Wednesday 29 November 2023

Time And Space

Hello, dear reader!

I’d like to travel with you on a journey. A journey through time and space!

Which, if you think about it, is every journey. I mean, that’s the point, yeah? You start off somewhere, you end up somewhere else and it takes a certain portion of the moon's passage around the earth and the earth’s passage around the sun (handy constructs for the passage of time) to get there.

But that’s not the kind of time and space I’m talking about. I mean the more theoretical kind, the imaginative kind. I’m talking about Doctor Who.

And having lost a good chunk of my potential audience I’ll explain a bit further why.

The Doctor Is In
Doctor Who, for those of us who have somehow managed to avoid exposure to a true cultural icon, is a pokey little soft sci-fi show featured on the BBC, the main purveyor of television in these British Isles. It’s famous for its historically less than special effects, its breadth and depth of story-telling, and an ability to capture the imagination of small children from 0-65 (or older).

It’s also not afraid to tackle the issues of the day.

Historically, this has included ecological matters (The Green Death), joining the EU (The Curse Of Peladon), and Thatcherism/Neoliberalism (The Happiness Patrol) among many others my mate Dez, a man with a scarily encyclopaedic knowledge of the show, could walk you through better than me (a man who looked it up in an on-line article from The South Wales Argus). The Daleks are literal space Nazis.

Saturday past, saw this tradition continue with a focus on identity and, in particular, Trans Rights. This has caused certain corners of the interwebs to explode.

Change, My Dear…
There is, you see, a section of Doctor Who fandom (Whovians, if you like), who, despite loving a show that is predicated on constant change, don’t like…change. They want the show to be as they remember it from their childhood (when they were young enough to miss political subtext, or even, well, text).

So when these ‘modern’ ideas are brought to the fore, there’s a reaction.

Now, I’m no psychologist, or economist, or behaviourist (is that last one a thing?) so I’m not going to speak too fully on why this may be. As a very nearly 50 year old, however, I think some of it might be due to a lack of exposure, and therefore understanding. I was raised in a very typical northern, working class culture where most people were white, heteronormative, and culturally Christian. Anything else was strange. Was ‘The Other’, and therefore, scary. Funnily enough, as a disabled person, that included me.

I’ve been stared at, bullied, hated, and pitied (And that’s just by my wife, Tina). I’ve had the most inane questions asked of me. I’ve also been accepted and befriended, recognised for the imperfect, clumsy idiot I often am, and, dare I say it, loved.

Which is why it was lovely to see Ruth Madeley, a very talented actress who has the exact same disability I have, play a UNIT scientist with the exact same disability I have. It meant I could imagine myself more fully in The Whoniverse as a character with agency, worth, a wheelchair I NEED NOW, and (according to some ill-informed social media warriors) an ability to cross her legs that made her disability ‘unbelievable’. She wasn’t just someone in need of rescuing. It was representation, and it meant something I was weirdly, quite proud. I guess that’s what representation means.

It makes it odd why I sometimes have difficulty myself when it comes to subconsciously ‘othering’ others. I don’t mean to, you understand. In fact, I’d like to say I’m an accepting kind of chap, perhaps informed by my own difficulties being accepted. It doesn’t stop me having to think about it, though. It doesn’t stop those visceral reactions railing against the ‘not me’ every now and then.

I’m sad to say something akin to that rose to the surface in that pretty-damn-good hour of television. It wasn’t, I’d have to say, the worst reaction someone could have had (X, or Twitter is a cesspool , even now), but there were moments of looking at Rose, a Trans character played by Yasmin Finney, a Trans actress in a different way. Moments where I, to whatever level, ‘othered’ her. I looked at her differently, I let the reality of her present be clouded by wonderings of her past. (I also thought the writing around Rose was a touch clunky, and might have been better served by being eked out a little more over the three specials, but again, is that informed by some subconscious discomfort?).

A Madman In A Box
As I said at the start of this too-long ramble, we are all on a journey. A journey through both time and space. As with any journey, we have the possibility to learn along the way. We can let our experiences, our ports of call, influence us positively. We can soak up the culture, learn the language, get lost, and find our way again—Or we can stay in the hotel, speak SLOWLY AND LOUDLY at people, and look for the British pub with its overpriced German beer. I know what my choice would be.

Because (to paraphrase), the world is so much stranger than that…And so much madder. And so much better!

Until next time…


Hey, there! If you enjoyed reading any of the above, why not take a look at some of my published work? Below you’ll find links to a number of short stories I’m lucky enough to have included in anthologies. I’d love to know what you think

New Tales Of Old

Death Ship

Pestilence: Drabbles 1

Reaperman: Drabbles 3

The Musketeers Vs Cthulhu

Eldritch Investigations

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