In which The Author is incommunicado again
I’ve pinched the title of this particular entry from one of the best lines in the 2007 Doctor Who episode ‘Blink.’ A girl named Sally Sparrow has an unexpected encounter in an abandoned house. Later, she comes across a secret DVD extra featuring a mysterious man in a one-sided conversation with a video camera.
It turns out that the Doctor and Martha are stuck in 1969, as the TARDIS has been stolen by the Weeping Angels. In a sequence of mind-bending paradoxical plot twists worthy of Philip K. Dick or Robert A. Heinlein, Sally and her friend Lawrence team up to defeat the quantum-locked living statues and return the TARDIS to its rightful owner. It’s the episode which introduced the second-most scary monsters, according to a poll for the show’s fiftieth birthday. It’s the one which made sure that every child eyes statues with suspicion, and should have destroyed the street careers of ‘living statues’ everywhere.
Steven Moffat, in his third official outing as scriptwriter, excelled himself in terms of witty dialogue, dramatic tension, and sheer exuberant cheek while working on this episode. We’d already seen what he was capable of in the 2005 two-parter ‘The Empty Child’/’The Doctor Dances’, which introduced Captain Jack Harkness to an unsuspecting audience. With a rapid-fire risqué script, terrestrial setting, and a clever extrapolation of a normal childhood fear (in this case, the fear of being separated from one’s mother) to terrifying levels, Mr Moffat’s contribution stands out as one of the undoubted first season highlights.
In the second season, ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ is a SF love story with a twist. The Doctor travels through a series of time windows linking a deserted space freighter to pre-revolutionary France. He comes across Madame De Pompadour at various stages of her life, and they embark on a interrupted romance across the decades. Once again, the script crackles with energy and wit, and builds to a shattering and heartbreaking climax. We see the curse of the Time Lord writ large, as the Doctor’s huge lifespan robs him of happiness.
All of these stories won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form – and Mr Moffat isn’t one to let modesty get in the way of a good blog entry. After the 2007 World Science Fiction Convention in Yokahama, he told of his reaction to receiving his second award. He wrote in his inimitable style on the official Doctor Who website:
Best thing about winning a (second) Hugo, is that it’s for Doctor Who. ‘Cos years ago, when I was a tiny little Doctor Who fan, I bought this American magazine called Starlog. It was all about Star Wars and Star Trek (whatever they are) but the reason I bought it was in a tiny box in the corner it said ‘Doctor Who’! And I was so excited that this big important American magazine had an article about my favourite show! And it broke my heart. Because in the article it said ‘In all fairness Doctor Who is unlikely ever to win a Hugo …’ Two Hugos, I’ve got! Two Hugos for Doctor Who! And I’d say more, but I’m off to the Starlog offices to dance around and flick v-signs.
Mr Moffat didn’t stop there – he was nominated for a further Hugo for ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’ in the 2008 season; he won again in 2011 for ‘The Pandorica Opens’/’The Big Bang’ (‘A Christmas Carol’ was nominated at the same time), and was nominated yet again for ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ at the 2012 awards. That’s not to mention the Nebula nomination, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards, the BAFTAs, the Emmy Award (for Sherlock)…
Is there any stopping him? He’s established himself as one of the greatest scriptwriters working in television today. He’s refreshing, irreverent, witty, rude, stubborn, brilliant, and utterly (and justifiably) convinced of his own ability. I wish I had the merest fraction of his talent.
Meanwhile, back on Earth in the present day, the Angels might not have the phone box, but my own phone has vanished into a parallel universe somewhere. I had it on Saturday evening, when I got captured by Lisa D. and her mother and dragged to the Market Tavern. Wales had lost to Australia (again!) in the last of the Autumn Rugby Tests, and we’d decided to have a wander from the Prince when it started to fill up. I know I had my phone at that stage, because I sent a Tweet at 8.38 p.m.
Lisa had complained about the cold weather when we were in between pubs. She was wearing a skimpy dress with no coat, and according to her, she was ‘freezing my balls off.’
I replied immediately, ‘Woah, sorry – flashback to Bangkok!’
She and her mother burst out laughing again (we’d been exchanging silly banter for ages) and I told her, ‘What happened in Thailand stays in Thailand. That’s why we call it the Diplomatic Service.’
Cue more hysteria from the women. I was on a roll that night, I can tell you.
As soon as we got to the Tavern, I decided to Tweet that line so that I’d remember it for future reference. I obviously had my phone at that stage of the evening. I can pinpoint my location about half an hour later for the same reason. At 9.13 I sent another Tweet:
Judges, Aberdare. Why pay £9 for a shit time when you can buy a Harry Potter book and stay at home?
After I left the Tavern I walked back past the Prince, but it was heaving in there. Instead, I decided to call into the Glosters for a last one before heading home. When I did get back to my house, I took my Mirtazapine at bedtime, as usual. After several pints it really knocked me sideways, and I staggered up to bed at stupid o’clock in the morning.
Yesterday, I couldn’t find my phone anywhere. I could conceivably have dropped it while I was walking home, I suppose. There’s a hole in one pocket of my jeans, and I could have easily slipped it into the wrong pocket out of habit. If someone’s picked it up, that’s probably the last I’ve seen of it. It’s a really old-school Nokia Thickphone, no use to man nor beast (the keys are locked by a six-digit code), and a potential thief would have to pay
Smack Cash Generator to take it off his/her hands.
I called into the Glosters and the Tavern yesterday, but nothing had been handed in on Saturday night. I called into the Prince, where Neil G. tried calling my number and said that it was just ringing and ringing. On Facebook last night I asked my friends to try ringing me, and they said that the call was diverted straight to voicemail. Martin H. tried ringing me this morning, and reckoned that he just got the ringing tone for ages. That’s a mystery in itself.
It could be in the house somewhere, where there’s a considerable Dead Zone into which no microwave radiation can penetrate. If that’s the case, I probably won’t know until about Thursday. I gave it a full charge last week, so by midweek the battery should be starting to run low. Assuming it’s in the house somewhere, I’ll hear a periodic squawking ‘beep’ which might enable me to track it down.
Alternatively, I can actually do what I’ve been planning to do since long before my shelves collapsed (see Crash
) and tidy the house from top to bottom. If it’s here, then it should turn up at some point. I need to clear my desk anyway, as I treated myself to a new jigsaw at the weekend and I need a surface where I can start working on it. Who knows what other long-lost items will turn up in the process. You never know, I might even be able to plug some of the gaps in the list I compiled in Missing, Presumed Lost
. I’ll let you know the outcome…