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I've had a very lovely weekend, centred around a visit from my old chum hollyione (aka Amy), her very-nearly-six-year-old daughter Holly and her partner Pete. It's always nice to have guests, as it provides a great excuse to go off and do fun local things which you don't normally bother with on your own, and it's especially nice when those guests are such congenial people to have around. Amy, Pete and I seemed to spend most of our time joking, laughing and sharing our enjoyment of the various things we went to see and do, while Holly was extremely well-behaved - and of course also full of laughter, high-spirits and funny observations in the way that six-year-old children usually are.

Our main excursion was to the National Media Museum in Bradford - the same place that I go to for the Fantastic Films Weekend, but this time in its everyday capacity as a museum. I've looked around the exhibits a bit while there previously for the festivals, but they're more extensive than I'd realised, and really well-designed for children. We played vintage video and arcade games, looked at televisions, video recorders and cameras from the earliest days of TV to the present day, played around in a mock-television studio, pretended to read the news, messed around with strange mirrors and lighting effects, and watched an episode of Mr. Benn together - a nostalgia trip for the three adults, but a new discovery for Holly. Amy was amazed that it was all available to visit for free, and she was right - we're very lucky to have it.

Being out with a child certainly makes you see things in a different way, though. One part of the museum had a small projection room where a looped sequence of 'iconic television moments' was being screened. As we walked in, they were on the moon landing, so we thought that looked interesting and sat down for more. But when you're in there with a not-quite-six-year-old child, you don't half realise quickly how many of the epoch-making events of the television age have basically consisted of people dying horribly, often at the hands of other people. We sat there through the Challenger disaster, the collapse of the Twin Towers, Live-Aid and accompanying starving children, the Hillsborough disaster, and so on and so forth. Occasionally there were events which were straightforwardly happy and positive, like the afore-mentioned moon landing or the coronation of the Queen. But even some of the positive moments were only really positive because they were over-turning awful things - like the fall of the Berlin wall, for example.

And somehow or other - probably because I'd led us into that particular room in the first place - I found myself falling into the role of having to explain all the great events going on on the screen to a wide-eyed Holly sitting on the seat beside me (with able assistance from Amy in the trickier moments). So there was a lot of, "Um, yes, this was a very sad event - these people hoped to go up into space, but unfortunately their ship exploded; and lots of people were working in these towers, but some other people flew aeroplanes into them and made them catch fire; and these children don't have enough food to eat, so these people are trying to raise some money to help them..." And then great relief when a more cheerful event came on, like Charles and Diana's wedding - "Ooh, yes, look Holly! This lady is getting married to a prince - look at her beautiful dress!" - alas followed a few clips later by footage of a hearse driving through central London, and us having to launch into a whole new level of explanations - "Ah, yes, right - do you remember that lady we saw getting married a few minutes ago? Well..." It was challenging, to say the least, but somehow a lot more fun trying to make it all understandable for a little child than just sitting there nodding passively at the same old clips we'd all seen a hundred times before.

Afterwards we wandered through a surprisingly sunny Bradford, where the locals were out and about enjoying a street market and a vintage car rally, and where Amy bought Prosecco while Pete was given a free two-minute Indian head massage. Then we returned home for dinner and a local cinema trip to see Shrek Forever After, which I shall write up separately, and which Holly seemed to enjoy. And today we indulged ourselves in the charity shops of Headingley, had a nice lunch together and walked home past some Scottish country dancers strutting their stuff at a school fête, before my guests had to pile themselves in the car and hit the road for the journey back home to Bristol.

I should add that in the evenings while little Holly slumbered upstairs, we adults settled down with Prosecco and G&Ts to enjoy some more grown-up activities. Well... slightly more grown-up, anyway. We played a few rounds of Eat Poop You Cat, for which I owe a huge debt to whatifoundthere for alerting me to the game's existence. Unlike her, I can't scan our efforts, because my scanner is currently bust, but I can tell you that we collectively managed to transform the simple phrase "Highway to Hell" into the sentence, "You can listen to great music along the road to hell, but the reception on your car radio may be affected by lightning storms", and also "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" (Amy's contribution, not mine!) into "Dog punt atom mother".

We also watched a couple of episodes of Blake's 7 - though unfortunately not starting with the first one, which would have been the most logical for me, as it was missing from Amy's box-set. That meant that it took me a while to tune in to the characters, but by the end of the second episode I'd definitely warmed to Cally, Jenna, Avon and Vila (for rather different reasons in each case). I also appreciated the way that the stories didn't always end neatly or happily in the same way that they do on Doctor Who (not that I dislike that in Who - but it's nice to see a different approach). I've still got a lot of Doctor Who to watch (and write up for that matter), but I'm definitely up for some more Blake's 7 at some point.

So, yes - a great weekend. I'm a bit physically tired now, but mentally refreshed and ready to face the week. Wonder if that will last into tomorrow morning? ;-)

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I'm also a new (and ardent) convert to Blakes 7-- what eps did you see? Clearly somewhere between 1.4 and 2.13, based on who you warmed to. Also, there's a project on Telefantasy landscapes that just got announced; Reading are doing that and are including both Classic DW and Blakes 7. (Their end date is 1994). I've got the notification somewhere...

Also, did you see that Lampeter are advertising for a Classics lecturer?
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
As an original fan (which shows how old I am), welcome to the club, both of you. :-)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Ta! ;) (Love your icon, btw!)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
Feel free to borrow it. As long as you give me credit I'm quite happy. :-)

You may like b7friday (if that doesn't work, there's probably an underscore in it - I never remember), which is a weekly fanfic challenge - not that you have to enter every week. I just do it occasionally. It's quite fun.
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I may just do both. :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
We saw 1.4 (Time Squad) and 1.5 (The Web) - basically the first two episodes on the first disc we did have!

Interesting stuff about the telefantasy landscapes project. I tried Googling for it, but couldn't find anything - so do please pass along details if you can find them.

And yeah, I saw the Lampeter advert, but a) it's fixed term, which is pointless for me unless it becomes certain that I will lose my permanent job here and b) Lampeter is not exactly a dream destination - it's a very tiny department which is struggling to survive itself, and it doesn't help that it's a million miles from anywhere too. I'm passing ones like that by for now until and unless I become really desperate...
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
I think I've still got the details somewhere...I'll email them over if I can find it.

1.4 and 1.5 are brill-- I just rewatched 1.5 last night, in fact. Shame you didn't get to 1.6, which introduces the recurring baddies Servalan and Travis. I covet many of Servalan's shoes (despite the fact that they all look very very painful).
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know Servalan is pretty iconic. I'm sure she will be great value.
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
If a paper connecting Servalan to the British aristocracy/royalty hasn't been written, I'd be very surprised. Actually, there's probably one with her as a Thatcher analogue out there too, now I think of it.

I also think the painful shoes are why she's so tetchy sometimes...all of the trouble could've been avoided if she'd just worn flat shoes! :P
Jul. 22nd, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
If you were a proper Blake's 7 fan, you would know that Chris Boucher explicitly compares Servalan to Thatcher on the casette-tape interview with him, whose name I forget, thus forfeiting my right to start sentences with 'If you were a proper B7 fan...' But anyway, he does. Though I haven't seen anything on her and the aristocracy - that would be awesome.

Hooray for the B7 joy strange_complex! Long may it continue.

(I've heard the very first ep of B7 described as 'a brilliant first episode for a different show' - by which I think the describer meant that it's brilliant, but it sets up some very odd expectations in the light of what actually comes in later - it looks like an Earth-bound gritty political thriller full of bureaucrats and skulduggery - so it may have been a good thing to jump in a bit later.)
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Eat Poop You Cat - or "I pood a cat" as we call it - or paper telephone if you want the name you can use in polite company is great.

And 2 in the morning it's the new stabcon game....
Jul. 18th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
Eat Poop You Cat - or "I pood a cat" as we call it

Heh - you may as well change the name at will. Very appropriate in this case. :-)
Jul. 19th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC)
Blake's 7 is no better than anything else Terry Nation ever wrote - which is to say, not very good at all - in Season One. But then Chris Boucher gets his hands on it and it becomes something approaching amazing (interspersed by the incredible awfulness of anything written by Ben Steed).

I recommend pursuing it, anyway. It's a way better companion piece to the Doctor Who of its time than Torchwood has mostly proved...
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip - as and when I get round to watching it systematically, I will make sure that I don't give up part-way through season one.
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
I prefer the later Blake's Seven too. Important to watch it in order though :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Well I am planning to get people playing it at my barbecue birthday party on the 31st, so you may well be in luck!
Jul. 19th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
I have Blakes 7 'The Beginning' if you want to borrow it. It's 120mins long so I guess it's the first 2 episodes as a pilot or feature length movie. However, it's quite old-school as it's on VHS.

Now you've mentioned it I'm quite tempted to watch through it again. I might have to go see if the DVD box sets are going cheap somewhere...
Jul. 19th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the offer, but don't worry - I can easily rent the DVDs from Lovefilm, especially as I already have a subscription and am looking for more stuff to put on my rental list anyway. Cheers, though, and hope you enjoy your rewatch!
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
Yes - obviously most of us try not to expose children too much to upsetting or violent material, but if they come across these things anyway, it is better to try to help them understand than leave them puzzled and confused.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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