What is the universe? Is it a great 3D movie in which we are the unwilling actors? Is it a cosmic joke, a giant computer, a work of art by a Supreme Being, or simply an experiment? The problem in trying to understand the universe is that we have nothing to compare it with.
- Heinz B. Pagels
Him: What’s this?
Me: What’s what?
Me: This blog entry?
Him: No. This.
Me: If there was anything there it’d be a seahorse.
Him: Right. That’s the blog over. I’m finished. Done.
Me: You didn’t check your phone messages yesterday did you?
Him: I’m not replying.
Me: And you haven’t once looked on the table.
Him: Not replying.
Me: Go and have a look. And then I can do the review.
The Him discovers two autographed DVDs.
Him: Wait? What? I don’t remember getting either of these signed.
Me: You weren’t there, that’s why. Because of the licensing laws you couldn’t go.
Him: Did they recognise you?
Me: They did. The sock in the kilt stared at me through most of the set.
Him: Really? That’s kind of creepy.
Me: It was. Shall I tell you the story?
Me: I made notes you see. Like a proper journalist.
Him: Is that why you got stared at?
Him: And he gets his biggest fan to say good things about him? Have you ever met your biggest fan? I mean, apart from my Business teacher.
Me: Hey, don’t derail the review. There’s derailing to be talked about later. Well meant though. And very funny.
The Him stares blankly.
Me: First off then, shall I give a bit of background?
Him: Ok. If you really want to.
Me: I think it’s essential. The Socks announced they were doing a new show a while back. Remember the one that wasn’t Boo Lingerie last year? On my birthday?
Him: Did you know that boulangerie is actually French for ‘bakery’?
Me: See, that’s why this blog needs the both of us. I didn’t know that. But it explains why some of the new show is in French. Or was last night anyway. Hang on. Do you exist?
Him: Don’t you mean ‘the both of us’?
Me: I’m fairly sure that I’m real. I was beginning to doubt it when I went to see Judge Minty – about which, more later – but I’m about 80% convinced that I’m non-fiction.
Him: Well, I’m about 20% convinced that you’re fictional.
Me: There’s no need for maths. There’s never a need for maths. This particular tangent isn’t going to do my argument any good either. You exist, yeah?
Pause. The Him has a think.
Him: Are you addressing me?
Me: You’re the only other person here.
Him: But am I? Am I really here? Are you really here? I’m not sure that any of us are really here.
Me: Last night, John McShane pointed out he’d never met you, so he can't have been at the John Wagner signing.
Him: Was he upset he’d never met me?
Me: He seemed to be taking it well, truth be told. I was going to try and avoid name-dropping.
Him: That’s probably for the best.
Me: Right. Well, the last Socks show wasn’t about Greggs, like you’d think, but actually dealt with horror films and horror as a genre. With songs.
Him: Greggs isn’t a bakery, is it?
Me: And this new show is, ostensibly, about science-fiction. Hence, ‘Socks in Space’.
Him: Which isn’t French for anything.
The Him picks up his phone.
Him: “Chaussettes dans l’espace”.
The Him settles back, and pops a mint into his smug gob.
Him: Are you… Are you going to say something about “E-Space”?
Me: I don’t think we should go anywhere near Adric or JN-T for the foreseeable future. They’ll be busy.
Him: So I shouldn’t go anywhere near you?
Me: I only looked like Adric when he was a companion.
Him: You still look like him now.
Me: Matthew Waterhouse has weathered better than me. I’ve eroded.
Him: That actually translated as ‘Socks into the space’.
Me: Which is more of an instruction yelled before a bugle parps. Look, can I get this started?
Him: Do you want to?
Me: So when it was announced that the Socks would be occurring in a venue that I could actually reach-
Him: You couldn’t get tickets.
Me: Are you going to trample on all the lines?
Him: No. That’d be weird.
Me: Yeah. Back in January I went into The Dram – which is a lovely pub made of wood and bottles – and asked a very nice lady behind the bar if I could buy a ticket and then… And then she said…
Me: Yeah. You’ve killed it. I couldn’t get tickets.
Him: If you were a cyborg, what would your name be?
Me: Unpronounceable. So, over the next couple of months I kept an eye on things from a distance because I don’t use the internet to buy anything. Which made things a bit hairy when HMV started drowning, because it’s the last place selling Doctor Who DVDs. Remember what happened when I asked if they’d stock them in that Enormo-Asda?
Him: My name would be…
Me: They laughed at me. But, like Citizen Snork said: “Who’s laughing now?”
Him: Who’s Citizen Snork?
Me: He’s an obscure Judge Dredd character I’ve mentioned to clarify my credentials as a walking cliché.
Him: I got that much.
Me: Hush, imaginary creature.
Him: I'm a cyborg not an imaginary creature.
Me: You’re probably thinking of a centaur. Seeing as I wear glasses-
Him: You wear glasses?
Me: Just imagine. Seeing as I wear glasses, I’m technically the first stage of Cyberman evolution.
Him: But where’re your bra and high heels?
Me: God help us if Chris Chibnall takes over when the Moff’s off. Anyway, I’d been told that if I turned up on the night I might be able to get in. And then the Friday and Saturday nights sold out.
Him: Ooo. Kick in the face.
Me: It’s the Eye, actually. And I don’t think we’ll be talking about Peter Murphy anytime soon either. It’s hardly been a slow news week. Oh, James Herbert died.
Him: Who’s James Herbert?
Me: For a bit of time he was my favourite author. Thinking about it, I was reading The Rats in my first year at secondary school.1 He was a horror author. Bit pulpy and very full-on. My first signed novel was a copy of Moon. It was posted after a signing he did in Denmark Street. I read it to bits.
Him: Can we get onto the Socks now?
Me: Yup. First up, here’re the tweets from yesterday.
Me: The Dram wasn’t open and I had a full shift at work with no breaks, so I wasn’t going to be able to get a ticket until that was done, if there were any left. I didn’t see the Socks tour bus anywhere either.
Him: They have a tour bus?
Me: Bound to. Anyway – someone at work offered to order them online. So I paid for the ticket, printed off the confirmation and then worked until it was dark. And then, when I was looking at the confirmation, I noticed that in order to pick up the ticket, the card-holder would have to sign for it. To prevent fraud.
Me: So I sloped up to The Dram, ordered a water and waited for the room to open.
Him: “There’s oil underneath this building.”
Him: “There’s oil underneath this building.”
Me: I spotted the aforementioned Mr McShane, but there wasn’t any sign of the Socks manager. And then a lovely chap named Tony called everyone through to the performance area. Nobody asked to see anything, so after two months of working on a stomach ulcer, I could’ve got in for free. I grabbed a front row bench.
Him: As you do.
Me: Yeah – you need to be able see the performer’s eyes really.
Him: I just wanna dance.
Me: 'Night on Bald Mountain' with Socks commentary was playing and the tartan theatre was trembling. Tony the ticket warden was also on technician and tune duty and there was a bit of an odd moment before everything started.
Him: What happened?
Me: Well, it sort of started early but late.
Me: I’m glad you got that. It was the first outing for some of the material and it’s great. I don’t think there was quite as much of the science-fiction stuff as there will be later in the year, but a fair whack of it was new. Oh – and the opening number, ‘I’m a Sock’ was lyrically different to the version you’ve seen.
Him: Really? Oh. I knew that.
Me: Part of the audience was very enthusiastic and got roped in to recreate a pivotal moment of cinema history. My face was a bit sore from laughing.
Him: You’d don’t need to make me feel bad that I wasn’t there.
Me: Sorry. You might not like some of what’s coming up then. But – legally, you couldn’t be there. And you weren’t the only person who was a bit miffed about this. But that’s why we have laws. I reckon we’ll be able to get in if they come back to Edinburgh. We’ll definitely go.
Me: So. Some of the new material might only have been aired last night and dropped since-
Me: But there’s some really good stuff in it. Especially if you’ve heard of a Hemingway who wasn’t known for typing. There’s one bit with a doorbell that’s genius. Sorry, this isn’t meant to be gloaty.
The Him sneezes.
Me: They finished with their version of Star Wars too. I hung around afterwards to get the DVDs signed-
Him: Yeah, I figured that much. That’s what we did last time. When I was there.
Me: I told their manager that you’d be furious about missing them.
Him: I’m not furious. I’m just a bit… Upset. It’s fine. Don’t worry.
Me: They did send their personal best wishes and congratulations to you.
Me: Although, I’m not sure what they were congratulating you about. Existing possibly.
Him: They could be.
Me: Nearly there. Because the manager was a bit busy after the show, he said he’d get the Socks to come and sign the DVDs after their post-gig sauna. Well, something like that. So I went back through to the main bit to wait and - CLANG! goes another name – had a drink with Mr McShane and Pete Renshaw, the wonderful gentleman whose ear I once talked off in Plan B. It did feel a bit like I’d wandered into the VIP area by accident.
Him: Had you?
Him: Sounds fun.
Me: It was. It was incredible actually, I had a fantastic time. I also forgot to mention – when we were talking about The Time Monster and Robert Sloman – Darth Vader and Ingrid Pitt. Oh – and The Green Death was the story that everyone forget.
Me: Don’t be mad. There’ll be other times.
Him: Will there though? Will there really?
Me: There will. Oh yes indeed.
Me: We may have gone too far with the title though.
Him: Wait until the next one...