Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Lion, The Witch & The TURDIS Of Oz In Wonderland.

I decided this morning that I really ought to see if I can do anything to retrieve my juvenalia, with a view to publishing it on here, or on my website.

Towards the end of my school years* I wrote a lot, much of it humorous in varying degrees. Along with a very dear friend, MF (whose initials are quite unintentionally amusing), I was heavily involved in creating a school magazine. MF was great at coming up with ideas for characters and so on. I wasn't so good at that, but I did seem to flourish when it came to taking those ideas and really pushing them. It was a great collaborative effort, the likes of which I have only found once or twice in my life.

Amongst the other characters that sprang from the fertile soil of MF's mind were Elsie & Tom. Elsie Senga Mince was often described as housewife, superhero and all-round good egg. She was the companion to Tom Baker, who travelled around the universe in a battered blue police box. Basically, we were both big Doctor Who fans, the show wasn't being made any more, and Tom Baker was "our" doctor, i.e. the one who had been on all the shows we watched as children. So, although he was called Tom Baker, he was still The Doctor, or at least had all the props, characteristics and mannerisms that he had brought to his portrayal of that character.

We both read lots of the Doctor Who books (many of which were little more than the scripts from the TV show with "he said", or "she exclaimed" tacked on at the end of each line of dialogue). Being British, the best way we knew of showing our love for something was by taking the piss out of it mercilessly. This included paraphrasing and mocking all of the clich├ęs that occurred in the books, and the standard plot lines. We also pilfered freely from much greater writers, too. The end result meant that whereas the books would (almost invariably) say this:
With a wheezing, groaning sound, a dark blue box slowly appeared on the forbidding alien landscape
our stories would have something like this:
With a wheeze, a groan and a hey nonny-nonny, a TURDIS suddenly appeared out of nowhere, exactly the way that bricks don't.
After we finished school, and stopped doing the magazine, MF poured his remaining creative juices into a full-size novel about some of his other characters, the Boys Of The Filofax. It was a great story, reminiscent of Douglas Adams, particularly during his Dirk Gently phase, with hints of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I read a draft, and loved it, but somewhere along the line MF gave up on it and, I believe, threw it away.

Meanwhile, I was writing longer stories than I had for the magazine, but still way short of an actual novel. And whereas MF had made the transition to proper novel-appropriate thinking, I was still messing around in pastiche land. To that end, my proudest achievement was Elsie & Tom in Snow White & The Seven Cybermen. It featured a Snow White who was anything but, some cybermen who had been unaccountably shrunk to midget-like proportions, making them much less menacing, and a brief but important trip back to ancient Greece during the race between Atlanta and Hippomenes. I also started work on what was to be my masterwork: Elsie & Tom in The Lion, The Witch & The TURDIS Of Oz In Wonderland. My intention was to take the characters through a butchered version of all three of those stories, mostly for my own amusement.

There were a few other things that I wrote during that period. Lots, actually, including deliberately funny letters to various friends. I really enjoyed writing, and for a few years afterwards, I would come across something or other I had written earlier and marvel because I had forgotten how funny it was.

Alas, some years ago, during a period of separation between my parents, disaster struck. Most of this writing was in a garage at my mum's place. Unfortunately, the local kids were a seriously nasty lot, and had a habit of torching the garages. Everything was lost to the flames.

I did have some old floppy disks with some of the material on it, but they were created on at Atari ST, and even using an ST emulator on my PC, I couldn't get anything from most of them. I did manage to salvage some bits and pieces of few years ago, but nothing from the longer stories, alas. Man, I would love to get my hands on those.

As chance would have it, a bit of digging around on the way back machine has given me a couple of smaller pieces. I'll put them up here as separate articles and see if anyone likes them.

* US readers might like to note that "school years" for me doesn't include my time at university. School is school, university is university - that's why we have different words for those things :-)


Tickersoid said...

I did almost no writing at all until I started my blog.

"The way a brick doesn't."

I forgot about that one. I'll have to recycle it as soon as possible.

Qenny said...

Then I am all the more impressed!

I hear that bricks lend themselves well to being recycled, too.

Brian Sibley said...

You should write a memoir... 'MF & I'

Al said...

MF - I don't get the amusement from that?

I must have led a sheltered life...

Da Nator said...

I look forward to reading them. And I know your pain. I've got boxes of old writing and "artsy" photographs, recordings and films I made that have gone missing forever.

What do you think of the new Doctor Who and Torchwood, btw? I've quite enjoyed them, but I don't have a history of having watched earlier versions as a kid. (I tried watching first couple seasons in b&w and couldn't get through them. I never got up to the Tom Baker episodes.) Sometimes I think things that were probably horrifying back then, like cybermen and Daleks, can't help but be funny, now, especially to adults... although the writers do try, bless them.

Qenny said...

Brian: If I do, it's a bit of a forgone conclusion where I should shop for the escritoire.

al: There was a time when MF was used instead of the fully spelled out rudeword that has more recently been represented at mo'fo' (although mo'fu' would be more accurate).

Da nator: I'm enjoying both the new Doctor Who and Torchwood. I'm more inclined to forgive the gaping plot holes in the former than the latter, but they both make up for it by providing science fiction with some attempt at emotional content, bless them. And gays. Mustn't forget the gays.