26
Mar 05

I have never been to a Dr Who Convention, BUT…

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I have never been to a Dr Who Convention, BUT…
It’s time I told you that I once attended something affectionately called an “Olympiad”. In my own head this is much, much less sad than a (say the word while spitting) “convention”. Unfortunately, outside my head, said event was actually 2 days in a pub in Cricklewood playing party games, most with a Dr Who/ “cult telly” theme. I think my team’s worst round was the “do a 5 minute re-enactment of a classic who in the style of the recent TV movie”. I am a terrible actor. We drew “Tomb of the Cybermen” seeing that you asked.

But, and I insist on this, I am not a massive Dr Who fan

– “it ain’t a river in Egypt, honey”

OK, as a kid i did love the show – i even collected the Weetabix cards. And OK yes I did persist with it right to the end. BUT, and this is another big “but”, when it finished, i wasn’t bereft. Ok, not MUCH. And yes, it was also nice to find repeats on UK Gold from time to time, for a warm-fuzzy nostalgia-filled sunday morning. Then, in the mid 90s, something very odd happened to me. The turnover of people living in my shared house in Cricklewood stopped being a trail of expired-visa saffers/kiwis/ozzies/italians, and, one-by-one, people with suspiciously large collections of VHSs (later DVDs), and the occasional “collectable” action figure, started to take residence. Soon it was acceptable to be watching re-runs of The Tomorrow People on the SciFi channel, and before you know it I found myself in the Fitzroy Tavern, attending one of the monthly gathering of the “movers and shakers” (darling) in what passed for a “Who Industry” at that time.

This was all Rebecca’s fault. Rebecca was someone I just about knew from college, and she moved to London to start work as an editor. Of Dr Who books. And she knew about my house and its turnover of residents. So it was a bit galling when we first met at “Tavern” (as it’s known) and she exclaimed “What the fuck are you doing here?”. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, WOMAN. HELP ME, GOD HELP ME.

Why I’m still such good friends with her I’ll never understand. ONLY JOKING OF COURSE. I was happy to be surrounded by people sadder than myself, and they were happy with themselves. The self-hatred of the hardkore Who fan only exists as a shield erected in the moment that “that look” appears in the other person’s eyes.

I still see this crowd from time to time, usually at gay pubs and clubs, but of late I’ve started to see them ON THE TELLY. Yes, the new series is here, and the “Who industry” has graduated from pub-distributed fanzines and one moribund magazine to, er, talking heads in the “Who is back!” docs and between the UK Gold reruns. Which is great for them, but I wonder whether, seeing that the show is back on telly, the acrimony of that tight-knit clique has intensified. They were a bitchy lot when it was just the odd vanity piece for one of the better known fanzines and books that sold 10,000 copies each (the same amount regardless of quality). Now that they will all be jockeying for that one extra rung at the top of the ladder, and the silly money that an episode of telly pays, there could be blood. Relations between Russel Davies and some of the writers have been better than they are right now.

Now, having spent a lot of my 20s socialising with such people, to everyone else, I seem like the biggest Dr Who nerd in the world. I absorbed all manner of trivia – the bit-part actors, the “bloopers” (“look you can see a hand holding down the cushion, HA ha”), the debates about the sexuality of various companions, and even the existence of the tightly-fought “assistants v companions” debate. And I’m happy with this. I’m out and proud as a Who fan – probably more so than YOU.

I tell you what I don’t miss though – I seem to recall one game at the olymiad that involved reciting the names of every planet that the TARDIS visited. In order. Don’t worry though, it wasn’t an official game that involved points.

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