The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Six

(This blog post is the one that contains the final league table for the This Time Next Year Game!)

First up, I really do have to highlight the always brilliant Sword and Laser video show, whose latest episode is, well, all about me, really!

Isn't that flattering?  I love the intro and the whiteboard diagrams at the end.  It actually provides rather a nice  introduction to my work overall.  Thank you so much, you lot!

And talking of video, here's me the other night, talking about London Falling, a video taken at Topping and Co in Bath, recorded by Magus Studios.  Thanks to them for doing that.


Okay, now to something I know a lot of you will have been waiting for, the results of the This Time Next Year Game.  I should apologise, first off.  Because of an error in my notes, I failed to give the following people a point for guessing Grant Morrison would still be writer of Action Comics: Jennifer Kelley; Tom; B-Guymer; Phil Hansen; Michael Lee and LM Myles.  Those scores have now been added into what follows.

I won't go through who got points for the remaining questions, because there are a lot of them, but here are the remaining answers.  3: David Cameron was still PM at midnight on December 12th (a few of you went for Boris).  5: Life on another planet has not been generally accepted by the scientific community as having been found (though many of you will have got the jitters in the last couple of weeks, only two of you having been brave enough to answer that it would).  11: No more missing episodes of Doctor Who were discovered.  13: The only complete Doctor Who stories not yet released on DVD are 'The Mind of Evil' and 'Terror of the Zygons' (and okay, 'Dimensions in Time' for the one person who said that). The release of 'The Ambassadors of Death' must have disappointed a lot of you.  16: This question was actually hard to call, and what I decided upon in the end was that the closest thing to the truth is this: the physics community have generally accepted (to a higher than 5-sigma level of uncertainty) that a new boson has been found, but have not yet generally accepted that it's the Higgs (though most sources say they think they soon will).  So, in our game, I declare that that boils down to a No.  17: Much easier, nobody now thinks neutrinos can travel faster than light.  27: Kate Bush did not release any new music, just a remix.  And finally, and this must have caused a few palpitations in the last week or so also, no, the makers of the new Star Trek movie have not announced that Khan is appearing in it.

All of which gives us this, our Final League Table:

L.M. Myles: 17
Paul F: 17
RHeitzmann: 17
Soru: 17

Fizzle: 16
Michael Lee: 16
Nick Pheas: 16
Uther Dean: 16

B-Guymer: 15
Liz: 15
Matthew Hyde: 15
Phil Hansen: 15

Tom: 14

David Bishop: 13

C.A. Young: 12
Penny Heal and Jason Stevens: 12
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: 12

PSmithsonian: 11

Ads: 10
Dean Hazell: 10
Jennifer Kelley: 10

L.L.: 9

James Fairlie: 8

Adam Short: 7
Kendersule: 7
Run Iago: 7

N.J.: 4

Congratulations to our... four winners!  (Assuming nobody wants to quibble with my maths.  If one of you four thinks you did better, please let me know, so I can break the tie!)  If the winners could all get in touch (via my competitions-only email address:, sending me your postal addresses, I'll send you each a package of genre-related loveliness.  And thanks everyone for playing.  I hope you had fun. And, well, phew, I'm not doing that again in a hurry!

Now, we come to our latest guest blogger, following our theme of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'.  Today it's Doctor Who script editor, writer, producer and novelist Gary Russell, talking about Six Geese A Laying! Hello, Gary...

'I don't like Christmas, let's get that established straight off. Loved it as a kid, had the best Christmases ever but by about 13 or 14, it lost its veneer for me, becoming more about strained manners around family, and an overwhelming three-line whip to be sociable to family friends and neighbours I cheerfully avoided the other 364 days. And as I've got older and more Grinch-like, Christmas has started in late November and ended mid January.  I have no problem with the commercialism of it (yaaay, if shops can fleece money out of stupid people willing to pay twice what they could pay in the summer for their wares, good on them).  I just loathe the forced jollity of it all, and they incredulity that if you say "no, love New Year's Eve but would like to hibernate during Christmas" people treat you like you've personally bitten the head off their favourite kitten.

The one aspect of commercialism I cannot stand though are carol singers. When i was a wee lad, we'd heard carol singers in the streets, often joined by Santa Claus on the back of a tractor or milk float.  My mother would lead me out into the snow and we'd listen to the carols (most of which we'd been tortured into singing at school in the previous few weeks, so I knew them off by (my cold, dead) heart) and smile at the singers.

This week my door was aggressively hammered upon by one group of carol singers wanting me to pay cash for the joy of them trespassing on my doorstep and bleating their inane tunes at me.  See, that's what I don't like - you wanna go sing carols outside in the street, fine.  Doesn't hurt me.  Knock on my door and expect money ("it's for charity" they explained to the harassed young mum next door who foolishly didn't put two and two together and link the caterwauling with the persistent knocking.  Bravely she sent them away with a flea in their ears. I lack that resolve - if I'm caught out by answering the door, chances are the chugger will get money/a standing order/a chance to sit on the sofa and show me sad donkeys in chains, because I have that awful British inability to be rude to someone's and say "bugger off".  Unless they are Jehovah's Witnesses (my ex once brilliantly sold them a copy of New Humanist and got a Watchtower for free) or other religious callers. ("We look so respectable, how can you refuse our ties and neat shiny shoes?"  Easy. "Hullo, I sleep with other men" usually works wonders.)

Anywaaaaay, the point of this is that this year, I was intrigued by my carol singers.  Not enough to open the door but enough to realise that carols when sung in Welsh (I live in Cardiff) are actually really rather beautiful.  Personally, I can't read or understand a word of Welsh.  But I hear it spoken a lot and I love it.  I really love the bi-lingual attitude of Wales, the determination to preserve the language, the weird differences between North and South Welsh, and adore trying to follow Pobol y Cwm on the Sunday omnibus repeats. I am always surprised that Scotland, so much more aggressively independent and pro-home rule than Wales, doesn't have the same attitude about universal bilingual signage and official paperwork and stuff.  As a result, I have no idea what "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" or "Away in a Manger" sound like in Gaidhlig, but at least I do in Cymraeg.  Sadly, they didn't try "The Twelve Days of Christmas" so I couldn't discover there and then that on the sixth day my true love gave to me chwech gŵydd yn dodwy.

And this opened my eyes and ears a little bit to Christmas this year.  I'm starting to look at my chums' Christmas Trees (another pet hate of mine) in a different light (excuse the pun).  Still won't have one myself, but some of the clever artificial ones are really pretty - I'm less tolerant of real trees, by the way.  What a stupid waste of a tree.  And walking through Cardiff's city centre, I have to acknowledge that it's been tastefully decorated (if taste is the right word) in comparison to the OTT nauseating nonsense I used to see when living in London.  I even watched a movie last week on telly about the Christmas miracle - no not the li'l baby Jesus one, the Dickensian one.  It starred Vanessa Williams as a pop star called Ebony Scrooge whose entourage hated her, and whose friend Marli Jacob she seemed to have driven to suicide.  God it was awful and not in a "so awful it's great" way but in a "how did this ever get green lit" way!!!  But the point is, I watched it!!  'Cos it was Christmassy!!

So has the magic of song, the spirit of those lovely carols, permeated my soul, given me my own Ebony Scrooge-like transformation into a positive, pro-Christmas guy, full of good will and the joy of the season? Course not, I'm just fractionally more tolerant of other people enjoying it now.  This week.  Well, maybe just today.

Now if my true love had given me six geese laying golden eggs that I could've cashed in and made a fortune from, then I'd love Christmas, commercialism and all!!  I'm nothing if not enormously shallow.

Nadolig Llawen!!!'

(Photo by Alex Mallinson.)  Gary Russell has recently returned to the mad world of freelance writing. Most of what this involves is because he has been involved in the world of Doctor Who for as long as he can remember (and that includes remembering Hartnell regenerating into Troughton – yes he’s that old, and more!).  A lifelong love, adoration and even slight obsession with this one TV show led to him joining the Doctor Who Appreciation Society in the late '70s, eventually ending up on the organising committee of said fanclub, editing their newsletter.  He also edited his own award-winning fanzine Shada between 1980 and 1985 and in 1983 began writing regularly for Marvel Comics’ Doctor Who Magazine - an association that still continues irregularly today. Over the last 30+ years in fandom (dear God...) he has edited DWM, written quite a lot of novels and books on the subject, written computer games, comic strips for IDW and Marvel UK, moderated DVD commentaries, produced and directed about 100 audio dramas, script edited the TV series and produced two animated stories and a number of Adventure Games.  He has also script edited Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.  In what laughingly passes for his spare time he was written books about The Simpsons, Frasier, The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, collected far too many books, DVDs, CDs, action figures and Converse.  Yes, bloody Converse.  He lives in Cardiff, has no pets and frequently wanders around his home muttering to himself and scaring the neighbours.

Well, that was... it was, really, wasn't it?  There were geese in there somewhere, I think.  Thank you, Gary.  We'll continue tomorrow with comedian Donna Scott talking about... Seven Swans a Swimming!  Until then, Cheerio!

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