Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas Past

Good evening, you lovely people. I don’t know about you, but I’m right in the middle of Christmas Eve, and I feel delightful.

I thought I’d share a little story I wrote, this time last year. I was asked to create an alternative take on the Nativity, for reading at a midnight church service. Apparently they read it out, to those assembled. I don’t know what the reaction was - I was miles away watching that episode of Father Ted with the lingerie department. But here it is. I hope it brings your some Christmas cheer. 

Christmas Eve

The Nativity is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I mean, it’s nice. I’m not saying it’s not nice. It’s just…

I was expecting it to be different.

Look. It’s my fault. They tell you not to time travel to points of great historical significance. Not until you’ve done it a few times.

They say, time travel, by all means. We’ve got the technology. Go where you like. When you like. Don’t kill anyone or tread on any butterflies, but go see some history. Just don’t go anywhere really important. Because you’ll be disappointed. Don’t go to Agincourt. Don’t go to see the Beatles at the Cavern.

Don’t go the the Nativity.

Because you’ve got an idea, haven’t you, in your head, of what the Nativity is going to be like. You’ve seen a hundred Christmas cards and displays in shops and adverts on TV. You’ve heard all the carols. You think you’ve got it nailed.

We all know the Nativity. Camels. Kings. Cows. Sausage rolls. Dog in a manger. Something like that. Snow - but nice, warm, glowy snow. Peaceful. Lovely, warm, snowy, quiet Nativity.


For a start. No snow. And yet, somehow, cold. How is that fair? Where’s the lovely warm glow? The lovely, warm, golden glow of Christmas?

No camels. No Kings. A couple of weird, beardy blokes - oh yes. But I’m pretty sure they’re not kings. Or if they are, they’re certainly not Kings of anywhere good. It’d have to be a Kingdom with pretty low standards of personal hygiene.

Plenty of sheep, fair enough. But also, ugh. Turns out sheep are great to look at, on a card, but rubbish when they are next to you, and you can smell them, and they are staring at you with those flat, terrifying eyes.

And plenty of Shepherds, obviously. They’re big lads. I suppose you get used to the idea of the Shepherds being about six years old, with little glue on cotton wool beards. As opposed to large, hairy blokes who look at you like they might kill you. They do not like you insulting their sheep. No. They get quite cross if you call their sheep ‘freakish’. And the language they use certainly didn’t get past the first draft of the Bible.

There’s Mary - she’s younger than I expected. And Joseph - he’s older than I expected. And neither of them are… um… well, neither of them are as white as I thought they’d be. Nothing wrong with that, obviously. But I’m going to be honest, I always thought of them being more or less English. Which now I think about it doesn’t make much sense.

Same for Jesus. Not as white as you’d think. And not as quiet, either. Let me tell you, whoever wrote that thing about “no crying he makes” was, franky, making it up as he went along. No crying he makes? Not for one second did that child stop making noise. He might be the saviour of the universe or whatever, but he was also a gurgling, squawking little bundle of noise and snot.

But I tell you what. It is strange, looking at Jesus. I mean, actual Jesus. I didn’t get very close. I thought that might be inappropriate. But there he was. The most famous person in history, just laying there, gazing about at the world.

I guess he must have been thinking the same as me. What’s all this… stuff? All these beardy blokes and black eyed sheep. And his mum and dad staring down at him, both totally freaked out.

If he is God - that’s what he’s meant to be, isn’t he, “God” - if he is God, then I suppose he must have felt a lot like me. He knows about all this stuff. He’s had a good idea of what it’s all about for thousands of years. But to suddenly be in the middle of it… it’s different. A bit scary. A bit smelly. A bit more real, maybe. And new. Somehow, completely new.

I don’t know how much he knew what was going on, this baby that we sing all the songs about. Was he laying there, thinking God thoughts? “Ah, here I am manifested in human form! To business!” Or was it more like, “I’ve got toes! They wiggle! I knew they did that, in theory, but man it’s fun to actually do it!”?

Or was it just total baby thoughts? Feeling warmth for the first time. Hunger. Pain. A bunch of emotions that don’t have names yet, all swishing about. How do you go from infinite knowledge, to that?

I wanted to grab him. I wanted to shout, “Don’t do this. Go back. Go back to being miles away. All this is better from a distance. I’m only visiting, and already I’m disappointed. How are you going to find hope, here? It’s not magical. It’s not mythic. It’s just a normal place, with some normal people. It’s impossible to get where you want to go, from here.”  

But of course, I didn’t say anything. I left him there, in the middle of that nothing place, and I came back here. Back to Christmas Cards and Advent Calendars. Things that made sense. Songs about a quiet baby surrounded by magical Disney animals.

It’s better. It feels more like the place Jesus belongs. My Jesus, I mean. Not that strange little baby in that cold, impossible world. He doesn’t fit here. And if I sing enough songs, maybe I can forget him for good.

The Nativity is not all it’s cracked up to be. I recommend you don’t go. Stay here. It’s far, far easier.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Time is Relative: Season 10 - part one.


You know how people are always asking you to recount the plots of old Doctor Who stories, briefly, and with pictures? And you know how you're never quite sure how to quickly and amusingly summarise those stories?

Well worry no more. I present to you, the Rob Reed guide to old Doctor Who. It's brief, occasionally amusing and - crucially - has pictures.

Today, we're looking at Season 10, which is from 1972, when we were considering joining the EU. Crazy times.

The Three Doctors

You know how Doctor Who is a Time Lord? Well, these guys are Time Lords too, except not as good. Doctor Who used to live with them before he ran off to have adventures and get his own TV show.

These guys did not run off to have adventures, and none of them have TV shows. They stayed in this super colourful disco room, wearing awesome capes playing with computers. You would think this would make them happy. But it does not. They are extra serious, all the time, and they don't know any girls.

They generally don't turn up in Doctor Who, because they are the ultimate buzzkill and he has asked them not to embarrass him. However, today they need his help, because a mysterious Space Hole has happened, and is sucking all their power away.

The Time Lords want Doctor Who to go in the Space Hole and find out where all their stuff has gone. However, he does not want to, because he is very lazy and also he does not like the sound of the Space Hole, and probably he would rather just start drinking now please.

So the Time Lords send another Doctor Who to help. Look - there he is, on the left. It's the guy who used to be Doctor Who, ages ago, when it was in black and white. Now there are two Doctor Whos, and  they can go into the Space Hole together.

They still do not want to, though. So they have closed their eyes. If they can not see each other, then no-one can see them, and make them go into a Space Hole.

The Time Lords go and get yet another Doctor Who to try to persuade the other Doctor Whos to get on with the story.

This Doctor Who is also from black and white times. And he is still in black and white, even though everything else is in colour. Which suggests that he was always actually, physically in black and white, and we never noticed because everything else was the same.

Or maybe the Time Lords just have black and white TV. Which seems like an odd purchase, given their decision to buy such a massive one. Maybe the licence is cheaper or something.

Back on Earth, Doctor Who finds himself threatened by these guys. They might look like shambling, jelly monsters covered in sick, but they are, in fact.... um...

Well, it's never properly established exactly what's going on with them. One thing's for sure, they're from another universe, and they want to eat Doctor Who! They get one of the Doctor Whos and steal him, and run off with him into the Space Hole.

They look a bit forlorn, to me. I think I'd be quite sad if I was one of them. They don't appear to have arms, or mouths, which presumably means they don't get to eat tasty snacks.  And they look a bit like pizza, which must make them hungry.

The Brigadier is already fed up of the story. It was bad enough having one Doctor Who, eating all his sandwiches and calling him a jerk for shooting at the aliens. Now there are two of them, and neither of them are helping fight the blob monsters.

Sergeant Benton is having a go at shooting the monsters. And taking it very seriously, too. Come on Sergeant Benton! You're shooting at monsters! If that doesn't make you smile, what will?

Eventually they all go off in the TARDIS to find the other Doctor Who. From the looks on Sergeant Benton's face, the Brigadier has just said something super racist, even for the 1970s.

Doctor Who number three has found the main bad guy. He's called Omega, and he's got an amazing face. Omega lives in the Space Hole, and stole all the power, and made the blob monsters. He's a Time Lord too. Pretty much everyone in this story is a Time Lord.

Omega is cross because he invented time travel, ages ago, and rather than say, "Thank you," all the other Time Lords let him fall into a space hole and never spoke to him again.

Now he's shouting about how great he is, and how he could kill everyone really easily, and how everyone needs to be lots nicer to him from now on.

Doctor Who isn't particularly bothered. He knows that the other Doctor Whos will show up in a bit, and they'll win for some vaguely nonsensical reason. He might also be wondering how great he'd look in Omega's shiny cloak, and coming to the conclusion, "Very great."

The Doctor Whos win, and Omega explodes, and they all go home in the TARDIS.

Doctor Who number one turns up and this point and says, "Hurray, we won!" even though he didn't do anything at all, and just sat in a magic triangle all day. This is pretty much how he behaved when he was in charge, so it is a fitting tribute.

Goodbye Doctor Who number one. You were bonkers, but we liked you anyway.

That'll do for now.

Season 10 part two - here!

Go back to Season 9 - here!

Thursday, 4 October 2018


Here's a poem I wrote. Please like it, and like me better for writing it.

I am ten years old
You do not yet exist
Except, somewhere, I suppose,
in a way, in a sense, in utero
But no girls exist, at this point, to this nerd
My hair is quite foolish
And I have no way with words

I am sixteen years old
And in love. So I think. So I hope
Not with you. You are five.
And 200 miles on the other side of the sea
I should stress that the “five years old” thing would have been a deal breaker anyway
But my love is not great at this point
I’m a fool
You’ve dodged quite the bullet
Oblivious, as you go to primary school

I am 26 years old
I’m trying to write songs
About love and desire
When it sparks, when it goes
And the bit in between that I can’t quite compose
The bit that I’m trying to find, I suppose
The words are OK, though they never quite rest
On the subject
Trying too hard to rhyme
Trying too hard to capture a moment of time
While you’re 15 and listening to Kylie Minogue

I am 34 years old
And one night you are there
In a pub, in my town,
In my life, in a chair
And you’re funny and quick
And I’m a little bit taken
By your smile and your eyes and your voice and your hair
And I know that I like you
As you instantly start taking the mick

I am 47 years old
And I’m cold, and I’m warm
And I’ve given up trying to find words for the stuff
That it means to be with you
For the love that goes on as we move, without fuss
Through this thing that no language can ever define
Though you’ll see I’m too stubborn to completely stop trying
I’m just happy I’m with you
It is great. It’s enough.
There’s only one word that we need.
And that’s “us.”

Monday, 30 July 2018

Bretton Hall - a partial recollection

Many years ago I went to University, and I was rubbish at it. It's something I think about a lot. Not least because most people seem to look back at their college lives with wonder and moist-eyed nostalgia. They were all good at college. And so their joy makes me feel inadequate, and so I hate them.

The place I went was amazing. A place called Bretton Hall, in Yorkshire. A sculpture park, set in acres of beautiful countryside, like the set of some gothic romance. It was an environment for artists, poets and dreamers. And, in my case, idiots.

Oh, I was so stupid, back in the early 90s. You might think I'm stupid now, but that's nothing to the ramshackle idiot that presented himself to the English Lit course in September 1990. While just a few years before Bretton Hall had seen the likes of Mark Thomas and The League of Gentlemen - smart, creative people who used their studies as a springboard to works of greatness - now it was host to a man totally unequipped for the act of thinking.

For a start, I was Christian. I mean, really Christian. These days I have a faith that fluctuates and wobbles, in a kind of progressive, evolving response to all the reasons the world gives me to believe and not believe. In those days I was just a zealous dick.

And Bretton was not a place to be Christian. It was achingly right on, erudite and non-conformist. Basically full of hipsters. Everyone there was determined to be a rebel, and they all expressed that rebellion in very similar ways. Three years of non-conformity - an intellectual extension of that faux individualism that teenagers practice.

But at least they were living. And thinking. And accepting new ideas. My particular brand of naïve idealism was rooted in a kind of right wing, zealous evangelicalism. I was not long a Christian, and very caught up in an ideology which cared less about human lives and more about End-of-Days eschatology. It was a way of thinking that closed ideas down. Straightened things out. Crippled the imagination and the personality.

But at least my dress sense was great. 

Now, it wasn't absolutely, 100% awful. I wasn't Carrie's mum or anything. There were sparks of the stuff that I consider my better qualities. I was a bit weird, a bit funny, kind of pleasant company. And I had some good friends who tolerated my Hellfire rhetoric just as I tolerated their deviant lifestyle choices. But the better parts of myself - the parts that should have been unfolding and unspooling into a more mature version of the real me - they were cabined, cribbed and confined by my over-earnest beliefs.

Lots of things about this were annoying, and indeed still annoy me. Mostly, it strangled friendships at birth. Sure, some of the people there were irritating, but we were all irritating. That's kind of the point of being a student. There were some wonderful, creative, fascinating people on my course and I never really got to know them. They were, quite rightly, put off by a man who had come to arts college, yet resisted new ideas in favour of a homophobic reading of a book no-one cared about in the first place.

Secondly, and I must be frank about this, my puritanical childishness definitely closed the door to more than one potential romance. Oh, how I curse the abstinence-minded young jerk who, full of vigour and desire, chose to hammer down his natural instincts instead. It ain't healthy.

Ladies were very interested in this.

And lastly. If I'd not been so zealous, then maybe I could have made a better case for Christianity to the people I knew.

Because, although my Christianity was a thing of great idiocy and thoughtlessness, it was by no means the only dumb ideology in town. The oh-so-rebellious attitude I mentioned earlier was less harmful, but no less ill thought through. It was the kind of iconoclastic preening that dismisses anything conventional straight away, praising itself for its freedom of thought even as it creates its own shackles.

And this kind of thinking had no time for Christianity. Which I found tedious at the time and I find tedious now. Just as religious thinking can elicit total nonsense from otherwise intelligent people, so can opposition to religion. I had tutors, incredibly clever and well read people, who just stopped using reason when concepts of faith entered the discussion. Obviously it was all nonsense, because they were clever, and religious people were stupid, right?

Which, of course, forced me further into my corner. I already thought there was some kind of spiritual battle going on between faith and reason, and my church had a deep mistrust of intellectualism. These people were giving me no reason to believe that smart thinking and religious thinking could occupy the same space. So I suppose I became stupider, and more entrenched.

Some Christians, being popular.

So when I think of my time doing a degree, I have mixed feelings. There was a lot of good stuff too, of course. And if you went to college with me, you might feel rightly aggrieved that I haven't just written a big long piece about how awesome it was watching Terminator 2 with you and eating cheese on toast every night. And if you were a Christian there, you might remember how much you looked after me and tried to make me less of a dickhead. You did, fellow believers, and I'd have been a better man if I'd tried to be more like you.

And I hope that's kind of who I've become. I've spent more time with Bretton students since I left than I did when I was there. And they are among the most giving, thoughtful, gracious people I could imagine. Creative in deed and in thought, they take the ethos of the college - now long gone - and make it live. Christian or not, they have helped me have an experience of Bretton Hall that stretches beyond my three tumultuous, confusing years of study. And for that I'm very grateful.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Lullabies For Parents

Almost everyone has children, don't they? It's one of those bleak realities of life that starts off as a horrible, shocking truth but eventually fades into a kind of irritating but tolerable background hum. You grow to realise that, every now and then, you'll have to spend time with some of your friends, and that time will be slightly spoiled by the awful, noisy, hellish creatures that they have spawned.

I've learned to live with this, over the years, and managed it through a brilliant long term plan. Simply have enough friends that you can duck out of certain friendships during those early, horrible years, when their house becomes a smelly, plastic nightmare zone and their conversations are all about how tired they are. Spend time with your other friends - those who have yet to plunge themselves into this child rearing hell, or those who had kids ages ago and are now blissfully free of the parasites.

All of which is to say, I am, probably, not the target audience for the album, "Lullabies For Parents", the new album by Ric Neale.

Do you know of Ric Neale? I've talked about him on here every now and then, and if you know the music scene in and around Leeds you've probably encountered his work. He writes lovely, clever, sort-of pop songs which he performs mainly, I think, as a way of giving audiences opportunity to gaze upon his chiselled face.

In no way do I envy his talent, full head of hair or apparently ageless countenance. No. I think it's fine that his albums probably had working titles like, "I Am So Best", "The Amazing Sound of Me" and "Great News - It's My Face Again."

OK. They're actually called things like 'Pencil'.
But my titles are better.

I generally content myself with the fact that, regardless of his talent and piercing eyes, his life is worse that mine. Because he filled his house with children, and so spends every day rolling around crying, covered in sticky goo, while I drink wine, read comics and laugh.

But now he's turned his existential misery into music, and it's very interesting.  It's an album about being a parent, and failing at being a parent. About weird little moments and thoughts and experiences that people don't tend to talk about. And I find myself surprised and moved by this album, which is surely not aimed at my carefree, nonsensical lifestyle. So... why?

Let's have a look at the tracks on the album, which I imagine had the working title. "Please Feel Sorry For Me - I've Made a Series of Terrible Mistakes"


Ric starts the album with a prologue, as if he was Kate Bush or something. This is surely the first step along a path that will lead, in a few years, to a 2 hour concept album called "Ric Neale's Musical Version of Open All Hours."

It's quite gentle, and lovely, and suggests that he knows exactly the frame of mind his target audience are in. Which is to say: horrified at the circumstances of their life, covered in sick and desperately looking for somewhere to hide.

Best line: They say it takes a village to raise a child, But I'm the village idiot." That's the kind of clever wordplay that makes me want to come back for more, not least because I hope he'll continue to call himself an idiot.

Round The Outside

The second track surges into an upbeat, thundering tune which is, I believe "the single." This one is about an experience that sounds absolutely terrible - going to some kind of kids group where everyone takes their children and watches them run around screaming.

Ric cleverly uses this as a metaphor for the pain of letting children make their own mistakes, and learning that the job of a parent is, ultimately, to become unnecessary. I am fully on board with the sentiment of this song, though I may have over-emphasised the 'Toddler Fight Club' element of the metaphor.

Best line: "I can hold your hand, I can't hold it forever, it's not what I'm there for." I actually felt a bit tearful at this line, but then remembered that I can spend my money on PlayStation Games, while Ric can't, and wouldn't have time to play them if he did.

"I am furious about having made this album"

I Am Letting You Down

This is probably my favourite song from the album.

Lyrically, it's very smart, managing to remain heartfelt and poignant while also playing deftly with language. Sometimes a smart metaphor can sound a bit too clever, and maybe clinical, but just listen to this:

"If this is a gift then I am covered head to toe in sellotape and untied bows,
If it's a jigsaw I can't even find the corner pieces,
If it's a journey I'll be found along the fold inside a map that's upside down"

A lovely, slightly bleak, series of images that sum up the difficulty of trying to work out how to be a parent, and feeling like a failure. For other parents, I imagine it is a great relief to have those feelings articulated, and to know they're not alone. For childless drunks like me, these are lyrics which go some way to explaining why new parents suddenly stop coming round to play "Who can drink the most wine?"

Nice tune, too.

Best line: "If this is magic, I'm left sawn in half and disappearing"

Asleep in the Car

Now this one does feel like a lullaby. Soft, melodic and a bit waltzy. That's right - waltzy. Music science, right there. It's a delicate song, full of love and tiredness.

There's also, though, a sort of hollow eyed, edge-of-the-tether feel to this song, a sort of crazed desperation which runs like the hum of an engine under the whole album. There's an interesting tension in these songs between - at one end - the total devotion a parent has to their child and - at the other end - the strong possibility that the parent might drive the car off a cliff if just one more bastard thing goes wrong.

Best line: "I would keep going all night if I could, Cos I know the briefest of time in control of our world feels so good".

"How often do I moisturise? Glad you asked"

Grown Up Now

In many ways this album is a departure from previous Ric Neale albums, which had themes like, "Ladies, your lord and master is here," and "Please could you all just skip to the end and make me your king already?"

However. By this point in the album, Ric can contain himself no longer, and feels the need to reassert that he is, indeed, the best. Yes, he may have spent several songs admitting to the existence of human weakness beneath his Cyberdine Systems T1000 exterior. But let's not forget that he is also the greatest person anyone has ever met.

This song charges through a list of reasons why being a parent is worthy of applause and medals, and why Ric in particular should be given a crown. Not a bad sentiment, though it did rather leave me exhausted, and very glad that my main responsibility is organising the BluRays into alphabetical order.

Best line: "I'm gonna take out the bins on Tuesday night, I'm gonna put in the wash and get it dry"


This song takes us back to the power children have over their parents. I've heard about this, and I'll be honest, it terrifies me. Quite apart from the financial and time based reasons to avoid parenthood, I must confess to some fear at the emotional hold the little beasts have. It sounds like it makes a mess of even the most carefully controlled personality, and given how difficult I find the end of Toy Story 3, I'm not sure I'm capable of coping with such nonsense.

Lovely song, humming at the edge of self control.

Best line: "I'm breaking down. Is this how I'm supposed to feel? I'm welling up at Christmas adverts on TV."

"I have some issues with the quality of this piano."

You're Probably Doing Fine

Best tune on the album, I reckon. Clever and playful, demonstrating a deft melodic touch that will play in your head for days after hearing.

And a well placed last(ish) track, taking the angst and turmoil of the preceding songs and allowing the listener to breathe out a little. In the end, it seems, we just do the best we can. There's a nice dig, in here, at the surface-level gloss of perfection projected by some parents, and it's here that I find my strongest connection with these songs.

Everyone else seems to be doing better, don't they? Thinking purer thoughts. Doubting themselves less. And here's us, muddling through. Not with parenthood, in my case. But other stuff. And I'm a great fan of art that says, "Hey - we're all a bit terrible at living, but that's OK. And admitting it is good."

Best line: "I can't compare myself to all those doe-eyed mums on Facebook. They're probably every bit as lost. I'm doing all I can to balance magic and logistics. It isn't much but it is everything I've got."


And here we are, at the end. Ric is clearly very pleased with himself for writing something so brilliant, but manfully resists the urge to just smash his fists on the piano keys, singing, "That was amazing!" nineteen times.

Instead we get a sweet little coda, reminding us that yes, children are alright, I suppose. Very wise, because if his kids ever accidentally bang their heads, the rest of this album might otherwise provide interesting listening for social services.

The imagery here broadens in scope, taking in fragments of days and memories, the tumble and spin of slowly and constantly becoming a parent. A becoming that, it seems, will never end. We fade slowly out. We fall asleep.

Best line: "Loving you is protest against underhanded greedy hearted plans and wars and cheating."

Listen to 'Lullabies for Parents' at

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Time is Relative: Season 9 - Part Three

And a good morning to you, sir.

I am watching all of Doctor Who, in order, so you don't have to.

You still can watch it, of course, if you want. But you'll get a pretty good idea of what Doctor Who is about just by reading this. Just don't enter any quizzes based on my information.

You join us in Season 9, which was way back in the 1970s when the quality was variable. Here's two stories for you to pretend you've watched.

The Mutants

This story is set in the future, where these blokes are in charge of space. The big guy in the front is a total git to everyone, and quite the racist. The thin guy is saying, "We should stop being so racist to all the aliens. Space is full of them, and it's starting to look tactless."

The big guy - who I think is called the Marshall - is thinking, "I don't care. I love being racist almost as much as I love pie. I wonder if they make racist pie?"

Soon, Doctor Who turns up with his lovely companion Jo. By the look on Jo's face, Doctor Who has spent the whole afternoon going on about how brilliant he is, and making fun of her for not knowing how to pronounce science words.

To Jo's relief, Doctor Who has spotted some evil space racism going on, just through this space door. He loves telling people off, and this will give Jo a break.

This is one of the monsters for this story. He is a Mutant, which is why it's called 'The Mutants'.

He is at a Mutant disco, doing a right old dance. He's very happy, which is a shame, as the racist Space Marshall hates mutants, and discos, and happiness, and will soon try to have him murdered.

Jo goes for an explore. She finds herself in an awful, garish cavern, and is rightly horrified by its lack of taste.

Mind you. What is she meant to be wearing? Her jacket appears to made of the bits of material that all the other jackets refused to be friends with.

The Mutants come to play with Jo. They have a jolly, larkish demeanour which is, sadly, at odds with their nightmarish insectoid faces. So she runs right off.

This is shot at a rather jaunty angle, isn't it? Jo has met some badly dressed guys who want to invade the Marshall's base and stop him being so racist.

I can't work out what's going on with the guy in the middle. Is he ill? Has he got his head down because he's leading the charge against racism? Are they actually prisoners and I've simply forgotten because I wasn't paying attention?

Whatever it is, Jo is clearly hoping they'll be done soon, as her hair is starting to lose its bounce, and she's pretty sure this civilisation doesn't have any hair dryers.

 Doctor Who confronts the Marshall, albeit with quite a glum face. He wishes The Master was about. This story has failed to meet his Five Tests For A Fun Adventure. Which are:

1. Wine

2. Zooming about in a car, motorbike or helicopter.

3. Laughing at The Master and calling him a jerk.

4. Hanging about with royalty.

5. A wide selection of cold meats and/or pastries.

The Mutants get bored and come invade the Marshall's base too. They really are quite hideous, aren't they? I know the story is meant to be about tolerance and seeing beyond the surface and all that but... I mean you'd kill them, wouldn't you? If you could? No matter how nice they might turn out to be later. You'd kill them, and then you'd do a big wash of all your clothes, in case you'd got any Mutant on them.

In the end, one of the natives turns into a magic Space Angel. He floats about for a bit, and says some stuff about not being racist, not to anyone, and yes - that includes doing funny accents.

It turns out the hideous Mutants turn into Space Angels if you leave them for long enough. So... I dunno. Be nice to insects? Maybe. Probably not wasps, though.

The Time Monster

Great news! It's The Master. He's back, again, for another adventure.

This week he's pretending to be a Professor. He knows how to live, The Master. He's got a whole plot going on, with a Time Monster, but he still has time to sit down next to his weirdly massive desk, and have a read and get drunk.

Before long, Sergeant Benton turns up to ruin The Master's fun, by trying to kill him with guns. Booo! Leave The Master alone, Sergeant Benton. He's not doing anything.

OK. He's summoning an evil Time Monster to destroy Earth or something. But his plans never work, do they? So might as well leave him be.

Doctor Who is very relaxed about The Master's plans nowadays. He knows they always go wrong. So he tries to beat his record for 'balancing things on a wine bottle'. He's never done six, so he's very excited.

Everyone else seems fascinated, which is testament to how interesting the rest of the story is. Except Sergeant Benton. He's thinking, "I bet I could do eight or nine. I am amazing."

Things get momentarily exciting, as some olden time guys show up to have a battle. I think The Master made them do it. This is a good bit of the story, and quite creative. Kapow!

I can't remember what's happening here, but what a delightful picture. They're obviously having a great time, possibly due to gin. It's the last story of the season, so they may well have got demob happy and started drinking early.

After a bit, everyone goes to Atlantis. I can't remember why. The Master wants to be King of it, I think. The Old Guy King is saying, "Yes - that should be fine. It will give me more time for jigsaws and such."

The Queen - who is on the right, doing a spy, would quite like The Master to be King as well. She thinks his beard is sexy.

Doctor Who and Jo get captured, yet again. Yes, despite Jo's brilliant disguise as a kind of ornamental curtain.

They're not very concerned. Any minute now The Master will run in, shouting, "Aaarg! My plan has turned to nonsense and now all the monsters want to kill me! Help!"


The Master has become King, and instantly started being Evil. The Queen is super surprised. Why? He dresses like a villain and cackles all the time.

Ah, that's it. He was after a Time Crystal. And now he's got it, and everyone in Atlantis has died.

Also, he appears to be travelling in Doctor Who's TARDIS, with Jo, now. Perhaps, at last, the show has become about him. That would be a great show. Every week he could go to another planet and try to conquer it with some mad aliens. People would watch that.

Eventually this happens.

Whatever 'this' is.

I think The Master has broken Time, by playing with the Time Crystal too vigorously.

And now Doctor Who is apologising to the Time Monster, and saying, "Sorry," and, "It was The Master," and "He's always doing this - he's a total jerk. Please kill him."

The Time Monster shows up, disguised as a 1980s pop video. It is her preferred form.

She basically says, "It's the end of the series, and everyone is tired. Let's just forget about all of this and go home."

It's not a very satisfying ending. But it is a pleasingly bonkers image. However stupid this show gets, you've got to love the crazy pictures they come up with.

That's the end of Season 9. I think we can all agree that it's been a mixed bag.

If you have the stamina, go look at Season 10.

If you want to check out the previous stories, go here.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Time is Relative: Season 9 - Part Two

Morning. Nice moustache!

Whether you've watched Doctor Who or not, you'll certainly enjoy this - my ongoing guide to its many stories.

I present some photos I've taken off the telly, and some notes I've written to help explain what's going on. What's not to like?

The Curse of Peladon

In this story, Doctor Who goes to the planet Peladon and meets these guys. They're the Ice Warriors, and they've encountered Doctor Who before. Except that was when the show was in black and white. Now, they're startled to find they are green.

They used to be bad guys, with a very strong "murder the humans" agenda. They've gone nice now, though.

Doctor Who is still a total jerk to them regardless. Obviously.

Also on Peladon is this exciting Space Penis. He hangs around with the Ice Warriors trying to be friends. They are, understandably, making quite an effort to pretend he is not there.

There's one more alien to meet. He is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, green. He's called Arcturus. He will turn out to be a bad guy - a shock revelation, subtly foreshadowed by him being a hideous combination between a skull and a spider.

He lives in a machine, which zooms about all over the place. It's meant to be so he can breathe the Peladon air, but it might just be that he's exceptionally lazy. And, I suppose, this way people might refer to him as "The guy in the life support contraption" rather than, "Revolting Evil Spider Skull Face Guy".

Doctor Who is caught messing around with Arcturus's 'Stops Him Dying' machine. Everyone assumes Doctor Who is trying to murder him. Which is fair. Doctor Who has made no secret of how repulsive he finds all the aliens. Except the Space Penis, of whom he seems curiously fond.

The Ice Warrior thinks that Doctor Who is probably a murderer, and is telling Arcturus and the Space Penis about all the times that Doctor Who tried to kill his friends, back in the black and white days.

Space Penis is drooping with sadness. He likes Doctor Who, and is shocked to find that he once ran around on the moon killing Ice Warriors with guns. Let's hope he doesn't find out about the time Doctor Who made the Krotons drink corrosive acid and laughed as they melted.

Jo is wondering if she can come and be a companion for the Ice Warriors instead, and do they have their own TV show, and does it involve less sexist, patronising dialogue?

The answer is no.

Eventually Doctor Who teams up with Space Penis and the Ice Warriors, and defeats Arcturus. This means the galaxy is safe, but it's hard to escape the feeling that everyone is still overcome with a kind of ennui as the story comes to an end.

Everyone here seems to be trying to avoid eye contact, which suggests that their "Arcturus is Dead!" party got out of hand, and went to some dark, unexpected places.

The Sea Devils

Hurray! The Master is back. We last saw him being arrested, for being a massive intergalactic nuisance, and put in prison.

He's loads more fun than Doctor Who. When Doctor Who gets locked up, he just tells sad stories and complains to the guards. The Master, on the other hand, sneaks out and steals hats, and pretends to be an Admiral, and makes contact with Sea Monsters.

Oh yeah. The story is about Sea Monsters.

Doctor Who comes to see The Master in prison, and quickly tries to kill him with a sword. Why do they even have swords in this prison?

Doctor Who wins at swords, but gets distracted by some sandwiches and forgets to murder The Master.

If only more villains had snacks to hand, they'd get away with whatever they wanted. He loves a sandwich, Doctor Who.

Jo, meanwhile, is being chased by guys in capes, on jeeps. I forget why. I think maybe The Master told them she was doing spying. I like the composition of this shot, though the monster on the right is unconvincing.

Suddenly - pow! Sea Monsters! It turns out that The Master has been sending them emails going "Come up to the surface - it's great and you could kill all the humans!"

This one is very excited by the prospect, and has made all haste. Although, that doesn't look like an expression of joy, to me. I think he's surfaced in the wrong place.

Meanwhile, this Sea Monster has got inside a submarine. Though he now appears to very much wish he hadn't, because there's a Man With A Gun. "Oh no!" he is clearly thinking.

His options are:

a) Back away slowly through the hatch and hope no-one has noticed him, then go home and forget all about submarines, and just be content with his lot.

b) Attempt to convince the Man With A Gun that this is a Sea Monster submarine, and it is the Man With A Gun who is in the wrong place. If the Man With A Gun is English, this might work. He will apologise to the Sea Monster and go off scratching his head.

c) Stay still like this, forever, until the Man With A Gun gets bored or goes for a wee.

d) Hope the Man With A Gun is an idiot, and just come in anyway, and then kill everyone while Man With A Gun just watches, as if he was a Man Without A Gun.

If memory serves, he goes for 'd'.

Doctor Who refuses to believe Jo when she says there is an exciting chase going on outside with jeeps and men in capes and everything. So she takes him outside to look.

By the time he gets there, things have escalated, and now there are more men with jeeps, and capes, and even one guy on a horse! Jo is clearly saying, "I told you so," and Doctor Who is clearly thinking, "Why are there horses now? What's even happening in this story?"

 The Sea Monsters charge all over the place, shooting at the humans with their guns. It is very exciting. They look great, too. I don't know why they need guns. If you saw a couple of these guys coming after you, you'd just wee yourself into a state of fatal dehydration.

The Master is enjoying himself a lot in this story. Here we see him shouting, "Go! Kill everyone! Do it with guns! Zap! Kapow!"

I'm not sure the Sea Monsters understand him, though. The one on the left is just staring at The Master's pointing finger. The one on the right has become distracted by a bird. "Sky fish!" he's thinking.

Eventually Doctor Who goes to the King Sea Monster and tells him to stop it. This is usually Doctor Who's best plan - just telling everyone to go away and have a think about what they've done. It works nine times out of ten. And when it doesn't work, he just has them all killed.

The Sea Monster looks kind of shifty though, don't you think? Like he's borrowed money from Doctor Who in the past, and he's hoping he's forgotten about it, and he's just hoping to get through the conversation before Doctor Who remembers and asks him for it back.

Anyway. In the end, the Sea Monsters do stop, but then I think they get blown up anyway. Doctor Who looks a bit sad about it, but I don't think they ever really bonded, so it's not that big a deal and he soon recovers.

That's all for now.

Season 9 Part Three is here.

Season 9 Part One is here.