Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Silent Scream.

The Silent Scream; A nice play on words, The Silent Screen, as well as a description of what this quality fourth Doctor Season Six Big Finish story is all about. The stakes are not as world threatening as most of these tales usually are and it is all the better for that. I had feared when I first heard what this story was going to be about and particularly with regard to the location and time period that it might be a goofball adventure with terrible gangster accents( As pastiches set in this time zone invariably involve gangsters and their molls.) I know of a couple of occasions the Doctor has visited this time zone and location and both times those cliches awaited him. At one point even involving a gangster/Dalek hybrid. Instead Big Finish have surprised me with a strangely poignant tale where the once famous are exploited by the not yet born.
              It is a nice story about the folly of pursuing fame for fame's sake and the loss of dignity that comes with hubris denied. The Doctor and Romana are truly two odd fish out of water in this artificial Hollywood enviroment., the Hollywood of yesteryear. A place still driven by the same foolish and soulless ambitions.Our two enlightened beings could mock and belittle these deluded ape descendants as they strive for empty immortality. yet they do not, they try instead to help, one of the reasons I continue to love these two wayward children of Gallifrey. They never grew up as their world grew old. Silent Scream is a delightful mix of Sunset Boulevard and old school Doctor Who.

Hyperstation is Go.

Like some rediscovered lost story or posterity stored artifact artist  Mark Mc Keown's portfolio presents itself. It felt a buzz to unscrew the lid, gently reversing the polarity , to access a world of images and unspoken thoughts. He is a film maker as much as an artist of still images. One form are a series of ideas and thoughts which must exist without words. The other a form that combines sound and vision and movement. Some of it just sparkles, like light play between branches of tree and leaves that wave stirred by wind. Very Lovely Things, the sort of thing William Blake might have tried to capture on film. Knowing mark he would probably blush to hear me say so but a good artist is often not able to express why he does certain things or why they can see things other might not.
             It is often only others who expect them to do so.
             Like a great singer who can sing beautifully and perhaps reach notes others cannot. At best they are able to describe what they are singing and even why they are singing it but cannot say why that sound is so beautiful. It just touches something within us.

Jack The Ripper Case Closed.

You would not think he had it in him. Gyles Brandreth, the constantly smiling whimsical television presenter and BBC One show edu-tainer. He has written a compulsive page turner of a novel involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde trying to fill a Jack The ripper shaped hole in the fabric of London history. the rock steady Doyle and the mercurial Wilde make a an eccentric team but each balances the excesses of the other, one bound in tradition the other unfettered. In this writers hands both characters emerge fully formed and delightfully believable. Sometimes fictions involving actual historical figures can feel forced or little more than wishful fan writing( although the love of fans is generally a pure and generous thing and should never be taken for granted.) stiff and un-witty.
unthinkable in the context of bringing Oscar Wilde back to life. Written badly he could become a pretentious bore or the person at a party you never wish to come into earshot off., not the case here at all. He is compelling on different levels, interesting even when not speaking and when not in the thick of things the reader cannot help but wonder what he is off doing. gyles Brandreth writes Doyle as an easily likable man, who is temperate in all things, the man one would gravitate towards if insearch of a trust worthy companion or a friend for life. Yet one of the most surprising and enjoyable aspects of the book is how Constance Wilde is treated. Oscar's long suffering and utterly devoted wife  comes to the fore in the most splendid of fashions. this was an insightful decision to bring her to the fore if for no other reason than to foreshadow the oncoming tragedy in their lives. While history never revealed the identity of The Ripper it has almost gloatingly recorded the fall from grace of this most talented and colourful of Victorian Icons.
              It must be so tempting for a writer on a book like this to include all the prime movers in an event or a series of events such as the Ripper killings. Some literary excuse could be found to bring all the characters together even if it makes no historical sense. Gyles Brandreth tastefully avoids this and only has his characters rub elbows with other Victorian luminaries when it would actually be quite possible to do so. There are no instances of Wilde and Doyle enjoying a bounce on a Victorian trampoline only to have all the Ripper suspects using the trampoline next to them. Not that Trampolining had any social currency back then. I was just considering an unlikely set of Victorian variables. Imagine a detective story set in mid-eighties London when Boy George and Morrissey attempt to solve a mystery when they bump into all of the musicians and "celebrities" of that era (I include the italics as the word celebrity meant something different in that period than it does now.)
bumping into Margaret Thatcher, Mohammed Ali, Roger Moore, Bob Geldof, Neil Kinnock, Colin Baker and ..er, The Queen Mother.  The writer would then awkwardly and unconvincingly to crowbar them all together at Peter Stringfellows with Stock, Aiken and Waterman providing the soundtrack. Like a game of Cluedo played by the cast of the latest Hello Magazine. It would have rung out from the pages as so untrue. Like the Belles Of Notre Dame ringing out at the height of The Festival Of Fools.Not so with Case Closed. Any such encounters are tastefully crafted and entirely plausible.
               "I am not a detective" says Wilde at one point to Police Chief Mc Naughten.
               "No, but you are a poet, a Freemason and a man of the world. All useful qualifications for the business at hand.
                Stuck with a mystery with no solution in sight Chief Constable Mc Naughton desperately seeks a fresh perspective on the grimmest of crimes. and while Gyles Brandreth is not the first author to seek to provide an answer to that bloody riddle he has come up with an entertaining and thought provoking fictional explanation. Which of course is perhaps the most we can hope for after all these years of misinformation and colorful speculation.
                 It is just generally they are not as fantastically engaging as this one.

Giger Island.

This is one of my favorite paintings by H R Giger. an island floating on a sea of dark dreams, presenting a harbor that looks far from safe. I am not sure what it is. what strange latitudes it represents.Some one said to me recently that they found the recent Alien movie unsatisfying as it posed more questions than answers."Go and look at any painting by Giger and tell me how many answers you find in it.."
            There is a quality in the original alien movie which is so difficult to replicate. An atmosphere which seems so elusive even the vast resources of modern movie making seems incapable of reproducing. The Nostromo is so very far from home. So far beyond help that when the worst happens and they are forced to flee. To run for their lives and even this proves so utterly futile in the face of the..well, Alien.
              Take a look into the dark between the two pillars. Is it a gateway? Is it the beginning of a dark cave or a tunnel leading to something awful? A hard path to traverse with only misery and pain at the other end?
                Why would we take that path?
                Because it is what we do. We stupid humans.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Camberwick Green; Covenant.

                                                        (From My Sketch Book.)
That naughty Mandroid David has crash landed his stolen Engineer Juggernaut on a hill side overlooking the gentrified town of Camberwick Green. And already something unpleasant has happened to one of the villagers who lives there just after he investigated a very unusual egg type object he found close to Windy Miller's One cannot  help but believe that nothing in this sleepy little Hamlet will ever be the same.
             It is probably wrong of me to say this but David is such a trouble maker. every where he goes bad things seem to happen and his unrelenting hatred of mankind is really too much.His hellbent pathology really exceeds any rational programming. The hands that crafted this Mandroid have a lot to answer for given the operatic levels of mischief he is responsible for.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

East End 'Orror

                                                              (From the sketchbook.)

You Can Run.

         Oh what a find in a ramble round an old bookstore. One of my favorite covers for a while.
                                                      Ghosts,Ghosts, GHOSTS.

Mad Man In A Box.

Buffalo Soldier.

Read this small but perfectly formed novella while sitting in the piney garden. Desmond Coke, former agent of espionage from Jamaica, finds himself once more engaged in the long dirty game, protecting a very special child from the forces who would shape his destiny to suit theirs. It is a southern Gothic game of thrones, a Machiavellian cat and mouse through a smokey jasmine haze. Desmond Coke has seen and done a lot, somethings he regrets but cannot undo, yet he is driven to do the right thing by this boy., to see him grow free and have a life fulfilled, a life of potential.
              This leads to a chase across an America which only exists on the pages of this book, through undiscovered states and unread cities. Its a steam punk vision, another alternative history, yet the lyrical writing gives it an almost poetic quality. Just before the violence kicks off.

Rude Boy, Do No Harm.

                                                            (From the sketch book.)
Had a vivid memory of dancing in a Ska stylee with some old mates in The Shamrock Social to Night Boat To Cairo by Madness. A dark sweaty smoke filled dance floor dancing in a circle while the rest of the club mocked but secretly wished they could join in. I know long have the knees for nutty dancing but I still get that excited knot in my stomach when I hear Lee Thompson's opening blasts on the saxaphone, Mister Baggy Trousers himself. The skin in braces in my drawing was a guy from back in the day.I was eyeballing him in the anarchy centre. We came from different worlds. He was all feral skinhead sexiness and I was a punky Boy George.A right fop. I smiled. He smiled. We had a moment. Then his mate punched me and they stole my bottle of cider.
              I forgive him. Well, I never forgot him.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Oh The Horror The Horror!Heard a rustling noise in my wheeli-bin and peered over the edge to see what it was and something seemed to leap up out the smelly darkness. Next thing I find myself dreaming of suffocation, dreams of swallowing a Vienna roll, dreams of monstrous pupae erupting from pulsing cocoons,dreams of The Marx Brothers in Zero gravity...Well they say that n space everyone can hear you laugh. Its probably down to the Marx Brothers.
           Now I have these strange rumblings in my chest as though the doors of my rib cage were about to swing open
           Mind you, the could be the can of Ravioli cheesy tea bags I  had last night.