It is my intention to celebrate three of those projects here. All three are inspiring, displaying a love for Doctor Who and beyond, and each deserves a mention, so here we go ...
It is December 2012. Winter. I've arrived home from work, on a cold, dark evening, and there's a package waiting for me. Inside it - three copies of something beautiful and special. The book that is pictured on the left - 'You and Who'. It fairly warmed my mood, after a tiring day, and touched my heart, and (if you've not yet read it!), it will have the same affect on you! I found it amazing, as I finished the introduction and read through the first essay. The years, the stories, and the circumstances might have been different, but the experiences were more or less the same. A memory of my own that related would quickly pop into my head or, better still, a new thought of inspiration would! Then, as I made my way through more and more of the essays, I would find something within one that related to an earlier essay, one that I'd read only a dozen or so pages before. By a different person ... from a different time, a different place, from different circumstances, and of a different age. The similarities are actually astounding. So many of these tales relate so vividly, and that is remarkable.
Even if you're not a fan of Doctor Who, this is a book that you can most definitely relate to, just for being a human. It is a narrative of childhood and growing up; of becoming an adult, and developing a sense of the world. We don't all start in the same place, or take the same route, and we don't all end up at exactly the same point; but 'life' is a journey that we all share, and just as much as we can join together in our similarities, we should embrace and cherish each other's differences too. That is the best sense of morality that Doctor Who has taught me, and it is fully incapsulated in 'You and Who'. This is a story about people at heart (the most memorable tales always are, whether they're real or fiction). People from different times and places. People with different backgrounds, experiences and opinions; yet people who ultimately have a great deal more in common, than even they (or I!) might have realised. A love for Doctor Who. And a love for truth, justice and hot tea (or hot chocolate in my case!).
When I first saw the idea for 'You and Who', on an internet forum, my immediate thought was ... "Bingo!" (although, being a fan of Doctor "Eleven", it may well have been "Geronimo!", actually!). It seemed like such a brilliant idea - I knew at once that I had to contribute! I have so many fond and poignant Doctor Who memories, and it's amazing that I've been given the opportunity (and a little kick of inspiration!) to finally share them. It's even more brilliant to read the beautiful memories of others. This is a unique and special book - it really is! There have been lots of books about Doctor Who, but nothing quite like this. It's transcendental, much like the programme. Doctor Who transcends above being just a mere television show, to being about memories and experiences. The Dalek army in Planet of the Daleks wasn't frozen in an ice cavern on Spiridon ... it was frozen in the corner of my kitchen, coming to life, while I braced myself backwards in my chair in terror - it's that vivid and frightening a memory to me (especially to a child, but it's a fear that this 'big kid' still relates to today!). But ... this is not the story about Me and Who, it is the story about 'You and Who', and it's one that's transcendental. It transcends even the people who have written the essays; it transcends into something extraordinary, and something really quite special.
You can find out more about 'You and Who' (and it's sequels!), and get yourself a copy, here - You and Who. You'll flick through it at first, then you'll start reading it cover to cover, and then you'll flick through it again. You'll keep doing this, and you'll relate to something. Something big. Something small. You will be entranced. And you will be enthralled. By a book that is pretty special - it is the tale of 'You and Who'! Geronimo!
In the Summer of 2012 I found out about something exciting - a collection of celebratory reviews to mark Doctor Who's golden year. 'Celebrate, Regenerate!' is set to be one of the best, and most brlliant, books of the 50th Anniversary. What better way is there to celebrate this momentous occasion, than with a book of reviews, of every single story that has ever been shown, up to those that continue to be shown?! Not just any old reviews either - these are the reviews of our fellow Doctor Who fans, looking at our favourite show from a unique and positive perspective. I haven't been able to read any of the contributions yet (I simply can't wait to!) but the finished article will, dare I say it, be brilliant! It will be made up of the memories, thoughts and experiences that have shaped each of us as people (down to the words of every contributer, as well as the editor). The pictures will have been shaped in much the same way. Art (and books like this are definitely art!) can not help but display who we are as people. Writing and drawing (and all the rest) always bears our soul, sharing a little of our inner being with the rest of the world. And art is something that works best as a shared experience. That is the joy of something like 'Celebrate, Regenerate!' The chance to share and relate with each other. Not just as Doctor Who fans, but also as people. We can learn so much about each other, and ourselves. For one thing, I've learned a remarkable thing about my own writing ability - it is an asset to have deadlines, and word counts, and the need to edit! It makes your writing all that more stronger. I'm age 30, and still writing, and still learning ... and 'Celebrate, Regenerate!' is another of the wonderful projects that has allowed me to do that. It brings a smile to my face in so many ways.
Why will the finished product be brilliant? It's because there is one thing that I have seen overwhelmingly linked to this project. It's not unique to just this book, but it does shine through so brightly, and really make it stand out - it's enthusiasm!! There is so much excitement and joy, and an enthusiasm, to create something brilliant. I'll be proud to have contributed to this project, and to have helped it any way that I can, because the enthusiasm it shows for our beloved programme is fantastic. I know that the response to take part has been overwhelming (rightly so), as I have read about it, and the artwork that I have seen already is simply stunning. I simply can not wait to have the final completed copy, in my hands, so that I can thumb my way lovingly through it. To find out more, and have a chance to get your name in the book, visit here - Celebrate, Regenerate! When the book comes out I know that I, for one, am going to 'Celebrate, Regenerate!' and you can too! Isn't that fantastic?!
Every now and then, a truly special and meaningful book comes along. 'Behind the Sofa' is one of those books (as are the two books above). And like those two books, it transcends the television series itself. I found some of the story behind the book's conception sad and poignant, but, at the same time, hopeful and happy. The fact that 100% of the royalties are going to Alzheimer's Research UK more or less speaks for itself. I have never felt more happy to purchase a book before it;s even been published, and know that I will definitely receive it. My copy duly came along, including a PDF version in advance, and, I have to say, it is the most wonderful book. It is put together with love, and for the most meaningful purpose. It is packed full of the most vibrant and readable memories, from names that you will most probably recognise, and it features the most beautiful of artwork. It is a lovely book, and it deserves a pride of place on any book shelf. All I can say is this - if you are able to get a copy, then do! It's all for such a worthwhile cause, and such a fitting tribute to the editor, Steve Berry's, mother.
All of these books, 'Behind the Sofa' and the two above, involve memory, the very thing that Alzheimer's takes away. Anything that can help fund further research, and possible treatments, is a good thing, and I would really like to say well done to Steve Berry, for his strength and determination in getting this book published, and to offer my very best wishes. You have truly done your mum proud!
I'm always quite reluctant to write a review, and offer lots of spoilers, so I'll keep it short and to the point with 'Behind the Sofa'. There is one moment in the book that actually really touched me. I found myself agreeing with Michael Grade, in a certain sense (with hindsight, and in retrospect) that he made the right decision back in 1985. I have enjoyed, and love, many of Colin Baker's and Sylvester McCoy's stories (a number of them are among my favourites) and I don't dislike either of their era's, but the decisions made back then ultimately allowed for the show to have the long break that it needed (hard as it was). And that allowed the renaissance of 2005 to happen. That's a controversial view (I'm sure!) and it's not one that I even expected to come to myself, but there you go. It happened. The memories within 'Behind the Sofa' will do that. They will make you think about so much. It is, in the end, a book of love. A love for Doctor Who, and also a love for so much more. It is a triumph of a book.
More details are available here - 'Behind the Sofa'
Finishing, and in keeping with the art theme, I will quote one of my favourite Eleventh Doctor sayings, from Vincent and the Doctor, a quite beautiful story, where he met the artist Vincent Van Gogh ...
"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things."