April 16th, 2021


Whoniversaries 16 April

i) births and deaths

16 April 1936: birth of Derrick Sherwin. On paper, he was producer of Doctor Who for only two stories and 14 episodes, the shortest tenure of anyone in the old regime. In fact he was the man who rescued the programme from collapse in Seasons 5 and 6 (as script editor and de facto assistant producer), invented UNIT and the Time Lords, and successfully rebooted the show in colour with a new Doctor in 1970. He also wrote, uncredited, one of the best single episodes of the entire original run, the first part of The Mind Robber

16 April 1954: birth of Antony Root, briefly script editor of Doctor Who in 1981.

16 April 1974: birth of Paul Marc Davis, the only actor to appear in New Who and all three of its spinoffs: as the Futurekind Chieftain in Utopia (Tenth Doctor, 2007), one of the Cowled Figures in Exit Wounds (Torchwood, 2008), the recurring Trickster in the Sarah Jane Adventures, and Corakinus, leader of the Shadowkin in several episodes of Class. His face is only visible in Utopia.

ii) broadcast anniversaries

16 April 1966: broadcast of "The Dancing Floor", third episode of the story we now call The Celestial Toymaker. Steven and Dodo must deal with a not-very-threatening kitchen and some rather more threatening dancing dolls. (I mistakenly used this picture last week.)

16 April 2005: broadcast of Aliens of London. A spacecraft crashes into the Thames; the Doctor is among experts on aliens summoned to 10 Downing Street, but all is not as it seems. Incldues the very first scenes filmed for New Who (with Tosh and the space pig). That same day, the BBC confirmed that David Tennant would play the Tenth Doctor.

iii) date specified in canon

16 April 1746: Battle of Culloden, followed by the events of The Highlanders (Second Doctor, 1966).

My tweets


Friday reading

Le dernier Atlas, tome 1, by Fabien Vehlmann, Gwen De Bonneval and Fred Blanchard
The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant
The Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo

Last books finished
Kathedralen uit de steentijd, by Herman Clerinx
Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi
Adventures in Lockdown, ed. Steve Cole

Next books
The Serpent Sea, by Martha Wells
The Consuming Fire, by John Scalzi

January 2011 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every six-ish days (though this one is very soon after the previous one, which was late) I've been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I've found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Much the most important thing that happened to us in January 2011 was that little U, who had just turned seven, said her first words. God bless you, A.A. Milne, wherever you are. (And Walt Disney too, I guess.)

The month had started with a solar eclipse. In my office, my Estonian intern L departed to the EU's information service, where she spent a couple of years answering citizens' questions before getting a serious government advisory position back home, where she still is. Her replacement, J, was from an even smaller EU country, Luxembourg, and (spoilers) also now works for her home government as an adviser, though I recruited her from a volunteer position in Kosovo.

My only work trip that month was to Chișinău again, where I spoke at a conference and was given a tour of the famous Cricova wine cellars, including President Putin’s private stash.

It had snowed in Moldova too.

I had a couple of other cultural excursions, one to an exhibition of relics in Leuven:

And to the Hergé Museum in Louvain-La-Neuve, well worth a visit.

I posted two pieces on the abolition of the Irish Seanad, for all the good that did, and continued to hate my HTC Desire phone.

I read 16 books in January 2011.

Non-fiction: 5
The Hiſtory of That moſt Eminent Stateſman, Sir John Perrott
Sisters of Sinai, by Janet Soskice
For Noble Purposes, by Richard Porter
Tyrone's Rebellion, by Hiram Morgan
The Secret Life of Trees, by Colin Tudge

Non-genre fiction: 1
The Undiscovered Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

SF (non-Who): 3
Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone, by Mervyn Peake

Doctor Who: 6
Heart of TARDIS, by Dave Stone
Doctor Who Annual 1979
AHistory: An Unauthorized History of the Doctor Who Universe, by Lance Parkin
Shadowmind, by Christopher Bulis
The Scarlet Empress, by Paul Magrs
Doctor Who Annual 1980

Comics: 1
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers vol.2, by Fumi Yoshinaga

Page count: 4400
2/16 books by women (Soskice, Yoshinaga).
1/16 by PoC (Yoshinaga).

The best:
The worst:
  • Titus Groan, which I finished rereading last month as it happens. Skip it, and just read the first two volumes. If you want, you can get it here.
  • The Secret Life of Trees, an interesting subject ill-served. You can get it here.


Liz Marley 1967-2021

Devastated to hear of the sudden death of our old college friend Liz. She was tweeting away as usual on Monday night, did not log in to work on Tuesday, her employers were concerned enough on Wednesday to reach out to the Ravelry network, one of whom lived nearby, could not get an answer from her, called the police and found her. We don't know what happened, and it doesn't really matter; it's a huge shock anyway.

Her 54th birthday would have been tomorrow week, two days before mine. We celebrated our 21st together, along with two other friends; here's the only picture of her that I got that day, partly obscured, with her typical wry dry smile.

Anne and Liz were flatmates at the time that Anne and I started dating, and I proposed to Anne (and she accepted) while we were staying at Liz's house in Cambridge. (Liz found five of the eggs she was cooking with that evening were double-yolked. We still don't know if that was an omen of some kind.)

She married soon after we did; hers didn't work out; ours did; we stayed in touch throughout the years, and she agreed to be U's godmother back in 2003.

We caught up again at the college reunion in 2010, and she gave us and F a tour of her workplace on a trip to London in 2011 (and, not to be too coy about it, she worked in the Houses of Parliament, so her workplace tour was a bit different from mine). The last time we saw her was when she dropped by Leuven for a couple of days in September 2017. She was overweight, as she had been for years, but cheerful and cheering as ever.

I missed connecting with her on a couple of recent trips to London, but well, I thought, there'll always be a next time. Except that there isn't. Don't miss the chance to reconnect, if you have it, folks; we do not know the day or the hour.

Edited to add: Liz's colleagues pay tribute to her on Twitter in a thread starting here: