The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend in Derby

I haven't been to Derby for a few years, and I didn't think much of it the times I was there in the past, so this was chance to redress that a little. We had a great time. It's a lot nicer than I remember it being, although the ring road is as confusing as ever it was! Still, we managed to find the hotel without too much bother. It wasn't too bad either, despite being a bit too warm inside and there being a problem with the key cards into the rooms. It was quite close to the city centre, so going to meet Chris wasn't a problem.

We met by the concrete ram in the city centre. It was great to see Chris again. We haven't seen him since he left back in September. Unfortunately he was unwell at New Year, so didn't make it to the party, so this was a good chance to catch up with him and find out how things are going. It' s really good to find out that despite the bout of illness, everything is going really well for him. It was good to see some examples of the work he's been doing, especially as I haven't really seen much of his work before. I have to say I thought they were excellent. I see a lot of picture books at work, and the pictures he'd done for his project stand up really well against much of the work that has been published and put many of them to shame. I was really impressed with the level of detail he put into the illustrations, and he deserves to score well for that project if you ask me!

It was a great night in general. There was just four of us; me and Steve, Chris and Tim, and it was nice to have the chance to just have a good chat between us. Often when there's a bigger group I tend to get a bit lost in the computer game chatter (which is just one of those things I expect) but last night we had a chance to chat more generally about things and all three of them are thoroughly good company. That goes without saying too often, so I'm saying it now for the record! It's always a joy to chat to Chris about music, as I don't know anyone else who has as extensive tastes as he has, and I have enormous respect for his opinions and despite my taste being somewhat more mainstream than his is, there's still a pretty broad crossover which gives us plenty to chat about.
And I have several novels to try out on his recommendation too! And on Tim's we have to see Sweeney Todd, which he'd enjoyed earlier that afternoon.

So it was an evening of chatter, real ale (some great pints were drank in The Olde Dolphin) and a Yorkshire pudding full of steak and onions. I got hiccups later on, and nearly ended up bringing the whole lot up, but that was just about avoided, thank goodness.
I think Steve desires a Korg after having a go on Chris's one last night!

Today we took Chris up to Homebase to buy a rug for his floor, dropped Tim off at the station and went down the A6 to see Gaz and Sarah. Twice in four months- that's something of a record I think! Depsite them both being under the weather, we had an enjoyable couple of hours with them and it's nice to be told we cheered Gaz up immensely. Makes it all worthwhile (well that and the chance to stock up on some more jams and chutneys too!).

It was a long trip home, but as always, it's worth making the effort to go and see our friends.

Two weeks time, we'll be on our way to New Zealand... oh my!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


For reasons that will never be clear to anyone else, ever, Steve and I decided almost 5 years ago to watch Doctor Who in story order, only backwards.It made a kind of sense to us back then and seemed like something that no-one would attempt to do and so it became our thing. Tonight we finished, with part 3 of Delta and the Bannermen. That might seem like an odd choice (as surely it ought to be An Unearthly Child or the pilot version), but Steve had always had this thing about the last Doctor Who from the classic series he saw would be the last two episodes of this story as he missed them at the time. I think he was a little disappointed, but with this hanging over him unwatched for just over 20 years, I suppose it was always going to be a little unsatisfactory really.
And I watched The Dominators for the first time in 17 years, after swearing that I would never do it. I've been called a traitor by my co-Dominators hater, Si Hunt, but you know I don't regret it. I watched it, enjoyed it and decided that are stories out there that are far, far worse. In fact I shall make it my mission in life not to watch Planet of Evil for 17 years. Sadly I don't think I'll enjoy it even after a long wait.

There were many highlights and low lights in our backwards run, possibly many things that no-one else will appreciate. The Deadly Assassin pt 4 being the funniest episode we watched for instance. We still laugh about that one. We found some stories didn't deserve their reputations and became big fans of Colony in Space (watched the day Annabel was born when we almost picked the keys up for the house) but didn't enjoy The Daemons, I came away with new respect for Pertwee too, which was unexpected and we found season 5 and season 15 really difficult to get through . Season 18 was class of course. We took a year to do Tom and another year to watch Pertwee and then over 2 years to do Hartnell and Troughton- McCoy, Colin and Davison were done in less than a year. We were more dedicated at the start!
And the reviews were fun too! We laughed a lot while we wrote them and hopefully we entertained everyone on PS with them over the years. I think, judging from the comments we got that people think we are mad!

It'll be odd not having it there to do. Sometimes it's been a chore and not much fun, but overall I think it's been a worthwhile use of our time. Lets face it, no-one else would do anything so silly, so that about sums us up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Last night we finally took the plunge and started doing some major planning for the New Zealand trip. Yes, finally we could put it off no longer and we've sorted of worked out what we're going to do and when. For now anyway.
It wasn't easy and there was a lot of bickering involved as we sorted it out. It's the travelling around that makes this trip quite tricky. Obviously we want to make the most of our time over there and see as much as we can,but the distances make this quite tricky. Another problem is that Steve wants to make the most of the chance for some sight seeing too and I can't really expect him to drive solidly for four weeks, so we're going to do some travelling by train and coach. Unfortunately, the next problem is that many of the places we want to visit aren't served by public transport, so it's been quite a logistical problem trying to sort it. Then when you add in some confusion about what's on which island, and well, we bickered. A bit. But after a couple of hours we came up with a plan that's workable.

So we're in Auckland for three nights to recover from the flight, sight see and sort a few things out... then it's 12 hour train trip down the North Island to Wellington, across the sea on the inter-island ferry to Kaikoura on the coast for whale and dolphin spotting... then on to Christchurch and across the Abel- Tasman national park to Greymouth and off to the Franz Josef glacier. That's the first week and a bit. Then we're going back up to the North Island to visit Uncle Phil and Co, hot springs, rack railways, and the hometown of Crowded House genius Neil Finn. Well it has to be done!
It's going to be amazing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I, Claudius

Since Christmas, much of our time has been taken up watching I, Claudius. For those not in the know, this was the Roman epic the BBC broadcast in 1976 to celebrate their 40th anniversary of the start of BBC TV. A highly prestigious production, it tells the story of the Emperor Augustus and his family from the point of view of the Claudius (played by the wonderful Derek Jacobi) the boy who is presented as a fool, but turns out to be shrewder than anyone ever thought.

It's absolutely gripping! I know that I'm a fan of this kind of TV, but it really does go to show that if you have a strong story and some decent actors you can tell a story that touches on the epic without having to show the wider world. The recreation of Rome is quite amazing considering that all we have is some sets in TV Centre and no location filming, and yet somehow it feels real, because of the efforts of the actors involved to make it a real place. I didn't watch very much of the recent "Rome", which I know is highly regarded, so I can't compare it, but it'd have to be really brilliant to beat this.

It's difficult to say who steals the show. There's Livia,played by Sian Phillips who steals every scene she's in, especially when she gets old and even more manipulative of her son, there's John Hurt as Caligula, who's quite simply insane, but in a very frightening way (we've just watched the episode where he eats his own child plucked from the womb of his sister/ wife). Of course there's also Derek Jacobi as Claudius. He's quite wonderful, bringing to life the various tics Claudius has- his stammer, the facial twitch and the limp... and of course he plays him at all the stages of his life from his 20s to old age. His performance holds the whole thing together, linking the various times, as he somehow, against all the odds manages to stay alive.
Oh and Brian Blessed's shouting and bluster is very entertaining too... "Is there anyone is Rome who HASN'T slept with my daughter!"

So yes, 33 years after it's first broadcast this show stands up as one of the all time greats from the BBC.
Apparently it was the inspiration for the 80s show "Dynasty". It shows.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Old friends

It's amazing how soon things get back to normal after Christmas isn't it? We were both back at work on Wednesday and by the end of the day it felt like there hadn't been a break at all. It was a somewhat complicated half week at work, with lots of cover needed for members of staff off sick or who had hospital appointments. There was all the end of December accounting to be done very quickly in both branches too, to meet central dealines, so it felt like I didn't have a chance to draw breath properly until the evening shift on Friday night (which was even quieter than usual)... I shouldn't complain though. Being busy is good for the stats and it's only a few weeks until we go away now.

This has been followed by a really busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend where we've had a chance to catch up with some of our lesser seen friends. Saturday evening, after the car windscreen had been replaced, we drove up to West Hampstead to Phil and Emma's flat (or Steve's old flat) to see them and Steve's old school friends Razza and Muz (and his wife Nicola). It was a great evening. Despite only having met Muz, Nicola and Razza a couple of times, I felt very at ease with them all and it was great to catch up with them all. We really need to make the effort to go up and stay with Muz and Nicola in Bradford (Ok, they're another couple of people on the long list of people we really need to go and see) and I'll try and keep on at Steve to arrange it for later in the year.
So anyway, we went to Nando's for dinner (we had the chicken, surprisingly) which was pretty good, as always and then spent a happy couple of hours chatting away back at the flat (which, incidentally is looking really great now). Steve even managed to get his scarf back, which he;d left behind when he left. That was pleasing, after the effort i went to buy it in the first place!

Today we went back into London to see David "Irishboy" Arnott and his boyfriend Paul. It was really good to ctach with him and to finally meet Paul, who I'd heard lots about. He was lovely, and they seem very happy together, which can't be a bad thing. We don't see him very often (him being in Belfast) and so it's always a delight to have the chance. We don't really keep in touch the way we used to, but it's reassuring to know that he still counts me as a good friend and someone worth meeting up with. I seem to inspire this kind of friendship. It's a bloody good thing.

After we'd said goodbye, we went round the shops for a bit and picked up a few nice things. I'm currently enjoying a bit of Elliott Smith- the album Either/ Or. As I've possibly explained before I'm rationing buying the albums I haven't got by him, because I know there's only a finite amount of material to hear now. It still gives me something to look forward hearing. Sadly there's only two more to buy now, but I shall eek them out for as long as possible.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas, New Year and all of that

So, here we are then, 2008. Hooray! It's off to a great start so far!

I have to start off by apologising for the lack of updates. December was incredibly busy, and I'm sorry to say that tales of the three Christmas do's I went to this year will go by unrecorded, but suffice to say I enjoyed them all for various different reasons and much fun was had at them all. I was especially pleased to be invited and attend Steve's Hyder do this year, and be able to put some faces to all the names I've heard so much about in the past. It's really good to be able to do these things as partners you know- it's not something we can always take for granted sadly.

Anyway, Christmas was a logistical nightmare this year. Attempting to see everyone was a very tricky piece of organisation, especially as it's impossible now to see Mum and Dad together, and everyone is busy with their various families and new partners and of course trying to see each other too. Somehow we did, but not after a lot of plans tooing and froing, and I think we managed to keep everyone happy at the end of it, which was pretty damn good going to be honest!

Christmas itself was lovely. It began with lunch out with Vic and family, plus Laura and Emiliy and Kevin, which was great, then Wilgilia which passed by in a blur of noise, great food and far too much vodka... not that I'm complaining, as I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Christmas Day begun with our presents at home, and they all went down very well indeed, pleasingly. After this we made the obligatory visit to Vic on the way to Croxley. It was great to see them all, plus Dad and Sue. They all seemed pleased with their presents, and there was a quieter than usual Luke tucked up in the corner with his new Nintendo DS, which seemed to be the most popular present he got for Christmas. Annabel was adorably more animated and excitable, with all her new Ora...sorry... Dora The Explorer toys. Loud and excitable; she's very much like her mum was at the same age!
We left them and headed up to Croxley for Christmas with Steve's family. I have to say a big thank you, once again for making me welcome and part of their family- it's always a pleasure to visit them and they even forgave me for breaking one of the cheap Marks and Spencer glasses into the bread sauce! We helped the rest of the family keep Steve's Gran and Aunty Betty entertained while we opened the presents all afternoon, and settled down for Doctor Who once they'd returned home. It was very enjoyable too- probably the best of the Christmas Specials so far, and we rushed out afterwards to Steve's cousin's place for the evening, most of which was taken up with a game of Monopoly. It almost, but didn't quite end in tears!

Boxing day, I was beginning to feel a bit under the weather, so we had a quiet trip to the sales, where I was pleased to pick up the whole of One Foot In the Grave on DVD for £30. Bargain! We headed back home late afternoon with our pile of presents to sort out and find new homes for. There were plans to put up some shelves and stuff, but that didn't quite work out, as the next day we both came down with the nasty stomach bug that is doing the rounds. Not good. I managed to go into work for the day, but only just made it back home in time... not good. An unpleasant evening was spent at home, with the two of us suffering at the same time, and the next day was quiet and not much fun. Ah well, maybe one Christmas we'll get through without being unwell, but at least it wasn't anywhere near as bad as last year's flu...

It was only really yesterday that we both got back to normal, just in time to see in the new year. Sadly some of the friends we'd invited couldn't make it along, but a good time was had by all who was there. It was rather different to the last new year's party we had, as there were less people, more games and it was one of those parties where everyone got on as a group and didn't split off into the separate kitchen party (or upstairs bedroom party!) as has happened in the past. Great!
And best of all, because I wasn't drinking I stayed up to 3am, and woke up this morning without feeling wretched! And I finally tried out Paul's Wii this morning and found myself having a good time too, which was most unexpected. Everyone threw themselves into using it, some of them literally in Jonno's case!

So now we have a clean house, we've rewatched Voyage of the Damned and I've had the time to do an update. Now we look forward to Steve's birthday and of course the not-very-far-away-at-all trip to New Zealand, next month... perhaps we'd better do some planning....

Happy New Year everyone.