Friday 25 October 2013

A #TheDayOfTheDoctor Prologue

Just give us the facts, man.
- Joe Saturday, Chronocop

On the first of January every year, me and the Him take the jars of change that filled up in the year that just died and pour them into a machine that changes them into a piece of paper that you can swap for real money that you can then swap for a special, Well-Done-On-Being-Alive present.  It’s a tradition, or an old charter or something.

We’re now six days on from the most recent sinking of Atlantis, which I’ve written about in public as well as on this here blog, and five days on from the moment that I realised I might have made a terrible mistake.  Sure enough, tickets for the cinema screenings for The Day of the Doctor were duly announced as becoming available from 0900 today.  Two weeks before my payday.  Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t do purchases online, everything’s a cash transaction, face to face.  This means that I can’t take advantage of online discounts, exclusive offers and all the stuff that you young whippersnappers take for granted.  I’m working on it. 

I almost walk past a soulless car park cinema on the way to work, so I thought I’d depress myself and ask how much milk they’d be requiring me to squirt in exchange for tickets.  Seeing as BBC (“licence-fee payers already enjoyed the chance to watch the programmes in the late 60s”)1 Worldwide are involved, I knew that it was going to be painful, I just wanted to find  if there was any possibility that I’d survive the procedure. 

We’d been planning to go and see The Day of the Doctor with friends in a cinema in Cardiff for months, but there was absolutely no way that could be done now, which is a shame.  I’d have liked to get us to the London Convention in London’s London as well, but the tickets had sold out instantly and there wasn’t a cash-in-hand option anyway.  It should, by rights, be taking place in Cardiff but that’s a conversation we’ll have another day.  Back in the past, I’ve just entered the soulless car park cinema for the first time.

There wasn’t a queue, which is a shocking indictment of something, so I went straight up to the person guarding the information and tried not to come across as a Doctor Who fan.

Me:  Hi.  You’re showing The Day of the Doctor, the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special.

Information Guardian 1:  Yes, yes we are.

Me:  I just wondered if you could tell me-  Oh.  Hang on a minute.  I’ve just realised.  It’s going to be a one-off live showing isn’t it?

Information Guardian 1:  Ummm.  Yes, I think so.

Me:  Are they more expensive than just your usual 3D prices then?  I don’t need glasses.  Ha ha ha ha.  No, really.  I’ve got glasses at home.  Quite a few pairs.  3D glasses that is.  Are these live things usually more expensive then?


Information Guardian 1:  They can be.  What day is-

Me:  November the twenty-third.  Saturday.  Twenty-third of November.

Information Guardian 1:  Thanks.

Information Guardian’s keyboard:  tappitytappitytap tap tappity tap

Information Guardian 1:  Well, there’s no information on it here.

Me:  Okay.  Thanks for looking.  How much are these live shows usually

Information Guardian 1:  It depends really.  Somewhere between £10 and £20.

Me: “£20”?  Seriously?  “£20?”

Information Guardian 1:  Yes, but that’s the top end.  It’s not likely to be that much.

Me:  Oh, I wouldn’t bet on it.  Right.  Great.  Thanks.  Bye.

Information Guardian 1:  Next!

And so on.

I had a quick check online and found that the Australian showings had already sold out.  One chap said he’d paid $180 for three tickets which, having seen both the Regeneration and Fourth Doctor Time Capsule box-sets, I can well believe.  Still, the prices weren’t definite so there was still a chance.  I could probably manage £20 at a push but nothing more than that.

The next morning I decided to try again.  I couldn’t find a list of opening times anywhere on the soulless car park cinema’s website which was a bit annoying – I was still hoping that maybe they’d have them available early or something.  It wouldn’t be the first time Whoniversary related things were prematurely issued by huge organisations would it, BBC America?

Information Guardian 2:  Next!

Me:  Ah, hello.   I was in yesterday and I wondered if you could tell me how much the tickets for the Doctor Who 3D live special on the twenty-third of November are going to be, please?

Information Guardian 2’s keyboard:  tappity taptap tap

Information Guardian 2:  No.  We don’t have it on our system yet.  You’re the second person to ask today.  I’ll just ring the manager.

Me:  That’s lovely.  Thanks.

While she’s off ringing the Manager, I’d better mention something that happened on my way to the soulless car park cinema.  After I got off the train I’d checked a cashpoint and found that my balance had been kidnapped.  Following a panicked visit to the bank itself, I managed to piece together the events leading to this.  A wandering direct debit that I’d forgotten about had turned up unannounced in the small hours and been told to spack off by my bank who then helped themselves to my The Day of the Doctor ticket money as a reward.  We’ve all been there.  The whole experience hadn’t done me any good, and I was only in the soulless car park cinema because when I set myself on a course of action I stick to it.  Hang on, she’s coming back.

Information Guardian 2:  No, the Manager doesn’t know either.

Me:  Great.  Okay, how much do you think the tickets’ll be?

Information Guardian 2:  Well, live events are a bit more expensive than standard showings.  Shouldn’t be more than £21 though.

Me:  £21.  Bargain.  It’s gone up since yesterday.  Okay, thanks.  Oh – what time do you open on Friday?

Information Guardian 2:  10.

Me:  10.  Of course. 

Information Guardian 2:  Well, 9:45 for 10.  Thereabouts.  It’s not likely to be £21 though.

Me:  I wouldn’t bet on it.  Okay.  Thanks.  Bye.

Information Guardian 2:  Next!

I managed to get the problem of the wandering direct debit sorted out, replaced the money the bank had treated themselves to and, after a lot of walking, got myself back to the exact place I’d been in before the day had started.  I tweeted BBC (“licence-fee payers already enjoyed the chance to watch the programmes in the late 60s”) Worldwide, the soulless car park cinema and Twitter in general, asking if anyone had any idea how much the tickets would cost.  No one replied.  The general online consensus was that, come 0900 they’d be on the site buying up their tickets while they could – after all, a single showing is a pretty limited number of seats.  I’d gone to sleep before some lucky individuals started announcing they’d managed to buy tickets because they were already online.

I’m conscious that this is very much a First World Problem by the way, don’t worry about that.  I totally understand the thinking behind it, and I don’t begrudge BBC (“licence-fee payers already enjoyed the chance to watch the programmes in the late 60s”) Worldwide their eye for a buck.  The problem is that Doctor Who means a lot to me and this is a special occasion.  

Me and the Him were sat about ten feet away from Nick Hurran when he announced he’d got the directing gig, there’s a nice circularity to seeing the fruits of his labour with all the attendant experience of an event shared by a roomful of people who care just as much as you do about what's on the screen.  As cheesy at it sounds, I think it’s important, if I didn’t we’d watch it on iPlayer.  Trips to the cinema have become so commonplace that sometimes it’s hard to remember if you’ve even seen a film, although that might just be me.  Whatever else happens, this is going to be an important moment for a hell of a lot of people.  In these days of time-shifting, torrents and twenty-three million channels of nothing/sensorite2 those moments have become quite rare.  I really wish I could have taken the Him to Longleat.  This is, for now, the nearest I think we can get to that.  Oop – that’s the alarm.  Time to get up.

It’s chucking it down and it’s dark.  The website still says nothing about prices.  It goes 0900 as I leave the house, my head's stuffed with images of online transactions and my internal Countdown Dalek is barking the number of remaining tickets with every puddle-bothering step.  I catch the train, stalk up the hill that goes on forever and get to the soulless car park cinema at 0944.  There’s a young man standing right in front of the doors but otherwise no queue. 

0950.  More people join us.  It’s really wet.  I’m going to get a cold.  Inside the staff are moving the queue posts around and laughing.

0955.  One person’s banged on the windows.  I’m soaked and starting to stress.  The staff are having a great time.  Every now and then one will come up to the door and then walk off.

1000.  Nothing.

1002.  Still nothing.  The internal Countdown Dalek’s celebrating the triumph of technology.  The Master of Earth.

1006.  Someone opens the door.  They take their time doing so.

1007.  It’s not listed on the system.  My first thought is that it’s already sold out.

Information Guardian 3:  Do you have an Unlimited card?

Me:  No.

Information Guardian 3: Oh.  It’s only coming up as Unlimited.  Can you go and stand over there please?  There’s a queue forming.

I get directed across to stand behind the young man from earlier.  I’m actually shaking with nerves by now, which is ridiculous.

Information Guardian 4:  Oh, the site’s updated.  Here we go.

The lad in front of me buys five tickets.  I hear the price, divide it by five and then double that.  Blimey, I might be able to do this.  Now, it’s my turn.

Information Guardian 4:  Yes?

Me:  How much for one and a half tickets for the Doctor Who fifti-

She tells me.  It’s more than I thought.  Of course it is, I’m not eligible for a discount.

I stand there for about a million years.  I’m drenched.  I’m shaking.  I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t-

Me:  Go on then.

On the first of January every year, me and the Him take the jars of change that filled up in the year that just died and pour them into a machine that changes them into a piece of paper that you can swap for real money that you can then swap for a special, Well-Done-On-Being-Alive present.  It’s a tradition, or an old charter or something. 

The Him doesn’t know we’ve got tickets3 yet.

1.  And for everyone panicking about the bare-bones releases that The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear are ‘enjoying’ – of course there’ll be Second Efforts further down the line.  They released Scream of the Shalka, didn’t they?  

2.  We don’t do that joke anymore.

3.  I do like the way the tickets are personalised, I must say.  Unfortunately my name’s on the Him’s one and his is spelled totally wrong. 

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