Who Do You Love?

I have fallen in love with Doctor Who. 6 months ago I’d never seen a second of the show. As of the current writing, there is probably nothing in the silly world of pop culture more important to me.

It’s good to note that this happens to me sometimes. And I think many people I know too. Getting really, really into stuff. Watching a whole season of some TV show in a weekend. Looking up all of a band’s interviews on the internet. Every live performance of some comedian on YouTube.

Obsessive? Perhaps.

I think it’s a bit more like finishing your food.

Anyway, back to the Doctor. Of course, I’ve heard of him. And I’m completely aware that the Doctor Who phenomenon is one of the biggest, longest running sci fi franchises in the world. I know a Dalek if I see one. I know Billie Piper is in the new one. That’s about it.

But being here, one of the things I wanted to do was get into British culture. I’ve been watching British movies. Buying best of CDs by bands like James and Squeeze. And when the huge, inescapable publicity of the start of Doctor Who season three was everywhere, I sat myself on the couch and decided to give the thing a go.

And it’s love.

See, the problem with American sci fi, as typified by Star Trek, is it has to be believable and plausible. You can find books discussing the science of Star Trek. Whereas British sci fi has a long tradition of being just unexplained. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf and so forth. Sure, they screw around with what can possibly happen for drama (destroying the world to build a highway) or laughs (playing billiards with planets)…but at the heart of it, British sci fi will choose inspiring over plausible.

And Doctor Who, which from a distance seemed weird and cheap, is the most inspiring of all. The new series has shed the old crap production values. It’s a super slick, modern show. No wires. But the stories are so excellent.

Every week, the Doctor travels through time to a new adventure. He is a Time Lord, the last of an ancient race. His ship is a TARDIS, which due to a malfunction is stuck looking like a British Police Box. He’s usually got a companion or two in tow, who has befriended the friendly Doctor.

From that flimsy premise, we can go anywhere. Werewolves attacking Queen Elizabeth the first, to the day the sun finally goes nova. The fall of Pompeii, to the upcoming London Olympics.

At the heart of it all is the Doctor himself. Played by so many actors over the years, he is the same person who has fired the imagination of so many people for so many years. An adventurer, who rarely resorts to violence. An intellect and proud of it. An optimist and a knowledge seeker. Always wanting to see what this universe can be, always excited about new challenges. A man who always does good, an loves life.
And it’s easy to forget the bloody thing is at heart, a kids show. One Saturday morning, possibly because I was still up, I watched Totally Doctor Who, the kid’s talk show devoted to the Doctor. How lucky are these kids though, to have stories written for them that win sci fi writing awards, and best drama TV awards, year after year.

So for me, of course, I love the Doctor. I’m an optimist. I’m always excited by new things. I also like obsessive things. Things with rich histories. And a sense of funny. I also love good TV. The sad scenes – up there with some of best teen drama I’ve ever seen.

The Doctor explores every corner of the galaxy, hoping there is something amazing he has never seen before. And for me, after so many years of loving music, TV, movies, books etc…it’s a great feeling to know there are things out there I can fall in love with. I’m not that sad dude who still misses the X-Files.

Below: this Halloween, I dressed up as the Tenth Doctor. The raincoat came in handy for the weather, I tell you.

The Doctor


Danny Yau
London

Walk Out to Winter

Summer is still a vivid memory, but the last few weeks we have fallen straight into a cold snap. With my crutches, for a few weeks I felt like Richard III. I wanted to stumble up to kids at bus stops, point a crooked finger and go “Now is the winter of our discontent…”

It’s not yet the pretty, winter-y London. It’s this odd middle ground. There’s plenty of cute girls in cool jackets, scarves and hats about. The outdoor areas of pubs are empty. It’s noticeably darker all the time. People are settling in.

Which is the opposite for me, a cripple who has finally lost his crutches and cast. Although the cold has meant bits and pieces of me have started to hurt again. I’ve accepted the fact that during the cold I will always be Uncle Danny with the funny limp. I am seriously thinking about Mia’s suggestion of getting a walking cane. Unfortunately, my shoulder is the only part of me which is still in pretty bad shape, and the cane needs that. One day…

It’s a been a big few weeks for visitors. Thomas Heymann, Hawker, James, my brother, Chris and Ian from Prague, Katy…and I can almost keep up. Liz has had some visitors too. Her sisters and her friends Colm and Luke. It’s been a very social house of late, a big change from living alone.

It looks like the next few months will be very different, as each of us will be jetting off again. Between now and the end of the year I’ll be away from London more than I’ll be there. I’m not the only one. Next thing you know it will be Christmas.

So bits and pieces have been going on but not much to report. Got back from Paris. Saw Paul McCartney play, which fulfilled a life long dream. Back at work full time. Even started setting the CD player alarm again and trying to keep normal hours (currently it’s Camera Obscura’s lovely album from last year, Let’s Get Out Of This Country). Very much back into old, bad habits.

Feels like I’ve been here before. Chilly London. People pulling their scarves up, scurrying into shops. The sky threatening to rain. Long nights in. I’m looking forward to it again.

It feels good to be home.

Danny Yau
London

Don’t change your plans

I am sitting in a cafe in Montpanasse, on my own, after several coffees and beers. And god knows how many more cigarettes.

I just spent €200 at FNAC. The radio is playing You’re Beautiful. Its not helping my mood.

Bottom line, I don’t know where I will be next year. It’s now a major issue. My plans have, well, not completely fallen through, but has definitely dropped 16 floors, smashed hard against the floor and is now lying heavy on cracked and creaking floorboards and can go very south from here.

I’m being dramatic I know, but its one of my good points, really.

So point is, where to next? I’m having a big think about it all. Maybe it is time to move on…again.

The worst thing in life is confusion. I don’t mind when things go wrong, I can handle that. It’s not knowing. It’s like when you don’t know where you stand with someone. Its better to be bad and know than to not know. I think so anyway.

So I can only look down at my plans and hope it all works out. Of course, it will all work out in some way.

Just WHAT?

I wish I knew.

Danny
Paris

Bonjour encore de Paris

I am in Paris, again.

Here sorting out last minute visa stuff.

I’m so utterly seduced by this place. Not in a teenage crush way either. I’d like to think it’s a more mature love. I know its flaws. But I love the city inside. I’m ready for her to grow old and fat and I will still see the face I love.

I just missed hawker being here last week. Its a shame, we would have been perfect, sitting around cafes, looking at the people. The obvious tourists, the girls who look so cool and would never talk to us, the baffled locals, the dodgy scamsters.

But I’ve always loved a sense of place. It seems every part of my life is pretty tied to a location. Be it King St, Newtown or Portobello Rd, I like going somewhere and feeling I’m FROM somewhere.

Paris has that is spades. How could you not feel pride if you are from here? It seems even in Barcelona, the street performers could be from anywhere, performing anywhere. Here, its a dude with a beret, a hot tall french woman, dancing to accordians. Being French is in everything they do.

I almost want to scream out my window and ask them to turn the french down. Let’s take these buildings and make them look less interesting. Let’s turn the cobblestones to asphalt. Widen the streets and put up more McDonalds. Replace the scattered rooftops with metal and glass skyscrapers.

Thank god they don’t.

They could make the place more friendly to the disabled though. Its been a semi struggle today. I’m going to relax all night. Leah found me the best hotel, high in Monmartre. I can see everything from my window. I could just stare at it, listen to the street noise and practise my french.

Most importantly, after this trip, I’ll finally know where I’ll be next year. Fingers crossed.

Danny
Paris

Chapter 26

It’s been an amazing year. On my birthday last year I had a day off. I remember a phone call I got at Belfield train station, from a great friend, laughing there on the platform, early evening in the impending Sydney summer.

It was one of my last rehearsals with the Reservations that day, and then I ran off to spend the night with someone lovely. I wrapped up my life, spent good times with my best friends, said goodbye to my family and got on a plane.

26 has been about moving. Moving country, moving on and just moving in general.

To Paris! And others…but it’s Paris that lives in my heart still. Walking around Monmartre, meeting great people. Beef bourguignon and beaujolais. Napping in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The friends I met here who I don’t think I’ll ever get rid off.

Running in all directions in Europe, seeing Alicia is 5 different countries. Countless loss beanies, boarding passes and public transport day passes. That jumper from Barcelona I lost and I’m still heartbroken about.

Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope has been the soundtrack to all this. Easily my most listened to record this year. Anything that my life threw up just stuck on her songs. But also a year of rediscovering rock. Arctic Monkeys. Fratellis. The Killers. Muse. Been a long time since I’ve listened to so many guitar bands.

A beautiful Christmas and a snowy London was my home. I walked through Hyde Park almost every weekend. I read The Virgin Suicides, awash with romance. Managed to borrow a copy of Leviathan, but also trying to read and see British things. And god knows how many hours I spent with my head buried in Lonely Planet guides.

Also managed to see a few gigs. My first Fountains Of Wayne experience. London Live Earth at Wembley. Muse, Wilco, the Shins, REM, Amy Rigby, Prince…even managed to see Bob Evans. But really not been doing that too much. Missed all the festivals but I’m promising myself a couple next year.

I am also so happy. I’ve met hundreds of people this year. I got a great job which I love, and the people there are fantastic. I’ve managed any challenge that came my way. Sorted out the red tape, and even survived a nasty accident. I found a great house to live in, and met many a lifelong friend.

Now I have some close friends here, both old and new. And a steady stream of foreign visitors. And also still managing to get away from London a bit too. In fact, I’m back in Paris in 3 days.

It’s amazing how I got here. I wonder what the next year will hold. I don’t feel like I’ve even found my stride in London sometimes. And next year I will go to America. I just have to. There are changes coming. People coming. People going. The cast is changing.

It’s been the best year of my life, easily. Not only have I done so many things I dreamt of doing, I’m actually struggling to think of unhappy moments. Maybe there are none. And that is amazing. Thank you everyone who shared any of it with me. Whether a few days drunk in a strange city, every weekday at a cubicle, or old friends from home who keep in touch and keep me grounded…and all in between and outside and more.

London has dialled up a rare sunny day in October. Happy birthday indeed.

Danny
London

You Send Me

I know I’m not the only one has ever made the bold claim that I could be happy in a country house in the middle of nowhere. As long as I had access to Amazon and the like. Being homebound, I have been putting that to the test.

The most important of which is ordering groceries online. What a world this is. Click on some sausages, some milk, some eggs. Then, select a delivery time, usually the next day, specific to the hour. Then there’s a dude knocking on the door, with all of it in shopping bags. So easy. You can even save your order. No need to remember to buy more detergent. Just save it from days before. You can even get Mojo Magazine home delivered! God bless Sainsburys.

Amazon UK has also been my friend. I’ve spent a lot of time on Amazon in the past, but it’s always been this faraway thing. Not anymore. I blew £200 before I knew it. It’s just like shopping in a store. You just browse around and pick stuff up. And again, before I knew it, a knock on the door and there you go. It’s not just CDs, but DVDs and books too. Being housebound and crippled doesn’t stop me spending (all moneys spent is justified by me not going out).

I also managed to spend a lot of money on that new iPod. Delivered straight to my door. It was so great. And I do that thing where some guy hands me a clipboard and I sign it. Very professional-like. I also like when they give you a tracking number, and you can look online at where your order is.

I’m now looking at Argos. The behemoth of Argos. You can get ANYTHING from Argos. I have my eye on some more CD shelves, a DVD player and an electric piano. How crazy is that? Can’t afford it, but I can save it to my cart.

All this made me very disappointed by the service offered by Forbidden Planet, the main sci-fi/comic book shop in London. You figured they have their home ordering sorted. But no, orders could take two weeks according to the site.

Bloody amateurs. It would take me an hour to get there on a bus. If I could get on a bus.

Although, this short lived love affair with courier deliveries may soon be over, as I am getting so much better every day. Pretty soon I’ll be hobbling around HMV in person. I can go get those comics on my own. I’m able to get by okay without the crutches. The foot is getting better. There is little strength in my legs though. Muscles need to warm up again.

Very exciting is that I have friendly visitors helping me out in the last few weeks and for the next couple of weeks. It’s been quite a ride but I know the ride is coming to an end. It’s been a good practise run for when I buy that house in Dapford, Victoria, but that little glimpse into the future is fading like the end of a movie flashback.

Goodbye to being housebound and window shopping on the web. Hello world.

Can’t hardly wait.

Danny
London