conclusion
Last weekend I finally travelled up to Stockport to see my regular dentist. Yes, some might say 200 miles is a bit far for even an NHS dentist, but I’ve been with them since I was four, and besides, it gave me a chance to see my Dad for his birthday and my Grandad in hospital. One out of three being a fun bit wasn’t bad… Anyway, the short version is that I had two fillings and the infected tooth taken out – though that rather under-describes a process that took well over an hour.

So if you’re squeamish, stop reading now.

I went into the dentist’s surgery at 10.30 and came out at 12.15, after having the upper filling that had crumbled away replaced, along with another that had cracked in the meantime. What took the most time, though, was having the rotten lower left tooth pulled. That sounds easy and quick, but unfortunately it wasn’t like the ‘one tug and it was free’ that you always see to comic effect on TV, though I’d certainly been influenced by that fanciful notion when I was given the option. She could do some root work, I was told, over four different appointments each a week or more apart, at the end of which she still might not be able to save the tooth. Or she could just take it out. Well, what would you have chosen?

During the hour it took, I kept trying to distract myself by running through favourite TV scenes in my head, but it kept coming back to Clouseau committing dental horrors in The Pink Panther Strikes Again or the Doctor with toothache in The Gunfighters. The same Doctor Who story had been going through my head a lot the previous weekend, when the toothache reached its height; I remember about three o’clock one morning, having had no joy from mixing two painkillers, thinking of the Doctor being offered a shot of whiskey or a tap from Doc Holliday’s revolver. I rarely drink, but was inspired to try a large measure of one of our liqueurs. No effect on the pain, though it made other things a bit blurry. I took to considering the possibility of waking Richard to ask if he had a handgun (he doesn’t). But I digress.

I was in a happier position than the Doctor by way of having had a strong anaesthetic injected into my jaw, but on the bright side for him, his tooth popped out in one go. Mine broke. Though I couldn’t feel the pain, I could hear the crack. Blimey, it was loud. There followed an hour of my dentist calling for smaller and smaller pliers and looking generally worried, at least when I had my eyes open. Most of the time I kept them closed – the spray of blood into them was distracting, and though I’m not especially squeamish there’s a limit to how many minutes I can watch someone reaching into my mouth and coming out drenched in blood. It was bad enough hearing and feeling my other teeth being knocked about as she tried more and more angles.

Endless cracking sounds, signalling bloody chunks of me being pulled out as she got a purchase but more frequently another failed attempt. Out came a root! Call for more pliers. Out came another root! Can I go home? “I think there’s another bit down there.” She takes an X-ray and, yes, there were three roots and one’s still right down there, invisible to the naked eye. My joy was palpable. It did all come out eventually, but I did spent quite a long time wondering if it ever would. She then added a strange fibrous brown substance to the gaping hole to help it heal or, possibly, burrow down to lay its eggs and grow to take over my mind as part of an invasion. It’s still giving every bit of food an offputting taste.

At the end I was, unsurprisingly, told to keep taking the painkillers for a few days, and by the time I next saw a mirror a couple of hours later my left cheek was swollen and the left side of my mouth was drooping horribly, crusted with blood. I probably looked like a stoned vampire – well, all right, it’s quite a while since I was gaunt – and children and small animals were fleeing my path. I look better than that now but, really, it wasn't a fun morning.
6:21 pm
The Return of Tooth and Awwwgghhh!
Another fun, event-filled couple of weeks down, and here’s what happened next.

They eventually called back and talked through my symptoms, so I was given an appointment for 8pm. I was seen about 8.40, and after going over the problems with my teeth, she decided not to give me another temporary filling, as it would just have to be drilled out in a week and it was already badly infected, but to give me painkillers and antibiotics for the infection itself. Between the Dihydrocodeine tablets (brilliant, after not one of the over-the-counter pills worked) and the Orajel going directly into the lower left tooth that had been giving me the agony, the pain dramatically reduced. I was a bit knocked out and woozy that night, though without much sleep, but on Monday May 1st I had my first full night's sleep for a week. On Tuesday – waiting in all day for an electrician that didn’t bother turning up, but that’s another whinge I’ll spare you – I was still tired, still throbbing, but now no longer a zombie (or hideously pain-wracked). Phew! Add to that Amoxicillin for the infection and things seemed to be on the up.

Wednesday, and more aggravating phone fun with electricians, then off to deliver in stately, picturesque Southwark and busy, built-up Hampstead and with various jolly Lib Dem candidates. By the end of the day I was weaving about and pouring with sweat, which I thought was down to exercise and a warm night. Off to the doctor’s Thursday for more painkillers – he wouldn’t give me the same ones I got from A&E at the weekend because they’re addictive, tsk – and then set off for sunny Leyton for polling day. A little over half-way, I started reeling on the tube. Perhaps it was the old painkillers on top of the new, but I managed to get home and then just keeled over. About four hours later I came round to find a few missed calls, rang back to say I wouldn’t be over for knocking up, reckoned I wouldn’t be out for a drink that evening with Who fans either, and just tried to feel less out of it. I’m still feeling guilty after a particularly good councillor in the ward I was on my way to lost his seat by a handful of votes. Oh dear. But it looked like I had a choice between zombie through pain and lack of sleep, or zombie through the painkillers, so I kept taking the tablets…
Sunday, April 30th, 2006
3:09 pm
Tooth and Awwwgghhh! (II)
Thanks, Ramtops, for the suggestion – I’d just gone out, with poor Richard driving me round Whitechapel, and here’s the latest...

Back from A&E, who said it wasn’t their problem and sent me next door to the emergency dentist, who weren’t letting anyone in the door and sent me a/ to ring a number to get an appointment and b/ to the Sainsbury’s pharmacy across the road.

Was put through to an answering person and told that I’ll be rung back to discuss details and possibly fit me in sometime tonight - hasn't happened after well over an hour.

This is not the NHS's best day ever.

Pharmacy gave me Solpadeine, which has done bugger all, and Orajel (with clove oil and other things), which has made my mouth numb. Except for the hideously painful bit, obviously. No, to be fair, it’s gradually taken some of the edge off – I can survive for more than two minutes without filling my mouth with cold water, which is an improvement.

Another thoroughly lovely person online mentioned DIY temporary filling kit, though naturally the pharmacy didn’t mention them, despite me explaining what was wrong. Shame, really, as they sound a good idea.

Despite waiting for that call, may take the opportunity of ameliorated agony to try and sleep again while Richard watches Miss Marple. Bit embarrassing when my biggest ambition is unconsciousness…
11:32 am
...Because Self-Pity Is So Attractive
I've been neglecting both blogs, now, and in part because I'm having some real difficulties with concentration.

A few weeks ago I had two temporary fillings put in to replace ones that had fallen out – with a ‘proper’ appointment for fillings on May 8th (and my dentist is, er, 200 miles away, which makes it very difficult to just turn up there and see if they can fit me in). Both temporary fillings have crumbled away since - the upper one in a charming miniature re-enactment of the plaster falling down in Carry On Up the Khyber, the lower popping out all in a lump, unbidden, during conversation. Lovely.

I’ve had intermittent toothache since, but manageable until this week. Suddenly, it’s been getting so bad it’s been waking me in the night. For the last four nights, I’ve not slept past three, save brief snatches in the day. I’m increasingly wrecked, and unable to concentrate (unsurprisingly). It’s been ebbing and flowing in severity, and I managed to get out for a bit yesterday, but now it just doesn’t seem to be going away again.

The past two days it’s suddenly become almost full-time, and I’m at my wits’ end. I’ve tried as many different makes of painkiller as I can lay my hands on, as well as several stiff drinks (I rarely drink - you'll probably know that my vice is chocolate, which hasn't done me a lot of good in this regard). None of them have the slightest effect. Richard has also declined to tap me on the head with his six-shooter (Doctor Who joke). So I'm feeling very, ah, blurry through lack of sleep, but not at all blurry where I'd like to be.

Yesterday I found that brushing the gums around the broken tooth provided relief, but it’s now too raw to carry on. Since about 4am today I’ve managed only by keeping my mouth full of water, which slightly ameliorates it – but I’m, well, turning into a balloon, and as my mouth becomes agony within a few seconds of emptying it I can’t exactly try to relax.

A few minutes ago I resorted to locking myself in the bathroom and screaming, which is understandably alarming my beloved. And me.

In short, I'm really losing it right now...
Friday, April 7th, 2006
4:20 pm
Ooh, I Do Feel Queer
Well, I've been ill and / or away for much of the last month, so I've not done much on one blog and cruelly neglected this poor fledgling. Awwwhhh. But today’s news is something that, I’m sure, will surprise no-one:

Which member of the Carry On Team are you?

Kenneth Williams. You are of noble blood and can talk for Rome. Oh, 'ere, stop messing about!
Take this quiz!

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Monday, March 6th, 2006
9:29 am
Hello world, hello trees, hello flowers
I’ve recently started blogging, and while I do that over at Love and Liberty (see below), I have friends at Livejournal too and opened this mini-account to keep in better touch with them. So, I probably won’t be posting here directly all that often, though the lovely Nicholas (nhw) has syndicated me on here http://syndicated.livejournal.com/alexwilcock/ if you want to keep it in-house.
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