by Catriona Mills

The Great Spare-Room Book-Moving Debacle

Posted 6 September 2009 in by Catriona

If you were following my Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour last year, you’ll recall that the spare room was the point where I just stopped apologising for the appalling conditions in which I force my books to live.

In fact, it took me five separate posts before I finished that stage of the tour.

So it’s not really surprising that I decided the spare room needed an overhaul and a new bookshelf.

But despite careful measuring, the bookshelf I bought was slightly too big for the only available space, wasn’t it?

Of course it was.

So the overhaul turned out to be more extensive than planned. Every single item of furniture was moved in this room, and every single book taken off the shelves.

Still, the room looks much better.

In fact, if you were to stand in the direct centre of my spare room—well, you’d be standing on a patchwork quilt that my sister made me by hand, and I’d probably ask you not to do that.

Still, setting that aside for the time being, if you were to stand in the direct centre of my spare room and look from left to right, you’d see it looks like this now:

And, yes: that is an almost empty shelf there. Clearly, there are more than enough books still on the other shelves to fill that one up. But it gives me such a luxurious feeling of space, to have one shelf in the house that isn’t stuffed to capacity.

So empty it stays.

Until the next Lifeline Bookfest, anyway.

Just Because They're Sharing The Same Washing Line

Posted 5 September 2009 in by Catriona

Doesn’t mean they have to like one another.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Ninety-Four

Posted 5 September 2009 in by Catriona

Oh, just one of those mornings:

NICK: That was your fault, and you know it!
ME: How? How?
NICK: Don’t ask me. I don’t know it. You know it.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Ninety-Three

Posted 5 September 2009 in by Catriona

ME: What are you doing?
NICK: I’m trying to get Windows to work properly.
ME: Oh, right. Because that’s much more important than doing the washing up.
NICK: And you say I’m passive-aggressive!
ME: You are passive-aggressive! Doesn’t mean I can’t be passive-aggressive, too. It’s not as though there’s a finite quantity of it.
NICK: That’s true.

Strange Conversations: Part One Hundred and Ninety-Two

Posted 5 September 2009 in by Catriona

Imagine, if you will, that this conversation was preceded first by a lengthy attempt (on my part) to explain the game mechanics of Bejeweled Twist to Nick, complete with elaborate hand gestures, and then by a slightly frosty pause.

ME: Has it occurred to you, yet, that saying you don’t actually need to face your girlfriend during a conversation because you can see her reflected in your giant computer monitor was perhaps not the most . . . diplomatic of statements?

NICK: See, I knew you were going to take that the wrong way!

Live-blogging Torchwood Season One: "Captain Jack Harkness"

Posted 4 September 2009 in by Catriona

Here’s what I have done thus far today:

  • paid the rent
  • done some grocery shopping
  • marked an enormous pile of assessment
  • played a small amount of Plants versus Zombies in my spare moments
  • drunk too much coffee
  • managed a minimal amount of rearranging in the new-shelf-for-the-spare-room debacle, which I might blog about later
  • come up with a new idea for a novel, even though I haven’t finished the first one, yet (or the sequels for it that I’ve been planning in my head since I started it)

It’s not much, when you look at it, is it? And yet I’m strangely exhausted.

Also? My Internet connection is flaky. So I’m slightly worried that I might lose parts of this blog, as I did with “Random Shoes.” Still, at least Twitter is picking up my blog postings, again. I wonder why it missed the last one?

Yes, it’s true: I’ve started blogging too early again, and the episode hasn’t even started.

But it should start any minute, and, oh, how I have been looking forward to this episode.

Yep: here’s the opening monologue. You know the drill by now, surely?

Flashback to Owen, Diane, and the weevils—not all in the same scenes, obviously. And here’s the Torchwoodmobile, as Tosh, dressed up to the nines in a beautiful purple velvet coat and chattering on her phone in Japanese, and Captain Jack turn up at an old dance hall.

(Tosh is supposed to be heading to London for her grandfather’s 88th birthday, by the way.)

Apparently, people have been complaining of hearing 1940s’ music coming out of the building.

JACK: Just handsome young soldiers and pretty young girls, and, as they danced, the girls would look at them, and say . . .
TOSH: Jack, mind my laptop!

And, at that moment, they hear music, and head up to the dance room, to see it full of handsome young soldiers and pretty young girls. It’s not an illusion: it’s a temporal shift.

Tosh says they need to leave, though Jack is reluctant. But they leave, and a vaguely sinister man tells them to come again soon. Jack says sincerely that he would love to.

But as they leave, they notice it’s dark outside, and the car is gone. Tosh asks if it’s been stolen, but Jack says no: they have.


Back at the Hub, Owen is sleeping on a sofa before he’s woken by the insistent beeping of Tosh’s rift monitor. Ianto is checking it, because he says Owen has been “off.” So they ask Gwen to find Jack and Tosh.

Tosh and Jack head back into the building, because it’s where they “crossed over.” Jack tells her they need to “blend in,” but Tosh says it’s easy for him: she’s the only Asian there.

Jack tells her not to worry: “You’re with the Captain.”

Owen is ranting about Diane again, but I don’t care.

Jack tries to buy drinks, but he hasn’t any money. They’re bought for them by a young soldier, on condition that Tosh dances with him. Jack finds this hilarious, until the soldier’s girlfriend asks why George is dancing with “a Jap.”

Gwen turns up at the dance hall, and heads in.

Oooh, did you see the “Vote Saxon” poster on the door? Nice.

Jack tries to break in on the dance with Tosh, and George objects. Jack says it’s fine: George can dance with him, instead.

George punches him in the face.

But the fight is broken up by a handsome officer, who then introduces himself to Jack as “Captain Jack Harkness.” Jack stares at him in astonishment as a man takes a photograph—just in time for Ianto and Owen to find that photograph in a database about the dance hall.

Original Jack asks Our Jack’s name, and Our Jack introduces himself as “James Harper.” Original Jack offers to buy drinks, but Our Jack says they need to leave.

Tosh demands to know why Original Jack has Our Jack’s name, but Our Jack says he knows too much, and she doesn’t want the knowledge he has.

Gwen calls Tosh’s name, and Tosh can hear it, even through the temporal barrier.

Owen and Ianto realise that they only have half the equation they need, because the other half is in Tosh’s laptop.

Tosh starts frantically writing down the equation but, although she never goes anywhere without her laptop, she apparently doesn’t keep the battery charged, so she has trouble getting it all down.

Tosh and Jack are in the manager’s office, and he walks in, being thoroughly creepy. (He’s called Bilis, but I may have spelt that wrong.) He has a Polaroid camera, and, as though that isn’t creepy enough, a file marked “Torchwood.”

Back in our time, Gwen can hear music just before Bilis turns up, calling himself the caretaker. He agrees to open the building for her.

Tosh is worried about what will happen to her: her grandfather stayed in London, but he was persecuted. Jack says he’ll take care of her—and he tells her that he fought in the war in 1941.

He took Captain Jack Harkness’s name, because he needed an identity. But Tosh says that means he must have been . . .

And Jack says yes: Original Jack dies. In battle. Tomorrow.

Tosh and Jack join a group of young soldiers, and Tosh expertly disengages the best navigator from the group, as Original Jack takes Our Jack off to a small table, to have a drink.

George joins them, and boasts about Original Jack’s war record.

Original Jack heads over to the bar—closely watched by Our Jack—where he is accosted by a beautiful but clearly nervous blonde woman. She says she knew he was having a night with the boys, but she thought she’d just pop in.

Meanwhile, Gwen—in conversation with Ianto and Owen—realises that Bilis is the same man who managed the dance hall in the 1940s. Owen wants her to stay, but Ianto orders Gwen to get out.

Tosh is accosted by a group of aggressive soldiers’ girlfriends, who wonder what she’s doing there, when she’s hardly an ally. (And bless Tosh: she admits to being Japanese.)

Our Jack tells them that Tosh is a decoder, and Original Jack jumps in and toasts her work.

Tosh needs to leave a message for the Torchwood gang, but when Our Jack tries to leave, Original Jack jumps in and says he can’t leave: Original Jack just bought him a drink.

Tosh says she’s fine on her own, and Our Jack stays with Original Jack—though the nervous blonde woman is seemingly not thrilled by the competition.

Tosh uses Bilis’s Polaroid to take a photograph of the equation for the Torchwood team to find, while Owen plans to open the rift—perhaps to get Our Jack and Tosh back, but more likely to try and get Diane back.

While doing this, he taunts Ianto about his dead Cyber-girlfriend. Don’t pick on Ianto, Owen.

OWEN: You don’t have any power over me!
ME: Goblin king!

Back in the 1940s, the two Jacks are chatting while the nervous blonde watches from across the room.

NICK: Poor woman. It’s not easy being a beard.

But the nervous woman, Nancy, knows when she’s been out-maneuvered. She makes a half-hearted attempt to convince Original Jack to spend the night with her, but he says he needs to stay with his men.

Our Jack, though, says that you never know what’s ahead, and convinces Original Jack to go after Nancy and kiss her goodbye—where we’re treated to a lovely shot of Our Jack, head bowed, in focus in the foreground, while a blurry Original Jack kisses Nancy in the background.

Nancy tells Original Jack that she loves him, and Original Jack storms back to the table and tells Our Jack that he’s just made things a hundred times worse.

But Our Jack chases Original Jack down the stairs, and tells him that he knows what it’s like: Our Jack says he went to war as a boy, with his best friend, and, when they were caught crossing enemy lines, his friend was tortured to death in front of him.

Original Jack says his men—his boys—haven’t even lived, but Our Jack asks whether any of them have.

Tosh leaves a clue for the the members of the team, as Owen heads off to the dance hall, saying that Bilis has crossed through the rift, and he’ll know how to cross back.

But, back in the 1940s, Tosh notices that she didn’t line up the photograph properly—part of the equation is missing. She hides the photograph anyway, just as bombs begin falling.

Owen searches Bilis’s office as Gwen searches outside and, back in the 1940s, Our Jack and Tosh take shelter from the bombs.

Owen finds a safe, and he’s more excited about that than I am.

In the bomb shelter, Tosh says she needs to finish the message, as Captains Jack make eye contact, and Original Jack smiles, charmingly but almost against his will.

Tosh slashes her own palm open with a rusty paint can, because her blood is more durable a medium than pencil. She writes the rest of the equation down, dipping a makeshift brush into the pool of blood in her palm as a woman sings “The White Cliffs of Dover” to the soldiers and their girls gathered in the bomb shelter.

Owen opens the safe—and it’s empty. But he notes how many timepieces there are around the room as they all chime at once.

He sees Gwen in the corridor, but tells her he didn’t find anything and he needs to get back to the Hub.

Original Jack finds Our Jack in the corner of the bomb shelter and says that of course he’s scared, as Tosh seals the equation in an airtight tin.

Gwen is looking for the equations, and she’s down in the bomb shelter now.

But in 1941, the all clear sounds, and Bilis announces “Let the dancing continue.”

One of Original Jack’s soldiers offers to buy him a brandy, but Original Jack says he’d like some time alone with Our Jack. And now it’s Our Jack’s turn to give a charming but slightly shy smile.

Gwen finds the other half of the equation, and tells Ianto it is written in blood. But the equation is incomplete. Someone—we can see, in a flashback, that it’s Bilis—has scribbled out the last three numbers. Tosh has added the message “Tell my family I love them.”

In her own blood.

Upstairs, Original Jack asks Our Jack why he made him kiss Nancy the nervous blonde. Our Jack says that he should live every moment as though it were his last: he should go to his woman, and lose himself in her.

Original Jack asks if Tosh is Our Jack’s woman, but Our Jack says no: “There’s no one.”

NICK: No one—and every one.

Original Jack leaves.

Owen opens Jack’s safe, over Ianto’s objections, saying that there must be something in there that they can use.

What’s in there is mostly flashbacks to earlier episodes, but Owen does find blueprints for the rift machine.

But back in 1941, Original Jack comes back.

OUR JACK: This could be your last chance.
ORIGINAL JACK: That’s why I came back.
OUR JACK: I might need to leave before the night is over.
ORIGINAL JACK: Then make the most of now.

They twine their fingers together tightly.

But then a soldier and his girl come up, saying that they need “Lover’s Corner.”

Original Jack leaps away from Our Jack, and says they were just discussing “strategy.”

Our Jack says they’ll go somewhere else, but Original Jack says no: “You’ve told me all I need to know.”

Ianto tries to convince Owen that Bilis has set this whole situation up as a way to force them to open the rift, but Owen knocks Ianto down and goes ahead.

Back in 1941, Our Jack tells Tosh the story of how Original Jack was shot down—tomorrow—during a routine mission. He tells Tosh, too, a little of his past life as a conman. He tells Tosh that he’ll take care of her, but he breaks down when he says he can’t do anything for Original Jack.

Back with Owen’s attempts to open the rift:

IANTO: You have to let her go, like I did Lisa.
OWEN: Don’t compare yourself to me.
ME: Oh, you’re vastly superior to Owen, Ianto.

Owen taunts Ianto, telling him that he’s only Our Jack’s part-time shag, and insists that the rift machine has to be turned on. Ianto shoots him (I love you, Ianto!) but the machine is turned on.

Back in 1941, Our Jack decides that there is something that he can do for Original Jack—and, much to the horror of Original Jack’s men, the two Jacks take each other in their arms, and they dance and they dance and they dance.

And then, as the rift opens and Tosh runs back to her own time, Our Jack tells Original Jack that he has to go, that it’s his duty.

He walks away.

But then he turns back, grabs Original Jack, and they kiss and kiss and kiss.

And then he walks back into the 21st century, leaving Original Jack with his men and his doom.

He turns back at the door and sees Original Jack standing alone in the middle of the room, saluting.

But Tosh and Jack are back in 21st-century Cardiff, and Gwen is hugging them delightedly.

Owen insists that he knows he did the right thing, opening the rift, while Ianto insists that he was aiming for Owen’s shoulder all along.

And Our Jack and Tosh go into Our Jack’s office and drink a toast in brandy to Captain Jack.

Damn, that’s a beautiful episode. But I have to ask: what do you think the chances are that Original Jack was killed by his own men? I’ve always wondered that.

Strange Conversations: The Marking Edition

Posted 3 September 2009 in by Catriona

That’s the reason for the paucity of updates, you see: marking.

But I haven’t been marking without a break: oh no.

There’s also this (via instant messaging):

ME: Okay, see the thing is . . .
NICK: Jah?
ME: I totally defeated the boss zombie.
NICK: Woo!
ME: I know! And he was in a giant, mechanised suit.
NICK: Excellent.
ME: Like, GIANT.
NICK: Ooooh. Wow.
ME: He kept throwing caravans at me. And squishing my plants. And breathing fireballs. And ice balls.
NICK: Good god.
ME: But I kicked his zombie butt. And then there was a music video. Also, some other zombies were involved in the fight. Was truly epic. But I won.
NICK: Wow. So that’s the end of the game?
ME: Yeah. But there are minigames. And Puzzle Mode. And Survival Mode.
NICK: Cool, though. I’m pleased you defeated the boss!
ME: Yeah! I kicked his zombie butt.
NICK: You rock.

And that (as well as chronicling for the ages my defeat of the giant, mechanised boss zombie) is why Nick is the greatest boyfriend ever.

You’ve just got to love a man who will, for ten minutes, listen to you rant about your defeat of an imaginary, pixellated monster, and interject excited exclamations every time you pause.

Spring Springs

Posted 2 September 2009 in by Catriona

What a beautiful boy.



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