March 1st, 2021


Whoniversaries 1 March

i) births and deaths

1 March 1918: birth of Roger Delgado, the first Master (1971-73).

1 March 1926: birth of Barbara Clegg, author of Enlightenment (Fifth Doctor, 1983), the first woman with sole credit for writing a story. Happy 95th birthday!!!

1 March 1931: birth of Neville Barber, who played Dr Humphrey Cook in The Time Monster (Third Doctor, 1972) and Howard Baker in K9 and Company (1981).

ii) broadcast anniversaries

1 March 1969: broadcast of sixth episode of The Seeds of Death. The Doctor uses the weather control system to destroy the seeds, and draws the Ice Warrior fleet off course; the Earth is saved.

1 March 1975: broadcast of second episode of The Sontaran Experiment. Styre experiments on Sarah, but Harry sabotages his ship and Styre is killed; the Earth is saved.

1 March 1982: broadcast of first episode of Black Orchid. The Tardis lands at Cranleigh Hall in the 1930s, where Nyssa has a double, the Doctor plays cricket, and everyone gets into fancy dress.

1 March 1983: broadcast of first episode of Enlightenment (by Barbara Clegg, who has just turned 95). The White and Black Guardians appear, and the Tardis materialises on a mysterious sailing ship which is racing through space.

1 March 1984: broadcast of third episode of Planet of Fire. Peri, in the power of the Master, discovers that he has been drastically reduced in size.

1 March 2002: webcast of "Planet of Blood" part 3, the fourth episode of Death Comes to Time. More 'orrible slaughter as one ally turns out to be a vampire and another a lieutenant-colonel rather than a policeman.

1 March 2010: broadcast of Jaws of Orthrus, eighth episode of the Australian K9 series. Inspector Drake is attacked by K9! or so it seems. June Turner and the Department have orders to capture K9 and destroy him. However Starkey discovers that Drake has had a double of K9 built to discredit him.

My tweets

  • Sun, 12:50: RT @alexstubb: Doing some work on democratic governance: local, national and supranational. Would appreciate your views on three points, wh…
  • Sun, 12:50: RT @alexstubb: 1. Double representation. I have a hard time accepting that you can be a local and national representative at the same time,…
  • Sun, 12:50: RT @alexstubb: 2. List elections. The party should naturally choose its candidates, but it is the electorate that determines the order. Par…
  • Sun, 12:50: RT @alexstubb: 3. Dissolving the European Parliament. As far as I know the EP is pretty much the only democratically elected parliament tha…
  • Sun, 12:56: RT @mafevema: Unbelievable that it is Sturgeon- the most gifted UK politician but also humane & witty who is fighting for her political lif…
  • Sun, 15:08: Whatever Happened to Patience Kershaw? #history
  • Sun, 18:01: RT @BrigidLaffan: This point from @StefaanDeRynck is important. London never came up with a credible plan for Irish border-as late as Salzb…
  • Sun, 18:14: February books
  • Sun, 21:15: RT @NewtonEmerson: Pretending you can get rid of the protocol, when you can't get rid of it, is the worst of both worlds.
  • Sun, 21:56: RT @IanMoore3000: If you've heard @TheUnthanks performing The Testimony of Patience Kershaw you may have wondered how Kershaw's life turned…
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My Father’s Things, by Wendy Aldiss

Third photograph in the book:
(The next picture in the book is of the walking stick he was holding in my 2014 picture below.)

Brian Aldiss died in 2017, during the night after his 92nd birthday. He was of course a hugely important figure for science fiction in general and for me in particular; the high point of my 2014 Worldcon was simply spotting him sitting in the main concourse and grabbing the chance for a quick conversation with this man whose writing I have admired since I was a teenager. His walking stick is the subject of the fourth photograph in the book. The Worldcon closing ceremony was the day he turned 89, and the multitude sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

His daughter Wendy found that one of the ways she could deal with her grief at his loss was to photograph everything in his possession at the time of his death, and that's what this lovely book is. There is an introduction by Christopher Priest, and a short essay by Margaret Gibson, but otherwise the photographs speak for themselves, of a full life. There are many books, many copies of his own, sent by publishers and never given away; flattering and not so flattering reviews (a lovely Guardian piece where sf authors are asked to name their own favourite writers, and he is named by more than anyone else); family photographs going back to his childhood, with a concentration around the 1960s and 1970s where his second wife, Margaret, invariably glows (she predeceased him by 20 years).

It's also a book about the end of that full life. The empty chair, above, is very eloquent in its stillness. Towards the end, Wendy Aldiss shows us her father's schedule for the week he died, written out neatly in his own hand; of course, he did not make it as far as Saturday morning. Dealing with death is something we all have to do from time to time, and I'm very glad that Wendy has shared this process with the rest of us. You can get it here.

The book was funded by a Kickstarter which I was very happy to contribute to. Unfortunately it arrived only after full Brexit hit at the start of this year, and I was slapped with an extra €27 in charges. If you voted Brexit, you owe me that €27.