Friday, January 29, 2010

Colouring the Void

Engage Nerd Mode:

Lost is back. I got really quite excited about it. After the completely bonkers season 5 (the series that saw 3 million viewers jump ship, when they really probably shouldn't have), I, like many others, had theories, but no real idea of where the new and final series would go.

I sat in the pub the other night and tried to tell my mate about it without giving anything away and came to the conclusion that I really couldn't say much at all without either confusing the issue more or giving away what is essentially... you see I can't even say that without giving it away!

I opted for the sentence, "Farraday's experiment worked, but don't let that simple fact make you think you can work it out - you won't." I would, however, recommend that people try and watch Lost S06E00, which is the 5 series recap, made by the production team as opposed to the network. It clarified points that I'd overlooked or forgotten about.

One thing I will say about the return of this bewildering series - something gets explained, something that many people will think wouldn't be revealed right until the end...

Moving on...

As much as I love Lost and have been caught up in a lot of the hype and the discussion, there are actually two other US TV series that I'm actually enjoying a damned sight more. One of which I'm almost embarrassed to admit.

The Vampire Diaries looks like it should be a load of smouldering diarrhoea; it's produced, written and probably catered by Kevin Williamson, he of Table for Five and Scream fame and it initially feels like Smallville with vampires. In fact, at the 40 minute mark in the third episode I was ready to give up completely on this. Then, in the final couple of minutes of that episode, it went a bit Buffy and suddenly it's this quite brilliant TV show. There are the obvious comparisons to Twilight, but this pisses all over that franchise - big time. There's a great mix of characters, especially the lead vamps - Damon and Stefan; one is all conscience, while the other is all bad. The girls in the series are all suitable fit and typically high school types (albeit all of them are in their 20s) and there have been a number of very interesting little sub plots develop that you just wouldn't have expected on first viewing. This programme has an incredible amount of depth and should be persevered with.

But, probably the favourite show in the Hall house at the moment is Fringe.

This JJ Abrams concept first appeared last year and was heralded as an X Files for the Noughties, which is essentially how it started. A team of FBI agents, with a couple of 'consultants' try to work out why some weird and wonderful things have happened and investigate this new phenomena called 'fringe science' - or trying to make the impossible possible.

The thing is, like Vampire Diaries, I was ready to give up on this show, but that was after 16 episodes of a 23-part run. It started very promisingly, but soon descended into a plot that seemed to be going nowhere fast and brought out all the worst sides of the lead character, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv). Her two main cohorts - Peter and Walter Bishop were polar opposites; Peter the son of the latter, was depicted as this potential genius who has spent best part of his adult life involved in some dodgy dealings - he is quite dislikeable. Whereas his father, Walter, is the single greatest TV character of the last ten years - this guy pisses all over Tony Soprano or any other iconic character of recent years. Walter Bishop is barking mad, is very probably partially responsible for all of the weird shit happening and comes across as a Shakespearean mad professor. He was the only really good thing about the series when it started and now that it has become must see TV, he's still the best character in it, but he's developed so much.

It all started very X Files, a mystery of the week, with mystery people in the background; the hint of alien conspiracies and the ominous feeling of terrorism from beyond the normal; but the scene-setting was very heavy handed, some of the supporting characters were weak and it just didn't offer enough intrigue to keep you watching. Then it was like someone high up at Fox said the the production team - 'Jazz this fucker up or it gets canned!' So after wandering about seemingly aimlessly for 12 episodes, everything moved up a gear; the dull and irritating subplots from the first story arc were quickly dispensed with, almost clinically. Less emphasis was placed on Peter Bishop's dodgy dealings, while more was placed on him actually being a nice guy, with usefully dodgy friends. Olivia was allowed to take the spindle from her butt and Lance Reddick; the boss, was given some new dimensions and unusually, unlike Mitch Pelegi's character in X Files, is always 100% behind his team, no matter how crazy the situation seemed.

In some circles it's called jumping the shark and it rarely works, but what Fringe did was not just jump the shark, it raped it, killed it and then ate its corpse. As season one was reaching its climax, they did something almost never done in the history of US TV drama - they told you what the plot was; they revealed the entire raison d'etre for the series and they set it up not so much as a whodunnit but as a preparation for the coming storm.

Walter Bishop and his partner William Bell (played by Leonard Nimoy) were the leading lights in Fringe Science back in the 70s and 80s and they not only discovered there were other parallel worlds, they found out how to travel between them. The two main realities - ours and the one that Bell currently lives in - are essentially now at war. The world on Bell's side didn't suffer the same September 11 disasters, because it appears to be technologically far more advanced than our world; but it also appears to be considerably more hostile, aggressive and unfriendly. Now they have discovered that our world exists, they want to infiltrate it and eventually conquer it. But, with all that out in the open, where can the series possibly go for its mystery elements? Well, it isn't as simple as just walking through a doorway; only certain people can do it without serious side effects and because the barrier is incredibly unstable, neither side knows for sure what atrocities might happen where the worlds collide. All we know is that they're coming and we don't know when.

There's a stack of bubbling subplots involving Peter's true origin; the bald watchers; the strange symbols and Olivia's own dark and secretive past. Plus, there's a couple of unexpected deaths; that you really didn't see coming. Fringe is totally insane - it has a Fresian cow in it; Walter takes more drugs than I could imagine and Anna Torv is damned sexy, yet made out to be quite a plain Jane - but you have to watch it to realise just how mad it is. It's an ace series that reminds me in many ways of Babylon 5; another series that started poorly and became something so much better.

While the above two just get better and better, Heroes is crashing and burning without any fear of redemption. I am so disappointed by this series because it could have been so good and I think it would have been very good had it had a decent comicbook writer at the helm or even just as technical consultant. As it reaches its climax, I'm praying there isn't some kind of massive Facebook rebellion that convinces SyFy to give it another series. It has to be the most inconsistently written series on US TV (apart from Smallville).

Let's not forget us crazy Brits; there are two series on at the moment that shows in completely different ways why some US drama is unmatchable, but some UK produced shows will never be equalled over there either.

Skins is back and is as dark as Newgate's Knocker. It's too early to tell if it's going to be another classic, but the impression I have from the first two episodes is that realism has taken hold big time in Skins World. On the surface what seemed like a new, lighter, bunch of replacement college kids has changed into something that suggests that our younger generations will be considerably more feral than we'd like them to be. Enjoyably harrowing!

Being Human reminds me of a bad sitcom and I think that's the tone which the producers and writer are aiming at. If this was a US show it would be set in a fuck off fantastic penthouse suite and the werewolf and the vampire wouldn't be lowly hospital porters and that's why Being Human works; because however fantastical the characters are they're sort of believable, and they live in the real world, a place we know is full of real monsters - so it's no surprises that our 3 heroes are far more likable than most of the humans in this series.

Apparently, Being Human is a mega successful show for the BBC and especially for BBC3. Let's just hope it keeps it's head!

That's it. I have nothing left until next time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Passion of Lovers (Part 5)

Time for another stroll into the world of professional football...

Despite a round up before Christmas, it's been a couple of months since I took a long hard look at the footballing world and had Liverpool not arrested the tide against my own club recently I probably would have been spending this entry harping on about how crap they are this season and how Rafa must never be sacked, because while he is in charge the Red Shite will win nothing.

But, even with over a third of the season remaining, they are sitting just 1pt behind my beloved Spurs, who currently hold the 4th Champions League spot, but only by the skin of their teeth and by virtue of the other clubs around them dropping points.

And that is the real excitement in this season's Premier League; you really don't know what is going to happen next. I'm still of the opinion that Chelsea will win the league, but with Arsenal and Manchester United both keeping pace, this could be one of the most exciting finishes we've seen for a long time. With the added incentive of 4th being the new Play Off final in terms of money it potentially generates for whoever plays the best out of the rest.

Currently Spurs hold that cherished position and intelligent pundits will look at the 6pts dropped to Stoke and Wolves at home, the 2pts dropped to Hull at home and the 2pts dropped at Goodison after holding a 2 goal lead against a team that until the 83rd minute didn't look as though they could muster an effort, let alone a goal. I know that ifs and buts are the bread and butter of fans who can excuse their team for the continued failings, but if my team hadn't dropped those points they would currently have 48pts and would be 4th still, but only 2pts behind the leaders.

Obviously, Villa and City fans could argue the same, too many drawn games, too many stupid defeats; it's what makes the difference between the top 3 and the rest and until the rest manage to arrest that one consistency about their game, that's how the balance of power will remain. It is these two teams, along with my own and two others that could all, realistically, claim that coveted 4th spot.

Birmingham City have been the surprise package of the season. Written off as relegation candidates at the start of the year, Alex McLeish has somehow managed a Martin O'Neill and turned Brum into a team that can grind out results regardless of the opposition and have now got so much confidence running through them that they will be difficult to beat. But, when they finally lose this 14 game unbeaten league run, expect them to end up closer to the chasing pack than the 4 teams that will fight it out for 4th.

That leaves the Red Shite; a team that really is only in contention on the strength of their ability to get results against teams that have been arguably much better than them this season. It has been a woeful year for them and yet with a few not so difficult games coming up, they could find themselves back in their old position by virtue of the fact the teams around them all have tough games and will drop points. Once they are there they will be difficult to dislodge and my big worry is that despite an exciting season, it'll be no change at the end of it.

As for Spurs; well, they haven't conceded many goals recently, but they haven't scored many either. The free flowing football is still there, as evidenced against Leeds in the FA Cup. but the luck and the ability to hit the onion bag has deserted them. They have a number of tough games to come in the following weeks - Fulham, Birmingham, Aston Villa and a tricky cup replay at Elland Road against a lower league Leeds that don't know this fact when they're playing Premiership opposition. I'll state it here, we could go out of that competition. It's a make or break next 6 weeks for my team, because then they face Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea at regular intervals and if they haven't picked up enough points to stay in the race then Harry might have to settle for 5th or 6th and a fun excursion into Mickey Mouse European territory next season.

The rest of the table looks like its shaping up nicely. Everton will probably have 9th place all sewn up by the end of March and will then be hoping that Birmingham (or maybe Spurs) have a really bad run in so they can get a few extra quid by finishing in 7th or 8th.

The battle for relegation is a humdinger; it's almost as good as the battle at the top, but because that's so finely balanced, the bottom has lost a little of its urgency. Portsmouth look as though they need to get some points on the board and fast because the gap between them and safety might just grow too wide. Bolton, who currently look dead and buried, do have two games in hand and an FA Cup 5th round match that could prove to be a distraction (they play Spurs or Leeds and whoever they get will make it tough for them and it could be a game they need to lose by the time its played). I do think that they way they're playing they can scrape away from the mire. Owen Coyle probably deserves a relegation for deserting Burnley, but he might see his new side overtake his old one in the run in.

Hull also look, for most of the time, like they don't belong in the league and I struggle to see them surviving this season. I think they will struggle to get points on the board in the run in and if they lose to teams they should beat it'll be curtains by the middle of April. Wolves are another team that I feel will be lucky to avoid the drop, but they are picking up points that are unexpected; Mick McCarthy is taking a big risk the way he's playing things, but if it pays off and they finish 17th then it will feel like they've won a cup.

I still think West Ham are too good to drop and I think things will pick up as more players return from injury; the same can't be said for Burnley or Wigan, who will both be in the shake up at the end of term on current form. They make up a group of teams that have such disparity with other teams in the league, in regard to finance, that unless a rich uncle comes along they will never do more than struggle for 17th.

With Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United out of the FA Cup and Spurs clinging on by the skin of their teeth against a League One giant that could still upset the odds on February 2nd, its looking like a Chelsea v Man Citeh final providing the two can avoid each other. If this happens it will at least give the neutrals something to get excited about. Citeh, of course, could be in another final this year, the League Cup against Villa. If they overcome Man U at old Trafford then I think Roberto Mancini will add some silverware to Mark Hughes' CV.

It will not be an English year in Europe either. I don't expect to see an English club in the final of the Champions League and I expect there will be no English interest in the Europa League after the QFs. I don't think the Red Shite will win that trophy; they'll struggle in their first knockout game against the Romanian champions.

There'll be plenty more controversy and things to talk about next time...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun

Lots to get through...

I've just finished reading Mick Wall's biography of Led Zeppelin, When Gods Walked the Earth. As briefly as I can put this, it's not very good, but I do now have a sort of chronology to do with Zep, which was always a little screwy. The weird thing about reading the book was things I remember, because for a few months, I was peripherally on the edge of the monster LZ movement.

In fact, talking about 1979 and 1980 is something I've never done much; they were peculiar times in my life, for a number of reasons. For someone who still classes himself as unbelievably naive, back then, 30 years ago, things were off the wall! Through some strange quirk of fate, I got to know one of Zep entourage; he was the godfather of a guy I shared a bungalow with in 1979-80. His name was Rick Hobbs and he was Jimmy Page's PA.

The only mentions of Rick in Mick Wall's book were to state his promotion from driver to PA and, of course, the fact he was last person to see Bonzo alive; but seeing his name in print brought back a lot of oddly sepia toned memories. But at least the book, in that sense, was accurate. The rest may well be, but the over riding feeling that one got from this biography is that the author had the complete cooperation of John Paul Jones; why else would he come out of the book as the only member of the band not eventually portrayed as a monster?

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On conclusion of the Zep biography, I sat down with the new Stephen King book, Under the Dome. Now, I'm only 150 pages into it, so I'm not going to pass any judgements, because in my opinion, just about every one of King's books (Cell not included) have intriguing and interesting first 150 pages or so - it's his framework and its always worked for him.

However, there are a couple of things about the book I want to share. It weighs in at 880 pages, which makes it, I believe, either the 3rd or 4th longest of King's tomes, I'll get back to this...

On the cover at the top it says, "The greatest popular novelist of our day" - Guardian. I know for a fact this strap line has been used on just about every single King book of the 21st Century and I also know that the above line was actually originally used with a question mark after it, in a feature in The Observer in 1998. I also find the missing the to be a little disturbing.

Secondly, at the foot of the cover it says HIS FINEST EPIC SINCE THE THE STAND - which could easily read 'His Biggest Epic Since...' And why describe it as an epic just because it's long? One of Led Zeppelin's most 'epic' songs is The Immigrant Song and that weighs in at less than 3 minutes!

But I'm just nitpicking; having a little preamble before I sink my teeth into... "A fabulous teller of stories who can create an entire new world and make the reader live in it" Express. Now that could be the Daily or the Sunday Express or even a completely different one; I used to live in Daventry and they have the Daventry Weekly Express and frankly, the above quote would be embarrassing if The Gusher (what the DWE is called by the locals) had run it. Surely any novelist's job is to be able to create 'an entire world that the reader can believe in and become immersed in'? Let's forget about the totally wrong use of English, because if we want to be petty, King can't make anyone live anywhere; this is the most stating-the-bleeding-obvious quote I've ever seen on a book and if Hodder & Stoughton think this is what helps boost sales, then they have become as complacent as King has in his story telling abilities.

I know, a pointless rant. But I get so pissed off when I see rubbish littering the literary world. There's a glaring typo in Mick Wall's earlier mentioned book that proved to me that editors of major writers no longer edit they just spell check. It's just lazy and as a very lazy person, I feel insulted!

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I was viciously attacked and headbutted on the nose on Saturday!

The perpetrator was the wife and it was done completely by accident. She was busy washing her hair over the bath and was just finishing up, when I decided that I couldn't wait a second longer for whatever it was I needed to get on the other side of her. So as I was leaning over, up came her head, fortunately with a towel around it, otherwise I think my nose would have just disintegrated.

The force she hit me with was discernible by the crack my nose made. In fact, on retrospect, we both agreed we thought it was probably shattered. It sounded like the noise you get when stamping on frozen snow and ice.

However, two days later and my quite remarkable powers of facial recovery have kicked in. Yes, it still looks swollen and there's a small bruise on the bridge and down towards my right eye (and it hurts like billy-o to blow my nose), but amazingly there seems to be no permanent damage.

That's twice now, and both times by girls I like!

My mum always said everything comes in 3s. I'm now very conscious of the fact that my nose is going to be a karmic target for a final and decisive nasal assault!

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I normally hate the winter. It depresses the hell out of me. Yet, this last month of Arctic conditions have been strangely uplifting. Some of the coldest days were the best, because for the first time I could remember for a long time, there was no dampness - it was a genuine cold, like you get on the continent and far easier to combat against than the usual damp and drizzly cold that seems to seep into your every pore.

But the weirdest thing about the cold snap, especially when the day time temperature never got above -3 degrees, was watching things freeze. I was in the car and because of the temperature inside the car, some of the snow on the roof started to melt and when I stopped a trickle of water ran down the windscreen. As I hit the windscreen wipers instead of just sweeping the water away, it sort of spread across the windscreen in hundreds of little icicles. The ducks have a pond and when the weather gets cold you have to smash the ice up so the poor little buggers can get in the water. At the height of the cold the thickness of the ice on the pond was getting on for 6 inches, but, we had to check on the pond a number of times during the day, because the area cleared would start to get slushy - as in start to freeze - even with 6 ducks swimming around in it.

And am I glad that I'm not a duck. Jesus can you imagine dangling your legs into a pond during that weather?

However, that reminds me of a story I heard on This Morning many years ago. A former prisoner of war in Burma was being marched across the Himalayas in subzero temperatures, when the Burmese soldiers told the men to wade through the mountain stream rather than along the snowy path. The logic it seemed was the stream was a constant 2 to 3 degrees, while the mountain pass was -15. The old POW reckons by doing that all their lives were saved. What he never said was what it was like when they finally got out of the water!

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It appears, that with a past that includes drug taking, sexual debauchery, child slavery, money laundering, organised crime, homophobia, sexism, racism, sizeism, spoonerisms, ageism, and all the others that I can't spell, I'd be a shoe in for local, if not national politics. One friend suggested I'd be a kinder, more agreeable face of the BNP; while another suggested that if I want my voice to be heard I should try out as the new speaking clock.

Apparently, if nothing else, I'd need a campaign manager and unfortunately the only people I'd trust with the job are either ranting fascists, uninterested or have a bigger nose than me (although maybe not at this very moment!).

I think you can possibly tell that while my interest in this hasn't exactly waned, it's taken on a sort of new ambivalent feel!

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Fair enough, beating a guy half to death with a cricket bat is pretty awful; leaving him with a brain injury is potentially even worse. But when the person on the receiving end of this battering was the perpetrator of a vicious kidnap style heist, that resulted in the 'victims' being tied up, threatened, beaten and fearing for their life. On escape, two of them decided to get some retribution and chased the men who attacked them, in their home, finally catching one they hit him with a cricket bat.

Subsequently, the man responsible for the horrendous attempted robbery was given a 2 year supervision order with the Probation office. The two men responsible for delivering the beating were given 36 and 39 months in prison respectively. Their appeal was denied outright and now the men have to hope that the high court judge that felt their actions were far worse than being terrorised in their own home, will reduce their sentences to something along the lines of Tony Martin - the reclusive weirdo that laid in wait for his burglars and shot one of them, dead, with a shotgun!

This country's law and order regime is a joke. And that's coming from someone who works in the industry!

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I said there was a lot to get through, so, I'm saving the most controversial till last, because it involves people I know (or in this case people I don't really know and you might have all got bored by now and given up). I want to talk about Facebook!

I used to be such a new PC nerd. When things like Compuserve's forum started up in the 90s, I was there. In fact, I've been involved in a lot of these embryonic social networking ideas - Yahoogroups, Egroups or whatever; all that nonsense with Delphi forums; if there was a place to be in, I would have tried to get there. I was no different from anyone in comics at the time; it was a new medium and was beneficial to whatever cause you might be on.

But that changed. Everything nerdy about me started to disappear. Culminating in selling off my comics collection and realising that because I have no children, I don't really have anyone I'd leave all my shit to. So, I started to de-clutter my life. I wanted to be able to put everything important to me in one big trunk and if all else fails it can be buried with me (or burned, depending on how I exit). At one point, the comics, records, books and general collectible ephemera took up an entire loft and a spare bedroom.

The only real throwback to my nerd days is my love for the few things I ponce about with on my PC. I was a latecomer to Facebook, because I'm one of those people that likes to be in on something early otherwise I feel as though people will think I'm just bandwagon jumping. I was sitting bored one night in late 2008 when I decided to try this nonsense thing everyone was talking about and from that point on, I started to allow it to infiltrate my life.

Let's talk about some of the good things on Facebook first. I'm a useless relative, so it allows me to keep in touch with my nieces, nephews, cousins, second cousins and in-laws. I know more about their lives now than I would have dared to have known 2 years ago. Not all of it is good, but just keeping in touch with them means I don't spend as much time worrying about them. It also has given me access to long lost friends, in far away places like Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Brazil and even the Faroe Islands! It offers a number of applications to wile away the hours on boring days, sleepless nights and when there's bugger all on TV. It acts as a sort of personal calendar, allowing you to keep track of friends and relatives birthdays or special events. In terms of being a personal organiser, Facebook, if used properly and with the right applications, can become a sort of mega version of Microsoft Outlook with vast interactive abilities.

But, then I start to struggle to find anything else positive about it. There's a lot of stuff on there that just seems pointless. I'd call it examples of idle frivolity, but there's a certain desperation about it that gives it an unseemly feel. The problems with Facebook far outweigh the benefits, if you want to be analytical rather than facile...

Where to start? Well, let's really throw a cat amongst the pigeons. Just how many people on your friends list can you say you're actually friends with, and I don't mean in the Facebook sense either, I mean in the been out for a drink, popped round to see, been to the wedding of, still keep in touch personally?
How many of your friends aren't actually friends?
How many don't you actually like that much, but have become their friend because you thought, 'shit, I might upset them or their friend who is a real friend'? I can sort of see the point of becoming a friend with someone you don't know, but share a common interest in - that helps breed new friendships; but why bother dancing around with people you do know but don't like when all you're going to do is hide them from your news feed?

Someone I know said he had to spend all his time on Facebook 'offline' because of the number of people who would start a conversation up on chat and he didn't feel right about saying he couldn't or didn't want to talk. Now he can pick and choose who to talk to, no one ever talks to him!

But if 'friends' can be a distraction, what about all the banalities posted under the guise of 'what you're thinking'? I'm just as guilty of it. This Twitter generated way of broadcasting your life to all and sundry. At least, a high percentage of my 'status updates' tend to be weird, existential, or quotes from songs or books - yeah, I go on about having my nose broken or being sick, but I'm just being drawn into the ethos of Facebook, where no secret should be hidden!

Sticking with basic Facebook, another really annoying thing about it, but really more about your friends, are the number of imbecilic groups people join. Groups like: I Bet I can Get 500,000 Members to Join this Group by Easter or I Hate it When the Cat Shits on My Pillow When I'm Still Asleep; Or the easily researchable I Will Not Pay £3.99 a Month for Facebook after July 30th (which is complete bollocks and people should know better!) I could come up with a dozen more surreal and crazy group names, but someone has probably already beat me to it. What makes these things worse is that if you join one and don't block it from your news feed immediately, you will get all manner of twattish comments made by people you're never likely to meet (let alone like) and would avoid like the plague if you were stuck on a bus with. I know, you can argue it's just a way to unite people and I suppose that's why I joined the group about finding a million people who don't want David Cameron as our next PM; but while I know that joining that group isn't going to make the faintest bit of difference (even if Facebook did help RATM to Christmas #1), I do it just to reinforce my own beliefs (and to impress other less intelligent people!).

Before moving on to other areas of Facebook, one last thing about the people. Goddamn it, stop, look and think sometimes before you post something; because even if you're dyslexic, a moron or just plain stupid, sometimes posting something that makes utterly no sense at all doesn't exactly shed good light on you. Plus, talking in txt spk is okay if all your friends are 17, but they might not be. It just infuriates me that people allow themselves to get so wrapped up in this thing, to the degree where they will be led blindly to places that if they existed in the real world would have been closed down through lack of interest!

Now, there's something like a billion different games and applications available, many of which I wouldn't join even if someone threatened to extract one of my testicles with a rusty spoon and a bowl of jelly. But, some of them are pretty interesting (to me); but they are just arbitrarily thrown together and tend to be either riddled with glitches or just don't take any notice of what you authorise it to do, because it is more interested in being some form of Trojan rather than a usable and useful tool. Take the relatives thing. I'm getting suggestions from this application as to who might be my relatives. Well, pardon me, but surely I have more idea of who my relatives might be than a computer generated database program? Over the last couple of months I've had a number of potential relative suggestions and I wouldn't mind if these people were actually people I knew; but they're all friends or family of in-laws and presumably whatever algorithm built into said program isn't clever enough to realise that just because you know someone doesn't mean you're related to them!

I could go on and on, but one feels that the subject of Facebook is one that could run and run. My non-inquisitiveness means that most things on Facebook will never so much as be given a viewing let alone used on a regular basis. Yes, I still spend far too much time just farting about on the few things I do like. But it saps your time and your will. When you could be doing something sensible like researching the fact that Facebook isn't charging, or that there isn't a dislike button, it's just another attention seeking con and you got suckered!

Obviously, I could talk about the privacy controls, the obtrusive adverts for stuff you, me and everyone else has no interest in, or even the fact that, regardless of your machine, it seems to slow everything down - like a downsized version of AOL, it seems to make everything else on your computer become sloth-like, whenever its open.

There's a great new group started (I haven't joined). It's called Facebook is Shit and within a few days has garnered 70 odd members. The most telling thing, for me, is the number of people who joined just to call the creator of the group a twat, moron, wanker, imbecile, idiot, and just about every other expletive you can think of; and all this despite a very funny self-deprecating introduction as to why the group started.

Facebook is shit; but only if you're me or someone like me...

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I heard this evening that Dennis Hopper is dying of cancer. While I've never seen the adulation he's received over the years - he's always seemed a bit like a one-trick psycho - but that doesn't mean that he hasn't been in some damn fine films (as well as some real stinkers).

However, the funniest thing about this actor's impending death (if funny is an apt word) is that he intends to divorce his 5th wife, saying that he wants to spend his last days in peace!

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Time to go.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Morgenspaziergang

There's a good chance that if you've been unwell over the last few months; a sort of crappy man-flu, slightly worse than a cold, that has hung around for weeks; that you've probably had swine flu. Yep, pig sickness could possibly have been rife and no one was that aware of it...

Two things: http://tinyurl.com/ydq2u5p is an interesting little article (despite seemingly sourced by the Daily Mail) that suggests that the swine flu pandemic has been promoted by greedy drugs companies and the second thing is the common belief, creeping into papers and other media, that its mutated into something barely worthy of mentioning.

Listening to Jeremy Vine just before Christmas, there was a doctor on there who suggested that for healthy people, swine flu might be like a slightly more fuzzy cold; might come and go depending on the strength of who has it. There was also the suggestion recently that common or garden influenza might have actually killed more people this year than swine flu. Makes all this talk of a pandemic and governments spending vast amounts of money on a vaccine that, has reportedly caused more problems in healthy people than ever expected; my mate Mark was ill for two weeks longer because of the side effects of Tamiflu; probably resulting in more lost man hours than he ever would have dreamed of losing.

I had the flu once. It was the real flu because I was fucked for two solid weeks, felt totally shit and most importantly I didn't complain once about being ill, because I was TOO ILL TO!

************

What fun the weather has been! Well, fun as in funny watching the country grind to a halt. When I was a kid, we got snow quite a lot more than we tend to now and yes 2010 has been a winter to remember for many reasons; but, for pity's sake, I never missed a day of school regardless how bad the weather was. I remember walking to school in a blizzard and loving every minute of it and, oddly enough I don't recall kids ending up in hospital from being hit by a snowball, slipping on the ice or any other problem that nowadays seems associated with half a centimetre of snow.

but, I also seem to remember that in the 1970s and 1980s, most paths were gritted; most roads that had a lot of traffic on them were gritted - not just the occasional bus route. Oddly enough a lot of the schools back then were really old and had pretty archaic boilers; but rarely did they pack up or cause a headmaster to have to send the kids out into the snowy wilderness.

We do live in a every increasing nanny state and while I find it absolutely abhorrent, I accept that thanks to the bloody Yanks, we also live in a world where we're beginning to live in fear of being sued for breathing. This is a digression, but along the same lines. Did anyone see the news report about Myleen Klass being cautioned by police for brandishing a knife at intruders in her garden? Are we living in a world now, where defending your own property becomes an offence? Governments passim have all tried to change laws to make it more difficult for people, or to criminalise the young or the poor; but equally, these laws can be interpreted in many ways and they can prove to be equally as beneficial to the perpetrators of crime as the victims.

We all remember that bloke in Norfolk who did 18 months for killing an intruder with a shotgun; we also know all the background of all involved. Whether we agree or disagree with what happened, how long before a burglar comes onto your property, maybe through a hole in the fence or by vaulting it; who, on the way to breaking into your house and stealing your possessions, slips on uncleared snow on your patio and breaks his leg and then sues the arse off of you for health and safety breaches?

I asked a police officer friend about the Klass case and he said that if I am seem brandishing a knife in my own house it is an offence. But, equally, the wife spent a good £50 a few years ago buying me a Myco knife from Switzerland. It is a beautifully hand-crafted bit of workmanship, has a blade, a brush, tweezers and various other useful additions to make a mushroom hunters' life easier. If I was caught in possession of that knife - even if its in my car, in the glove compartment, unless I can prove what its used for and then return straight home, I can be prosecuted for carrying a deadly weapon! I can, however, carry a baseball bat in my car and as long as I don't use it in front of a policeman on the head of some youth, it isn't illegal to carry - I should have asked if that included baseball bats with nails sticking out of them!

**************

I witnessed two of my oldest friends pass the 50 year milestone just before Christmas and it made me think that I've only got 27 months to go before I to join that exclusive, yet once upon a time barely considered, club. Fifty. 50. 5-0. Still scares the bejesus out of me; despite my physical ailments, my mind is still that of a younger man (although I'm no longer sure how much younger) and the thought of life slipping by without some excitement in it is also quite frightening. I've set myself a couple of goals for the coming 3 years already; I'm going to go to either India or New Zealand in September 2011 and at some point, I'm going to have another go at stopping smoking; except this time I'm going to have a several pronged attack - but, god dammit, I like smoking; I've given up virtually everything else that's bad for me and if I don't smoke I'm going to need to channel all that extra motivation and energy into something constructive. I just need to, otherwise I'm going to be looking back at life from my iron lung, thinking this is no way to spend my 60s...

*************

One of those other projects might just be to stand for local councillor in the next local elections. Anyone that's known me for a long time knows I've got a very healthy interest in politics and over the last few years it's become more focused on local politics - mainly because I really can't see what my current crop of county councillors actually do.

Everyone pays council tax but how often do you actually see something being done with that money? The only frontline services most council tax payers see is refuse collection, and as we all know that has been subject to much scrutiny in recent years and the general feeling amongst householders, whether they agree with the moves or not, is that refuse collection has become a thorny issue. Another thing council tax payers' see is the state of our non-motorway roads and the fact that many places have potholes from last winter's freeze; effectively you get a much smoother ride when the roads are covered in snow and if you drive carefully are infinitely less likely to do any serious damage to your car. We live in a nanny state, how long before some rich bod decides to take a council to court over their failure to upkeep the roads as laid out in the breakdown of council tax income? We all might get a bit pissed off with some minor repair on the car or bike; but at some point some arsey Richard Branson type is going to say, 'bollocks to this' and then we're really going to see councils struggle.

Obviously, there are a number of things that might make me a less than salubrious candidate; I swear a lot, have a history of inhaling and I probably have a few dozen skeletons in my closet; but frankly, I really don't think the people of a constituency give a flying fart as long as the person elected tries to do something positive for as many people rather than something piffling for the few.

Obviously, if I did stand, it would be as an Independent, because I no longer have any affiliation to one party and for the foreseeable future I'm unlikely to change that stance.

**************

That doesn't mean I will though!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

How Many More Times

You'll have to excuse me. I'm as freaked out as I think I've been in a long time.

I became very squeamish when the wife's late brother had an operation on his brain tumour. Until that point in my life, I'd pretty much seen gruesome and shrugged it off; but looking at the back of his head at what looked like a poorly repaired axe wound, I suddenly felt my knees go a little wobbly, my stomach did a 180 degree turn and I excused myself and went out the front of Radcliffe Infirmary and had a fag; several, in fact and a lot of hyperventilating. This was a new and wholly unpleasant experience.

From that point on, I started to get really bad. It was like I'd activated this wuss button and I couldn't turn it back off. In fact, over the last few years, I have become quite renowned for my inability to look at anything that might upset me. I just can't do it.

So, imagine the wife's surprise while we're in Sainsbury's this evening, when she returns to the trolley to find me cradling a man on the floor, blood everywhere...

Shopping had been uneventful, slightly disappointing and almost over, when I found myself looking at the latest new vegetarian release from the dead wife of a famous Beatle. Because I tend to wander round supermarkets with my head up my arse, I wasn't really paying any attention to what was going on around me, so when I heard someone drop a shit load of change on the floor and saw some of it rolling in my direction, I just carried on surveying Mrs McCartney's latest wares.

It wasn't until I heard a young girl shriek, "Daddy!" at the top of her voice that I looked round. Lying less than five feet from me was this man, possibly about the same age as me, sprawled on the floor having what looked like a massive fit. I'll be honest, my first thought was GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HERE, especially when I saw a Tarrantinoesque pool of blood spreading away from his head...

But then and this all happened in what must have been seconds, I looked at all the other people just standing there, gawping and shuffling backwards and I yelled, "Someone call an ambulance" and my first aid training sprang into action; I was on my knees, telling the man it was okay, that someone was here and an ambulance was being called, that he was okay. I then yelled again at a man standing there holding his mobile - I didn't swear. It suddenly hit me that the man was having a seizure, so even though I had my gloves on, I opened his mouth to make sure he wasn't choking on his tongue - he wasn't; but his breathing was getting very laboured and I was very worried that he was having either a massive heart attack or, more likely, a stroke. All I could hear was this poor little girl screaming and I thought, shit, I need to get him into the recovery position. And I couldn't remember what to do! I kept telling the man he was going to be alright; I could hear things happening behind me and decided to try and put him in recovery... and then I saw the blood again. I mean, lots of blood and still spreading - now under the battery display - and I suddenly felt incredibly light-headed. I was losing it.

Standing next to me - all I can remember is he had a red top on and curly black hair - this guy asks me if I'm okay or something like that, because I have to look at him again and ask him what he said. "I'm a medic, is there anything you need me to do?"
"Take over, please. I don't think I have a fucking clue what I'm doing and I think I'm going to faint." He helped me up and took over and I sloped back to the trolley where Paula was waiting. She expressed an incredible amount of amazement, especially in light of the fact of the blood and marvelled at the fact that I was a first-aider. I also saw a lot of love and admiration in her eyes as I wobbled round and as far away from the scene as we could get.

I'm sorry, I could have waited around to see if he was all right, but by the time we got through the checkouts the ambulance and paramedics had arrived. This was about 6pm. It's 2½ hours later and I'm still shaking.

I hope more than anything that little girl gets to give her daddy a big cuddle later and that whatever happened was something exacerbated by the bang to his head. I really, really hope so.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Last Comic Book Show

This is the one that appears to have gotten away... Originally written for the last of my Comics Village columns, this doesn't appear to have been run (yet). So, being terrible for recycling, here it is, in a slightly updated and edited version:

THE thought of me in a comic shop nowadays is pretty much stretching ones belief, so to actually get me into a comic shop - and willingly - should be seen as a major achievement. This happened in early December and the shop in question was House on the Borderland in Peterborough (which is north of Cambridge, east of Stamford and Leicester, south of Lincoln and Nottingham and west of King's Lynn and Norwich). It has always been one of my favourite places in the world. This is going to sound really harsh to Pete and Dave, the co-owners, but it's like searching through a skip packed with a cornucopia of comics, books, records, carvings, clothes, bongs, skins and anything they think will appeal to the diverse group of people that wander down the blind alley towards the tattoo parlour on Lincoln Road and stumble across it.

Borderland is an anachronism; it is run by two wildly eccentric old(er) geezers and has nothing in common with comics shops as you see them now. It has limped along for donkeys years; yet despite the inches of dust, the general seeming neglect of the stock and the need for at least 4 hours to be able to search through every possible box - because, you really don't realise the amount of gems they have hiding away in nooks and crannies - it's an absolute treat to be inside! Nostalgia and comics, honest to God.

Despite being borderline OCD about all things grubby, I find Borderland comfortable. I hadn't been there for 12 years and it felt like slipping on a warm and comfortable glove and, while I know that I am quite well known amongst people in comics, it was good to be remembered (and fondly) by the owners.

I spent a good hour talking to Dave, who becomes more like a Gandalf clone every time I see him, and he admitted that the comics side of the business had struggled for a few years and even the top selling titles are struggling to do a small percentage of days gone by. It could be the fact the shop isn't sticking condition of its stock as a top priority, or it could be down to the fact that at the current exchange rate you can't buy a comic for much less than £3.50...

Years of being gone from the mainstream meant that I was bamboozled by the vast amount of titles and underwhelmed by the vast dirth of talent creating these titles. As a returnee to comics, I would have been scared away by the array of shite at my disposal. I wouldn't have been able to find out what happened to my favourite comics, because I would have grown old and died by the time the convoluted bollocks had been explained to me and I would have looked at a comic with a $3.99 price tag and believed that I was actually in some economic nightmare of which there was no escape!

My brother-in-law recently got back into comics and admitted to me that he's spending shitloads of money on them. That isn't going to be difficult - when I was a lad, I could buy 14 comics for £1 and still have a few pennies left to buy some sweets. Today, I can buy a pint, a bag of crisps and have enough change to throw at a beggar for the same amount as it costs to buy a comic. That is fucking outrageous! Can't you see how fucking outrageous that is? Are you all so fucking stupid that you'd pay that kind of money for a worthless piece of shit that will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled? Try wanking; it's free and you'll probably derive more pleasure from it.

I've tried so desperately hard to get behind comics again - tried to be positive and less derisive; but frankly that's impossible.

After an hour in Borderland, wading through mountains of crap and the odd interesting looking trade paperback, my eyes settled on a new Bernie Wrightson collection - Dead, She Said, with Steve Niles. It looked like a bit of fun, I had a quick flip through it and thought, 'What the hell? The shop looks like it could do with a sale' so I opted to buy it...

It was £13.50. THIRTEEN FUCKING POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE???? Dave admitted to me that I could buy it for about half as much off of Amazon and said that none of the distributors or publishers seem to give a shit about independent retailers any more; they can't get the discounts Amazon get. I should have just said I didn't want it at that price, but I felt a little guilty...

It took me 40 minutes to read.

There's a new Stephen King book out. I'm in two minds about it because I've not enjoyed the old boy much in the last 10 years and the news that he's thinking of either writing a sequel to The Shining (one of my least favourite of his books) or an 8th Dark Tower story filled me with so much dread and fear that I'm seriously considering burning all his books and having his name burnt out of my memory. But, Under the Dome weighs in at 880 pages; it allegedly took King a fair while to write and it can be purchased from just about anywhere for under £10. It will probably take me about a week to read, possibly longer if I deem it only worthy as a toilet read. Even if I think it stinks like the shit it will share a room with, it will still be considerably better value than the Niles/Wrightson collection of three comics from IDW.

Simple economics says that I can call you all fucking morons and be perfectly within my rights to do so. I sincerely hope those of you with wives, boy and girlfriends, do a very good job of hiding the amount of money you spend on utter shite from your loved ones, because when I told the wife I'd spent £13.50 on a new Bernie Wrightson book, she looked at me like she couldn't remember when she had me lobotomised.

I understand that a lot of comics are now being scanned and are readily available from the Internet via torrents and shit; fucking good job too. At least those of you with an iota of common sense can download things and give yourself a degree of quality control; but there's no excuse for the utter wankstains that will buy a series of comics then buy a deluxe hardcover version to keep on their shelves, to impress - no one. Absolutely no excuse.

I wouldn't want to be involved in comics any longer, despite being told yesterday that Comics International was never the same after I left it and why the hell didn't the idiots that bought it put me in charge? Well, frankly, I'm glad they didn't and even if they did they a) wouldn't be able to afford me and b) wouldn't like the fact that I'd ridicule them for being conned into buying a dead, well flogged, horse. Also, it's been nearly 10 years since I parted company with that magazine - TEN YEARS. That's actually too much time.

There's a new comics magazine coming out from Future Publishing. I took a comics magazine proposal to Future in 2001 and it almost paid off; but they decided there just wasn't enough life in comics any longer. The new magazine will focus a lot of the film adaptations, in an attempt to coax money from a fan of the super hero movie. It has a cover price in the region of £8. That made me laugh hysterically; I mean guffaws so loud I thought I was going to have an aneurysm. Frankly, it would need to be offering me a blow job before I'd part with £8 for something that will essentially be old, recycled news. The mind boggles.

Comics now smell of commercialism gone crazy and I really couldn't give a shit about all the 'really good stuff' out there; because there's far far too much shit to wade through to find it. Plus there are far too many unpleasant people involved in comics - myself included - and as I've said before, there's either something inherently pernicious about nerds or they're just so passively aggressive you want to rip one of their legs off and batter them to death with the soggy end!

So subsequently my involvement with comics ends here.

**********

And that was it (essentially). I find it quite sad in many respects that I've grown to loathe comics with such a passion; I did okay by them for a while. However, the sad thing is for every really good memory I have, I have two equally shitty ones.

My mate Will expressed a surprise that I'd written the Comics Village column for so long and I actually decided to examine that specific issue in a column, which I never actually finished completely and decided that it ended up being far to personal. But basically there is an addiction there; I don't know if it was the chemicals they used in early paper, or if some people are just easily habitualised; but once comics gets into your blood it's harder than nicotine to get rid of; especially if you have as many bitter feelings as I've harboured over the last 10 years.

As for the statement that I'll have no involvement, I mean it. No more columns about comics or the stupidity of the people reading, writing or drawing them. I have a couple of 'recommended' comics, that I've downloaded from the net; but have found myself preferring to look at the weather forecast, sports news, windows explorer, the Start button - anything but open them up and read them. They're there for a rainy day, very much how I used to describe my comics collection, before I sold it for a new boiler; the big difference is, the only thing I'll get from deleting these files is more hard drive space.

Some of my best friends are still well into comics and good luck to them; most know not to even breath comics within a 50 mile radius of me, because they know how cantankerous I can get. I actually think I'm becoming as obsessive about deriding comics as fanboys are of praising them, and therefore am in danger of becoming an alternate version of the thing I despise the most (insert numerous comics jokes here).

The problem is... I now need a new hobby...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Who Are You?

Once upon a time, I was a fully-fledged nerd. Card-carrying, trade paperback thumping acolyte to everything geeky (well, actually that's a lie, but stick with me, I'm using artistic licence). The most important things in life were what was going to happen next in all my favourite TV shows, comics, films or even books (there was even a time in the 90s when some of us were really excited about the large stinky turd that The Dark Tower became). There was even a bit of nerdism in my record collecting - preferring to buy every version of a song that existed, because I 'needed' to own them all. An old cunt that I used to work for had this saying, "Full set, full set, gotta have the full set" and as much as he often spoke like the dribbling wrecked sphincter of an old queen's far too often invaded rectum; it was an accurate sentiment - nerds are collectors and a collector isn't a real collector until he has everything he wants.

My mate Roger, he collects Vertigo spiral label LPs; there's a few and he has most apart from the one that costs about £5000 and a lot of people don't even think exists. But, while he is a collector of this specific label; he's hardly a nerd about it. We don't scour second hand record shops across the country for this rare gem, because he knows that it would be tantamount to finding one of Christ's turds in a Muslim cleric's hollowed out Quran. Roger is a collector who doesn't have an obsession. It's a good template to follow or aspire to; I no longer obsess that much over things I haven't got (well, not so you'd notice) because there's very little I need.

However, obsession, nerdism, geekyness, being a sad bastard are all traits that saturate a lot of my friends. In a world that frankly could be a lot fairer and better, the best things to talk about today was how a children's television programme just simply didn't deliver.

I've talked about Dr Who here, a couple of times; I've shown my nerd roots and my wishful thinking desires; but the good Doctor doesn't even feature on my obsessive radar, he never has. Watching Dr Who since Ecclestone brought him back has been like watching a number of British TV shows, well for me, anyhow. I'll watch it every week, but if I miss an episode, or an episode doesn't meet with my favour; then I just get on with the rest of my week and by Monday, Dr Who is about as relevant (and as strong a memory) as a crap I took in February. I've got involved in debates about the series, as stated, made my forecasts and had a lot of fun.

The Internet gave Dr Who an immediate fan base that could opine about it until the Ood came home. When McCoy shuffled off, or McGann popped in for a brief cameo, the Internet was either non-existent or still wiping the sleep from its eyes. So, naturally, when the net boomed, instead of just Dr Who nerd-fest conventions to spout their theories and beliefs at, the nerds suddenly had forums where they could be seen by many more people. If some of these people already had too much time on their hands, this new revolution in nerdism was heaven sent.

But, believe it or not, I'm actually drifting away from my specific topic into a far more philosophical and sociological discussion; one for another time perhaps?

I have been generally shocked by many of my friends' reactions to the culmination of Russell T Davies' tenure at the helm of DW. Shocked because they seem to be incapable of understanding that DW is ostensibly for children and adolescents; yes, it has crossover appeal, but not like The Simpsons, where the humour for adults is clearly aimed above the younger viewers' heads. Dr Who is, was and should always be a fantastic children's TV show exploring the limited budget the show has to work with. Dr Who doesn't exist for Who nerds. The show wasn't brought back for them. The show doesn't go the way you wanted it to because the way you wanted it to would relegate it to gay clubs and seedy cinemas - hardly a good advert for kids TV, eh?

Viewers of DW might have noticed that virtually every episode written by Davies or his honchos had that element of 'hey, remember this is a kids programme' in it. You might have hated it; you might have seen it as pointless, or a set piece so contrived that it belongs on the set of an Indiana Jones film or a Star Wars sequel; but IT ISN'T DESIGNED OR INTENDED JUST FOR YOU - live with it.

I used to think comics fan were self-important wankers who took themselves far too serious; but the righteous indignation that has emanated from Who fandom over the last year has been so hysterical that if I was in charge of the BBC, I'd cancel DW just to piss them off.

It all started when Patterson Joseph wasn't chosen to play the next Doctor. There was a school of thought, actually more like school of belief, that was convinced that Pat Joseph would become the first black doctor. In fact, up until 3 days before the announcement, you couldn't get decent odds on it (until a late flurry of activity at 250, 100 and then 50-1 on Matt Smith, tipped the bookies off). Enter Matt Smith and the flurry of antipathy didn't actually happen. It seems that many people were surprised at the choice, but were being adult enough to refrain from making any ill-advised judgements.

Actually, if I want to be really pedantic, and after all we're talking about pedants to the nth degree here; it actually started with the 2nd ever episode of the new DW, when the pompous, I-know-better-than-you brigade picked holes in a Davies plot that involved the Doctor having to avoid a pretty contrived obstacle course to get to a spaceship's off switch. Instead of spending the next week complaining about how awful Davies was and would be at SF, I put it down to a part of the show that kids would get a big kick out - a sort of platform game within a DW show. Yes, it made no sense, but does Tellytubbies?

The underlying thread that came out of the next 5 years was this, if someone else wrote an episode it was worthy, but if Davies wrote one, it would get systematically ripped to shreds, because he obviously just wasn't good enough to turn this dead TV show into a global hit... Oh, see how they got that one wrong?

So after 4 years of constant criticism, from me as well, that some of his scripts were laughably awful (but none ever as bad as any single episode of Smallville), we came to this 4 specials and you're out finale.

I feel like asking all the detractors why they've stuck with the series if its so bloody bad and it hasn't done any of the things they felt should have happened? Because it's one thing to be a critic occasionally, but its bordering on nerdism and obsession to spend every weekend after an episode attempting to de-construct it, to show all your friends how fucking brilliant you are at ripping a successful TV show and its faults to pieces.

This brings me to New Year's Day's big finale - a 75 minute 'blockbuster' that was really a tale of two halves - a culmination of the Master story and a chance to say goodbye to the people who made it special for you. Yes, it was layered with schmaltz; it, because of the very nature of time, could have been so much different; but these series of DW have been more about him actually making a family of friends rather than just having a sidekick and a cast of supporting drones. Plus, the emotional depth that has crept into DW has been very welcome, IMHO, because you don't live for 906 years without developing something between those two beating hearts.

The thing that has sickened me is the way that supposed fans of the show have been so appalled by it. Criticisms from; not enough of the Timelords, to, the bad casting of John Simm, to, the overly sugar-coated last 10 minutes. Jesus fucking wept - it's a kids TV show and I'm betting the average kids (not the ones reared by the die hard cynics amongst you) probably thought it was great. It had action, adventure, pathos, humour, sentiment, nostalgia and it was sad...

"I don't want to go" for me, was the greatest sentence uttered in Doctor Who history. It was the moment I forgot all the plot holes and pratfalls, the criticisms and the bitter old bastards who didn't get what they thought they were owed; it was the moment my right eye started to leak and my shoulders hitched. It was the moment that I realised that I enjoyed the last 5 series of DW, regardless of the complaints, the plot holes, or the things that just didn't make a lot of sense. David Tennant had replaced Jon Pertwee as my Doctor.

I feel sorry for the people who feel they have to dislike it. These are the people who will use the argument that even kids deserve to have things plotted well for them; but, the weird thing is, I haven't seen DW lose popularity because of all of these criticisms. In fact, I haven't seen TV critics or SF columnists doing the same hatchet job on the show as die-hard Whovians.

As we wait for the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith combo; expectation is going to be high. Moffat wrote some of the nerds' most critically acclaimed episodes and the expectation is going to be dark, gritty and more hiding behind the sofa than ever before. I think they're going to be disappointed. Moffat isn't going to turn DW into a post-watershed series; it will still be for kids - ostensibly - and there will be other writers and other stories that fall foul of the nerds. In fact, they could be treated far worse, because Who fandom seems to have risked everything on the next DW being so much better.

It is, in the end, a disposable TV programme, blessed with a second chance, that has succeeded despite the detractors. With Top Gear, the BBC boasts two of the biggest downloaded TV shows in the world - making them both very profitable commodities. The people who seem determined to spoil it for themselves need to lighten up and accept it for what it is - NOT YOUR SHOW!