I’m Not Allowed To Embrace My Roma Heritage Any More


GypsyYou see this lady? A peaceful looking lady minding her own business whilst cooking? She’s a Romany Gypsy – or Roma.

Being Roma doesn’t automatically mean that you come from Romania or anywhere else that people think the Roma come from. Roma is a race, a lifestyle – not a nationality. Each Roma community has its own ways and its own language, depending on place of origin. No two Roma families are the same.

So imagine my shock and distress when I commented on a news thread and received this lovely message in response:

“You and your family should go back to wherever it is you crawled out from. You’re not English and you don’t belong here.”

I spelled the above quote correctly; the abuser didn’t.

I have never experienced racial abuse before. Not ever. Not being a racist myself, it never entered my head that a show such as Benefits Street could cause anybody to hate my ancestory – the ancestory that my maternal family and I are so very proud of. To hate me without even meeting me, just because of my maternal roots.

I have news for the racist bigots out there. I am English. I was born to an English mother and a Welsh father – in England.

I am also Roma. I was born due to an honourable and dignified bloodline. Whatever a racist might think, I can have these three (and more) bloodlines all at once.

I have blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes. If I chose not to tell you of my Roma ancestory you would never know. But why on earth should I hide who I am and where I came from?

 

Posted in Abuse, Benefits Street, Bigotry, Racism | 3 Comments

Willingden


It could be a peaceful little village from the pages of a Tolkien novel, except that it only exists in my head, when I’m asleep and dreaming.

WillingdenI often find myself there at some point during my sleep cycle. The houses are tall with cobbled facades, and outside each is parked a vintage car. Before I even see the old mill, I know that I’ve stepped back in time. It’s quiet apart from birdsong and the occasional grocer’s van.

According to a sign, Cheltenham (my hometown) is north-west of Willingden. I keep this in mind while I investigate the old fashioned shops and have a go at sewing my own clothes. There’s a tea shop, a disused railway tunnel and fields to walk through. There’s a cinema/theatre painted green, and an old fashioned high street.

There is also the Church Green, where the signs pointing at Cheltenham merge into village names that you’ve not heard of. You follow the signs and find yourself looking at an active forge, a forest, or a country path – even an entire new village. You never do get back to Cheltenham and eventually you realise that you don’t want to. Willingden is small and peaceful – somewhat like Hobbiton but with larger houses.

I have no idea where the name comes from in my mind – it’s just always been there. Perhaps I’m dreaming of the perfect environment and making it so real in my head that I can actually live in it for a while. No noisy dogs, no pollution… just peace and beauty.

Welcome to a slice of my dream world.

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Doctor Who Guest Review: The Time of The Doctor


The time has come at last for Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor to face Trenzalore, the oldest question in the universe hidden in plain sight, and his own inevitable death. But this is no ordinary Christmas special. For this ties all of Eleven’s seasons together as well as reaffirms what we love most about his character. Indeed as Clara’s cracker taught us;

And now it’s time for one last bow,
Like all your other selves.
Eleven’s hour is over now,
The clock is striking twelve’s.

One last bow, then. One last bit of meta. Moffat has shown us time and time again how much he loves The Doctor as mythos, as legend, as fairy tale, and part of his way of showing that is through stories within stories. Of course, the ultimate conceit of this episode, is that s5-7 ALL occur within its hour. For yes, in an hour we have the answer to the exploding TARDIS in s5, the questions answered re ‘silence will fall Doctor’ and just why the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight, is Doctor Who? The Time of The Doctor is an appropriate title. Well played, Santa Moff, well played.

Time of the Doctor

But this episode is more than just a series of answers to ever more Lost-esque plot complexities. It is also Matt’s swansong as one of the greatest Doctors the show has ever had in a story that highlights just what made Eleven tick. This is The Doctor who never interferes in people or planets unless there are children crying. And so the youngest Doctor in the shows history dies of old age, not because he has to do so, but because that’s all him. He can’t just fly off in his TARDIS. Not when there’s children to save. His own life is unimportant in the face of human suffering. And then there is the effect The Doctor has on young minds; all of those pictures, the little toys he makes, the puppet shows and the little boy by the TARDIS who, upon hearing that The Doctor is about to leave says, “I’ll wait.” It is all reminiscent of Amy Pond, The Girl Who Waited. The care that Eleven displayed for Handles is also a throwback to his overall tenure. This Doctor loves his friends something fierce. Even his relationship with River gets a mention, with hun, Tasha Lem, reflecting elements of Eleven’s favorite archaeologist.

Eleven was magical; a mad old wizard in a young body, impetuous, impossible, in love with manic women and filled with surprising pathos and joy. Some of this was the scripts, of course, but a lot of it was Matt Smith; an underdog choice who proved his right to the TARDIS keys again and again. We saw everything this episode. Matt’s drunk giraffe physical routine, complete with crazy hand gestures, Matt’s ability to play an ancient man in a young body and then his ability to sell us an old man in an ancient body (great specials effects team!), and finally his ability to flit between flirt, oncoming storm, man of pathos and then wisdom and hope.

But even The Doctor couldn’t make it through this story alone. The last few episodes gradually warmed me to Clara, but this was the first time that I truly felt like Clara was her own companion. Her expressions, mannerisms and quick manner are spot on and I loved the rapport between her grandmother and herself. The grandmother’s story of how she met her husband was also quite beautiful. Clara has saved The Doctor countless times throughout s7; from her first appearance in 7.1 when she made all of the Daleks forget, to the Christmas special where she gave The Doctor new purpose, to Day of the Doctor, when she helps The Doctor see that he must change his mind about genocide. This time, Clara speaks to the Time Lords through the crack in her wall, letting them know that they need no answer to The Doctor’s true name, for his name is irrelevant. His name is a promise that he has now kept. And so they grant him fresh regenerations in a necessary move that will no doubt wreak havoc with merchandising.

When Clara runs into the TARDIS to find her Doctor, she speaks for all of us, when she voices her dismay that he is changing. Matt’s exit speech is truly poignant, nothing like the dross of The End of Time. He leaves both with dignity, and in true Eleven style. By the time he dropped his bow tie to the ground, I was in tears.

“Times change and so must I.
We all change. When you think about, it we’re all different people all through our lives and that’s OK. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”

And then in a poignant and clever echo of River’s voiceover;

“Not those times, not one line. Don’t you dare!”

The Doctor promises us;

I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.
I will always remember when the Doctor was me

And then it was time for one last piece of Eleven magic. Fish fingers and custard get a nod before The Doctor sees little Amelia running through a TARDIS papered in colourful children’s drawings. A familiar woman walks down the stairs and drops the final curtain on Eleven with;

“Raggedy Man. Goodnight.”

Eleven is over. The clock has struck twelve. Good luck Capaldi! Matt is a tough act to follow!

Time of the Doctor: 8/10 inky stars

Maureen is a speculative fiction writer and reader who is entirely too addicted to Doctor Who. She is releasing an ebook poetry collection 1st Feb. You can find the facebook page Here

Posted in A Madman With A Box, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Getting Fitter To Get Better


In the bad old days (many years ago now) I subsisted on tea, cigarettes and rum.

In slightly better days this changed to tea and wine.

Now it’s water, the occasional cup of tea and wine.

I’m still not eating enough and I always seem to be unwell.

After the jump, I’ll explain why… Continue reading

Posted in 2014, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Attitudes, Body Image, Body Parts, Diet And Fitness, Disability, Disability Aids, Disabled Gardening, Discomfort, EDNOS, Epilepsy, Exercise, Food, Health, Neurological, Refusing To Be Beaten, Resolutions, Seizures | 18 Comments

Guest Post: Doctor Who 50th Day of The Doctor Review


day-of-the-doctor-reelgoodI am sorry that this review has been so long coming, but I needed some time to gather my thoughts, and in the wake of the Christmas special and Matt’s farewell, maybe it is best reviewing back to back. And this anniversary story was a strange beast. For the first 45 minutes I thought I was in Let’s Kill Hitler Moffat territory and I started to panic. Where the hell was everything going? Was everything just big sounds and colours? But then it hit me. Roughly a quarter of the way through. The adventure of the week Zygon story was both a clever front and a deliberate parallel to Moff’s real beef; dealing with The War Doctor, genocide and bringing back Gallifrey. By the time Matt’s voiceover sounded telling me that Eleven was going where he was always going, I was a mess of happy tears because YES MOFFAT. THIS IS IT. THIS IS DOCTOR WHO’S ESSENCE. YES.

Starting off as a deceptively silly tale about UNIT summoning The Doctor and Clara because of an odd message from Queen Elizabeth, and a Zygon invasion stretching from the 16th century to the present, it soon became a bitter walk down memory lane as the sight of a 3D painting called ‘Gallifrey Falls’ tunnelled us back into The Doctor’s darkest hours. The War Doctor steals the Time Lord’s most lethal weapon; a self destruct with a consciousness. The button gets confused and settles on Rose Tyler as Bad Wolf as the face of morality in a surprise move which works. She taps Hurt into Ten’s time stream as well as Eleven’s and the three band together to stop the Zygons even as War Doctor must make a terrible choice, knowing exactly the kind of man that he will become and the deaths that he will cause.

There is so much to say that I will break off into sub headings.

The Opening Credits:

The first time I saw this at the cinema, I thought the credits were ridiculous and far too RTD bombastic for my liking. But you know what, the second time round on TV when Matt clung to the base of the TARDIS, Clara looking out, the brilliant “I Am The Doctor” playing and those wonderful credits flowing across the screen, I didn’t give a damn anymore. Because you know what? They all deserved their bombastic moment. Matt and Jenna and David and Billie and John and Moffat. Especially Santa Moff. Haters to the left. Without his direction and some truly brilliant performers, Doctor Who wouldn’t HAVE its 50th.

The Doctor/s:

I have always loved Matt Smith’s Doctor. His ability to play an aged man in a young body still astounds. His ease at comedy is wonderful and his natural chemistry with everyone sweet and bubbly. He has truly become MY Doctor. The script gave him loads to work with, given that two others Doctors showed up (well three if you count the end scene) but I especially loved the scene where he had to explain the Gallifrey Falls painting to Clara and his face crumples with pain and grief.

To my surprise, I also loved Ten. I was quite sick of him by The End of Time but I liked the way that Moff downplayed the angst and only used it for comedic effect. Ten and Eleven bounced well off each other with such different personalities and I was very pleased that Ten never saw the Rose interface. And bonus points are added for managing to tie up the Elizabeth marriage plot point and connecting Day of The Doctor into the opening of The End of Time. Moff. You are an audacious bastard. Right down to the way that you played on that whiny final Ten line, “I don’t want to go.”

Do I really need to mention John Hurt as The Doctor? He was utter perfection as an aged and broken Doctor, bowed and beaten down by endless war. His ascerbic wit and wry acknowledgement of two very young doctor’s was also a nice nod to fans who have long noted this recent demographic pandering. If only he could do some Big Finish audios.

The Companion:

Oh Clara. She has worked for me on and off all of s7. I loved her in The Snowmen (why couldn’t we have 19th century Clara as a companion then?), Asylum of the Daleks, Hide and The Name of The Doctor, but most of the time, and despite Jenna’s excellent acting chops, she really suffers alongside comparisons to the very strong Pond era. Rory and Amy both had a long back story that developed eons each season. It felt to me that Clara only served purpose as an Impossible Girl. She never felt particularly real to me. However, I loved her in this special. I like that she is The Doctor’s friend. I like that her bossy personality lends her to being around The Doctor as well as teaching at Susan’s old school, where Ian is now headmaster. I like that she senses The War Doctor’s sadness and tried to comfort him. I like that she helps all three Doctors change their minds. Which brings me to…

Bad Wolf Big Red Button:

When Billie was first announced as having a part in the 50th, I was pretty pissed off. I love Billie. Don’t get me wrong. I think she is a phenonemal actress. But I was darn sick of Rose. She just kept coming back. All of the damn time. So it was pretty neat of Moff to bring her back as a not!Rose AND as a moral arbitrater. Billie knocked this role out of the park. She was truly chilling in her first few scenes and her repetition of, “No more, no more,” was both terrifying and genuinely funny. Her sad eyes almost out-sad-eyed the master of sad eyes himself. The Doctor.

And then of course, she got some of the best lines of the entire episode. When she elucidated for The Doctor just why the TARDIS noise is so important, my heart leapt and tears prickled. Because it was so true. That noise brings hope to so many. Yes, and even to The Doctor.

Rose: You know the sound the TARDIS makes? That wheezing, groaning. That sound brings hope, wherever it goes.
War Doctor: Yes. Yes, I like to think it does.
Rose: To anyone who hears it, Doctor. Anyone, however lost. Even you.

Gallifrey:

Which led to The Doctors changing their minds. All thirteen of them in a truly thrilling moment. As all of those TARDIS’ flung around I was grinning from ear to ear. Because how incredibly clever Moff. Gallifrey had to come back. The show would stagnate without that change. And because, there’s only so much angst you can take before viewers get bored. So Moffat dealt with that problem head on by dealing with the meta of just what The Doctor represents. The name you choose- it’s like a promise you keep.

“Never cruel. Never unkind. Never give up. Never give in.”

And blowing up Gallifrey was never something The Doctor could ever do. It just wasn’t him. So he rewrote history but in a way that meant he never can remember it. At least not those earlier incarnations. His character developement from Nine to now is intact, and so is Gallifrey. Bravo, Moff.

Tom Baker:

Maybe the Baker scarf on the Doctor’s UNIT fan girl and the return of Zygons should have given it away. But this little Whovian was very surprised. I cried tears of fannish joy. When Clara first mentioned a caretaker, I thought it would be a Capaldi cameo or maybe even Mcgann.

“Gallifrey falls. No more.”

Baker’s majestic delivery sent shivers down my spine. As did his assertion that;

“I am you. Or is it you are me? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter either way. Who knows. WHO knows.”

Even if the rest of this special had been pants, this moment would have salvaged all.

But there was one last perfect moment to make sure fans everywhere rejoiced as Moffat kicked the ball out of the park and proved to me one more time just why he is one of the best writers on the show because he truly understands the character of The Doctor.

Home:

Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. “Of course I dream”. I tell her. ”Everybody dreams”. ”But what do you dream about?” she’ll ask. “The same thing everybody dreams about.” I tell her. “I dream about where I’m going.” She always laughs at that. “But you’re not going anywhere – you’re just wandering about.” That’s not true. Not any more. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way around.

The Day of The Doctor: 11/10 inky stars of perfection!

Posted in A Madman With A Box, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Of Shoes And Strings And Sealing Wax, And A Ton Of Navel Fluff


After being incredibly remiss with this blog since breaking my arm in August, my muse has finally poked me to write up about the highlights of my year and attempt to catch up with you all. It’s one thing to play Runescape and type on Facebook (okay, so that’s two things!) one-handed, but quite another to write a coherent blog post about anything. Especially when you spend most of summer being out of your gourd on painkillers, thinking you’re dreaming when you’re awake or thinking you’re awake when you’re dreaming. Having said that, the latter part is typical of me, and I spend many hours of my life trying to convince D that we said or did or planned something when it’s all news to him because it never actually happened.

My brain; it is indeed a funny place. Only somebody with a sense of humour could cope with a brain like mine. Or, at least, I suppose so; because I need my sense of humour to cope with my brain.

That’s quite enough about my fizzled brainmeats. Moving on to the year that was! Continue reading

Posted in 2013, Accomplishments, Adventures, Adventures In Preserves, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Autism, Blogging, Book, Born This Way, Christmas, Diet And Fitness, Disability, Epilepsy, Family, Five Minutes Of Fame, Gardening, Good People, Health, Hobbies, Home, I Love Autism Kids, Injuries, Kitchen Witchy, Love, Mason Kayne, My Son, Navel Gazing, Not A Supermarket Tomato, Pets, Pickling, Positivity, Proud Parent Of An Autistic Child, Psychiatric, Publishing, Reminiscense, Seizures, Spiders, The Writing Industry, Tribble Towers, Wedding | 9 Comments

Staring Without Seeing, And Other Stories


BroomfieldThat’s what I tend to do when I’m waiting for my hospital appointments; I have my Kindle, of course, but occasionally my gaze will sweep the waiting area and see – but not see. Images are vaguely noted – sometimes they even register – but, more often than not, I’m not actually looking at or noticing you. My gaze slides over you like rain down a window pane, and then – just as rain is wont to do – it moves on to linger briefly elsewhere. Continue reading

Posted in "Mutants", 2013, Adapting, Anxiety, Autism, Autism Awareness, Autistic Behaviours, Autistic Meltdown, Body Image, Boobs, Born This Way, Disability, Doctor Who, English Hospitals, Epilepsy, Epilepsy Awareness, Health, Heightened Awareness, Injuries, Kindle | 4 Comments

Disability, Voluntary Work And Government Deception


Springfield Library, where my husband volunteers

Springfield Library, where my husband volunteers

We all have that One Relative, or know that One Person, who sits at home watching Jeremy Vile, scratching their arse, chainsmoking and eating their own bodyweight in Doritos whilst gleefully living off the state with absolutely no intention of finding gainful employment.

We’ve all seen those little groups of (mostly) men and the occasional couple, gathered outside the entrance to the Job Centre in expensive clothes and with expensive dogs (generally Staffordshire Bull Terriers – no wonder the poor animals have such an unwarranted bad reputation), with their cans of Heinekin and packets of Old Holborn – openly laughing and boasting about how “cushy” they have it because they’re living off the tax payer.

Sorry to put it so baldly, but there it is. The majority of people on Jobseeker’s are genuinely job seekers (as was I, before I had to admit defeat and accept that my epilepsy had ended all chances of a career for me), but there is this small minority that the Government ought to be targetting. Please mark my emphasis on “ought to be” before you continue reading.

On the other side of the coin are people such as myself – those of us who would bite somebody’s arm off at the merest hint of a job offer if we were only well/able/mobile enough to accept it. You know, those of us who are dependant on walking aids, wheelchairs, even help with personal care. Those of us who are on first name terms with our doctors, practice nurses and various paramedics and A&E staff. Those of us who see more of our specialists than we do of our friends and family. Continue reading

Posted in 2013, About The Carer, Abuse, David Cameron, DWP, Government Deception, Voluntary Work | 23 Comments

Luke’s Attic #2 – Mister Smith And The Doctor


mr_smith_sja_2For once, Luke felt no irritation when Mister Smith sounded his trumpeting fanfare. Mum had berrated the ancient mind of the machine so many times for this, but today Luke was comforted by the sound. Happy memories flooded back as Mister Smith revealed himself. The flashing console and the comforting, pulsating light from the screen gave Luke the confidence that Sarah Jane had always seen in him.

Good evening Luke,” said Mister Smith. “It has been a long time since we have spoken; how may I assist you?

Luke stared at the two pieces of paper that he had picked up and read. He couldn’t understand any of what Mum had found and printed out, but he was able to read her handwriting, and the panic in it:

456“Mister Smith, Mum was upset about something and was researching it before… you know. I found something while I was tidying up and I don’t know what it means.”

A slot opened in the console.

Please feed it through to me, Luke.”

Luke did so. He knew that this might take a few minutes and so he wouldn’t be able to ask questions of Mister Smith. He was thinking to himself though. What Mum had written seemed urgent; important. Mum seemed afraid. How was the number “456″ important? What was back, and why did Mum think that children were in danger? He would have to wait for the big computer to give him some answers.

Finally, the piece of manuscript was run back out for Luke to retrieve. Mister Smith began his run-down and diagnostic.

The 456. An alien race whose name and origin is unknown. They claimed many lives when they descended to Earth four years ago – adults as well as children. A child had to be sacrificed in order to destroy them, and now a new wave has returned.”

Images of the “456″ – or the tentacles that were visible within the tank they’d ordered to be made for them all that time ago – flashed across Mister Smith’s monitor.  A Hydra-type creature was seen to slam itself up against the front of the tank.

The 456Luke recoiled in horror at the sight of the hideous creature. He knew he had to act.

“What can we do, Mister Smith?”

The computer sighed, sadly.

We, Luke, can do nothing. I am currently contacting people who can; you shall hear from them shortly.”

“So, what..?”

Luke’s question was cut short as a rushing noise filled the air. His hair flew around his face as a large object appeared in the corner of the room. A blue object that looked rather like a police box.

The object solidified into reality, and the doors opened. An eccentric looking, gangly figure wearing a bow tie and braces (and was that a fez?) came dashing out, spinning and jumping as though he were an overexcited grasshopper.

“Whoah!” shouted the strange figure. “Oh, I know where I am! Haha, it’s been a long time! Geronimo! Is that Mister Smith? Hello! I’m here! Now, the question is, why?”

The crazy figure whirled around once more, and inspected Mister Smith’s screen; a worried frown appeared. “The 456. Oh no… we are in trouble…”

Luke didn’t recognise this person, and yet somehow he was… familiar. Had they met before? Could he possibly be..?

The strange man turned around again, and kind, ancient blue eyes fixed on to Luke. Ancient eyes in a young face.

“Hello, Luke,” said the man. “I didn’t look like this the last time we met. I wish the circumstances had been happier; I’m so very sorry about your Mum.”

“Doctor? Oh Doctor, I’m so pleased to see you! We have a problem and I don’t know how to fix it. Did Mister Smith contact you?”

The console blinked in to life. “Yes Luke, I did. Please do not talk about me as if I am not here.” Luke apologised, and Mister Smith took himself back inside the wall.

Luke turned back to The Doctor, wondering what the plan was. As though The Doctor had heard his unanswered question, The Doctor continued speaking.

“We’re not doing this alone, Luke. Oh no, your Mum would never have allowed that! We have help and that help has come with me!”

The lights began to flicker. Luke heard a fuse blow somewhere and a light bulb somewhere in another room shattered audibly. Luke knew that sound.

A girl stepped out from the TARDIS. A beautiful girl of about seventeen, with brown hair and a sweet smile.

“Hello, Luke,” said the girl. “It’s lovely to see you again. It’s me; Sky.”

Posted in 2013, Creative Writing, Creativity, Doctor Who, Fanfiction, Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane Smith | Leave a comment

Luke’s Attic – Doctor Who/Sarah Jane Fan Fiction


Why does my muse always have to return at 2am and keep me up writing and searching pictures before publishing the work? Does this happen to other writers?

People have been asking for a sequel to my goodbye to everybody’s favourite Doctor Who girl – Sarah Jane Smith – since I wrote it last year. I hope you enjoy! Continue reading

Posted in Creative Writing, Elisabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane Smith | 1 Comment