Tag Archives: David Tennant

Good Omens, again

We’ve started on Good Omens on television again. The Resident IT Consultant and I watched it as soon as it was available, and managed to stretch it out over nine days, or something like that.

When Daughter asked if this was something she’d like – Good Omens, not the stretching – I only paused for a few seconds to run the possibility she might not like this wonderful book, especially on the screen, and especially with David Tennant in it. I could not come up with a reason against.

So now that we are all together in the same house for a few weeks, we’ve downloaded the episodes again and are watching with her. I’m fairly sure I could tolerate watching it with lots of different Offspring, one after the other, but I only have the two.

I’m relieved to discover we are having technical hitches even with someone young in the room. It’s clearly not just us old ones being old that causes it.

And you discover something new when you watch again. One day it might even become totally clear. Except it seems even God admits that the third baby is somewhat unaccounted for.

Our visiters

The New Librarian is over from Sweden. She came with a group of 25 librarians to check out our libraries. To be cynical, it’s good they came while there are still libraries to check out. It’s a EU thing, apparently. They have been travelling all over the place to see and learn stuff.

Son and I went into Manchester on Tuesday evening to eat pizza with her. It was nice to see her here again. We do see her in Sweden, but it’s been a while since she popped over to Manchester on a regular basis to hear outlandish bands in concert. We’re dreadfully cool.

They had done Oldham; the main library and one branch. Today they are covering a university library and one other. Tomorrow it’s a new library in Birmingham, followed by one in London on Friday.

Before the New Librarian Mrs Pendolino called, to make us beautiful again. That was very necessary.

Steve Cole

And in between the two ladies we had Spiderman come round. It’s not something that happens often. I wish it did, because he’s a real tonic.

He was, of course, Steve Cole. I could tell, because he didn’t have his mask on (presumably it’s harder to drive a car if you can’t see). He’d been doing some school events in our neck of the woods, and a bookshop signing. When he was done, he texted to tell me to put the kettle on. (Politely, obviously.)

It was a flying visit, but a very nice one. Son and I gave him tea and a raspberry muffin, which he found hard to grip with his Spidey fingers. And I hadn’t really considered the questionable wisdom of pouring tea down the throat of someone who might well not have been out of that suit since some kind lady zipped him in that morning.

Steve is touring schools to talk about his new book, Magic Ink. He brought me a copy, and a postcard. I will read it and come back to you. We didn’t talk as much about it as I’d expected. It was more about Steve’s 96 hour deodorant and the comic book he made as a boy, and David Tennant’s Doctor Who ties.

Steve Cole

Before setting off to drive home, he struggled out of his Spiderman outfit (in the shower room) and then spread it out on the floor so he could fold it up neatly.

I’m sure Steve had no actual need to visit Bookwitch Towers while flying around the country like this. But it’s much appreciated that he did. I’ll probably go round grinning for days. As for Son, he had simply not been able to imagine such a crazy, funny person.

Steve Cole, Magic Ink

(Yes, I can spell.)

The Story of Physics

‘There are even university level equations’ said the Resident IT Consultant. I’m ashamed to say that I wouldn’t recognise one of those if it came up and bit me, so will take his word for this. It could also be an indication he was moderately impressed by The Story of Physics, written by Anne Rooney.

As I was saying only yesterday, we have been living in the land of physics this last week. It’s exams time, and all that. (Not suggesting this book would stretch quite that far, but…) Anyway, TSoP is full of all those terms I was so unfamiliar with only a short time ago.

Like mechanics, which is not necessarily something that happens to your car. It even becomes maths at times. Thermodynamics. Relativity. All excellent stuff. And for the innocent bystander, this book can take them a lot closer to the real deal. According to Anne TSoP is primarily meant for adults, ‘for filling in those embarrassing gaps in knowledge and stumbling across fascinating nuggets.’ Fun reading, in other words. But she reckons teenagers will like the book, and that it can fill gaps left by GCSEs and even A-levels.

So, what I should really do, is keep it somewhere close, so that every now and then I can reach out and read a suitably sized chunk, slowly learning all sorts of things. Because while reading it all in one go like a novel is possible, it’s not to be recommended if you actually want to take facts in.

It started with the old Greeks. Maybe even earlier. I’m always amazed by what they knew so long ago. In fact, mechanics is what keeps buildings from falling to pieces. The stones keep each other in place. (So not mortar, then?)

TSoP has lots of pictures and interesting bits about all these learned men and women. There was the woman who gambled, using maths to help her win, and using her wins to fund her science. Sad stuff like being frozen to death by a Swedish Queen, or having French revolutionaries chop off your head. Marrying some cleverclogs, who can’t even go on honeymoon without doing science.

So many discoveries took a lot of hard work. Some came about by accident when they weren’t even looking.

The thing is, I recognise many of these people. So I must have come across them before. Then there are all those who have given their names to things we all know about; like Hertz and Ohm. A tremendous number of Nobel prize winners. And 4xGreat Uncle Faraday. (Not mine, I hasten to add.) He is all electric.

I’m doing my best to believe that Eddington was not actually David Tennant, but it’s hard. There is a picture of yesterday’s birthday child, Stephen Hawking, floating in zero gravity. I had no idea the atom bomb was first thought up by H G Wells in a novel. And did you know Terry Pratchett didn’t make up those elephants on top of the turtle?

You know how you often feel that if only someone would write a book that explains a certain something intelligently and concisely, then you’d buy it? Well, this is it, if your certain something happens to be physics. I will definitely try to become more knowledgeable with its help, although it would have been easier twenty years ago when my grey cells were more agile.

Who’d have thought I could become all enthusiastic about a book on physics?

Julie Bertagna, flying pigs and the future

The Midland Hotel

There is a first time for everything. I have never been womanhandled by an author before. And anyone half my size is ill advised to try it. But Julie Bertagna had a brave go on Saturday morning, and I slunk back to my favourite seat at the back. Seems I’m too much of a distraction at the front (naturally), which is why I like it at the back, and I had only been obeying orders to come nearer the front. Truly. Will never do so ever again.

Afterwards Julie said she realised I would write something like this. Too late! ; ) She blamed it on me being like family (i.e. an embarrassment). I was even warned about taking pictures…

The Midland Hotel

Julie had left the perpetual rain cloud hovering over Glasgow for sunny Manchester to give a talk on Friday evening to a large group of teachers, while missing the joys of accidentally bumping into Professor Brian Cox. (Sean Connery was quite enough for you, Julie!)

On Saturday morning the bookwitch crawled out of bed early, for eleven o’clock at the Midland Hotel. Very nice venue. I could tell that Julie’s teenage girl fans were impressed with their surroundings. Nice room, and tea and juice and biscuits. Unlike me they had dressed up a bit, too.

Julie based her talk on the Exodus trilogy, and started by going through science fiction in the olden days, from Frankenstein’s monster via H G Wells to 1984 and The Matrix. In Exodus it’s the Earth itself which is the monster of the story, when water levels rise, forcing a change in how people live. A few years ago when many places, including Glasgow, flooded, Julie found sales of her book rocketing, proving that people do want to read about dying worlds.

In her youth Julie expected the future to be robots, holidaying on the moon and other magic. Predictions usually go wrong. We do have magic these days, but not in a form you could have imagined. It’s our iPods and text messages and similar. Like my camera, when I can operate it and am allowed to…

She likes David Tennant best of the Doctors, talked about flying cows and other creatures in hurricane Katrina, the Large Hadron Collider, and how our Universe probably is like just one bubble in a bath full of bubbles. And Lord Byron was a male Lady Gaga.

Manchester Literature Festival 2011

Julie took the opportunity to help Manchester Literature Festival launch a short story competition for teenagers, featuring Manchester in the future. She came up with so many ideas, that even I could half see myself entering, were it not for those extra few years that would disqualify me. The girls in the room had lots of great plot ideas, that they were willing to share. We were reminded that Mary Shelley was a teenager when she came up with her science fiction, so there is every likelihood of this competition going well.

Julie Bertagna at the Manchester Literature Festival

They also had an unusually good selection of questions. One good way of starting a story is to write something that you then ditch, in favour of jumping straight to what matters. Julie might write a fourth book in the trilogy, but only if ideas that keep her awake at night pop up. She also likes endings that ‘infuriate you.’ I think that might mean endings that don’t spell out every little detail, leaving something to the imagination.

Poster for the Manchester Children's Books Festival

This was an especially good event. We all want Julie to come back soon; Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester Children’s Book Festival, the girls, and even me. (I’ll be the one at the back.)

(And you know why there are more pictures of posters and hotel interiors than of the star performer, don’t you? Good thing Photowitch was unavailable.)

Bookwitch bites #51

Are you people ready for more things I’ve not done?

This week I had hoped/intended/planned to attend the launch of the anthology Panopticon, published by Pandril Press. I thought it’d do me good to get out and rub shoulders with the Manchester literati. But there was the election and the tonsillitis and all sorts of things.

Iris Feindt at the Pandril Press Anthology Launch

I met Iris Feindt at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival in the summer and she had just written a children’s book which I read soon after. The reason you haven’t heard about it is that it’s still unpublished. But what has been published is this anthology, of which Iris is one of the contributors. She’s not alone, but I have chosen to illustrate the launch with a picture of her, since she’s the only one I would have known there. Had I made it.

But it looks like a good time was had by those who were there. The venue seems interesting, so one day I will investigate. There is so much I don’t actually know. (Admitting that didn’t hurt as much as I thought.)

The Pandril Press Anthology Launch

Also did not attend the Waterstone’s teen book club, and there is a gold star (sticky paper variety, obviously) to be won by whoever can work out why they didn’t want me there. The reason for my interest was their guest Annabel Pitcher, whose debut novel is My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

No prizes for guessing I haven’t read it. There is a very good reason for that. When I found out that David Tennant had agreed to read the audio book, I knew I just had to ‘read’ it with my ears. And I am, right this very moment. Almost. I’ve been sitting down with dear David whispering directly to me. It’s lovely!

Many thanks to Orion’s super efficient Nina for supplying me with Mr Tennant. Even if it’s ‘merely’ his voice. And I’m not too jealous as it seems she didn’t get to meet him…

The paracetamol

Hang on, it’s not me who’s the DT fan! It’s Daughter. Must be contagious.

She was. Possibly. Tonsillitis in never fun, but making your own ‘calpol’ was. Although we hadn’t quite expected the explosiveness of mixing soluble paracetamol with blackcurrant squash…

That’s science for you.

And whoever knew that the Royal Institution hosts discos? In my email inbox the message read ‘tickets still available for RI chairman’s disco. The full message, however, mentioned Sir Richard Sykes giving his inaugural discourse. Oh, the difference a few letters make!

City of Ships

I’m in despair. I clearly went wrong somewhere with Daughter. Why isn’t she reading Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza series? It’s got everything she wants in a book, with the possible exception of David Tennant. (Mary, perhaps you could fix that?) Mary’s teenagers in today’s London could be cousins to Cathy Hopkins’s Mates Dates girls. And boys. Her boys are seriously fanciable. Definitely cousins of Tony’s.

The historical setting could be from Theresa Breslin’s historical and romantic books. Or from Mary’s own standalone novels. And then you take the people and the settings and throw a little Alex Rider adventuring into the whole thing. In City of Ships, add a tablespoon of Johnny Depp.

What’s not to like?

Every time a new Stravaganza enters the house, the Resident IT Consultant is there, nosing around like a puppy just waking up to some intriguing smell. And then he’s off reading. This is the man who can be quite scathing about reading which isn’t serious enough, so although Stravaganza falls into my category of settling down with lots of comfort foods, with dessert, it has a lot of merit.

I suppose we all want to be one of those teenagers in Barnsbury. The one who thought they were nothing special, who wakes up somewhere very strange one morning, and discovers they are very special indeed. A whole new life in Talia, four hundred years ago, and with an important role to play in Talia’s history.

In City of Ships, which is Mary’s fifth, it’s Isabel who carves out a new life, away from her leading twin brother Charlie. Double trouble. Isabel wakes up in Classe, the Ravenna of Talia, and she meets the very handsome pirate Andrea.

Mary has also come up with some new travel arrangements for the stravagantes, which means they no longer need to ‘buy’ return journeys, but can make single trips to almost anywhere. And they may not have mobile phones in Talia, but those canny old men have come up with Talia’s answer to Skype.

Fabrizio is up to no good, and war on two fronts is on the cards. Thanks to Isabel and a two-timing spy, things work out in the end. Mostly. Some people have to die, but it wasn’t my primary suspect which was good. And I do like the fact that old enemies can reform and become good guys. We’ll soon be one big, happy family.

If we could only tie up a few loose ends in London?

To watch or not to watch

I think I may be lightweight enough (metaphorically, obviously) to prefer the 15-minute version of Hamlet.

Swedes have long admired the British for their wit. The English department at Gothenburg employed several such witty Englishmen to dazzle the Swedish students with their Englishness. They were usually called David something-or-other.

The short Hamlet was written by David Wright while he was still at school, if I remember correctly. He provided us students with copies of his admirably brief play, which was very funny, primarily because everything had to happen with such speed. I may still have it somewhere.

I rather wish it had been available at the Gardner Centre at Sussex University a few years later, when the Resident IT Consultant and I went to see Hamlet in the university theatre. I lasted – almost – until the interval. I had great difficulty staying awake, and after considering my lack of enjoyment, I actually got the train home alone and went to bed.

So my Hamlet track record isn’t the greatest.

Do I watch David Tennant in Hamlet tonight? The jury is still out. David T is quite lovely, isn’t he? But it does look like they intend to take three hours over it, instead of 15 minutes. On the other hand, my bed is closer, should I require it.

‘What kind of dog do you want?’

Neil Gaiman

He flicked his hair this way and that. He waved his arms when asked to. In short, he behaved like a professional model, but Neil Gaiman claims that David Tennant is the better looking if there is a contest between them. I’ve got that ‘in writing’. We didn’t get to see more of Neil on Wednesday, although we were able to admire his ten mile signing queue.

Day 1 was a mixed sort of day. It rained at the ‘home’ end, but Edinburgh was dry and warm and far too full of people. So first we got wet in one way and then in another, but let’s not dwell on unpleasant facts. We got our red bands to hang round our necks, which means other visitors think we actually know something and stop to ask for help.

Ian Rankin

With beginners’ luck we then ran into Ian Rankin, so I reminded the poor man that we’d met before, which was unfair of me because he can’t possibly remember that, and asked if he could spare the time for a photograph or two. He could, but then he needed to go get his son from school, as term has just started.

Gerald Scarfe and paparazzi

Some of the time we spent just getting to know the mud and the general layout of the book festival tents. Before the photo session with Neil my photographer had a dress rehearsal with Gerald Scarfe, who seemed more than happy to jump about. I worried a little about the advisability of such gymnastics.

Lynne Chapman and Julia Jarman

Theresa Breslin

I hadn’t really read the programme very well, because we found that Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman were doing their bit in one of the tents, so we popped along to their book signing after, to say hello. Plenty of people to say hello to there, as Theresa Breslin just happened to be needing a signed book for someone. Mr B introduced us to Linda Strachan who was also hovering.

Linda Strachan

(I don’t think the photo below of Julia is quite as alarming as it may seem. I’m sure that Lynne isn’t really making gestures above Julia’s head. As for what the anaconda is doing; that’s anybody’s guess.)

Julia Jarman

We’re not coffee drinkers, so we abandoned the press yurt for tea elsewhere. (Doesn’t press yurt sound rather like a soured dairy product to you?) They are big on recycling in Charlotte Square, but between you and me there were a lot of paper cups in the plastic cup bin.

Louise Rennison

Louise Rennison had precisely as long a signing queue as you’d expect the Queen of Teen to be entitled to. Nice to see so many teenage girls turning up.

And then it was time for the Ian Rankin event. The dog quote is his. Something to do with historical radio drama, and I think I may have heard it last year in Bristol, too. Ian talked about Rebus as well as his new policeman, who is Rebus’ complete opposite. He mentioned his new venture in comics, feeling there is a gap to be filled for male teenage readers.

It was surprisingly windy in the main theatre tent, which I suppose is preferable to having half the audience passing out due to lack of oxygen. Ian came up with writing ideas for the Brownie leader who practises writing with her Brownies, and he reminisced about some writing venture at Charlotte Square one year, featuring a dead author buried underneath a mountain of books.

Ian’s memory is pretty good, too. He knew precisely how long Neil Gaiman had kept him waiting when they had dinner together last year. He only meant to illustrate the difference in how long they take over signing books. And I happen to know that Neil really was signing for over three hours, because I was there.

I’m glad Ian chucked accountancy. This kind of crime suits him so much better.

(All photos H Giles)

Who next?

Doctor Who

Doctor Who

I think we can safely say that a female Doctor Who would be a possibility, can’t we? Not that David Tennant needs to think of departing just yet, but maybe we can turn the tables with a female, and a nice male assistant. Still envy Sarah Jane her hair, which stays perfect, no matter where she goes, or how. And have the cheese graters had their final comeuppance, or not? Most likely not.