One day later and I am much more impressed with my swivel chair assembly skills. The construction process that I was so self-deprecatingly dismissive of yesterday now seems more heroic somehow. A triumph of tool-wielding and an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the whole idea of opposable digits. I have been sitting on the chair for most of the day today and the compressed gas cylinder that is part of the raising and lowering process has neither shot up my bottom nor launched me into space, which were my two principal concerns.
The description of the chair in the Argos catalogue (yes, Argos, I know, but they’ve done away with the Stalinist queuing systems and it’s almost like a proper shop now) said the chair could be easily put together by one person. Well that’s good, I thought. I’m one person. Maybe I could do it.
On unpacking all the bits though this looked less likely to be the case. And indeed each of the four instructions on the almost insultingly sparse sheet packed with the bits started with the phrase “It would be best to get another person to help you with this…” But, but, but I don’t know any other people. That’s why I’m buying a black swivel chair. If I knew other people I’d be buying a bright red double-decker bus and going on a summer holiday with Cliff bloody Richard and Una cocking Stubbs.
Got it done anyway, though the whole shambolic sequence of events was as long and tiring as Moby Dick if instead of the monomaniacal captain you had a mild-mannered crossword compiler, and if instead of the great white whale you had a small black swivel chair.
It’s braw anyway, and the immediate effect it has had on my working life has been (wait for it, wait for it) revolutionary. My previous chair had going for it only the very utilitarian fact that it stopped me from falling to the floor. It was an unprepossessing thing which I had had for so long that I no longer remember where it came from. You could swivel it technically, but only by putting up with an abysmal noise that sounded like all the damned souls in hell trying to sing a sea shanty in the style of Lene Lovich.
The new one is a padded, seductive lumbar-cuddler. Smart and almost frictionless it is fine enough to grace the lair of Ernst “Stavro” Blofeld or Jim’ll “Fix It” Savile. Actually I don’t know if Jim’ll Savile lives in a lair, but it seems a reasonable assumption somehow.
The old chair I took down to the tip which provided, as always, a spiritually elevating experience. The tip! Where all your dreams come true. And if not all your dreams, then at least the ones involving throwing your stuff into a hole in the ground. I visit the tip infrequently, but it’s always fun. I might go on holiday there next year. The man in charge was an exceptionally cheerful bloke. He obviously enjoys his role in the broken dreams and poorly-managed expectations market.
I gave my chair the Viking send-off it had opted for in its living will and then had a little poke around. It was only 9.30 in the morning so the place wasn’t kicking just yet but I did see a bloke throwing away what looked like the same sort of music centre my Dad had in the seventies. My Dad’s had a radio (Long Wave, Medium Wave and Stereo VHF) a turntable and a cassette player/recorder. It also had a little moulded racked space with room for up to five cassettes. Five cassettes. Imagine owning that much music.
As well as work and a brief Doctor Who-related appointment with the mighty Lawrence, today was also the day that I finished painting my bathroom. It looks spiffy, if a bit like something out of Balamory or In The Night Garden. I’m not a girl, so the best way I can describe the colour scheme is to say it’s blue and pink. In fact I’ll check out the paint cans and see what they say.
Cloudless Sky and Pink Fizz apparently, if that helps you visualise it at all. I tried drinking some of the Pink Fizz just to see… Not nice. Tasted painty.
Certainly it’s made the bathroom a merrier place to wash, shower, bathe, shave and the three or four other things I do in there. Hooray for me and my early Spring cleaning. I think this has something to do with the fact that I finished my work for February last week and am ploughing ahead into March.
February, as I’m sure you will know, is named after the Roman festival Februa which took place at this time of year and was basically a ritual of purification.
If there is anything more colourful than my bathroom then it is a Jon Pertwee episode of Doctor Who. Pertwee’s first season, when the Doctor was exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, coincided with the BBC’s introduction of colour television and wow you can tell. The stories are saturated with it. I think I may have broken my old telly and many of the rods and cones in my eyes watching Carnival Of Monsters and The Claws Of Axos a few years ago.
Joyously two classic Pertwee stories came out on DVD for the first time this week: The Curse Of Peladon (1972) and The Monster Of Peladon (1974). And you have to feel sorry for the planet of Peladon based on those two titles haven’t you? It’s not The Tropical Beach Paradise Of Peladon and The Limitless Chocolate Mines Of Peladon. Nope. Curses and monsters. That’s what Peladon gets.
I haven’t seen Monster yet, not since its original broadcast anyway, but Curse is wonderful. It’s a miraculous bit of sci-fi gothic with the regular actors at the top of their game and the deeply pleasing guest star David (son of Patrick) Troughton.
This is my era, and Jon Pertwee is my Doctor. The family atmosphere of Pertwee, the gamine Katy Manning as Jo Grant, brusque Nicholas Courtney as The Brigadier in charge of UNIT and the Moriarty figure of Roger Delgado’s Master. That’s when I was 8. And that’s the first time I knew that everything would turn out OK in the end.
No Master, no Brigadier and no UNIT this time, but there is a marvellous story and some thrilling attempts at social relevance.
In the tradition of Doctor Who usually being about more than appears on the surface The Curse Of Peladon is easy to decode as a metaphor for the politics of the Common Market as various aliens (including the ace, green Ice Warriors of Mars) converge on the planet Peladon to decide whether or not it should be admitted into the galactic federation. Britain joined the EEC amid much debate on January 1st 1973.
The distance between budget and ambition is evident. How could it not be? Credit to the production team though for what they managed, especially the extent to which the lovely wobbly alien Alpha Centauri is realised: a hermaphrodite hexapod with the voice of Martin Prince out of The Simpsons. I never saw one of them in Avatar.