Wednesday 10.06.13 in which I debate whether Gallifreyans can change sex and other guff.

Hello, Readers.

I don’t know whether it is the news of the dubious future of Xanga, where I have had a presence in one form or another, for over a decade, but I have not had an inclination to write anything at all. That’s not to say that I haven’t garnered subjects in my head from time to time, but when it has come to the act of pressing fingertip to key I have found it impossible to be motivated. There is no connection between what is in my mind and the wish to see it in printed word forms on a screen.

So, let’s steer clear of the Xanga debate except to day that I have set up a place at WordPress, which seems okay, but which I have yet to use properly, and turn to more pressing matters such as who will take over from Matt Smith in “Doctor Who” now that he has announced that he is to regenerate in the Christmas episode. Speculation in the media is rife and, of course, the old “will it be a woman?” subject has raised it’s gnarled old head again just as it has ever since Tom “Fourth Doctor” Baker mischeviously wished his successor great success “whoever he, or she, might be…” The Doctor can not regenerate into a woman. There are Time Lords and Time Ladies: if a Gallifreyan character is “born” as a male then he stays that way throughout his regenerations. Similarly it seems, through the show’s long history, that if a Time Person is “born” white he or she stays white, if they were black or oriental in their first persona then they remain so through their regenerations.

Should show-runner Stephen Moffat experience some sort of mental flip and cast a woman, then I will stop watching the series. That’s not me being sexist, that’s me being loyal to a character: the Doctor may look and act differently each regeneration, but he is in essence the same person at heart(s). There is no Trill-like symbiotic presence to bond with a different host (and how strange that on-screen Dax managed to bond with two pretty females in swift succession rather than a middle aged man as previously but never seen.) Years ago I stopped watching when Colin Baker was cast as the Sixth Doctor because the character was so altered as to be a different person. It didn’t last; the Sixth Doctor mellowed and in the subsequent audio stories from Big Finish is much more Doctor-y and as Colin Baker would always have preferred to play him.

So, who will play HIM when he regenerates? Many names have been bandied about and the BBC have denied the Sunday Telegraph’s claim that they offerred the part to Rory Kinnear, recently seen in “Skyfall.” Personally I’d love it if it was Russell Tovey, but I suspect he wouldn’t want to be tied to one part for so long. My speculation is that it might be one of the two male leads from the recently-cancelled Merlin, perhaps Bradley James, who played Arthur or Colin Morgan, who portrayed Merlin himself. In my opinion Bradley James, although very handsome, is not a good enough actor to bring it off. He’s a perfectly serviceable actor, but I don’t see enough depth in his performances to bring to a character like the Doctor whereas Colin Morgan has that slight other-worldliness that Matt Smith has and the acting skills to go with it. I’m unlikely to be right in any case. Despite the fact that the media is reacting to the news as though Smith rang the BBC one morning and said, “Well, lads, it’s been fab but I’ll only do up to Christmas,” the reality is more likely to be that he gave his notice in many months ago and that the Twelfth Doctor has already known who he is for a very long time.

What may happen to the character in his twelfth incarnation? The series has a tradition that as Gallifreyans proceed through their regenerations they are prone to corruption and the likelihood that they will become evil versions of their former selves. Indeed, this has already been seen with the Doctor himself: the character of the Valeyard during the “Trial of a Timelord” series in the 80s turned out to be a baddie-future-regeneration of the Doctor. The Valeyard was even mentioned in the last episode of the most recent series as the Doctor and Clara had to confront all the past versions of himself. And then there’s the sticky situation regarding the number of regenerations that a Time Lord has. In the 1996 the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) states that a Time Lord has 13 lives. This means that the next time he changes should be the last time – after that he will die when his time comes. But, lest we forget, we are in the realms of science-fiction where anything can, and does, happen. During the action of “The Five Doctors” the Time Lords promise the evil Master another regeneration cycle if he helps them (and he’s already been through, and rather gruesomely beyond, his generation cycle and is then inhabiting someone else’s body.) If the programme is still making money for the BBC and still gaining success around the world (especially in the US) then it won’t be the Time Lords that grant the Doctor a prolonged existence, it will be the Grand Council of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Let us leave the fantastic worlds of science fiction and television behind and return to reality.

Today Drew has driven up to Birmingham to attend the funeral of his uncle, his father’s twin, who died a couple of weeks ago. He looked very smart, driving away in his suit trousers and a tie, but although he will get to see some relatives he rarely sees and one of his nieces who he adores, naturally it is not an experience he is relishing. Since his parents died he finds funerals very difficult. I hope he is okay, but he will be home tonight and we spoke (eventually after various phone problems) when he had just reached Birmingham. The Girls are behaving better than I had hoped in his absence; Charley has spent most of the morning asleep, which is usual for her because she’s not a morning girl, while Lola has not been as hysterical as she sometimes is. I think this is because I’ve been busy doing houseworky things and Lola has followed me about so she hasn’t had time to dwell on Drew not being here. Long may this continue, because there are times when her neurosis is hard to cope with without losing your temper.

We had a very nice weekend. I had both Saturday and Sunday off work, which was good. Our neighbour, a lovely lady, was having an “open day” at her house on Saturday, which she has recently sold. We assumed this was so that her (many) friends could pop in to wish her farewell but it turned out it was actually her 70th birthday too. After doing some much needed shopping we and The Girls took a good luck card and a bottle of wine and knocked on her door.

I always find it awkward to meet new people, although I get over it fairly quickly, but the arrival of the Girls elicited more attention than we did. Lola was very over-excited and wanted to meet everyone all at the same time, so I had to hold her on my lap until she had calmed down. Charley was not at all sure and did not really relax. Unfortunately she took against our hostess’s sister, why we will never know although she does possess a passing resemblance to both the woman who cuts the dogs’ hair and my Mum’s cousin, who Charley has never liked. But this dislike of the sister extended to Charley trying to nip her on the leg as she walked past even though she (Charley) was sitting on Drew’s lap. She has never tried to bite anyone before! Fortunately this incident was laughed off by everyone except Charley who did settle but not without keeping her eye on her perceived nemesis and the occasional grumble. We took them home in the end, though, which Lola was cross about but which meant we were able to relax.

In the end, having been wary of feeling a little out of place, we out-stayed everyone save the sister who was staying there and got home, slightly merry but the right side of a bowl of soup each, after midnight! It had been a very pleasant evening indeed, and nice to meet lots of new people despite my shyness.

Sunday was not the bright and sunny day my parents had hoped for as they had invited the two of us, the Girls and my brother’s family round for lunch to celebrate Mum’s birthday earlier in the week. Disappointingly my sister-in-law wasn’t well enough to come but the rest of us managed to enjoy ourselves. The original intention had been to eat outside, but the chill put paid to that so Mum layed out a buffet lunch in the dining room and we all trooped in and out as often as our appetites required. It was a lovely spread, of course, and I ate far too much. I’d like to think that the walk some of us then took in the nearby park wore off some of the extra calories, but I doubt it. (It was during this walk that my youngest nephew sagely informed his older sister that if anyone should be able to pooh in their trousers then it would be Father Christmas, because he’s magic and he could magic himself some clean ones on!)

Dad, my brother and my oldest nephew stayed behind to watch some sport or other on telly, so it was Mum who accompanied the other two to the playground in the park while Drew and I took the dogs for a walk. We met up after about 40 minutes and strolled back to the house for “surprise” birthday cake (that everyone knew about, particularly Mum as she had bought it) and some drawing and colouring in before Brother decided it was time get back to Sisterinlaw. Drew and I stayed for another hour but then left Mum and Dad to watch the Montreal Grand Prix in peace, and came home for tea.

Work-wise things are much better. Finishing at half one in the afternoon is bliss and so far I’ve been asked to go in early for all my late shifts, so I’ve been finishing at a reasonable hour. After today I have 5 shifts in a row, but I really don’t mind about that. I have learned two relevant, and interesting facts this week: another hospital is reviewing its 12 hour shifts on its elderly wards and the one ward where the Matron claims everyone is happy with the new shifts is not happy at all: I worked with woman yesterday who left after 6 months on there so she could return to working short shifts on the pool who informed me that the staff on there are anything but happy! Of course, as we suspected, the three month trial period has not resulted in anything and in fact has been extended to six months! And “they” wonder why we don’t trust them.

Ah well. I’m going to try posting this on WordPress as well.


Holeinyoursoul’s back, back again!

Does Michael Phelps advertise “Head & Shoulders” anti-dandruff shampoo anywhere outside the UK? I ask merely because in what might be seen as a cashing-in-on-his-success move, the commercials are being re-run here for the first time in a few years.

Well, it’s been a loooong time since I wrote anything on here. The muse has deserted me as far as blogging goes, it seems, with my preferring short outbursts on Facebook every now and then and, more rarely, on Twitter. I have, however, gone on reading everyone else’s blogs and even commenting sometimes. 

I’m now three years into my new job as a Health Care Assistant at the local hospital and although I’ve now been there long enough to get drawn into the “politics” of the place I am still really enjoying it. Most of the time. And I don’t think I’ll ever regret getting out of retail, which I felt was sapping my will to live. That said there are two things I miss about my old job – the sense of camaraderie in the section I worked in and the excitement leading up to Christmas. At the bookshop the lead up to Christmas would begin slowly in August as tentative plans were mulled over, important titles were advertised by publishers and so on. By the end of September some of the Christmas annuals would already be arriving and interviews for temporary staff would be underway. As the nights drew in and the town centre began to be decorated the atmosphere would start to build and build until the frantic shifts of the last days before Christmas. I would come home worn out, sometimes, but definitely in a festive mood.

At the hospital Christmas kind of creeps up on you. Here it is something that just happens suddenly – the only differences are that at some point someone decorates the ward and the Christmas/New Year rota is posted. The work carries on as usual, although of course we attempt to being some seasonal cheer to things where appropriate. But it’s not the same.

I work primarily with elderly people, which I wanted to do and which suits me just fine. In fact I discovered, when I had to do a shift on another ward, that working with more able people than I usually do, I felt at a bit of a loose end at times. The first chap I offered to help looked at me askance for a moment and then explained that he would pop off for a shower later on.

I have always found older people interesting. I used to get my grandparents to tell me stories from their childhoods and I would devour anything I could read about local history, particularly personal accounts so if there is an opportunity to do so I talk to the patients I’m looking after. As a consequence I have heard some amazing tales: bomb disposal from World War 2; life on a pre-mechanised farm from a patient who was 104; life as prisoner of war in an allied prisoner of war camp from a woman whose Nazi-opposing family had fled from Germany in 1939 but who were interned anyway (and treated appallingly.) That particular lady finished her story and broke into a smile and said “I have NEVER talked about that to anyone before,” so I hugged her and told her I felt supremely privileged to have heard it.

There are those, even some I work with (although not closely,) who look at these people as just old. But I see people who have LIVED; people who have experienced more woes, more joys than I ever have and people from whom I can learn. These people had/have families and friends and pasts – they were young once, with hopes and dreams.

A downside to the job is that I am acutely aware of how even one, small event can lead to a person’s incapacitation, deterioration and even death. Although I’m also equally aware that I see a tiny fraction of the population of the local area and that the majority go on living relatively healthy and alble lives that knowledge doesn’t prevent me from sleepless nights when I worry what the future holds for my parents, my siblings, Drew and myself. The potential loss of either of my parents looms heavy sometimes – even they are more concious of that now that they are in their 70s. I fear their dying more than anything else and am grateful that they take care of their health, that mentally they remain bright as buttons and even little things such as that they are cautious in icy weather – so many of our patients are in hospital due to falling, and quite a high proportion of those patients are never able to lead independent lives again because their injuries fail to heal properly. (This is perhaps more pointed for me as up until he was 97 my Grandad lived independently, then he tripped and fell, injured his hip and was unable to live by himself anymore – he returned home with care and downstairs living, but when this proved unsuitable moved to an excellent care home where he spent a great 18 months before suddenly becoming very frail and passing away.)

And of course Drew lost both his parents in a very short time. That was a terrible, terrible time for him and to a lesser extent for me – he was away from home for months caring for his Mum when she returned home from hospital, dealing with the day to day problems and frustrations that such a responsibilty incurs, not to mention the grief of his Dad’s sudden death. He had to take Charley, still a puppy, with him and leave me to cope with the stress of starting my new job by myself.

I was, and am, only too aware of the raw wound the absence of his parents caused him. It never goes away; on a day-to-day basis our lives carry on as much as they ever did, but every now and then the slightest thing can cause his grief to escape into the foreground where it hits him (and me) as hard as it ever did. If I could release him from that I would, but that’s something one can never do… and naturally I am terrified of experiencing the same thing. Which one day I shall.

On the subject of things that bring Drew’s grief out, today is the first anniversary of the funeral of an internet friend, Tony, who unexpectedly took his own life after being troubled for some time. I didn’t know him particularly well and only actually met him, briefly, once, but I knew him well enough to like him very much – a truly wise and gentle man. He could never have known how many times the things he wrote about made me think about and sometimes reconsider my own views, and I read and see things that often make me wonder what he would have made of them.

Well, that was something of a maudlin return to Xanga. Perhaps if I write again I might be a tad more cheerful.