No more Public Schools

October 9, 2019

So the Labour Party wish to abolish public schools like Eton, Harrow and Rugby. My God! What will become of those like Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, who had a (not so) secret obsession for Eton boys? Those ‘golden laddies’ provided the inspiration for Brett’s small book of verse, Foam.

With a single stroke of Comrade Corbyn’s legislative wand, these inspiring young men will be no more! Can such a move be anything other than catastrophic? Like the closure of Punch, that once famous but now defunct weekly periodical, these things are symbolical of what makes Britain Great. That and the much-demonized Trident nuclear deterrent…

The first Doctor (William Hartnell): If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you

The second Doctor (Patrick Troughton): The fools. The stupid fools!

The third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) : A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.

The fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) : Never be certain of anything. It’s a sign of weakness.

The fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) : There’s always something to look at if you open your eyes!

The sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) : Rest is for the weary, sleep is for the dead.

The seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy): Think about me when you’re living your life one day after another, all in a neat pattern. Think about the homeless traveller and his old police box, with his days like crazy paving.

The eighth Doctor (Paul McGann): Gallifrey! Yes! This must be where I live. Now, where is that?

The war Doctor (John Hurt): No. Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame. Whatever the cost.

The ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston): You think it’ll last forever: people and cars and concrete. But it won’t. One day it’s all gone. Even the sky. My planet’s gone. It’s dead. It burned, like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust. Before its time.

The tenth Doctor (David Tennant): And, I’ll tell you something else: We just met Queen Victoria!

The eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith): Are the peoples of this world guilty of any crimes punishable by the laws of the Atraxi?

The twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi): I’m the Doctor. I’ve lived for over two thousand years, and not all of them were good. I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time I did something about that…

The thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker): Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.

In fact, the apocalypse as male paradise is something you’ll run into again and again in this novel.  Huge swathes of text are given over to lasciviously explaining how, in order to re-populate the earth, men will have to sleep with as many women as possible (whether they like it or not – it’s all for genetic diversity reasons, you see). Using the apocalypse as an excuse to basically legitimise rape, or, at best, polyamory, is all kinds of messed up. There are whole chapters that read like a pervy manifesto or teenage sex fantasy (“they’ll HAVE to have sex with me now”). But it’s stupid in a structural sense too: there are long passages of dialogue explaining why all this would be necessary, but such discussions are taking place only days after the arrival of the blindness/Triffids/plague, when surely the more immediate concerns of finding clean water, shelter and other survivors should be taking precedent over long-term plans for coupling and repopulation?

Apocalypse as Paradise: John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids
Tomcat in the red room blog

our heritage

July 4, 2019

Cripes! Life seems so hectic, don’t it? So much to do; so little time to do it. Rushing round trying to save the environment while vacuuming, flossing, cooking meals, writing, and feeling particularly pissed off that a nodding bell-end like Jeremy Hunt (Jessa the Hunt), in his attempt to become prime minister, thinks the answer is to bring back fox hunting!

Using a pack of dogs to rip a fox apart is, according to the Hunt, “part of our heritage.”

It’d appear that molecular biologist Christopher Johnson and his colleagues in the States have created a biological enzyme that can chew efficiently through throwaway plastics like those that make water bottles and soap containers. The team is optimistic they can engineer a world where humans keep using this overabundant material – without winding up literally or figuratively overwhelmed by it. In that world microorganisms will digest polymers into their chemical components so they can turn a profit as new and better products.

Ummm!!?

Anyone remember the TV series Doomwatch? The first episode, The Plastic Eaters was written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis. It told of an enzyme that went out of control and gobbled up plastic, including all the plastic parts of an aircraft in flight – oh, dear! what a tragedy –

Pedler and Davis used the same idea in a novel, Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater. Perhaps a copy should be sent to Mr Johnson and colleagues as a warning?

I note the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, condemns all the fiscal proposals/suggestions/promises made by the two candidates hoping to become our future prime Minister. He condemns, too, the economic proposals of the Labour party. Mr Hammond, affectionately nicknamed ‘Spreadsheet Phil’, gives the impression of a monomaniacal sociopath wandering through a wild orgy of the flesh, thinking only about marginal rates of return, regardless of cost to our society as a whole –

American consumers

June 23, 2019

…our television exists for the sole purpose of selling American products to American consumers…

Orson Welles
Twilight in the smog
Esquire March 1959

Someone clever once said, apropos of the Justice League, that the only thing sillier than an adult dressing up in colourful tights to fight crime, was a whole roomful of such folk. That’s a good analogy for films, TV shows and books that posit elaborate secret societies of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures that operate just below the radar of human awareness. One vampire or werewolf is powerful as both a character and a symbol; a roomful of them is just goofy.

Alex Bledsoe
No Mortals Allowed

The “Twilight” series’ brand of sexuality is fairly straightforward. Sex equals bloodlust, and in general the rule is “Just Say No!” — unless you put a ring on it. The series reads (and watches) like one giant exercise in sexual frustration. Epitomizing this idea, Bella Swan (even her name implies purity)  and Edward Cullen’s first kiss ends with Edward smashing himself into her bedroom wall to stop himself from doing more than pecking her on the lips. If their frisky business goes too far, he’s likely to lose control and devour her… literally. When the couple finally consummate their relationship (three novels later), it’s only after they’ve been married. And immediately after they have sex, Bella winds up pregnant.

The implications of this dynamic are clear. Sexual urges exist, but must be repressed. This repression is a sign of commitment and love. And if you do have sex? You’ll probably get knocked up and have your lover take away your humanity once and for all

Emma Gray
Vampires and Sexuality

myth

November 4, 2018

Folk legend, fairytale, myth are thought of as escapist, but in reality they’re not – they’re distilled metaphor and truth.

Alan Garner
Interview for BBC TV programme Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers

drunk out of his skull

March 17, 2018

Dr Who

Well, yeah, I was (a fan of Dr Who). I watched it since it started, and I didn’t actually like the first Dr Who, William Hartnell, because he used to be in The Army Game where he was a barking sergeant major, and I couldn’t help seeing him as this barking sergeant major, but in a different suit! I liked Patrick Troughton better, because he was sort of fey and he started to bring that oddness into the character. I didn’t like Jon Pertwee, because he was again a bit too posh, and I really liked Tom Baker. I sort of knew him; I met him once or twice, usually in a pub, and usually drunk out of his skull on 50 valium and a pint of scotch, and ad-libbing like fuck. And it’s wonderful to watch the shows and know that all the other actors are just completely at sea because he hasn’t given them their cue line, he’s just come up with actually a better line, usually. So that was my favourite, like many people I suppose, and I still like him as an actor. I’ve got this sort of secret ambition: I did a book called Mother London and there’s a character in it called Josef Kiss, and he’d make an absolutely perfect Josef Kiss. So the only reason I’d want them to make a movie or a radio thing or anything is just so I can get Tom Baker in to play Josef Kiss.

Michael Moorcock
Interview with Ben Graham for The Quietus 22nd November 2010

escapist…?

February 20, 2018

Folk legend, fairytale, myth are thought of as escapist, but in reality they’re not – they’re distilled metaphor and truth.

Alan Garner
Interview in BBC TV programme “Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers