Across The Cold Ocean

Farewell Cassini, sleep well.

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Who’s The Doctor? Doctor Who?

It’s been a Doctor themed weekend.

On Friday, I sent my wife a text while she was at work.

I’ve got a lovely surprise for you when you get home.

She peppered me for clues, but I stood firm:

Wait until you’re home.

And so eventually, shift completed and finished for the week, Jen arrive home.

“Okay,” I said. “Close your eyes.”

She did so. I’m not sure what she was expecting, but she asked “Is this going to change the way I look at the world?”

“This is going to change the way you look at the bedroom.” (In hindsight, perhaps she was now expecting something a little risqué.) “Okay: open your eyes.”

I placed into her hands:


“What’s this?”

“A signed photograph.”

“Who’s she?” She couldn’t see past the loincloth-wearing Leela.

“It’s Leela,” I replied, then, theatrically: “with the Fourth Doctor!”

“He looks like Leo Sayer gone wrong.”

“What?! He’s the greatest ever Doctor! The great and eccentric Tom Baker!  Soon he will be, whisper it, dead. He’s in his eighties now. I wanted one with Sarah Jane, but as she’s died they are hard to come by, so Leela is the next best thing.”

“And how exactly will this make me look at the bedroom differently?”

“I’m thinking of putting it on the bedroom wall.”

“You’re bleeding  not!”

I think she’ll come around with time, no pun intended.

Anyway . . .

You may have heard the news that the new Doctor was to be unveiled on Sunday afternoon, immediately after the men’s tennis final. The identity of Doctor number 13 had been a closely guarded secret, so for us fans it was a big deal.

And Jen had arranged a trip into Manchester for the whole family on that very day . . .

We were sat in Starbucks, and I kept tuning into FB. I also had someone lined up to message me as soon as the world knew who the Doctor was to be. But, just in case it slipped by on someone else’s watch, I kept tuning in. I updated, and my mobilised army of Whovians were making comments which I was relaying to the family.

“The final is still going on.”

(Jen didn’t bat an eyelid.)

“Federer is two sets up so it may not be long.”

(My son: “Roger Federer is the new Doctor?”

“David Tennant is at Wimbledon! He’s in the crowd!”

(My daughter: “Tennant’s coming back?!”)

“They could be doing the reveal there, on court!”

(Jen: “I want the toilet.”)

“The match is over!”

(Jen: “Who won?”)

“Who cares! It’s imminent!”

My informers told me that there was a lot of analysing and backslapping going on, so I began surfing the web for signs of any leaks.

Nothing.

To pass the time, I took a photograph of Jen, wrote ‘Meet the new Doctor’ and posted it on FB. A friend saw the caption, but the photograph took ages to load. She told me that she was having palpitations, and then when Jen appeared she commented that, much that she thinks Jen is lovely, she felt slightly gutted.

I update again, this time categorically denying the rumour that I was the new Doctor on account that, with the kids finishing for the summer, I simply didn’t have the time.

Jen had had enough and decided that she was going to pop into a local store with the kids. I said, unnecessarily,  “I’ll wait here. I’ll text you as soon as we know who it is.”

“Don’t bother.”

Off they went, and on I searched, making sure my phone wasn’t on mute.

And then I heard and was stunned, the announcement coming straight out of left field.

Immediately I found the advertisement that had revealed all on BBC.

The new Doctor was Jodie Whittaker. The first female Doctor.

I never expected it to be a woman-I knew it was coming, the Master being regenerated as Missy had served to soften us up to the idea a bit, but I thought it wouldn’t happen until Doctor #14.

Although before it actually happened I was a little unsure, I have to confess that I’m now quite excited to see what Jodie does with the role. It will be fresh and, even though each new Doctor brings to the show a clean start, her appointment has shaken things up.

And some of the long-term fans couldn’t take it. The Doctor is a thousand year old alien that changes his face, but being a woman appears unacceptable.


Surely, with the strong female leads in the Star Wars and Game Of Thrones franchises, it was just a matter of time until a woman donned the mantle. And come on-once the Doctor even had a tin dog and that was fine!

Jodie released a statement:
Jodie Whittaker says: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.” She added: ‘‘I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one’
Some weren’t listening though. Among those venting their spleen and vowing never to watch again, there were many supportive comments. I liked this one:

‘This story reminds me of a profound moment in 1988 on the last day of my senior year at Holland Hall. Craig Benton (one of my all time favorite teachers) challenged us with a riddle:
“A father and his son are in a horrific car crash. The father dies instantly. The boy, in critical condition, is transported to the hospital needing immediate surgery. The doctor upon entering the O.R. exclaims, “I can’t operate on this boy he is my son!” – How is this possible?”

Our class of 63 students who were headed to The Who’s Who of prestigious colleges were completely stumped. Not one of us realized the doctor was the boy’s mom.’
Jen arrived back: “It’s a woman isn’t it?!”

“How do you know?”

“We heard a girl in the shop telling her Mum.”

My daughter beamed: “It’s a girl.”

My son scowled: “It’s a girl.”

And there it was-the whole, Whovian reaction. In microcosm.

Let’s give her a chance, yes?

 

 

*For another Whovian themed post where you may feel further sympathy for my long suffering wife-see here:

https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/when-a-nerd-turns-manic/

 

 

 

Election Perplexion. (Not A Poem.)

We go to the polls tomorrow.

When I was a kid politics was boring. It was an unfathomably adult word that your folks hung their hats on. Different people used different pegs, and discussed their choices while you vacated the room and made the most of their distractions.

Once you become an adult you can’t help but be political, knowing more of the society, of the world, that we live in. But, bordering just on the right side of apathy, in a world of Brexits, Trumps and false promises, a certain fatigue sets in. 

Ask a member of the Conservative party a question and they talk about Labour. Ask a member of the Labour Party a question and they talk about the Conservatives. Nobody gives a straight answer any more.

The grandfather that I never met apparently used to say that you should never waste a vote. I’ve heard this same sentiment that many times, through that many mouths, that it has now become something of a cliché rather than an insight into a long gone family member.

I will vote tomorrow. I will set aside a moment in my day to enter my local polling station, following in the (metaphorical) footsteps of my grandfather. But probably, even as I’m putting an ‘X’ next to the name of one of those question-ducking candidates, I will be thinking about my next book, or the song that’s just been playing, or perhaps the glazed eyes of my children and dedicate myself to avoiding an evening of unfathomable distractions on their behalf.

It is the school holidays, you know.

Currently Watching This:One Love Manchester

Ariana Grande has returned to Manchester for the first time since the concert in which twenty two people lost their lives. After visiting the injured children in hospital she is now appearing in a hastily arranged concert featuring herself and many guest stars. People who attended that first, ill-fated concert have been allowed to attend this one for free.

The entire concert is being screened live on television. It appears everyone on my FB friends list are either attending in person or watching from their own homes. Very emotional, the message One Love Manchester is also transcending my city’s borders, being sent down south to those who suffered just last night in London. 

Music brings people together. And, as Ariana has just said, the kind of love being displayed here is the medicine that the world needs right now. I hope it is addictive. 

A Final Manchester Post: Still The Flowers Grow

(Things have got heavy here on City Jackdaw, understandably so. This will be, I think, my final post on the Manchester bombing. At least for a while. And here are some final photographs: some inspiring, some personal, some heartbreaking. Thank you for acting as witness with me.)

There are still many armed police on the streets. I saw one heading for the Gents toilet in the Arndale shopping centre. “Do you want me to mind that while you go in?” I asked him, indicating his gun. He laughed. I’ve seen other officers reassuring children, placing their helmets onto young heads for photographs.

Meanwhile, outside, still the flowers grow.


Real bees-Manchester bees, were flying among the thousands of flowers, unthwarted by the barrage of moving tethered balloons.


There was a subdued air compared to the earlier staunch triumphalism, the knee jerk refusal to be cowed.

My two youngest children and I.

Then, somewhere beyond this transformed square, a lone piper began to play.


A woman took a photograph of her little girl, stood in front of the flowers. “I’ll show you this when you grow up.”

“I don’t want to grow up,” she replied. I can understand why.

Everywhere: an alternative message to hate.

Remembrance of the twenty two.


And messages to ourselves; to each other:


But also, heartbreakingly, survivor’s guilt:


My kids stayed a little longer, quiet and thoughtful among the reflecting figures.


This place of memorial draws the creatives: the musicians; the poets; the painters. I’ve seen them everywhere, and of course I’m one too. Bleeding our art through open wounds.


Victoria train station, through which the Arena (site of the bombing) can be accessed, has now reopened. Samaritan volunteers were present everywhere, handing out cards for anyone who may need help. Above the platform scaffolding shows where the damage is still being repaired, draped by one of the We Love Manchester signs that adorns the city.


And also this, a memorial to the dead, and a tribute to the people:


This has been laid, naming and depicting the dead as angels. The five males in white, the females in pink, the girl with the balloon the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie.


I left the centre still, even more so, a proud Mancunian, moved by the resolve of the Manchester people.