Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Synch With the Times

Was delighted to see the front page of the Times today had as its main picture a cyberman. Turning to page eleven there was also a medium-sized story:

"... More than 100 props from Doctor Who will be sold at auction today allowing fans to buy an original, if somewhat ramshackle, part of sciencefiction folklore. As well as two full-size Daleks from 1988, which are expected to go for up to £7,000 each, the sale includes modern costumes such as David Tennant’s suit and Billie Piper’s pyjamas from Marks & Spencer.

It is the Heath Robinson monsters that catch the eye, however, made in a hurry from foam latex, fibreglass and electrical components that would not look out of place in a school science experiment. A fearsome red snake encountered by Peter Davison and a young Martin Clunes in a 1983 episode was created mainly from airconditioning tubes.

“The monsters were made from things you could buy in a hardware shop,” said Stephanie Connell, entertainment memorabilia specialist at Bonhams in Central London, who said the use of DIY components allowed the BBC to meet tight schedules ..."

The rest of it is here. Have to say I prefer my own pics :-)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Are You My Piglet?

Guess who went to the viewing at the auction house of Doctor Who props and costumes? Here, Piglet tries on the costume worn by Billie Piper in 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances'. Much fun was had by all.

Colonel Mike Osborn RIP

On the other hand, I usually complain about the unusually large amount of obituaries of World War Two veterans. The following, however, caught my eye. Mike Osborn witnessed the capture and death of the evil Heinrich Himmler:

"Osborn's counterpart in Intelligence, Lt-Col "Spud" Murphy, insisted that Himmler remove his SS uniform. The man refused to wear battledress on the ground that it was enemy uniform, so he was stripped, wrapped in an Army blanket and bundled into Osborn's staff car.

Osborn drove to Army HQ as Murphy, with a drawn revolver, rode in the back with their prisoner. On arrival Himmler was escorted to a room where a doctor was waiting to carry out a preliminary examination to check that he was not carrying any poison.

As Osborn left the room to telephone the Army commander, he heard a shout and the sound of a scuffle. On coming back in he saw Himmler writhing stark naked on the floor, foaming at the mouth. He had concealed a small phial of poison under his tongue."

He also was one of the first to discover the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, he landed in Normandy on D-Day plus 1, he was in Tobruk ... the man seems to have been everywhere!

Read about him here.

Kathryn Grayson RIP

Singing "I Hate Men" in 'Kiss Me Kate'

One of the reasons that I have learned to love the Telegraph obituaries is because its valedictory style is not always laudatory. A recent and particular example is that of Kathryn Grayson, a singing Hollywood star who was never a favourite of mine, except that she was in one of the best movie musicals ever, i.e., Kiss Me Kate. Here are a few quotes from the Telegraph:

"...she had a pert expression, bee-stung lips and a retroussé nose that her studio, if not always her public, thought would be irresistible"

"Her voice passed in less demanding times for how a great singer should sound, but recording techniques have improved greatly since then. Nowadays, the more florid moments sound curiously like Minnie Mouse gargling."

"Legend has it that, as a child, she wandered on stage after the show at the St Louis Municipal Opera House and sang just for the janitor. In the empty auditorium, a torrent of one-man applause greeted the performance. Only when it was time to say goodbye did she realise that he was stone deaf and hadn't heard a note."

They are not exactly speaking ill of the dead, but they are certainly having a little fun at her expense. For 'Kiss Me Kate', if nothing else, I shall always hear her voice in my head.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dr Joan Austoker RIP

Was sad to see an obituary in today's Times for Dr. Joan Austoker. It begins:

"Dr Joan Austoker was a brilliant communicator to the public of the importance of early detection of cancer through screening, whose writings reached millions of homes. She wrote much of the public guidance that was crucial in helping women to consider the benefits and limitations of screening.

She conveyed the complex biology in an accessible way that encouraged many people to accept their invitation for screening and have their condition diagnosed before it became lifethreatening. The present Department of Health National Awareness and Early Detection Initiative is the product of her work over the past two decades."

The rest of it is here

The thing is, when I saw the name, I was pretty sure that this was the same woman who taught me biology when I was twelve. I remember her clearly, mainly because I liked to sit in the back of the class with my friend Fran and do my maths homework until Dr. Austoker decided that I couldn't see the board properly from there and had me sit up at the front next to her :-) Somehow, I am really glad to learn that in fact she was a wonderful woman, and am also sad that I did not know it until now.