Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I have I realise been a tad quiet of late. This is mainly because the school holidays started ridiculously early this year, as the school nos 2&3 go to decided most inconveniently they had to close six days early so they could get some building work done. (Yes I did say six days, and don't get me started on how annoying that is when they wouldn't let me have one piddling day's holiday last year to go to France, the one and only time I've ever asked for it). This was more then a tad inconvenient as not only do I have a novel to write by the end of October (gulp) I also had rather a lot of other work on. Thankfully a mum chum was in a similar position and we spent a few days swapping children in order that we both got a shot at working. Interestingly, for the first time EVER, I have discovered that so long as they all have a friend to play, my lot are now old enough that I can actually get some work done when they are in the house. Unfortunately that doesn't extend to writing which requires too much mental headspace, and I tend to find when the offspring are about they occupy all my mental headspace, so the two things clash a bit.

Which is why this week I've packed them all off to Stagecoach for a week's drama, singing and dancing. Who knows, one of them might turn out to be the next Keira Knightley. (Although given that no 1 is currently learning guitar, no 2 wants to learn the drums, no 3 is after playing the sax no 4 though undecided knows she wants to make NOISE, and there's a new rock school down the road, I think it's more likely they'll become The Williams Quartet. Hopefully more Corrslike then Nolans...)

Alot of mums I know complain about the holidays, as they don't know what to do with bored kids. This is one advantage of having four, because generally mine always have someone to play with. But the main reason I never complain is that it is SO BLOODY LOVELY not having to take them to school, and even better not having to take them to all their after school activities.

I have been utterly knackered since about January, and was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with me. Not that I'm a hypochondriac or anything but anaemia, diabetes, cancer all went through my mind. Since the kids have stopped school, I feel like a new person. I am energetic. I am relaxed. I actually have time to do things. I've belatedly realised that this is because during term time I lose 2 hours a day to the school run, plus another 2-3 to hawking children from one activity to the next. So at the moment I'm 5 hours a day up on the deal and I don't have to go anywhere.

Thanks to all the exhaustion my bold plans to get a triathlon under my belt have come to nothing (again) and for the first time since I've started swimming properly I've missed a month's worth of training sessions. In fact, I've barely done anything since the Race for Life. I was getting a tad paranoid about this thinking I might go back to being a complete slouch in the pool, so when I finally got to swim last night I was more then a little nervous. I wasn't helped by the fact that I got in the pool, got going before everyone else in my lane, but turned out to be the slowest person there, so I was holding them all up so much that Lovely Trainer shoved me to the back (haven't had that humiliation for a while). But by the end of the session I'd caught up, and managed 66 lengths without too much difficulty. Not quite as fast or far as I swam a month ago, but considering everything not too bad at all...

So all things being equal I am planning to enjoy the rest of the summer, though I do have to stop blogging now to get on with writing a book (slightly inconveniently I have been trying to recall Christmas at the sunniest part of the year), and hope that when the sprogs eventually go back in September some of my newfound energy might last me until, ooh, at least October...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr Who Meme

medium rob has posted a Dr Who Meme on his blog. Rather unfairly he wants us to choose only three of our favourite episodes from NuWho. Only, three, Rob? That's harsh... However, if you insist.

There is a bit of a theme going here, as all of them are by the same author (and not just because I used to share his surname). It's simply because for me Steven Moffat is King of Nu Who. He consistently, scares, thrills, delights and moves. Plus he's got my children doing all manner of spooky things from asking if I'm their mummy to abjuring me not to blink. It's quite something for a kids' tv show to tap so much into all our imaginations that I end up spooked by my own offpspring...

The first offering is a bit of a cheat, as it's a double parter, but I regard it as the same story, so first honours go to The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, for introducing us to scary gas mask child who was the first nuWho character to terrify the whole family, and for that wonderful ending when Christopher Eccleston revels in the fact that just for once, everybody lived. I loved the darkness and rawness of the new series when the ninth doctor was suffering from the loss of his planet and people in the Time War, and it felt like here he got a bit of compensation. I also loved the ending when he remembers how to dance (but I've already posted that one on the other place).

Second choice (but probably has to count as my favourite) is The Girl in the Fireplace. Once again Moffat does it with scary monsters - those sort of monsters under the bed would certainly give me nightmares - but also it's funny (I loved the incongruity of the horse and Mickey teasing Rose about the Doctor calling Cleopatra Cleo), moving, and has a tender love story to boot. Sophie Myles as Madame de Pompadour is stunning, particularly the moment when she tells Rose that the Doctor always comes with monsters, and the rapport between her and David Tennant is fabulous. I particularly like the fact that he is prepared to sacrifice himself to the slow path for her, and his pain when he realises he's come back several years too late for her. Love it, love it, love it. Don't think Moffat's really topped this yet...

And last but most definitely not least, the superlative Blink. Again, another great scary story - I will never ever look at statues in the same way again, and one which really creeped us all out. It also features David Tennant talking about timey wimey stuff (sigh), and a great warning: Whatever you do, don't blink! I also loved the absurdity of the end when Sally Sparrow finally meets the Doctor properly and he's wandering about with a bow and arrow. Priceless. Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow is just fantastic. Wouldn't she be great as the new companion? All in all another cracker from Steven Moffat. Let's hope he gives us more of the same in 2010...

And if I'd been left up to my own devices and not constrained by Rob, I'd also have added from Series 1: Father's Day for poignancy and brilliant you can't undo time kind of stuff, and The Parting of the Ways because I liked Bad Wolf, and I loved the way Christopher Ecclestone looks at Rose and says, Ah Rose, I had so much I wanted to show you (what can I say? I write romantic fiction). From Series 2 I'd have to add Tooth and Claw because I loved the werewolf and Doomsday for the hilarious meeting between the Cybermen and the Daleks, and bittersweet ending (which you should really have left alone Russell). In Series 3 I also loved the Human Nature/Family of Blood double parter. And finally, in Series 4. I thought Turn Left was stunning and The Stolen Earth had the best cliffhanger ever.

But as I can't include those, you'll have to make do with Moffat...

Inconveniences of going for a ride in the Mean Machine

1) A tendency to get a very sunburnt forehead (Him).

2) Hair that ends up looking like a Care Bear's (Her).

3) Need to duck to avoid passing shrapnel when you go down stony roads.

4) Bruised spine from driving over bumps.

5) When it rains you get very very wet.

Do we care?



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

St Swithin's Day

Today is St Swithin's Day. And according to an old wives' tale.

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more

So if you had rain in your neck of the woods, then that's it for your summer, pal.

St Swithin , whose feast day is today, was the Bishop of Winchester in the 9th century and the story goes that when he died in 962 he requested his body be placed outside the cathedral, as he didn't want any fuss. His wishes were ignored and it rained for forty days and forty nights until everyone got the hint and they moved his body back pronto. Although apparently he got moved again and his body parts split up as by now he was a saint and the middle ages being what they were, his relics were in popular demand. This though didn't result in flooding, which strikes me as a tad peculiar. I think I'd be a bit more peeved being sold as relics then being buried indoors, but there you go.

I know all of this because, today is my birthday, so as children Mad Twin and I spent every year anxiously looking out for rain.

Our mother in (what I can only imagine was a pethadine induced haze) was going to call us Felicity and Swithina (guess who'd have been Swithina), but I am pleased to say my father intervened. In her defence she had been under considerable strain - she caught pneumonia before we were born and was stuck in hospital for six weeks, we were two weeks late, and when we did eventually arrive, I got stuck on my shoulder, they gave her an anaesthetic to which she was so allergic she nearly died, and eventually they pulled me round and yanked me unceremoniously out by my feet. I suppose we're both probably quite lucky to still be here...

As a birthday treat Spouse took the day off today.

Fancy some candyfloss on Brighton Beach? he said to me at about 10am this morning.

As I rarely stray five minutes from home mid week I can't say this was an idea that had crossed my mind. But given the opportunity to have a) a whole day with my other half and WITHOUT the children (I don't mean to sound ungrateful but it's so rare it's bloody lovely when it happens) and b) a chance to go for a proper spin in his boy's toy, about which I've meaning to blog for ages, I couldn't do anything but say yes.

The boy's toy is a Caterham 7. Built by himself last year.

When we first met he told me his ambition was to build himself a kitcar. At the age of eighteen he had had the money to build one, but not the money to tax and insure it. When his father was approached with the humble request to bolster the finances, he laughed like a drain and said, "Insure a car that YOU built, you have to be joking!" So that as they say was that.

Scroll on several years, and finally he had enough money to build his car, but being Spouse felt he should spend it on something sensible like an ISA. My thinking is, life is too short, and we're a long time dead. So, I said go for it, which I'm pleased to say he did.

The result is a Mean Machine in British Racing Green (natch), which scares the bejaysus out of me (but then I am a girlie wuss). However. I discovered today, that girlie wuss though I am, it is actually fantastically exciting doing 70+ in a car that is low on the ground and in which you are exposed to the elements. The excitement gets nearer to terror the closer to 80mph you get, and I realised fairly soon my top limit is 85mph, at which point you feel the air sucking out of your cheeks, the wind feels like arrows on your face and your hair feels like it might just fly off your head. But I'm proud to say I only had ONE moment where I shouted Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! and I SUDDENLY GET WHAT THE TOP GEAR GUYS ARE TALKING ABOUT. Going fast is Fun with a capital F.

Particularly when you get to park a car like this under the arches at Brighton...

We sat on the beach and had fish and chips in the brief moment of sunshine, before heading off up the coast and home via Worthing. The Fuck Fuck Fuck moments occurred sometime on the A24 and I did have to remind Spouse I wanted to live at least till the END of my birthday.

But to spend a day with him, in this, I think it was worth it... Cos even, if like me you aren't into cars. You have to admit. This one is rather cool...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I have noticed in the last few days there has been alot of heated debate on the blogosphere about the merits and demerits of Journey's End. Alot of it seems to be of the : It was the best episode ever! You cannot be a true fan if you hate it. It was the worst episode ever! You cannot be a true fan if you love it variety. Hmm. Room for compromise anywhere, peeps?

So I thought given that this is a programme for kids which some grown ups seem to be taking far too seriously, I'd share with you this Doctor Who story inscribed with great care over the last few nights by number 4 aged six. Her nickname in our house is Sniffy - so she is currently going under the name of the Sniffeen. As far as I'm concerned, ANYTHING that can fire up the imagination of a child like this has to be a Good Thing. Russell T Davies, I salute you.

It's all a bit stream of consciousness, it would appear that Year One only ecompasses Capital Letters and full stops in punctuation terms and her spelling leaves a lot to be desired, but I did rather like her description of regeneration....
(Sadly I am having a problem with my scanner otherwise this would include pics)

Doctor Who!!!!!

by the Sniffeen aged 6

Chapter One

Once upon a Sunday there was a girl called Rose and she went out. On the way she met a man called the Doctor.

(Rose with speech bubble, wat's your name!! The Doctor speech bubble Hi!!!!!!)

The Doctor said come with me ok and by the way my names the Doctor. The Doctor showed rose his Tardis.

Rose said its bigger on the inside. Is it said the Doctor I hadnt noticed!

The Doctor said come out theres a surprise for you. Then Rose opened the door and sore some daliks.

Chapter 2

The black dalik said my name is dalik seck is it said the Doctor hang on Ive met you before yes you have. I folode you all the way here!!!

The Doctor said Im going to kill you with this gun but Dalik Seck killed the Doctor instead. Rose said how deri you kill my boyfriend.

(Rose speech bubble How dere you as she looks at dead Doctor)

Chapter 3

Rose asked dalik Seck. Why did you kill the Doctor. He is an enermy of the Daliks.

Is he. Yes he is. Then Dalik Seck showed rose captin Jack hi said Rose hi said Captin Jack. The Doctors died said Rose. He has died are you shore said Captin Jack. Yes said Rose I am very shore said Rose. I saw it all dalik seck killed the Doctor because the Doctor pointed a gun at Dalik Seck said Rose.

Dalik Cannn (Where did he spring from? - Continuity? - ed) said you are called Rose. Rose said yes I am. How do they know said Rose. Captin Jack said they no everyones name. I hate the (I THINK IT SAYS) pain said Captin Jack.

(Speech bubble from Dalik Cannn saying You are called Rose!!!!!)

Then Rose and Captin Jack carryed the Doctor into the tardis and then he reagenoratid fire was coming out from his eyes and hands. He had changed his hole body.

THE END!!!!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Doctor Who: Journey's End

Better late then never...

Well. There seems to be rather a lot of cross Whovians out there on the Internet, and in some ways I can't blame them...

I am fully with Marie about the rubbish ending Rose got, but I also think Lisa and Anna's assessments are quite fair too.


Here goes, this is what I thought of it.

I know, I know. The will he won't he regenerate being solved in ten seconds flat was a bit disappointing, but I did kind of enjoy being played with, and well... at least we get to keep David Tennant for a bit longer.

I really enjoyed Jackie and Mickey arriving to save Sarah Jane, and thank THE LORD, SJ and Jack were miles better this week. Jack and Mickey's reunion was hilarious.
Jack: Hallo Mickey Mouse
Mickey: Hi Captain Cheescake
Jack: That's beefcake
Mickey: That's enough hugging.

Torchwood being trapped in a time vault? Best place for 'em.

I was really on the edge of my seat when the Doctor finally met Davros who was properly scary just like a Dr Who villain should be, and also mad as a hatter. Great. That's how an arch nemesis is SUPPOSED to behave.

Martha transporting to Germany was fabulous, just to hear those German daleks saying Extermineren... I thought that was a stroke of genius.

I really enjoyed the companions doing their bargaining trick, while the Doctor was made to see what he did to people. That was brilliant and bleak, and David Tennant showed again what a fabulous wonderful actor he is. You don't just see his pain, you feel it. I think he deserved a bit more support from them all though. Let's face it, what he does do is inspire the best in people, they are prepared to die for him for a reason. Because he makes the universe a better place, and without him, as we saw in Turn Left things go horribly wrong. (Yes, I do realise I am talking about him as if he exists. Please don't disabuse me of the notion).

The other absolutely wonderful thing about this episode was the Doctor/Donna strand. It was brilliant. I had despite my best intentions been trawling the internet last week and seen all sorts of spoilers about Donna. I thought there would be a Timelord connection because of the beating heart, but I was really glad that Donna as the Rani/Donna as Romana never came to pass, and it was a surprise that she became part Doctor. No spoilers. Total surprise. Fan-bloody- tastic. Especially as Catherine Tate and David Tennant copied each other so brilliantly. That was hilarious. Especially when they came back, saved the day and started sending planets back home. I loved that.

I also unashamedly loved the scene when everyone got to fly the Tardis home (Not you, Jackie - ha!), and silly and all as it was, I loved the use of the time rift as a lassoo. But then I like my Dr Who silly from time to time. Cos, let's face it. This is a programme about an alien, who goes through Time and Space in a BLUE BOX. And that's NOT silly????

Now... though. To the bits I didn't like.

So it was hi hi companions, and bye bye companions pretty quickly.

Sarah Jane off to have some more adventures with Luke and co.

Jack, Martha and Mickey off to take part in the next series of Torchwood. Maybe it will be better for it. I certainly hope they can bring some of Dr Who Jack , who was thoroughly splendid in this episode, into Torchwood, where he is frankly a bit crap.

And then it was Rose.

Oh bloody hell. Why oh why did he have to do that to Rose. I'd rather she'd never been brought back from her parallel universe. I might have mentioned before, I like my romantic endings bitter sweet. Characters kept apart by being trapped in parallel universes/time slip stuff work for me (Sliding Doors/Amber Spyglass/Sterkarm Handshake/Time Traveller's Wife). I even have such a story up my sleeve to write one day, I hope. But.... oh god, this was so wrong. Dr2 (not Who) isn't the Doctor. For starters he's part Donna. And then he's only got one heart. And he's not got a Tardis. AND he's just committed genocide. Rose would have to be pretty shallow to want to stay with him wouldn't she? Please RTD don't tell me she is. I love Rose too much to see her suffer that fate.

In a way I kind of see he's done a bit of Sarah Jane on her. Dumping her back in the parallel universe because, really he is a Time Lord and he doesn't get it. He thinks he is helping her, but can't see that he's not (I'm trying to put a positive spin on this, because I hate it so much). Donna got it right at the beginning; Two hearts? Why do I want to mate with that. Rose and the Doctor can't ever be together because he isn't human. But then... how does that work with River Song then???

So yes. Very disappointed that Rose not only didn't get her Doctor but got a carbon copy. That is so not going to work. Having had people fancy me because they think I am my twin, and others fancying her because they think she's me, I can tell you categorically that no one gets over the disappointment of discovering the object of their affection isn't the right twin. Rose cannot possibly fall in love with this Doctor, because he isn't hers. Crap crap crap ending. And I think from what Billie Piper said on Dr Who Confidential, she agrees. I do hope we see Rose again, because I think she deserves better then that.

As to Donna. Again total surprise. Bloody terrible cruel ending for her too. Awful. Awful. To make her go back to what she'd been. Would it have been better to let her keep travelling and burn out? Not sure at all. It is a bit like a reverse of the It Was All A Dream Dallas storyline. And probably another copout. RTD doesn't want to kill off the Doctor's companions apparently because it's a kid's show. Well. I think they could take it, even if they were distraught. No 3 cried for WEEKS after Rose left first time around and no 1 hasn't stopped going on about how sad she is about Donna. I'm not sure they'd have been less upset by seeing her die properly.

I also always feel cheated by the You Have To Forget All About This ending - ever since I read the brilliant Susan Cooper Dark is Rising series, which remains among my favourite fantasy reading. Except the ending... All the characters you have loved over five books, who've had wonderful adventures and done amazing things then don't get to remember any of it. WHY NOT???? That is so unfair to them and to the reader. (If I ever get to my parallel universe story, I am going to make damned sure my characters remember everything, however much pain they suffer.)

So yes. Didn't really like Donna going back to normal, although I rather hope that her bloody awful mother is a bit nicer to her now. (What is it with RTD and mothers, he is pretty down on them isn't he?). And if the Doctor has any kind of compassion he will search the universe high and low for the bloke she met in the Library episode, so at least Donna can get the life she never had in virtual reality. (How I love Doctor Who for letting me write incomprehensible sentences like that).


Having moaned about all that. Oh God. I found the last ten minutes absolutely gut wrenchingly awful. Bernard Cribbins and David Tennant pulled out all the stops to make you realise the full extent of the tragedy, not just for Donna, but for the Doctor.

Now he truly is alone.

And I have to say. As endings go, I did rather like that.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

It's the final countdown...

I know inexplcably there appear to be readers of my blog who don't get my obsession with Dr Who. You will be pleased to know it's the last episode of the current run, so normal services will resume shortly.

For the rest of you, I expect you are sharing my excitement (Woohoo Russell, HOW are you going to get them out of that?), anticipation and slight anxiety that it might turn out to be one damp squib. I really really hope that my lovely blogging friend Marie Phillips isn't right and Donna wakes up to find it all a dream...

Talking of Marie. If perchance you HAVEN'T yet purchased Gods Behaving Badly (and if not, why not?) it's out in paperback right now. So now's your chance...

Thanks to the aforementioned lovely Marie, while watching the current series of Dr Who I have trip trapped my way onto several other blogs whose writers share my level of obsessive fangirldom. Said writers have all been very nice and welcoming and I have had such a lot of fun exchanging views on what we all think of a given episode. So, as it's the series finale, I'd just like to say a huge hurrah for the bloggers listed below, and thanks so much for letting me come to your party. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do till Dr Who comes back properly in 2010 (join Lisa in obsessing about Dougie Henshall's hair probably), but at least I am going to see the lovely David Tennant twice, which may just help me survive...

You should all be on my blogroll really, but that's a bloggy task I somehow never get to, so you are definitely all there in spirit anyway...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Here is the lovely cover for the new book. Strictly Love will, I believe be hitting the shops in September. I continue to blog about all things related to it over at the other place, but this is sooo gorgeous I am putting it all over the place. Copy will be going up at the website shortly, but probably not now as running a little short of time...

Among other publicity stuff I am doing, I have to come up with a story for Cat Magazine by 21 July. For some reason inexplicably, at the moment all I can think of is black cats, graveyards and nefarious practices. Not sure that's quite what they're after.

I have to say, there's never a dull moment when you're a writer...

Talk about stating the obvious...

Apparently the new dental contract introduced by our lords and masters (and opposed by the majority of dentists in this country) two years ago is letting patients down and according to ITN news nearly a million FEWER people now see a dentist then before the changes were introduced.

In the Bad Old Days before the new contract dentists were paid piecemeal. ie, for every item of treatment they were paid a fee. The system was unnecessarily complex and in need of an overhaul (for eg, when dental pay rises were staggered over the year, this meant the NHS price list was changed twice a year, which was wasteful, costly and confusing). The new contract was meant to take dentists off the treadmill of what was known in the trade as bashing the Nash, because they saw so many people during the day. (When you go private my dear readers, what you are paying for is more time with your dentist and slightly better materials). The new contract was meant to change all that. By introducing a three tiered banding system, and paying dentists by units of dental activity (UDAs), dentists were going to be freed up to work in their patients best interests.

Instead what has happened is that they have replaced one form of treadmill for another. The first year the new contract was in place, Spouse had a target based on his previous NHS earnings. As he is a very good (ok I'm biased) and productive NHS dentist, his target was rather high. Net result was by February of the first year (year end is April) he was 13% BEHIND his target. He worked like a demon, under immense stress to hit it, otherwise he'd have lost out financially. In the past, he earned money on how productive he was, now he has a figure to achieve, but if he doesn't hit his targets, he will lose out. Last year was better, but at the end of this year, he faces the great imponderable, as all the money PCTs paid to dentists were ring fenced for three years. Come next April, the whole lot gets renegotiated again, and I bet no one is planning to renegotiate upwards.

The NHS obsession with targets (or the government's obsession with everyone hitting targets) is not only absurd, it is positively detrimental to good practice in dentistry or any other form or health care. The new dental contract has done nothing to improve dental care - if anything from what Spouse says it encourages less scrupulous dentists to be neglectful, or to opt for pulling teeth out rather then mending them, because it's cheaper to have a tooth pulled out (band 2, £44.60) rather then have some restorative work done (band 3 £198). This is crap for the patient. It's also crap for the dentist. If you have one filling or ten, you still get to pay £44.60 - so looking after your teeth does you no good, and the dentist has to work harder on the patient who doesn't care for their teeth for the same money. It's a barking system thought up by some faceless bureaucrat who's clearly never seen the inside of a dental surgery in their life.

No wonder people aren't going to the dentist and NHS dentists are flocking to the private sector. This was all too predictable two years ago, and I agree with the Health Committee which has just decided it was extraordinary that the Department of Health didn't trial this first. Well, they did actually, but only using a very small sample of dentists.

The tragedy is of course, that patients lose out. One of the advantages of seeing your dentist regularly is that he or she can pick up signs of other health issues, Spouse refers to the mouth as being the window on the body, and all sorts of things can crop up their which indicate problems elsewhere. It could potentially cost the NHS more for people not to visit their dentist, if preventable health problems get picked up too late.

But will anyone think of that? Somehow I doubt it...