Wednesday, 16 June 2021

                      Auckland, New Zealand


Like Sydney, Australia, Auckland in New Zealand is a city with connections, in terms of architecture, to the greater British Empire and so a shared past with Australia. 


 
There are marvellous buildings that do take us back in time. 


Some of these these structures have a haunting appeal.



  There are also more modern buildings including the famous needle. 


The water in the bay is an eerie green.


  There are islands not far from Auckland worth exploring for the wildlife alone.

  







One warning about Auckland. If you are over fifty do not get accommodations in a backpackers establishment. You will not sleep well and so will not be in great shape during the day to fully enjoy your stay and all that this city has to offer. 


 
 

Monday, 14 June 2021

 The Killing of DOCTOR WHO

Only the BBC could manage this, the destruction of the Doctor. But why would they want to bump him off? He has been a major player, in one form or another, since the 1960s and a focal point for people around the world, young and old. It is a mystery easily solved when you take into account that this is the age of the politically correct and the BBC has become very politically correct. Also those presently in charge have no idea when it comes to science fiction and also why the Doctor has remained so popular for so long.    


The first Doctor was played by William Hartnell who, back then, was more famous for his tough guy roles in movies. The role gave Hartnell his opportunity to connect with the young including his niece who was a big fan of the show. 

He was my first Doctor, beginning his famous role, as a renegade time lord, in November of 1963. I remember watching the show every Sunday evening knowing it was going to be the last show I saw before bed time and then getting up for school the next day. It thus has, in its early days, bitter sweet memories for me. But he was THE first Doctor. He was old and grouchy but still loveable and his machine, the TARDIS, could go absolutely any where in time and space.

There wasn't much money to be spent on Doctor Who back then and this would be a continuing problem for many years. Even so, it was exciting stuff for a kid in the 1960s and everyone I knew then thought the Daleks, mirrored somewhat on the Nazis, were scary and, also, brilliant.  

Unfortunately, William Hartnell could not last forever as the Doctor. He became ill with fading memory and has to be replaced. This was done in an elegant way through regeneration but for quite some time I did feel the loss of Hartnell in the role and it did take me a while to accept the new Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton. The recorder he played did not help.

Troughton won me over first with The War Games episodes. Then I went back and discovered The Evil of the Daleks and The Ice Warriors and thus became a Patrick Troughton fan.

Jon Pertwee replaced Troughton as the Doctor in 1969. At last the Doctor was in colour and this fresh incarnation was more flamboyant in dress and attitude than the previous Doctors. Roger Delgado came on board as the first Master, a rather sinister fellow time lord. He became a much loved villain capable of freezing the blood with just one look. Prior to becoming the Master, he had had a lively career on television where he generally played either heroes or villains. Sadly, he died in a car accident and, shortly after, the then major players in  Doctor Who, including Pertwee, decided to call it a day. There have been many Masters since Delgado but only the present one, played by Sacha Dhawan,  has ever disgraced the role. 


The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, is a favourite among my generation of Doctor Who fans. He was quirky but definite in  his views on how evil, in all its incarnations, must be fought. In The Seeds of Doom, for example, there is the question of what humanity is doing to this planet Earth and whether the removal of humanity to give the plants of this world a better go might not be a great idea. The Doctor sides with humanity, since the seeds that are a menace come from elsewhere, but the question of what best to do about the plants of this world remains. Of course previous Doctors, such as the one played by Pertwee, also tackled environment issues but not quite the way Baker did. The Baker Doctor was more alien and sometimes wondered why he sided with humanity at all.


 
Fast forward now to the supposedly last Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy. Here attempts were made to bolster ratings by adding more humour. Like the Troughton Doctor, McCoy was whimsical in the role with the hint that, at times, he knew more about what was going on wherever they went than any of the humans he might be travelling with at the time. Money more than ever was a factor in what could be done on the show. In the end, American programs that had lots more cash thrown into production brought the Doctor Who on television to a halt.  

Doctor Who did not end there. Doctor Who paperbacks with new adventures in them were coming out together with comic books, both UK and American, as well as the official Doctor Who magazine. Also efforts were being made to bring Doctor Who back but with a much larger budget.  

In 2005, with Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor,  there was a return to television. Fans everywhere cheered. This Doctor was somewhat like Pertwee in that he ran around a lot and, like Baker and McCoy, in that he was indeed a time lord and so not quite human. The special effects were great and everyone back then thought maybe, just maybe Doctor Who would really go on forever.

Again  let us fast forward but very close to the present. So what could be going so wrong with Doctor Who that over seven million British fans are switching off, let alone how many overseas fans?  Is it the Doctor going from male to female? Probably not for most fans since, when the Master became Missy, it was more than alright. Missy as a nasty time lord was playful in a cut your throat sort of way and so the actress playing Missy, Michelle Gomez, did the original Master, Delgado, proud in her wonderful performances.

Yes, the Doctor going from male to female was a surprise for some fans of the show. We wondered what would happen with Jodie Whittaker at the helm. Unfortunately, her role as the Doctor has been marred by bad scriptwriting and a this-is-the-lesson-for-today approach to social issues that is way too simplistic for most viewers and so is off putting. The science fiction elements have been weak and the new Master, played by Sacha Dhawan, is an insult to all the Masters that have come before him including Missy. Sinister? Sacha yells his head off at the Doctor. Nothing sinister in that! In fact, his performances have been tedious!

What is killing Doctor Who is the idea that William Hartnell wasn't the First Doctor. This role must now go to someone more politically correct.

The result? Instead of curtailing racism with this move I believe that the producers and writers of Doctor Who will actually create more of it as people throughout the world feel the pain and react to it.

 No one wants their heroes thrown away simply because of their age and their lack of skin colour. Back in the 1990s, we used to call this form of discrimination reverse racism. In truth it is simply racism

Already there has been a big backlash against reducing William Hartnell's role on the show and may this backlash grow  and grow until the BBC understands what it has done and reverses the damage if, indeed, that is possible.  For me, William Hartnell will forever by THE First Doctor no matter what Jodie Whittaker and company might think!           

Saturday, 12 June 2021

 Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW, Australia


 
These photos were taken about five years ago when no one had ever heard of the corona virus. I remember it being a fine day. I also remember a gull getting in the way of a photo I had just taken and actually enhancing that photo. This was close to the beginnings of my renewed interest in wildlife photography.  


There are numerous reasons why Darling Harbour is an exciting place to be for a shutterbug, especially one with an interest in local history. 


Here we have a foot bridge made with style. No doubt it is still there, a solid part of the greater Sydney. It has lookout platforms, places where you can rest. 


There is a museum dedicated to the Royal Australian Navy at Darling Harbour. 



 There is always, or so I imagine, plenty of activity on the water.



There is art there touching upon the wonder of flight. 


There is more fanciful art you can work out the meaning of for yourself. 




Naturally there has to be a lighthouse though not as magnificent as the ones that can be found in Wollongong. 


There are also statues there that leave little to the imagination as to what they are about and that suits me fine.  




 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

                             Kapiti Island, New Zealand

                                        This island is just off the main north island 

                                          and is the place to go if you have an 

                                           interest in New Zealand wildlife. 

                                          You get to Kapiti via a small boat. 

                                           It takes all of twenty minutes and is not

                                           what I would call a rough trip.   



               There are kiwi nests but don't expect to see a wild kiwi during the day. 
                   They come out at night.                                                       

                                                     

                                           This is a common North Island robin. 




This is one of the most famous and popular of New Zealand bird life, a Tui. 





                                     This is what the New Zealanders call a Pied Shag. 



                     Lunch on the island is for bird lovers only since, during lunch, 
                     you are likely to have native inquisitive Kakas join you for the meal. 



While I was there on the island last February a Kaka decided to try my orange juice. 






Legend has it this New Zealand Pigeon can get drunk on berries and fall off its perch.  




                                          Here is a Weka, a rather fast moving, shy bird.



                           
                                      You come to Kapiti via boat and you leave the same way.
                                       If you stay the night, however, you might get to see 
                                                   some kiwis on the move. 



                        About Lyn McConchie 



Lyn McConchie’s Another Fire: He’s seventeen, the world is dying around him, while half the country lies between him and his surviving family. He has a good dog, a child, a dying farmer, and decent ranchers to help him – against him are vicious bikers, the greedy, the foolish and the evil. But Jason is learning every step of the way.


   Lyn McConchie, a New Zealand writer with over thirty books under her belt,  has recently come out with Another Fire. It will see publication this year and, when it is out, I think it will be well worth the read. Lyn, in recent times, has become famous for her various takes on the fictional lives of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.   

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

                   There are Creatures Good at Hiding 

                   And, right now, there is the Creeping Cold


                                        An insect hard to spot because it is good
                                        at blending into its surroundings.

                    Darwin came across such creatures in his travels.

                    This one was found in the heart of Corrimal, NSW, Australia.

                     Right now the south coast of NSW

                      is in the grip of a cold snap.  


Starlings are not as plain to look at as you might at first imagine. 


 There are street artists working for local businesses in Wollongong.
                                                 
                                                   This artist works in chalk. 


                       Another example of what can be done with coloured chalk.



                        Can we do better when it comes to Aboriginal Australians?

                                      This question is being asked in Wollongong.  




Tuesday, 8 June 2021

 Poisonous People by Lyn McConchie! 


A New Zealand writer takes on Sherlock Holmes and with some success. Two not so short stories concerning people you really don't want to meet. Lyn is a master story teller who does her research. In Poisonous People we are transported to 19th Century London with its clubs for gentlemen only and homes with secret rooms. Holmes and Watson are in their element and so are Doyle fans. Highly recommended. 

8th of June 2021

There is the promise of cold and rain for the next few days and a heavy storm tonight. I was a bit concerned about Phil Adams Park which is close to Corrimal train station. I feared the local council might have plans for it other than mowing the lawn every once in a while. As it turned out that seems to be their total interest in the sight which is good news to the local wildlife.


 Last year around this time I photographed a Frogmouth looking all sinister in one of those gnarled trees. I like Frogmouths.



Of late Wollongong artists have gotten a tad morbid with their street art. Considering how much many of us prefer summer that seems fair enough to me.



I suppose such art does suit winter in Australia or winter elsewhere for that matter. All in good fun. 




Sinister or just blue? You decide. Found in Wollongong.  





 

Thursday, 3 June 2021


            Second-Hand Creeps is out!

I have a story in Second-Hand Creeps called Smiley. The name is based on the first computer virus I ever came across which was named Smiley Face because of how it operated. The Smiley Face virus sat on your computer until you typed in a particular word. Once you typed in that word everything you had typed in up to then plus that word became a large orange face with a great big grin. Anyway, that is where the name of my story in Second-Hand Creeps comes from. 

The story Smiley is about a demonic creature that creates havoc via emails. You can get what you wish for through this demonic creature via your computer but if enough people have the same wish then chaos must ensue. 

I have been involved in numerous anthologies over the years including Cats Do it Better

Right now I am working on a sequel to my novel Dragon Queen. It will be set in the same world as Dragon Queen with mutations with scales and tails referred to as dragons and ways in which to keep the human population steady being implemented. The city states are run by high-ranking priestesses and order is kept via maiden officers with their robot servants.   



                       Auckland, New Zealand Like Sydney, Australia, Auckland in New Zealand is a city with connections, in terms of archite...