Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Sadly, the new series’ weakest script yet.

I shall skip the continued forcing of American Jack Harkness into a story with no part for him, and begin with the good stuff.

I liked seeing Cardiff, and I liked seeing the 4 of them charging around it. Great fun. I particularly liked spotting the electronic read-out board on the platform of Cardiff Station. I haven't seen one of those for a while.

The 4 of them striding fearlessly into the town hall without a plan was quite fun too.

And the dramatic mind-games of Margaret Blaine’s final meal, by which I mean the dialogue. That was good.


First off, a recap on what didn't work earlier - we are asked to continue to accept that the female Slitheen still has the same voice as the woman whose body she later took over, and that the rotted skin she wears, including eyeballs, mouth etc. is still fresh and sweet-smelling after 6 months.

Second, she survived being blown-up. Okay, but we could easily have had some clue of this in the earlier episode. Also, MP Harriet Jones' knowledge of Margaret Blaine's alien identity is never remembered.

Even The Doctor can't believe what's written in the paper
Thirdly we're asked to accept that in just 6 months Blaine has become the Mayor of Cardiff without having her photo taken (although being ex-MI5 would have been an acceptable explanation), and has set in motion the building of a deadly nuclear power station. A rush job like that - no wonder it has so many safety issues dooming it to blow up and destroy the whole planet.

Remember that – it’s going to blow up and destroy the whole planet.

Fourthly, we're asked to forget yet another scene between Rose and her mum, when she promised to return in 10 seconds’ time. Clearly there has been some contact with Mickey, so maybe also some contact with Jackie, but none acknowledged on screen. I don't recall a reason for their “returning to Earth” six whole months later either.

Fifthly we're asked to accept that the murderous alien has now taken to courteously removing her human skin behind a locked door from her intended prey. I can't remember how the slitheen kill (or if we were ever told how) put I'm pretty sure they don't really need to fully undress for it. If they do, it’s a bit coy of them to hide.

Sixthly we're asked to believe that Blaine chose to climb out of a window and get chased for a bit, before remembering that she had a teleport. D’oh!

Seventhly, Rose says that The Doctor is "very good with teleports" and can reverse them, even though he couldn’t when Jack teleported away last week.

Eighthly, we're asked to believe that, after teleporting away and escaping, Blaine didn't stop running and get her breath back, but instead forced herself to continue running in safety. (must be some delay before rematerialisation)

Ninthly, the slitheen can form poison darts, that travel through human skin without leaving an obvious hole.

Tenthly, we're asked to believe that the Doctor can now catch "bullets" (slitheen poison darts) without even looking.

Eleventhly, we're asked to believe that Blaine would, when facing execution, reveal to the Doctor twice exactly how she is about to kill him by surprise.

Finally we're asked to believe that the TARDIS is, and presumably always has been, and therefore always will be, able to rejuvinate anyone it chooses back to being an egg again. Handy, that. Really. Handy. Really really handy. That's really handy that is.

So handy in fact that we must surely believe that the TARDIS subsequently performed this service for the whole of Cardiff, Wales, the United Kingdom and indeed the entire planet when Margaret Blaine’s forgotten nuclear power station blew up after the end of the episode, destroying the Earth.

Doctor Who - Boom Town
I love Doctor Who, I really do, but this story works more like Austin Powers.

This author writes some powerful dialogue, but he could go miles with a proof-reader.

2 out of 10. I’m rooting for ya, buddy.

All the Doctor's big hopes for his flash relaunch series finally die

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Last night, I repeatedly woke up with numb arms. At one point, I woke up to find both arms numb. This is exactly why I do sit-ups.

I dreamt I was being attacked in a school playground, and successfully defended myself.

Yesterday I passed the car numberplate HIDEHI. Today I passed one that said HIDEHO. I wonder if they’re related?

Today I also went bowling in Botany with some Chinese friends:
Handy my arms were back on.


City Lights is a four-day project sending teams of Christians out to do community work around Auckland, New Zealand.

I got assigned to a team renovating a safe-house for ex-teenage prostitutes.

The first day was a bit of a nightmare, as after church last night, I’d got absolutely no sleep, and had had to get 3 early buses into YWAM without knowing what I would spend the day doing with complete strangers. Oh, and it turned out I spent it labouring - heaving overgrown bushes out of the earth.
Here we all are gelling as a team on our first day.
Don’t sand so, don’t sand so, don’t sand so close to me.

Clean comedian Cameron Blair presenting the project video.
Trent vacuuming where I would subsequently paint.
The garden. (There were many more people than me that did this!) It was by turns hot, and drenching.

It must be said, that first day also summed up just what was so great about this project. Every day I got up, heard a brilliant speaker (Mick Duncan), met a heap of friends, helped people, and then went to bed again at the end.

And it just doesn’t get any better than that.
(2011 project here)


Some people read the Bible every day. I don’t do that.

Generally, I’ve found that imposing a sweeping blanket rule on the future, regardless of variables, is to make a decision without being in posession of more facts. There may be days when you actually don’t have the time. “Oh but you should always make time” people may protest. Sure – but there’s a difference between making time for reading the Bible, and making time for reading the Bible every single day regardless of what God may have planned instead. That, believe it or not, might just qualify as a form of idolatry.

When I was a teenager, I used to begin each day with a single-sentence prayer. Over the years I added so much onto it, that it became about 20 minutes long. I just couldn’t focus on the day at hand until it was out of the way. And it had become a major hassle that I didn’t want to do. But I had to get it out of the way before bedtime, because then I had my evening prayer I had to say, about many of the same things. Talk about OCD.

Today my prayers are generally quite short, but numerous. I rarely do anything without praying something beforehand. God seems to provide longer opportunities for longer prayers. I’m really quite bored of those – I rarely have anything new to say, and have always avoided calling how I feel “listening to God”.

It follows that I should now say what I do call “listening to God”, but again I’m wary of breaking that down into one set-in-stone method that God always follows. That would be turning God into a mere science. I guess I’m saying I’ve found that I have to be open to his holy spirit, and his lessons, by whatever methods, at all times.

For that sort of reason, reading the Bible is something that I only do on most days.

Guidelines September-December 2004
A year or so ago I got a new Bible-notes book – Guidelines – at a discount from Bogdan at the Christian Resources Centre on Queen Street. I found it pretty heavy-going at first, and gave it up for a while to try other books, but presently I came back to it and finished it today.

Like Doctor Who, I think part of its success is in the range of different authors who write for it. If one writer’s philosophy or style is not convincing me, there’ll always be another one along in a few weeks. It’s also great to simply get other viewpoints on familiar texts.

Again, I like to look up and check all the cross-references, which will keep me busy with some authors, but not with others.

Looking back, I’ve underlined a few bits. On page 98 Jeremy Duff says The proof of the pudding is in the eating: to whom we are slaves is demonstrated, in reality, by what we do.

Raises some interesting questions about those long-winded prayers I used to say, and my continued refusal to refer to a mere feeling of rightness as God.

So am I putting that opinion - my opinion - in front of God?


This is a clip from tonight's show. I've truncated it a bit, but you get the idea.

Click here to hear Elvis singing in the bath

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From: Herschel Krustofski <>
To: Steve Goble
Date: 19-Jan-2006 21:56
Subject: sigh-lon

Hah-hah-hah... Hah.

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Somehow I just didn’t get around to eating today.


One of Doctor Who’s strengths has always been its need to reinvent itself every 4 weeks.

One story might be tripe, but the following one will have a new writer, director, cast, even someone different composing the incidental music.

Fortunately, after the dreadful episode Father’s Day, I'm happy to observe that the new series has retained this trait.

The Empty Child was frightening, exciting, mysterious, imaginative and funny. Like Mark Gatiss had with The Unquiet Dead, author Steven Moffat was clearly flexing his knowledge of what common ingredients the best Doctor Who stories share, and had designed a tale that was deliberately aiming to become a classic.

It’s night – scary.

It’s the blitz – scarier.

There’s a deserted hospital with a hideous contagious disease on the loose – very very scary.

There’s a 5 year old child in a gas-mask stalking Rose demanding to know if she’s his mummy. Okay, what’s that word that means beyond petrifying?

Then crowds of diseased patients, all wearing gasmasks, in the hospital, in the dead of night, are all surrounding our heroes and demanding to know where their mummy is. “mummy? Are you my mummy?”

And in the middle of this episode, guess what, sitcom guest-star Richard Wilson shows up.

’Why on Earth do they want to invade our bloody planet anyway?’
Now I know actors have very diverse talents, and seem paradoxically offended when they get typecast, but it was a moment of such joy to see him again, that I found it extremely difficult to take anything he said seriously. In the midst of such ridiculous circumstances, I really was gagging for him to exclaim how difficult it all was to… erm… accept as true.

Part 2 was less successful, but final episodes usually are.

The worst thing about it would have to be the title. Rather than call it The Empty Child Part 2, they actually preferred The Doctor Dances.

Oh, they’ve proably come up with some choking statistic that proves less people watch something called “part 2”, so they’ve blindly enforced a “no episode numbers” rule, regardless of considering each case individually. In my opinion, The Empty Child is perhaps the best Doctor Who story title ever, with The Doctor Dances certainly the worst.

Sadly, the second script suffers the brunt of being pulled around and rewritten. There’s a new American character, Captain Jack Harkness, who features prominently in these episodes, but serves no purpose in the story. Strangely, there is an epilogue tacked on in which he nearly dies. Then, even more oddly, he joins the regular cast. What on Earth is that all about? This story functions fine without him, and has presumably therefore been written without him. The only explanation I can come up with is that he’s the new token yank for the US market, added-in to replace all the other guest yanks they’ve had this season.

There are some minor plot flaws, (the zombies’ brief then forgotten group-conscioussness, the childish understanding of DNA) but nothing beyond the original show’s level. The Doctor’s solution would have come in handy a lot earlier on though, and no-one remembers that the Doctor isn’t human, including the Doctor himself.

Indeed, poor character-motivation seems to be this modern series’ trademark. This story featured the diseased gasmasked patients smashing their way towards our heroes, which Rose dealt with by… asking the Doctor to dance with her. No way was this glued-in idea from the original story.

Steven Moffat is a great author. I still remember, in 1989, discovering his work for the first time in Press Gang, and being blown away by just how awake his writing was. Doctor Who: The Empty Child was absolutely wonderful in places, but I couldn’t help feeling that we were only getting 75% of his masterpiece.

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Had a meal at Shabu Shabu today, with Flatmate Neil, Jessica and Mark.

As you can see, they charge a small fortune, and actually expect you to cook it yourself!

On the plus side, I ate loads.


My brain needed some exercise.

I got up at 3:30 pm yesterday, so 11 hours later I was understandably having trouble sleeping. Next to my head, on the bookshelf, I spotted my current read, which I had been looking forward to finishing. Really must stop taking my head off and leaving it on the shelf at night.

Douglas Adams is one of my favourite authors, so he’s now dead. The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul was his last complete book that I had had to read. A few months ago, it had therefore been with a certain sense of positive-mindedness that I had picked it up and begun to slowly read it. I had known that this would be the final time that Douglas Adams would hit me with a completed masterpiece.

And right from the start, these words could only have been ordered so carefully by Adams.

The book’s opening lines:

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression “as pretty as an airport.”

Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only known exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.

They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve-jangling colours, to make effortless the business of separating the traveller for ever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveller with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.

Caught in the middle of a sea of hazy light and a sea of hazy noise, Kate Schechter stood and doubted.”

This book was the second of Adams’ two completed Dirk Gently novels. I read the first one on my latest flight to Auckland last September. (review here) It’s a good job I hadn’t read this one, partly because it comes second, but also because it begins with a big explosion at a Heathrow Airport check-in desk.

“The usual people tried to claim responsibility.

First the IRA, then the PLO and the Gas Board. Even British Nuclear Fuels rushed out a statement to the effect that the situation was completely under control, that it was a one in a million chance, that there was hardly any radioactive leakage at all, and that the site of the explosion would make a nice location for a day out with the kids and a picnic, before finally having to admit that it wasn’t actually anything to do with them at all.

No cause could be found for the explosion.

It seemed to have happened spontaneously and of its own free will. Explanations were advanced, but most of these were simply phrases which restated the problem in different words, along the same principles which had given the world “metal fatigue”. In fact, a very similar phrase was invented to account for the sudden transition of wood, metal, plastic and concrete into an explosive condition, which was “non-linear catastrophic structural exasperation”, or to put it another way – as a junior cabinet minister did on television the following night in a phrase which was to haunt the rest of his career – the check-in desk had just got “fundamentally fed up with being where it was”.”

Personification is another of Adams’ traits.

Reading this book over time never struck me as being a particularly good idea. Adams’ plots are complicated, with tiny insignificant events later becoming of huge consequence. His are the sort of books which one needs to repeatedly flick back through in order to check minor details.

“”I am not as other private detectives. My methods are holistic and, in a very proper sense of the word, chaotic. I operate by investigating the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.”

Sally Mills looked blankly at him.

“Every particle in the universe,” continued Dirk, warming to his subject and beginning to stare a bit, “affects every other particle, however faintly or obliquely. Everything interconnects with everything. The beating of a butterfly’s wings in China can affect the course of an Atlantic hurricane. If I could interrogate this table-leg in a way that made sense to me, or to the table-leg, then it could provide me with the answer to any question about the universe. I could ask anybody I liked, chosen entirely by chance, any random question I cared to think of, and their answer, or lack of it, would in some way bear upon the problem to which I am seeking a solution. It is only a question of knowing how to interpret it. Even you, whom I have met entirely by chance, probably know things that are vital to my investigation, if only I knew what to ask you, which I don’t, and if only I could be bothered to, which I can’t.”

He paused, and said, “Please will you let me have the envelope and the knife?”

“You make it sound as if someone’s life depends on it.”

Dirk dropped his eyes for a moment.

“I rather think somebody’s life did depend on it,” he said. He said it in such a way that a cloud seemed to pass briefly over them.”

That said, Dirk’s character is finely fleshed-out in this second story. He is by no means a hero – he’s poor, unattractive, rarely taken seriously, has to accept charity from a tramp and even gets beaten-up by a child.

Yet he has a remarkable talent for turning nothing into something. When lost, he follows a complete stranger’s car on the basis that they just might be going wherever he is. When his car breaks down and cannot be mended, he steals the mechanic’s truck, forcing him to fix Dirk’s car immediately in order to chase after him.

“”Ah, I expect you’ll be wanting to pay for that paper, then, won’t you, Mr Dirk, sir?” said the newsagent, trotting gently after him.

“Ah, Bates,” said Dirk loftily, “you and your expectations. Always expecting this and expecting that. May I recommend serenity to you? A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment. Learn to be one with the joy of the moment.”

“I think it’s twenty pence that one, sir,” said Bates, tranquilly.

“Tell you what I’ll do, Bates, seeing as it’s you. Do you have a pen on you at all? A simple ball-point will suffice.”

Bates produced one from an inner pocket and handed it to Dirk, who then tore off the corner of the paper on which the price was printed and scribbled “IOU” above it. He handed the scrap of paper to the newsagent.

“Shall I put this with the others, then, sir?”

“Put it wherever it will give you the greatest joy, dear Bates, I would want you to put it nowhere less. For now, dear man, farewell.”

“I expect you’ll be wanting to give me back my pen as well, Mr Dirk.”

“When the times are propitious for such a transaction, my dear Bates,” said Dirk, “you may depend upon it. For the moment, higher purposes call it. Joy, Bates, great joy. Bates, please let go of it.”

After one last listless tug, the little man shrugged and padded back towards his shop.

“I expect I’ll be seeing you later, then, Mr Dirk,” he called out over his shoulder, without enthusiasm.

Dirk gave a gracious bow of his head to the retreating man’s back, and then hurried on, opening the newspaper at the horoscope page as he did so.

“Virtually everything you decide today will be wrong,“ it said bluntly.”

Dirk’s appeal is not so much what he does, as how he works things out. Like the characters in the Hitch Hiker trilogy, he is more carried along by events, than one who shapes them. Even when attacked in his home by a giant eagle, it really is the eagle who does all the work. And this is Dirk’s most attractive quality – since he does almost nothing, any one of us could achieve the amazing things that he does.

If you’re going to read this book (and I recommend everything by Douglas Adams, but for goodness’ sake please read them in the right order) then you should know in advance that The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul draws greatly on Nordic mythology, and suffers a painfully hurried ending.

Ah yes, Douglas Adams and his legendary broken deadlines. The last five chapters skip scenes, feature little dialogue, and are each only two pages long. The story is all tied-up, but so quickly that you do have to think about it. It’s easy to wish that Adams had been given a bit more time to finish things properly, but with his method of “writing backwards” to repeatedly compress everything, it would probably have resulted in less, not more.

So now, aside from his co-written dictionary-parodies The Meaning Of Liff and The Deeper Meaning Of Liff, I have only one more Douglas Adams book to read – the one he sadly died half-way through writing. The Salmon Of Doubt - not a novel, I’m more expecting a pleasant memory.

I certainly have taken to the character of Dirk Gently though, more than I thought I would – and if I’m honest it’s because I identify with him.

The more that I believe there is a God-written order to the universe, the bigger the coincidences (or Godcidences as I call them) that He seems to lay at my feet.

Meeting 610 from over 10,000 miles away in a lift, returning to Auckland on the same day that hospitalised Lionel asked for me by name, friends from 300km away unknowingly parking on my doorstep at the exact same second that I stepped onto the pavement.

These coincidences dwarf anything Dirk Gently ever encountered.

But then, Dirk Gently’s coincidences are always born out of mere logic – cause and effect. There are supernatural forces in his world, yes, but they are always bound by unshakable logic.

Whilst author Douglas Adams used to be a Christian in his younger years, by the time he’d begun writing novels he’d given it all up and bought the unworkable evolution myth. Like so many other people, he took logic to extremes – far beyond the extent to which logic naturally functions, and extremes which cannot accomodate the supernatural input of a god.

Logic is, after all, not actually a cause, only an effect.

God is a cause, not an effect. So no logic can ever give birth to Him. Therefore, they conclude, He’s impossible.

“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of… what?

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In the 1980s I used to listen to late-night radio on LBC quite a lot, partly because I couldn’t get to sleep, but often because I just couldn’t turn it off.

Dan Damon, Pete Murray, Steve Allen, Therese Birch – these names will forever evoke fond memories for thousands of nightbirds in London.

But perhaps the most synonymous name from that era would be Clive Bull. Faced with presenting the graveyard 1-4 slot (Night Extra, later Through The Night) for so long (at least 4 years), Bull would keep his club of devoted listeners by simply including many of them in the show. It was, after all, predominantly a phone-in programme.

In 1988, comedy legend Peter Cook decided to ring up, pretending to be a Norwegian fisherman called Sven. And he kept phoning.

The resulting on-air Cook and Bull stories have become golddust since Cook’s death in 1995.

This morning I received a link to these comic curiosities, which I'm including here.

After a few minutes of listening, I realised what I was doing.

Yes, I was now 34, I was on the other side of the world, it was 2 o’clock in the morning and I was still listening to Clive Bull on LBC Radio.

So much for the last 20 years.

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I've always wanted to read a whole gospel in one sitting, so today I read John's gospel out loud. It's fairly succinct. Ignoring all the passover meals, Jesus' 3-year ministry comes across as though it all took place over a month or so, attracting immediate opposition. The most mind-blowing aspect is that it's an eyewitness account - this guy knew Jesus well. This is how Jesus spoke. This is how Jesus prayed! Wow.

John 11:40 - Jesus said to her, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believed?" (Good News)

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Two years ago I visited Piha Beach. That day I’d looked up at the sea-stained rocks and been unable to recognise God’s truthful hand in my life.

Yesterday, I was back with Flatmate Dave, reading my Bible up on that massive rock that resembles a lion.

I find it tempting to look for some deep hidden meaning in these cinematic pauses, but I am not, and never have been, one to put words in God’s mouth. It was a beautiful day, and a peaceful few hours, but there was little new in my prayers.

Today, after a morning driving with Shane and visiting Cornwall Park, I again joined Flatmate Dave for a trip to Bethell Beach – just along the coast from Piha.

Although I read 1 Peter today, this was a less spiritual, more fun outing, as evidenced by the whackier photos we took:
Doctor Who And The Leviathans Of The Deep (1972)
Indiana Goble And The Lost Perspective.

Also managed to overcome a lifetime fear and open my eyes under the water. It was no big deal.


After going to Edge church tonight, a group of us got takeaways and headed down to Point Chev, where we also played cricket.
After going to Edge church tonight, a group of us got takeaways and headed down to Point Chev, where we also played cricket.


Tonight, one of my all-time favourite editions of That Friday Feeling was transmitted on Hope City Radio 106.7 FM. I wanted to do something special to welcome in the new year, so I organised a huge party featuring all the top Christian artists and bands, and transmitted it live as a simultaneous broadcast on the station.

Clip here.

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For me, Christmas Day never seems to happen on December 25th.

Back home in the UK, I would often do my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, before spending most of Christmas Day wrapping it all up.

And then there was Christmas 2001, when I spent most of the 25th digging a grave for the cat. The first shovel broke, so I had to borrow one off of Herschel, but that turned out to be made of rubber. It actually was 6pm on the 26th when we opened the first card – none of us felt like having Christmas until Phantom had been properly laid to rest.

Oddly traditional then, that today, January 6th, should be the day on which I receive last year's Christmas present from home. (predictably, I don’t think I got around to sending them anything)

For years now I’ve wanted a CD of Elvis singing Are You Lonesome Tonight?, but I specifically wanted the version that he sang at the International Hotel in Las Vegas on 26th August 1969, together with The Sweet Inspirations, Kathy Westmorland, J D Sumner and of course the Stamps.

Why? Because that night Elvis decided that he would sneakily change the lyrics. Hence, the original lonesome line “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?” became “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?”

What happened next is the stuff that I stay alive for.

He got the giggles. And he never recovered. Not even when he had to struggle through that whole "I wonder if you're lonesome tonight" monologue in the middle.

Ohhh, it's so terrible in the most joyous of ways, and at long last I possess a copy of it!

Now this is what I call having a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Thank you Elvis - may you laugh forever.

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A late drink (or snack or something) tonight with my neighbour Tim Moore led him to recount a miracle he’d once witnessed.

I wanted to repeat it here, so Tim Downstairs has kindly written it up in his own words. It's a fascinating 10-minute read, but if you're in a hurry, I've highlighted what I think is the most interesting bit in blue. Take it away Tim...

Back in April 1997, I was travelling to the Honiara, Solomon Islands, with a team of 12 people from my church in Auckland, Howick Community Church, for a short term mission lasting a few weeks.

The whole trip for us had many unknowns, like what we would be going to be doing the next day, or even where we were going to spend our first night in Honiara.

We arrived in Honiara about 8:45pm, on a flight from Auckland via Port Vila, Vanuatu. It was about 28° even then, and the humidity was something that most of us weren't quite expecting, and a 737 load of people crammed into what felt like a small wooden building with two immigration counters, with no airconditioning was a bit of a shock to the system.

Their terminal building was cramped, with only louvres high on all four walls for air flow, the roof, made from wood framing with a bare corrugated iron roofing visible from the inside. It must have taken over half an hour for us to get through immigration, and then their primitive customs service, searched by hand every piece of baggage, and then charged us a heavy import tax on some items that we brought over for the missionary family (Murray, Robyn and family) who were based in Honiara that we were spending some time with.

This process probably took a further half an hour or so.

From there, we were allowed out of the customs area into the arrivals area, where we met Murray and Robyn, and got ourselves together, from here we went out into the carpark, which, typical of Honiara, was mud, with a few puddles. We were split into two groups, and we piled ourselves and our gear into two vans, and we were driven about 10km into the city, to the place that had been organised for us for the next few nights.

That night, we were aware of all the sounds around us, everything from vehicles going up and down the main road, which was a block or so away, to the lizards in the trees and the outside of the building, dogs barking (there's plenty of dogs), the odd mozzie buzzing around, and then at 6am, the bells at the church on the corner of the main road.

Sunrise was about 6:30 am, and by about 7am, we were all up and moving around, and having a brief look around the hostel grounds, not venturing very far at that time.

Breakfast over, Murray dropped by, and took us into the centre of Honiara in his red van, where we spent most of the day looking around places like the markets, shopping areas and the city centre, and getting NZ dollars exchanged for SI dollars.

Most of us did do some shopping for lighter, more local clothes and things. We were by far the odd ones out, as the local people are the very dark, much shorter Melanesian people, and in our group there was a couple of 1.9m plus white guys! Talk about standout! The locals were all wearing old shirts and lavalava or scruffy shorts, which to us looked as if they had not seen a wash for maybe a month or more...

You need light clothing there, with sunny days getting up around 34°, and maybe 95% humidity.

We had lunch around the many stalls in and around the market area, lots of traditional Solomon food, as well as some Chinese and Thai stalls as well, we had a good lunch, and it was (for us) very cheap.

That night, we went around to Murray and Robyn's place up on the hill behind Honiara for dinner. It was a good night, sitting outside with the gentle trade wind breeze blowing. They put on a fairly traditional Solomon Island meal for us, the rest of the evening was spent talking about what was going to happen the next day, and for the coming week. We were going to a few of the local schools in Honiara to talk, something that we were dreading, as we are not experienced public performers or speakers.

We got back, must have been around 10pm, we all slept very well that night, as the heat and humidity during the day was very draining.

The next day, we were doing the trips around to some schools, first to a primary school. I have memories of bubbly, lively kids who were eager to see us and get their photos taken with us! From there it was on to a high school in Honiara, where we spoke and did a couple of acted out "plays" all with a message, and we spoke about where we are from, and our paths and christian experiences. All of this was under a huge tree in one of the school fields. The students were dressed in very local style uniforms, and were very well behaved, although many of us did spot the odd bored looking face amongst the many. Typical teenagers!.

After this, we had to do some more organising for the coming weekend, our group was to split into two teams, one team was going with Murray on his yatch to a group of islands north of Honiara, and our group was to fly to the other side of Guadalcanal Island, to a place called Avu Avu. There was some doubt as to the availability of seats on a plane, or even if there were any flights to Avu Avu, and even then, we had not heard back from the people over there, so we didn't know if they were ready for us.

The flights organised, and then out of the blue, we met somebody from the Avu Avu area who had heard that we were coming, at the airline ticket office.

With that bit sorted, less than a day from the time when we were supposed to go, we were relieved.

Here we are, literally in a foreign country, and not knowing what we were doing from one day to the next, or where we would be, we just had to trust God that he was very much in the driving seat and in control.

We had one more "gig" to do, this time at a high school/tertiary college, in front of around 400 people, this time we got into it and enjoyed it, we got them involved a bit more, and later had a chance to talk in more detail to some of the students.

That night, after dinner we were back at the same place, talking to the tertiary students, that was a good evening. When we were not talking or performing something, we watched foot-long lizards chasing big moths across the ceiling.

In the tropics, the bugs, lizards, spiders cockroaches etc are upsized, and everywhere!

Last night in Honiara was full on, and bed was very welcome, and once again, despite the heat and mozzies, we slept quite well.

The morning was spent packing and getting organised for the team separation, we all went to Murray's place, and when the time had come for our group of six to go to the airport, we said our goodbyes and piled into Murray's red van. We checked in, and waited for our plane to arrive. Things in the Islands happen in 'Island time!'

The plane arrived, and stopped out in the middle of the runway, we had to carry all our gear out to the plane and load it in, before climbing in, before saying a short, but to the point prayer for a safe trip. We looked back to see all sorts of things being loaded in the back, from sacks of rice to containers of kerosine and other fuels for lanterns etc, that sort of stuff would never be allowed to fly in NZ!

We took off and flew in towards the hills, and after about half an hour, the Weather coast could be seen stretching out below us, we flew down and landed at a grass airstrip about 50m from the beach, and just as the plane stopped, maybe 100 or more people just appeared out from the bush, and came over towards the plane.

All of the stuff that had been loaded on board was unloaded, and taken back towards a small building off to one side. We assembled along with the man we met at the Honiara ticket office, who took us to a waiting tractor with a trailer behind. The tractor lurched forward, and we were taken off into the bush (no idea at that stage where we were being taken) to a village about 15 minutes along this track, where we were given a lunch made up of boiled rice, some root vegetable and a fish soup like dish, complete with fish. While we were having lunch, we heard the plane take off and fly out to sea before turning inland again.

After lunch and a short break, we were taken down to the beach, and loaded into a small boat, for a half hour (Solomon time) trip back up the coast, to the village where we were staying. Picture a small boat, designed for 5 or 6 people, but with 10 on board, plus all our gear, not a lot of boat above the waterline, but we got there.

We were met at the village by the village pastor and a dozen or more kids, and then led to the hut where were would stay for the next 4 days or so, the pastor had let us use his house, and had moved in with somebody else in the village!

After dinner that night, a thunder storm moved in from out off the coast, just going past us, we missed the torrential rainfall, giving us a good hour long lightning show.

In the darkness that night, the air had a heavy feel to it, maybe because we were over 50km from mains power and electric lights, it was pitch dark, and our hut was on the edge of the village, behind us was thick bush where the hills rose steeply.

We had a difficult sleep, as the floor was not flat, and we were sleeping on coconut fronds woven into a mat right on the floor, and the unfamiliar sounds of the night were all around us.

We got up early the next day, the villagers have a church service twice a day, every day, at 7am and 7pm, and then breakfast of fresh pineapples and other fruits was brought over.

The day was spent getting to know the villagers, and swimming in the sea and the local stream, a dozen or so kids in tow, but as the sun set, and we had dinner that night, I had this sense of unease, unsure about a lot of things, what we were doing, why, for whom.....

Much later, I don't know what time it was, I went and sat down on the beach with one of the others from our group and looked out to sea, the moon was peeking past a cloud as it rose out of the ocean, and we sat looking up at the stars and talked for a few minutes, the moonlight was now starting to become bright enough to see where you were going and what was around you.

After a while, the other person went back to the hut, and I stayed on the beach and prayed, I just had a chat to God about how I was feeling about a few things, and how I was feeling uneasy about not knowing what we were doing then next day, or what we were doing.

I gazed out into the night sky, and this sense of "Well, I can move mountains through faith if you have faith, you need to have faith that I have everything under control and you need not worry about tomorrow" (reminds me of a verse that someone once told me, Matthew 6:34, goes something like "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself").

I sat staring out over the water, when I saw what appeared to be two stars move slowly in the sky from one point to another and stop, but all the time maintain their position relative to the other. I'm sitting there, at this stage, not quite sure if I was "seeing" something, my imagination or what, and then it was as if somebody said to me "Are you doubting me, are you doubting your own faith?" "I have control over everything, the universe, the earth, the sea".

After a few minutes, the sea swell died down and the sea went flat, dead calm like a mirror, OK, it had the odd ripple, but you could see the stars reflecting off the water, and then, just as quickly as the swell disappeared, it came back as it was before.

After a minute or so more, I returned back to the hut, the moonlight bright enough to light my way, everyone was preparing to go to bed for the night, and the fireflies were just coming out and flying around the nearby trees.

The next day was spent pretty much as the first, except that we were working with the local school kids, teaching them about our journeys and where we are from, and we had chances to perform our bits and pieces for them. We went down to the local stream for a swim, then it was back up for dinner etc., and the evenings' activities.

That night after we went to bed, I went off to sleep once I had got comfortable on the uneven wooden floor, I woke up early, around dawn, after dreaming about some sort of fight going on all around us, all sorts of strange creatures were all out, and we were in the middle of it all. I can't describe it accurately, but it was very weird. I often can't remember any details of dreams, other than the strange factor of the dream.

When the others got up, I heard that one of the people in our group woke in the middle of the night, got up and went outside and sat down on a seat under the thatched veranda at the back of the place, only to find his wife (yes, they were both in our team) sitting out there, and she too had woken at the same time. They sat together and talked for a while, watching the fireflies blinking around them in the darkness, when, without warning, the moon disappeared behind a cloud, not even the stars were visible, and then the fireflies stopped blinking. They said it went totally black, and the air around them started to feel like it was crushing them, becoming extremely heavy all around them.

They said that they became very afraid, and began to pray aloud to God. After several minutes of the crushing darkness, the fireflies began to blink in the darkness, and the air began to feel like it lifted, by now stars were starting to become visible, and the moon reappeared, along with the sounds of the nightlife. Even the toads that are everywhere at night seemed to disappear, but had now returned.

That morning, the sunlight definitely felt nicer, and brighter, it was almost as if the colours present in our surroundings were brighter than before. The clouds rolled in during the early afternoon, and the heavens opened mid afternoon, that evening there were several decent thunder storms that went through, seemingly right through the night, the rain was torrential.

Our last day at that village was fine and sunny, but the humidity was sky high, making the 3 hour trek to the next village a very draining experience in mid 30 deg temperatures.

The next village we were at was more spaced out, and the school was right behind, the atmosphere here was lighter, and the air seemed to flow more around the place, and the hut where we were staying was more in the middle of the village. We spent a few days here, working with the kids, and learning more about how they lived, they gave us plenty of things, made sure we were comfortable, they gave us handpainted lavalavas, our bedding was similar to the previous hut, but the coconut fronds mats had some other leaves underneath to make it a bit softer to sleep on, which made sleeping easier.

The only strange thing we noticed at night here was the rats that scurried around the hut, through the rafters of the hut and even around us as we slept. If you stepped outside at night, it looked as if the ground moved away from you, but it was just the toads, hundreds of them. The toads were fist sized, and a green-brown colour.

There was a bigger stream nearby, and the beach at this village did not drop away as steeply as the last village's beach did, but here the waves were good enough to try and body surf, and big enough to get dumped by, as I found out.

We spent the next few days helping out the village people with a number of things, before our time there came to a close, and we had to walk another hour to the area high school, where we spent our last night before flying back to Honiara.

The trek to the area high school was difficult, again very hot and humid, but a lot of it was up a dry river bed, which I found quite challenging with a big pack on my back.

I had the extra difficulty of having caught some sort of cold like virus in one of the villages, as most of the kids had runny noses and sniffed a bit, obviously something going around that they were used to.

I was having trouble with blocked ears, and as a result, I had trouble balancing in the river bed, and it was worse when we crossed the part that wasn't dry, having to wade through flowing water in a stony river bed was very hard.

Thankfully, once we'd crossed the river, we only had a few hundred metres to go before we got to the school and could sit down and relax.

That evening, the school generator came on for a few hours, so we had some lighting for a presentation to the students there. We really got into it, and they enjoyed it, we had plenty of time to tell our individual stories of our christian walk, and answer questions before the generator stopped for the night.

That night we slept in a spare room, on a concrete floor with nothing under us, and I'm sure it was one of the best nights' sleep I've ever had, even the mozzies didn't bother me. The mozzies here are known to be carriers of malaria, and if you don't take antimalarial drugs, your chances of being infected are very high.

The next morning, we got packed up, so we could get to the airstrip for the flight back to Honiara plenty early, because flights here operate on Island time, it will come when it comes, it might be early, it might be late. We spent a few hours around the airstrip before the plane arrived, but when it did we loaded everything up, and prepared to leave.

We took off, flying along the coast for a few km, giving us a view of many of the places that we had visited during our time on the Weather coast, before turning inland and climbing over the hills, which rise very steeply from the sea on the Weather coast of Guadalcanal.

After about 40 minutes in the air, we started to descend back into Honiara, that was when my blocked ears started to cause trouble.

We were met at the airport by Murray, and from there we headed back to Murray's place for lunch, which after all the rice and taiyo for meals, was really appreciated, a bit of time to catch up with the other half of the group and compare stories etc.

From there, we travelled about 40km (about 2 hours on Island roads) to Tambea resort for the last couple of days in the Solomon Islands, a bit of time to relax, swim, sleep, and enjoy each other's company.

On the morning of our departure, we had to be at the airport at 6:30am, which meant we had to be up at about 4am, and leave no later than 4:30am.

Our flight left Honiara at 8:30am, we flew out over Iron Bottom Sound (It's not called iron bottom sound for nothing, there are a large number of WW2 ships sunk there, and they are visible from the air still), before turning back over land, and heading towards Port Vila to refuel, the first part of the flight taking 2 hours. We spent probably 45 minutes on the ground at Port Vila, before taking off and heading direct to Auckland, a further 3 1/4 hours on.

We arrived back into Auckland and were welcomed by a group from our church, they had arranged transport for us to get back home from the airport, where it was pretty much head to bed and a long sleep for everybody.

Tim Moore.


Cockney flatmate Neil and his daughter Jessica were heading out the door.

Cockney Neil: “Steve - Are yer comin’ down’a Thames?”

Me: “Yeah, I think I will actually. You go on though – I’ll catch you up.”

A few minutes later I headed out the door. It amused me that Neil, a fellow Londoner, had referred to nearby Howick beach as “the Thames.” It was probably one of the reasons why we got along – because our London upbringings had so much in common. London Weekend Television, One Day Travelcards, Capital Radio (95.8 FM) – and as I say the River Thames.

Howick Beach was, however, deserted.

Sitting down in the darkness, I took advantage of the chance to pray. Some people have regular quiet times, but I’ve found that fixing rules for myself often results in an inability to let go of them. Tonight I found I was, unusually, praying quite confidently.

Making my way back to my front door, I spotted that Neighbour Tim’s light was on. When he answered the door, who should I find inside but cockney Neil and Jessica.

Cockney Neil: “Steve – what kept yer? I asked yer if yer were comin’ down’a Tim’s.”


It had all started off so well.

TARDIS interior
Rose wants to go back in time to 1987 to hold her father’s hand as he dies, after having been run-down by a hit-and-run driver. So, shunning easy excuses, back they go. Easy.

The Doctor and Rose
They wait on the corner for him to get hit by the car as though they're waiting to photograph a train.

But once the car has driven off, and Rose’s dad lies motionless in the road, Rose freezes and can’t go through with it. Berating herself afterwards, she asks the Doctor for a second chance, so back they travel again.

The Doctor, Rose, The Doctor and Rose
This time they’re watching both Rose’s dad, and their earlier selves watching Rose’s dad.

Best of all, when the car approaches this time, Rose does exactly what anyone would - she runs out, saves her dad, changes history, changes her own history from 18 years ago, changes her own history from 18 minutes ago, and changes The Doctor's history all in one reckless act of free will. Brilliant!

These scenes are great – they’re short and effortlessly accelerate the story towards a head-on exploration of the effects of time-travel.

Oh my gosh - what will happen next? What CAN happen next???

And the answer is, anything that looks cool enough. Oh dear.

Rose 1 has just seen Rose 2 save her dad’s life, so she no longer needs to come back here again.

In other words, Doctor 1 and Rose 1 can never now become Doctor 2 and Rose 2. So Doctor 2 and Rose 2 cannot now exist.

And yet, inexplicably, it’s Doctor 1 and Rose 1 who fade from existance:

The EARLIER Doctor and Rose disappear without any explanation
So much for the backbone of time-travel stories – cause and effect.

Indeed, the rest of the episode is packed with causeless effects, and a script that repeatedly betrays its own earlier scenes.

Some of my TARDIS is missing
The Doctor gets back to the TARDIS, but finds it's now just an empty Police Box. No cause is ever offered for this.

Everyone's phone starts playing the first ever mobile phone call. No cause is ever offered for this either, nor for why the cars don’t likewise turn into the first ever cars etc.

A song from the future plays on the car radio. Again, with no cause.

Toddler Mickey is in a crowded playground. Eerily, all the other kids, and adults, silently vanish, one at a time, whenever he's looking the other way. Even the woman pushing his swing. Finally young Mickey finds himself completely alone, and flees from the deserted playground in terror.

A few minutes later they tell us what's happened...

A bit hard to miss one, let alone a whole playground full of them, especially when your mates and their parents are screaming in agony
... yes, they tell us they've all been eaten by gigantic black screaming pterodactyl-like monsters, and Mickey simply never noticed any of them.

They don’t eat the Doctor however, preferring to just watch him threateningly. They then eat the kids, a gardener, someone hanging out laundry, and a tramp. When the Doctor’s running into a church, oh yes, then they try to attack him. There’s no explanation for why they wait.

No-one barricaded inside the church thinks to pray.

We're told that these reapers are here to sterilise the wound in time, yet they arrived after the event, not before. And yes, they sterilise the wound in time by eating everyone.

It’s feels like Rose’s dad has to die again to fix everything, so, without any explained cause, the car that killed him repeatedly materialises outside the church (not inside it) to run him down again.

So finally Rose’s dad makes the ultimate sacrifice, and everyone acts like things are okay again, which they’re not.

Many people are now dead. Not the Doctor though, who having been eaten earlier, is wordlessly alive again. We’re not told if he remembers being killed, or if anything happened afterwards. The hit-and-run driver has stopped, presumably with no explanation for why or how his car came to be transported to this part of town. The TARDIS is back somewhere new. Much of Rose’s memory must now be of things that have never happened to her.

The final insult is the Doctor's blanket cliché "They won't remember anything," which a) is followed by a scene in which Jackie does, b) hardly brings the dead back to life, and c) seems to be what the production team condescendingly think of the viewers.

2 things I liked:

a. The Doctor refers to Rose changing her mind about travelling with him when she heard that the TARDIS was also a time machine in episode one. Yep, we had a reference to an earlier episode that was actually TRUE!

b. I identified with The Doctor's line "You two? Street corner. Getting a taxi home. I’ve never had a life like that."

In fact I really enjoyed it while it was on – it had a great feel-good factor - but through the rest of my week I'm just insulted. It, quite literally, doesn't bear thinking about.

Doctor Who has always had its faults, in every era. I just really never expected the era made by a successful fan to care so little about the scripts. Because it really is only the scripts that I have a real problem with. I can accept the effects - good for them for trying. But no-one has tried to make most of these stories work, or if they have, then I think they've given up too early.

A few years ago, three fans got together and wrote a book entitled “The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide.” It picked apart the storylines of all 600 original episodes, and had great respect for plot-integrity, character-motivation and posessed knowledge. Exactly the sort of understanding this series needs.

Yet one of the three authors of that book is actually credited as the author of this very episode.

Either he’s having a massive laugh, or there is just no way that this is the script he originally submitted.

The Doctor, trying to figure out this week's episode

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Christmas and new year are traditionally times to spend with one’s family.

However when your family is 10,000 miles away, whoever is nearby suddenly becomes your family for the day.

This new year’s day, my family comprised of Flatmate Dave, Flatmate Cockney Neil, Flatmate Cockney Neil’s daughter Jessica, Neighbour Tim downstairs, and Neighbour Tim downstairs’ cat Smokey.

So we all trooped down to Foodtown to stock up on reserves for a new year barbecue.
Here's Tim improvising in the absence of a food mixer.

Clockwise: Steve, David, Jessica, Neil, Tim and Smokey. If you look at my right arm, you can see that I still haven’t lost the sunburn I got while Kayaking For Kenya.

Afterwards, Dave enabled me to fulfil a 15-year-old ambition.

Back in 1991 I’d bought Dire Straits’ comeback album On Every Street, which featured the track Calling Elvis.

Said track had also been doing the rounds in the singles charts, and as such the video was repeatedly getting air-time on The ITV Chart Show.

The thing is, The Chart Show had developed a nasty habit of only showing the start of each video, so I’d never seen how it ended.

Playing in Supermarionation®
Calling Elvis had been shot extensively in Supermarionation, and featured Knopfler comissioning the entire cast of Thunderbirds to head out on a mission, apparently looking for Elvis. (or possibly the human in the bathtub)

So tonight we all sat down and watched the whole thing, start to finish, twice, picking over its background details, subliminal juxtapositions, and hitherto unseen dialogue-based ending.



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