Who’s Next

Oops. Silly comment in my post this morning. It was, of course, the mixed doubles that happened after the men’s final today. Never mind – might have been appropriate, I suppose.

Anyway, now we know. We have a female Doctor.

Not a move I’m in favour of, I have to admit. Not for any sexist reason. I just find it faintly ridiculous that a character could go through 12 incarnations as a male (but see a future post re the figure), then suddenly, at the age of “over 2,000” (I think he must have lost count at last), change gender. If it had happened before once or twice, it would have seemed something other than political correctness to do it now.

However, like many other Who fans (Whovians), I shall give her a chance. To be honest, I wasn’t that enamoured with Peter Capaldi until the series just gone. Far too grumpy to start with, I thought. And until this last series, there was literally only one story featuring him that I enjoyed – the one where we think he’s trying to rob a bank, whereas he’s actually setting out to rescue a couple of imprisoned aliens. Not Capaldi’s fault, the fact that he had duff storylines.


Gosh. Another Post!

Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. It’s been over three years since my last blog post. And, as I have to go out in a few minutes, it’s not going to be a long one.

So why have I decided to resurrect this blog now?

To be honest, it’s because of a singular lack of enthusiasm over my current writing project, which is leading to an awful state of ennui when it comes to putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard, rather. So I thought, if I resurrect the blog – something I’ve been planning to do for much of the last three years anyway – at least it gives me something to type which doesn’t involve trying to make sense of where Joseph Baxter (my protagonist’s working name, which he hates and will be forcing me to change as soon as he gives me an inkling as to what he’d actually like to be called) is in his current dealings with the church, his political career and the shadowy World President (cliché alert!) who is manipulating Joseph into…

But that would be ruining the story.

So it’s been nice to do a bit of typing again. Hopefully, I’ll get around to some more soon.

And then I’ll probably mention Doctor Who again.

Now Who’s Who?

Looking forward like mad to tomorrow’s (nearly today’s) 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who – surely one of the greatest TV programmes ever created!

It has, though, thrown up a bit of a conundrum to us Who fans. Or rather, the very brief mini-episode that’s currently airing on a time-loop on the BBC Red Button has.

In this episode, Paul McGann (the 8th incarnation of The Doctor) tries to help a young woman fighting to control a space craft. She refuses to let him help, as the Time Lords are in the middle of the Time War with the Daleks, and they end up crashing into a planet – on which, although they’re both dead, The Doctor is temporarily resurrected by a group of women who want him to fight in the war. The Doctor, being a pacifist, refuses. Eventually they persuade him, and he drinks a potion that will regenerate him into a warrior.

Now here’s the point. We see, as the potion takes its effect, that Paul McGann’s Doctor has now regenerated into John Hurt’s – the Doctor who appeared at the end of the last programme in the last series and also shows up (as we see in the trailers) in the 50th anniversary special. So if we’re counting, which we Whovians do most conscientiously, then that makes John Hurt the 9th Doctor – and makes Christopher Eccleston, who presumably regenerated from him, the 10th, David Tennant the 11th, Matt Smith the 12th, and Peter Capaldi, the incoming incumbent, the 13th. So basically, the numbering’s gone all to pot!

What do we do? All our certainties about The Doctor’s long, long life are now shattered. DT is no longer the 10th! Matt Smith’s no longer the 11th! Given that the Time Lords are only supposed to have 13 lives, that makes Peter Capaldi the last! (Though we think that somewhere along the line that’s been neatly sidestepped by River Song giving Matt Smith’s incarnation all her remaining ones after she poisoned him in the library with the candlestick, or whatever that episode was – I forget the details.)

We fans are really in a jam. After all – we really don’t know now Who exactly is Who. Or is that When?

NaNo News, Computer Blues & Swimming Views

Help, I’ve created a NaNo monster!

My wife, that is. Having decided to join me in the annual wordfest that is National Novel Writing Month, Sue has caught the bug well and truly. At present, with me struggling to keep up to the 1,667 words-per-day par, she’s ploughing ahead and has almost written half the month’s 50,000 allocation in the first 11 days! It’d be invidious of me to give any details of her plot, but from what she’s told me, and extracts she’s read to me, it’s complicated, clever, imaginative and worthy of the likes of PD James, Stephen King and Ruth Rendell at their finest. One to watch, my missus.

Apart from an ongoing health issue, one of the reasons I’m lagging behind is that my beloved netbook computer, which I use to do the bulk of my writing, especially when otherwheres than home, has died. Booting it up last Thursday, although it hiccupped into life in its usual slow way, the screen remained resolutely blank, despite my turning it on and off several times. A trip to the silicon chip hospital being the only way to go, I left it at my local (independent) computer shop the next day, and received a call yesterday to say that, yes, it was the screen that was the problem, and although a new one could be purchased and fitted, it would be prohibitively expensive to do so. Added to that, some bearing or other that assists the hard-drive in its revolutions is also on the way out, so even if I did fork out the non-existent money necessary to get the thing sorted, it wouldn’t be long before something else went clang and I’d be back to square one anyway. And so it’s ta-ta netbook and a choice of either lugging my main laptop with me again everywhere I go (I bought the netbook because I was so embarrassed to be seen hiding behind something the size of HMS Titanic), or resorting to the dreaded quill pen and carthorse that I used to favour many moons ago. Some of my writing friends would take great delight in hearing of this disaster, as, being total technophobes, they consider the computer to be very much surplus to any requirements whatsoever. So if I keep quiet about it, you will do too, I trust?

In a desperate attempt to hold back the clichéd tide of advancing years that’s seen my stomach expand from a healthy 32 on my wedding day 15 years ago to an extremely tight 34 now, I’ve decided to ditch my pride and throw myself into my local swimming pool once or twice a week. It’s something I’ve attempted in the past, but never really managed to keep up with any kind of monotonous regularity. And monotonous I mean – swimming really does have to be one of the most boring forms of exercise ever invented!

For a start, I admit I’m no good at it. My ‘technique’, if that’s what it can be called, consists of holding onto the wall at one end, taking a deep breath, launching myself off and breast-stroking underwater until I can’t hold the breath any longer. I then flollop around with my head out of the water until I can take another deep-enough breath to hopefully complete the 20 metres to the other end. And then, of course, I find that I have to do the whole thing again, back the other way! Really – what’s the point?

All this is ‘accomplished’ in a building where the only scenery (apart from the tiles on the bottom of the pool which are what I’m mainly looking at most of the time) is magnolia walls, yellowy-green changing rooms and the occasional sign proclaiming ‘1.3 metres deep here’. Friendly as the staff are, convenient as the place is, the Caribbean it is not.

I will keep going, I will keep trying. But if anyone’s invented a water-proof Walkman and earphones combination that’ll help take away the sheer boredom – do let me know, please.

(This is the post that disappeared on me during the night. It has now reappeared in Draft form, so I’m now publishing it before it decides to do a runner again. Great, technology, isn’t it?)

Frustrations Of An Infrequent Poster

Not being a frequent blogger, I haven’t really got my head fully around this form of media – however, when I do decide to post something on these pages, since it’s a specialist site I’m using, set up to cater for those wanting to make use of the blogosphere, I fully expect it to work properly.

Not being able to sleep (too much caffeine during the day, an infrequent but bloody annoying problem when it happens), I decided to get out of bed and blog about three things – my NaNoWriMo progress, the death of my small netbook computer, and my recent attempts at exercise via the local swimming pool. To which end I’ve just spent the last hour or so typing away. Finishing, I pressed the preview button to see what my post would look like – and the whole sodding thing disappeared!

If that’s not enough to put anyone off bothering, what is? I may try to reconstitute what I’d written some other time, but for now – well, I’m totally hacked off, I’m going to shut my computer down, go get myself a bowl of cereal, then try to get some more sleep and see what else to-lousy-day brings!

First Ramblings

At the start of this week (on Monday, to be exact) I celebrated my 54th birthday.

It wasn’t that much of a celebration, to be honest. Lousy weather during the day curtailed any thoughts of tripping out somewhere – not unless we (my wife Sue and I, that is) wanted to end up spending money going ‘in’ to some kind of attraction instead of staying ‘out’, which is mostly free. But the evening made up for it – a takeaway pizza (Hawaiian, my favourite) and a bottle of wine (kindly donated as a Christmas present a couple of years ago by two very good friends), a cuddle-up with a couple of funny films on DVD, a gently-snoring dog. Bliss.

The films? San Ferry Ann, an amusing 1965 silent starring Wilfred Brambell, Barbara Windsor, Ron Moody, Graham Stark, a very young Rodney Bewes and various other fine British actors, and a couple of French ones too; and The Marx Brothers’ hilarious Monkey Business, in which Chico’s rubber fingers play the piano so incredibly well, and at the same time to such comic effect, it had Sue gasping at the sheer brilliance. Not to mention Harpo’s amazing facial antics (‘throwing a Gookie’, he describes it in his autobiography, Harpo Speaks, one of my favourite books) and the general brilliance of the script and Groucho’s comic timing, of course. (I always felt sorry for Zeppo – he was very much the romantic lead in most of the films he appeared in, rather than a comic persona like his brothers. Probably why he eventually gave up showbiz and went into ‘proper’ biz. Or perhaps he just hated it like the boys’ other brother, Gummo, did.)

The night before, I’d set up this blog and sat down to write my first ever posting. In it, I speculated on my achievements during the year just gone; which, when I’d added them up, came to so few I ended up blasting off with an extremely tired rant at life, the universe and everything. One of my other favourite books.

Needless to say, I binned the post at the end of it.

Now it’s another insomnia night, consisting of sleep from approx 11.30pm – 3.30am, then wakefulness until probably around 6.00 or 7.00, so I’ve decided to recommence my blogging. And so I’ll begin where I began on Sunday night.

My achievements during my 54th year. Still not many, to be honest. I managed to write a few decent stories, was in at the start of a couple of extremely encouraging writing groups in Barnstaple, as well as still thoroughly enjoying the one we already go to in South Molton, managed to write a whole novel last November during NaNoWriMo (for the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month, a crazy concept where normally reasonably sane people set out to write 50,000 plus words of fiction in 30 days – that’s a hell of a lot, for those who have never tried it). Other than writing, which seems to be my main preoccupation at the moment, I managed to wean myself off three lots of medication, including the anti-depressants I’ve been taking for most of the last 19 years, win a couple of email chess games against my brother (and lose a couple too, to be fair – we’re pretty evenly matched) and mostly keep a civil tongue in my head throughout the course of the year, despite occasionally wanting to explode at the sheer moronic stupidity of some of the people I come into contact with (I won’t elaborate). So not much – but then, possibly more than some people manage, so I shouldn’t really complain.

To the 55th year, then.

Well, it couldn’t have started much better. On Tuesday, the day after my birthday, an unexpected and thrilling phone call to say I’d won second prize in a short story competition being run by Barnstaple library to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the North Devon Biosphere (whatever that is. I confess I hadn’t even heard of it until we received details of the comp, and I still haven’t a clue where it’s located). My first ever writing comp win, and doubly thrilling in that Sue was also a runner up, in her first ever entry into one. Okay, it’s not The Bridport Prize, there were only 30-odd entries – but hell, we’re both damned proud anyway, we still had to beat some very fine writers.

And now I’ve written my first (albeit revamped) blog post, on top of yesterday, managing to launch my also-first website onto an unsuspecting world. www.colin-z-smith.com, if anyone wants to take a look.

Could it be that when I get to this time next year and look back, I’m going to see 12 months of joyous success? Who knows? But please God, it won’t be for the lack of trying.

And speaking of trying – time to go back to bed and attempt to get some more sleep. Night, night.