Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Nice Cup Of Tea.

Look what I found at Atomic Collectables. A wee gem from the tail end of the seventies when men were men and so were monkeys. It probably seems bizarre to modern minds that dressing our evolutionary cousins up as cliched characters from the British class system should have produced such a hugely popular and funny series of advertisements for a beloved brand of tea. Like the saucy sea-side postcard it is a type of humour which has fallen from grace and taste. Indeed the very cliched British working class characters the monkeys riff on no longer exist.A ting of the past. Like Spangles or Curly Wurleys.
               I wonder what these monkeys did next. Were they even aware of their fame?
               Did it change their lives to the degree that Cheeta's was changed by his appearance in the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismuller? I know the American film industry had very different levels of fame to that of the British advertising industry but the down side of fame can be blisteringly painful and unforgiving.
                As the Chinese military strategist once said "Monkey Business Is War."


From A Whisper To A ...

There was a British comic in the mid eighties, around nineteen eighty four I believe, and although it only ran for around fifteen weeks it is still very fondly remembered by those of us who remember buying great comics on a weekly basis in corner news agents. Sounds almost Edwardian,eh? Imagine that; a choice of British comics. Not as many as during the medium's heyday but a whole lot better than the choices one is presented with(or not presented with as the case may be.) these days.
              "What is the terrible secret of the locked room?"
             I mention it because 2000AD have brought out a collection of a serial from that title; Monster. One that was never completed in its day but is here and now. Monster is the story of a boy and his hideously deformed uncle who has spent too many years secreted away in a locked room. It was not uncommon in the seventies and eighties to have an uncle who the family rolled the eyes at the very mention off. I was surprised to discover that the story had been co-created by Alan Moore and then carried on with the combined talent of Alan Grant and John Wagner.
              "One turn of a key would take Kenny Corman into the room of terror.."
               Remote spooky old houses, haunted looking wind ravaged fields and moors, Policemen who do not look like anti-terror shock troops. A story where the monstrous figure off is off course revealed to be the truly heroic figure next to his equally heroic nephew. This wee collection ticks all the enjoyable boxes and holds up remarkably well after literally decades.
               Unlike my knees.


I recently completed a bit of work with the Animator, artist and film maker Mark Mc Keown. A comic strip about an invasion. Well, sort of about an invasion. We are not talking Invasion Of The Body Snatchers here or even Mars Attacks. I think the most successful invasions, i.e. the most disastrous for a population , are the ones that you do not even notice having happened. The quiet and totally insidious assimilation by an idea or a philosophy or in this case a piece of tech wedded to social media that passes by unnoticed, one that the supplants the system in which it was sired. One that succeeds not only in making a population strangers to their fellow travellers but ultimately to themselves.
            It is also a true story by the way. It did happen. And it is still happening.
            What are you reading this on?

Hello I Must Be Going.

                                             "Well, Art is Art, is'nt it/ Still, water is
                                             water. And east is east and west is west
                                                and if you take cranberries and stew
                                             them like applesauce they taste much
                                                    more like prunes than rhubarb.
                                                 Now you tell me what you know."
                                                             Groucho Marx.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Baker's End.

My heart skipped a beat when I read the title but it turned out to be something else entirely. An audio adventure featuring my favourite actor playing the character he was intended to play (himself)next to the one he was born to play (The Doctor.). I have not explained that as clearly as I intended. It is Tom Baker playing Tom Baker in a trio of scripts by the immensely talented Paul Magrs and also starring the wonderful Katy Manning. Oh bloody hell this has best Christmas present ever written all over it.
          It is coming in September from Bafflegab productions and details can be found at their website.
If you have managed to find as obscure and unread a blog as mine finding their home should be no problem. It also features Susan Jameson and David Benson who have served honourably on past productions from The Nest Cottage Chronicles to Iris Wildthyme.
           I had been over to their home earlier and saw a few other bits and pieces I have got to try. There was even a lovely looking Peter Cushing memoir reading which is sadly no longer available from them.How sweet would that have been.I visited Hastings once and got to take a seat on Cushing's view and got to see his lovely hometown as he would have.
            Its a lovely word when used with good intent.
            Oh flip me, look at Katy Manning and Tom Baker together.
            How can you not smile.

A Bridge Too Far?

Back in the day in a wee mini plane flying over Alcatraz Island and round the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with John McCrea and Garth Ennis. The two boys are obviously terrified while I maintain a steadfast certainty and belief in the power of aerodynamics. The science that lies behind the flight of bumblebees. And the implausibility thereof.

Catholic Daleks.

Was very taken by this cover for one of the Big Finish audios Order Of The Daleks by Mike Tucker. Especially the beautiful design for the stain glass Dalek. Just as every planet has a north perhaps every planet has a Vatican. I believe this glorious and chilling object is the work of a concept design by artist/writer Chris Thompson.
               Way back in the previous century during the decade we who survived it called The Eighties I can remember(From original transmission!) Revelation Of The Daleks. A great story that showed a transparent Dalek which displayed its interior Kaled/Mutant/human/Hybrid/victim in terrible agony.
                The Daleks are a bad lot and this was a horrible example of them at their must cruel and unusual and truly grotesque. Yet in the right hands the Daleks were always capable of being fantastically innovative.
                 In the worst possible ways.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Guardian Angel.

When I was a wee Catholic schoolboy I used to say a prayer everyday asking my Guardian Angel to watch over me and keep me on a safe path. What can I say, we were taught this as children. I had no reason to believe it was not true and every reason to believe it was true. After all grown ups told it was so. Anyway, this is what I thought my Guardian Angel looked like.
            Well I am all growed up myself now and this is what I choose to believe my Acutal Guardian Angel looks like;

Oh yeah.Holy Smoke its Ryan Kwanten!For such a long time I have been telling anyone who will listen that he is a heavenly creature and now I have a picture to prove it. Is he not magnificent? I would not be surprised if he had fluttered down from the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
              You know I had this thing of beauty printed on a tee-shirt and my mates laughed at me.
              What do they know. If I introduced Michelangelo to them they would ask him to paint his window frames.
               "..Through out this day
                   Be at my side,
                   To light,to guard,
                   To rule and guide."
                Old Ms. Caugher at Holy Cross Boys school taught me that prayer on my first day at school
And absolutely terrified me with the notion of an all seeing omni present God. Just what an insecure easily frightened child needs to hear. Just the thought of some constantly judging heavenly stasi eaves dropping on my every action and even my private thoughts. I still blush at the thought. She was an old love though. I was so fond of her. When the time came to leave her class to move up an age she bought me a pencil case. The first I ever owned. As the son of a grave digger she knew my family did not have a pot to piss in. A proper teacher she was.
                As a rational human being I find it difficult to believe in any man made religion( or a Godly crafted one for that matter.) religion. I find myself making stuff up to fill the faith shaped gap in my life. As a consequence I find myself in the opposite position to most people of faith who I know and call friends in that they welcome the idea of some one sharing their religious beliefs whereas I would doubt the sanity of anyone who believes the same things I do.
               Anyway, back to the ethereal man in tighty whities.
               He may never interfere in the rough and tumble of daily life bit I know my Guardian Angel has my back. Or at the very least is crouching behind it.
               Perfectly formed and up to no good.



Ghost Soldiers Return Home.

They just showed up. Not saying a word. Just marching through the streets and city centres on their way back from a place where none return. That seemed the thinking behind this remarkable display of humanity in remembrance of a situation that showed us at our very worst. The Somme commemoration Project was organised by artist Jeremy Deller and a National Theatre director Rufus Norris and it involved around 1.500 participants and volunteers.( found this out at the BBC news page when I attempted to find out the organising principals behind what I considered to be a deeply moving and completely demonstration of empathy for a generation past) The Battle Of the Somme seems is perhaps one of the darkest episodes of warfare in human history. A meat grinder of an event. The 1.500 performers each represented a man who fell on the first day of fighting( It is estimated that the total number of civilian and military deaths during WW! is some where between thirty seven and a half million and forty million.
               Found that difficult just to write down. The word "estimated" does not seem up to the job.
               I was in a second hand book store one day browsing through an amazing shelf on world history books when I felt myself under scrutiny. You know that sense one has when one feels another's eyeballs creep across ones being like an indiscreet ninja. I peered about me with my deadly Sauron eyes to deter any possible threat but realised it was the store owner sitting adjacent to his counter just staring at me. He explained he thought I reminded him of a first world war soldier who had come back from the front and was having a difficult time adjusting to life back home. He suggested I had been mentally scarred by what I had seen and experienced. Smiling on the outside screaming on the inside. He further added he meant no offense that it was only what I brought to mind. He hoped I was not offended.
                 I was not offended. People quite often lose control of their inner monologue around me. I have one of those expressions that seems to sign post random opinion. I was more concerned that his projected biography of me was such a distressing one and one out of joint in time.
                 I had only popped in looking for a Moomins paperback.
                 I remember reading of urban ghost stories about ghost soldiers returning home following the many massacres which occurred during the first world war. Reports from small villages of lost boys and men who had fallen on some far flung field only to be spotted on some familiar street or some location where they could not possibly be. I had even heard of the appearance of an angel over the battle field. Is it any less likely that some strong heroic soul managed to find their way from beyond the veil to once more walk upon the green and pleasant land they grew up on.
                 I think following the atrocities of the First World War and the sheer scale of the conflict and the loss involved all bets were off as regard the longings and possibilities of the human heart. I think of muddy foot prints of lost men following roads that have no ends and I try to keep a tender place in my memory for those who fell. It helps to read Wilfred Owen and the beautiful words he wrote. I do not mean to be disrespectful by not attempting to reproduce the whole of his Anthem, For Doomed Youth but here is the second part. I was not brought up with poetry but some of it found me.
                    What candles maybe held to speed them all?
                     Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
                     Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
                     The pallo  of girls brows shall be their pall,
                     Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
                     and each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.

The Time Machine.

Look what I came across in Atomic Collectables; The Time Machine. Another lovely wee pb edition with an imaginative and completely lovingly improbable cover. Put me in the mood to rewatch the very lavish Hollywood version of the book. What a lovely montage of clocks and time pieces in the opening credits. Maybe the origin of current Doctor Who opening graphics. A subconcious influence off course as those credits are totally powerful in their own right. A whirl of time moving in non-linear fashion like an Absinthe inspired hang over(And that hangover defies desribing,trust me, human suffering on a biblical level.)
                The Time Machine poses a question for anyone having seen it and thinking about it afterwards;
                Are you Eloi or are you Morlock?