Deep joy

I last visited Scotland in 1986.

I would love to go there again for several reasons.  Until today, one of these was to try a deep-fried Mars Bar.  Apparently this is a speciality of Scottish cuisine, if not exactly traditional.  The idea sounded quite intriguing and I had assumed that I would have to go to Scotland in order to find one.

However, today I was down in the centre of Menai Bridge, the town (just outside Bangor in North West Wales) where I live, and I discovered a Chinese take-away that was advertising Mars Bar fritters, which is just another name for deep-fried Mars Bars..  I lost a little time in going in to order one and I rather enjoyed eating it, while reflecting on the irony of buying quintessentially Scottish food from a Chinese restaurant in Wales.

Of course, I’d still love love to visit Scotland again and hope to do so before too long. Apparently you can also get deep-fried haggis up there, which I’d be even more surprised to find on sale in these parts.

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Success and a splendid simile

Today I want to provide a couple of quick updates on my last two posts.

On Saturday I went to compete at the National Eisteddfod with the Menai Bridge Brass Band.  We came third in our section, out of a total of 7 bands.  This is the third competition I’ve taken part in with the band and the first of them in which we’ve reached the prize positions; it’s a good feeling.

We were indeed televised, although apparently they only showed two of the five pieces we played.  I saw a few clips on a TV monitor while I was at the Eisteddfod – I don’t think they were broadcasting live since they recorded a staged scene of the band preparing to go on stage (with me sitting at the end of the row, with instructions to look “super serious”) after we’d actually finished playing!

The other update is on my Doctor Who reading project.  Last week I mentioned that I’d reached the story with one of my favourite lines (in the TV version, unfortunately missed out in the novelisation).  I’ve now got a couple of books further on and come to what must be one of my favourite opening sentences of any Doctor Who book (or any book, for that matter):

It moved through the silent blackness of deep space like a jellyfish through the depths of the sea.

That is the start of The Claws of Axos novelisation by Terrance Dicks.  Almost certainly the most prolific of all the Doctor Who novelists (as well as the script editor on the TV series for more-or-less the entire Pertwee era), his prose is generally always at least competent and often excellent.   This is one of his rare third Doctor novels that doesn’t describe the Doctor as having a “young-old face”, although he provides a variation on the theme by saying that “the deeply lined face was curiously youthful”.

TV Stars!

Tomorrow morning I will be getting up at an unpleasantly early hour (sometime before 6am) in order to travel to the National Eisteddfod, where I will be competing with the Menai Bridge Brass Band.  The Eisteddfod this year is taking place in Denbigh.

I gather we’re due to be playing fairly early (probably around 10am) and the event will be getting filmed and broadcast, presumably on S4C (the Welsh TV channel).  I’m not sure whether it’s a live broadcast, but I expect it might be.

Having had a quick look at the S4C website, it doesn’t look like their programs are available to view online so, since I don’t have a TV and would in any case be out at the Eisteddfod at the time (assuming it’s a live broadcast), I’m unlikely to get to see myself on TV this time round.  That’s probably a good thing.  Still, if you happen to have access to S4C and have nothing better to do on Saturday morning you might like to tune in.

This will be, if I remember correctly, my third visit to the National Eisteddfod.  I first went to it when it came to Bangor in 2005 and my next visit was to Bala in 2009.  The Eisteddfod (which is an annual event) alternates between North and South Wales so, if I keep with the current pattern, I should next be due to visit it when it returns to North Wales the time after next, in 2017.

Lost in (intersemiotic) translation

My Doctor Who book read-through project is still going, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than I had envisaged.

I have just started on Season 8, which is the second season with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.  The first story of that season, Terror of the Autons, is the story which introduces Jo Grant as the Doctor’s new companion (replacing the wonderful yet criminally under-utilised Liz Shaw from the previous season) and the Master as his arch-nemesis.  It also happens to be one of the classic (as in, original 20th century series rather than 21st century revival) stories that I have on DVD and I have watched it fairly recently.

Early in the first episode is the scene where Jo meets the Doctor, while he is busily engaged in an experiment in his lab.  He mistakes her for the tea lady and is rather less than happy when, after his experiment catches fire, she grabs a fire extinguisher to put it out and in the process wrecks several month of painstaking work that he has done.  In response to this, the Doctor calls Jo a “ham-fisted bun vendor”, which has to be one of my favourite insults in the entire run of Doctor Who (although, as Phil Sandifer pointed out in his Tardis Eruditorum blog post about the story – himself referencing an earlier article by Paul Cornell – this is actually a rather disturbing indication of a somewhat elitist attitude apparently held by this incarnation of the Doctor).

I was somewhat disappointed when I re-read the novelisation to discover that the “ham-fisted bun vendor” line was left out (I don’t think I knew about it the previous times I read the book).  I suppose the reason is that Terrance Dicks, the author, was having to squeeze quite a lot of material into a fairly small page count and couldn’t afford the space to set up the scene with the Doctor mistaking Jo for the tea lady, which would have been necessary for the comment to make sense (or perhaps he didn’t like the line).  This is a case where intersemiotic translation (that is, the conversion of something from one medium to another – in this case television to novel) requires changes in the material presented.

I could waffle on at great length about intersemiotic translation, but I only really wanted an excuse to quote the “ham-fisted bun vendor line” (which I’ve now said 3 times in as many paragraphs) so instead I’ll refer you to the writings of Umberto Eco (from which I learned more-or-less all I know about the subject) if you’re interested to know more about it.