Heaven and Hell

Another figure from my childhood has gone, Ronnie James Dio died today.

When I was young I think I felt that my heroes were bulletproof and beyond reproach. As I grew, I lost interest, finding new outlets for my energy and enthusiasm, but in later life I’ve rediscovered a lot of the music (TV and movies too) that I loved and have found my feelings haven’t really changed. The appreciation is on more levels now, I can see it from more angles, from a little more distance. I know it’s not perfect now, but it was perfect for me at one time and that makes it timelessly personal and endlessly joyful.

Here’s to our heroes.

Doctor Who and the Planet of Merchandise

There’s going to be a lot of upset with those new daleks, the main one being that there will be six new action figures to collect (including the genius olive drab one with the webbing), and an accusation that the whole thing is an exercise in merchandisng along the lines of the Star Wars prequels (which no-one should watch, ever).
But listening to episode writer Mark Gatiss wax lyrical about wanting to make the new versions be like the movie daleks, I’m right there with him. The telly ones always looked like they’d been pulled out of an old damp lock-up and hastily painted-up for filming (because they had been), the movie ones were colourful, big and badass (apart from a fault that makes the skirt-globes misaligned at the back, but that’s a geek-only thing probably…), and had guns that actually shot something rather than relying on a sound effect and grimacing extras being exterminated.
The new daleks are a bit like Chris Achilleos’ and the TV21 daleks as well, so the retro feel is there on several levels for folk of a certain age.
I like the fact that the daleks are proper daleks now as well, they really had been made very weak in the new Doctor Who, they should be confident fascists, not a disorganised rabble of half-hearted right-wingers looking for someone else to blame for their misfortune.

But, the episodes are still way too short, running around and shouting to try and cram all the story into 45 minutes. We need BBC3 to show an extended version late at night for folk with an attention span longer than 7 seconds.

By the way, if you don’t hear from me again, the BBC will have had me killed for using their images, despite both you and I having paid for them.

Doctor Who and The Daleks

Holly loves Doctor Who. How this came about we’re not too sure, but add to that, that she asks to hear Hampstien (Rammstein, her current favourite is Sonne from Mutter) when she’s in Dad’s car and Joycee is increasingly shaking her head at the pair of us comparing notes on our shared hobbies.
There is an another element to this, I don’t have to buy anything, my folks still have a loft full of my old Daleks, Cybermen and more that I can bring out one at a time and maintain the ideal position as the girl’s hero.
Best thing I’ve ever seen in my life? Holly putting out a bowl of cereal for K9. That’s my girl.

Baah Baah Baah (dadadadada) Baah Baah Baah Baah Baah (dadadadada) Baah Baah Baah Baaaah!

For my generation some things loomed large in our childhood.  My grandparents stories of Mitchell bombers landing with no undercarriage, Mosquito’s still coming home safely when being shot full of holes, of running through the night to wind out the barrage balloons as the Luftwaffe headed to Clydebank once again, they’re etched into my mind forever. It was a tangible reality to me, the stories when told to me were closer to the events in time than I am now to when I heard them. I’ve been to the jungles of Burma and I’ve driven through the darkness of the Highlands with vital components for the RAF in a truck with no lights. They’re my memories, and nobody can tell me different.
Commando comics, running round the woods with an imaginary Sten gun, movies full of heroisim and sentiment that now seems out of place in our selfish society were what many of us grew up on.
But times change, everything becomes just a hobby, and some clever bugger somewhere will feed that with product so that the interested can become the collector, and them possibly the obsessed.
This does mean that you can get a hold of some cool stuff though, and as this winter I’ll be testing some alternative clothing, Pile & Pertex, Ventile, Finisterre, I thought we could maybe get some really retro stuff in to see how it stacks up.
Broadsword calling Danny Boy…

The Ladybird Book of Everything

Here is a book that will give pleasure to locomotive enthusiasts of all ages.

Illustrated in full-colour are 48 British Railway locomotives which have been specially selected to show the most interesting types at present operating. These include many of the latest diesel and electric locomotives.

Firts published in 1958

1958? I found this book at my folks, it was mine when I was wee. And it is mine again, with a whole rake of Ladybird books in fact. I love the illustrations, the plain talking used to communicate ideas and concepts to a younger audience without being patronising or dumbing it down.
This is an important point. Writing and broadcasting being aimed at the lowest common denominator rather than encouraging the general standard to rise up up to meet a finer, more articulate level of communication and understanding.
I can forsee a time when magazines and newspapers are written in txt spk, and when television news changes it’s format to that of showing video footage of an event accompanied by the presenter merely shouting “This thing is baaaaad!” or “This thing is gooood!” just in case the footage is ambiguous. Actually that wouldn’t be any worse that the current trend of talking endless bollocks about a subject, most of which is opinion and padding. What happened to giving us just the hard facts?
It’s as bad as narrators recapping documentaries after ad breaks. I mean it’s only been four minutes at most, I can remember feeding dolphins in 1971, I think I can pick up the thread again after four minutes, even though I’ve spend some precious and apparently rare mental energy on making a cup of tea.
Stupid bastards.

1958? I’m sure mine’s a reprint, mid sixties at least. I’m not as old as steam trains. Am I?

Action Man

I was rummaging around at my folks house at the weekend and I think I may have found the source of my obsession with orange kit.
It was subliminal suggestion by the evil Palitoy mega corporation.

He’s got ten point crampons, a frighteningly long ice axe (or railway track laying/agricultural tool), a Whillans Alpiniste pack with helmet and goggles inside and ice hammer attached.
The polo necked jumper does away with the need for a Buff, and possibly makes a beard obsolete as well. I’m sure only the navy Action Man had a beard, but I’m sure sailors wore polo necks as well, at least in black and white days…

He’s pre eagle eyes and gripping hands which shows my age as much as his.

I actually have a smock that looks just like this, a Karrimor Alpiniste from the late 90’s. Same colour, same pocket, same glaikit look from the face sticking out the top of it.

He now stands proudly on the dressing table surveying the mighty unconquered peaks of the Duvetlaya across the Carpet Pass.
Until Joycee notices or Holly gets her hands on him of course.

Babmm Babmm Babmm

I liked Patrick McGoohan on screen, he had an intensity and presence, an essence of unpredicatbility and suppressed emotion that would have made him a very different Jimmy Bond to Sean Connery. More Daniel Craig in style I think.
One film worth finding is Hell Drivers from ’57 where he plays a thoroughly mean truck driver in amongst an amazing cast of familiar names at an early stage in their carreers.

The Prisoner, Captain James T Kirk and The Doctor (Tom Baker incarnation of course) will always be my ultimate power trio, easily giving a doing to Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco or Cream.

I’ve had press packs landing on the doormat reminding me of what’s coming up for Spring/Summer ’09. Keen (review of long term test of mens and wummins Voyageurs and Aroyos coming up in a few weeks) have some new shoes with grippy soles and I’ll be reviewing the Oregon PCT’s soon enough. Yes, I’ve been wearing boots.
Petzl have revamped a whole rake of stuff, a reaction to everyone else catching up? Good news for us anyway.
And, I’ve been shopping. There’s a few bits and pieces that I just had to have, including…wait, that’s the mail in.

Alright! a bag of bright blue tent pegs and purple dyneema cord. More later.

Up and back again

It’s cold out there when you go north. Not much snow left, but what’s left is solid. It’s nice to see icicles, and big ones too, even at the road side. All the water on Rannoch Moor looked like you could skate on it, and Loch Leven had big ice patches on it. Nice to see the frost clinging on all day with little effort.

It all kinda takes me back to the winters where we’d enjoy an increasingly fast slide in the playground before it thawed over the weekend without constant polishing by small-sized feet or the janitor got to it with a bucket of salt. Where we’d go out to play in the snow, get soaked through and not feel the cold.

Aye, all this gear is rubbish. What we need are woolly mitts and balaclavas knitted my mums and grannies.

No, you can’t eat the chocolate decorations on the tree until all the decorations come down.

I used to get chocolate tool sets for Christmas in the 70’s, and chocolate smokers sets, even chocolate guns. I did become an engineer, but not a smoker or a cowboy/mercenary. However these things all disappeared, went out of fashion or got banned by the same toothless dogooder bastards that helped to build our current society which is largely devoid of personal accountability or responsibilty.
“It’s someones elses fault/concern/business”. Yes, because you’re shite.

However, my chocolate tool set is most definitely my favourite item from Santa’s sack. It’s got a shifter as you’ll see, and everything else that you could possibly need at work, or for DIY around the home.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’m sure there was a chocolate pirate set with barrels of rum in it.
See, we ate that stuff and had Black Sabbath playing at the Glasgow Apollo, The Sweeney on the telly and lead in our petrol. What have we got now? Haribo and the X Factor, and the latter causes more polution that the lead ever did.

Free Inside

I’ve been watching some classic proper Doctor Who on the SciFi channel today. I still think of Peter Davison as the new Doctor.

When she’s a wee bit bigger, I wonder if Holly will find something like the Doctor Who cards I collected from Weetabix packets in 1975 (Mr Dalek to the left) to collect and get all excited about. Probably not where kids are at these days, or is it?

I should know this stuff, where’s the manual…

The Broons and Oor Wullie

I love them, always have. The hardback editions they’ve been releasing the past ten years or so with the old 30s-60s reprints are a total joy.

Lack of regular hours has seen me flicking through a few of these and a few facts that I may have missed before have come before me and this vital information must be conveyed.

  1. Maw Broon’s first name is Maggie. Her brother comes for a visit and greets her by name. By this reasoning I am declaring Paw to be called Joe. The first born girl and boy taking the parents names.
  2. Oor Wullie used to have a baby brother or sister. They were written out inexplicably in the early days, for reasons unknown.
  3. Wullie has moved house, he used to be in a two story and is now in a bungalow. With the same garden, wall and shed.
  4. The Broons used to live in Glasgow. At some point they, their house, all the other houses, all the people they know, including Wullie (who seemed to live in Bishopbriggs) move to Dundee. Ish.

That last one is as “clever” as what they did with the first two Hellraiser films. The first one was in Englandshire and the second which immediately follows the narrative of first without so much as blink was in the US. Movie makers respect their audience.



Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This has loomed large in my life, visually and aurally.

Odd how at times of stress, or extreme change we can draw comfort from the familiar, however esoteric, or transient ity may seem to be.

It’s also nice to know that descisions and choices, likes and dislikes made when I was young are defensible. Age adds experience, but doesn’t take away your youthful enthusiasm. You have to give that away all on your own.