...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 2736: DOCTOR WHO: The Stolen Earth


Millennium Elephant, International Media Star

Yes, We Know Who You Are
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Well, on the one fluffy foot, I was expecting that to be the STOLLEN Earth… where Davros has replaced the Earth with a GIANT EASTER CAKE; on the other fluffy foot, Whoo and Hoo: Mr Professor Richard is soooooo smart, and Sarah Jane’s got a really cool CAR!


Wow. Just Wow. End of Review.

No, not quite the end.

That was completely stunning, a triumphant blending of all of the elements of mythology that has been gently layered up over the last four years. Rose and Sarah and Captain Jack, the Shadow Proclamation and the Judoon, Harriet Jones, the Time War.

There are people saying that they hated it. That it was no more than a string of poorly linked set pieces that gave the Doctor nothing to do and mainly had the supporting cast sitting around and crying. I absolutely do not know what to think. Did the BBC actually make two versions and broadcast them to different households chosen at random?

I was amazed at how well the disparate spin-off elements were balanced, with Harriet’s beautifully effective return – being given a deserved platform to argue her side of “The Christmas Invasion” – synergising them to add their different powers together into one call to the Doctor. And wasn’t that a brilliant Century 21 moment as the signal’s rings emanate from the planet. Never mind Lawrence Miles, this week it will be Gerry Anderson gaping at the audacity of getting ripped off.

This is “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, with references in the dialogue and the Doctor explicitly referring the Daleks’ ultimate B-movie plot to pilot the Earth around like a giant space blimp. And like that earlier story, this uses the different perspectives of people facing the same invasion all over the country/world to magnify the scope of the conflict, to really sell to us how big this all is.

The four people we see are the four people who really know what a Dalek invasion means. To them it means something that these monsters just can’t be killed off. Sarah was there at their creation; Jack has been killed by them; Martha thought she saw the last of them; and Rose annihilated them. And still they keep coming.

So the scale of it impressed, and the emotion of it impressed. What (by definition) we didn’t expect was to be blown away by the surprise ending.

We knew that Rose was coming back; we knew that all the companions were coming back; we knew that the Daleks were coming back; we knew that Davros was back. And yet, amazingly, we had no idea that it was going to finish with a regeneration.

We can’t, can’t believe that it’s real. He’s going to fall flat on his face and gasp that the regeneration has failed. He’s got to hasn’t he? They can’t possibly do that? Can they?

Of course, a blast from a Dalek gun ought to kill you dead forever, especially after the Time War. They’d make sure of that. But, fortunately for that theory, the Doctor only takes a glancing blow

Fans have put pictures on the internet taken during filming of the 2008 Christmas Special with Tennant still in them… so surely that means it’s all destined for the Big Russell Reset again… unless, what if Tennant’s scenes for Christmas are more of a “Doctor has a conversation with his previous incarnation” or even – with its Victorian and Christmas setting – a ghost of Doctor’s past.

(A theory reinforced – conspiracy fans – by seventh Doctor Sylv appearing in Confidential – in a clip I literally blinked and missed – dressed in a very seventh Doctor costume. Why get him all dressed up in hat and waistcoat and wheel him down to BBC Wales for just one line?)

In which case David Morrissey is the eleventh Doctor. And I for one welcome our new glowery overlord.

Just because a regeneration hasn’t been done in the middle of a story before doesn’t mean that it never should – in fact, it sure makes more sense for the Doctor to “lose a life” in the middle of the battle but struggle up again.

We don’t trust it because Russell has history, he has form. We’re certain that he’ll find a way out of this, just as we’re certain that David Tennant will hold onto this role until it’s pried from his cold dead fingers. But wouldn’t it be brilliant brilliant if it was for real.

The Russell Davies plan for Doctor Who twenty-first century style has clearly revolved around bringing back the great icons of the series. I’ve said it before, but his pattern has been simple to follow: first Doctor – Daleks, first season – Daleks; second Doctor – Cybermen, second season – Cybermen; third Doctor – the Master, third season – the Master. The fourth Doctor is trickier, having such a long run and dominating all-comers, there was almost no one who cold survive a single encounter with Tom: only the Master and the Sontarans manage to come back for a rematch. And of course Davros.

(I note that Russell has wisely chosen to bail before having to decide what the icon of the fifth Doctor’s era would have been. The Black Guardian, perhaps.)

This is, you might say, a “classic” Davros. The chair – glad to see that it was black, after all the trailers cleverly made it look bronze – the leather jacket – with its grisly reveal – and that blind, grinning death’s-head face.

It’s almost tempting to suppose that Dalek Caan’s emergency temporal shift took him back to between “Revelation of the Daleks” and “Remembrance of the Daleks”. You can completely understand why the creative team at BBC Wales wanted a Davros in the classic half man/ half Dalek profile. But the last time that we saw him he’d reduced himself to a head in a big Dalek Emperor shell.

Given that it was “The Stolen Earth” director Graeme Harper who also shot off Davros’ hand in the first place, you could hardly expect Old Blue Eye not to have a cyborg prosthetic on his return. But if Caan rescued him from before “Remembrance…” we would have a deliciously hideous new explanation for his eventual transformation – he’s become a head in a tank by using up the rest of his body making even more Imperial Daleks.

(Additionally, it might give more of an excuse to the Doctor’s planet-frying manipulation of the Hand of Omega if the Time Lords and the Daleks were already at war. Indeed, it would also serve to explain the Seventh Doctor’s rather more… pro-active approach, and the free hand the Time Lords seem to give him only a couple years after putting him on trial for far less egregious meddling in the time line.)

But to most people, Davros is that man in the chair, and wasting time and everybody’s patience by explaining that, no, now he’s a head in a tank was never going to fly. We’ll have to leave it up to the continuity cops to try and sort it out. Maybe he was just wearing the Emperor shell over his old chair.

In some ways the mask is slightly too good, too mobile and realistic (if any cadaverous ghoul can be said to be realistic). Where Michael Wisher’s Davros looked as though his face had been melted by radiation leaving him with grey dead flesh, Julian Bleach looks merely as though he has refused to lie down and accept he’s dead. He looks more like one of the Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s all time classic episode “Hush”. It’s probably the grin that does it. Nevertheless, Bleach captures the essential Davros: brilliant, mocking, knowing, conversational and mad as a helium powered giggle farm.

Actually, speaking of mad, we now also have Dalek Caan, getting crazy and getting in on the prophecy act – that’s what you get if you steal Pyrovillia, obviously. Buffy’s mad, bad vampire-girl Drusilla had the sight in exchange for sanity too. Death, “everlasting death” for the “most faithful companion” is such a good way to really ramp up the tension: is it Sarah Jane, who kept the faith for so many years? Rose, who has crossed universes just to be with him? Martha Jones who led the world in prayer to save him? Or Donna?

And what’s he doing calling the Doctor: “Three-fold man”? Eighth Man Bound he was in the New Adventures and BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures. Ten-fold (or maybe eleven-fold) would make sense. But three? Unless it means past, present and future Doctors will be joining forces.

Meanwhile, if he’s not doing Wheadon, he’s doing Rowling, with the “follow the spiders bees” and, for a touch of subversion, the Doctor gets to be the “Dark Lord”. Makes a change from “Oncoming Storm”, I suppose.

Looking one more week into the future… how to save Sarah Jane and Gwen and Ianto? My pitch would be the Dalek Supreme to boom out “All Daleks withdraw! Withdraw! We are under attack!” …as a hundred Sontaran battle-cruisers barrel into the Crucible at the head of the Shadow Proclamation. But that might be a touch beyond the budget.

Oh and that Ostehagen Key is so the “UNIT ultimate secret Dalek blowing up weapon™”. No chance of THAT getting used then. It’ll probably blow up the planet.

One little appeal, though. Don’t kill off the Daleks again.

But really, I don’t want this one to get “reset”. And yet the Big Russell Reset Button looms large: my suspicion is that with the events all set within the rift at the Medusa Cascade, in their own private little enclave of time, that the end will see everything returned, all the planets sent back to their places in space and time the moment after they were taken. There will be a price – and we all fear that it’s the life of a companion, this time – but the Earth will be left blissfully ignorant yet again.

But why should it? Russell is leaving, let him leave with the Earth really knowing what an impact he, er, cough, the Doctor has had. And Steve Moffat can pick up the pieces in 2010.

Cherish these seven days, people, because for now this story can end any way we want.

Next time… This…

“Journey’s End”

Was “Dempsey” in charge of UNIT because the Doctor is always trying to “Makepeace”?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 2737: Wendy Gets Her Independence


Ms Wendy "Douglas in a Wig" Alexander is forced to resign over what is, in all fairness, a teensy-weensy irregularity in her fundraising.

"It's not FAIR!" she says, claiming that the Scottish Nasty Party were just using her misdemeanour as an excuse to keep causing a fuss.

Well, there may be some truth in that, but in resigning, unfortunate and unfair you may think it to be, you put your hands up to it, Ms Wendy.

Three candidates will contest the leadership after Mr "What A" Charlie Gordon – the man who actually asked for the £950 donation that brought Ms Wendy down – failed to secure enough nonimations.

At the same time, Mr Frown faces another by-election as Mr David Marshall, the MP for Glasgow East, quits "on health grounds".

Since they used to wheel MPs through the lobbies even if they were on their death beds, this is a TOUCH suspicious… and rumours soon spread that Mr Marshall was days away from being outed as the Labour's Derek Conway.

With unseemly (and, as it turns out, ill-judged) haste, the Labour set the date for 24th July, the earliest they can manage.

Also in the news… the Conservatories come up with their latest answer to the West Loathing question.

Mr Fatty Clarke's commission has come back and said that Mr Balloon's English Votes for Ingsoc Laws proposal would break up the United Kingdom, so they propose only limiting MPs' voting rights during committee stages. This is a BARKING MAD idea that will STILL create second-class MPs and is even more complicated to administer.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 2734: 1066 and THAT's ALL


Colour me stunned, the Conservatories held the safest Conservatory seat in the country.

Yes, I am disappointed not to get brilliant Mr Stephen into parliament, but this is a good sign for the future. i.e. we've still got one!

Despite HYSTERICAL coverage from the Grauniad trying to distract attention, and their results list giving the Conservatories a majority of 74% by overlooking the Liberal Democrats entirely (how strangely TYPICAL of the tribally NewLabour Grauniad), the Liberal Democrat vote held up pretty well against the Conservatories at full flood.

So the big story was the Labour receiving just 1066 votes and losing their deposit.

Ignoring the effects of CHURN for the moment, what has happened is this: the Labour have lost about ELEVEN percentage points. Two points went to us – hooray! Two points were scattered among the usual Monster Raving and fringe candidates. The Greens and the UKPNuts were pretty unchanged. But somewhat distressingly, the rest of the Labour vote appears to have split pretty evenly between the Conservatories and the BNP.

Statistically, because their vote share gained MORE than ours did, this is described as a swing from Liberal Democrat to Conservatory. And Mr Balloon has been bragging about it. But it's not a very IMPRESSIVE swing you have there, Mr Balloon.

The Conservatory lead in vote share over us went up from 27.5% to 29.1%, an increase of 1.6% which I believe is a SWING of only 0.8% - possibly enough to net him Romsey and Cheltenham from us in a general election.

And don't let's kid ourselves that he won't be trying – and spending those Ashcroft millions too – to take those seats.

But frankly, with everyone's vote DOWN except the people who didn't stand at all last time, it's just as possible that the whole Labour vote simply stayed at home, and that ALL of the BNP support came directly from the Conservatories, say.

The only lessons we can really learn from this by-election and from the one in Crewe and Nantwich is that the Conservatories are doing well at the moment, but whether in second or third, whether it's a Labour seat or a Conservatory one, the Liberal vote is actually pretty solid, and no matter where you are, nobody wants to vote for Mr Frown.

This must be a HUMILIATING first anniversary as Prime Monster for Mr Frown, for the Labour to come behind the British Nasty Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the British Nasty Party.

Of course they are trying to put a brave face on it, trying to put the blame on the current state of the British economy (author, a Mr G Frown… oops).

Day 2733: There's little that's Liberal about THIS Conspiracy


This is going to sound SOOOOO ungracious after they were kind enough to invite me to their meeting, but the "Left Liberal Bloggers Summit" organised by the Labour Conspiracy and the Grauniad this week was DULL with a capital DULL!

I was not sure what I was expecting it to be about going in, but more disappointingly I am really not sure what it was all for coming out!

What I CAN say is that it felt like a typical Labour Students meeting: a panel of the "important people" at the front addressing a lecture hall of us "proles". If you were a friend of the chair you were called by name; if he didn't know you you were made to declare name, rank and blog serial number.

"I don't want this to be a pyramidical hierarchy," declared Labour Conspiracy chairperson Sunny at one point.

"Well what are you SITTING in, then?" replied Daddy Alex.

"And who's in the BURIAL CHAMBER?" added Daddy Richard.

The problem for me – and I suspect for the several Lib Dem bloggers sat next to us, and probably for several of the other members of the audience, not least the man who said he would rather gnaw off his own arm than vote for the Labour – the PROBLEM was that the entire affair seemed to be based on the PRESUMPTION that we should be trying to SAVE the Labour (possibly from ITSELF… more probably from the GOVERNMENT!).

Daddy Alex said that as far as they were concerned, there are clearly two sorts of Liberal Left Bloggers: Labour Bloggers and DISGRUNTLED Labour Bloggers!

Okay, I put my fluffy feet up and admit I am being slightly unfair to the panel, most if not all of whom seemed to have even less idea why they were there than WE did! Mr Tim Bloggerheads gave us a brief history of blogging, saying how it really all began on the liberal left, before during and after Lord Blairimort's campaign to make sand smoulder, and that the Conservatories did not get involved until after Mr Dale Winton lost in North Norfolk at the 2005 General Election and decided to do something else with his diary.

In fact I am sure that Mr Winton would be THOROUGHLY thrilled in the "Dear Oscar" sense to know that the Labour Conspiracy were spending so much time TALKING about him.

"My dears: the ONLY thing worse than being BLOGGED about… is NOT being blogged about!"

Much was the wailing on the part of the Labour bloggers that they do not have a big STAR NAME blogger like him or ME! Or denouncing the very idea of star names and saying that they never needed one anyway! And besides those grapes looked really green and sour etc…

Mr Bloggerheads stood aside from all of this, occasionally pointing and laughing. His position appears to be – and forgive me if I have this wrong – bloggers should do BLOGGING. Getting organised, coordinating action, having hidden agendas isn't really in keeping with the whole individual freedom / shooting your mouth off ethos that blogging springs from.

Having AGENDAS was very much what the other panellists seemed to be about, though. There was a man from the Labour Home saying how they set it up so that members of the Labour could feel like they were having a conversation with the leadership. Riiiiight. And there was a lady from the f-word. Apparently this means FEMINISM and is nothing to do with Gordon Ramsey. There was Dan the Angry Man from the Iraqi Interpreters campaign. He gave us a brisk (or brusque) lecture on how to set up an online campaign. (Clue one: if you're not willing to work at it hard full time for more than a year: give up! Clue two: offline campaigning is, still, more important than online campaigning; get your phone calling and letter writing done.) He arrived late and seemed personally cross with each and every one of us for the government having shafted him, his campaign and above all the Iraqis. And then there was one of the moderators of the Grauniad's comment is free. She was there to explain to us why the Grauniad is DIFFERENT to the Torygraph. And apparently it's NOT because the Torygraph still MATTERS.

The only real thing that we learned is that the Green Party are to launch a rival to ConservatoryHome and LabourHome called… "GreenHome" which is… erm… original.

After two hours of this we were all given a two-minute break to stretch our legs and sing the INTERNATIONALE.

Then there was a change of panellists in order to spend another hour on the section billed: "Where are all the women bloggers?". I do not know where the women bloggers are because we spent the hour answering the question: "why can't men just do what feminists tell them to?" (In fairness, at least one of the feminist bloggers didn't know where the women bloggers were either, since she insisted that the only women in the room were the ones on her row, which overlooked the few-but-not-none scattered through the rest of the audience, including our own Mayor Mary. But since her point was "how dare you not name any feminist bloggers" to a man who hadn't named ANY bloggers at all, there may have been more going on there than a fluffy toy can understand.)

What we really learned from this is that there are a whole SPECTRE SPECTRUM of (often contradictory) things that these particular feminist bloggers wanted: independence, recognition, not to be bullied, not to be ignored, men to support their arguments, men not to "muscle in" on their arguments, the internet to be more inclusive, to be left alone… Blogging, of course, allows you to speak with ALL of these voices, or as many as you choose to, but not if you are going to try and impose some kind of collective unified "purpose". Which brings us back to where we were for the first two hours.

Still, the NIBBLES were nice, and I am sure the sandwiches would have been delicious if they had not been left to mummify in the desiccating atmosphere of the Grauniad's photo gallery. (Some nice snaps, by the way!)

If this had been a really LIBERAL do, though, we would have STARTED with the nibbles and the drinkies (not for baby elephants!) and had some get-to-know-you chit-chat. Then maybe we would have had a couple of speeches from the likes of our panellists. And they could have finished up by giving me the Blogger of the Year Award. Erm.

We would have got to know a few people, maybe found some blogs that we want to read.

We did manage to meet nice Mr Bloggerheads, who sort of recognised Daddy Richard which scared Daddy no end (he is not used to FAME and ATTENTION the way that I am!) And also nice Mr Malcolm of Make Votes Count, Mr Lee Griffin, Mr Chris and Ms Kate Smurthwait who is also a fan of Mr Dr Evan Harris!

But the people of Labour Conspiracy did not make any effort to introduce themselves to us or try to engage us or find out what it was that WE wanted. Au contraire. It was all about what we should be doing for the Labour.

Mr Paul Burblings had bravely spoken up to suggest that left-wing bloggers might be happier with a period of opposition, that after so long in power they had found themselves caught in the position of defending… well, rubbish. A palpable GASP had gone around the room.

"With maybe two years to the election," the Grauniad lady asked, "what is it that we can do to stop the Labour from falling?"

"Give it a good shove," was Daddy Alex's barely subvocalised suggestion.

Now THAT is a conspiracy I WOULD join!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 2724: The good vicar


Just because I'm a militant atheist baby elephant, that does not mean I have to be against religion all the time… Hang on, actually it does… But as a LIBERAL fluffy toy, I'm also keen to give credit where credit is due.

Just accept that I am COMPLICATED!

I should like to praise the Reverend Giles Fraser, because of the things that he has said recently.

Firstly, he wrote a piece for the Grauniad admitting that he had been WRONG. That is always pretty BIG of someone.

What Reverend Giles had been wrong about was the so-called "secular authorities" BANNING any kind of religious references or music in civil wedding and partnership ceremonies. This even includes the OUTLAWING of Mr Robbie Williams' song "Angels" (because it is likely to make people BLASPHEME!).

However, it turns out that it was NOT a "secular" idea to say "no religion here", oh no! it was in fact the Bishops of Catholic and Church of England ganging up to keep religion for the religious… specifically the OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED religious… specifically specifically the people THEY say are religious! Heavens above! (Ooops!)

Then, secondly, Mr the Reverend Giles did something altogether shocking – he gave a GOOD Fart for the Day on the The Today Programme! (Reproduced once again for the Grauniad, here.)

In this, he said that the church SHOULD bless gay daddies getting married!

Well BLESS HIM too!

I am sure he will soon be receiving a thank-you note of DEEP and ABIDING Excommunication from the Archbishop of Uganda. But never mind that, he will get a bouquet from me. Probably Hyacinths.

The White Hyacinth: "Loveliness" & "I'll Pray for You"
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Day 2735: HAVE the Conservatories Changed?


Mr Balloon boasts that he has detoxified Brand Tory, and thanks to Mr Frown's ongoing implosion the media seem to be giving him a free ride.

But what's the real evidence?


While Ms Caroline "Magic" Spellman's nanny woes look more SUSPICIOUS the closer you examine them (Unity has more at Ministry of Trooth), it turns out that the Wintertons broke the rules and have been feathering their nest egg at your expense.


Mr Balloon still green. Allegedly.


Dame Insider Warsi on drugs, well against them obviously.


The Nasty Party threatens to sue the Liberal Democrats (nothing will come of this, but there'll be no coverage of the Conservatories' failure to follow though on their headline-seeking posturing).

Sadly, though, it seems that short of HAPPY SLAPPING Mrs the Queen and LAUGHING about it on Hoot Tube, Mr Balloon can do anything he likes and get away with it.

Meanwhile, Mr Clogg is in CiF pleased that we held our vote UP in Henley.

Day 2731: The Chihuahua That Roared


And by "Chihuahua" I mean our esteemed leader, who is happy to be associated with the little dog that doesn't let its size stop it standing up for what it believes in.

Mr Clogg has made a KEYNOTE SPEECH to Chattering House about Liberal Democrat foreign policy and the need to get internationalism back on track after the disaster of the Monkey-in-Chief's administration.

The main area of the speech is, of course, about ZIMBABWE, but Mr Clogg does start out by mentioning EUROPE and THAT Treaty.

And you know what – it looks like I may have CONVINCED him that the consent of the people is more important than the process.

He says:
"Of course I am disappointed that Lisbon was rejected by the Irish people…"
Me too, Mr Clogg, me too
"But if you ask me what is more important at this stage: a strong sense of support and legitimacy for Europe, or the minor reforms of the Lisbon Treaty, I have to come down in favour of the former."
This is JUST what I was saying the other day! Particularly when he goes on to say:
"It is now clear that for the EU to have meaning, legitimacy and resonance with its voters, it will have to win respect through its actions, through its relevance to daily lives."
Mr Clogg goes on to point out that the problem is NOT about Europe versus the people OF Europe, it is much wider (and WORSE) than that. It is a problem of DISCONNECTION between the people and ALL politicians. Far from being an endorsement of the anti-EU froth-o-phobes, it is a REJECTION of the ruling classes, whoever they are and whatever they say.

It stems from a growing sense of POWERLESSNESS, brought on by national governments that take decisions in their own interests but rarely in the interests of the people, and from the growth of globalisation, leaving us all as tiny grains of sand in the BIG cogs of the MACHINE.

What Mr Clogg wants is to turn the Union around and make it part of our ANSWER to globalisation, rather than seeming like another SYMPTOM of it!

It is a total misunderstanding of Liberalism to think that it is JUST about the freedom of the INDIVIDUAL to do whatever the heck you want. That is LIBERTARIANISM – and there is a reasonable question to ask whether there is a new Libertarian Party trying to squeeze its way out of the Old Conservatories. Mr Davis David might be a symptom of that.

But TRUE Liberalism is about empowering the individual AND the community AND the county AND the country AND the world… it is about creating networks that support each other, and finding solutions at the appropriate level. A European Union that works PROPERLY, works FOR the people than is imposed ON them, would be just another level in the network, the appropriate level for addressing regulation of the globalised corporations, or for tackling the urgent issue of pollution and approaching climate-geddon.

It is only by working TOGETHER that we can tackle international crises.

Mr Clogg refers to Mr Gladstone who was the first to say:
"the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, are as sacred as our own."
A hundred and thirty years later, that is why we are in Afghanistan AGAIN.

Mr Clogg then looks at how, following on from Mr Gladstone, there gradually evolved a fragile and tentative framework of international laws and bodies, based on the idea that we could intervene on HUMANITARIAN grounds and not just for national self-interest.

True, we have a serious self-interest in Afghanistan too: we don't want to see it return to a Taliban theocracy pumping out terrorists and opiate as fast as poppies grow. But more importantly that that, the only way the world is going to get better is if we work to make it get better.

Wars these days, whether it is the brutal election-stealing behaviour of Mr Mugabe's forces in Zimbabwe or the perpetual civil wars in Somalia or the ongoing genocide in the Sudan, they are no longer between nations but between peoples. And you know, this is often driven by the shortages of resources that are brought on by the very changes in climate that can ONLY be tackled on a GLOBAL level.

Now Mr Clogg admits that we cannot know what the strategic situation will be ten years from now. But equally, he says, worrying about the war we don't know about is not a good reason to lose the war we DO know about, the one that's going on right now!

So, he says, it's time Great Britain had a Defence Review, time to stop spending billions on Cold War defences, and way past time to start spending on the equipment our soldiers need for peacekeeping.

But he wants to go much further than that.

Thanks to Lord Blairimort and the Monkey-in-Chief, Britain and Americaland have sacrificed a whole lot of their MORAL AUTHORITY for a great deal of nothing. So it's been left up to the Canadians to carry on the work of developing responsible international law.

Mr Clogg points to their work on "Responsibility to Protect" or the clunkily labelled "R2P". (Which sounds like it should be a droid from Star Wars!)

This principle would fit with the idea that somehow the NATO war in Bosnia to save the Bosnians from the Serbs was somehow GOOD while the Monkey-in-Chief's Middle Eastern Adventure was self-evidently BAD.

Mr Clogg laid out how it should work:
First, any intervention should be based on just cause.

Second, it must have the right intention, rather than serving hidden ends.

Third, intervention should always be a last resort.

Fourth, it must be sanctioned by legitimate authority.

Fifth, a response must be of proportional means to the breach.

Sixth – and this must not be forgotten – any intervention must have a reasonable chance of success.
This last one is why – in spite of the MORAL case for doing so – we could not consider a military intervention in Zimbabwe. There is simply no local support.

We were, at least in part, ABLE to invade Iraq because we could start from bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In part because of Iraq, we can't do that in Southern Africa. (Plus there's that whole business of stealing their continent for a century or so.) So even if we wanted to put an army on the ground in Zimbabwe, we wouldn't have anywhere for them to STAND.

Having mentioned Zimbabwe, Mr Clogg also went on to reiterate what he said on the Politics Show, that while we can't intervene militarily, we should still do all we can to defeat Mr Mugabe's evil reign of terror. In particular, we should be cutting off the regime's access to foreign cash (even though we know it will also hurt the ordinary Zimbabwean). We should put pressure on South Africa to come off the fence. If the South Africans cut off the electricity supply then Mr Mugabe will be dramatically weakened.

But, Mr Clogg would go even further than obvious cases of violence and oppression like Zimbabwe. He said that he thought that the INaction of the Burmese Junta after the cyclone earlier this year was ALSO cause for a "R2P" intervention.

Personally, I think we would need to be VERY VERY careful before we start to consider THAT sort of intervention. But really that is what Mr Clogg is proposing: VERY VERY careful consideration, so that we can set up the bodies that COULD intervene and the terms that would govern HOW they could intervene.

In conclusion, then, he said how strongly he believes in Britain's role as a force both for PEACE and for JUSTICE in the world. Of course we should continue to defend our own national interest robustly; but we should also seek to lead the debate on how to develop Responsibility to Protect and the United Nations, and how to do the best for the whole world.

And do you know what, I think maybe HE has persuaded ME too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 2717: Irises are Poisonous / Spliffs make you Stupid / Heinz in the Soup

Good news for any gay daddies fearing repatriation to the Theocratic Nuthouse of Iran!

According to the Hopeless Secretary, Ms Jacquie Spliff, there is NO DANGER of being executed to death by the religious police, so long as you remember to STAY DISCREETLY IN THE CLOSEST.

Clearly, the 145 people since 1979 who HAVE been murdered by the Revolutionary Iranian State for the so-called "crime" of being gay must be just KICKING themselves for overlooking this simple precaution. Or they would be if they weren't totally DEAD!

Only a cynical person could suspect Ms Spliff of looking for LOOPHOLES in the ban on deporting people to places where they might get killed.

On the other fluffy foot, she might just be being incurably THICK!

Meanwhile, this reminds me that, a little while ago, Ms Jennie asked me to look into a story from Northern Ireland, reported in the Pink News and picked up by Liberal Conspiracy about Ms Iris "Poisonous" Robinson.

Poison-Iris is the wife of the first minister of Northern Ireland, and holds down two jobs, being both a Member of Parliament AND a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (except on days when she is suspended for using "unparliamentarily language") for Strangleford. This doesn't keep her too busy to be a born again Christian as well, though.

Now – remembering that I am a militant atheist baby elephant and may have got this wrong – I seem to recall a story that according to the Bible was told by Mr Jesus. It was about a Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were a tribe of people who were at odds with the Jews and had different religious beliefs. Nevertheless, when the Good Samaritan discovered a Jewish person beaten up in the road, he did all he could to help the victim, in spite of their differences.

Funnily enough, this story is about someone who got beaten up too: Mr Stephen Scott, who was a victim of a QUEER-BASHING. And did Poison-Iris do all she could to help… well, no. She said that Mr Scott should try and get cured of being gay.

"I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.

"And I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual."
Well, firstly he's NOT a "lovely psychiatrist" because psychiatrists do NOT say that being a gay daddy is a disorder and so wouldn't try to cure you. In fact, the Royal College of Psychiatrists EXPLICITLY says that it is NOT a disorder. Which means that this person is a FRAUD, passing himself off as a psychiatrist.

And second, although there is no reason to think that something as FLUID as a person's orientation could not change over time, and BISEXUALITY might express itself more strongly one way and then another, you almost certainly HAVEN'T met anyone who's "turned around to become heterosexual", and more likely have met some SERIOUSLY UNHAPPY people with a whole load of unnecessary guilt complexes and a complete absence of a healthy sex life.

Poison-Iris says that homosexuality makes her "sick" and "nauseous". It sounds like SHE is the one who needs a CURE!

Nor is this a ONE-OFF, as her interjection in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Debate shows.

"Can she [the Minister] envisage, down the road, a child going to primary school and being collected by two females or two males, and the bullying and abuse to which those children will be exposed…"
And why would they BE bullied? Surely only because prejudice is being perpetuated by lady-harpies like Poison-Iris.
"…or going into their parents' bedroom, as is natural for a child to do, and finding two women or two men making love?"
And that would cause just as much blushing all round as if it was one man and one woman. Or one man or one woman on their own. And what do you mean it's NATURAL to walk in on your daddies' bedroom without asking? How RUDE! Besides, I am fairly sure that the technology of LOCKABLE DOORS has reached Northern Ireland… are the members of the Deeply Unpleasant Party just a bit BACKWARDS?

And THIS LADY, dear readers, is one of the NINE VOTES that the Government relied upon to get detention without trial thorough the House of Commons.

Mr Scott, now TWICE a victim after his mugging and then mugging again by Poison-Iris, had previously taken an OVERDOSE because he couldn't cope with being gay. How did Poison-Iris help him? He said that her remarks had made his life "hell".

Apparently more than one-hundred people have reported Poison-Iris to the police for her remarks. So now, the police are to investigate whether she has committed a HATE CRIME.

And speaking of COMPLAINTS, apparently more than TWO-hundred people found the following TOO SHOCKING to show to children… even though mayonnaise adverts are SO PERVERSE (oh, apparently it's the high sugar, salt and fat content) that they are ALREADY banned from being shown to children.

So here are some men kissing to cheer everybody up!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 2714: JAMES BOND: Devil My Car


Let's begin on the COVER: Mr Sebastian Faulks writing as Mr Ian Fleming. Hmmm. Not actually willing to give up his own identity but wanting to claim the mantle of being Mr Ian (and the safety net of blaming him for anything… unsavoury!)

I'm not sure how the title goes with the story, either!

What he writes, though, is an entirely traditional adventure, with girls, guns, violence and a lunatic villain.

So, new James Bond, same as the old James Bond. Which you can take to mean "reassuringly familiar" or "a bit of a knock off" according to taste.

I realize that Mr Ian would toss in the odd reference to his back catalogue occasionally, usually in the opening chapter following up however we left our Mr James at the end of last time, but Mr Sebastian DOES seem desperate to include a reference to each and every one of the other twelve full-length James Bond novels.

He ends up with seemingly more continuity references and in-jokes than a Doctor Who New Adventure playing the "I bet I can refer to every Cyberman / Dalek / Doctor Who story ever" game. (See "Iceberg" by David "Cyberleader" Banks, "Retcon of the Daleks" by John "Not THAT one" Peel, or "Christmas on a Rational Planet" by Lawrence "Mad Larry" Miles" if you want to play!"). "I know drugs aren't as exciting as smuggling gold or diamonds," M interjects pointlessly at one point, while Mr James worries about his "B & B: bereavement and brainwashing" at another. (And that's four books off the list right there.)

The book is written as a period piece. Which would be weird anyway, because Mr Ian wrote CONTEMPORARY stories, ahead of their time in fact, with Mr James in the "jet set" doing things and going places mere mortals could not follow. But Mr Sebastian is terribly eager to try and put us in the time with the crassest possible infodump:

"What's in the news, May?" asks Mr James, at one point. "Ooh, those young people in the band have been arrested for taking drugs!" "The Beatles?" "No, the other lot".

"HELLO – IT'S 1967!" she may as well be shouting.

Assuming that "Devil My Car" HAD been published in that year, that would make it two years after the (posthumous) publication of "The Man With the Golden Gun" and one year after the final short story collection "Octopussy and the Living Daylights". And, perhaps MOST tellingly, one year BEFORE the REAL first post-Mr Ian James Bond novel, 1968's "Colonel Sun" by Mr Kingsley Shacklebolt writing as Robert Markham. Without any of this nonsense of SAYING he was "writing as Robert Markham".

Taking us further down the road to Austin Powers territory, Mr James is delayed by the hippies staging a sit-in on a zebra crossing and is shortly horrified (along with ME) to learn that M has taken up YOGA. Quite what this is supposed to signify, I have no fluffy idea, but fortunately it doesn't really have any bearing on the plot.

The story opens with a really horrible murder.

Now, Mr Ian's writing WAS violent (…and sexist and he was a terrible food snob, meaning he was a food snob and really not very good at it, as anyone who has read the prawn cocktail moment will know) but there was almost always a kind of fantasy panache to it that made is seem GAUDY rather than GROSS. "Live and Let Die"'s Eaten by Sharks actually happens 'off', but you might think of being dragged over the reef for the barracuda from the same book. It's so over-the-top that it's kind of harmless.

This violence isn't. It's just ICKY. And (again) seemingly has little to do with the rest of plot other than to act as a clue for Rene Mathis (yes, him from Casino Royale) so that he can identify the villain's henchman. Although Mr James actually gets told the same information by the baddie anyway. Nor is it particularly clear WHY the murder happens; it does not appear to be because the victim has tipped off SIS about the baddie's plan. It just seems like M thinks it would be a good idea to investigate him.

So, the BADDIE, the VILLAIN of the piece is Doctor Julius Gorner.

We know he is a villain because the very first time we see him, he is squishing a little doggie under the wheels of his big Mercedes. This is in one of those astonishingly contrived "Mr James has seen the baddie before he knows he will be the target… and can just TELL that he is EEEEEEVIL" moments.

Dr Gorner is accompanied by his villainous oriental henchman with the distinctive headwear and funny name, Oddjob… no hang on, actually it's Chagrin, who Mathis recognizes as a Vietnamese war-criminal (yes, 1967 – Vietnam is faux-topical, remember) with a penchant for mutilating children if they're being taught by missionaries.

But just in case THAT wasn't a big enough clue to his nature, Dr Gorner also has to have a PHYSICAL DEFORMITY. To go with Blofeld's funny earlobes, or Dr No's missing hands or, er, Sir Hugo Drax's red hair, Mr Julius has… a monkey's paw!

Now, rather famously, whenever Mr Cubby Broccoli thought that his business partner and co-producer Mr Harry Saltzman was having a stupid idea he would remind him of one of his dooziest.

"DOCTOR NO… IS A MONKEY!" Mr Cubby would bellow.

Not that I am saying that this is a bad idea… except that it IS a bad idea.

It is also Mr Julius's ACHILLES' HEEL… even though it's his HAND. Any reference to it makes him go into one. Gosh, can you see where THAT might be going?

Anyhoo, Dr Gorner has a grudge against Britain. This turns out to be TRUE even though the Bond Girl – Miss Scarlet, I kid you not – actually makes it up. But we don't actually now WHY he has this grudge – because she made up the story about her father being an Oxford don who tried to be nice about "the hand" and instead deeply shamed Gorner too.

Still, this means he wants to destroy Great Britain and is shipping in tonnes of DRUGS in order to corrupt our YOUTH. Except that's all too boring, so he's going to fake a British nuclear attack on Russia and get the Reds to nuke London for him.

(He also extemporizes a plan to undermine British stiff upper lips by buying a national newspaper – the Times maybe – and driving the whole British Press downmarket by introducing cheap pornography to the breakfast table… a plan that (a) seems even MORE long-winded than the drugs thing and (b) appears to be no more than a gratuitous dig at Mr Roger Stavro Moredick, owner of, cheap porn rag the Scum and, er, the Times. This, though, would ALSO have been too boring and so is ditched for Operation Where-Did-Those-Nukes-Come-From.)

Yes, where DID those nukes come from: Dr Gorner just claims to have obtained them because "there is a market for such things". Oh, well I bet SPECTRE are just KICKING themselves for going to all that bother over the hijacked V-bomber with the plastic-surgery pilot.

What this all adds up to is something that is TRYING to be the sort of James Bond book that Mr Ian would have written IF he had been sat down by Mr Harry and Mr Cubby and, given the plot of their next movie, told to work round it. See "Thunderball" again.

Much as I hate to say it, it's really not very ORIGINAL. In fact, there are much more original ideas in the James Bond books of Mr John Gardner.

That's not to say that the writing is at all BAD. Almost in spite of itself, the book manages a really rather decent patch (ironically AFTER the whole movie-like plot has been finished) with Mr James and Miss Scarlet escaping across Russia. Actually, I suspect that might be because that bit slips into Le Carré pastiche. Anyway it's rather good. And in fairness, a lot of the main body of the story is set in pre-Revolutionary Iran aka Persia and manages to capture the real exotic travelogue feel of Mr Ian's writing while writing about a place that he didn't know i.e. wasn't the Caribbean.

But as far as PLOT goes, as distinct from NARRATIVE, it's all as obvious as the nose on my face. And you've got to admit, that's PRETTY obvious. Step one: Mr James meets villain in social contest – tennis this time, rather than golf or cards (no, it doesn't seem very James Bond, does it); villain tries to cheat but is beaten anyway. Step two: Mr James tracks villain to exotic location, and "sacrificial lamb" character gets killed. Step three: Mr James discovers minor clue to villain's plan but is captured and generally put through the wringer. Step four: villain's plan goes tits up through actually no real doings of Mr James, though Bond escapes in the crossfire. Step five: villain hunts down Mr James for revenge… this too goes tits up.

Even the GOLLY twist ending is totally telegraphed from almost chapter one.

There are also some rather glaring GAPS (or maybe I MISSED some bits). Since Mr James never gets to TELL anyone what Dr Gorner's plot actually IS, it's not entirely clear why the secret service decides to act. For reasons that will be clear to anyone who's read the book, it's not entirely obvious how Miss Scarlet's sister Poppy is able to provide Mr James with the vital insider-knowledge clue that puts him on to Dr Gorner's special hover-plane. And a lot of what Dr Gorner does is based on the assumption that he has a spy inside the secret service… but no one is actually unmasked. Well, no, let me put that another way, someone IS unmasked as a traitor – and in best Mr Ian bigoted-style it's the GAY character – but he couldn't possibly be the SIS spy because he's not SIS. So who is?

Still, I am SURE that the magic-makers of EON will fix all of that when they come to turn it into a MOVIE.
Mr Simon's song game reminded me to get daddy to write up my review of this book, even though I finished it AGES ago. He is MUCH kinder to this book than I have been. Happy Fluffy Birthday, Mr Simon!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 2732: Anonymous


The Law Lord rule that defendants have a right to know who is testifying against them and a criminal case collapses because of the ruling.

There is a plan to rush a new law through "in days".

A difficult one, this. The problem with anonymous witnesses is that it impedes the ability of the defence team to cross-examine – for example one criminal grassing up another may have his motive called into question; or perhaps four members of the Labour testifying that Mr Balloon could be held for 42 days without trial…

On the other fluffy foot, how do you make any case against big bad villains if you can't offer to protect the people who testify against them?

Day 2729: DOCTOR WHO: Turn Left


This week's photo has been ERASED from the timeline!

Here's Daddy's review…

Looked at objectively, a copy of Donna is created out of thin air, runs half a mile and then kills herself. Where did that Donna come from? If "our" Donna turns left then none of the things that lead to the other Donna being created happen. But if Donna turns right… then it leads to the creation of a Donna who kills herself to make sure that Donna turns left. So the "turn right" time line is ultimately self-negating. So where does the "other" Donna come from?

Yes, having last week done an exercise in "Stephen Moffat terror", this week, Russell tries his hand at "Stephen Moffat timey-wimey". (I hate that expression, but we're stuck with it now.)

In fairness, of course, it's not inevitably self-negating; it takes the intervention of Rose from outside of the continuum, acting as an ur-Doctor, to set things straight. And the creation of the alternative universe itself appears to be what allows Rose to return from her parallel universe.

(Where a parallel universe is one that occurs naturally and by some fluke resembles ours in all but some usually plot-significant detail. If you believe in the "Many Worlds" solution to Quantum Mechanics, then there is a parallel universe for every quantum event in space-time. Though, as I'm always saying, that is really dull for drama. Plus the universe is so much weirder if you believe in superposition instead.

An alternative universe is one created from our own by a time traveller going back and altering a decision at a branch point. If you imagine that time is like a river, then going back and changing something is like dropping a stone into the flood. Most times, the river just washes on past. But sometimes, sometimes you might just hit exactly the right spot to divert the flow into another path. It's the "Back to the Future" version of time travel, and usually it "overwrites" the original version of history (though often with some dramatic licence to allow memories and dreams of the "real" reality to bleed through – think also of Star Trek's "Yesterday's Enterprise").)

The other paradoxical aspect of the story was why do only some of the Doctor's adventures – typically the ones set in the "present (one year ahead) day" – get cancelled out?

I think most people have correctly worked out that without the Doctor, the Master would never have returned, leaving poor old Professor Yana to potter away his life at the end of the Universe probably never getting the footprint impeller working and so never populating Utopia with Toclafane. And pointedly there are no "orders from Mr Saxon" when the webstar is shot down; nor does Morgenstern claim "Mr Saxon was right!"

Similarly, the Family of Blood would never have come to Earth if they hadn't been hunting the Time Lord, so the events of "Human Nature" would not have happened; and it's difficult to judge what level of threat the Vespiform in the 1920s would have been, but probably not global.

Nevertheless it has to be said, there are three definite occasions when the world would have been ended in the relative past without the tenth Doctor's presence: the Carrionites in the Globe Theatre, the Daleks in Manhattan, and the Pyrovilians in Pompeii.

You could have got away with it – if there were room in an already packed script – with Rose making a remark about Shakespeare, Donna replying "Who?" and Rose saying "He wrote Hamlet, and Macbeth and the Tempest… or he would have done if he hadn't died in 1599 banishing the Carrionites."

It would have allowed a little hand-waving to cover the other two: the way that history papers over the cracks but that it costs the lives of people who are important, just as it costs the present day Sarah Jane and Torchwood.

People – well Russell Davies mainly – have heaped praise on Catherine Tate for her acting throughout this episode. But for me the standout performance was actually Jacqueline King as Donna's mum, Sylvia. It's easy to see how alike Donna and Sylvia are, but how Sylvia descends into hopelessness and despair. The last time we see her in the alternate Earth, a long long scene with her in full focus and Donna indistinct in the corridor behind, we see her completely lost. And that makes her reply to Donna's question: "you've always been disappointed in me, haven't you?" so cruel but so so devastating. Without even caring, she just says "yes".

This is the "Midnight" view of humans written across the face of the Earth but expressed in just one word from a broken woman. Humans can be cruel and cowardly. The Time Beetle is just a parasite; we are the monsters here.

Yes, of course Catherine Tate is marvellous. And so is Bernard Cribbins, jollying everyone along and yet with probably the second most crushing remark of the episode, "It's happening again". And, incidentally, so is Chippo Chung – no longer dressed as a big beetle, merely working for one this year – strikingly good as the malevolent fortune teller. Really though, after Pompeii you'd have thought Donna would have learned to stay clear.

Like "Love and Monsters" this skates close to "so it's come to this… a Doctor Who clips show" until you realise that the clips are mingled with new angles on the old events. So we see the Racnoss webstar float over the London suburbs before its fateful approach to Regent Street; Donna's world begins to fall to bits in the thunder of Hope Hospital being taken by the Judoon; we see the (surprisingly minimal in a global scale, if devastating to Britain) outcome of the Titanic crash; we see or at least hear of the outcome of the Adipose plan, sixty million dead on full conversion. For the "cheap" episode, it managed to look incredibly epic.

Okay, the "time beetle" itself was a disappointment, and not just because it looked like a big plastic beetle.

I admit I was rather hoping that it would turn out to be a Metebelis Spider. And there's an extent to which I say, if you're going to do something that might as well be a Metebelis Spider, why not go the whole hog and do it. We know that they are capable of manipulating time though "Eastern" mysticism rather than Time Lord (i.e. "Western") technology. We also know that they prey on the fears and flaws in the human psyche: Donna's railing against an uncaring world and repeated "I'm nothing; I'm not important" being as much a key to the Buddhist influence as Lupton's arrogance and lust for power. And a Buddhist theme would have also nodded briefly to "Kinda", referenced in the "evil" being revealed by a circle of mirrors.

(Plus there's a whole Lawrence Miles-baiting bonus of "Interference" killing off the third Doctor pre- "Planet of the Spiders" and thus effectively changing time to spare them; having a Spider "interfering" in time to change the Doctor's history would have been deliciously ironic. Mind you, Alex wonders if, with the alternative universes and reverse-engineered time machine, "Turn Left" doesn't have Simon "author of the Time Travellers" Guerrier's head spinning this week!)

The Doctor's throwaway line about it being "one of the Trickster's brigade" would have been no more confusing or continuity-bound if he's said instead: "I've met them before".

Is it part one of three? Last year's "Utopia" definitely was, and we have the "To be Continued…" before the end titles and the "Next Time…" teaser after the end titles to prove it. Despite the director viewing this in the same vein, "Turn Left" didn't do that, even though it feels much more like a great big warm-up act, a forty-nine minute teaser all on its own showing us Rose and a devastated Earth and killing Donna. (They really can't kill her in the finale after that… can they?) And the stupendous reveal of all the "Bad Wolfs", every flag and banner and poster and the TARDIS itself all covered in Rose's trans-temporal calling card, as the pounding "Dance of the Macra" music kicks in could not be a better way to get you ready for next week's epic.

And forty-three years ago a special agent delivered a warning in episode-without-the-Doctor "Mission To the Unknown" to warm us up for the oncoming Dalekatastrophe! says Alex.

But for all that, it was definitely a separate story in its own right. "Utopia" is all of one part with "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords"; "Turn Left" is much more a story of Donna and one single choice.

Anyway, the answer to "where did the other Donna come from" is probably she was created from energy drawn from the Time Beetle itself. Which is probably what killed it.

"Next time…" Where are the bees going? Where are the planets going? What does it have to do with the Rift in the Medusa Cascade? And will Donna have to make a noble sacrifice, or is there more to her than we have ever suspected? Nobel? Lord? Should she be steering clear of fob-watches? It's the season finale, part one, and the return of the Daleks. Lots of Daleks. And a big Red Dalek. And if you don't know that Davros is in it by now then welcome to the planet. "The Stolen Earth"

Sad news, I am afraid. I am very sorry to hear that one of my Daddies’ dear friends, Mr Ian McKay, has passed away. Always one for a jolly greeting in the queue for signings at the Tenth Planet shop – which itself has just closed like some terrible OMEN – Mr Ian was too young and too young at heart to go yet, for all that he sported what in Doctor Who circles can only be called a shock of prematurely white hair. He is survived by his partner Sandra and his son Peter, who has inherited his love of the Doctor. Fluffy hugs to them both.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 2728: Seven Songs for Simon


Ooh, meme time; Mr Simon has tagged me!

"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to."
That is EASY. I will pick seven JAMES BOND songs, because I am very excited about Mr Daniel’s “Quantum of Solero” plus I have read the new James Bond Book, “Devil My Car”.


#1: The One by Dame Shirley Bassey
#2: The OTHER One by Dame Shirley Bassey
#3: The OTHER OTHER One by Dame Shirley Bassey, that no one remembers
#4: The One by Dame Shirley Bassey played by Miss Tina Turner
#5: The One by Dame Shirley Bassey played by Miss Tom Jones
#6: The One by Dame Shirley Bassey played by Duran Duran
#7: and the most recent one, because the title sequence is REALLY COOL: the theme from Casino Re-al, “You Know My Name… It’s MILLENNIUM!”

Everyone can SING ALONG!

The Coldest Blood runs through my Veins The Warmest Fluff flows through my Stuff; You know my Name (It’s Millennium!)”
Now, I shall tig the following people:

Citizen Alix
Mr Paul Burblings
Mr Alasdair W
Ms Jennie
Mr Will
Baroness Ros
And That Pink Dog

Fluffy tunes to you all!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 2723: The Gays are Getting Married – World Fails to End (again!)


WE know a SONG about this, don't we daddy… cue HootTube…

It seems like happy occasions are breaking out ALL OVER.

In California, they are queuing round the block to get hitched, thanks to a (State) Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on gays getting married.

First to join in happy union were heroic veteran ladygays Ms Del Martin and Ms Phyllis Lyon. Back in the DARK AGES of 1955, when Americaland was wracked with anti-pinko WITCH HUNTS, Ms Del and Ms Phyllis helped to found the Daughters of Bilitis, recognised as the first lesbian rights group in America.

Also taking the "oath of federation" will be Mr George Takei, star of Star Trek and hero of Heroes.

I'm sure he will be beaming up the aisle on his happy day. Beaming… you know, because he is happy… no?

Meanwhile the Church of England is DELIGHTED… it says "angered" here, but that is no doubt a misprint… DELIGHTED with the news that a vicar married a vicar… to another vicar!

(Look this CAN'T be as confusing as that business with the Lesbians suing the Lesbians over who gets to be Lesbians!)

The coverage is even funnier in the Torygraph with liberal use of illiberal inverted commas around the words gay and wedding and gay wedding and blessing and the rest! Like they don't know how gay air-quotes are!)

The Wedding took place in the church of St Bartholomew the Great, made FAMOUS in the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral for the Established Church".

Messages of congratulation have flooded in from all over the world.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Smoking-Joynt expressed his hopes that "clearly flouting Church guidelines and will exacerbating divisions within the Anglican Communion" would bring them lasting happiness.

While from Uganda, the Archbishop Henry Orombi wished them every joy of their "blasphemous" and "shocking" ceremony. Lovely.

In fact, the only MISERABLE people were those two old-men-in-frocks: the Beardy Weirdy of Canterbury and the Archpillock of York Dr Sentimoo. They expressed their "regrets".

"The Church of England is supposed to make people DEPRESSED not happy!" they said!

Sadly, I also have to tell you that Mr Matt Lucas and his partner Mr Kevin McGee have split up. Even with gay marriage comes gay divorce. I hope they are both all right!

Day 2721: There was this Englishman, Irishman and European…


The problem with Europe ISN'T Europe… it's how Europe has been DONE.

We need to go back to the people and find what THEY want of Europe and bring them back on board!

One thing that ISN'T going to happen, whatever Irish voters or British Conservatories say, is for the Lisbon Treaty to be scrapped.

The leaders of this project – M. Sarcastic in France, Ms Meercat in Germany, Mr Manual Barrister and his Eurocrats, even Mr Frown – have invested too much time, money and politics for them to just shrug and say "okie-dokie we'll do something else."

That is why Great Britain is going ahead and ratifying the Treaty even though, if you follow the PROPER rules, it ought to be dead.

You need twenty-seven out of twenty-seven nations to agree and Ireland has said "no".

"The Union must give Ireland time," says Mr Frown.

Sorry, but time for WHAT? He means time to change their mind. The arrogance of the man!

For whatever reason, and however wrong or deceived by the no campaign they might be, Ireland said "no".

But it isn't going to stop them finding some fudge and get-round, an extra clause promising the Irish extra helpings of pudding probably, and gold plating on the promises (that already exist) of neutrality and not looking askance at the whole no-abortions thing.

This will only make matters WORSE.

People are already pretty cross about not being given their own voice in this process. When they see that even if they HAD their own voice it would get ignored if they said the "wrong" answer… well, they'll be madder than hell!

The debate over Europe has become a clash between two HUGE groups of vested interests.

On the one side are the trades unions that see Europe as a way of protecting their members, in strange alliance with the corporations that benefit hugely from Europe, the agribusinesses and fisheries industries – not the individual farmers and fishers, but the businesses that use them as captured suppliers – who are supported by subsidies and protectionism and internal free trade.

They like to PRESENT themselves as speaking for five hundred million Europeans, though who actually asked them to speak?

On the other side are the globalised industries that want to MINIMISE the power of a body that might REGULATE them. That is why the xenophobes and frothing Euro-nuts get all the backing they could want from Mr Roger Stavro Moredick and his multi-media rottweilers.

Of course, the anti-Europe brigade and their retired Brigadiers like to PRETEND that they are plucky little underdogs, sticking up for against the so-called Euro elite, all the gravy-trainers and hangers-on, the bureaucrats and lawyers and lobbyists who are perceived as being the people who benefit from there just BEING a Europe; a group who may or may not even exist!

What has happened to the PEOPLE though? Where is the INDIVIDUAL's interest in what is going on in Europe?

I suspect that people actually LIKE the benefits of plentiful food, easy travel to exotic destinations, and generally the whole not-having-a-major-war-in-Western-Europe-in-almost-everybody's-lifetimes. What they DON'T see is how having a President of Europe will make any of that any better.

What people really DON'T like is seeing the Common Agricultural Policy in action. The IRONY of course is that the Europhobes have so effectively taken that dislike of money being wasted and of petty regulations being imposed by faceless foreigners and turned it into opposition to giving Europe the powers actually to DEAL with that sort of thing.

Europe is lumbered with weak democratic institutions precisely because the people who are against it won't let us share the power and responsibilities. They insist on Europe being UNDEMOCRATIC and then point and whine about how UNDEMOCRATIC it is.

But, and like my fluffy behind it is a BIG but, those leaders of Europe have been all too happy to connive in this scam, because if it IS undemocratic then they get to control it all.

As Liberal Democrats, and in particular as DEMOCRATS, we really must be there putting the case for a more DEMOCRATIC Europe, a Europe that pauses to ask its five hundred million people just what it is that THEY want.

I think that we might need to start by making the case within our OWN Party. Much as I might agree with the HONESTY of Sir Mr the Merciless's "Europe: in or out" all-or-nothing referendum, I think we have BRUISED our reputation for Trust in People by going along with the Labour in pushing this Treaty through. The Conservatories – nasty though they be; dishonest as their "let's hold a poll we're bound to win and don't have to do anything ABOUT" policy is; deceitful about their real feelings towards Europe that they are – have stolen a march on us by LOOKING more democratic than us. Surely that is deeply EMBARRASSING!

Let's face it: this one has been a MESS. But you cannot win them all.

What we need to do now is SEIZE THE FUTURE. The Conservatories will keep on and on about this one; let them. People will get BORED. Mr Balloon ultimately has no answer to what to do about Europe other than say "no".

And just saying "no" is NOT good enough. You end up sat next to the most powerful trading block on the planet, looking on powerless.

We need to put people BACK IN CHARGE of making Europe BETTER. That's a BETTER answer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 2727: First Ladies Club


Mrs Barry O, Michelle Obama, appears on The View rebuilding her image after Replutocratic attacks.

While Mrs Senator Oven Chip, Cindy McCain, reveals her "grudge list".


Barry O himself comes out against the Lobbyists (not taking public money; fewer lobbyists than Oven Chip)

While Senator Oven Chip is covered in Oil.

Oops, better not get him cross!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 2720: Monsieur Davis David – C'est Magnifiqué… Mais ce n'est pas le politics!


Into the Valley of Death (or at least Newspaper Ridicule) rode the brave Davis David, Conservatory Shadow Home Secretary… sorry FORMER Conservatory Shadow Home Secretary, bold Mr Balloon waited all of NO seconds to give Mr David his full support and REPLACE him.

But this really WAS something from a different and bygone age. A politician fighting a by-election to raise a point of principle? Unheard of! No wonder this cynical, corrupt and bankrupt Government doesn't know what to make of it!

Of course it would have been more USEFUL for the thirty-six Labour rebels to resign THEIR seats! The Labour being bankrupt in actual CASH terms as well as morally would probably be SUNK if they had to try to defend thirty-six by-elections simultaneously.

Sadly, I do not think that the Liberal Democrats could afford to do that either, magnificent as it would have been to join Mr David's campaign! A solitary by-election will be treated as something of a silly season joke by the media; fifty-seven of them couldn't be ignored in the same way; it would MAKE people sit up and take notice. It would certainly be INTERESTING to see if the Conservatories would be willing to stand down against all of OUR MPs on this issue in the way that we have stood aside for them in Haltemprice and Howden.

The OTHER problem, of course, is that Haltemprice is no place for the Labour. It MIGHT have been on the horizon for the Liberal Democrats (though a combination of our candidate standing down and Mr Davis's very high profile have made even that more distant) but in all honesty, he could stand on a platform of making Thursday COMPULSORY NUDE DAY and he'd still get a decent majority there.

Personally, I have no doubts that Mr Davis David is completely sincere, but it makes it all too easy for the Labour to say: "Well, why SHOULD we come and get hammered in a seat in which we would get hammered regardless?"

Maybe it would have been better to say that when the next by-election in a Labour marginal (i.e. any) comes up THEN he would resign Haltemprice and Howden and he would contest the MARGINAL on this issue. That would have meant that there was a MEANINGFUL risk involved and would have sunk the Labour's claims that he is just SHOWBOATING.

Mr Clogg was, obviously, QUITE RIGHT to say that we would not be standing a candidate against Mr Davis David. How COULD we stand against him when the issue of Civil Liberties is even more important to us that it is to him? TO do so would be dishonourable. And we would look hypocritical too.

We aren't opening ourselves up to any long term risk. This is not a stunt that the Conservatories can pull very often, and I do not think that very many of them would have the COHUNES to try it!

We DO loose a bit of (or a bit MORE) ground in Haltemprice, and we DO lose a little of the kudos of the issue to Mr David. Although we COULD have lost a whole lot more if it hadn't been for Mr Clogg giving Mr David his full backing and Mr Balloon being a total sad sack on the issue.

In fact, thanks to Mr Balloon's EQUIVOCATION and MEALY-MOUTHEDNESS the Conservatories have tossed away what could have been a substantial advantage. Instead of a CLEAR and PRINCIPLED difference between their policy and the Labour it looks like they had to be dragged kicking and screaming through the right lobby and would now much rather join Miss Anne Widdyone in a snuggle up with the Magna-Carta-murders opposite.

The REAL downside is that because WE are not standing, it gives the Labour an excuse to say THEY aren't going to stand either.

That would have mattered less if a SUBSTANTIAL and CREDIBLE independent (or failing that a FAT MAN with the backing of a foreign BILLIONAIRE) had had the courage to stand on a Pro-42 days platform and make a proper debate of it. But now it seem like the Scum have BOTTLED it as well.

The Labour are SHAMELESS. (And if you are not MORTALLY EMBARRASSED when ALGERIA is criticising your Human Rights record then you HAVE NO SHAME!)

The Labour are not REALLY interested in DEMOCRACY either – they prefer to think that since they OBVIOUSLY know best they should be telling everyone else what to do.

So it is quite difficult to SHAME them into facing a challenge using the instruments of DEMOCRACY.

Mr Davis David is a ROMANTIC figure – no, not delivering milk tray and definitely not red roses. But he believes in the myth of one man making a difference. Like a pro-hanging Knight Rider with a broken nose. He believes that this is a matter of HONOUR and that HONOURABLE GENTLEPERSONS and HONOURABLE MEMBERS should settle this in the HONOURABLE way.

Unfortunately he might as well have demanded a dual from a machine for mechanically recovering meat steamed off the bone. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what he HAS done.

Bon chance against the cannons, monsieur!

Day 2726: If Your Mansion House Needs Haunting Just Call… Sooty


Sooty's speech to the Mansion House dinner is a LITTLE overshadowed by bad tidings on the economic front…

Inflation up to 3.3%;

It's all a bit bleak, says Mervyn, King of the Bank;

And Barclays warns of financial storm ahead.

Day 2719: Now we know the cost of terrorism – one billion quid…pro quo


Forty-two days without charge: Mr Frown almost brought down his OWN Government to do it and only BRIBERY and BULLYING secured it.

Ms Jacqui Spliff, the Hopeless Secretary, spoke out:

"Faced with a crucial decision on the safety and protection of the British public, they have collapsed into total disarray on what is their first big policy test since they have come under greater scrutiny."
Mr David "Security" Blanket added:

"This is childish and immature and it is not worthy of a major political party to engage in such theatre."
Oh, hang on, were they talking about the CONSERVATORIES?!?!

Just one quick GLANCE at "How They Voted" shows me that exactly ONE Conservatory and exactly NO Liberal Democrats risked tripping over Mr Millipede's still-warm-from-Italy luggage in the Aye Lobby to vote with Mr Frown for a return to pre-feudal justice!

And yet THIRTY-SIX members of the Labour – that is more than one in ten of their MPs – managed to shake off the BRAINWASHING long enough to vote against.

Correct me if I am WRONG, but it certainly LOOKS like it is the PLP (Paramilitary Labour Prannies) who are SPLIT on the issue of sacrificing our essential freedoms to win absolutely no security at all.

(Because SECURITY is what you get when MI5 is in a position to STOP terrorist attacks; compared to that, detention without trial is a CONVENIENCE for the police trying to prosecute them after the fact. And frankly it's a LOT EASIER for the Spooks to stop things if the community is ON SIDE and TELLING THEM about suspicious goings on. Rather than, say, completely alienated by unnecessary and discriminatory-seeming legislation and paranoid that passing on perfectly innocuous gossip might see Uncle Amir banged up for a month-and-a-half!)

In fact Mr Frown would have had NO MAJORITY AT ALL if it were not for the last minute intervention of those WELL KNOWN socialists, er, UKPNuts, the Ulster Lunatics and the DUP (Deeply Unpleasant Party) – delightfully described by Dame Shirley Whirly on Questionable Time as "The Undertakers of the House of Commons: they always turn up when the Government is on its DEATHBED".

Apparently there was a wish-list as long as my fluffy legs doing the rounds and sounding like one of those MASTERCARD commercials! You know: conveniently-sited ripe-for-redevelopment former Ministry of Defence properties - £900 million; substantial slice off the water rates - £200 million; more than healthy contribution to the police benevolent fund - £50 million; peerage for Revered Shouty - priceless.

The total scores on the doors are alleged to be ONE-POINT-TWO BILLION POUNDS!

Of course, Mr Frown and DUP leader Mr (no-doubt-very-soon-to-be-Sir) Peter Robinson DENY that anything was promised to anyone.

Where IS Ms Mandy Rice-Davis when you need her?

"No deals, Mr Frown" sounds like the title for one of those airport-novel James Bond books that Mr Gardener and Mr Benson churned out in the Eighties and Nineties.

Unfortunately, rather than DIABOLICAL MASTERMIND, Mr Frown is more like one of those henchmen who feel no pain because they've had their BRAINS REMOVED!

(And probably left somewhere on one train or another!)

Why? Because this is OBVIOUSLY going to get TRUMPED by the House of Lords Club. So not only will it be hanging around like a BAD SMELL for another YEAR, Mr Frown will need to use the Parliament Act in order to get it though. So he's going to need those DUP votes AGAIN*. And – like ALL blackmailers – you can bet that they will BLEED him DRY for as long as they have a hold over him!

(*Actually, I do not buy the claim that the Labour rebels will be less likely to rebel because it's nearer to a General Election. If anything it's just as likely to make them HARDEN their position because they'll soon be asking for support from the communities that fell most targeted by these measures. On the other fluffy foot, the CONSERVATORIES might suddenly go all wobbly; it just depends which way the wind is blowing when Mr Balloon makes up his mind that day.)

And even if you DO ram it through the Upper House with a Parliament Act battering ram, the Human Rights Select Committee think that it's probably all ILLEGAL anyway!

And another thing! As if all THAT wasn't BAD ENOUGH… a vote with a majority of NINE overturns legislation that says you need a two-thirds majority to get rid of a judge. (Well, actually this is coroners but they OUGHT to have the same protections, frankly.)

Yes, they got that WRETCHED Corruption-of-Coroners legislation that they've been gagging for. Daddy Alex has the full story!

Let me see: Today's Terrorist Bill is brought to you by the letters "CONSTITUTIONAL" and "CRISIS" and by the number "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 2725: Make More of Maths


In the light of the "Reform" Think Tank's pamphlet saying that we'd all be nine BILLION quid better off if we learned more MATHS, the Government is to send Champions of Mathematics into schools to try and improve things. And probably to fight SKELETOR and his Warriors of Innumeracy.

Mr Simon Jenkins writes in the Grauniad to deride the need for maths saying no one ever needs it. Well no one NEEDS to study "Hamlet" or the causes of the English Civil War, but that doesn't mean that studying them isn't a good thing in and of itself.

Learning and the HABIT of learning are GOOD things and to be encouraged.

Meanwhile, the "No SH…stuff Sherlock" award goes to the discovery by Ofsted that tests are boring.

Liberal Democrats would cut the number of tests getting rid of pointless testing at seven and fourteen and slimming down the national curriculum so that schools are able to EDUCATE rather than merely train pupils to jump through the next Ministry hoop.

Day 2722: DOCTOR WHO: Midnight


I'm SORRY, Mr Grand Moff, but Mr Russell has written the BEST EPISODE this year.

(No, I DON'T need to wait until the end; Mr Russell has written all the remaining-to-be-seen episodes too!)

Remember, Daddy Alex and I got to see "Midnight" in ADVANCE!

Millennium Dome at Midnight
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We were just BURSTING to tell Daddy Richard how good it was. Particularly since Daddy Alex could say it was good and then I could say it was good and then Daddy Alex could say it was good and then I could say it was good and then…

You could say that Russell has written a very Moffat script, based around a simple (and invisible) monster drawn from childish games. And yet this is in no way a Moffat story, with no convoluted time structures, no cunning twist ending and the drama being drawn solely from character rather than situation.

"Hell," Sartre tells us, "is other people." And the Doctor certainly discovers that when trapped, like Sartre's (smaller) cast of characters, in a room with "No Exit". (And when the door is opened, no one wants to go though it!) Everything may start perfectly jollily, with the Doctor doing his Doctor thing of chatting to all of the other passengers and getting them to open up and laugh along with him. But there is a dark side to human nature and fear is the tool to uncover it.

It all goes very William Golding, and you almost expect the human pack to start chanting "Kill the Pig! Kill the Pig!" (in unison, of course).

The monster turns out to be almost irrelevant, if it even exists at all, and the Doctor is left deeply wounded by the way his beloved humans have turned on him like rats. Russell admits in the accompanying Confidential that it is also an answer to his own "Voyage of the Damned", the delicious Christmas turkeystuffed with disparate, fragrant characters bonding under stress. Here, things fall apart.

Separating the Doctor from Donna for this story is very clever, and not just for the logistics of filming fourteen (fifteen in fact) episodes without killing your lead actors. Taking away his companion is very much the first step in taking away the Doctor's voice, taking away his identity. Like a god with no one to believe in him, he is weakened by being alone.

And to take the tenth Doctor's voice is a particular cruelty; his verbosity and linguistic prestidigitation are as defining of his character as the boggling stare was for the fourth, the bombast for the sixth or the amnesia for the eighth. If you had to sum him up, you would say that he's the Doctor with all the catchphrases. "I'm sorry; I'm so sorry." "Allons-y!" "No. No, don't do that." "Molto Bene!" The tenth Doctor has been repeating himself for ages; no wonder he's so undone by someone else doing it back at him.

And yet, it's those very verbal tics that save him too. When they come tripping out of Sky Silvestry's possessed mouth, they give her away as the real villain.

Assuming, of course, she really is possessed and not just diabolically dangerous and off her nut.

A lot of what happens here is so reminiscent of a poltergeist haunting: the tapping, the objects thrown around, the scary voices. The usual pseudo-scientific explanation of poltergeist activity is that rather than a genuine external spirit, it is the latent psychic talent of someone very much alive being activated by some trauma – often a teenage (i.e. hormonally charged) girl gets the finger pointed, but anyone under extreme stress could be the one.

It's a tour de force performance from Russell's old mate Lesley Sharp. Initially she's interesting in the way that she makes Sky so cold and stand-offish, even when opening up to the Doctor. It's a performance that hints at secrets – and note the inconsistencies in Sky's story: she tells the Doctor that she was dumped and her partner left for a distant galaxy, but she's the one who is travelling and when terrified her fear is that her ex would come to get her.

This is actually one of Russell's idées fix idées fixes. In "everyday" drama it is quite common to understand that not everyone tells the truth all the time, that the characters are fallible and unreliable and the audience needs to remember to compensate for that. And yet in science fiction, we tend to assume that what people tell us is true. (Of course, the reason for that is that we are trying to build a picture of the world and we don't necessarily have anything against which to judge the truth value of statements when we don't even know what colour the sky is meant to be.) But Russell likes to toy with that, have characters in unreal settings still behave as though it's Albert Square and not the planet Midnight.

Notice that we actually see the Doctor lie. He tells several lies, in fact, not just his usual psychic paper "I can go anywhere" fibs. He tells everyone in the cabin that everything is going to be fine, even though he's been in the cockpit and knows that there is no explanation for why they've stopped. And, of course, he lies about his name, which – when you're talking identity – is about as fundamental a lie as you can get.

And other characters lie too. We automatically filter the bland platitudes of the hostess, but remember the way that Doctor Hobbes is constantly bluffing people that he knows what he is talking about, or that after the events Val Cane says "I said it was her" – a blatant untruth. (And earns the Doctor a "Best ever 'giving her evils' seen in Doctor Who" award as a result!)

So bear in mind that we can't really be sure what Sky Silvestry's real back story is. We don't know what she's running away from and she could be cause as much as victim here.

(The only thing counting against that is the "shadow" that Trainee Engineer Claude thinks he sees from the cockpit. If that is real, then you might argue that it's all the Doctor's fault for opening the windows and letting the mimic be seen and by inference see in return. But, no, because "something" has already somehow stopped the truck. Mind you, their journey takes them through the Winter Witch Canyon – or possibly doesn't: Driver Joe's dialogue seems to contradict the map on screen – which once again both suggests the supernatural and points the finger at the very-Wicca-named Sky.)

But then she is almost the last word in creepy from the moment the lights come back on after the crash. Lesley Sharpe does that same thing that Derek Jacobi did last year when the Professor became the Master, that little change of the body language to say "I'm evil now". And by the climax, her apotheosis with the Doctor's voice spilling from her mouth, she's almost sensuously loving it, the power of the spoken word driving the other people to chaos, horror and murder. She is the devil and she does the devil's work. As much as an answer to "Voyage of the Damned" this is a reply to "The Satan Pit" too; this is the sort of conclusion that that story should have had.

Speaking of the Devil, Professor Hobbes, suggests to me Hobbs (Hob's) Lane from "Quatermass and the Pit", a place where unseen aliens caused human telekinesis to run amok. (Though in fairness, Alex thought of "Nasty, brutish and short" as Hobbes' critique of lifeapplies equally to the humans trapped with the Doctor here.) In the same vein, the Cane family, of course, are reminiscent of the Biblical first murderer, who betrayed his brother.

In a story about words and language, names are clearly important: the Doctor's refusal to give his own real name gets him deeper into trouble, and things are underlined by the revelation that nobody bothered to ask the hostess her name. Along the way we have the Doctor trying to form an (ill-advised) bond with a woman named Sky, just after discovering a woman named River in his future and with a woman named Rose shouting at him from the screen behind his back. Presumably Miss Fire is on her way.

The Doctor is normally like the TARDIS: no, not "square" and "blue"; he manages to blend in. Even without waving the psychic paper around he always usually manages to convince people to trust him. But – again like the TARDIS – that's a disguise, a lie if you like. It's long been suspected, particularly in the New Adventures, that this is something that he does, either by doing something Time Lord-y to the local probabilities or through the old telepathic circuits. But whether it's a Time Lord super-power – in his "biodata" if you're "Mad" Larry – or a part of the TARDIS or just natural charisma, here we see that talent unravelling.

It's not that he's an amateur; as a Time Lord he's a professional at this. But whatever he encounters here, it, whatever "it" is, is a natural. Or maybe, even worse, it is as he feared learning from him and mimicking his ability to control how the humans around him perceive and relate to him.

The story's roots go back to the Classic Series. Doctor Who Confidential cites "The Deadly Assassin" (for the Doctor without companion story), and who wouldn't – it's not just David Tennant's favourite story; it's Alex's as well. (Mine is "The Curse of Fenric" and there's quite enough of that in the mix too!) But whatever Confidential says, it's obvious that it's much more similar to "The Edge of Destruction" aka "Inside the Spaceship". Even superficially it's true, with the claustrophobic all-in-one-set location (with food machine and doors that open onto white void). But much more than that: both "The Edge of Destruction" and "Midnight" are exercises in paranoia, where fears real and imagined drive ordinary people to behaving in terrible ways. When they need to pull together, all they can do is fall apart, and words which should be their allies serve only to make them more afraid. They even share the key moment of psychological horror: "it could have gone into one of us". This is, almost by definition, talky.

It is an "impossible" play – you'd never be able to do the synchronous speeches or the repetition of the root of pi for real – and yet, and here we come back to Sartre, it's very much an eight-people-on-a-set set piece. The direction – Alice Troughton, no relation – is excellent, selling the illusion of sounds moving around the cabin by shifting of camera angles; using quick cuts from the rest of the cast to Lesley Sharp and back to play up the repetition. But this is an actor's piece, it's all about drawing out those emotions; feeling that journey; suffering and learning with the characters.

And like the violin concerto that requires a virtuoso, this script calls for all of David Tennant's talents.

It is, of course, a magnificent piece of work by Tennant. Alex says that the thing that he does best is suffer, and does he ever give us suffering here, broken and voiceless but still not giving in, fighting to hold on to one more second even if it's by catching his foot on a chair to make it a moment more difficult to drag him out. And in one of the most downbeat conclusions of the new series, he is a hollowed out Doctor, no longer filled with the joy in words that began him, bubbling with language back in "The Christmas Invasion".

Last thought: is it really just a coincidence that the Doctor was on he way to see a Sapphire Waterfall… that would be a cascade of Blue Crystals…

Next time… All the prophesies are coming true: Rose is returning; the Doctor's song is over; and… OHMYGOD is that a Metebelis Spider?! The Doctor has stopped and every star is going dim. "Turn Left".

Outpost Gallifrey comes up TRUMPS with the question: "How would any of the OTHER Dr Whos have survived on Midnight?" My particular favourite answer was the suggestion that the monster would simply EXPLODE when it tried to repeat Mr Doctor Sylv saying "rrrrrrround the rrrrrrugged rrrrrrocks the rrrragged rrrrrrascal rrrrrrraaaaan!!!!"