Valentine Days

Naughty me. I’d arranged to view a play on Tuesday evening. For some stupid reason February 14th didn’t ring any bells. So I spent the evening alone at Theatre 503 watching what was admittedly a great play. Mathematics of the Heart, ironically (and painfully) enough, is about relationships and the difficulty in meeting partners’ expectations. I was surrounded by couples. Pip was at home on his own.

Undoubtedly the critic gig has amazing perks, and it’s great to see so many shows. But there are times when I should really be at home.

Incredibly, it was our 9th Valentine’s Day as a couple. It was past eleven o’clock by the time I arrived home, so we had only a brief exchange of cards and presents before lights out. I bought Pip some Ryan Gosling films and a pair of Calvins. He bought me a fistful of Doctor Who DVDs!

Tonight will be movie night and we’ll be having the quiet night in together that I denied us on Tuesday. Pip’s out at the moment being Simon Cowell for the day at Live and Unsigned. I’m very proud of him. I’ve been beavering in the kitchen (a red wine stew is in the slow cooker and I’ve baked cookies) and finishing all those tedious chores that the weekends were made for.

Whilst doing my ironing I chose one of my Valentine’s DVDs to keep me company. Day of the Daleks, a Jon Pertwee story from 1971. I hadn’t seen it for about fifteen years. No particular reason why I’d neglected it, I probably felt I over-watched it when it first came out as it was one of the first-ever video releases, way back in the distant 1980s.

Terrific fun, and a great story about the paradoxes that can arise with time travel stories. It also has segments set on earth in the Twenty-Second century that explore a kind of Orwellian dystopia, in which humans are enslaved to the Dalek empire. There’s some intricate plotting and political ideologies bandied about, and the story resolves itself satisfactorily. Whilst not the best actor ever, Jon Pertwee is wonderful to look at, and his gravelly and authoritative voice make him a credible and charismatic leading man.

I’m not as fanatical about Doctor Who as I once was. I can say that because I don’t like (and don’t watch) the new series. My impressive collection of memorabilia is focussed solely on the original series, and I have many other interests that keep me from obsessing about Doctor Who from writing to dogs to science and literature.

So it’s not been a big issue or a painful “loss of faith” to reject the new stuff that in truth shares only the title with the original series (though my act of heresy did cost me a friendship!). To use a religious analogy, I’ve remained loyal to the Jewish tradition whilst many of my contemporaries have converted to the new faith of Christianity. I think the older stories are better for a start. Enough of religion.

Apart from where budget did not permit (there’s an insipid fight in the final episode between an invasion force of a whopping three Daleks and half a dozen of their foot soldiers against the full might of at least nine UNIT soldiers) the direction for Day of the Daleks is pretty good. There’s some tight editing too, and interesting use of angles, levels and variation in depth of field. It’s aged far, far better than a lot of the bland and static nonsense from the early to mid-1980s. All of which has led to an epiphany – I have vastly underrated the Jon Pertwee era and it’s actually one of the very best.

There, I said it.

Anyone who’s not a Doctor Who fan still reading will presumably be bored, think I’m sad, or possibly both.

However, those are my reflections this dreary February day. Right, I’d better go and stir the stew.