Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Deadly Weed

NOTE: We cats do not approve of the use of illegal recreational substances in assisting with the writing of Doctor Who stories. The results may prove to be nonsensical, downright weird, or just plain rubbish. The following review of The Deadly Weed is presented as evidence of this. 
REMEMBER: Just say mew.

The Doctor and Peri are visiting the Time Lord Vama on the planet Kyros in the solar system of Lagon 2. The days when the Time Lords were sworn to non-interference in the affairs of other races seem to be long gone, as Vama says
"I'm afraid I have some business to attend to . . . you know, pacifying a few Dalons, and sorting out the planets Rexac and Ex-calon . . . did you know they're at war again?
and sounds as though this is a typical day in his life. His job is "overseeing" Lagon 2. The Doctor takes Peri to see "a purple lake that bubbles like the hot springs of the Earth".

"It's beautiful, Doctor," she gasped. "I must confess I was expecting it to be just like a lake on Earth, but with purple water. I didn't expect it to be so . . . well . . . tranquil. It's lovely!"

The Doctor is more concerned with the "dirty, black weeds" that he sees. An animal (a description is not given, but it's clearly the one in the second picture accompanying the story) noms the weeds and then goes
and then turns into "a metallic bronze" colour. This concerns the Doctor and he tells Vama when he next sees him, prompting Vama to fill the Doctor in on the backstory.

"A very small comet crashed into the south side of Kyros a short time ago. Not much damage was done and after the initial clearing up of debris and necessary repairs were done, nothing more happened. However, not long after-wards, a delegation of excavation experts were sent to the site. One of them returned in a state similar to your description of the creature by the lake. He was convulsing and died very quickly . . . but not before he too had turned a bronze colour. It was mystifying, to say the least."

The Doctor and Vama ponder the problem for a bit, but then they are interrupted by the story taking an unexpected twist.

As they spoke, a scream filled the control tower, and Peri rushed in, almost too stunned to speak. She was clutching her left arm, which was bleeding badly.
"Doctor, there's some kind of robot out there. It attacked me!"

This implausible turn of events is only the first of many as The Deadly Weed gets crazier. The Doctor and Vama go looking for the robot, but don't find it until the have only one room left to look in.

"That's where we keep our special munition in case of an emergency, such as a galactic war," replied Vama.

Well naturally you would leave searching in that room until last. It is the least likely place for an armed, hostile robot to be. The robot is in there.

Armed with a KGS Stunner, it quickly overcame Vama, who fell senseless to the floor. The Doctor lunged at a KGS Freezer from a row of weapons by the door and, working on pure reflex action, im-mobilised the robot.

Vama is only stunned into having sleeps, and when he wakes up he recognises the robot as Neltar, the manny who died and became bronze. The Doctor realises the implications - everyone who noms the weed is being turned into robots. As usual, the Doctor has seen something like this before, which is handy because it saves time finding things out and allows them to get on with the plot - there's less than three pages to go, after all!

"I would say that the reason for all this lies with the comet. It must have carried that weed from . . . yes, from Jerimi. The Tardis took me there once by accident, of course! It's inhabited entirely by robots who reproduce by a deadly weed that attacks other living creatures and changes them into robots like themselves."

So the weed comes from the planet Jerimi. With a terrifying name like that, those robots must be the scourge of the galaxy, feared by the Daleks, Sontarans and Cybermannys alike. Not really; it is a silly name for a silly place. If I were a suspicious cat I might suspect the writer did this deliberately.

The Doctor thinks that if they kill the queen of the weed, or its heart, or the centre, or something, then they can defeat it, so he leads Peri (her injury is never mentioned again after the paragraph in which she received it) and Vama in a commando raid on the comet's crash site.

The other robotised mannys attack them, and Vama sets Deltar, "the leader of his Imperial Guards" to defend them. Unfortunately, when the robots explode, they release particles of weed that turns any mannys they hit into more robots. Peri is scared by this, but
The Doctor was too engrossed in despatching yet another robot to hear her.

Vama and Deltar and their mannys put explosives in place, which makes me think of when Blake and Cally put explosives in Star One, and they blow up the whole crater.

The almighty explosion tore through the atmosphere, shaking the ground under them. A blue flash lit the sky and debris hurtled through the air.

This kills all the robots and the weed, and Vama uses his "Luna Scanner" to look at the whole planet to make sure.

"Yes, once the heart was destroyed, it would bring about a chain reaction. The life force of the weed, however wide-spread, was linked to the crater, where it all started. Thus, it and the robots were killed when the heart was," explained the Doctor. "I thought we'd be successful!"

Now that the main plot is over, the Doctor and Peri decide to leave. The narrative reason for Vama being a Time Lord - other than this story coming from an era where gratuitous references to and appearances by Time Lords were the fashion - is finally apparent: it is so the Doctor and Vama can tease each other about regenerations as the story's end joke bit.

"Perhaps when we come again," said the Doctor, "you will have regenerated. You really should try a new body, you know!"
"Oh, no, Doctor," laughed Vama, "I'm happy with the one I've got . . . besides, I'm not sure you did too well by regeneration!"

This is a story that is spoiled by having too many silly ideas crammed into its six pages, with unnecessary Time Lord references added on top. And with Peri getting shot and the Doctor acting like an action hero gunning down multiple robots, this is another story that fits in well well with the TV series during Colin Baker's time as the Doctor.

Sadly that is not a compliment, because it is the worst aspects of that era that The Deadly Weed imitates.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Real Hereward

The Real Hereward stands out from previous Journey through TIME stories because it has no aliens, no monsters, no silly sci-fi exposition; it is a pure historical story, of the kind that was common when William Hartnell played the Doctor on TV.

The story begins from the point of view of some Saxon mannys, some small number of years after they lost the battle of Hastings against Norman's army. They visit the house of an old manny and find that the Doctor and Peri are also visiting, and so we are introduced to them from the Saxons' point of view, as outsiders.

"One calls himself a doctor," said the old man. "The other is some sort of companion to him - maybe an apprentice, I don't know. They sound like a couple of half-wits to me - the girl kept muttering about some sort of transport they had."

The Doctor explains that they have lost their "vehicle" in a marsh and arrived at the cottage looking for help. They are believed by the Saxon leader, who in turn says that he and his mannys want
"Food and a good night's rest, old man, and we'll leave you in peace. We're peaceful Saxons - not the murdering savages the Normans call us."

While the Saxons have their noms, the Doctor tells Peri - and the readers - about Hereward the Wake:
Hereward the Wake was the foremost of the Saxon outlaws who led a guerilla campaign against the Normans after the battle of Hastings. He tended to concentrate on the fen country, where we are now."
"Did he win?" asked Peri.
"Don't be silly," the Doctor said acidly. "How could he have won with the Normans safely on the throne for the next dozen or so generations? No, after a while he just vanished into the mist, never to be seen again. They still think he's alive in some parts of twentieth century England, you know."

This is a big dump of exposition but it is educational, being about history. They overhear the Saxons planning to make an alliance with some Danes and "march on London", as well as them letting slip that their leader is called "my lord" even though he doesn't want to be. This moves the plot on efficiently and cleverly.

The Doctor advises the Saxons against trying to go to London, leading on to the best part of the story which is a lengthy exchange of dialogue in which first one of the Saxons lets slip that they know King Harold is still alive, leading to the Doctor realising that their leader is King Harold, who faked his death at the battle and is now pretending to be Hereward the Wake.

This scene is followed by a change of pace - the Doctor heard mannys moving outside, and it turns out that it is Normans. Harold and his mannys prepare to go out to fight them with swords, but the Doctor has a better idea - he has something in his pocket to scare Normans away.

The Doctor drew something out of his pocket, and Peri almost laughed aloud as she saw what it was - one of those battery-driven robots that were so popular with children in her own time. When you pushed the button, its eyes flashed and rolled, it began to walk stiffly forward and spoke in a guttural, stilted, mechanised American accent.

The Doctor's plan works perfectly.

There was a terrified scream, then another, and a third and the sound of running footsteps growing fainter in the distance, while outside a metallic voice was saying repeatedly.: "I am Martin, the Metal Marvel. I can do all sorts of things. I am pleased that we are friends. I am Martin . . ."

Aww, Martin sounds friendly and not scary at all, silly Normans. With the story's main source of peril dealt with and still a whole page to go, there is time for a lengthier last scene than we normally see in these stories.The Doctor and King Harold are now friends, Harold takes the Doctor's advice not to go to London, and his mannys support him. They offer to help the Doctor and Peri recover their "transport" but the Doctor says that is not necessary - which implies that they may have come here deliberately to meet Hereward, rather than by accident.

And finally there is the usual comic moment to end the story on:
As they walked back to the Tardis through the early morning sun-light, she became puzzled. "Doctor."
"Why did you have a toy robot in your pocket?"
The Doctor turned and stared at her. "My dear girl! What do you keep in your pockets?"

This is a short (at 5 pages) but satisfactory tale, with silly moments that fit with the overall serious tone so do not feel out of place. The history/educational moments are brief and do not feel forced, even if the main point of the story may be to deliver them. The Doctor and Peri feel more like a generic Doctor and Companion than their own characters, but that is very much preferable to them feeling out of character as is so often the case.

Overall this is one of the better stories in Journey through TIME.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day of the Dragon

I think this first picture must have been commissioned before Colin Baker had been cast as the sixth Doctor, back when Derren Nesbitt was still lined up to play the part.

Day of the Dragon begins by using the standard (for these Doctor Who stories) technique of having had some events already happen and we join them at a suitably dramatic point. Also standard s for the story to then quickly backtrack and fill us in on how the Doctor and Companion (in this case Peri) got into the situation.

"Colonel Latham's been burnt to a cinder, but nothing else around him has been touched! What on earth could have caused this?"

An intriguing 'locked room' mystery is thus quickly established. Colonel Latham is some manny who the Doctor and Peri had been visiting (for reasons that are never made clear so must not be important) and were only away from for a moment when he went on fire. The Doctor comes up with a theory:
"What?" asked Peri, puzzled.
"Spontaneous Human Combustion," replied the Doctor flatly. "It's all to do with magnetic forces and chemicals in the human body."

S.H.C. (also known as SMC to cats) is not to be confused with SPC.

Pictured: SPC.

However, the arrival of two more mannys on the scene provides a different explanation:
"Dragons in . . . in the cellar!"

Harper the butler and Sarah the maid give the Doctor some exposition about Sarah having seen scary dragons in the cellar, and there is another door in Colonel Latham's room that leads down to the cellar.

Or so the butler thinks.

They go to the cellar to look for clues.

The Doctor finds "something resembling part of a scale" and from this he knows what is really going on, filling Peri and us in with the silliest exposition since the last time one of these stories had exceptionally silly exposition:
"Three centuries ago, I had the great displeasure to tangle with one of the most dangerous adversaries I have ever encountered. Qualar, the Grand Master of Fire. He was able to destroy anyone or anything with fire, with-out harming the surrounding area."
"How?" asked Peri, as the Doctor gazed into space.
"He was fire incarnate. He could take the form of a dragon . . . even of fire itself. He is truly a power to be reckoned with. We couldn't destroy him, but we did make a bargain with him. In return for peace, we gave him the planet Zaron to create havoc in. Clearly, it wasn't enough."

They go into some woods to look for Qualar and Peri is scared when a tree goes on fire.

"I know it's you, Qualar, there's no need for silly games!" shouted the Doctor.

I have to admit that, as silly as this story is, Qualar is very scary - he roars in both capital letters and in italics! They see Qualar in the form of "an enormous dragon".

"WOW!" shrieked Peri. "It must be fifty feet tall! If it doesn't burn us, it'll crush us to death!"

It seems Peri can shriek in capitals and italics - that is also impressive. Another "ROAR!" is enough to scare even the Doctor.

Qualar is not alone, he has four other dragons with him. Qualar turns into his true form, described as
a seven-foot-high mass of pulsating grey matter, with a kind of black aura around him.
Qualar remembers the Doctor.

"You tricked me, Doctor! You gave me a dead world! Nothing lives - nothing can be controlled on Zaron! You tricked me!"
"If nothing lives on Zaron, it's because of your destructive ways, Qualar!" cried the Doctor impatiently. "Now you're searching for more victims . . . am I right?"

Qualar's dragons burn a bush, but then Qualar decides to vanish with his dragons instead of killing the Doctor and Peri. They try to go back to the Tardis but it is "surrounded by flames." Qualar taunts them, indicating that he wants to play with them, cat-and-mouse-like, before killing them, but Qualar is not a cat, he's a baddy, and so he can't help but give away that he killed Colonel Latham because the Colonel was "a danger" to him.

The Doctor and Peri go back to the Colonel's house and the Doctor gives some more exposition about Qualar:
"Back on planet Zaron, he was indestructible because it was his territory, and he was in complete control," said the Doctor.

So... the Doctor tricked Qualar by giving him the dead world Zaron, which was Qualar's territory anyway. That's quite a trick! Harper the butler meets them in the house.

"Doctor!" he cried. "There's a fire-breathing monster coming this way. He's burning everything in his path!"
"Oh, tut, tut," said the Doctor casually, shaking his head. "That won't do the garden much good!"
Peri and Harper stared at him in disbelief. Had he gone mad?

I can understand why Harper wouldn't understand the Doctor if he had only just recently met him, but you would think Peri would consider this a very mild display of madness compared to what she experienced in The Twin Dilemma. It is a remark that seems to me to be perfectly in keeping with his sixth persona. Much less in-character is the next exchange:
"Well, we can't leave until we've carried out our plan," replied the Doctor.
"What plan?" asked Harper.
"To exterminate Qualar," said the Doctor simply. "What else?"

They go to Colonel Latham's chemistry laboratory - there's no foreshadowing of this, a major failing of the story - to turn "all the gas taps on" and then run away to "the safety of the Tardis." Because this is the last page of the story there clearly isn't time to explain why the fires around it aren't there any more.

"Let's see what's happened to Qualar," said the Doctor, switching on the screen monitor.
The chaos shown there told them everything. The second Qualar's flames had made contact with the gas and chemicals, an almighty explosion had ripped the house apart, taking most of the surrounding areas with it. Qualar and his companions were no more.

That rather abrupt ending leaves only one paragraph for the Doctor to make a final quip in.

"Well, that seems to be the end of that," said the Doctor, dusting himself down. "I feel rather hungry all of a sudden. Anyone fancy a nice, juicy steak . . . well done, of course!"

Mew, this is a pretty poor story on the whole. Structurally it is all over the place, going from a locked room mystery setup to being hunted in the woods by monsters to wrapping it all up on the last page. Qualar is not a convincing baddy and his backstory is muddled if not outright contradictory. The Doctor is characterised quite well for the most part, but this is spoiled at the end with his extermination-happy solution, and Peri is not given dialogue consistent with her character at all.

This would have fitted in well with the TV stories of season 22 although, unless they got Stephen Grief to be Qualar or Gareth Thomas to play Harper, it wouldn't have held a candle to Timelash.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A Problem for You...

This page is not so much a story as it is a free game included with the book. It has nothing to do with Doctor Who and the Doctor isn't even mentioned, although it may be a sort of sequel to Dressed for a Walk in that it also talks about "the surface of the moon."

The game is that you have to put the 15 items in the red box into the order of their importance for being on the surface of the moon, and if you get it right then I think you are allowed to become an astronaut. To make this harder than it first appears
There is no 'correct' answer.

The game is too hard for me by myself so I enlisted the help from my friends and top spaceship designers the Monkeys With Badges. Here is our answer.

food concentrate
We are cats and Monkeys (With Badges), so we don't nom "concentrate" and, in fact, don't even know what that is. But as it is the most important item we have read so far we will number it 1.

parachute silk
The Monkeys didn't think this would be too useful, but as a cat I can see many uses for a ball of silk thread to keep me amused while away from my friends and the internets, so this gets numbered 1 (moving the previous 1 down a number as a result).

two .45 calibre pistols
At first we thought that these would be useful for shooting any hostile aliens that may be on the moon, but then we remembered that we don't have thumbs so would not be able to use them. Therefore this gets numbered 3.

two 110lb tanks of oxygen
Tanks would allow us to drive around on the moon's surface, so this sounds very useful, and if there were two it would mean I could have one and the Monkeys With Badges could have the other. This gets numbered 1. We don't know what oxygen would be used for but maybe it would turn out to be a valuable extra feature.

a magnetic compass
This is obviously another cat toy, for when I get bored playing with the silk. While clearly important, I don't think this is the most important item so far, so it gets numbered 3.

solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter
We were all agreed that this would be vital to stay in contact with our friends and the internets while in space and on the surface of the moon, so it gets numbered 1.

first aid kit containing injection needles
Needles! Mew mew mew! This is too scary for me, it gets numbered 7.

life raft
We don't think this would be useful at all on the surface of the moon because it has no water, so it gets numbered 7.

5 gallons of water
Oh, I understand now - if we take 5 gallons of water with us we can use the life raft on the water. That's clever; it is like a puzzle from an old computer game. This gets numbered at 7 since it is only as much use as the life raft.

one case of dehydrated pet milk
At last: noms! This is certainly one of the most important things on the list, up there with connection to the internets (cats cannot live on noms alone). I will number it with a 2.

box of matches
On the one paw matches are dangerous, but on the other paw we don't have thumbs and so can't use them anyway. Either paw leads me to the conclusion that matches are not useful, and the Monkeys have pointed out that you can't use matches in space. Maybe that is what the oxygen in the tanks was supposed to be for, but I will number this as 10.

50' of nylon rope
Rope is not as good as thread for playing with so I would have to rate this below the parachute silk. The Monkeys have suggested that if you could catch an alien with the rope then you could get it to pull you to where you wanted to go. While that is an ingenious suggestion, I think that we have to put this behind both the parachute silk and the tanks, so it goes in at 5.

stellar map of the moon's constellations
As useful as a map sounds at first, we don't believe in astrology so we don't think this would be much use after all. It gets numbered 12.

signal flares
Science Fiction stories tell us that signal flares have many uses, and that the one thing they almost never get used for is signalling. As a result we are agreed that these would be good to have for any unforseen contingencies, although we don't know what those might be. This gets position number 5.

portable heating unit
Keeping warm would be important if we were on the dark side of the moon, but the game explicitly says we are on the light side, so we could roml in a sunbeam if we wanted to be warm. This gets numbered 14.

If NASA is reading this and wants us to become astronauts, please leave a comment below.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers

Today I watched a film called Duck Noms (or something like that anyway) and I now has a new favourite manny. He is Groucho Marx and he has the best and silliest moustache evar.

The film was very funny all the way through with both wordplay and slapstick, and it is rightly famous for its "mirror scene" where the Marx Brothers become almost as confused by a mirror as cats get, except the big joke is that there isn't really a mirror there!

Monday, 12 January 2015

We Need Less Power

If you don't think Power is the worst episode of all Blakes 7, here's my attempt to persuade you that you are wrong to not think that.

But first, here are two good things about Power:

No, I don't mean Gunn Sar's moobs.

They only count as one.

The other is the way Avon defeats Gunn Sar in their duel using "a glove" as his weapon - really he uses his cleverness to defeat Gunn Sar's brainless brawn.

Now for the bad points:

Power is the last of Ben Steed's three sexist scripts for Blakes 7 - the previous two being Harvest of Kairos and Moloch - and manages to be the most sexist and the most awful.

The sexism runs through this episode with the division of men (that is, male mannys) and women (female mannys) into separate tribes, the Hommiks and the Seska respectively, but is exemplified in the character of Nina who was a Seska but now lives with the Hommiks as the wife of Gunn Sar, and explicitly states that she is a woman as opposed to being a Seska and helps the Hommiks turn more captured Seska into "women" by operating on them to remove the crystals which give the Seska psychic powers.

Their conflict interacts with Avon's attempt at obtaining a crystal to make Dorian's teleporter work. In the sngle worst scene in Blakes 7, he comes up against Pella, a Seska, who has the crystal Nina surgically removed from another Seska, and who threatens to use her psychic powers against Avon.

Pella: "I don't want to hurt you, Avon."
Avon: "Oh, it's good. But it's not good enough."
Pella: "Don't make me do it again."
Avon: "You must, though. Mustn't you?"

Avon: "Oh, it hurts, Pella. But I will win. There's not much left, is there?"
Pella: "Enough."

Avon wins, because...
Avon: "You see, Pella, it's your strength, and however you use it, a man's will always be greater. Unfair, perhaps, but biologically unavoidable."

And then, to cap off this inexcusably out of character speech from Avon, he kiffs Pella against her will as if in order to make the scene completely irredeemable.

Various other bits of sexist nonsense litter the episode, such as Dayna only defeating Gunn Sar with assistance from the psychic powers of two Seska. It gives me the feeling that Ben Steed wanted Gunn Sar to have been even more of a MAN than Jarvik, if that's possible.

At the end Avon shoots Pella (who was, to be fair, trying to steal Scorpio! and maroon the rest of them on Xenon Base like Khan at the end of Space Seed) and looks quite cool doing so, but this moment is ruined by the following exchange of dialogue as Pella is dying:

Pella: "That always was the easy answer for the man - the Hommik!"
Avon: "If you didn't want the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question."

To that sub-James-Bondian quip Avon adds this bit of fish-philosophising, which I can only conclude comes straight from the mind of Blakes 7's worst writer, Ben Steed:

"It's a problem, isn't it? You can have war between races, war between cultures, war between planets. But once you have war between the sexes, you eventually run out of people."

Bye bye Ben.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dorians 7, Chekhovs Gun

Rescue begins season 4 of Blakes 7 by establishing Dorian as a new main character. He has his own ship, Scorpio! with his own computer, Slave, and he has his own base, Xenon Base, and he even has a girlfriend, Soolin.

Meanwhile, back on Terminal, all Avon has is a gun, and it isn't even his own gun, it's a Federation gun.

He uses it to capture Dorian and Scorpio! although he refrains from saying "All your base are belong to us."

Avon puts the gun down when he takes one of Dorian's guns. Oh yes, Dorian has his own special set of guns too.

It is Vila who picks up the Federation gun and takes it with him to Xenon Base.

In this picture it looks as though Avon is falling for Dorian's charms, and who could blame him for that (purr), except that this is season 4 Avon so he remains suspicious of everybody. Only he is not suspicious enough because, when it turns out Dorian is a baddy, Avon discovers his new gun doesn't work, oh noes!

Fortunately Vila still has the one gun that does work...

... and he delivers it into Avon's hands in time for Avon to shoot Dorian's monster and save the day.
"This is my show!" Avon could have said, but didn't because it would have been too meta.

Dorian makes one final attempt to steal the scene, if not the show, by overacting as he dies, but it is not enough. You don't get to out-ham Paul Darrow in Blakes 7.

The new title sequence for season 4 still has no apostrophe in it, proving that Blakes 7 is called Blakes 7 and not "Blake's 7".

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

In Stand Up Comedian (2005), the stand up comedian Stewart Lee performs one of his cleverest and funniest routines in which he goes from discussing the historical inaccuracies in the 1995 film Braveheart to baiting the Scottish audience at the Glasgow venue by calling William Wallace (or, as Stewart Lee always refers to him, “William Wallace, Braveheart, the Scottish National Hero”) a paedophile. “A Scottish paedophile. The worst kind of paedophile that there is.”

What makes it harder to watch Stand Up Comedian now, 10 years later, is the knowledge that some months after the performance was filmed and released on DVD, Stewart Lee was murdered by terrorists along with a number of other comedians (performing at the same gig as Lee on that occasion), the manager of the gig’s venue, and several members of the staff security team. The following day, in a separate but related incident, comedians Richard Herring, Alistair McGowan and The Actor Kevin Eldon, all of whom had worked with Lee on the 1990s TV series Fist of Fun, were also killed.

The terrorists responsible may not have been Scottish, but it seems probable that they were because they were wearing kilts, and ginger wigs of the sort Russ Abbot used to wear in the 1980s, and singing ‘O Flower of Scotland’ very badly. We may never know the full truth because they were quickly caught and shot by police after attempting to rob an off licence in Paisley.

In the days, months and years that followed, many people asked the question “why did they do it?” before concluding that it was because they were dickheads with no sense of either proportion or humour.

A smaller, but still significant, number of people asked the question “why did he do it?” with “he” in this case meaning Stewart Lee. In other words, why did Lee bait the people of Scotland by accusing their National Hero, William “Braveheart” Wallace, of being a paedophile? He must, they would argue, he must have known that, in a population of over 5 million, there would likely be a tiny minority of humourless, proportionless dickheads willing to kill to avenge any slight to their sense of identity, bound up in feelings of Scottishness and consequently threatened by a personal attack against one of their National Heroes.

By performing the “Braveheart” routine at all (the argument concludes), never mind the deliberately provocative way he performed it in front of a Scottish audience, Stewart Lee was inviting retribution upon himself and as many other innocent parties as the psychopathic dickheads could get away with.

The usual counter-argument is that Stewart Lee would have been well aware of the danger he was putting himself – and by extension an unquantifiable number of others – into by performing the routine, because he would have been aware of the attempt to silence any criticism of Scottish National Heroes by fringe groups of Scottish fanatics who had for several years been threatening violent death to anyone who used stand up comedy routines to criticise William “Braveheart” Wallace, Robert “the” Bruce, Mary “Queen of Scots” Stuart, John Knox, etc.

But if Stewart Lee and all the other stand up comedians, Scottish and non-Scottish alike, had bowed to this threat, where would it have ended? The dickheads would just have gone on to make further demands, each one less reasonable than the (already unreasonable) one before – perhaps demands for political power leading on to the enforcement of Scottish Law upon the rest of the United Kingdom, or maybe the compulsory wearing of the kilt and an obligation for schools to teach the poetry of Robert Burns in English Scottish classes.

Eventually there would have come a sticking point, an issue upon which the reasonable majority of the population – or their political representatives – would have refused to compromise. And then that would have been the pretext for the violence and the murders.
They were terrorists. They wanted to kill some people to get their way. They would always have found someone.