Saturday, 31 January 2009

Why I Listen To Doctor Who Incidental Music

I don't mean Dudley Simpson's orchestral stuff here, nor Murray Gold's modern version, but the synth outpourings of Roger Limb et al in the 80s.

Well, it's like this. A lot of Doctor Who music is well written, vaguely atmospheric and reminds me of being a kid. It is also, unsurprisingly, almost devoid of serious emotional content. Adric's theme, the end of Earthshock - it's alright, but it's no Love Will Tear Us Apart. For me, this is good. It means I can listen to tunes without being battered by the contents of my own mind. Goodness knows why we like to see our pain reflected in our music - what on earth is this for? Is it to express the pain, through tapping and dancing or whatever, or is it to deepen it, and enable us to spend hours in brutal melancholy?

Listening to these synth themes obviates this problem. In fact the best of them are not even the 80s guys but the sheer brilliance of Delia Derbyshire, who seemed to have a feel for electronic sound like no-one else. the 80s stuff is much more conventional, it doesn't really push boundaries like hers does, but it does use synths and samples to tell the story in sound, which I find appealing. Peter Howell's music for The Five Doctors for example is the story, as much as the teleplay or the camerawork is.

The appeal is also nostalgic. I was given a record of Doctor Who music by a friend when I was 10, and I taped it; then later I bought it on CD; now I have it on iTunes (and am listening to it now in fact) - the form has shifted, like my own in these twenty two years, but the tunes still carry the information of those early days, when I could see Leckhampton Hill from my classroom and you could still have a teacher throw a board rubber at your head. In fact, when I listen to this, I am listening to the story of my own life, as I see it, as much as I am to the stories behind the music.

And it is music: sounds, phasing, rhythm, themes - it's just not three minute statements of the bleedin' obvious.

But there's little point overstating the theory or the nostalgia. I listen to it because I like it, because I can get on and do other stuff as well, and because I don't have to listen to some kid spewing out my own romantic problems in the process.

Now there might be another question here - why not just silence?

But that's another story altogether.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


...receives a very unTTD post...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

This Is my N - Leafed Clover

mathematics...tears before bedtime...vivid dreams in bright primary colours...laughing with my pupils in a conspiracy of friendliness devoid of power relations...reading about the past...having my poetry analysed and criticised..listening to Doctor Who music...examinations...not reading the newspapers...walking a riverbank and watching the evening sky in between the branches...arm in arm with a friend...cutting the car...reading the most beautiful poetry ever written by ten year olds...ignoring the criteria...growing up together with language...getting lost in Reading...loathing and despising that ghastly mixture of nineteenth century gothic and late twentieth century neo-classical pastiche...talking a book with a stranger...learning from someone whose name you'll never know...solving a problem after giving up on it...being passed over for promotion...being left alone, right alone...finding you are the same as someone else...realising humanity is difference, not similarity...casting off the shackles of ideology...hacking away the people who think your private world is their domain...watching a film of demons and seeing them out of the corner of your eye.


Root x, x to the half, the number or the value that is multiplied by itself to make x, you take it and you put it over two, then you spring up the two to make half x to the half, then you differentiate and you stick the half in front of the x and slap down the half index so that it is x to the minus half. Alternatively you could wallop one over root x, then you fiddle, or rather you divide, so then you get a sort of quotient which is x to the minus half, and the neat thing about that is that you can easily, as it were, reverse the operation because it leaves no remainder and no doubt: you just reverse what you did to obtain the fraction.

A conveniently ingested portion of excreted material.

Indeed, a fraction is not a statement: it is an action - when you look at a fraction (one number sliced by another) you look at a process. That process can do its stuff and have its stuff undone by its inverse.

I have proofs of all this shit at the other place....

Hole in the Heart

...and love falls through it, onto the street, where you see it gleam for a moment but take it for sweet wrapping; you think you see something dipping out of your line of sight but you return to real life (work and desire and ambition and hate)as soon as the thought strikes you, as you should, as only life can continue through - and the feeling is gone, sunk, like everyone else's feelings, into the running sore of the gutter.

And it is over.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

John Scott Martin - Exterminated

I know it's a bit crass, but he did appear in over 100 episodes of Doctor Who, almost always as a Dalek (I think he was also an extra in The Daemons, at least), and he has died aged 83. He was a real stalwart of old Who, and probably did more than anyone else apart from Peter Hawkins to bring the Daleks alive as characters: although the voices weren't his, the movements were and it was often in the sudden, jerky movements of a Dalek that you glimpsed the irrationality underneath the robot-like exterior - it gave you a hint of the mass of hate inside.

I wonder how many people he exterminated over those 100 odd episodes?

Thanks, John.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Art of Noise

Silence, as they say, is a non-reactive rare earth metal. In which case, noise is a precious though abundant element.

The problem is: where do you go for noise? How do you achieve it?

Well, I suggest that an average primary classroom is a good place to start: in there is all human noise - the hum of work, the mutter of conspiracy, the febrile buzz of unconscious flirtation (and that's just the teacher and assistant), the groans of pain, the sneers of hate.

It's all there, and in any good classroom they mix and mould all together, giving an outsider the impression of some kind of productivity. Whereas, what really exists is a sort of subdued revolution, consisting of all the adult, sub-adult and immature minds in that room, dancing together in felcitious concert.

Look for noise in the scribbling of pencils, in the sharpening of the same, in the bloated silence of the rubber, in the pregnancy of the staring into space, in the glare of the teacher, in the misread glance of enthusiasm from educator to pupil: at every stage the noise.

Even to the warlike roars, chants and screams of the playground. This is where we act all politics, from the tribal disputes to the sophisticated attempts to bring protagonists together (usually without genuine success, thus guaranteeing yet another League of Nations fiasco).

Into the frustrated scraping of chairs and all too rapid scuffling of coats at the end of the day. Noise, meaningful noise, what it means to be a community.

A surviving, thriving community.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

New Year, Etc....

I wonder if the thing is not so much to renew yourself, through resolutions, or by some arbitrary action to appear to be changing - but to recognise yourself anew. By which I mean, see what it was that had been holding you back, and see what you were before that happened.

Very few of us can look back at ourselves with honesty. For one thing, we genuinely forget what we were like. Through the difficult patch, we come, as through all kinds of memory, to see ourselves as perfect before. This "memory cheats" thing must be some kind of survival device.

You are what you are: you will probably not succeed in changing that significantly, unless something happens to you - shocks you, in some way. But how do you know that what you think you are is what you are? In the muddle, the wave of relationships, the power games they need, the way that they grow around you like your most comfortable clothes, in all this, it is hardly a surprise that you look in the mirror and you don't quite see yourself, but instead see yourself looking a certain way (good or bad) "in that". Your perception is coloured by something that is not, in fact, you.

So what are you, then? How do you recover or recognise what it is that you are and what you can do with it?

I think this is where New Year's Resolutions come in, and the psychology of hope- especially the kind of vicarious hope that we have seen lately. But these are more likely to represent what we want to be, not what we are.

To be honest, I have no idea. I look for the answer in words, in alcohol, in staring at the mirror, even in -yuk- work (which is usually the way of blocking self off altogether): but no answers are forthcoming.

Is it possible, after all, that it is very difficult to know how to recognise yourself? Or is it me?

Friday, 16 January 2009


I've just spent the evening on...FACEBOOK.

Fuck me, I'd rather admit to spending it wanking over porn.

but I wasn't, so I can't.

Never Let Me Down (again)

From up here I can see the gutters, the filthy gutters, the ones I am supposed to be looking up from at the stars. But no: I can see the fag ends, the leaf-mulch, the filth of the Thames, the blood of the rodents and the accumulated dirt of the valley floor.

The stars are behind me; though I can't see them I see their faint reflections in the dirt. They are diminished in the passage of light, even in the beauty of soil.

From here I travel through empty boughs and over the hardly moving meadow grass: the wild barley stays brittle in the stillness. There it is, dark, monochrome, given a sort of sub-illumination, unnoticed.

No-one cares about the stars, but the boughs hold tall over the valley, full and broad. They stand, despite the fall of time. They simply hold.

Give me the dirt, the essence of life and the rain, over a fascist, body-worshipping, death-cult sun-regime - any time.

Give me the lush, sinking soil on any day of my life. Let me look, fly, fall, sink and then merge in the full body of the ground.

Then I see the stars.

They are nothing. Literally nothing.

Here, life bleeds into soil and back again. Ideas crawl into the air and are picked up, mainly by people who don't want them.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Matt Smith

He's got the face for it...that's for sure. I was worried a young actor might just be cast for eye candy but his face has got real possibilities!

Good luck, Matt, I am insanely jealous.

Live Blogging the New Who Announcement

...come on, get on with it....RTD going on and on at the moment...zzzzz....hurry up....

Ah...a flashback sequence....oh I still love Peter Davison as Who...

David Tennant reckons it's the youngest Doctor...hmm...who's that then? Not David Morrissey then! Sadly.

hmmm...running down the Doctors now...zzzz...

OMG this means the new Doctor is going to be younger than me! Holy moley that's how you know you're getting older.

You know I really like Jon Pertwee's Doctor these days. I think he is a brilliant Doctor. I didn't like him as a kid but these days I do like the more sort of aggressive character of the 3rd Doctor. The Doctor as a fully paid up member of the establishment...

OMG the new Doctor is 26!!! Oh no I am getting old now....

Oh....I don't recognise his face....Matt Smith.

Who the hell is he?