OK, so firstly: Doctor Who. (Those of you who have been periodically and slightly wearily checking this blog in the hope that I would write about something- anything- else, please feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs.) I must be honest: after the ostentatious brilliance of the first couple of episodes, I saw the trailer for Under the Lake and sighed. DW has a track record of Second Episode Syndrome- Third, for two-parters- and maybe it was the way the trail was cut together, or maybe it was my own cynical pessimism, but it seemed doubtful that this episode would match the quality of the first two.
I’m not going to say it, so I’ll let him:
It was truly fantastic. It had genuinely creepy monsters, a sharp script, actual diversity, including an incredibly badass deaf woman and two- two!- well-developed non-white characters, a sharp script, a brilliant premise (“Good,” said my dad in relief, as the opening credits rolled. “Now can we just stick with this, please? Not just… walk off, like you did with the handmines?”), a mildly amusing paragon-of-greed character (“You’re doomed,” said my sister immediately) and a terrifying cliffhanger ending. I was not prepared for that cliffhanger, by the way. And now I have to wait six whole days to find out what happened.
Anyway. Non-Whovians, you weirdos, you can tune back in now. So, I’ve spent most of the week on what some people might call ‘the road’- and by ‘some people’ I mean the Lovely and All-Conquering Becca, who looks after publicity things, I can imagine that’s the kind of thing she’d say- and it turns out it’s not really the road at all. It’s ‘some trains’. And ‘a plane’, last week. But mostly, trains.
Last weekend I visited the lovely village of Wigtown to talk to some incredibly friendly and enthusiastic Scottish teenagers- thank you, guys, by the way, it was amazing. I also got to meet Jon Holmes and fangirled slightly, which I think might have come through in his inscription in my copy of his book:
I mean, I may at some point have recited some of his routines from three and a half years ago back to him. And he may- may- have leaned over to his press rep and stage-whispered ‘Stalker!’ when I did this. May have done. But nobody has any proof.
I have just returned from Bath and Henley (with the lovely Taran Matharu and Cat Doyle in the first instance, and the equally lovely and brilliant Samantha Shannon in the second). This marks the second time I have been to Bath- the first being on a Classics trip in 2012, where the traffic meant we spent six hours on the coach, all told, and possibly succeeded in breaking some of our teachers’ minds. I remember them allowing us out for lunch from the square by the cathedral in small groups, looking exhausted and apprehensive. They counted us twice when we came back- although, at the three-hour mark on the journey back, trapped in a double-decker coach with a hundred hyperactive thirteen-year-olds, I doubt some of them would have minded there being fewer of us.
Anyway, this was a better trip. Taran and Cat were eloquent and wise as always, I got to go on a train and stick my head in the cathedral, and all was essentially well. Henley was also brilliant- I want to be Samantha Shannon when I grow up. We talked about the horrors of being compared to JK Rowling (“we’re not the next her! We’re not! Really! And we never said we were!”). Turns out she, I and Amanda Jennings, who moderated us, are all Ravenclaws, which obviously led to a few self-deprecating jokes about wit beyond measure.
So, yes! Back to school tomorrow, and then to Wimbledon on Tuesday and Cheltenham on Sunday. And then it’s over.
I am now going to go and have a nap.
(Oh yes- I know my readership will pale in comparison to his, but I thought I should at least try to do my bit. You’ve probably already heard of John Underwood and his blog, but nonetheless, if you’re between 16 and 30 and reasonably healthy, please have a read of this and consider trying to save a life. And if you’re not, you can donate to AN on his JustGiving page here. I mean, we’re all agreed cancer is generally bad, so I think this is a cause most of us can unite behind. Anyway. Just thought I should mention it.)