Kapitano Jack

Perry had discovered two new games - tug-of-war and chewing-random-stuff-for-fun. In both cases with my clothes.

We've got mice again. Not the kind with twitchy pink noses that live in cages and fit in your top pocket - rather, the kind you see out of the corner of your eye as small brown hemispheres scooting across a patch of floor into a space behind the furniture. The kind that you know about mainly because of the scratchy rustling noises coming out of the walls at five in the morning.

Papillions were first imported into Britain as rat catchers - or so I'm told. But the dogs don't seen to have been told that, so it's time for the ultrasonic pest repellents.

A forum on "the veil" in the evening. As the whole pseudo-issue drags on in the "news"-papers, there's nothing new to be said since the day it started.

Jack Straw, a career politician for 27 years, suddenly finds that after decades of communicating with people through all manner of cultural barriers, he can't manage to talk with a woman who asks for his help while wearing a Muslim veil.

The veils on bridal gowns are fine, as are the headscarves worn by nuns. Hoods on coats, hats, helmets, pipes and cigarettes, goth makeup, the wide hats of Jews and the turbans of Hindus - all are fine and present no barrier in multicultural Britain. But the niqab is an uncrossable rubicon, a proudly worn symbol of internalised eastern misogyny, and therefore an insult to progressive western civilisation, which as we know gives women respect and pay equal to men.

One interesting statistic - around 4% of Britons identify as Muslim, and between 1 and 5% of Muslim women in Britain wear the veil. Which would mean roughly between 11,000 (0.04%) and 57,000 (0.2%) out of 56,000,000 Britons are veil wearers - the vast majority in the big cities. Which might explain why I can't recall having ever seen one in the street.

But of course, unseen threats are scarier.

Tonight was the premiere of "Torchwood", the much awaited first spinoff series from Doctor Who, which has now overtaken the various incarnations of Star Trek as the world's longest running TV serial .

The first episode suffered from two major disadvantages. First, it was the first episode, so had so introduce (almost) all the major characters and something of their backstories, plus the general premise and mood of the series, and have a plot that makes first time viewers want to tune in next week. This is the problem that all pilot episodes face, and it leaves them feeling both hurried and shallow, having just too much to do in an hour.

The other major problem is that it was written and produced by Russell T Davies. He's the man most singly responsible for bringing back Doctor Who 14 years after it's second cancellation, and slowly killing it again with his excrable scripts. He seems to be a very able producer, an okay director, and completely unable to write complex characterisation or humour beyond the level of a 5-year old. Guess which two aspects he most wants to bring to Doctor Who and Torchwood.

The series concerns a small team of experts who hunt down aliens from outer space, and steal their technology to prepare for a mysterious coming apocalypse. They are outside any government, and pretty damn ruthless, though troubled. It's rather like The X-Files, told from the point of view of technicians employed by the Consortium that Mulder and Scully frequently encounter.

There are plenty of tie-ins with Doctor Who - the team leader is Captain Jack, a time traveler who traveled with The Doctor for the second half of Season 27, and now finds himself indestructible (a la Captain Scarlett) after the final episode of that season, but unable to remember why. The location is a "spatial rift" in Cardiff, a place and phenomenon that featured in two Season 27 episodes - plus one of the Torchwood team is a direct descendant (played by the same actress) of the psychic undertaker's assistant who opened the rift in victorian times. Well, it made sense at the time.

The Doctor's severed hand, cut of in the christmas special episode, is the most treasured artifact in the Torchwood archive. Plus of course the Torchwood institute and archive was referred to on the periphery of each episode of Doctor Who Season 28. There's just the small detail that Torchwood is ultra-secret and very mysterious, but pretty much every non-civillian knows about it, including police sergeants and coporals.

Episode 2 was shown straight afterwards, and concerned a gaseous alien life form addicted to the "energy" of human orgasms - an orgonovore, I suppose. Silly, supposedly sexy, and not very promising for the rest of the series.

Still, I'll be watching it, partly because I've agreed to review episode 8 for a magazine. Besides, it's probably unique - the only series about alien invasion to be set in Wales.


  1. I watched Torchwood, and thought that Captain Jack looked a lot like a Tom Cruise clone gone awry. I also had problems with a 'spacial rift' in Cardiff. It's just too far to travel - I want one here.

    Watchable, but heading gently towards mediocrity. I hope the scripts recover.

  2. But the niqab is an uncrossable rubicon, a proudly worn symbol of internalised eastern misogyny, and therefore an insult to progressive western civilisation, which as we know gives women respect and pay equal to men.

    Actually, the evidence of my own senses suggest that women are not as hard done by as some ersatz-radicals would have "us" believe.

    You could perform a public service here, by comparing the cruel and onerous obcenities of the West, with the peaceful and meritocraticy regimes of the unjustly maligned East.

    You could quote Edward Said's Orientalism, but be warned, if you do so, you must adhere to the strictures contained therein that all Western Civilisation is base, corrupt and unworthy (and must be overthrown for the good of humanity), whilst anything outside that paradigm is inherently worthwhile and valuable, since it is obviously a triumph of the proletarian over the oppressors.

    As regards "Torchwood"; it is certainly an alien universe, set upon the planet "18-25". Assuredly, an infantile realm, though at least it is compatible with the level of 'political discourse' we are allowed these days.

    I remain optimistic that the "Torchwood" series may develop momentum and intrinsic interest; which is rather more than I am willing to grant to political discourse at the moment.

  3. Anonymous K:
    Tom Cruise clone gone awry - good description.

    If Torchwood does prove deeply cack, there's always the animated K9 adventures coming on CBBC, and something maybe called "Sarah Jane Investigates".

    And if they're cack too...well, there's always Dr Who.

    There are several layers of management mostly occupied by women with trouser-suits and clipboards. Often to be found in hospitals, and to a lesser extent in schools, pub chains and the larger software firms. These layers are completely functionless in terms of administration - sometimes they're called "Quality Control".

    Their existence can give the impression of a large number of women in positions of power. It's as though a bracket of working middle-class women have been shunted into a siding, where they've been given meaningless tasks and comparatively low pay for a manager, covered by the appearance of power.

    Obviously this doesn't apply to working class women, who work in the same rubbish jobs as working class men - though with lower pay.

    As I recall, the thesis of Orientalism is that notions of "Islamic Fundamentalism" and "Islamic Women's Oppression" are grafted onto the middle-east by western scholars, using notions transplaned from "Christian Fundamentalism" and "Sexism", where they don't apply. In essence, he accuses western academia of applying a series of category mistakes.

    Said is not a marxist, so doesn't regard the bourgois/proletarian antagonism as the major fight to be won. He's also not an arab nationalist, or any kind of crude anti-western thinker.

    As regards Torchwood, the comments on the Outpost Gallifrey site are split between "Not bad but nothing special" and "Not bad?! You mean you hated it! Why don't you just switch off instead of complaining".

  4. well torchwood sounds like it could be interesting. I'd give it a shot if it ever came over.