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Sunday, July 10, 2011


After a very interesting journey, I have finally reached Area 51, and in doing so, I can confirm the existence of aliens.  The first alien is the deteriorating eyesight.  Admittedly, I am only having to wear my specs on rare occasions, like to read small print on menus in badly lit restaurants, but I know that it will not be long until this becomes commonplace in bright illuminated venues, with large fonts on a blackboard.  The second group of aliens that decided not to remain in hiding, are the joint pains.  From all the research, it would appear that I have 'golfer's elbow'.   I would have been quite happy for this alien to have stayed away, but it seems to have gained confidence and remains with me at all times. 

Although, as I hit my 52nd year, I am aware of many changes, some are still the same.  Who would have thought that after 50 years, some aliens would still be very prominent in my life; namely, the Daleks!  The Daleks, for those who are not familiar, are the prime enemy of Dr. Who.  Dr. Who, for those who are unfamiliar, is a Time Lord.  Is there such a thing as a Time Lord?  Heck yeah!  Dr. Who was Sci Fi, when Sci Fi was still known as Science Fiction.

As a child, I was terrified of the Daleks.  I would watch Dr. Who every Saturday, from behind the sofa.  My mother would come into the lounge, wonder as to my whereabouts, and then suggest that if I did not want to sit on the chairs, like a normal human being, perhaps I should not watch the programme.  I would go to bed, traumatised, but not admitting wholly to the fact, asking my mother how I could be protected from the Daleks, in my bedroom. Her standard answer was, 'Daleks cannot climb stairs!'  Feeling somewhat, but not completely safe, I would survive until the next week. 

The Daleks were totally believable aliens in the eyes of a child, especially this child.  Their threats to 'exterminate' were not taken lightly.  The series was laid to rest the latter part of the 1990's but resurrected less than a decade later.  I was very excited when I heard it was coming back to the small screen, on both sides of the Atlantic, and enthusiastically explained to Dana that this was a show not to be missed.  After the first episode, fans of the previous era, whom had become stars themselves, were interviewed about 'The Doctor'.   To use a now common phrase, I was really shocked!  Everyone who spoke about the series said the same thing; 'I used to watch it from behind the sofa!'  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!  All those years of assuming I was a complete wimp, because I could not face the television, had come to an end.  It would appear that an entire generation spent half an hour on a Saturday night, sitting behind a piece of furniture.  'Wait until I tell my mum', I shrieked, as the vocalist Alison Moyet told the chat show host a similar phrase to, 'I used to hide behind the sofa'. 

The common consensus of opinion is that throughout the years, both in the pre and post 21st century episodes, none of the Doctor's foes were more fear-provoking than the Daleks.  Watching me, watching my contemporaries, giving an account of their experience, Dana had yet to see these terrifying creatures, and watched each episode in anticipation.  Finally, his waiting came to an end.  Unaware of the content of the episode, I sat and watched the television, comparing the new with the old, when the number one metal opponent  appeared.  I grabbed Dana's hand and squeezed tightly, as the silver machine slid across the screen, tentacle searching, upper body part swiveling.  I held my breath.  'It's them', I whispered, sitting on the bed, contemplating my escape route, and having only my hands to hide behind.  Dana, completely unsympathetically, burst into laughter.  'You are still scared?', he inquired.  There was still an air of fear that surrounded the 'master race', and the memories of insisting that my mother keep the landing light on, and my bedroom door well and truly open, were very vivid. 
I sat and watched the episode, with mixed feelings of delight and trepidation.  The Doctor, and his female assistant, were being chased through a building, and finally exited to a stairwell.  They ran upwards, towards the roof.  I breathed a sigh of relief as the commercial break paused the show.  'It's okay, they are safe.  Dalek's can't climb stairs', I told Dana, very authoritatively.  I felt relieved as I waited for the break to be over.  Settling back, comfortably, pillow lowered to my lap, as the programme continued, I was suddenly thrown into an uncontrollable panic, which in turn, threw Dana into uncontrollable laughter.  The Daleks congregated at the foot of the stairs, and then the unthinkable happened.  They levitated!  'But my mum said they couldn't climb stairs!', I screamed, over and over again. 

My mum was completely unaware of what I was talking about when I called her on the Monday morning.  She had never watched Dr. Who.  She vaguely remembered that I would watch the programme but had no recollection as from where I watched.  She did confirm that finding me behind the sofa would have generated a comment about 'sitting properly'.  My mother's furniture was always treated with great respect, and unless one's bottom was placed firmly on the cushion, one was not 'sitting properly', and we respected this rule.  She did remember my fear of Daleks, but did not relate this to a specific bedtime trauma. I was constantly insisting the lights remained on, and my bedroom door stay open.  'But they levitate', I told her.  'You were always trying to levitate!', she responded, reminding me of the game my friends and I used to play, (although we did not consider it a game at the time) where someone would lay down, and we would chant about there having been an accident, and attempt to concentrate enough to lift the victim with each of us using just one or two fingers.  ''The ancient art of levitation', never actually worked!', I responded.  Perhaps if I had worn a Dalek costume.....

The Daleks are still the most evil of the Doctor's enemies, as they are the most consistent.  They are never completely destroyed.  I  count it as a victory each time I hear another one of my peers announce, 'I watched Dr. Who from behind the sofa', or words to that effect. 
Reaching Area 51 was indeed a very interesting journey.  Feeling the same surge of uncertainty each time the Dalek appears is rather comforting.  No doubt other aliens will appear, and once The Area has been entered, there is no return.

My birthday was, as always, wonderful. Another year of memories have been made.  I am constantly taken back to one, or another, of those of my childhood, as in this post.  Perhaps I will make those...another story.

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