Ripper Street is the shit

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I meant to write this post after episode 1 of series 1, but failed to. We’re now waiting on episode 6 (of 8) of series 2 (which was sprung on me a bit unexpectedly, if I’d not idly opened the paper that day I wouldn’t have known it was back on).

Anyway, it’s a brilliant detective series set in Whitechapel, the first series was set in 1889, shortly after the Jack The Ripper murders (one of the first lines in it was “she’s been ripped!”). The main character is Inspector Edmund Reid, who was a real person, though he bears little resemblance to his real-life counterpart (who was far more interesting, a high-ranking druid and a balloonist!). There’s also the usual tough sergeant who is handy in a fight, and an American army doctor (and former spy) who does the CSI stuff. The first series had an ongoing storyline revolving around the background of Captain Jackson, who was a Pinkerton detective in the USA, and got involved in the Haymarket Massacre, a real event of 1886. That’s one of the things I love about Ripper Street, though it’s clearly fictional (despite having some characters who really existed), they make a lot of references to things that really happened at the time. Other references include a boat accident which Inspector Reid was injured in (the real one wasn’t, though!), and the shutting down of the “freak show” at which the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, was exhibited.

The new series looked like it was going to revolve around trying to bring the drug-dealing chief inspector of a neighbouring police division to justice, but that appears to fallen by the wayside in favour of more “individual” episodes touching on various political issues of the day such as the growth of Chinatown, feminism and Irish republicanism. There’s also another ongoing plot about Captain Jackson’s wife, Long Susan (who runs a brothel) being in debt to a local slum landlord.

They’ve managed to avoid anachronistic technology pretty well, and have been sparing with stuff that was cutting-edge at the time. No doubt rich parts of London had electric light, but Whitechapel didn’t! They even make reference to the steam-powered lines of the underground, we haven’t yet seen a telephone or motor car, and film is something they look upon as if it’s witchcraft.

There does seem to be plenty of anachronistic speech, though. But it has been toned down a little in the second series. The first used the term Molly House (used in City of Vice a few yeats previously. That series was set in 1749!), and they occasionally sounded more like characters from Shakespeare or the Bible! That’s been toned down a little in series 2, though the odd modern phrase (like “knock yourself out”) has slipped in. I was surprised to hear the term “infernal machines” used. At the time, that was the term used to describe a bomb, especially one intended to kill people.

All in all this is a great show, in fact I’m probably more excited about where series 2 is going than I am about the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who! I hope it continues for a lot longer – the real-life Reid lived until 1917, working as a private detective in a small seaside town after he retired. Of course, the 1890’s and 1900’s were a period of rapid technological advancement and laid the foundations of the social changes that the world wars were to bring about later. If the writers can keep on coming up with complicated cases and ‘impossible’ murders, it will be great to see these years through the lens of London’s poorest!

Doctor Who

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Pessimistic (realistic) predictions for the 50th:

– The epic Dalek invasion / mass destruction scenes will come right at the end, and will amount to no more than 30 seconds in total.

– Some sort of deadly, surrounded by Daleks situation will not be solved by a clever McGuyver’d way out, but by technobabble and reversing polarities so that the Daleks suddenly back off comically.

– The Daleks will eventually be stopped by some more technonabble, probably with the result that their invasion “never happened”. It will likely involve the opening of the core of the Tardis again. “Can only be used once (has already been used twice)”, as that hilarious LM2 blog I found once said.

– 11 will have another lengthy, tearful goodbye with Rose, and probably kiss her.

– Some clue hidden at the start of the episode will point to the doubtless anticlimactic, “magic” ending.

– Captain Jack won’t be in it.

– Neither will any old Doctors (apart from the newly-revealed “warrior” one of course).

– The Daleks will be inexplicably teamed up, in an equal partnership, with at least one other monster (like the utterly ridiculous “cram them all in” Pandorica thing), even though they’re supposed to hate every other race and only manipulate them or use them as slaves (as we will hear in An Adventure in Space and Time, no doubt. They’re taking the piss out of us, aren’t they?). It will probably be The Great Intelligence, an omnipresent and very powerful foe. Though this episode appears to be set in The Time War, there’s been no mention of anything other than the Daleks being involved in it up until now. Kind of like saying World War 2 was just Britain against Germany and ignoring the USA, France, Japan and Russia entirely.

– Even when fighting in a war for their very existence, the Time Lords will be shown to be decadent and corrupt. To use another WW2 analogy, imagine if British people had carried on living as if it was the twenties in the forties?

– Elizabeth the First is going to be in it (already confirmed). It will be 11 who makes her angry, even though it was 10 that she recognised on sight.

– It will not be a complete episode, but “continued at Christmas”. Thus, in future years, it won’t be able to be sold as a feature length, one-off “quick introduction”, like The Five Doctors is now.

Optimistic predictions

(Yes, I am aware some of these contradict the above).

– The storyline will involve time travel to many different periods in Earth’s history, and we’ll actually see something of them (not an alley and a Dansette, as “1969” was represented in the Weeping Angels one. Perhaps we’ll see 1973 with Gene Hunt!

– We will see the first Doctor, Susan and the junk yard, new scenes with David Bradley and Claudia Grant. Perhaps also the nearby school from Remembrance of the Daleks.

– Davros will be in it, we’ll see his “final death in the war” (which he survived).

– The Master (not John Simm, he’s in the future!) will briefly appear, but will hide himself and be branded a “deserter”.

– Captain Jack and/or The Face of Boe will be in it!

– The Cybermen won’t be in it. Their next epic storyline (their last epic storyline being in 1968) will probably be on their 50th anniversary, in 2016

– It will answer more Moffatt-era questions than it poses (yeah right!).

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Three Saturdays

Not updated this again for ages. Dum de dum. Things have been ticking over, issue 2 of my comic (supposed to be cover dated March – April) is still not finished, but ought to be tomorrow. Only the editor’s page and a map to do!

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EXTERMINATE!

Also Doctor Who is back on, but I missed the start of the episode just gone >.<, I notice it appeared to show a prosperous India of the future, with it’s own space programme. I notice that this prosperous India of the future was still full of ethnically Indian people, though. I remember some “leaked episode synopsis” that was doing the rounds before the last series, which suggested there would be an episode set in Japan in the 2170’s. I bet if the BBC had actually made that, the Japan of the 2170’s would still be populated entirely by ethnically Japanese people.

Of course, in my own comics, scenes set on the future Earth will have, say, a mostly black guy (‘pure’ races will be rare hundreds of years in the future) named Vladimir Rodriguez, who comes from Tokyo and mainly speaks Japanese. Just to ridicule this “mah effnic origin” disease that the yanks are into, which is infecting Britain at an alarming rate.

But enough of that. Two saturdays ago (or 1 week BDW) we had a huge storm. There wasn’t much visible lightning, but the thunder was just a constant rumble, it sounded like when you are videoing something and the wind blows against the microphone. I did capture a bit of footage, some of the thunder and some of the rain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj_DpbIINUQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXJEKD_oetc

There had also been hail before that, I got a few photo of that after it had finished.

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There was also cool-looking clouds and sewage coming out of the drains, which somebody drove through really fast with their window down slightly, lawl.

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Anyway, on the second of these saturdays, I trolled into Cambridge to see my friend Asha. Except (as usual) she took forever to get ready (it was literally like all day). So Instead I wandered around Charity shops killing time. So, lets just turn this into a haul post!

The best thing I got was this:

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Grummock yer parts…

It’s a tape of Round the Horne , the greatest radio comedy ever! It’s where Julian and Sandy, who I’ve just noticed I never posted about (to my shame, got a CD of them ages ago), come from. Anyway, it evolved out of another show called Beyond our Ken (the host of both was Kenneth Horne), but was a lot funnier.

Anyway, this box contains 2 tapes, which are supposed to be the third set of four episodes. But one of them is actually from the tenth set, but as the show had got into it’s stride then I won’t complain! Anyway, aside from Julian and Sandy (polari-speaking queens who did a different, innuendo-laced, job each week)

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‘Evvy Metal

I also got this, for the amazing price of 10p. It’s an old demo tape by a band called Jackal, probably from some time in the 80’s, or maybe early 90’s. The paper insert appears to have been produced on a photocopier, and the red has been hand-coloured. An (admittedly vague) search of the internet has failed to turn up any reference to a metal band called Jackal, so I assume they are long since defunct. Shame, the music is actually pretty damn good (in fact, better than some early thrash which was signed by big labels – like old Testament – which all sounds like it’s recorded in an echoing empty room).

Also, I have been looking at Danny Choo, and his other site called Figure FM, recently. A lot of people were posting pictures of their “otaku rooms”, awash with manga, anime DVD’s and figures. I wanted to tart up my own otaku room a bit, though of course I am an otaku by the Japanese definition and not the foreign one XD. I needed some models to display – no, not anime figures! I’m an otaku for old British culture, and that means…

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Airfix!

I’d seen this set advertised in Commando a few times. You get two planes and a display stand for yer money. I got that one because “jet planes are easier, they’re just pipes with wings on” and also having an Argentine plane would be a bit “weird”. I presume the standard Douglas Skyhawk kit Airfix make comes with 1960’s US Air Force decals. I’ve not started to make this yet, though. As it will be displayed I want to get it right, so got a ‘simpler’ kit to ‘practice’ with. Of course I made tons of these as a kid (I also did a bunch of cheap foreign kits which never got painted, bright green ME109 ahoy!), but I usually just slapped on single coats of paint, glued on the decals (paper and all) and then they got broken and chucked out XD.

Oh yeah, the display cabinet itself, well I got that (along with some other bits) a few weeks ago when I went to Ikea. It’s a Detolf cabinet, which nearly all the otaku rooms on Danny Choo have XD. I have stuffed it with various odds and ends at the moment, but they’ll be gradually replaced by Airfix planes and ships (got my eye on a huge Golden Hind, but that will be tough to build), Gundams and a few (and I mean a few, possibly two XD) anime figures XD.

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The full thing. All that crap next to it is a stack of Roy of the Rovers which desperately needs gaps filling, putting in order and binding into 6-monthly books. Anybody got a spare grand?

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Some Lego stuff, including the Lego Felney characters, from when I had a regular webcomic (ha!) and the scanner broke. Also some limited edition Corgi Minis, a limited edition Lotus F1 model (now very battered and with sun-faded stickers) and some other bits.

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A Download Festival programme, a Star Wars toy, more lego (“FW Devil 1” is a ship of my own creation called a Slasher), some Judge Dredd cards that the Megazine gave away, my Camcon wristband and some bijou statuettes.

And so on to today. Today was the second day of “Open Cambridge”, an event I also went to in 2010. Basically various colleges open up certain seldom-seen parts to the public for free. Lots of guided tripettes also take place around the city, but those were all fully booked months ago. Anyway I made a list of small libraries in colleges that I wanted to see and trolled around, only to find that this year’s Open Cambridge had a slight difference, namely, it was shut! Still I did go to the Whipple Museum (which is open to the public all the time anyway) and to the Sporting Christ’s exhibition, in one of the libraries there (which, it turned out, is a separate exhibition running for the duration of the Olympics and a good month and a half either side to boot XD).

Buut before that, I went into Ely and got a simpler Airfix kit, from the “City Cycle Centre”, an independent toy and hobby shop (with a side of DIY and, of course, cycling). I used to go in there a lot as a kid, but then we called it Zaskies, for some reason. It used to sell these wicked cap guns that looked almost like real rifles and shotguns, you wouldn’t see that these days! Anyway, up the stairs and round the corner used to be the Airfix (well and Revell, Tamiya and so on), Warhammer and Hornby department. These were all still in roughly the places I remember, but are now bigger(!) than they were when I was a kid. The back wall has also been knocked through and a load of other rooms (perhaps store rooms or other shops before) have now been incorporated into the main shop. Anyway, which simpler kit did I buy just to get my eye in? Which do you think?

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Can’t beat the classics!

… Mind you, if they’d had a Red Arrow I probably would have got that XD. It was £8, though the same sorts of kits in Model Zone (where I got that Falklands set) are only £5.99, you have to support these independent shops or they’ll disappear!

After that I trolled off to Cambridge, to be disappointed XD. Still I couldn’t resist the Haunted Bookshop, and bought a hardback, cloth-bound prospectus for a girl’s boarding school. Like you do. There’s an inscription dated 1943 in it, but I should think the book itself is older, from before rationing, because the paper is lovely, thick and glossy. It has a great many photos, which will be useful reference material for illustrations in my own boarding school story, Xin Zhou’s Schooldays – the first chapters of which will appear in the Red, White & Blue issue 2, erm, eventually!

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The new year

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Last sunset of 2011

I was magnificently lazy over the Christmas holidays, I just sat about eating chocolate and writing short half-arsed reviews of a bunch of small press comics for a magazine. Oh wait, that’s bad! I meant to do a heap of comic drawing, including finishing off my ill-fated manga for a competition the Japanese embassy was running. I’d failed to get it even near finished before that closed, but I hoped to get it finished by tomorrow for inclusion in the next “issue of” (it’s no longer a ‘regular’ comic) Non Repro. But won’t finish it in time for that either now.

The reason? Sherlock! Yes the BBC finally got off their arses and made another three (three! When are we getting a proper series?) episodes of this. And BY GOD are they awesome. The first one was shown on New Year’s day and the second last night. The second was based on the Hound of the Baskervilles… except now “Baskerville” is a secret bio-weapons research facility. You can see where this is going… except it doesn’t go there, actually XD.

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes the latest Hollywood film is incredible too. It’s 2 and a half hours long mind you. But actually there’s only 8 minutes of story and the rest is filled up by slow motion (troof). Still it’s incredible, even if some anachronisms annoyed me… no, his car is not one of them! But the fact there’s nobody walking in front of it with a red flag is. Mind you though, Sir Conan Doyle never liked Sherlock Holmes using motor vehicles, and still had his hero riding around in horse-drawn cabs even after he’d bought a motorcycle. Of course Sexton Blake’s writers had no such qualms, and a motor-car featured in those stories as early as 1898. Later he was thundering around in a Mors car at thirty miles in the hour!

An even more annoying anachronism (to me), though, is the fact that they got the German flag wrong! Germany wasn’t using that flag in 1891 (though had used it earlier), they were using a Black-White-Red tricolour up to 1918. Mind you though, “The First World War in Colour” managed to get it wrong too. As did an old docudrama about the early days of Albert Einstein.

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My 2011 Calendar, from Sweatdrop Studios. It kind of sums up the person I was in 2011, very interested in Japan to the point of considering moving there and even becoming a naturalised citizen (eventually). I was working diligently on learning the language and spending hours reading blogs by foreigners who had gone to live there.

I was also giving vague thought to converting myself to drawing manga style, in the vague hopes of “doing a Bakuman” once I was naturalised. But then my girlfriend dumped me in November, and in December I found myself constantly saying “Nanaji” for Seven O Clock, when it ought to be “Shichiji”. Also I read a load of Debito (though a lot of it “through the filter” of Tepido). I still think he’s bonkers and his followers a bunch of commie shitstabbers. But you can’t argue with clear cases of shitty policing, insane working hours with no recognition and GIANT FUCKIN’ INSECTS. If I never set foot in neon hell again, it’ll be too soon!

On to the 2012 Calendar, then…

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Yep, that sums up the kind of person I want to be in 2012, the same person I was in 2006! I’m getting the Mini on the road no matter what and waking the echoes of a July afternoon out in the fens (without going over 50 XD). I’m also doing Download and as many local rock/metal/blues/ska gigs as I can cram in. Oh I’ll be collecting more antique comics rather than horror movies though. (Bring back Silverscreen! Those shops were great). Starting with this…

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It’s 6 months worth of The Boys’ Friend (aka the best British comic ever) from mid 1904. I got lucky on this one, nobody else bid and It went for £50! I was expecting to pay over £100. Maybe the low price was because it’s January. Anybody else out there wanting to sell bound volumes of the Boys’ Friend/Realm/Herald, Union Jack, (Halfpenny) Marvel or Skipper please do it right now or wait until Jan ’13 eh?

Boys Friend Price fluctuations…

Complete year 1903 – 04 – £49.99 (Was “pickup only” and BIN, I cheekily offered to pay extra postage and the seller agreed, bargain!)

Complete year 1902 – 03 – £170 (! And I had to drive down to Enfield to get it. Well worth it though! they look great on the shelf)

Half year Jan-Jun 1910 – £110 (great condition)

Half year May – Nov 1904 – £49.99 (woohoo)

Plus loads of individual issues at about a fiver each. Anybody out there got any they want to unload?

 

Other crap I can’t be bothered to write at length about…

– Helicopter crash! I saw it fly over my work, it seemed to be ‘skidding’ in the air and the wind was really strong that day. It exploded near Ely and crashed into a field

– The strong wind! Part of our fence blew down. A panel of fence at work somehow not only blew down but ‘jumped over’ a big wheelie bin.

– The Pheonix, and it’s dire distribution: http://blog.crystal-knights.co.uk/2012/01/09/the-post-formerly-known-as-wheres-your-pheonix/

–  Despite the lazy last days of 2011 work is going ‘decently’ on comic for 2012. I hope to do at least 6 issues of the Red, White & Blue, 3 of the The Trident, 2 of The Sentinel (a ‘red top’ for comic collectors) and 1 of the Small Press Digest (encouragement-filled magazine with yellow covers). I’ve got a table at Camcon in May, seemingly the first nerdy convention in Cambridge for many a year (possibly since the Old Boys’ Book Club met there!). Gonna be great! Also got a ‘premeet’ in April.

 

What’s the best TV show ever?

It’s a difficult question isn’t it? There’s a few candidates…

The Lock, Stock… TV Series

For: Hilarious and violent, some great characters.

Against: No fucker’s seen it.

 

The Fast Show

For: Putting up a tent is… very much like making love to a beautiful woman. You unzip the door, put up your pole and slip in to the old bag.

Against: It ended.

 

Doctor Who

For: When it’s good it’s very very good.

Against: When it’s bad it makes you taste sick at the back of your mouth.

 

Bonekickers

For: Great mysterious conspiracies, and friggin’ Excalibur!

Against: Not many cars

 

Top Gear

For: Lots of cars.

Against: Not a great deal of crashes or fireballs.

 

So then, on balance what’s the best show ever? Why it’s one I can’t understand and have never seen a complete episode of!

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Look upon it, ye mighty, and weep!

So why is this show the best thing ever? Well just look at the sort of thing that happens in EVERY episode.

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An SD1, man? That ain’t cool. Why can’t you pick on cars nobody cares about?

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That’s better.

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This scene is on Youtube. “Neeeein!” doesn’t have the same impact as  “Nooo!” somehow XD

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This scene is also on Youtube in an extended form, the heroes battle two VW vans and then this!

The main character who has been in all the episodes (except the first two, ahem) is called Semir and various other sidekicks have been rotated over the years. The current one is rather tasty.

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But anyway I suppose you want to see more crashes and exploding shit…

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The rules about hazardous material markings in Germany are apparently not very strict.

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This scene is also on Youtube and is utterly hilarious!

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They get through as many caravans as Top Gear, mind.

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Unfortunately this series doesn’t appear to be available in English. There’s a big fan-site (where I nicked all the pics from, they’re probably the copyright of RTL or some shit like that) here: http://www.afc11.nl/EN/ 

That site also has some videos including a “re cap” of the series from 1995 – 2009 (with plenty of crashes!) and also a video with the various languages the series has been translated into. These include Japanese, where it’s apparently known as “Aotobaan Supeedo”. Though when I was there once I did see a huge box set with the name translated into “English” as “Alarm For Cobra 11” (though of course a better English translation would be something like “Call For Cobra 11”). Of course the actual shows would be in Japanese though. If the video on that site is anything to go by one of the voice actors actually has a go at putting on a German accent XD

Top Gear is back!

The best show on telly was back on last night, Top Gear! It was a cracking episode too, with reviews of the BMW 1M (I like the 1 series saloons even though they are about the size of an 80’s 3 series!) and it also featured an original rallying Mini. But the show was stolen by a great big crowd of E-Types invading a picturesque village. To be honest I didn’t really rate the E-type much before, possibly because the only ones I’d seen pictures of were in classic car magazines where they kept saying that the cheapest way to own one was to buy the bulbous 2+2 Coupe version. However last night’s show heavily featured the wonderful 2 seat convertible versions, and colour me converted!

I’m even more converted, though, by this! The Eagle Speedster, which is basically an E-type re-made, but with “just enough” modern additions (NB: Why no that doesn’t mean airbags, satnav and a folding hardtop). It is, however, £500,000! Which is a lot for what is basically a sixties car… but if my six numbers come up I won’t even be looking at anything else.

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And why yes, that does appear to be four on the floor (AKA: “The correct way”) and not six speed paddles (AKA: “The incorrect way”).

What the pictures can’t convey is the exhaust note of this thing’s awesome straight-six. Let’s just say they have somehow managed to capture the resonant frequency of the human soul. The Jag mkX does that too, but this can even do it through the TV! (The Eurofighter also makes your soul vibrate, but that’s just with sheer LOUD).

Of course if my six numbers did come up I’d also drive an eco-friendly, renewable biomass-powered vehicle regularly.

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One of them.

Keeping to the theme of jingoism, the 50th anniversary issue of Commando is out now (and four others, of course). It’s number 4044 and absolutely brilliant! It also features several references to the titles of old issues. The main story is set in 1961 and features a character reading one of the first issues – which also provides a big clue in the later mystery. You might be left wondering “who told the tale?” though!

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It is every patriot’s duty to own this

Also at the weekend I was reading through my volume of a short-lived story paper called Boys, and came to one of it’s semi-regular “Boys’ Book Shelf” articles. That reviewed a school story, and I thought “I haven’t read an old school story in book form for a while” (If you want a good one, look out for “The Dormitory Flag” by Harold Avery). So off I trotted to the Haunted Bookshop to get one.

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That one

It’s also inscribed, which I like because I am pro-inscription! One dating from 1912 which has been crossed out and another wonkily-written and undated one added.

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Pictured: A real, direct connection with everyday history, in your hands!

“Don’t mess with me – I’M AN ARCHAEOLOGIST!”

For ages I couldn’t remember the name of a wickedawesome TV series I watched a few years ago. Then I decided to search for the best quote from it (and when I finally start a metal band and headline huge festivals you can bet I’m writing a song with that title) and discovered the show was called Bonekickers!

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Seriously Wikipedia? This is the best you could do?

…And apparently wasn’t very well received and won’t be returning for a second series. Well shit. All the more reason to headline massive festivals using a quote from it as a song title then.

Also according to the Wiki article it had a bad “Academic reception” with “different complaints around technical accuracy”. Fuck off you dozy cunts, it’s only a cheesy mystery series.