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Monday, September 29, 2008

Hyperspace 2 

How, in the name of the Galactic Federation, do I summarise Hyperspace?

How can I convey the thrill of seeing and meeting my childhood heroes in the flesh? Or the glimpses of what was to happen in the audio stories? Or the awful feeling at the end when we realised it was all over.

I can start by saying that I really very much enjoyed it. It is greatly different to many of the conventions I have attended in the past. It was a lot smaller for a start. There was a cap of 90 on the numbers but I don’t think we had that many. Having such a small amount of people made it much easier for all of us to get to know each other. At other cons I have more or less kept myself to myself and not talked to a soul but here I made two new friends (Jacqui and Stephen), talked to all sorts of people from TPDIS and, shock horror, talked to people actually involved with all the incarnations of the Tomorrow People: actors, writers and producers.

I am not normally star-struck but I do like to respect people’s privacy and so the concept of talking to someone just because I saw them in a television program when I was a child or because they wrote episodes of the audio version of the show thirty years later is alien to me. That is why, after nearly an hour at the first day’s autograph session, I’d only managed to obtain one autograph. Even then I was more interested in talking with people than getting their signatures.

My second day started with a walk through the Lensbury grounds to the famous Teddington Locks. I took some pictures of the lock in the morning fog. Here are some of them together with pictures from the first day in the sunshine.

Teddington lock in fogTeddington lock in fog

Teddington lock in fog Teddington lock in fogTeddington lock in fog

Teddington Lock is another fabulous place from my childhood. I’ve never been there before but I remember the name from countless episodes of Magpie where the address for that week’s competition or where you needed to send your milk bottle tops was Teddington Lock. In my child’s mind this place existed in the magical land of television, where Pinky and Perky rubbed shoulders with Willy Wombat and Susan Stranks and everyone rode around on Puff the Magic Dragon. To actually see it, eons later, was a bit of a kick.

The first event of the day was the Q&A session. This was divided into four panels: writers and producers, original series, new series and audio series. There was a micro panel for Danny John Jules who had turned up slightly too late to take part in the NS panel. Despite the 101 questions in my head before and after I didn’t manage to think of a one at the time. Hats off to whoever it was who asked Roger Price why Stephen suddenly and mysteriously left with no mention of his character. Roger blamed the Network Executives and said that he hadn’t wanted Stephen to go.

I took a few photos but not many. I hate taking pictures of people I don't know. I feel terribly intrusive. I used my long lens from the back of the room and no flash. That's why there are a few heads in corners.

IMG_8269 IMG_8267 IMG_8270

The Q&A session was followed by a walk around Teddington where we could see a lot of the locations used to film the OS Story A Man for Emily. It’s interesting how a lack of budget in those days made the production team make use of Bridgelocations local to the studio. We saw the shops where Elmer killed the greengrocer, where he almost shot a little boy in a cowboy suit and where there was a chase over a footbridge.

At THE footbridge, there was a man with his children. He called after his daughter on the footbridge and we found she was called Emily.

I loved the looks we had from the locals. What did they think of this group of people looking at perfectly innocent buildings and taking photos?

Our walk ended with a tour of Teddington Studios, which I found very interesting. Television is an amazing art.

After lunch we had the script readings. This was a treat and something I was looking forward to a great deal. Nigel Fairs and the available actors read from the scripts of the audio stories that weren't released. We found out some of what was to happen. We had the tiniest glimpse of what would have been, the future of the Tomorrow People.

We also had some stunning performances from PVC, Nick Young, Helen Goldwyn, James Daniel Wilson and Trevor Littledale. Helen and Trevor nearly had us all in tears with a very moving scene and Daniel was tremendously intimidating as Jedekiah. It is such a shame that we are unlikely ever to find out the full story. Curses!

There wasn't much of the weekend left. There was a raffle where nearly everyone won a prize. I won a script from the audio series! This was followed by the closing ceremony which turned out to be very emotional. There were tears everywhere!

Then that was it and we all had to go home.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hyperspace 1 

It is 7:20 on Sunday morning. I woke too early and so here I am sitting in front of my laptop putting down a few thoughts about Hyperspace before hitting the shower.

So, what do I think? And, more importantly, what can I say?

Yesterday was a confused sort of day. When I arrived I was at my least gregarious. I'm really not very good at talking to people. I am better than I used to be but I think for parts of yesterday I was as quiet as I was when I was in my teens. However, as the day wore on I was able to make a couple of friends of other people who are here on their own.

The opening ceremony was fun. There was a clever and very funny little video of Nick Young and Peter Vaughn Clarke floating around in hyperspace (the weird glowing stuff - not the convention).

This was followed by an autograph session where my reticence to speak to people reached awesome levels. I met and chatted with Jacqui, a name I recognised from TPDIS, and together we garnered enough courage to approach PVC for his autograph. By that time it was too late to get too many others but there is another session today. I would really like to talk to Nigel Fairs about his audio work. I consider the audio Tomorrow People stories the best of the three incarnations.

Later, we had dinner. That was really great but I wished it would have been a little longer. I had enough time to eat and chat but felt I would have liked to dally a bit and sample another dessert or two.

Then we had the awards. Sorry this is rushed. I want that shower!

The awards were great fun. There was a great deal of confusion but things moved along and awards dished out. Some had to go to people who didn't actually win them purely because their real winners were unavailable.

The most justified award was the Best Cliff Hanger and went to Nigel for the final audio adventure. I would have been disappointed if it went anywhere else.

Best dialogue went to Carol's speech to Stephen from the first episode explaining what and who the Tomorrow People were. I would have preferred Elizabeth's Clean-phone dialogue from Secret Weapon because that was the single line of dialogue that stuck in my head over the thirty-odd years between watching it the first time and seeing it all again on DVD.

We finished up with some of us watching Secret Weapon and then joining the others in the bar where there was lots of chatter, none of which I feel I can repeat here.

The interesting thing about the Secret Weapon screening was that we were joined by Roger Price, the creator of the Tomorrow People. He watched it all the way through and then talked about it afterwards. I was in the bar by then listening to some careless talk but I thought it rather unusual.

More later!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mr and Mr Cliché 

I went for a bit of shopping at lunchtime. I didn't intend to buy anything, I just fancied a bit of a walk but my feet led me past Uni-qlo and I remembered I wanted a new fleece so I popped in.

In the queue to pay I got stuck behind two bears who were buying something. They weren't in any hurry and had a lovely chat with the salesman about his shirt and how much they loved the tiles on the wall behind the till (apparently made of glass on a white surface).

They were really living the stereotype - typical bearish butch bald head, butch facial hair, butch clothes and, of course, camper than a collection of pink tents in Earl's Court.

All very lovely and amusing and I am sure they were perfectly nice men. They really hit it off with the salesman as well but ... what about me? I was stuck behind this pair waiting to pay for my fleece and there were no other salesmen.

Times like that can send you homophobic.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sandwiches again 

Despite me calling my neighbour yesterday to rescue my neglected sandwiches and put them in the fridge and despite me making a special effort to put the sandwiches in a bag near my work bag so I could not possibly miss them, I again managed to leave them behind.

I am obviously destined not to eat them. I'm not going to call my neighbour again today.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Tomorrow People 

On Saturday and Sunday, I will be going to Hyperspace 2008, a gathering to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the first screening of a children's science fiction show called The Tomorrow People.

I'm starting to get a bit excited by the idea. I haven't been to any sort of convention for many years and this is very much a one-off event. It will be great fun to meet other fans and the casts of the various incarnations of the series.

I'm particularly keen to meet the stars of the original show from the seventies and from the Big Finish audio stories, an excellent continuation of the story in which several of the original cast featured heavily in new and adult situations.

I am hoping to find out where the audio show's creator, Nigel Fairs, was planning to take the story after the climactic cliff-hanger at the end of the last season. There was supposed to be another series but the show was cancelled because the owner of the title wanted to do something else with it. Grr.

The Earth was being invaded, the Federation in tatters and the Tomorrow People fighting their own demons. What happens next?

I hope I find out at the weekend!

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Bad morning 

This morning I was very organised. I got up early, had my shower and the usual and then went downstairs to make myself some sandwiches for lunch and grab some breakfast.

I really rather like the simple sandwiches you can buy in Sainsbury's and M&S that are basically grated cheese and chopped spring onions mashed up with mayonaise. I have made them myself several times. Last night when I went shopping I bought some onions and some rolls and, indulgently, some grated cheese.

I spent 20 minutes peeling and chopping the spring onions and mixing up a big bowl of the onions, the cheese and enough mayo to hold it all together. Then I put a blob in each of three rolls and put them in a box on the dining room table so I would notice them on the way out.

All this effort made me slightly late so I grabbed a very quick breakfast, put on my shoes and got my lift to the station.

It was there that I realised that, not only was I wearing the wrong shoes (blue and brown deck shoes with black formal trousers - I look like a Doctor Who wannabe) but that my sandwiches were still sitting in their box in a bag on my dining room table.

The day can only get better.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Trains 

The Southeastern Railway site has a page called Live Running Information that you can check for current delays to your services. It's a little worrying that the picture they have chosen for the title is of someone playing cards.

What does this mean?

Is it supposed to be a couple of passengers playing cards because their train is stuck somewhere?

Or, worse, are they a couple of Southeastern managers gambling on which services are to be affected by "train operating difficulties" next?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Duck Tour 

My sister paid me a visit over the last weekend. Mainly it was for her to go to the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday night (my sixth! David was on top form as usual) but we had plenty of time to do a few other things like some work on our family history and a hefty bit of gardening.

On Friday we played tourist and took a Duck Tour. This is a drive around London on a bright yellow converted amphibious truck with a tour guide. Towards the end of the tour, the truck drives down a ramp into the Thames and becomes, for all intents and purposes, a boat.

It's great fun and made all the better by the witty patter of our guide, Neil. We even learned one or two things about London that we didn't know.

Well worth a try on your next visit to town.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Contact! 

Last night, on my way home from work, I dozed off on the train. I was wearing my contact lenses so I wasn't too happy about that. I always feel that they will roll round the back of my eye. So, when I got home, I was desperate to get them out and more or less took them out as soon as I could get my hands washed. I thought my eyes were a bit dry though as the lenses didn't want to leave my eyes very readily.

Normally, when I take my lenses out there is a slight moment of blurriness when I can't see, then my eyes stabilise and I'm OK. Last night, however, my vision stayed blurred all evening.

I was able to see well enough to drive but while I was at David's I noticed that I couldn't read clearly and the television was blurred. I had to lie down and close my eyes. I even fell asleep which I though meant that my peculiar vision was due to me being tired. However, my vision was still blurred when I woke up.

It was still like that this morning and so I became very concerned and booked up for the optician, again. I was only there a week ago.

I had an eye test. A very thorough eye test. My eyes had deteriorated severely since last week. There were blocks of letters where I couldn't even see that there were letters and others where I would normally be able to see the bottom row, where I couldn't read the top row.

The optician began to talk about sending me to the eye hospital and I began to be afraid for my sight.

Then she put some dye in my eyes and checked the surface for problems.

"You have a contact lens in your right eye," she said, laughing her head off.

I was both relieved and embarrassed. Very embarrassed. My eyesight was fine but I looked like a complete idiot.

She did check for any problems that may have arisen because I'd had a lens in for 31 hours but everything seemed OK. And she didn't charge me.

I'm warming to SpecSavers, I think.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clumsy 

Last night I went to see David. There is nothing unusual in this. I have been to see David near enough every day that I have known him. I have been to his house and walked through his front door nearly a thousand times.

Bearing that in mind, why then did I miss the doorway entirely with my right leg and slam my knee forcibly into the doorpost?

It hurt a lot and for quite a few hours. I am surprised that I haven't damaged it. There is a dull ache this morning but no bruising or swelling.

I was wearing a new pair of glasses but I don't think my prescription has changed THAT much.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Bloody glasses! 

In Buxton during the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, in the middle of a show, the lens fell out of my glasses because a crucial screw had worked its way out. I had them repaired the following day and everything was hunky-dory.

Last night, just before going to a BBC Prom at the Albert Hall, I gave my glasses a clean and, guess what?, the lens fell out again. Again a screw had gone missing. I had the choice of watching the Prom either without glasses (bright and blurry) or with my prescription sunglasses (sharp but dark and I look stupid).

I'm not bothering to get the glasses repaired. I think it's intrinsic to the design and the screw will continue to fall out until the end of time.

Today, I am wearing my contact lenses and have my other pair of glasses with me but I will have to buy a new pair. However, I'm not buying from one of those cheap places again. The last pair were from Vision Express or SpecSavers (they are unfortunately interchangeable to me) and I can't say I have ever been impressed with their level of service.

The only other nearest opticians is the 2020 Optical Store in Tottenham Court Road. Good products, good service but bloody expensive.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Language evolution 

I'm currently reading The Annotated Alice: The Definitive version. It's been a while since I read any version of Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass and even longer since I have read anything with annotations.

I have to say I am a little disturbed by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's (Lewis Carroll's real name) preoccupation with little girls. It was allegedly non-sexual but, nevertheless, it doesn't feel right as I am reading about it.

My favourite singer, Jill Sobule, referred to this in her song, Heroes. I hope she won't mind if I quote her:

Heard Babe Ruth was full of malice
Lewis Carroll I'm sure did Alice
Plato in the cave with those very young boys

Anyhow, reading it academically, I was able to move on to the story, which seems greatly different to the one I read. I think that version must have been very heavily abridged.

One other thing that I'm finding rather jarring (and the original reason for this post before I distracted myself) is the archaic versions of can't and shan't that pervades the book. The versions in vogue then were ca'n't and sha'n't. I know it's only an extra apostrophe but I'm surprised the language has moved on so quickly. No doubt the cants that are already littering our language will become vogue in not that many years in the future.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bus 

I took the bus to the station today. It was tipping down with rain so I didn't want to walk and Graham had had to leave early to get to the tip. Anyway, the bus took ten minutes to travel a distance it would normally manage in two. So I missed the 07:56 and the 08:00 services to Charing Cross.

I think everyone on the bus was thinking the same thoughts:

"Should I ask the driver to let me off now? I mean, I know we're nowhere near a bus stop but if I ask nicely, I'm sure he'll let me off. I could probably walk quicker to the station than this traffic."

Then two other things probably stopped us.

Firstly, that the rain started chucking it down harder than before and none of us would get to the station before getting completely soaked.

Secondly, that it is a law of probability that if you leave a slow-moving queue it will immediately get much faster. Each of us was waiting for someone else to leave the bus knowing that we would all get there a lot quicker.

No-one was willing to do the noble thing, the sods.

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Rain 

It's a curious thing but since I had my garden sorted out and I have put some plants in my borders, I have a completely different attitude to rain.

I'm still not entirely happy with getting wet on my way to or from work but, this morning, my first thought on hearing the rain at the window, was not doom and gloom, but a rather happy "great! I don't need to water the plants!"

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