Progress on the book this December has ground to a halt. It’s not something I’m deeply concerned about as the run up to Christmas has been organising gifts and various other bits. The same thing occured last year but that was a stretch from around October to the following March of nothing much getting done. As long as this current black out doesn’t go that long then we’ll be okay.

2018 was a strange year in that I didn’t really ‘finish’ any writing project. Whilst the first draft of ‘The One Who Left’ was finally done it’s in no readable state right now to anybody bar me. From the point of view of creating stuff for consumption it didn’t quite reach there this year.

But the better news from this year was podcasts. I’m involved in the pro wrestling podcast The Conquistabores and it’s genuinely a fantastic feeling to be talking about old wrestling events with my co-hosts.

Then came The Polis Box.

I first heard of the Doctor Who podcast from up North in that Edinburgh when a link to a near empty WordPress blog popped up on Twitter. The first episode went up inviting people to send in evidence fir or against the particular Who story they were covering at the time. I started sending them tweets mainly to get the kick of having my name read out. Tweets led to emailed options which then turned into recording audio files for them to drop into the show.

Then, in February this year, Lee messaged me asking if I wanted to be part of the podcast full time. So it came to pass that I got the train from Lockerbie to Edinburgh in March to block record three episodes. Dave and Lee were both fantastic company and very welcoming to the awkward Gretna boy who was confused by the big smoke. I went back for more in June and there are more around the corner.

Podcasts are great fun. If somebody could just pay me to talk into a microphone then that would be cool.

The biggest 2019 aim is to get this book done and out there. If I can get a second draft done by March 4th then it’ll mark two years since I wrote the first words on it. That would seem like good timing.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the start in 2012 or if you’ve jumped on in 2017 I wish you all the best for 2019. I don’t often put photos on this blog (bit difficult when it’s about writing) so have a failed selfie with my cat.

Lightsaber Nunchucks

Writing a blog about writing a book is difficult to keep interesting at the best of times. When progress on aforementioned book has ground to a halt in recent months then it’s even harder. The noise of Christmas and New Year has now faded in the rear view mirror and I’ve suddenly became very much aware that it was one year ago since I started writing the basic outline and notes for the story. The actual task of putting words on the page was started in March and I made fairly steady progress over the summer months. Then in October, once the nights had started drawing in, I reached a part of the story in which the whole thing seemed to suddenly run out of steam. It’s been hard picking back up after that and I’ve constantly been saying to myself that I’ll return to it. That return keeps getting shoved back.

Reading what I have so far confirms the worst fear that it’s 30,000 words of utter nonsense. It’s a combination of small town Scotland, aliens, child abduction and people not quite seeming what they are. If that sounds like it shouldn’t hang together well then rest assured that at this current moment you are indeed correct. The overwhelming feeling is that even if I do charge forward and reach the end then the editing job to get it anywhere near watertight at the end is massive.

I seem to have spent the first two weeks of 2018 taking up other projects separate from the book which seems like a subliminal effort to avoid actually doing anything about the thing. I’ll write about video games over on Dragon In The Castle and I’ve had the mad notion to start a printed games fanzine. I’m also still involved in the pro wrestling podcast called Conquistabores. I’ve also had the pleasure of being invited up to Edinburgh on a fairly regular basis to talk about Doctor Who on another podcast called The Polis Box.

These things are all great fun and I look forward to participating in them. The strange thing is that I’m struggling most with the one that I’m solely responsible for. It seems just that little bit uphill at the moment and the hope is that I find a thread sometimes soon and carry on. I have a feeling that once I hit a rich vein then it’ll become far easier.


The Boston Grammar

In recent weeks a guy who works at the head office of the optical chain I work for left his job to do graphic design full time. I’d never really spoken with the guy nor met him face to face but we had exchanged emails here and there via the internal company system. One of the first things he posted on his blog was a video link to the author Neil Gaiman giving a speech in Philadelphia in 2012. As a pep talk towards going forwards into the unknown searching for a career in creative arts it’s pretty high up the league table. Thankfully I’ve found it again…

Firstly the central message of ‘Make Good Art’ is inspiring at the best of times but the other part of this that grabbed me was the fact he made a list of stuff he wanted to do during his career and worked towards that. Tuesday marked by 33rd birthday, a chance to reflect back and plan forward so I’ve become tempted to do the same. If anything, it’ll be something that you can read back once I’m gone and laugh.

1) Write A Short Film (and get it made).

One lecturer at college once told me during a lesson on time management that you should make a list of stuff you need to do but make sure the first one is something you’ve nearly done or have finished therefore you’ve started your list already. A psychological advantage already then.

2) Write A Feature Film (and get it made).

Working on this one, mostly with ‘King Of Teatime TV’ and more recently ‘The Last Alive’.

3) Make A Videogame.

Which, as discussed before, will probably be some kind of text adventure at this rate.

4) Make A Comic Book.

Might be slightly hard by the fact I can’t draw but if I can convince somebody else to do that bit then we’re away.

5) Write A Novel.

I might have started this one already but with no clue as to where it’s going. The prologue was put up on this blog a few weeks ago.

6) Write An Episode Of Doctor Who.

Yes I know, shooting for the moon on this one but it’s on here.

7) Publish An Article In A Print Magazine

Probably wrestling/videogames, not fussed which one.

One down, six to go.


New Kidneys

I don’t want to write this entry. The main reason being it makes me one of those people who watches a TV show simply so they can moan about it on the internet afterwards. To sit with keyboard in hand and rail against a programme you profess to love, sticking the knife in because it didn’t turn out how you wanted it. Know this before you read on, I want Doctor Who to succeed and as a result of the show being with me from a very young age I’ll allow it a lot of leeway towards that. Also, as any reader of this blog knows, I’m just a guy living in the South of Scotland who works in an opticians during the day. Essentially my ranting opinion counts for nothing in the grand scheme of things. In the words of Mark Kermode, as a critic I have nothing to lose and am therefore probably more part of the problem than the solution.

I didn’t like the most recent Christmas special. ‘Time Of The Doctor’ was always building up to one thing, Matt Smith’s departure and Peter Capaldi’s introduction to the title role. In the last five minutes of the broadcast on Christmas Day BBC One’s audience jumped to 10.2 million, the highest of the festive period. The regeneration was the main draw obviously but the setting and the lead up to that event should have been a grand send off for Smith and a blazing introduction for Capaldi. The strange thing is, it really wasn’t.


Many Christmas episodes since 2005 have always linked to the season in some way. The first one had an alien attack on Christmas Day, we’ve had snowy Victorian streets and we’ve had a Scrooge character coming good in the end. In the eight years since the show returned pretty much every marker of British Christmas has been shown. Furthermore this year we’re only a month gone from the 50th anniversary episode, a tour de force featuring three Doctors and plugging the gap of The Time War, a plot point mentioned frequently since Eccelstone first stepped out of the blue box.

So Christmas episodes of Doctor Who now need to shoehorn the celebration in somehow, as we opened this year with Clara Oswald cooking a turkey for the visit of her parents. I’m still not convinced with Clara as a character, maybe a harsh judgement seeing as she’s had half a season as a regular character but she’s rapidly falling into one of the two traps female assistants do. Either they’re completely terrified of everything and run screaming or they find themselves falling in love with The Doctor. Clara is starting to set her stall firmly in the latter camp as she gazes at The Doctor with doe eyes across the Tardis console. It’s a problem they seem to always have with female assistants. Billie Piper just about got away with it because she was the first when the show returned and her desire to protect ‘her Doctor’ was a major part of her ‘Bad Wolf’ persona for the finale of Season One. Martha spent the entire of Season Three doing nothing else but lust after The Doctor which became a problem when the entire of that season’s ending rested on her shoulders. Donna was the polar opposite but her constant gabbing got irritating towards the end. Amy just about held it together as she’d met The Doctor when she was young and he was more of an old friend than a possible lover. I’ve always held a theory that it’s hard for assistants to come in halfway through a Doctor’s time at the helm, they feel too much like an interloper who shouldn’t be there. It’s almost seen as their responsibility alone for the dynamic changing. Maybe Clara will be able to make more of a mark on the show now Matt Smith is gone and Peter Capaldi can be ‘her Doctor’.

We’ve been led into this episode with the question of ‘Doctor Who?’ being a question ‘hidden for years in plain sight’. The end of last season saw The Doctor visit his own tomb on Trenzalore with Clara jumping into his own time line. The 50th Anniversary show went right back to the time war and attempted to fill in the gaps between the series original cancellation in the late 80’s to the 2005 return. This Christmas special began with a feeling of ‘where the hell were we again?’.

And that’s the problem I sometimes have with Doctor Who under the guidance of Stephen Moffat. When Moffat first took over from Russell T Davies we had a shift in tone. Gone were RTD’s more comic strip moments and in came something with a darker edge. I was all for it, not only had Moffat written some of the best episodes (Silence In The Library, The Empty Child) but he’d also done some brilliant stuff outside Who including the Jekyll mini series starring James Nesbitt. Who needed to change and change it did. It’s frustrating therefore that so much of Doctor Who led by Moffat seems so bogged down in its own ideas, many of which are introduced, only some of which seem to be resolved.

As is the custom now before regeneration, we have as many loose ends tied up from that particular incarnation’s journey. For David Tennant’s last hurrah in 2010 he somehow managed to delay regenerating for long enough to visit all the supporting cast individually before exploding and taking the Tardis interior with him. For Matt Smith we went back to the crack in time, first seen in the bedroom of Amy Pond. We learn this is actually The Time Lords sending out a repeating signal trying to find The Doctor. Quite why they want to find him is not made clear but they’ve set up a truth bubble and everything so they must be gagging to get in touch with a man who ended the Time War by stuffing Galifrey away in a different dimension.

But then there’s a church containing data banks which you have to visit naked (giving Matt Smith the chance to show just enough skin for your Gran to spill her sherry over). For the sake of a teatime audience The Doctor applies a clothing filter but it’s only in the story for a one time joke. Quite why you have to visit this place in the buff is never explained. The rest of the episode is The Doctor forced into a deadlock of defending a town called Christmas from every enemy he has faced knowing that The Time War will begin again if the residents of Gallifrey find him there. Rather than resolve this plot point, they choose to leave it there hanging. There wasn’t much drama in this deadlock. The Doctor grows old, he knows he’ll die here so seems to just accept it. Clara flits back and forth to see him age.


A couple of years ago, during an episode of kid’s TV spin off The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Doctor had one line in which threw years worth of series lore into chaos. Up until that point it was known The Doctor was limited to twelve regenerations, suddenly this became more than five hundred. The internet fandom imploded and everybody got confused. Obviously in 1966, when regeneration was first mentioned, they thought the show would never go through twelve actors.

For this though we’re limited to twelve again which, seeing as John Hurt is now considered the ninth, means Smith is the last. We know otherwise, we know Capaldi is coming so there had to be a reason why this wasn’t the end. Just as the final Dalek ship descends on the town, Clara whispers into the void about The Doctor needing help, the crack vanishes and he is granted another regeneration just like that as a favour for saving his home land in there first place. But regenerations must take place in the Tardis. It would be impossible to film anything on location without every single newspaper in the land printing pictures. The Doctor manages to make it back to his ship and then transforms in front of her. Enter Capaldi, apparently not knowing how to fly the Tardis.


I’m excited by Peter Capaldi in the main role. With Tennant and Smith we’ve had our fill of ‘goofy’. I want a Doctor with steel who solves problems without simply waving his Sonic Screwdriver at them or having his assistant talk them away. I also want a show that uses a small amount of ideas well rather than throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. The Christmas special this year felt like an after thought after the 50th anniversary show the month before. It seemed to be desperately tripping over itself to mention everything notable from Smith’s years in the Tardis to close that chapter.

There’s plenty for the show to work with going forward and a new Timelord is always a good time for an overhaul. I wish every success for Doctor Who and I’ve defended it to the hilt on many a previous occasion. The sad thing is that it’s become much harder recently to defend the show from the doomsayers. I now struggle to explain what’s going on to my seven year old son and as a result he’s lost interest in watching it. If we can’t get new fans on board then we’re on a steady course to a slow decline before cancellation which is something Doctor Who fans have already seen and aren’t in a hurry to repeat.

A History Of Time

The in laws were visiting so I assumed it would be slightly rude if the man their daughter chose to marry suddenly left the house on a Saturday night for a cinema trip when they had made the three hundred mile journey up to Scotland. Everybody was under strict instructions to keep very quiet for it, including my seven year old son. Everything in my house stopped to watch ‘ The Day Of The Doctor’ on BBC1, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.


Technically, we shouldn’t even be at the 50th. Doctor Who died a slow death in the late 80’s. I remember watching some episodes featuring Colin Baker whilst I was in primary school. They were dark, a tiny bit scary and I learned later were the object of ire for those campaigning against violence on TV. It was declared past its prime, a relic and rather than being cancelled there and then the budget was slowly reduce again and again until it vanished in a whimper with Sylvester McCoy in the lead role.

Doctor Who appealed to me. It went straight to the part of my brain that liked stories about aliens and time travel. The whole thing sounds a bit crazy when written down, an alien being who can travel through space and time in something that looks like an old police call box battles aliens from distant worlds. Also, he changes into somebody else when he dies and is usually accompanied by a female companion who will scream her head off at the nearest sign of danger. For a show about an alien it also seems very British in its eccentric design. A Paul McGann fronted ‘TV movie’ episode was screened in 1996 in association with  BBC America but, in an event of sheer irony, I had a history essay to do that night which I had rather stupidly left until the last night possible (and probably failed, I can’t remember).

I actually found myself dreading the 2005 return mainly because of one person, Billie Piper. I had nothing against the girl on a personal level but I remember her as releasing some truly annoying pop songs and having no acting experience at all. BBC Wales, as the new home of the show was no longer in London, had taken the populist route and given her the job as she was a name. Christopher Eccleston would be a great choice for the Doctor but a small, blonde pop strumpet had no place near a Tardis. Thankfully I was wrong, the show was a roaring suggest and Billie Piper is now very much an integral part of the show’s recent folklore. So much so that she returned to mark the five decades. I’m pleased beyond belief that I can share the experience of watching Doctor Who with my son in the same way my Dad did with me.

My favourite Doctor? Always this guy.

As far as the episode itself went I rather enjoyed it. I know plenty of other people who have and will take the entire thing to bits but I don’t tend to want to do that with Doctor Who. I want Doctor Who to be a success, I want it to be good and appeal to as many people as possible simply because I remember it being killed off the last time around. There was a lot of fan service, the aforementioned Piper returning got everybody into a froth when the trailer came out but she was there not as Rose Tyler but as the operating system behind the bomb that The Doctor assumed would end the Time War. The Time War pitting the Time Lords against Daleks has been the backdrop since the show returned in 2005 but we’ve never seen it directly, only spoken references. Here, the version of The Doctor he always denied existed played by John Hurt contemplated setting off the device that would destroy both Daleks and Time Lords leaving him alone in the galaxy. Whilst previous events in the series have seen The Doctor think back to that day this episode allowed them to reconsider everything we’ve seen so far by having the current incarnation of the Doctor played by Matt Smith and the previous played by David Tennant join him. I always considered Tennant to be a good actor but he often veered into some kind of song and dance routine during his time at the helm, the pinnacle of which being an awful Ghostbusters skit during Season 2’s finale but here he settled back into the role after four years away. Smith and Tennant had excellent chemistry together and did a wonderful job of getting across that whilst they were different characters they were very much at heart(s) the same man. John Hurt brought gravitas to the show simply by being John Hurt.

Not long until this guy takes over.
Not long until this guy takes over.

Yes, the Zygons invading with Queen Elizabeth the first marrying The Doctor was all a bit nonsense but the idea of seeing Gallifrey during the war was appealing. The ending also changed the path of the series just in time for Peter Capaldi taking over the role after Christmas this year. The fact is that there will be kid’s watching now who don’t remember the Ecclestone being in the role and some yet who will have no recollection of Tennant being there either. Doctor Who must always find a way to attract a new fanbase otherwise it gets left behind. This forgotten show that the BBC first created, then supported, then destroyed, then brought back is now one of the corporation’s main earners worldwide. I cannot remember a time during the 80’s when Doctor Who was screened in America or translated into Korean. It could have all gone horribly wrong in 2005, thankfully it didn’t and we have a show watched by 10 million people on a Saturday night.

Be Thankful For Hard Hats

Yes I know it’s been a long time. I’ve been on holiday that’s all.

I was worried about being away and an e-mail coming in asking to see the script for ‘The King Of Teatime TV’ and then me not being able to respond as the file would have been on my computer up here. I’d have fretted about it, worried sick that they might think I wasn’t interested or bothered and a chance at the big time would have gone begging. Each night back in the hotel I’d use the very kind offer of 30 minutes free Wi-Fi (I know, it’s a very precious thing isn’t it?) and grab my e-mails. I need not have worried, it’s been greeted by a mass wall of silence. The message is beeping, nobody is picking up. The pitch remains as it is. Whilst the Shooting People website is good it is but one avenue and it’s probably best to leave the script alone for a bit, ready in the cannon for when the situation gives rise to it. I’m still pleased with how it turned out but it’s time to move on to other things.

I enjoyed my time away though, South Wales always holds something very special for my family and this time around we stayed in Cardiff itself rather than just outside it as we have done in the past. On the first day there we ended up going down a mine which involved getting all the right gear including the headlamps and hard hats. I was thankful for the hard hats when I managed to bang my head against in support girders three times in quick succession.

We also engaged in the now traditional visit to Spiller’s Records which is the oldest record shop in the world. Part of these visits involves letting our seven year old son choose a record. He usually walks down the racks and picks out something based on the cover artwork. The staff then let him have a listen and, if he likes it, we’ll buy it for him. Last time around he went for Dinosaur Jr, this time he ended up with The Grateful Dead.

Grateful Dead

I also had the pleasure of meeting my Uncle in his home town of Melksham over the border into England. Obviously, living up in Scotland, I don’t often get a chance to see him but we organised going across for the day as it’s only about an hour down the road from Cardiff. I used to visit my grandparents in Melksham pretty much every summer so it was a chance to walk the same steps again. After lunch we took a walk around the town with my Uncle which included walking to the street where my grandparents lived. It has changed greatly as an office block now stands between the High Street and the street itself. Opposite the houses there used to be parkland and a school playing field, it’s now been made into another housing estate.

I was astounded to see that the toy shop I used to go to whilst I was down there, usually to buy wrestling figures, still remains. With these times of internet shopping I honestly did not expect to turn the corner and see the exact same building still standing, still seeming like endless shelves of brightly coloured toys and games. Kyle tugged on my sleeve and gave us the hopeful face. If I was honest, I wanted a look inside as well if only to confirm that this was indeed the place. In the space of ten minutes, he’d pretty much filled his Christmas list. It was strange to see my son walk around with the same sense of wonder I had when I first went there around 25 years ago.

We also visited The Doctor Who Experience which I enjoyed greatly simply because it’s an entire building based on my favourite TV show. I’d write about it more here but I’m planning on a Who based blog entry to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the show next month so it’ll be part of that.

Suitably refreshed, we march on.