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For the Dr. Who fan on your list, it’s never too early to be thinking about Christmas presents:

More than 100 props from Doctor Who will be sold at auction today allowing fans to buy an original, if somewhat ramshackle, part of sciencefiction folklore. As well as two full-size Daleks from 1988, which are expected to go for up to £7,000 each, the sale includes modern costumes such as David Tennant’s suit and Billie Piper’s pyjamas from Marks & Spencer.

It is the Heath Robinson monsters that catch the eye, however, made in a hurry from foam latex, fibreglass and electrical components that would not look out of place in a school science experiment. A fearsome red snake encountered by Peter Davison and a young Martin Clunes in a 1983 episode was created mainly from airconditioning tubes.

“The monsters were made from things you could buy in a hardware shop,” said Stephanie Connell, entertainment memorabilia specialist at Bonhams in Central London, who said the use of DIY components allowed the BBC to meet tight schedules.

“Often they would be made on a Tuesday for filming on Friday. It was very creative and on the screen it looks fantastic.”

The Magma Beast, Tractators, and Mandrell, made from foam latex and bits of leather and fake fur “could do with a bit of TLC”, Ms Connell said. Even the Daleks, made from wood, fibreglass and something that looks a bit like an egg whisk, appear in danger of being exterminated by a stiff breeze. But Ms Connell said that it was testament to the creators that so much was still intact. “The makers didn’t know they were going to last this long.”

The oldest of the props is a latex brontosaurus from 1974.

I wonder if one of the  K-9‘s is on the block? They’d be fun for teasing the cats.

(Oh, and Tom Baker rules!)

I skipped the Lenten Supper at RFEC last evening because the same guest-speaker who was there on Sunday stating her belief that the devil will be redeemed in the end was scheduled to give another talk.  As it turns out, she made the same assertion, as I rayther figured she would.  I knew hearing this again would only have upset me.  And since I consider RFEC not to be my sandbox anymore and thus don’t feel I would have had the right to say anything, I’d have had no choice but to take my frustrations home, beating the children and kicking the cat for relief.

Plus, I really detest lasagna.

Probably just as well that I ducked.


Next on my Lenten reading list is C.S. Lewis’ Miracles, which I have not read before.  As the title suggests, the book is a philosophical argument in favor of the proposition that miracles – that is, divine interjections into the natural world – have occured, can occur and should be a source of great comfort and joy, propositions which anyone calling him- or herself an orthodox Christian would necessarily have to accept.

In thinking about this subject, I can’t help remembering an incident from my early legal career.  When first out of school, I joined a small, five-attorney shop that had great hopes of catching and riding the then-booming media and communications market wave.  Well, things did not pan out as hoped, and gradually the partners started peeling away, until all that was left was the managing partner and Self.  The boss was a really decent guy, hard working and a bit on the earnest side.  He called himself an “Evangelical Catholic”, whatever that is, and was not shy about injecting his faith into the business.

One day, the boss called me and the secretary together with important news:  He’d received a Sign.  Our firm happened to have black pens (with the firm name on them) with silver clips.  The boss had been carrying them around with him for some time, of course, but that morning when he reached into his shirt pocket, he discovered that the silver clip on his pen had turned to gold.  In something close to awe, he held the pen out for us to see.  The boss was sure that the transformation had occured while the pen was in his pocket, and that this was a sign from God that we were going to prosper and thus should not give up hope.  I was and am convinced that he meant every word he said.

Well, now.

As I stood there, I found myself overcome with pity and sadness.  As it happened, I’d seen that particular pen with the gold clip in the box in the supply room many times.   It was perfectly evident that the boss had absent-mindedly grabbed it at some point and not noticed the difference until that morning.

Naturally, I didn’t say anything.  Why on earth should I? The fellah was under mountains of stress and I wasn’t about to burst anything that he felt would give him the strength to keep going, especially something as harmless as this.

In the end, the miracle did not pan out: Biznay continued to dwindle, I left for greener pastures a few months later and the firm subsequently folded.  I never found out what happened to the boss after that.

I relate all this just by way of association:  It would be hard to read this book without thinking of that incident, the only one of its sort I can recall in which I had any direct involvement.  I certainly didn’t (and don’t) think I was witnessing a miracle then.  But this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe miracles can and do occur.  I suppose what it does mean is that one must treat these things responsibly, and not go jumping to conclusions.  (In that regard, I understand that HMC requires a pretty rigid series of investigations before she is willing to stamp a reported miracle with the Vatican Seal O’ Approval.)

At any rate, I am looking forward to Lewis’ discussion, which I am sure will be – as always – illuminating and somewhat dizzy-making, and I am sure that I will be the better for it when I emerge on the other end.


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February 2010