Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mrs Mc Ginty's Dead.

Mrs Mc Ginty's dead and she is not the only corpse in the village. Poirot is asked to investigate the brutal murder of a little old char lady whose lodger is facing the rope after having been found guilty of the crime. Oh yes Britain still had the death penalty at the time of this book's publication. Poirot is on the case in this type of village mystery that Christie would have normally reserved for ms Marple. in fact it was wonderfully filmed as such with the darling Margaret Rutherford as Ms.Marple in the 1964 MGM film Murder Most Foul. The novel also features an appearance by another Christie creation Ariadne Oliver the crime writer who seems like some echo of Christie herself. In one of the most interesting moments in the novel she is bemoaning one of her own creations; a fictional Finnish detective named Sven Hjerson whom she has been writing for more years than she cares to remember. She questions her own wisdom in working on a Finnish character when she from the very start knew next to nothing about Finland or the habits of its people. She resents her characters quirky mannerisms and the little personality ticks that have enamored the character to a wider reading public and been helped him remain so successful for years. Although now she freely admits she would like to use all her accumulated skills as a crime writer to kill the character off in as punitive a fashion as possible.
                I could not help wondering is Christie actually talking about Poirot here. It is not even too thick a veil she has perhaps used to mask her feelings about this much loved and world famous character she breathed life into and at time of publication had been writing for around thirty three years or so. Did she grow tired of the brilliant little Belgium detective whilst the rest of the world hollered for more? Did she come to resent Poirot in the way Conan Doyle came to feel about Sherlock Holmes or Herge felt about TinTin? I found this a sad thought. If the things we create are to become life partners surely it is a tragedy not to love them...Like Herr Frankenstein we create our own monsters. So often that we dare not bite our nails because the filthy clay of creation is impacted beneath the fingernails.
                 Loved this book, it is one of my favorites since I began to work my way through the Agatha Christie collection. Poirot is such an hilarious fish out of water in this small English village and there are laugh out loud moments as he complains about his suffering in his pursuit of truth. The truth being he has never been more endearing as he overhears people mocking his curious foreign ways and eccentric appearance.
                  I know what that feels like.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Tenth Panic.

(From the doodle book) Remember those Cybermen from The Tenth Planet?So creepy with those odd cloth covered faces. Like mini funeral shrouds...and those hands.The still human hands acting as a reminder of what they almost are.. first glimpsed by me on an episode of Blue Peter doing a retro of Early Doctor Who.
               Never thought that one day I would have a copy of it in my own home.
               Different copies on different formats(DVD and Video).
               We are all citizens of the future now.

Frankly My Dear.

Back in the day if I ever left any of my old Target Doctor Who novelizations laying around my old chum Frank Lecky would doddle his interpretations of the work on the inside sleeve. I would feign (It is what the outre do instead of "pretend") that I was annoyed whilst being absolutely delighted. The Fendahl never looked more slobbery and the second drawing was his vision of me as a Tardis Pilot had me beaming in delight. Love the confused cow.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Game On.

(From my sketch book.)This is my nephew Ciaran doing what he most enjoys. Gaming in some shape or form (or platform would be a more accurate description.) Honestly, when I was his age I was content to roam the streets playing with my hoop...
           Oh How the other boys mocked.

Inspector Of The Dead.

Back to the fog bound night time streets of London this time in 1885 and in the company of the Great British Eater Of Opium himself Thomas De Quincey. The novel is Inspector Of The Dead by David Morrell and is a gripping page turner of a mystery. Some prominent and successful citizens are being murdered and their bodies displayed in gruesome ways intended to send a shiver down the spine of Empire. Britain is in turmoil, its government hanging by a thread due to press revelations concerning their mismanagement of the war in Crimea. Victoria and her consort Prince Albert sit uneasily upon a powder keg of a throne and anarchy seems inevitable. enter stage right the enigmatic figure of Thomas De Quincey the much misunderstood and socially revilled author and essayist whose occasional use of opiates at an earlier stage of his life had led to full blown addiction. His book the semi-autobiographical Confessions Of An English opium Eater which detailed his daily existence as an addict of Laudanum and the profound impact this had on his life;2..eloquent opium that with that thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed clean of blood..."This brilliant but tormented man becomes the prism through which we see the motivations of the killer. De Quincey's daughter Emily also emerges from the narrative a fully formed character bristling with humanity and a natural forward thinking. Her natural intelligence and gentle but strong sense of morality a virtue that enables her to bear the weight of her fathers demons and her fathers genius.
             David Morrell brings Victorian society to life once more( at least for whatever time you remain within his prose.)He delights and deceives in equal measure and even manages to make the horrendous killer somewhat sympathetic. He is no Edmund Dante but he is a terribly wronged man who is now prepared to burn the world in his thirst for revenge.
              Yet strangely none of it feels implausible, actually it feels as real as history does. Morrell has written a powerful and engaging thriller where nothing happens that could not have taken place in some alternate reality. Not even the cruelty that sets the dominoes tumbling, Falling all through the years with a terrible outcome a real possibility. history tells us that certain things never happened. We know Queen Victoria was not assassinated. It is a fiction, a tale written to enthuse and perhaps entertain and amuse.  Everything that history should be.

The Cats Miaow.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Beyond The Crack Of Doom.

Fell asleep on the sofa last night and had one of those walks through the dream place where  nothing really makes sense and although things might look familiar they are not what they seem. Do you ever have a dream where the streets are filled with cars with human faces which scream when the engines are switched on? Or you find yourself walking towards the front entrance of your old school and just past the open doorway you see giant teeth and you realise it is a mouth and it wants to eat you? Where every clock face has fingers but no hands and there is a Salvation Army band on the corner in their Victorian uniforms playing their instruments and both sides of all their heads is the back?
               Mind you..the last song I remember hearing before drifting off was The Crack Of Doom by The Tiger Lillies. That is practically an application to go to strange places in ones head..

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Easy.Easy Like Sunday Morning.

When winter leaves the branches bare and icy breezes fill the air just go for a wee dander with your chums. Well, thats what I like to do. Like the gentlemen in this lovely cover for the magazine Comic Art. It was done by the Canadian artist and writer Seth. I so enjoyed his comic Palookaville and I really really enjoyed the collection of stories from that publication that made up the wonderful Its A Good Life If You Do'nt Weaken. It appeared to be semi-autobiographical and captured a series of bitter sweet moments in the life of an art collector and artist as he moves through our fragmented times. It was all rendered so artfully and stands as a brilliant collection that comprises a well written and beautifully drawn story that is touchingly human.
              We are all such fragile beings at the whim of titanic forces that shape our destinies without a care for where we end up.
               Be strong.
               Be true.
               Do'nt weaken.
               Be yourself.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Sign Of The Times-Traveller.

Just over ten years ago the writing was on the wall..or the billboards. The doctor was on his way back. The BBC were running an amazing teaser trailer. The Magical Christopher Eccelson running down a long corridor with a wall of flame chasing him. The first time I saw it I felt a firework explode inside my head. My hero The Doctor was getting another chance and he was in good hands...
                  Billboards? Billboards announcing his return all over the place. This was big news back then. I had hoped for so long to see him again and to watch new stories unfold and the myth to grow and grow. I just could not believe that there were billboards with my hero's face all over them. Sure, it was a new face but I am a life long fan of the man from Gallifrey so it had happened before..eight or nine times( I love Peter Cushing's interpretation and although it is not canon I do not mind. Life so rarely conforms to canon.) I got my brother to drive around town so I could take photos. He was mortified. What if someone who knew him saw this boobie behaviour? I was pretty much used to the scorn my passions evoked in complete strangers let alone people who knew me. I let it go. Tried not to judge the mockers too harshly. He was more of the busted heads school of thought.
                  Ten years and three (or four!) new faces later the wheezing and grinding of the greatest ship in the galaxy still resounds around the worlds of space and time.
                  Unfortunately those are also the sounds I make climbing a flight of stairs.
                  I need to regenerate not degenerate.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Strings Of Murder

I have heard it said The Devil has the best tunes and if this is true I think he plays the best ones on the fiddle.
Just read this fantastic novel by a chap called Oscar De Muriel called The Strings Of Murder. The year is 1888, the year of The Ripper. Jack The Ripper. The mysterious and still annonymous killer who rocked Victorian society to its hypocritical heart as he splattered the streets of Whitechapel with innocent blood. (Yes I say innocent blood as these poor women had been driven to degrading acts by a life that was as unrelenting as it was merciless.) at the same time, in a fictional sense, at the other end of the British Isles, in Edinburgh, the brutal murder of a beloved violin teacher leads the top brass to suspect a copy-cat killer is at work. One maniac on the loose is enough, two implies a society out of control and those in control fear a loss of the illusion that all is well at the top. They fear this may even be an attempt to undermine the social order by suspects unknown. To combat this they decide to send a disgraced Scotland Yard detective Inspector Ian Fey up to Edinburgh to assist the eccentric but powerful Nine Nails McGray with his "ghost bustin division" to catch the killer before he strikes again. The Scottish detective is called Nine Nails because of events which took place in his dysfunctional family(and that is something of an understatement.)
               This is a very atmospheric thrilling yarn with very believable and well written characters walking down some very dark entries in search of a savage killer who may not even be off this world. The are echoes of Poe and of Doyle, of Holmes and Mulder, Of MR James and John Connolly. It straddles the fictional and the factual in a city where the class divide is unbridgeable and the common morality is unforgiving. It has a great central cast of two very interesting and compelling leads surrounded by friends and foe alike. If either character showed up in an episode of the magnificent Penny Dreadful I would not be surprised.
                 I would welcome it.