June 20th, 2010

The Pandorica Opens


The idea that the Doctor is an intergalactic pest who needs to be locked away is one that has been glanced at many times in the history of the show- and here we are again- invited (however briefly) to view the matter from the point of view of the Daleks and the Cybermen and those funny little warlike eggmen.

Is it a good episode? Impossible to say until we know how it resolves. The headless Cyberman was scarier than Cybermen have any right to be, I always like to see Romans and the Romeo and Juliet business with Amy and Auton-Rory was genuinely moving (which means it must have been well written because I don't care that much about either of them). I'm hoping some of the loss turns out to be real and unrecoverable or I'm going to feel my emotions have been trifled with.

Armed Forces Day

Today is Armed Forces Day (apparently). Or maybe it was yesterday. I don't know. These top-down impositions rarely catch on. There's an article in this morning's Telegraph- purportedly penned by David Cameron- in which we the public are urged to give more support to our Armed Forces. Actually, I was under the impression the public was doing pretty well; it wasn't a Government initiative that got people turning out on the streets of Wooton Bassett to greet the returning war dead- and it wasn't a Government initiative which set up the charity Help for Heroes which (I humbly suggest) wouldn't need to exist if the Government were doing all it should. Still, Cameron is offering better pay to frontline troops and more assistance to families and ex-soldiers- and that's all good- I just wish he wouldn't preach. 

Passing Out Parade At Glencorse

My youngest son was a soldier. This is the poem I wrote after his passing out parade. At the time I was a little worried about him having to serve in South Armagh. Happily, he escaped that posting. They sent him to Basra instead.



37 men plus marching band

Look pretty small on that vast parade ground.

Using a telephoto lens

I try to reach out and get to them

But ritual puts up plate-glass shields

I cannot pass. My son looks pale,

With shadows pooling under the cheek-bones.

Later he says he had his cap

Jammed on too tight and it stopped the blood flow.



                   The full dress uniform

Has scarcely changed since the First World War.

The Scots wear kilts or tartan trews

And bonnets, while the Lancashires

Have a hat band red as a red, red rose

Which signifies loyalty to the Queen,

Their Duke. Their Dux.


                    Some officers

Stroll through the ranks and talk to them

My son is smiling.


                             Presenting arms

Is the greatest compliment they can give

(Or so says an arrogant voice on the tannoy)

And when they do it (but not to us)

We rise from our seats and stand for them.


Then off they go at a stiff clip

Back to their barracks to grow back into

Their private selves before they’re loosed

To us relatives. As they pass from view

The bandsmen of the Black Watch,

Their sashes streaming like widows’ wear,

Play "Scotland the Brave".


                                      It’s Catterick next

Then Canada, then South Armagh.


Driving him home, its mostly hills

From Edinburgh to Lancaster.

Smooth bare hills and very few people,

Everything dun and grey except

At St Mary’s Loch where the ranked waves glitter.