Doctor Marten’s BOOTS!

(Admit it, you sang Alexei Sayle).

2011 was a funny year. Change, but not enough. Learning, but not enough. Progress, but not enough. 2011 has felt like a year of set-up, a year of groundwork, a year that’s been champing at the bit.

2011 has been all about the Agent. Accepting guidance. Learning the inner details of procedure. Sally’s a powerhouse –  and I’ve had to learn to prise my sweaty little mitts off my manuscript, my characters, my plot (mine, my precious!) and let someone else in.

2011 has also been short story year (was warned about these buggers back in my earliest writers’ workshops) and I’ve been quite taken aback by how well they’ve gone down. They’re tiny steps, but going the right way.

Now though, it’s 2012, and the time for little steps is gone. Can I face my first professional edit? (Die, little darlings, die!) The copy-editing, the proof-reading? Well, I guess I’m about to find this shit out for myself.

Gulp.

‘Author’ is a funny word – I’m surrounded by people who’ve earned it with suitably ludicrous amount of merit. I’ve worked with and for them and I know how hard this all is. 2012 is the year I have to live up to it.

Am I scared out my tiny? You bet your arse I am.

But hey, I’ve got new boots. They’re my boots and they fit me. I can walk (almost) anywhere. And I was thinking when I was walking this morning…

The lesson learned for this New Year? Your boots are your own. Learn to trust, to accept guidance from those around you…

…but don’t walk in anyone else’s.

I haven’t made any Resolutions. But I will walk in my own boots.

Baring Your Chest

Geek culture is all about the t-shirt. From the days when Superman yanked open his buttons, cool has been defined by the logo between your nipples.

I’ve been trying to work out (Superman’s nipples aside) just where this is going.

Five years ago, at Star Wars Celebration Europe, the Grand Moff Tarkin offered me sixty quid for my Gentle Giant Tour tee – and, frankly bemused, I turned him down.

At Kapow! last year, the ‘who’s got the coolest tee’ battle really heated up with some fantastic contenders – but was won by the bloke with the ‘Han Job’ image. Included here for full impact.

A couple of months back, thanks to the intervention of @loudmouthman and the networking of twitter, I was able to send Colin Baker a sixth doctor costume tee, purpose-made for him by Titan Merch.

And then yesterday, I had a phone call from a financial journo doing an article on t-shirts worn in the City. Three-piece suits are no longer required, it seems – if you work in the high gloss of Canary Wharf, it’s all about your tee.

And that made me chuckle. It also made me think.

The costume tee thing has been a recent stroke of Titanic genius – not just the good Doc, but everyone from Dredd to Venkman has appeared (or will) on chests at Cons all over the world. The Canary Wharf thing, though, implies that this has bust out of the Con circuit and is joining the rise of geek culture in the mainstream.

Look at the Haynes Manual x Star Wars tees – don’t they do exactly the same thing?

Taking this one step further, Threadless has cross-bred social networking with Etsy with geek tee cool and enables you to upload and showcase – and possibly have made – your own tee art. There are companies like spreadshirt and streetshirts which allow you simply make your own. And look at how far our friends at Genki Gear have come!

Where this meteoric rise of cotton cool will end, I have no idea – at the moment neither the sky – nor the neck – are the limit. As the lines between types of genre ‘platforms’ blur – films to toys to garments to games to artwork – the expansion is exponential…

It’s easy to see one thing, though. Whether Geek Chic or Hot in the City, it’s all about baring your chest.

Last Night’s Who Signing

Sometimes, things just work. No matter how big they may be, or how many cats need herding, they reach a kind of social critical mass – and it all just falls into place.

So it was last night.

Outside, we had fans queuing for hours in the cold – clutching dedicated pieces of Who memorabilia they’d treasured for years. We all know the return of Who has spanned the generations, bringing families together on a Saturday evening – my son is seven and no-one feels this more than I do. But to see it really brought to life is quite something. From the girl from the US with the TARDIS earrings and the painted jacket, to the Dad with FOUR eager cubs out there with him… truly, the Doctor spans space and time.

Inside, everything was gleefully organised chaos. Steven Moffat chatted to his gobsmacked fans, Mark Gatiss had a thing about peg dolls, Ben Cook offered very fine scarlet hair and Tom MacRae offered equally fine studded scarlet boots – the writers of Who are a garrulous and colourful bunch. The atmosphere they brought with them was voluble and festive.

Chatty or not, they’re efficient – flawlessly herded by Clayton Hickman and Garry Russell, the whole crew really linked with their fans and put in a sterling evening’s work.

Prior to last night’s event, we’d been a little nervous about accommodating something of that size – that many people, that many fans – but experience tells, it seems, both theirs and ours. Either that, or FP is bigger on the inside.

At the end of yesterday evening, a great many people went home laden with presents and smiles. They’d had a moment, and they’d snagged something cool for Christmas Day.

And that’s really what makes this stuff special.

 

Making Making Daleks

WE DID IT!!!

The Beeb’s answer to LEGO – this one is the Dalek Factory, complete with (whodathunkit) Daleks.

If you have one of these, be prepared to be very dextrous and very VERY patient. They’re (wait for it) extremely Character Building…

Have to say though, despite some swearing this morning, it’s pretty sodding cool now it’s done :D

The Doctor Who Experience

When I was a kid, Doctor Who teetered on a line, the one between fear and exhilaration. It’s the line between your fingers as you peep, thrilled, through them; it’s the line of excitement that has you poised on the edge of your seat..

…it’s line of the crack that runs down the screen as the Doctor Who Experience opens.

But it’s not a crack, it’s part of the event. As it parts to reveal the Experience itself, it has parents laughing and kids open-mouthed – it’s your very own space-time doorway, opening to a mini-story that has you racing to save the Universe, with none other than the Doctor himself as your guide.

The Experience is sensational to the point of being overwhelming, enhanced by Matt Smith’s relentless, almost slapstick dialogue. You’re surrounded by props, yet your eyes are on the main event – you race through the tale almost too fast. Here is the inside of the TARDIS, a wonder to adults and kids alike. Here are the Daleks, right over you and bloody terrifying. Here are the Weeping Angels, lurking the darkness at the edges of your vision. Here is the Pandorica, opening before your eyes.

Walking the Experience with my son, seven, made me remember the thrill of ‘Who’ when I was that age – perhaps one of the secrets to the new Who’s success. He was absolutely testing his limits; other than exclamations of wonder, his only comment was that it was all too fast. I found the same thing – I wanted to linger, and remember, and renew.

Yet as the experience itself races to its 3D ending, you emerge into a hall of props and beasties and costumes and you can wander, and wonder, to yours heart’s content. Here the generations are spanned, and my son can see Who though my eyes, as well as the other way around. The evolution of the Daleks was particularly fine – and made me view the most modern incarnation with new eyes. We have an old one in the lift at FP Southampton… and the new ones are huge!

Of all the things, though, that we saw during the Experience – from driving the TARDIS to watching the invading Dalek spaceships blowing the snot out of everything – one thing has made today magical.

And that’s the expression on the face of my son.

*Pictures in this post are courtesy of The Doctor Who Experience, used with permission and thanks to Susannah Martin.

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