There’s a cabin in rural Ontario, where the trees are bare and the rain falls in sheets. It sits on the edge of a black lake. Out of the flat black water rise sun baked wrecks of trees. There’s no guarantee that a slithering quiet creature hasn’t grabbed hold to that driftwood and in the silence lifted its hand to grip the edge of your boat.
The stuff of nightmares for many children or perhaps forgotten after hours of sunbathing, but for author Val Tobin, the family cabin she returned to each Spring was the stuff stories are made of. It has stuck with her through the years.
A MUST FOR ALL DR WHO FANS, TONY WHITT INTERVIEWED BY T E HODDEN
Like many fans of a certain age, my first experience with many Doctor Who stories was not watching the TV screen from behind the sofa, but reading them under the blankets by torchlight. Novelisations published by Target Books, were pocket-money affordable treats, covering a vast back catalogue of adventures across time and space.
Two classic adventures, Revelation of the Daleks, and Resurrection of the Daleks, both stories of the 1980s, scripted by Eric Saward, didn’t make it into he range, due to legal issues, but will finally grace the printed page later this year.
To celebrate the landmark, and discuss the cult appeal of the novelisations, I reached out to Tony Whitt, of the Doctor Who Target Book Club Podcast. Tony, with a loyal band of brave friends, has undertaken the daunting task of reading, and reviewing every novelisation in broadcast order (which is to say, he’s reading the stories as they were shown on TV, rather than as they were published).
I always had a fear of heights and falling. Not sureif it’s that stomach-dropping feeling, not being in control, fearing pain, death? I remember hating when someone threw me in the air, tossed me overhead into the ocean, or pretended to drop me from a high altitude. (Okay it was only a few feet but still). I hate roller coasters. I can do most of the slides at the water parks, but spinning things? Freefalls? Upside down rides? Ah, no.
My husband left me a note the other day that I hada surprise present waiting for me on Sunday forour anniversary. Reservations were made and were nonrefundable. P.S. It would be the best five minutes of my life.
Known as the ‘Queen of Disguise’, Annette Kerner was a leading detective in the 1940s. Born into a wealthy family, Annette trained as a mezzo-soprano with Ivor Novello’s mother, Clara, before opening the Mayfair Detective Agency in the 1920s.
Annette’s parents opposed her singing career so, aged seventeen, Annette secretly negotiated a singing contract with a nightclub in Geneva. While crossing the Channel to France, she flirted with a fellow passenger who told her that he was an intelligence officer keeping an eye on a suspected foreign agent. The passenger went on to explain that the agent’s briefcase contained vital evidence of his guilt. Eager to impress her new friend, Annette calmly stole the briefcase and presented it to him. The agent responded by contacting his London headquarters; he urged his bosses to employ Annette as a freelance, and they agreed.
In the 1950s, the pop charts (introduced in 1951) were dominated by the likes of Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Dickie Valentine and Jimmy Young. On the whole these singers produced melodic, easy-listening tunes with not much there to frighten the horses. Then, in the mid-1950s Bill Haley and Elvis Presley burst on to the scene and popular music would never be the same again.
YOUR NEW BOOK, TUMBLING DICE, IS AN INTIMATE, FRANK AND HILARIOUS MEMOIR. WAS IT FUN TO WRITE?
It was the book that had been begging to be written for years. The blighter nagged and nagged, and in the end I had to give in to it. Some of it was fun. Trolling back down Memory Lane, poking in and out of the pubs, getting back into all those scrapes and reliving my misspent youth was some jaunt. A lot of it was incredibly painful. But those experiences had to be there too. I decided at the outset that I couldn’t simply be some disembodied voice in the process, telling all these crazy stories but never revealing my true self. I had to be a real, living, bleeding person, with a plausible personal life and all the usual ups and downs. Juxtaposing that mad hack and glam alter ego with the ordinary girl from nowhere – the girl I really was – became the challenge. The things we got up to in the name of a splash headline became all the more extraordinary because I was just me. The point is that absolutely anyone could have fallen into the life that I had.
I have always loved myths and legends, especially those surrounding nature. There are many stories about the spring flowers, but this is one of my favourites. This one is loosely based on a Moldovan legend and it is the tale I used to tell my children as we went for wintery walks, looking for the first snowdrop of spring…