Saturday, 29 May 2010

Carruthers Camera #3

Another set of photos I took for the Carruthers blog:

This time they are linked. The first three were all taken whilst working at the hospital. While I would agree that smoking should not be allowed in hospitals, it is odd that these places of healing are surrounded with smoking related signage and bizarrely shelter from trom the elements specifically for smoking in.

The fourth photo was taken outside a pharmacy. Yes, really.

Where can you smoke?, Where can't you smoke?, There can you smoke and Wares you can smoke.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Short Trip

The second of the Big Finish writing opportunities was the possibility of writing a Doctor Who short story to be read for an audiobook volume entitled Short Trips. My story features the Sixth Doctor and Peri, played on television by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant respectively. Again I was unsuccessful and so here is my effort:

Ruby stood at the top of a cliff and looked out over the desolation of the plains below. She wore a long flowing red dress. It was expected. Brightly coloured smoke billowed from the wreckage of the network of factories and military barracks that had previously dominated the view. An evil scheme that had been years in the planning had been averted. She was as free of it as everybody else. People shuffled about her in disbelief. She was suddenly aware that she was drawing a crowd. No one among her newfound audience had actually approached her or said anything to confirm her identity, yet somehow there was a palpable shared question hanging in the air around her like an early morning fog. Is that her?

The man and the girl stepped from the blue cubicle and into the layer of grey dust that had settled in the industrial zone. The box had simply appeared, disappeared and reappeared, but no one showed any signs of surprise. Small pockets of people looked on. People who were as grey and dusty as their surroundings that they were almost indistinguishable from them. The man had a shocking messy blond mane and a coat that looked as though it was made from a patchwork of all the off-cut from all the carpets in all the brothels in Quaston. The girl attracted less attention initially but got more than she wanted from some of the crowd. They were reaching out to touch her face and hair and then shrinking away as soon as she looked at them.
Peri saw in their eyes that the dusty people had seen what had happened but couldn't care. That's not to imply that they were blasé about the sudden appearance of a bright blue column and two people stepping out of it, both wearing colours long since forgotten in the grey. They were just so tired that tired no longer seemed a sufficient word for how they felt.

The security cameras registered all of this, but due to the cutbacks there was no one to witness the event. Instead it was dutifully logged with a date, a time and a description that wouldn't do it justice. No one would read the log until it was much too late. Eventually the individuals would be identified, the man would later known as the Doctor and the girl’s name was Perry. The records would show this to be a boy’s name. This attracted no comment during her visit but afterwards whole essays and treatises were written about the possible significance of it. This was in itself a testament to the freedoms which stemmed from today’s events.

The wave of apathy that swept through the workforce was tangible to the Doctor who was visibly offended. He was clearly used to a better reception. Peri walked towards one man she saw limping. He slowed and bowed his head, as was custom.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
Everybody was surprised at her interest, not least the man in question. He looked behind to be sure she had meant him. He turned back and risked a look at her face. She had a beautiful face and perhaps more surprisingly, she had a clean face.
“Are you alright there?” she repeated.
There was a pause. A long pause. When he finally spoke it was with a voice that had forgotten how far it was from lungs to lips.
“Where?” he asked.
While it was a conversation that was not going to deliver on content, it still revealed much in its tone.

Ruby was deploying the weapon, it was a day she had always known was inevitable. Impressive towers with lights flashing in an apparently significant sequence loomed over an enormous gem. An exquisite stone, so flawless as to make a geologist weep. Ruby would no longer need to lie and hide her secret. The unashamed beauty of the gem was strangely reassuring for a woman throwing off the shackles of dependency and taking charge of her own life.

Somehow the Doctor and Peri had managed to be arrested, released, separated and then to infiltrate the underground movement in the space of a few short hours. It always amazed Peri that the Doctor never doubted the outcome. He would find a way to get in touch with the right people, the dispossessed, the unsatisfied and the public spirited. And so it was that she found herself running into a huge silo with an improvised rock-blasting laser on a strap over her shoulder. She didn’t have the heart to tell the resisters that she had no intention of using it, rationalising that if they believed she could pull the trigger, so would whoever she pointed it at.
The Doctor was already in the silo tinkering with a piece of machinery, his shoulders festooned with various wires and a very childlike yellow handled plastic screwdriver in his mouth. She paused and looked at her friend in his element, living his life by the seat of his pants. She sometimes needed reminding that they were pants that clashed with every piece of fabric, in whatever room he found himself.
“There you are.” she said relieved.
He spoke, but it was unintelligible until the screwdriver fell from his mouth. Peri caught it in her gun-less hand and put it in the pocket of his lurid shirt.
“Naturally” he apparently said again. He smiled.
This was what she enjoyed, these little snatches of time when he was unlike anyone else she had ever known. All too quickly they would be interrupted by a console room argument, a TARDIS malfunction or in this case a bolt of electrostatic energy tearing through the chest of the nearest resistance fighter.
Peri and the Doctor both looked up, there were heavily armed soldiers on the gantries overhead. Energy bolts were raining down. Peri looked to the Doctor before running for cover.

An explosion ripped open the far wall, exposing the outside world to Ruby’s secrecy. She had to put a stop to this fighting. This was precisely what the weapon had been constructed to avoid, she rushed her pre-checks and skipped steps seven to nine on the firing instructions.

The Doctor licked the end of a wire and twisted it to fit an unseen connection within a bank of electronics. He stood and smiled as if unaware of the chaos that had erupted around him. He turned and began to walk smugly towards Peri. She nearly died watching him from her cover behind a fallen gantry. She felt every bolt that missed him. Eventually he reached her position, leaned down and said in a loud whisper “Exit stage left?”
“You could have been killed. I should have shot you myself” Peri screamed at him.
She was aware that she was talking much faster than he was and she was still trying be understood above the noise of the battle, which he seemed nearly oblivious to.
“Oh charming”
This was how the arguments started she thought. Not because they weren’t friends, but because neither of them would admit just how good a friendship they had.

Ruby flicked open the cover to the big red button and looked up as if for divine inspiration.
Nothing happened.
She pressed the button. Nothing happened.
She looked around in disbelief and pushed the button again and again. Still nothing happened.
She stopped and glanced through the hole in the wall. She thought she saw something. If she craned her neck she had a slightly awkward view of the weapon’s effects. The weapon was working, but it wasn’t subjugating insurrectionists. Instead it was aimed at the factories. It reloaded and targeted the assembly lines and then the military bases. Explosions bounced across the seat of her power. Sparks fell from the measures she had put in place to limit the freedoms of her fellow natives. One by one her surveillance towers fell to the ground they had so studiously watched.

As the Doctor and Peri walked back to the TARDIS, the people who had previously seemed small and meek, now seemed equally small and meek. Albeit small, meek and well lit by the burning tools of the previous oppression.
“They don’t” Peri halted. “They don’t seem very-”
“Grateful?” the Doctor offered.
“A revolution happened”
“You are looking at a people living in the wake of a world changing event. These people are square pegs and their world is a round hole. They have to adapt and we have to let them.”
The Doctor ushered Peri into the blue box. He looked around and his gaze settled on the burning skyline. He absorbed the changing horizon and then stepped inside and shut the door behind him. The blue box disappeared, reappeared and disappeared again. They were gone, with no ceremony, no witnesses and, this time, no surveillance.

Ruby stood back from the edge of the cliff and dropped to her knees. Her red dress was stained with grey.
“Years of preparation, wasted. All that time spent putting my sitting ducks in a row”.
Her uppence came and she had to live with the results. The Doctor had changed her world, the Doctor had changed her life, but the Doctor didn’t change her. And for that she would always hate him.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Big Script

Big Finish Productions are a company producing audio plays and readings based on 2000 AD, The Tomorrow People, Sapphire & Steel, Stargate, Robin Hood, Dark Shadows, Highlander & most importantly Doctor Who. Recently they offered a couple of opportunities to write material for them. The first of which was to come up with the story for a single 25 minute episode of Doctor Who featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, played by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton respectively. The requirements were to plot out the story for a single 25 minute episode and a single scripted scene.

I am a massive Doctor Who fan. Massive. And as such I had to have a go at this, so I came up with a story and I was pretty pleased with it. I didn't win, but well done to Nick Briggs rhyming slang Rick Briggs who has the unenviable task of having us all compare his story to ours and judge him accordingly. I'm so pleased with the story I plan on re-writing it without including the TARDIS crew, so I won't be able to re-use the scene I wrote to demonstrate I could write scenes. So here it is...

The TARDIS has materialised on a human colony planet called Ozakis. The Doctor and Nyssa head towards the nearest building: an observatory. The peace is interrupted by a group of colonists who have degenerated into mindless zombies on the rampage. The pair run to the observatory only to find it locked up. The colonists catch up with them and are about to…when the door opens with much shouting and firing of guns. The observatory crew ask the TARDIS twosome general knowledge questions to ascertain whether they are infected. The Doctor only gets one right, Nyssa doesn’t get any. The crew declare that they are uninfected but rubbish at trivia, and allow them inside.


Thank you!

DOCTOR: Yes, I thought they were going to-

VALDEZ: (FX: GUN COCKED) They still might.

McCALL: Is that Celery? It is! He's wearing celery.

Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is-

NYSSA: Nyssa.

HOPPER: Hello. Hello. It’s been so long since we’ve seen anybody new.

DOCTOR: The people outside, what happened to them?

VALDEZ: You don’t know?

DOCTOR: Not yet.

McCALL: Does no one else care about the celery?

VALDEZ: The scanner detected three heartbeats and I only count the two of you. Where’s your friend?

DOCTOR: Oh, that’s me.(beat) And me. (FX: SCANNER NOISE)

HOPPER: He’s telling the truth.

VALDEZ: Not human, eh? And you?


VALDEZ: Maybe that explains it. Maybe you’re immune.

DOCTOR: But immune to what?

VALDEZ: McCall named it ‘the Wrath’, but that’s just because he has too much time on his hands.

McCALL: I hate celery. It's mostly water.

DOCTOR: So are you.

VALDEZ: Well if you’re going to eat our food, you’ve got to earn it. If you’re going to earn it, you’ve got to know your way around.


VALDEZ: The questions can wait, Doctor. Mister Hopper we’d better find a couple more plates in the stores. Mister McCall give these two a tour of the facility.


VALDEZ: (voice fades) I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.

McCALL: Well, if you’ll follow me. It’s not much, but it’s ours.(voice fades) I like to call this the west wing, of course we don’t have an east wing but it’s aspirational…

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Corrupt, Absent Or Not Writable

A little while ago my computer was thought beyond repair. When you switched it on it would helpfully inform you that:

STOP: c0000218 (registry file failure) The registry cannot the load the hive (file):\systemroot\system32\config\software or its log or alternative. It is corrupt, absent or not writable. Beginning dump of physical memory. Physical memory dump complete. Contact your system administrator or technical support group for further assistance.

And then nothing. Some friends informed me what a corrupt registry meant and that I should probably resign myself to losing all the scripts I'd written and photographs I'd taken and learn a valuable lesson about not backing things up.

Go and back your stuff up now. Go on. I'll wait. You'll thank me later.

Nice to have you back. Not having decent access to a computer in this day and age is more frustrating than I expected. People sent me scripts I couldn't read, people wanted me to send them scripts that may no longer have existed and you can't watch Doctor Who on the iPlayer if you miss it. Astonishingly this blog has somehow managed to carry on regardless while I have been without a computer. Maybe it doesn't need me anymore. Maybe it will see me as an inconvenience and decide it is better off without me. Maybe it will try and kill its creator like Frankenstein's monster.

Then again maybe not. Maybe it will run out of pre-prepared blogs just before I manage to pick up my now-fixed laptop and force me to write some filler material in a crowded and noisy library because the computers here won't allow me to embed another Pulp video. When I was a kid the only sounds you'd hear in a library were the datestamp, the crackle of stickyback plastic on a book as it opened and a bit of shushing. This library is more like a forum for open debate with a large spoonful of gossip thrown in.

The good thing about this development is that I can take this opportunity to thank Kev, Abigail, Dave, Nathan, Z & Cage for their IT advice and Neil, Sarah & Tom who have actually fixed the laptop. Thank you very much, you really went above and beyond the call on that one.

P.S. I know you didn't really go and back up your stuff, but one day you'll wish you had.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


Spa was a semi-professional site-specific promenade performance and when it came to getting paid, we were the semi.

The site specified was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital near Euston tube station. Formerly the New Hospital For Women it was the first hospital solely concerned with the health of women. Founded in the 1870s, it was run by women for women and thus enabled both poor women to seek treatment and female health professionals to provide it, an uncommon thing in that period.

The hospital is named after the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain and consequently the first female member of the British Medical Association. She remained the only female member for 19 years because the BMA promptly voted against the admission of further women after she joined. They sound welcoming.

As a site it was a real mix of derelict and state of the art. As the audience walked through the Spa that the hospital had now supposedly become, they walked through the history of the hospital. From its Victorian construction to the modern day via World War I. The Spa idea seemed a little forced to me. With a backdrop as realistic as a deserted hospital why not use it, as much as possible, as a hospital?

I played a Ghost in Georgian costume. That's Georgian as in George VI, rather than Stalin's birthplace. I was required to interrupt treatments and massages, pour myself a glass of apparently healing water and exit. I sip very well. We were one of the first little surprises the audience had, albeit a very gentle surprise. This meant we were finished a little earlier than most and were always the first in the pub.

My friend Irwin was also involved and found himself allocated a place in the more modern day bar and was therefore nearer the end of the audience's route. He discovered that as much as he was acting, he was mostly providing them with some free bar staff.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Piccadilly Pigeon

Just as Teeth proved I have a lot to learn about animation. This video shows I leave a lot to be desired as a cameraman too. I filmed this on the Piccadilly line. I didn't do a very good job, but you get the idea.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Practitioners Unplugged

Back in 2000, I took part in a workshop with the educational arm of English Touring Theatre. A little while later, this leaflet arrived:

There we are miming goodness knows what, listening intently and laughing like fools.

Did English Touring Theatre ask our permission before plastering us all over their promotional material?

I doubt it.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Blister Vista

With the tale of the running of the marathon covered, the aftermath is perhaps also worthy of a bit of attention.

As soon as we crossed the finish line and stopped running I had somehow forgotten how to walk. My knees no longer wanted to bend. The short walk from the finish to Trafalgar Square took me a ridiculously long time. Continents move faster. Mark wasn't feeling well and Brogan was trying not to thump a very vocal nearby idiot, so we trudged on at a snail's pace. It was great to meet up with our families and friends and have a sit down at the fountain's edge. I removed my trainers to give my punished feet an illicit dip and this is the sight that greeted me:

Isn't that a beauty?

The next day my knees were both still in a fixed position, but I could walk. Getting from a seated position to standing however took a lot more effort and faith than I could ever have imagined. The cupboards were bare and I had to head out to the cornershop for something to eat. On an ordinary day it would take me less than five minutes to get there and back again. The day after the marathon the round trip took at least an hour. It must have been like watching a contender for the world's shortest stiltwalker take those first few tentative steps into a future that is both pointless and terrifying.

Over the next few days movement returned to my knees and I began to walk less and less like I was evacuating my bowels with each step. I quickly discovered that stairs were the enemy and that heading down was much worse than climbing them. In the midst of all this the down escalator at my nearest tube station broke, appropriately down, and I faced either a long walk to another station or a perilous and agonising descent to platform level. I'm still taking ibuprofen to help with the inflamation but it's getting easier all the time and I haven't had to place frozen peas of knees since last Monday.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can still sponsor us and if you still need a reason you can take another look at my blister:

Total sponsorship to date = £1,963.14

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Carruthers Camera #2

Another set of photos I took for the Carruthers blog:

Turbulence is another trainspotting sketch photo.

I've always loved Comic Relief and so I took Nosed as an acknowledgement of Red Nose Day, but it looks like I was on the receiving end of a headbutt from Mickey Mouse.

It occurred to me that the opticians angle of * would compliment Andy's glasses sketch.

Keep Off The Tracks was taken in London's Paddington station and I don't understand how it got there.

When I worked as a hospital porter I took a fair few photos of my workplace. One day while I was doing just that, a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said: "May I ask what you're doing?". Feeling cheeky I just said "Yes, you may" and carried on. It turned out that this was not a good move. He pressed me for an answer and when I sheepishly said I was just taking photos he informed me that I needed permission and threatened me with confiscation of my camera. I presume that he thought I was a journalist, rather than an idiot who likes taking photos of signs. If I had been a journalist I would have been a journalist thinking he had something to hide. The Department of Sexual Health was always abbreviated in conversation to DOSH. Enter is a cheap gag.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Tables Turned

I'm taking part in a rehearsed reading tomorrow of a play by William Morris.

He is, of course, the William Morris more famous for this:

The semi-staged reading by the New Factory of the Eccentric Actor is of his only play, the brilliantly named The Tables Turned or Nupkins Awakened, described as 'A Socialist Interlude' and to my knowledge it hasn't been performed in decades. I'm playing Lord Tennyson.

The performance begins at 7pm here.

P.S. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether or not we are featured but the BBC coverage of the London Marathon is about to disappear from the iPlayer Marathon Part 1, Part 2 and the Highlights. I haven't been in a position to watch it so I suppose I'll never know.