Saturday, 31 May 2014

Women, Money and Debt in 18th Century Novels - Part 1, Introduction

Looking at the prevailing obsession with money, the getting and managing of it (and what happens when you can’t pay your debts), in eighteenth century English literature – with specific reference to female heroines in Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724); Henry Fielding’s Amelia (1751), and Fanny Burney’s Cecilia (1782).


I’ve grown up rather bad with money.  It stems from not having much of it as a child, and then reacting unrealistically to credit when I was advanced it as a teen in my first job.  I’ve struggled between what I want, need and using emotional shopping to fill the places of other needs.  I’ve paid debts of others, wantonly borrowed money and not paid it back myself, and suffered from the financial vagaries of partners.  It meant, that when I came to do my MA in eighteenth century English literature, that I did what all my group did – we all, interestingly, picked a subject to examine through literature, that we were obsessed with in our private lives.  I picked money, and women, and debt.  How you imagine through money (which equals choice) that you can be free.  Money can free you – but it can also enslave you. 

Imagine how either of these things would be even moreso true in a less enlightened age.  Go back 200 or 300 years.  When women were still more or less property of men; where their money if middle class or above, was not really their own, unless they were very strong and independent.  If they were working class or just on the cusp of middle class, their choices became visceral and limited quite quickly.  And just like today; who you were with affected your chances in life too – if your husband was bad with money, or your father had not provided for his daughters (Jane Austen of course comes to mind), then you’d find your options extremely limited very quickly.

I re-read my dissertation recently, and whilst it was victim to some necessarily awful yawny academic writing, it did still have some good points to make on the subject of women, money and debt and how these things affected your private and public life – and indeed, if you even managed a public life.  It also had a lot to say about the professed and received opinions of that era on the subject of women and money: socio-cultural background stuff.  I found all this interesting – I hope you will too. (Speaking of yawny awful academic writing, this will be the subject of a soon to be posted Things That Annoy Me post - you need to read some of this post before I post that, or you won't be annoyed enough!)

So I’ve re-written it a touch (only a touch), edited and changed bits.  It’s now a shorter, but hopefully still interesting essay, in several parts that I’ll put up as a continuing series, footnoted for those of you able to run off to a proper university and check stuff if you feel the need (though some of these books are so out of print, or had such small academic runs, they are virtually impossible to find and unheard of since their original publication; or have been republished changed, expanded or shaven, under different titles, or had only bits taken and added to other publications as essays).  Here’s part 1 – the tying it all together Abstract bit.  ‘Abstract’ is another word for the introduction – remember what you were told in school: say what you’re going to say; say it; then say what you said.  Intro, meaty middle, conclusion. 

NB - Whilst you would expect me to make reference to loads of other novels of the age that are also relevant – Defoe’s Moll Flanders (what a woman, she’s on my list of people I wish to be more like); the works of Ann Radcliffe (who had much to say about financially imperilled females behind all that gothic window dressing); Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa would be massively relevant here (rape, kidnap and imprisonment, stealing – one of the best villains in eighteenth century literature, because he is so well rounded, you understand the hell out of him yet still, he cannot be saved), and Henry Fielding’s more famous and rollicking Tom Jones…I won’t be.  I had to confine myself due to strict word limit, to the books I mention in the subject title.  And I’ve not done any extra research for this rewrite – I’ve just Blackberry Juniper’ed it somewhat, and rendered it slightly conversational more than academic (whilst retaining the footnotes). 

Also, I really fancied doing something educational, historical and book based, after all the modern TV and books I’ve been looking at the last year or so.

Lastly – oi!!!, students who found this via searching the net!  Don’t think about nicking this for your uni homework unless you reference me, and drop me a comment to tell me you’ve done so – its mine – blood, sweat and tears wrote the original stuffy dreadful document back in 2004 – I’ve got ownership of the original doc lodged with the Open University and I’ve left enough of the original intact that plagiarism will be noted across any national databases, as well as the footnotes pattern!  Beware! 

ABSTRACT – how the issues are relevant to Roxana, Amelia and Cecilia

The economy and social order in what was not quite yet the United Kingdom as we know it today, were in transition in the eighteenth century.  Each of the heroines of the 3 books engages with the new economic realities of credit and debt, business and charity: all of which were changed by the emergent market economy.  I’ll show you their experiences through abandonment, marriage and singlehood – noting that each woman experiences an absolute dependency on the issue of whether their fate and their personal finances are theirs to control.  In this context, money is THE issue for each woman, despite differing circumstances.

Roxana is shown to be vastly successful financially but to pay a terrible personal cost.  Adrift from her class and gender moorings as a result of being abandoned by her husband, and with several children to support, she is catapulted through dire need into a decision to become a prostitute.  This leads her to a discovery that she is extremely adept at managing and increasing her money.  She confuses this success with happiness for a while, but gradually slides into increasing personal ruthlessness; leading to her to collude in the possible murder of one of her own children (there’s a reason for that, its not just a cut throat decision).  The growth of the market economy and its harsh effect on females (for this activity is societally designated male) who try to take part in its more lucrative aspects is sadly shown by the eventual fate of Roxana.

The market economy brought with it possibilities both for incredible wealth – and serious debt.  Amelia is the wife of hapless ex-soldier Booth, who is unable to manage his family’s money at all.  The effects on Amelia, as a conduct-book perfect example of what a wife was considered to be at the time, are serious.  Booth is imprisoned several times, for debt, leaving Amelia at the mercy of self-serving and rapacious ‘friends’.  The corrupt public sphere, which Amelia is eventually forced to enter, is a dangerous place for a woman – she is unprotected by a man, and consequently, her presence can be (and is) misinterpreted to her detriment.  Amelia ventures out from the private sphere only once in any real way, and despite a vital action that saves both the family’s financial future and takes control of her own presentation as the Ideal Wife, she retreats again immediately, content with her small gains.

Cecilia fights a terrible battle to remain exactly where she is to begin with (a single heiress with modest dreams of philanthropy), and fails badly.  Though she begins an heiress, this apparent advantage does nothing to guarantee her any form of meaningful autonomy and control of her life – or her finances.  She is plagued throughout the book, by debts entered into as acts of mercy toward others; which skew her original philanthropic monetary intentions.  At the same time, she is pursued by both fortune hunters and her own guardians – all of whom are convinced the she (as the repository of her fortune) should be under their (male) control.  She is seen as a vehicle for the ambitions of men, and despite her common sense and good nature, is eventually stripped of her entire fortune and left as an adjunct to a male: just a wife, no money, no personal choice or independence.

I’ll show you that love entanglements complicate each of these women’s financial fate, linking to the prevailing doctrine of the time for private and public spheres – and which gender should be in each.  I conclude that money is part of a wider discourse of female negotiation of their culturally assigned zones[1].  Its use and manipulation is part of an attempt to free themselves from class and gender signifiers.  However, this transition to more freedom for women was underway, but by no means established as anything remotely the norm – these novels show a public attitude in both of the men that wrote, and the female that experienced, of what happens when you push out from the private (home) to the public (work and commerce) sphere.  It’s dangerous.  Many women lost everything.

“Money, like the weather,” suggests period historian Edward Copeland, “is the one topic of which every novel [of the 18th century] has an opinion.”[2] Its true, I did find, from my extensive reading of 18th century novels, that matters of personal finance relating especially to female principal protagonists was rife – much moreso than about even 50 years previous. 

I decided to use the 3 novels noted (Roxana, Amelia, Cecilia) because I think they show detailed representations of financial concerns running the course of the century: from early, to middle, to late, respectively.  Each of the 3 novels relentlessly defines its heroine in financial terms.  The vagaries of their finances test their limits and create their future fate. 

Let’s examine the growth of the market economy in the 18th century more – it’s key here (and will be discussed in depth in the Roxana section – coming up next post in this series).  Andrew Varney believes that this was the single largest factor affecting presentation of characters in fiction written in this period, with Daniel Defoe at the vanguard of showing protagonists “negotiating their lives in the flux of money transitions and exchanges”.[3]  Defoe chose to engage his fiction with these realities, creating Roxana as a heroine in a pivotal moment in history: an economic individualist, a wife, a mother, a prostitute. I’ll explain in her section how she deals with these conflicting roles (mostly by sublimating that of mother, as it conflicts the most with the rest).  I’ll show also how she amasses great wealth on her psychological journey.  And that though she is completely driven by financial imperatives, she suffers from increasing qualms, paranoia, and a lack of ability to engage in personal relationships of any depth.  Varney notes that this “new culture of cash, credit and investment business” was a form of “social disordering” – especially for women.[4]  The clash of roles becomes too great for her: leading to the likely murder of one of her own children, who nearly exposes her earlier job as prostitute.  Finally she is brought low again – and whilst from the way he tells her story, I do not think Defoe meant this ending to condemn her, I think it does serve as a reminder of what could happen to an enterprising and clever female who pushes the bounds of the then male world too far.  He couldn’t let her not suffer for her actions…

Amelia is an altogether different kind of heroine.  Much put upon by her feckless husband, though an idealised loving wife.  The novel is essentially the story of Amelia’s married life, and concerns her family’s fall into debt and increasing penury.  Her husband is repeatedly imprisoned in debtor’s gaol, witnessing “phantasmagoric sequence[s] of judicial malpractice and criminal misery”.[5] The scenes of Amelia trying to cope frugally, alone – and those of Booth, discovering that prison life can be very expensive, are analysed in depth, showing the complete control of money issues over the life of the couple.  In addition, in his periods of freedom, Amelia is practically held ransom by her husband’s inability to manage money at all.  In the end, it does fall to her to save the family from poverty and the snares of their so-called friends.  Her subsequent retiring to the country, gratefully and quietly, feels contrived by the author – and has been noted as such by several critics and commentators.  James Thompson observes that if all writers in the eighteenth century, Fielding most consistently “imagined domestic space as a haven in a heartless world”, adding that he rigorously places “disturbing or disruptive matters such as politics, money, property [and] wage labour” as “nondomestic and disposed of elsewhere”.[6] I’ll examine how Fielding suggests the corruption of ‘elsewhere’ may be dealt with: unearthing ambiguous results.  The danger of the city environment compared with the country, is highlighted (another social norm of the time, idealising the country and its ‘traditional values’ over the newer town and its temptations and degradations).  This makes the removal of the Booths to the country a necessity for long-term happiness and financial security – that would seem normal to the readers of the time, those accepting the status quo, and Fielding seems to have felt secure in himself that this was the ‘right’ ending for Amelia.

Whilst Amelia’s problems are at base caused by a lack of money, Cecilia’s are caused by an excess of it.  Catherine Keohane notes the reason:  “Cecilia struggles to meet her social duties – struggling not for a lack of means, but due to complications induced by the normalization of debtedness”.[7] 

Does that ring a 21st century bell for anyone…?? The debt system as we know it now: loans, debt collectors, bailiffs, debts being sold on to other people etc – has existed since early Elizabethan times – but debt as our age really knows it, came into its own in the eighteenth century.  Only with the ending of debtors’ prisons in the late Victorian era, though they persisted in one form or other by other names into the early 20th century; did things materially change.  But other than debtors prison, even comfortable middle class families were no stranger to debt and the debt system, from the earliest eighteenth century.

Cecilia is completely concerned with financial issues, namely debt, charity and inheritance complications (this last later echoed in Dicken’s wonderful overkill on the subject, Bleak House of 1853).  Cecilia is an extremely rich heiress.  However, in order to marry, she must find a husband willing to accept her maiden name or she loses all her fortune (fiendish).  Whilst the premise sounds a little reminiscent of a fairy tale, the events that overcome Cecilia end up more like nightmare.  She is surrounded by rapacious characters in a dangerous urban environment.  She cannot trust even those supposed to be her guardians.  She loses an entire section of her fortune in misguided attempts to help others by paying their debts.  Her attempts at controlling her own money are repeatedly frustrated, resulting in more and more of it being spent, until on her marriage – to an impoverished aristocrat who refuses to give up his name – she loses what remains.  Emotional strain of all the conflicting demands and lack of control over her own fate, despite much striving, causes her to have a breakdown.  The aftermath of this seems to leave her shrunken somehow, in both aspirations and lifestyle – and in an echo of Defoe’s consignment of Roxana to irreversible poverty, Cecilia is left in a quiet world of broken dreams and conventionality.  Margaret Anne Doody, an eminent Burney scholar, believes the crux of the novel is the heroine’s “confrontation of the problem of when and how she should act for herself”[8], and that this is deliberately left unresolved.  I would agree.

Issues of independence from the private sphere and from male financial control unite all 3 novels.  While Roxana becomes a mistress of speculative investment, both Amelia and Cecilia suffer the consequences of credit and debt – though it can be argued Roxana pays for her skill in lump-sum, at the close of the book.  The lives of all 3 women are entirely dictated by the conflict between the choices they made in love, and the harsh realities of financial necessity.  Copeland puts it succinctly: “the economic lives of women in the novels emerge as part of a general picture of women’s economic disability”[9].  The ways they deal with these conflicts provides the meat for analysis, as each woman has differing circumstances. 

However, I hope to show they all share a common financial burden: though all strive for control, only the heroine that willingly relinquishes it – Amelia – really has any long term success and actual happiness within her marriage: in the eighteenth century, it seems authors were not yet able to allow their heroines to have both love and personal financial control.  That battle continued to be fought through the nineteenth century.

Next part of this series: Roxana and the Culture of Trade – “Expert in it, as any She-Merchant”…Next month sometime, this will come.  Hope you found the introductory section useful, history and lit lovers.

[1] Don’t you just love that sentence?  It does make sense but you have to read it twice.  That’s academic writing for you! And just the sort of thing I'll be talking about in my Things That Annoy Me upcoming post!
[2] Edward Copeland, Women Writing About Money: Women’s Fiction in England, 1790-1820 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p.7.
[3] Andrew Varney, Eighteenth Century Writers in Their World (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1999), pp.65, 68.
[4] Varney, p.68.
[5] Claude Rawson, ‘Henry Fielding,’ in the Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth Century Fiction, ed. John Richetti (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.120-152 (p.126).
[6] James Thompson, Models of Value: Eighteenth Century Political Economy and the Novel (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996), p.22.
[7] Catherine Keohane, ‘“Too Neat For A Beggar”: Charity and Debt in Burney’s Cecilia’, in Studies in the Novel, 33 (2001), pp.379-401 (p.380).
[8] Margaret Anne Doody, Frances Burney: The Life in the Works (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1988), p.113.
[9] Copeland, p.1.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Walking Dead TV Series, and other zombie films, its an apocalypse NOW...

Its funny, I’ve never been as into the whole zombie apocalypse idea as everyone else seems to be.  I’ve been amazed that it continues and continues, more films year after year.  I mean, there have been zombie films I’ve always loved, in my horror buff way – the Romero franchise likely comes to mind (the original 3 that is, after that, it all got a bit derivative).  And of course  - I love the Italians of the 70s, and they do a horror and a zombie unlike anyone else. But The Walking Dead is a phenomenon (and one I came to late, as I do tend to - I get there when other people have stopped talking, usually).  I can see the roots of it, and I can see why its different from what came before.  Here's my rambly thoughts.

To begin, here's a short list of some of my favourite zombie films of the past, in absolutely no order whatsoever, other than to put the Romero franchise first because it influenced all the others that came after in one way or other, the first one in particular for the Italians; the second one for the way the US film industry has viewed zombies ever since:

  • Night of the Living Dead (1969) – what a wonderful social commentary, and the black guy was shot at the end because he was black and the white guys were rednecks – not because they thought he was a zombie, anymore than they thought he was a troublemaker because he was black!  That always hits me very hard, that point – it worries me about the prejudices we all hold, for one group of people or another, for whatever reason…
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) – more blissful social commentary, about how we're all zombies in a consumer hell...that’s why we like the zombie stuff so much, we all want to think we're in the band of plucky survivors; truth being, we're all still asleep on our feet...watching TV, not living our lives…Also, a brilliant group performance by all the leads, especially Ken Forees.
  • Day of the Dead (1985) – my least favourite of the trilogy, but still possessed of some very good ideas, though the only likeable character IMO is a zombie, the poor Bub.
  • The House By the Cemetery (1981) – I LOVE a Fulci and this is my favourite.  Everyone says the Dr Freudstein (yes, right, ehem) that we see at the end is a zombie, and I suppose he is – but what this film really is, is a very nasty gory haunted house film, with some memorable creepy child performances, and a very dreamlike druggy ending that reinforces the ghost theme.  It’s bleak.  I love it.
  • Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971) – memorably gross in a way only Euro horrors can be!  I am referring to the set up of a mother and her very strange pre teen son, who are too close in terms of breastfeeding.  The exceptionally creepy son, who has now turned, is alone in a room with his mother – she doesn’t run – he eats her, starting with his usual favourite place.  Gratuitous.  Gothic, and very atmospheric – you have to be in the right mood, but if you are, this is a strange and disturbing film. 
  • Nightmare City(1980) – an Italian-Spanish co-production and possibly one of the most depressing zombie films ever made.  Some lurid sequences, of great garish Euro-silliness (the workout studio massacre); and a suicide at the end that makes you think you might do the same in the situation, even if it does involve jumping out of a helicopter and bumping on things on the way down; ouch.  Also has a strange - 'it was all a dream, no it wasn't' ending, which only emphasizes the GRIM.
  • Antropophagus: The Beast (1980)/ The Grim Reaper (1980) – not strictly zombie films, again, but an extremely menacing and cannibalistic and unstoppable creature.  I think Joe D’Amato is underrated – he should have spent much less time working as a director in hardcore porn and more doing horror, I reckon. (Porn as a genre I cannot overemphasize when talking about horror of the 70’s in particular – they are incredibly closely linked in camera work, female focus and brutality – fascinating and very disturbing if you look into it, but if you’re into horror of that era, you cannot miss the parallels).
  • Zombi 2 (1979) – Fulci, in my opinion, dominates the zombie genre, for classic non US films.  This is the one with the weird shark fighting underwater with zombie scene; it’s the one with the uncut version that shows the famous Fulci obsession with eyes getting poked out.  It’s the one where at the end, zombies hit mainland USA, staggering about over the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s been seen so many times, people overlook it now.  But it’s oddly hard hitting, if so gory as to make you disbelieve…
  • City of the Living Dead (1980) – another Fulci gorefest: this one memorable for the beautifully intense and minimal soundtrack (why does no one ever comment on it??), and the intestine regurgitation scene (about which many apochyphal stories abound).  This again, is VERY bleak, you would not want to live in the world as it is by the end.
  • Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) – one of the weirdest takes on the zombie tropes that have developed that there is.  Never look at Rupert Everett the same way again…This film is almost heartbreakingly sad and existential.
  • The Fog (1979) – those pirates are zombies aren’t they??  Just because this is another one that seems cross genre, in that its sort of ghostified…its interesting that zombie films rarely seem supernatural, they are so often about infection, and science; as if the reanimation of the dead were not a very strange thing, and therefore likely to be considered supernatural.  The soundtrack and camera work make this film; as does Jamie Lee Curtis, of course.
  • 28 Days Later (2002) – IMO The best zombie film of recent years.  Cillian Murphy, to the tune of In the house in a Heartbeat, taking down an entire military installation to save his friends held prisoner at the end, is one of the most perfect sequences in a film, I have ever seen.  The ruthlessness of humans married to the unstoppableness of the Infected…I get shivers every time I watch it.

     At what point are you alive but dead, because of what you will do?  When is civilisation over?  When there is no one to read the books, or write them?  The Walking Dead borrows from this film and its ideas, as well as from Romero’s starter, and the bleakness and grossness of the Italian offerings.

Now, several things to note with this list.  I’ve left off hundreds, of course.  There’s a thin line between zombie (dead rise up), infected (sick rise up), and possessed (supernatural forces, religious or general, cause bodies to rise up be they dead or not) films.    I haven’t included any of the early greats, like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (Germany, 1920), White Zombie (1932), or I Walked with a Zombie (1943).  Or later weirdnesses, like Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), Psychomania (1971), or Reanimator (1985). (Lovecraft stuff walks a very odd line between several horror genres; it has also sprouted its own semi religion, within today’s chaos magick, in some circles.)

The thing that most of these on my list have in common is the immensely sad and depressing picture of human nature they paint.  By the end of most of these films the characters are either, dead, wish to be, are about to be, or haven’t got long to live – in a world that is entirely no longer theirs in any way.  It’s worse than any war zone, and its relentless, it doesn’t stop.  Its bleak bleak bleak

Enter The Walking Dead (2010 – still going).  Its bleak, it’s relentless, it Does Not Stop.  But.  The picture of human nature it paints is far more layered and interesting, due to the time it has to expand it, than has previously been able to be explored within this horror sub genre.  Sure, the characters have to do awful things, every week, to survive (and some can’t, and they don’t last long).  You are shown characters all obviously suffering from violent forms of PTSD, some of them becoming grandiose and delusional – and it’s all completely understandable.  Just as Romero managed to do some nifty (if arguably heavy handed) social analysis with his franchise; The Walking Dead manages to show what it would be like if you did survive, into this bleak new world, for any length of time.  The apocalypse ceases to be the end of the thing; and becomes the new reality.  How do you choose to live?  How do your children become?  Are your water sources and soil terminally polluted with whatever goo the zombies extrude that makes them infected (a matter, granted, they skim over, but it’ll come back, I’m sure)? What social structures arise?  There are moral dilemmas all the time. 

The thing that keeps this series going (I can’t speak for its original source, the comic books, as I haven’t read them) is clever plotting, and character growth.  Between those 2 things, and an enemy that is still here, it reminds me a lot of the original seminal series Survivors (by Terry Nation of Dr Who fame, 1975) – watch it if you haven’t; and be prepared to argue with your partner about farming methods and electrification as if your life depended on it!!  They dealt with a post apocalyptic situation, but the disease outbreak that decimates the world’s population is over; whereas in The Walking Dead scenario it is still going, so many of the things the characters try to do to create a new society are constantly undermined by the basic need for food and safety.  They can’t adjust, the threat is still present.

All in all, for a gruesome gorefest (and it is, and I’m an old school gorehound); it is one of the most thought provoking series about human nature I’ve seen in a long time.  More than just horror, way more.  (Also – some very good tunes. Blackbird Song, anyone…)

Some thoughts on each series below, from 1-4.  I’ve concentrated more on series 4, as the latest, than any others, as it’s the one most UK readers will remember most clearly, having only just been with us…all thoughts only IMO, so don’t go getting mad and leaving rude comments!

  1. The Walking Dead Season 1
    I thought of watching it because Andrew Lincoln is English, and I think he's always been incredibly underrated: he's never had enough to do in the homegrown parts we've given him - and always such a nice guy, only.  Watched with Fry, as something to absorb us on my last visit to him.  We didn’t know what was about to hit us!  A concept I thought was old and tired and couldn’t possibly go on for many series’ as it has without significant use of flashbacks…how wrong was I?  Its all about moral choices, who you are, who you choose to be, who you can afford to be in a violent and brutal new world.  What’s important, what will you protect, and how will you do that.  It started off all 28 Days Later (person wakes up and its all already happened, they have to learn to survive).This series had a very light touch compared to later ones, but it was gripping from the very first.  And I saw quickly that it’s ruthless with its characters – almost anyone can die.  Which is good.  Creates realism within the situation.  ADDICTIVE.  And why is Norman Reedus asDaryl Dixon [and his crossbow] not EVERYONE’S favourite character????!!!)

  2. The Walking Dead Season 2
    (This really kicked off, and I think it’s the best season so far.  Many of the original characters are still there; they are on the road.  All the way through, Rick and Shane, almost brothers, are fighting.  Shane loves Lori; Lori is with Rick.  Shane is realist through terror and is prepared to do terrible things to protect what he sees as his; what he imagines Rick cannot or will not stand up to protect to the degree Shane would. 

    No matter what else happened in this series, it was actually run on a powerhouse performance by Jon Bernthal, who stole the entire thing.  I agreed with almost all his terror driven choices – showing perhaps what an unpleasant person I might end up being in this situation.  Though I really got where Rick was coming from too.  Holding onto any kind of principles in this situation would be fiendish, if you wanted to live. 

    I can’t really comment on other characters in this series, because the arc was so dominated by Shane, Ric and Lori.  Except to say I got where Lori was coming from too, but I think she handled everything very badly indeed, and made a difficult situation much worse than it need have been.  I also found her sanctimonious and sexist [that argument with Andrea in the kitchen about roles of women post apocalypse, grrrrr]. 

    Even though Shane clearly had to die, it was built up and built up, and its clear that so far at least, Rick is the one character who cannot be sacrificed to the plot drive…when Shane did die I was still hugely shocked, because I didn’t think Rick had it in him.  I loved this series. 

    The one problem: its women are written ambiguously and I’d say badly – they are all mean to the men, so far, and unrealistically engaged with the situation in one way or other.  Except Andrea.)

  3. The Walking Dead Season 3
    (I thought this season was weaker than season 2.  Partly it lacked Shane.  Partly they were trying to stay in one place and I preferred them on the road together.  But there were great strengths too – the ruthless, callous killing off of cast members was quite something, even 2 major members in one episode.  That really did up the stakes.  This was the season that had Carl kill his own mother, where we lost T Dog.  And others.  It was where Carol started a very interesting and later to bear fruit, character arc.  It was where Fry fell in love with The Governor [my son does love a baddie]. 

    That was an interesting character.  I didn’t quite GET him.  I got Shane completely, hence I was thrilled and fascinated by him; but I didn’t get The Governor quite so much.  He was more of a cardboard twirly moustache villain, for me.  He was there to contrast with Rick’s attempts to stay principled [much as Hershel was there in a different way, for the same purpose in season 2].  I didn’t quite buy The Governor’s hatred of Rick and all he stood for. 

    I did get his hatred of Michonne – who was almost the niftiest thing about this entire series.  I LOVED her.  Though it’s never explained how she became so handy with a sword – and made it a bit comic booky [fantastical, in an annoying way].  I would have liked more background to her.  We do get some in season 4, but it actually contradicts the only one line of background we get from her in season 3 here [“they weren’t human to begin with” – about her chained walkers]…there were some very good episodes indeed here, and a couple of fillers. 

    Still immensely obsessing and addictive though.  Can’t stop thinking about the characters, really wondering about them and how they live, develop.  So whilst there may be faults – I’m hugely overinvested…so they are writing some bits of this, like angels.)

  4.  The Walking Dead Season 4
    (I would say this was the weakest series so far.  But it had some stand up episodes in it, and some stand up bits of episodes [e.g. I thought the finale had a back to front feel – there was an extremely emotional and shocking set of events right at the beginning of the episode; that do, yes, lead up to the last thing Rick says in the episode to set the tone for the next series…on the other hand – I felt it finished like a sudden blue afternoon going overcast and you have to come inside just when you were getting comfortable ‘cos its gone all damp and chilly….it lost atmosphere at quite a rate]. 

    The idea of a disease sweeping through the prison, coupled with the fact you turn into a zombie when you die whether you are bitten/ scratched or not [which as you’ll recall, in modern zombie tropes, is how it all began in the first place – you just reanimate and its never entirely explained why to begin with] was a very good one.  They needed an enemy not only within, but NOT zombies to break up the admittedly wonderful-and-I-was-very-happy-for-them-for-2-seconds-before-I-realised-it-all-HAD-to-go-west-or-we-have-no-plot-development-at-all….and that was a perfect vehicle.  Without modern medicine…?  I learned elderberry tea can bring down a fever.  I love when TV teaches me stuff! 

    This series suffered in that there was only 1 major character death, and one semi major character death – it didn’t have that ruthlessness season 3 had.  Too many people got out of tight situations [E.G. not to mention my favourite character, Daryl, astonishingly escaping a small windowless room at the bottom of the stairs in a house completely overrun by zombies – that was ingenious…and also a bit stupid.  E.G. As was the bit when Hershel gets beheaded, and Rick opens fire with a pistol and is fired back on by people with semi automatics who are quite close to him – and he makes it to shelter – I didn’t buy that at all.  That could have been written better, to make me believe it more.  E.G. When Daryl is supposedly getting kicked to death in the finale – and it went on long enough that he should have lost some teeth and broken some ribs; and had some internal bleeding – but no, he hops up and the action continues – that also, needed to have been done better]. 

    As for Michonne, I was most interested in her character development…but I’m in two minds as to how it went.  I felt she sort of lost her edge a bit, though I liked her relationship with Carl, and her realising she thought of these people as family, and did not in fact want to be alone when everything went wrong at the prison and they all ended up separated.

    Quick note: as the situation goes on and on, time passes, and these zombies do not starve to death – I am noticing that they have stopped looking for the most part, like modern zombies – that sort of modern make up, with emphasis on possessed-ish eyes and mouth bleeding makeup; they are starting to look more like old school Lucio Fulci zombies of the 70s – very rotting, very skeletal, in some cases, and very very wormy.  I quite like this development of the zombie look, it acknowledges the course of time.

    Why was I not more surprised and shocked when the lunatic child killed her sister??  Why was I not more saddened when she had to be executed by Carol [and if anyone is up to a vigilante execution, it is her] – why wasn’t Tyreese more shocked?  I think the only factor changing this from other slightly similar situations in the series [when Rick exiled Carol for a vigilante decision], is that there was a baby involved.  Which brings me to…

    The baby.  Is surviving.  I feel this is very unrealistic.  She must have run out of formula ages ago; babies get sick – I am not kidding you here – a lot, and I bet they haven’t got lots of Calpol (US equivalent).  The baby would make a lot more noise than they are showing – she is one of those ridiculously well behaved unrealistic TV babies.  This sentimental angle to the plot annoys me.  I think Lori was wrong to keep the baby in the first place – an adult is more useful and viable in that situation than a noisy and prone to sickness baby [have a baby later, in a more secure situation – I am not one of these ‘we must repopulate the Earth’ sci fi readers; no no no].  See how I am Shane?!!  It was also very unlikely the baby would have survived that flu outbreak, despite quarantine. 

    The most interesting thing about this series is the way the characters have all been separated – and the way I am not enjoying it as much as when they were all on the road in series 1 and for part of series 2.  I am not enjoying that Glenn has grown up to the point he is lacking personality – other than as a Terminator Maggie seeker; I felt Daryl had very limited character development even though they had a lot of time to do it, pairing him oddly with innocent Beth, as they did.  Rick and Carl had an interesting dynamic, and Michonne completed the little family unit.  Tyreese and Carol and the children had the most happen to them and the most tension that we knew about but he didn’t – THAT was well done.  It was also well done that this unit missed the finale, so will be in place at the start of the next series to help sort the mess Rick and the others have got into.

    A small word on the new character that reminds me of Duke Nukem, and his girlfriend who when we first see her, is wearing Total Military Apocalypse Chic [unpractical and very sexy shorts, boots, hair in bunches – as Fry said, “tomb raider ripoff”].  And the scientist that I’m not entirely convinced is real, that they are trying to get to Washington, which may or may not end up a big part of season 5…these characters started off as total sterotypes, and thankfully, got a bit of good development written in before the season ended, so that I liked them before it ended, and believed why they were staying with the other group despite their “more important mission”.  And Tara – I am liking her; though this is possibly due to the fact she really reminds me of a more vulnerable Asia Argento.

    In some ways, I feel this series is starting to slip.  But it is still as absolutely hooking as ever it was.  I’m interested to see where it goes next.  And don’t get me wrong, no matter what flaws I think it has – I NEVER thought the zombie apocalypse idea could ever run this long or go this far [and I know the comic books are up to the 20’s – they’ve still got loads of mileage yet].  And I am still 100% invested in these characters – I love them and I want them to be ok.  Where is Beth?????  For instance….)

Ah well.  I have to wait for Season 5 now, and I won’t touch it till I can eat the whole thing at once, so I’ll be waiting a while.  Just as well, as I was starting to do that gaming too much thing, of seeing zombies out of the corners of my eyes, in streets; I actually thought I saw Carol and Daryl in a coffeeshop the other day.  Delusions and madness – that’s where good writing can get you!!  I am impressed it’s hooked me this much.  I haven’t been this badly affected since The Tudors!

And that’s that.  Enough zombie apocalypse for now…Except to say, a friend sent me these links…see if YOU think it could really happen!

The whole matter wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from The Daily Mail, of course!

Till next time – don’t leave your crossbow at home! You need to learn how to use that thing...

Dr Who Books and Audios Read and Heard, Part 9!

In the Neverending Stooooooory, of BlackberryJuniper’s Dr Who reading/ listening marathon, I give you books and audios from the following Doctors: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 6th and 8th.

Note on Reading Order:
Target Originals – each Doctor’s adventures read in order.  I read all Doctors simultaneously, depending on what mood I’m in. So each Doc will be consecutive for his own stories; but we’ll jump about with which Doc we’re reading.
Virgin New Adventures for Sylvester – read in order.
Virgin Missing Adventures for all Docs – read in whatever order I like, as they are mostly stand alones.
BBC 8th Doctor Adventures – read in order.
BBC Past Doctors Adventures – again, read however I like, as stand alones.

The Readathon has expanded to include Big Finish audios and short story collections, and Telos novellas, Decalogs etc.  I am drawing the line at annuals and comics.  Mostly ‘cos I have to draw it somewhere, but also ‘cos I like to imagine the pictures for myself.


  1. Doctor Who: The Longest Day, by Michael Collier (BBC 8th Doctor Series)
    (This books premise – that of a planet used as a dump for rebels, and other crap, and broken into different time zones, all of which are slowly breaking down for more than one reason, reminded me strongly of a fond idea I have been cruelly  - yet practically – nurturing for some time.  Which is that instead of testing drugs on animals, we should always test them on humans; notably, humans who are in prison for life for very violent offences.  It should be part of the punishment, that you have this to look forward to and that you might die in agony, being useful to society despite yourself.  Now, like my penchant for thinking we should still have capital punishment – which Stanley is always painstakingly talking me out of – and I ALWAYS see his point of view at the time, but then revert to my own when made upset by something on the news…this book made me think twice about my testing policy.  Its not that testing was a large part of this plot; nope, it was a very minor subplot in some ways, though leading to  large character development [Nashad: “Look!  I’ve got metal legs!”] – but seeing the effects of my idea…well, it makes you think with more than just your emotions. [I think a lot of us confuse our emotions with thoughts – when they create thoughts, they aren’t of themselves thoughts.  And we could all try and have more thoughts that aren’t emotion led alone, and some calmer decisions might be made.] 

    Notable here: Some nightmarish time lapse effects, e.g. George and all those echoes flowing out behind him forever aging, forever the same, in a loop so small but so never ending – what a form of torture, to be so broken up and yet held together…there were several moments like that, the other notably being the young and old religious men, undergoing their ‘test’ in a loop – that was quite grisly, and had a sense of the oddest real unreality. These bits were very well written.

    This was one of those books where almost everyone you meet dies, except one character: Anstaar, who abandons ship at the end.  It actually ends on an almost sullen downer – Sam, the companion, is lost and the Doctor must go and find her.  He lost her for most of the story – and indeed, most of the story was about her.  Despite her being a bit of a troublesome character so far, I really felt for her in this story.  She had to make far too many moral decisions in this endless day of the planet winding down.  Too many decisions for one person; and she did her best.  The biggest, of course, wasn’t the one where she ends up clubbing herself with a rifle butt rather than kill 2 other people; but the one where she chooses to spare a truly sadistic cow called Fettal, who is then pragmatically and coldly sacrificed by 2 other characters Sam is with later on. 

    This incident teaches her a lot about hero worship [see the unsaid but obviously relevant parallel with her relationship to the Doctor there].  Tanhith, the tired freedom fighter, sacrifices Fettal to save Sam…but what Sam sees is the coldness of the action.  It leads Tanhith, who has been through much for many years, to ask her tiredly whether she wants an actual man, or just an ideal.  There’s no answer, of course.  Tanhith’s tired pragmatism is well contrasted with the most grasping character in the story: Felbaac, a freedom fighter simply intent on his own glory at the expense of all else.  His actions in the plot cause so much death and needless destruction – all in an attempt to make himself look good.  And also notable is the character Yast, who is with Felbaac simply because he has a great gift of spin gab, and can make the men go along with whatever Felbaac says: its pragmatism shorn of idealism to the max – Yast believes in nothing but self preservation.  He hates himself for it and has no illusions about Felbaac, but will do anything to live and sees Felbaac as his best chance.

    All these characters down on the planet (and more) are the crucible in which poor Sam is shaken and shaken and heated unbearably under the dying but burning sun.  It makes you wonder how she’ll be in the net story.  While the Doctor spent most of this story with Anstaar performing Sam’s usual companion function of asking what the hell he’s doing [he spent most of the time trying to carry one machine away from the Kusks and fix another machine], and starting to fall in love with him a bit; Sam was learning some very hard lessons.  The next story is a dalek one, so will feature in the Dalek Special – where I’m most interested to see if she’s had in increase in compassion as  result of this story, or an increase in cold ruthlessness.  She’ll be changed, for sure.

    Last note: I enjoyed the Doctor’s previously unseen purple VW Beetle careening about the endless corridors of the Kusk ship in this story.  It felt a bit unnecessary, but a flurry of colour and action as fun as Bessie always was. ACTUAL BOOK.)
  2. Doctor Who: Winter For The Adept, by Andrew Cartmel (Big Finish, Monthly releases, no.10)
    (Ok.  A Swiss boarding school, isolated in the Alps.  The 5th Doctor and Nyssa.  Supposed poltergeists. Telepaths, telekinetics, a gentle ghost, a religious nutter, a French person who has no other purpose explained so who must partially be the villain [and I was right], a slightly cradle robbing Older Man [who also turns out to be a villain – so there is a bit of a punishment for his culturally unacceptable actions!]…Again, many elements in this I like.  And it was very easy to picture the action – especially the piano dragging itself along.  Yet I’d only give this a rough 5/10 because it felt a bit throwaway, like a side idea the author had while writing something he thought more important – a filler story…Yet at the same time, it was a pleasant passing of an hour and a half.  ON DOWNLOAD.)
  3. Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror, by Ian Marter (Target original)
    (1st Doctor.  This one puzzled me a bit.  I felt it was one of those stories where there was quite a bit of unnecessary running back and forth, and some unnecessary situations that felt forced e.g. the Doctor need not have ended up in a chain gang were he not to have rather foolhardily insulted a random bully in a very paranoid era…I couldn’t decide if his actions were that of a stalwart man [ok, Gallifreyan!] standing on principle regardless of the results, or a silly little old man somehow thinking he could get away with being rude just because.  On the other hand, had that little incident not taken place, then my favourite bit of business in the whole book would not have happened: the clever ‘look its an eclipse’ followed by stealing and burying the lucre obsessed bully’s own money, so that the Doctor could then pretend to find it and get him doing the digging he refused to do to help his own men earlier.  And then for the Doctor to clonk him round the head, and all the prisoners get away!  Very nice ruse.  [Better than, though also notable, the ruse whereby he gets Barbara out of the prison later.]

    What does any of this have to do with the French Revolution?  The time, the place, the manners, and the characters you might meet?  Exactly.  Not much.  The main character you meet in this is a drunk annoying gaoler, a bully but easily duped.  Robespierre is met several times, and shown to be as paranoid as the Terror he helped create and which comes to an end at the close of the book.  The main thrust of the book is to split up all of the characters and have them try and find each other again. Ian looks for James Stirling, an English agent undercover, to give him an important message – and who turns out to be the only person he could possibly be if you thought about it for 2 seconds [thankfully I am very bad at that sort of thing and therefore was fruitfully surprised, though kicking myself].  Barbara and Susan spend most of the book in and out of prison and safe houses.  The Doctor ends up masquerading as a provincial Inspector, a Revolutionary; doing some very good Hartnell era manipulation of people. 

    But the thing I like about the historicals is learning about the period and in this case, the 2 sides, how it affected the people involved – rich and poor.  All I really got was some middle class people who didn’t like the ‘anarchy’ of the whole thing; some poor people represented as a nasty mob on more than one occasion [after shooting Robespierre in the jaw: ‘he wrote us a letter, good thing we can’t read!’], and one impassioned speech by Barbara who fell for a bloke on the ‘wrong’ side…I felt it could all have been gone into more, even through conversation – as it was dealt with so casually and easily in Marco Polo.  This one really did feel wanting.  I want to rewrite it myself!  Quite so!  ACTUAL BOOK.)
  4. Doctor Who: The Fires of Vulcan, by Steve Lyons (Big Finish Monthly audios, no.12)
    (7th Doctor. I really liked this very strange little story.  This was the first story I think I have seen where Bonnie Langford’s Mel [who I have never had a problem with; some people genuinely are THIS CHIPPER AND PERKY and its quite nice] was written for sensitively, calmly and authoritatively.  She just was who she was, there was no hint of mocking her; and her pairing with a moody and rather sad Sylvester worked incredibly well.

    The setting is right before the Vesuvian eruption that covered Pompeii for centuries.  The doctor is under the odd belief that because the TARDIS is dug out of the rubble centuries later, that he must be meant to…end, here.  Mel fights this just because she is Mel and it’s not given an optimist to give up.  The Doctor later does too, but between those 2 points there’s plenty of chance to get a feel for the rivalries, manners and people of the city and time. 

    A priestess of the ‘old triad’ Eumachia spends most of the story scheming to get Mel put in prison [she believes her to be a servant of a rival goddess, Isis, seen as the goddess of the poor, hence a threat to more establishment goddesses taken on earlier by the Romans], and Mel stands up to her wonderfully: “You should know you don’t scare me, like you do that girl”, she retorts after being directly threatened.  The ‘that girl’ referred to is a servant girl, Aglae, played quietly and convincingly, causing Mel and by extension, the audience several uncomfortable moments confronting the realities of slavery in ancient Roman society [Steve Lyons doesn’t shy away from depicting the prostitution that was often part of the role; Sylvester early says the society isn’t as ‘civilised’ as often later portrayed].  She and Mel become friends, and their connection drives a fair bit of the narrative easily along.  Other notable characters are Murranus, a very unglamorous gladiator, played as a fool; Valeria, an innkeeper who escapes the eruption at the end – always a good woman but makes a mistake and redeems it close to the end; and Mel’s eventual suitor, Popidius Celsinus – one of those nice characters that writers use to evolve the understanding of both audience and the character himself during the story.  He is one man at the beginning; a better one by the end.

    This story had everything I wanted that The Reign of Terror didn’t.  Strong characters directly interacting in their situations; exploration of the religions, customs/traditions, social mores of the times; that conflict between modern understanding and an era in its own time – the Normality Gap, I have christened it!  It felt a portentous story: the Doctor feels he is hobbled by his own knowledge of history to come, his own future; whereas Mel can see many other ways of looking at it [all of which turn out to be more or less correct – there is a way out of the situation for she and the Doctor, of course].  This is placed so nicely against the fact that only the Doctor and Mel know that the city has less than 24 hours before most of its inhabitants die, many not even fleeing.  She notes the birds are gone from the skies, after one pre-emptive earthquake – the sky itself falls silent.

    Which leads me to noting this had a very nice sound palette too.  Alistair Lock’s music was just right; and the sounds of the city [carts, children calling etc, feet walking, market sounds, inn sounds] were all pitched just right, so that you felt a sumptuous and all encompassing audio landscape.  I give this strange small story with its odd pessimism rebuked a thorough 10/10 – not least because this is how Mel should’ve been written for all along; as a rounded person. ON DOWNLOAD.)
  5. Doctor Who: And the Abominable Snowman, by Terrance Dicks (Target Original)
    (2nd Doctor. I really enjoyed this little story.  I appreciated the complete break from the previous dalek story [which hasn’t been missed out by me – its going in the Dalek Special later]. This one  takes me to a spacious and unfamiliar setting [Tibet, the Himalyas].  The monks were fiercely dressed and yet chanting the Lotus Flower Prayer Mantra…the whole set up reminded me of a horror I very much enjoyed reading as a child, that I can never remember the title of, and therefore can never find.  Troughton, Jamie and Victoria slot perfectly into this strange and cold world, trying to solve the mystery of why robot yetis are attacking a small monastery.  Though I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially visualizing the scenes with the venerable and ancient Padmashavamba, taken over by the Great Intelligence [wish I could’ve seen if these were anything like I pictured on the TV eps, though…its possible they weren’t and the staring and terrible eyes I am imagining are FAR more scary] – I did have some problems with it. 

    Travers was a completely unconvincing and erratic character, drawn so lightly he felt like a plot device only, not a person at all.  Likewise, Victoria was largely an afterthought in all of this, which was a shame – I don’t see why she couldn’t have been more included in the action.  The Great Intelligence was the main problem though.  So: once you have taken over the Earth, and generally GOO-ED UP the entire universe…er, then what???  What for???  As usual, a villain with completely ununderstandable motives!  There is no point subjugating a whole cosmos if you then can’t do anything with them?  I couldn’t make sense of what it wanted and why, at all (same problem in the later Web of Fear, though even moreso!).

    But overall, I thought this skipped along and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  These 3 – Troughton, Jamie and Victoria, have a sufficiently different set of characters that they bounce off each other nicely.  Obviously, I would have written Victoria way more interesting, were it me – but it wasn’t me, and it is as it is; and as it is – not bad at all, most enjoyable!  ACTUAL BOOK.)
  6.  Doctor Who: Shadow of the Scourge, by Paul Cornell (Big Finish Monthly Audios, no.13)
    (7th Doctor. This was a good setting for me.  I like stories either in large outside areas that are relatively unpopulated – the countryside works well for me: all that green to look at too; or inside, in closed quarters – creates cabin fever between characters, which makes for good drama.  This was the second setting.  A conference in a hotel, where the Doctor, Ace and Bernice Summerfield turn up.  This was my first exposure to Bernice, having not got anywhere near her in my New Adventures reading yet, so I was interested to see what I made of her.  I wasn’t expecting to like her as a character – I was expecting to find her an upstart usurper in the Who universe [yes, I take things waaaaay too seriously, I agree].  But I didn’t.  I found her very personable indeed.  She made me laugh.  She took things in her stride, with humour, without being the slightest bit smug or annoying.  And she didn’t conflict with Ace, as a character at all; they were performing different functions within the story.  Ace was being rather Action Girl, but with a sweet loyal naivety; Bernice was more grown up and understanding the seriousness of things, not as a game.  The Doctor had a plan, as usual; and as usual, it ended with complications from which he required assistance.  This is why the companions are so important in Who. 

    [In new Who they take it too far – the companions often solve problems the Doctor should solve; taking away from his centrality as the clever pragmatist with ideals.  In classic Who, and in the classic Who inspired Big Finish audios, they get the balance more finely: the companions hone the Doctor’s ideas, they help them out in action – they are vital.  Not simply there to enquire what the hell is going on, or need rescuing; though that is sometimes the case.  They are there to humanise him a little; he is there to help them remember what is the Right Thing to do and how to get there in a mire of difficult or weird circumstances.  He teaches them resourcefulness, to the point where they surprise him back sometimes.  The Doctor would be boring without his companions to bounce off of; the companions alone would be…a different genre, not a bad thing, but not Who.  Digression ended.]

    Anyway – I liked the plot and humour of this one, a good deal.  [“You’re doing that wry thing with your eyebrows”, says one character to Bernice when caught in an untruth.]  I enjoyed the different conference rooms, the Crocheters made me laugh [ the one character who turned out to have stolen from the others – redeemed at the end; as is the fake medium who actually could channel].  The idea is that The Scourge is a race of beings who basically feed on fear, depression and despair; and create more of it to continue.  They have been with humans as long as humans have existed.  At one point, someone describes them as “a hyperspace version of Radiohead”, which did crack me up.  There’s a complicated bit of business about going into another dimension where they can feed even more so, which I won’t bother you with, as of course!, its foiled by the end.  This was both a serious idea and executed in a humourous way – which was walking a fine line – for me, it worked very well.  I enjoyed it.  It actually had some useful things to say about depression and ways of looking at it too…ON DOWNLOAD.)
  7. Doctor Who: The Holy Terror, by Rob Shearman (Big Finish Monthly Audios, no.14)
    (6th Doctor.  Conversely…this one seems to be very highly regarded, and I didn’t get on with it at all.  It’s reviewed [as I checked after I got on with it so poorly] as a religious drama showing the terrible lengths people will go to, the terrible actions, to fit in their beliefs with the world.  What I heard was cod I Claudius, and one of the most annoying companions EVER – Frobisher.  I haven’t read any of him yet, this is a bit like my introduction to Bernice in the previous play…but whereas she sat nicely next to me; he grated on me every single time he spoke.  I listened to this play twice, wondering what it was I was missing that everyone else seemed to think was so great, but concluded whatever it is, I’m not going to be getting it just now.  I didn’t hear any great lessons about religious tolerance or how to think for yourself that I hadn’t heard elsewhere better and more clearly.  And whilst there were many funny moments, the overall feel of this play was false, for me.  As if it was trying really hard to be both funny and useful…I shall leave this one to the people that like it.  As ever – try it for yourself – you might immediately see what flew past me and love it.  I’ve liked this author’s work in the past also, so clearly this was just an instance where he and I didn’t mesh – you can’t like everything.  ON DOWNLOAD.)

And that’s it for now.  This entry seems to have been VERY long and more rambly than usual!  Dalek Special still on the way, but still doing reading for it.  I’m also doing a Companion Special in the future, a post specifically about books and some of the audios relating to the companions, hopefully a varied range.  Not sure when though – all these posts require vast amounts of reading, which is brill and fun for me; but it eats into time I could be writing other things (for the section of my readers who don’t like Who or sci-fi; and for the sake of the many novels I’ve been trying to write for the last 20 years!!!).  So when we get there, we’ll get there, with everything!  More regular postings soon, hopefully. 

Next post (or next post but one) should be something nice and meaty in terms of eighteenth century literature, feminism, and money.  Bit of an essay.  Been working on it a bit, first section’s almost ready for you!  Soon…