Random Wednesday

Can we have another power cut, please?

It’s Random Wednesday, we had a power cut over the whole of Shetland last night, and I’ve just finished going through the aftermath of that.

Now that computers have become such an ever-present part of our lives, the very idea of a power cut fills me with hope and pleasure.  Strange, you might say, given that I work in IT and depend on all those computers to keep me in beer and crisps.  But no.  No power equals no computers, no computers equals no problems.  More importantly, at home, no power equals no TV and no internet.  That means we have to – drumroll please… – talk to each other!  And not just the adults!  The kids have to talk as well!

This power cut took us off for a while overnight.  I was reading in bed at the time (using the Kindle app on my phone, so no power for a while means no eBooks either) so apart from it suddenly being very, very dark, no real problems.  I knew the UPS systems at work would shut everything down gracefully and that we’d have some problems with things not coming back with the power.  But the last power cut…  That was great fun!

Power went off early evening.  Smallest kids were in bed, eldest 2 watching TV.  The groans of horror that emanated from the lounge as their umbilical connection to Entertainment was severed shook the place to its very foundations.

“No problems,” said I, “We’ll light some candles and play a game.”

“Awwww, dad, do we have to!” In stereo.  Dad’s games are, apparently, not known for their fun quotient.

“It’ll be fun.” (Translation: We’re doing it.  Stop whining or go to bed.)

So we lit candles in the kitchen, cracked open a Dungeons and Dragons starter set one of them had brought home from Out of School Club because they’d thought I might like it, and started playing.Two hours later, when the power flickered back on, we switched the lights off, unplugged the microwave (irritating flashing clock) and carried on playing until the dragon was well and truly slain.  Much fun was had by all and two new players for Dungeons and Dragons had entered the arena.  The kids were begging for another power cut so we could play some more.  “Why wait?” said I.

Thus was born our Friday Night Gaming Session.  We’ve battled our way through a couple of adventures using‘s Castles and Crusades system (great, old-school gaming. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons feel without all that tedious messing around with THAC0 and other things that I really shouldn’t remember as much about but do).  When we’d finished adventuring, we stepped into the TARDIS and defeated Autons underneath a seaside village locked in a time loop.

When we wanted to take a break from the roleplaying games, we broke out the playing cards – nothing teaches a kid to add up faster than money being at stake.  Well, I say “money”.  I mean pasta spirals.  That’s our bank in Pontoon, a big box of pasta spirals.  They’re uncooked but that doesn’t stop the more inquisitive players from munching on them.  When Pontoon got old, we moved to dominoes.  When we tired of dominoes, Magic: The Gathering had an outing, Lego games, Carcassonne.  We played as a family.  Fantastic fun all-round.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we’re back to Simpsons re-runs now.  The television has a more powerful draw than fighting goblins or Daleks in your imagination.  Passive entertainment has trumped active.  So I have a plan.  Last night’s power cut made me realise that if that’s what it takes to get the games played, then the power will be cut.  Specifically to the lights and not the sockets – I hate having to reset all those different clocks.

Gaming will happen.  And it will happen this Friday.  I haven’t decided yet whether we’re going for Castles and Crusades, Doctor Who or some other game.  Maybe we’ll fight dinosaurs in the Hollow Earth, defeat supervillains whilst maintaining our secret identities, fly X-wing fighters along the trench of a third Death Star that the Rebels have only just found out about.  Who knows?  The only thing I know for certain is that, right now, anything is possible.  And that on Friday night, there’ll be a cry of “Awwwww, dad!  Did you *have* to switch that off?” at 7:15PM.  But that bedtime will come all too soon for them and they’ll be begging for a power cut on Saturday night.

Mind you, I’ve seen the TV listings for Saturday.  A power cut would be a blessing!


OK, so how’s he getting out of it this time?

The big finish. We’ve been building up to this since they first started laying it on with a trowel back in episode 1.  The Pandorica Opens and silence will fall.  Or words to that effect.  And having seen part 1 of the season finale for this year’s Dr Who, it swings wildly between astonishingly good and astoundingly bad.

Before I go any further, consider this your spoilers warning.

Still here?  Good.

Right.  Let’s go back a few years.  Christopher Ecclestone coming to the end of his run as the Doctor.  The whole Bad Wolf thing.  Yes, it’s been there in the background but no-one’s been paying too much attention to it until the big reveal and the Daleks try and take over the world.  Bit of a deus-ex-machina with Rose getting rid of them, but hey! It was good Who.  We get a swift regeneration into David Tennant and before the memory of the 9th Doctor is cold, they’re laying Torchwood on with a trowel.  So by the end of the series, once we finally get to Torchwood HQ in London we’ve known a lot about the arc-story for this season.  And the climax can’t just have Daleks, this time we’ve Daleks and Cybermen.  So far, so good.  And not one but two worlds in danger.  Right.  Moving on, end of Tennant’s next season sees the return of the Master and the return of Russel T Davies’ favourite trick – the big, red, reset button.

Okay, so the button might not be red, but it certainly resets everything.  Daleks? Erased from history, never happened.  Reset 1.  Daleks & Cybermen sucked back into the void. Nothing left lying around (well, nothing of significance). Reset 2.  A whole horrible year of what the Master did to Earth undone, never happened.  I’m seeing a pattern here.

DT’s third season sees him facing the Daleks.  Again.  Unfortunately, the Dr Who publicity machine didn’t do a very good job of hiding the fact that either (1) Rose was coming back or (2) Davros and the Daleks were returning.  Prize for most under-used Dalek threat goes to the Red leader Dalek who’s sole purpose was to descend into Davros’ vault and be blasted by Cap’n Jack’s enormous weapon.  Fnar Fnar.  And then the planets get returned, the Daleks erased from existence (again, this is getting somewhat repetitive) and the Earth towed back into place.  Not exactly a reset but the way the Daleks were dealt with is definitely a repeat of the S1 climax.  However, this is definitely my favourite season finale to date and there are moments in it that are just perfect.

Moving on to DT’s final season and we have a collection of not-do-special extended episodes followed by my least favourite season finale.  Too long, too self-indulgent. A good send-off but not the best. The Time Lords were under-used, the Master nowhere near as evil as he is usually (he ends up saving the world!). And the trip round visiting all the past companions had ne reaching for the sick bag. Best thing was playing spot the Being Human cast.

And each time the threat has got bigger and harder.  This time they’ve killed the companion, the TARDIS is about to explode and the Doctor is locked away for the safety of the universe.  The second part of this one has got to be spectacular.  And if it lives up to the writing of the first, we’re in for a real treat.  Just don’t use the reset button so obviously.

Posted via email from Claytons in the Far, Far North