Thursday, 24 September 2015

Dark Prince Of Skaro.

One of the truly unexpected( For me anyway.) delights of Saturday nights Doctor Who episode the Magician's Apprentice was the return of Davros played brilliantly by the remarkable Julian Bleach. He is just such a presence on screen that when he appears I find the scene moves towards him and away from anyone sharing the same space. Buried under layers of damaged , ravaged and scared Kaled tissue he is never more menacing than when speaking gently with that hissing almost reptilian sibilant speech form he issues as the genius creator of the Daleks. For me it is a mix of Michael Fassbender and Boris Karloff with just a trace of fallen angel. The way he taunted and mocked the Doctor who seemed actually rattled by just being in the same room. Just wonderful.
               I have seen him before in other things. He has been in Torchwood as well as The Sarah Jane Adventures as well as playing the magnetic Niccolo Machiavelli in the television series The Borgias. He also performed in the live stage production of Shock Headed Peter. A musical written and performed by Martin Jaques and the genius Tiger Lillies( honestly, treat yourself.) he played "that great long-legged scissor man" and it was as though he stepped from a nightmare "snip,snip.".
               He is that rare thing; a sensitive intuitive actor capable of playing soft spoken monsters.
               Which we all know are the worst of all.
               The return of Skaro to the Doctor who canon is something to be celebrated and relished. Despite its destruction so long ago now in Remembrance Of The Daleks.The destruction of whole worlds seems like such an overcooked epic first response in so many stories.It seems as much a cliche  now as alien worlds seemingly having only one climate or region where life exists. Since Alderann went boom in 1977 it seems the expected thing in science fiction movies or television series which is surely one of the reasons it be avoided as a source of tension.
                 Even the name evokes a sense of dark mystery.  In my imagination I have roamed its ghostly petrified forests beneath the light of its moons Falkus and Omega Mysterium. I have scoured its fetid and dangerous swamps in search of clean drinking water with only the map from an old Dalek annual to guide me.
Its vast wastelands teeming with all manner of mutant life and genetically altered botanical atrocities.
                 And whatever walks the wastelands of Skaro walks there alone.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Mark Of The Reihill.

Just look at this cover of the latest issue of Starburst by Belfast based artist Mark Reihill! Is it not a thing of beauty? Was so delighted to get it I felt not unlike the magical Patrick Troughton dancing a wee jig as only a truly cosmic hobo can(as the photo below from some BBC archive shows.)
              Felt as though this was a message from The Doctor saying YOU BETTER BE READY FOR SATURDAY NIGHT.YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHERE WE ARE GOING NEXT. ..

Bumble-Me Three.

                                                              (from my sketchbook)

Bumble-Me Two.

                                                                (from my sketchbook)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Who Will never Let You Down.

The nights are Fair drawin' in. There is a dark Saturday-nightish quality that you can feel in the air. It is that time of year. The Good Doctor( And he is The Good Doctor despite his own self doubt) returns this Saturday 19th September.
             We have seen the teaser.
             We have seen the trailer.
             We have seen the prologue..
             All of time and space awaits.

The Green Man.

Just finished this and by Jove it was a good 'un. A saucy romp and an honest to goodness ghost story to boot. A story set deep in the English countryside where the wind stirs the restless branches and the eaves of the house echo with a spectral scratching and the creaking of bed springs. Really loved this book by Kingsley Amis. It smelt of autumn windfalls and apple cider downed beneath sturdy pub beams next to a crackling fire and if I am not mistaken that well might be Ma and Pa Larkin planning a late summer bloom romp on the way home if that randy smirk is anything to go by.
           The restless spirit of Underwood which stalks the green man is not a blithe one. It is an unsettling persona which has survived the corporeal death of its body yet still seems driven by the cruel passions that stoked its fire in life. It is not the only other worldly presence which inhabits the old homestead. There are other shapes glimpsed where none should be, footsteps where no foot fell and the woods seem to breathe and exhale in a palpable expression of crude being. There is a spiky very human horniness that permeates the novel that would bring a blush to the bark of old Tree-beard. a very British Oh-er vicar quality that seems of another age but this detracts in no way. Quite the contrary in point of fact as it endears the characters to the reader with a blushing familiarity of all things human and needy and impermanent. Some of the characters in the book are at the beginning of their lives, some are on the cusp of almost adulthood, some are adults struggling to break free of unresolved adolescent impulses while others face their own mortality and pass beyond. All are affected by the ghosts and spirits of The Green Man in different ways.
             As I suspect the readers will be depending upon what age they are when they come to read the book and find their sympathies and empathies perhaps at variance with the writers intentions. Or lack of them depending on how you interpret the mercurial morality of the central character. Especially when the characters desire for a threesome seems to exceed  his desire to lay to rest the spirits of the restless dead.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


(From my sketchbook) I had a dream I was a bumblebee just buzzing around collecting pollen and flying like I just dropped my road map and was a bit discombobulated. As you do. as it were.

Play Missy For Me.

Look What the immensely talented artist Daryl Shaw did for me. The mistress herself; Missy. Imagine what Missy could do with one spoon full of sugar. It does after all make the medicine go down and helps keep the Doctor away. Oh She is a bad one is that Missy.

Its Good To Talk.

Ever been insulted by some one who then breaks into dance and starts singing? Happened to me the other day in the bank whilst I was waiting to do a lodgement. A jittery couple were waiting behind me impatiently for whatever service they required. Attention of any description I suppose. She was swearing at him, grunting and insulting him "STEAKO YOURA DICK" while  he was singing away to himself (some David Guetta toast or other) and placating her "KAM DOWN,KAM DOWN,LUV", both pausing at different moments to check the mobile devices they waved about them as though they were magic talismans to ward off demons. I turned at one point and made eye contact. Not meaning any harm but this was immediately interpreted as being judgemental.."WHA THE GAYLORD LOOKEN AT?" he asked. "SHUR UP YOU WANGER,DOON START" she replied laughing and shaking. Quite a thrill to be present at what was obviously the funniest moment in both their lives. Both were well tattooed. Which is to say they had a lot of Tattoos not necessarily that they had been tattooed in a good way. They had tattoos in the same way some people wear Ug boots. I do not know how else to describe it. It is nothing to me or anyone else how another person chooses to decorate themselves. It is an art and generally a beautiful thing. I have friends who's choice of inks and whose skin displays art that would put the roof of the Sistine Chapel to shame. Whose intricate and beautifully crafted tattoos would make a Yakuza gangster blush inadequately. Yet none of them use them in place of a personality. Sometimes a beard is just a beard.
            Oh well, it was nice to hear two people enjoying themselves and to think that for some the party never really ends. You never have to wait for the fat lady to sing when you are in fact the fat lady of your own life. When you are your own Greek chorus. When you are the Jeremy Kyle audience member anxiously awaiting the results of the paternity test results of the baby conceived against a wheelie bin outside a kebab shop "CAUSEATTHEENDOFTHEDAYLUVEISBLIND". When you are the one who puts the old into everyone else's Lang Syne. Yes, that is right, we are all made of stars.

Nice Plums Mister Baker.

What a lovely photo of this lovely man. Just pottering around his garden under the Plum trees. Very Heaven.
It is from  Tom Baker's own website. Check it out. You will feel like you have found a way to the Best Tea-Shop At The End Of The Universe. Cosmically charming.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Rock Pool.

(From my Sketchbook.)This was a glimpse i had into a small rock pool on a beach in Newcastle..It is not entirely accurate.actually it is nothing like the rock pool I found in Bangor. All I saw in it was a dead crabs claw, a coke tin and part of a license plate of a car.
               This is what I would like to have found in a rock pool in Bangor.

Pier Pressure.

                                                                (From the sketchbook)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Beside The Seaside.

(From my sketchbook)Was watching The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes as part of a truly beautiful box set collecting all the Basil Rathbone Holmes movies and was completely taken with this. It is Holmes in disguise performing at a garden party a young woman he is protecting is attending. He disguises himself as this entertainer and sings and dances and it was minutes before I realised it was actually Holmes. Basil Rathbone really goes for it and is quite excellent and completely plausible as an end of pier singer. There is a deft lightness of touch and a lyrical spring in his steps as he kicks up his heels. It is a side of the actor I had never seen and was dazzled by his quirky performance. Inspired to scribble actually. I have been listening to his readings of Edgar Allen Poe stories which he does just magnificently. His instinctive intonations lend the baroque quality of Poe's writing a gravitas that impresses the ear.He could have made shipping forecasts sound ominous. Which I suppose they are if you are a deep sea trawler fisherman.

What the Dickens?

Probably the first biography I read as a school boy at Holy Cross Boys School. Managed to find a lovely condition copy at Atomic Collectables, Jim Mc Kevitt's magical emporium in North Street Belfast. The things that man turns up. I remember that this book confused me for some time. I am not quite sure exactly what it was but something in the text and artwork made me think that the characters Dickens wrote about were all real. That he knew Oliver Twist and David Copperfield and that Fagin and Bill Sykes and all the others just lived in different parts of foggy olde London. Perhaps in a sense they were real or at the very least have become something of a memory as opposed to a memory of fiction. The whole world of Victorian London has taken on a dream like quality with the passing of time. Maybe that is all the past becomes when enough time has passed. Reality becomes as intangible as fiction. Or maybe my brain is broke.

Fu Man-Holmes.

Finished this in the early hours with the sound of a sudden cloudburst drumming a tattoo on my roof (The actual roof of my house, That is not a euphemism for the top of my head). Cay Van Ash comes across as a hybrid of Conan Doyle/John Buchan/ Sax Rohmer but has just enough of his own voice to propel the narrative forward in a vigorous fashion. He even manages to make Wales seem like an exotic lost kingdom of hidden valleys and storm lashed coast lines.(Which it probably is as they film so much of Doctor Who there.). His Doctor Petrie is pretty much as Sax Rohmer would have him and his Holmes is an older even more insular figure than Doyle wrote him. He carries a sadness that he never did under his original creators tenure. Perhaps it is because now he truly is a man out of his own time as the Victorian age is past and his formidable skills seem tempered by the changes of society at large.
            It is an entertaining ride with many unexpected thrills. The characters are well observed and their situations engaging, as companions are traded and roles swapped around. For Petrie must engage the aid of Sherlock Holmes to find and possibly rescue Nayland Smith from the clutches of his nemesis The Devil Doctor Fu Manchu who has abducted him. Is his friend alive or dead? Has the evil genius surgically altered his helpless foe to have the head of a salamander and the gills of a puffer fish? Will Holmes even allow himself to be coaxed out of a well earned retirement in Sussex raising bees? The author cleverly weaves so much around established canon(No easy thing when you consider the sheer bulk of material that exists around Holmes) that it is entirely plausible to see this period in the Great Detectives life as yet another that remained unspoken off for so long but which took place when the world thought he was busy doing nothing. I enjoyed the pacing of the novel and the adventure very much. Anyone expecting Robert Downey jnr Indiana Holmes type pacing might find it a little slow moving but then they are probably reading something else(GQ magazine at a guess.). There are a couple of bar scenes in country taverns and in my minds eye I am sure I saw Kenneth Moore in a smokey corner having a relaxing pint and a puff on a pipe.
              Fu manchu is as brilliantly devious and mysterious as ever in this book. There are no mere cameos or homages at play here, It feels as authentic as anything in either canon. I would be surprised to find a follower of any of these long lived and much loved characters who did not feel it was a worth having in any-ones collection. Might be a bit tricky to find a copy but is that not a significant part of the adventure of book collecting?
               As adventures go there is a nice reward at the end.