Saturday, 30 September 2017

For Valor.

On a recent visit to Castleblaney , County Monaghan I was kindly gifted a copy of a comic entitled For Valor. It was a comic published in a joint arts and culture project involving Monaghan County Museum, Armagh County Museum and Craigavon Museum Services with financial support through the Department of Arts Heritage, regional, rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. An attempt to educate and entertain telling three stories set during The First World War on the Centenary of it engulfing the world as we knew it. Stories with an Irish flavour recounting the lives of three individuals whose lives were touch, changed and shaped by the events of that frightful era.
             Until now I had not heard about that particular piece of work but was immensely pleased to see comics do their bit. Doubly so seeing an old chum's name; Eoin Coveney on the art chores from back in the day. Eoin worked on a highly regarded History of Ireland with none other than the legendary Will Eisner overseeing. It was actually thanks to Eoin I got to meet the great man and I will never forget that. Every day in my house I see a piece of artwork he did for me; Denny Colt as The Spirit sharing the sage advice; "Do'nt Let The Bastards Grind You Down." Stirling advice from a knight of the medium.
              There are three stories between its covers, Thomas Hughes a winner of the Victoria Cross medal. The highest honor and award for bravery in the British Army. There was also the story of Anne Acheson who was awarded a CBE for her revolutionary medical work during and after the conflict. Then there is also the heart breaking tale, told in letters sent home for his family, of seventeen year old Tommy chambers who dies on the first day of the battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. Three stories echoing down the years lovingly retold by Stephen Mooney and Eoin Coveney.
               Reading it I learned that Thomas Hughes died in 1942 here in Castleblaney and was buried in Broomfield which was not far feom where I was staying so I decided to seek out his grave and pay my respects.My sistet Anne and I drove out to Broomfield where we found the Chirch of Saint Josephs which we knew was quite close to the burial site. we actually found a graveyard high on a hill which I knew could not be the place. It was too modern, the headstones too recent. it was altogether the tidiest graveyard I had ever seen. As well as the steepest.
                We soon found the right one, graveyard that is, not so far away, across the fields, through a gap in the trees, just about visible from the high slanted one in which in we stood. It was the very picture of an old Irish cemetery, with leaning crosses and gravestones so old the names on them were wiped smooth. Tall Celtic crosses, some carved from stone others wrought in metal, overhung by trees whose limbs and branches drooped with piney mushroomy pathways beneath your feet.  We had to seek shelter under one of those trees as a squall blew up, the day was bright but windy with sudden cloudbursts. As we stepped from beneath its sheltering branches we saw Thomas Hughes well tended and lovingly enscribed headstone. Poppy wreaths had been lain on his grave in respect of his heroic deeds, things he accomplished in the very prime of his life. I paid my own respects and shuddered at the horrors he and his brave fellows endured and hoped that such days would never come again.
                For Valor is a beautifully crafted tribute to a heroic breed, a lovely tribute in memory of the men and women we must never forget. Dark days long ago on fields not so far away.

They All Love Jack; Busting The Ripper.

Or ".. how to close ranks and protect the indefensible at the very peak of Mount Victorian Values..."              This era has been such a source of interest and inspiration to me since childhood it actually pains me to think I may have fallen for a Victorian perception filter and seen things with Victorianna tinted spectacles. I feel as though I have been staring at the decorative lid of a tin of biscuits that promised Garabaldis and short bread treats that when opened reveals its contents as raw meat and entrails to be served up as a sacrificial feast for port imbibing monsters in the Old Boys Network. Scandalous...
             Its a hoary old subject to be sure ( and a "whorey" old one as well I suppose) is Ripperology. I have read a few books which detail this subject as their driving force behind their various narratives and there are a number of different ones about the same subject. All off them going their own way with their own take on the events of that long ago Autumn of London 1888. It is almost as though it is more important to come up with a new skewed view as it is to come up with possible answers to a series of very brutal murders, with the victims reduced to to the level of Cluedo pieces.
              Not so with Bruce Robinson's breath taking magnum opus They All Love Jack Busting The Ripper. Previously voiceless victims are remembered with righteous invective aimed very precisely at the heartless bullies who allowed them to suffer so and to cover up the deeds of their killer because he was one of them. It is a sprawling book eight hundred pages or so long loaded with details and, literally, furious insight.
              I believed in this book. I believed what the author had to say and was doubly horrified by the lengths of the authorities duplicity and connivance.  Never again will any suggestion of a return to Victorian values sound anything less to me than a battle hymn to those cruel and indifferent to the suffering of its citizens authoritarianism. The book exposes an almost Wagnerian roster of corruption, the roots of which extended to every level of the establishment.If what Bruce Robinson is saying is true then the murders were instigated as a mocking slight by a madman against Freemasonry, its tenants, its rituals and most sacred and secret beliefs. The murders when viewed through the prism of occult Freemason mythology are committed in such a fashion as to telegraph to other members of this hallowed order that one of their own's hand was on the killing blade. A playful tease writ in blood and entrails of the most defenseless and desperate women attempting to survive on the streets of Victorian London. It is a terrifying idea and one which embodies the very notion of what it is to carry out an evil act. Evil acts which did not even end after what were previously believed to be the canonical five Ripper murders. It is hard to process such thoughts but worse were to follow. Murders I had not heard off. You see, according to Bruce Robinson, the Ripper killings did not stop with Mary Kelly, the media of that age just stopped reporting them. Turning a Judas blind eye to the bloody deeds.
            It is a powerful piece of work, with a confidant strident voice ringing out clearly.
            I fear when I put this copy on the shelf next to the other books on the subject it might well push them off  laughing scornfully as they tumble spine over jacket.
             Nobody really loves Jack but more than a few love Bruce Robinson.

Thrice Upon A Time?

Could this scene from An Adventure In Time And Space be revived and even extended for the Doctor Who Christmas special Twice Upon A Time?  the story itself sounds amazing and I suspect there could be a few other surprises in store. It being the wonderful Peter Capaldi's swan song (After gifting us his all in that most recent series.  Never say last series. Every series is last series.)
             Change is coming..
             But the moment has been prepared for.

Prometean Falling..

                                                              (From my sketchbook.)
                                               " I will ascend to the heavens. I will raise my
                                                  throne above the stars of God. I will ascend
                                                  above the tops of the clouds. I will make my
                                                                    self the most high. "
                                                                              Lucifer The Morning Star.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Movellan Grave.

Oh dear, archaeological digs in the doctor who universe usually do not have happy endings. Actually that is slightly off, they normally end well thanks to The Doctor but the road to that end is generally a rocky road paved with human debris. This particular dig uncovers a Movellan spaceship, long buried in the ground, but still viable, which is to say about to become active once more. Bloomin' typical is it not, you do not see a Movellan for more than three decades and suddenly they are all over the place. well, a blink and you would miss it appearrence in the recent Doctor Who episode The Pilot and now a Big Finish Doctor Who fourth Doctor Season Six Story. Hardly all over the place, I know.
             The Movellans being a robotic race are not only long lived but they are also capable of shutting down and sleeping even longer. Perhaps a skill realised in their conflict with their nemesis creator Davros. According to Who lore the Movellans are the enemy of The Daleks. But then again who is'nt. The enemies of The Daleks; that is one long list. The daleks are not discriminating about who chooses to call them enemies. They hate just about everyone. No, scratch that. They hate everyone. At some undetermined point in their mutual combat they find themselves in something of a stalemate. Two evenly capable opponents with shields locked. the doctor suggests this is because of the Movellans and The Daleks shared robotic nature. I think this is something of a mis-statement on his part. The Daleks are not robots. They may chose to make their homes inside retro-Kaledian travel machines but that is more an alien aesthetic choice. Daleks are actually squirming balls of living hate. Which are in fact the words Dalek mothers use to stitch into the name tags of their off-springs gym shorts.
               Oddly, or perhaps not-so, The Doctor first encountered the Movellans during another dig, that one taking place on the planet Skaro and what they found there would have been best left in the dark and forgotten about; Davros himself. I have fond memories of that story. with The Tardis landing in that chalky canyon, the ominous rumbling and thumping from beneath the ground, with Lalla Ward every inch The Time Lady years before Jodie Whittaker was a twinkle in Chris Chibnalls eye. ( You see, it does work!)I remember how exotic and snooty The Movellan's came across. I never considired them a worthy adversary for the Daleks, unless it was in a dance off. It was as though Hot Gossip off The Kenny Everett show were to take on the Nazis. I was constantly expecting them to bust a few erotic dance moves in the sand dunes of Skaro. I also thought the corn rows were not as cool as full on dreads, I much prefer the scruffy knotty kind, like old frayed rope. I thought them more Sister Sledge than bad ass droids.I apologise for that. The expression "bad ass " feels entirely forced and unnatural to me.
               Its a great adventure this one, with archaeologists on the hoof being pursued by a huge killer Movellan who does come across as a suitable opponent for the killers from Skaro. A pursuit done in an eighties British stylee. Very Doctor Who of that period.
               Which is more than we can really hope for.

Alien Artifacts.

                                                               (From my sketchbook.)

Hey Morty I,m A Pickle!