Tuesday 3 September 2019

RIP Terrance Dicks

I remember one time at school being sent to read for the headmistress, a short while later a message was delivered to my parents that they were surprised to hear a kid my age reading with inflection. But should you really be surprised? I wanted to read, I had a desire to read, especially because that way I could enjoy more Doctor Who adventures. These were the days long before videos. We had Target novels and these brought that lost world of adventure back to life and that was the life force I got from those novels.

So many of those were written by the one and only Terrance Dicks, known to most on the fan circuit as Uncle Terrance. Over the years I’ve the pleasure to meet and thank him for encouraging me to want to read, for the work he did, and I am not the only Doctor Who fan of a certain age that would be in queue of people to credit him with being a vital part of their education.

I had the pleasure, as well, of being his guest’s assistant at several events through the years and had many wonderful hours chatting with him between signings and photo shoots. Not only that, having been born in East Ham he was not that far removed from my own origin of Dagenham.

Thank you once again Terrnace Dicks, my thoughts are for you and with your family.

 RIP Terrance Dicks (1935 – 2019)

Thursday 18 July 2019

Last Minute Rent

On Sunday night the Shaw Theatre played host to a one night only production of RENT. Staged as part of their celebration of Pride, this production came from Last Minute Musicals, their aim is to get a show from the page to the stage in a week.

This is some ask. I’ve seen Rent many times, both in the West End and in various provincial productions, I play the soundtrack from the Broadway version quite a lot – especially when doing the gardening. (You should see my Tango Maureen with a flymo – actually on second thoughts, probably not).

Ok so we were missing the multi-levelled set, so Mimi couldn’t swing down with full acrobatics during Out Tonight, but that didn’t matter – because they had an awesome cast with fabulous voices who brought this show to life. Every one of them threw themselves into the performance with gusto, the complicated rounds were perfect – it beats me how they pulled this off in a week and I’m still marvelling at their La Vie Boheme.

One of the cast admitted to me prior that he was both nervous and exited in equal measures, which I think had to be true for all of them, but in the end there was nothing to fear and the whole audience rose up as one at the end. I’ve not seen such unanimous response in a long time, in a well-deserved standing ovation that I think touched them – but they had well and truly earned it.

Well done to the team who put this on.

Friday 31 May 2019


George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead has been adapted and brought to the stage. 

Playing live! or should that be un-alive? This is zombie territory after all.

Currently playing at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington until the 8th June. It is most certainly a comedy horror, and is presented in glorious black and white, which amazingly works very well.

So, without giving too much away.  It is 1968. The undead are coming, and they are hungry. 

They want brains for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they’ll get them.  Somewhere in a rural farmhouse deep in Pennsylvania a bunch of strangers are forced to hide out the night and hope to survive. But can they? Will they? Only one way to find out.

There are special seats for the brave to sit in among the action on stage in what they refer to as Splatter Zone 1. Are you brave enough to book these?

It’s the only production officially authorised by the Romero estate, so what are you waiting for, if you like your zombies fresh, now’s your chance.

Sunday 19 May 2019

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek Workshop

Last week as I'm sure you must have been aware was Mental Health Awareness Week. There were a number of events taking place at work for this, one on Friday was a creative writing workshop to explore writing as an aid to well-being. UK Poetry Slam Champion, Toby Campion was invited in to run the workshop, and we engaged in a couple of writing challenges.

The first exercise was a free writing period. You just write, and keep writing even if all you are writing is complete gibberish or "I'm writing, writing, writing that I'm writing", just so long as you do keep writing.

Another exercise involved writing for 4 minutes 30 seconds at a time across five different titles, that were issued at the end of each time period. You switched, and wrote. It's amazing exactly where the mind goes when you do this.

At the end we were invited, if willing, to share one of the pieces that we had written, about a third of us did. There was no pressure to do so, but since I did I thought I would also share that 4 minute 30 second piece here - putting it out there - something to reflect on. Make of it what you will.

What On Earth Have We Done?
DJ. Kettlety (17/5/2019)

What on Earth have we done? Created a monster, that's what. It's out of control. It's taken over everything. It's on the rampage, we've got to find a way to stop it now before it devours everything.

It's too late, I know that. The beast is already loose out there, consuming everything in its path, gorging its hunger on our misery and sorrow. We did this. We did not take stock of our actions. We all stopped listening to the warnings that were there in front of us. All of us are guilty. Our own arrogance let this thing out.

It's too late. We can't kill the beast now, it's bigger than us. It's taken over. It's won. We are but fodder for its appetite now. It's all over.

Friday 26 April 2019

When the Doctor wasn't the Doctor

There have been a few occasions when the Doctor just wasn't the man you thought he was.

Despite several broken needles I've been dedicating a special panel on the tapestry to when the Doctor was not the man you though he was.

William Hartnell played the Abbot of Amboise
 in The Massacre (of St Bartholomew's Eve)

Patrick Troughton played Ramón Salamander 
in The Enemy of the World

Tom Baker played Meglos in the story of the same name

Guess who's next to be added to the list?

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Plastered at Easter

Just after Christmas I wrote that I was keeping some old selection trays to use as plaster moulds (Post Christmas Box Sets) 

It has taken until Easter for me to mix up some plaster and start taking the moulds. 

I think I must have mixed the plaster too thin as after several days it still feels damp and a couple broke when I took them out of the moulds. 

These can be stuck back together, and I still think they have promise when painted up.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Keeping the stitching alive

From time to time I make visits to some of the local charity shops, you never know there may be some interesting bits and pieces that are good for model making. You might even be lucky and pick up some old models, model mags or craft materials that have been donated.

It was on just one such visit recently that I ended up spending quite a considerable sum, having made an extraordinary discovery. It started with a few packets of tapestry wool on display, a nice price and as I get through quite a lot and it is always good to have a wide pallet I am not bothered by what colours or shades that are on offer.

I was then invited to view a much larger donation, one they thought would take them years to shift at the rate they could package them up in a way that would be sold.

For me this was my lucky day. Four cases of Anchor Wool and some in a sack. Almost a complete a palette of colours 

Thursday 4 April 2019

Theatre Review: Thrill Me

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story at Hope Theatre UPSTAIRS

Review by Marc Major

Set at a parole hearing in the 1950s, and using flashbacks to the events leading up to 1924, this is the story of Nathan Loeb; a love story without boundaries.

Told partly in dialogue and interspersed with bursts of songs, it is hard to categorize this play, is it Comedy Horror? is it Black Comedy? or is it an LGBT RomCom?.

It will have you glued to your seat wondering what the next twist will be, while you go through a roller-coaster of emotions in your head.

The Hope Theatre in Islington is a very 'compact and bijou' space above a pub, with what has to be said is an eclectic but friendly team of barstaff; that said what little space there was, was very well used, the props designed to be easily re-purposed as the story unfolded.

A sterling and believable performance by Bart Lambert (definitely one to watch out for in other productions in the future), supported by Jack Reitman as his charismatic lover and play-pal Richard.

Monday 1 April 2019

Theatre Review: Murder She Wrote

Review by Marc Major

Once again I hand the blog over to Marc for another theatre review - we went to see Tim Benzie's presentation of "Solve-along-a Murder She Wrote" hosted at the London Irish Centre, Camden Square on Saturday.

Did not quite know what to expect from this one from the description, but was pleasantly surprised.  After some initial technical issues which delayed the start by about an hour we were all ushered into a 1970s style ballroom, with a small bar at the back and handed a goodie bag.

In an explosion of enthusiasm the host bursts forth appropriately dressed as 'Jessica Fletcher' and the fun begins, with the solving of the mystery, using original video from the 90s, as well as some very high tech props.

The whole event is in three acts with plenty of time to refresh your drinks and your lungs, as well as a merchandise stall run by an unfortunately named company (Fascist Pants), but they have some great products for sale.

Despite there being a number of issues with the technology throughout the evening (which I am sure will be sorted for the next time), this was a really fun evening with raffles, bingo and even a sing-along thrown in for good measure.

Monday 25 March 2019

Patrick Troughton

To honor the fact that Patrick Troughton would have been 99 today, here is his second appearance on my Doctor Who tapestry, as the villain Salamander in the story Enemy of the World. This is one of four times the actor playing the Doctor appeared as another character in the same story, a special section of the tapestry will feature these appearances.

Sunday 24 March 2019

GUEST POST - Theatre Madness

This week I've handed the blog over to my editor, Marc Major, to resurrect the theatre reviews for the blog site. This week we had the pleasure to see The Cabinet of Madame Fanny Du Thé by Riddlestick Theatre at The Pleasance Theatre.

Utter Madness!

Review by Marc Major

But you will leave this quaint theatre above and below a pub thoroughly entertained, part farce, part musical, part tragedy you decide. 

Plenty of audience participation, and watch out for the cow with the oversized violin. Some clever writing and some comedy stars of the future in the making. 

It is a shame it has such a short run in London, but definitely one to watch out for, 86 minutes of fun from start to finish!

You can still catch them in Southampton NST City 3rd-4th April, Exeter Phoenix 28th April
and at Brighton Fringe at The Warren: Theatre Box 4th-6th May.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

The Key To Time - Unlocked

The Key to Time Gallery page has now been unlocked on the blog site, featuring characters from all six of the adventures.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Doctor Who Tapestry - Coming Soon

Just a little teaser of a post for the next page that I will be loading soon for the Doctor Who Tapestry collection.

Season 16 - The Key To Time was a series of six adventures that had the Doctor, Romana and K9 hunting for the six segments of the Key To Time to restore balance in the universe.

May be we need to reassemble the Key To Time today.

Sent on the mission by the White Guardian and...

...pursued by the Black Guardian, there were quite a number of colourful creatures and characters along the way.

There will be some one or some thing from each of the six adventures coming in this gallery soon.

Monday 28 January 2019

Black & White Gallery Open

Celebrating the black & white era of the programme, a section of the tapestry was worked in shades of black, grey and white.

 Menoptra from The Web Planet, 1965

Koquillion from The Rescue, 1965

Kal from The Tribe of Gum, 1963

Macra from The Macra Terror, 1967

War Machine from The War Machines, 1966

Voord from The Keys of Marinus, 1964

Chameleon from The Faceless Ones, 1967

Space Pirate from The Space Pirates, 1969

Friday 25 January 2019

Sixties Who?

I missed the sixties by a few days, but there's a great chance to catch up with the sixties era of Doctor Who very soon, at the start of February to be precise...

These events offer a very good chance to meet the guests and get time with them as tickets are limited, but I understand there are a few left. It's also a good event to go to if you've never been to a large convention before, a chance to get a good flavour of what's involved without the crowds.

This reminds me, I've got to get a black and white section uploaded to my Tapestry Gallery since I stitched a whole section in shades of black, white and grey to celebrate this period of the programme.

And with any luck, I'll see you there.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Tubs to The Tower

I had a meeting today, in a meeting room overlooking The Tower of London. 

With such a view it was hard to concentrate, especially looking at those round towers in the outside wall. I kept thinking back to those tubs I saved from all the Christmas treats.

This, or something like it, is just begging to be built.

Monday 14 January 2019

Extending the gallery

 I’ll be adding new photos to my Doctor Who Tapestry gallery pages over the next few days.
Monday I added photos for the 4th Doctor adventures:

The Talons of Weng-Chiang, 
The Horror of Fang Rock & Shada.

Tuesday I've added photos for the 3rd Doctor adventures:
Bellal from Death to the Daleks,
Autons & Nestene from 
Spearhead from Space & Terror of the Autons,
Draconians & Axons

By the end of the project I hope to have represented every classic story and all the wonderful creatures and not so wonderful ones, along with a large number of other characters that made those early years so special

Adventures with the 3rd Doctor4th Doctor

Sunday 13 January 2019

Opening the Gallery

I've started to open the gallery pages for the Doctor Who tapestry.

The first two pages to launch are:
Daleks, Davros & Cybermen

For the moment there are only four of the classic series Doctors shown, but I will be loading more photos soon, along with more Doctors, Daleks & Cybemen there will be companions and other creatures that featured in the classic series and some of the spin-off productions based on that era.

It is my intention in the future, once this one is finished, to start work on the 2005+ adventures, but that will be a whole new canvas.

Friday 11 January 2019

Excavating The Past

As things have it, I am in the process of moving a lot of things into storage at the moment, hence the lack of actual model making going on. In doing so I have been digging into the backs of cupboards, wardrobes and places that have probably been more secure than a tape locked away in Davros' office.

Two things that have emerged recently are these: 

The 1980s Doctor Who logo jumper mum knitted for me back in 1987 following a pattern from the Doctor Who Knitting Book. 

1987 vs 2019 same me, same jumper
I have posted photos before of some of the things mum and dad made which probably inspired some of my creativity, so I think I'm going to set up a gallery page for them and another gallery page for...

The Doctor Who tapestry, that I've also posted about several times before. This is one of the two projects I am continuing with during this current upheaval. 

The other thing I found was this huge role of 14 count aida, that is the cloth used for the tapestry work. 

I bought it many many years ago when a local haberdashery closed down. The current project is Classic Doctor Who, this role of aida will be the start of the next great work, a tapestry dedicated to the new world that was born back in 2005.

Thursday 10 January 2019

Post Christmas - Getting a bit tubby

Yes, ok, post Christmas and the diet has to be taken seriously again, stop snacking. Not too easy when there is still stuff around and you're trying not to gorge yourself.

 These snacks are too easy to munch through, the Twiglets being my favourite. But I've always toiled with how to use these tubs in my modelling, it always feels wrong to throw them out.

There appears to be a lot of promise from these tubs, certainly the framework for a tower or a bow fronted house. 

Also I am wondering whether it would work if you glued the lid to the base of the board and did not glue down the tube could you make a model that could be stored easier by lifting it off the baseboard but use the lid as an anchor to the base?

Thursday 3 January 2019

Charmed I'm Sure

Not quite finished my post Christmas ideas collection of blog posts, but this one isn't so much about those Christmas leftovers(*)  but more about my ongoing frustration at not being able to get on and make stuff at the moment.

If anyone has read book one of the Karl adventures, you will know about The Alleys, the street where Karl's father has his small business, Axilion Trade. It has always been my intention to model this cobbled street one day, and I can see the hanging shop signs in my head. Not only shop signs, but also some of the many pubs and inns that feature in the adventures, and the things that may appear in some of those shop windows.

I've been spotting a number of quite cheap charms and 'embellishments' on sale that have been crying out to me. Quite a large number of these I've bought and squirrelled away for later use from The Works and a few other places.

Take this set for example, the mask could hang outside a theatre, buy four packs and you could build a clock tower using the clock one. The crown will work for either a pub or maybe a jewellers. I'll leave the others to your imagination.

There are several other sets I've got but have already been put into storage.

More thoughts to follow...

(*) Other celebrations can also generate exciting modelling materials too.