Well, for some time now I’ve wanted to transfer an academic interest in the late 15th century plus my living history interests into a novel.
It’s a long journey and one that’s been on hold for at least five years. Now I feel if it’s ever to see the light of day I need to get moving.
The following excerpt will give you some idea about how much work needs doing:
The oak trees along the edge of the road rustled gently in the breeze, their leaves yellowing early this autumn. The same breeze ruffled the white hair of the old man sitting in the cushioned chair by the door to the smithy. A table at his right elbow bore a plate of bread and cheese and a cup of watered wine – both untouched. The man’s gaze remained fixed on the Skipton road as it curved eastwards from the village to the curve of Hellistone Hill. He had sat thus every day for over a week since the news from the borderlands had filtered south.
Gervaise, 1st Baron Daubney, sometime Privy Councillor to King Richard III, sometime Master of the Horse to King Henry VIII and (until this August), Member of Parliament for Skipton, shifted uncomfortably, wracked by yet another coughing fit. The factor he’d dispatched to York two weeks ago with six cartloads of wool had returned beside himself with excitement. The Earl of Surrey’s army had routed the Scots at Branxton Green in Northumberland. King James was dead, and what sounded like the flower of Lowland Scots nobility with him. No word on the English slain of course – it might take the gloss from the tidings now passing across the sea to France along with the slashed and tattered surcoat soaked in the blood of a king. The slim, blue-veined hand on his left shoulder tightened briefly, as if its owner sensed his thoughts. He sighed and turned round.
Lady Phillipa Daubney smiled gently at her husband. His eyes were still as blue as they had ever been, though worryingly sunken of late with fatigue and worry. Well, we both have our threescore and ten and are in God’s hands together – as are our sons.
‘It’s growing late my love – if you must watch further at least let me send for a warmer gown.’ Silence. Watching here until the last dregs of day are sucked from the sky won’t bring our boys home sooner. Broad shouldered and athletic Thomas, whose ready wit and charming manner had already caught the eye of the young king and taken him away to the wars in France. Leaving small, slender and serious Richard to lead a thin line of two score billmen – all that could be spared from Hellistone Hundred – to the muster at Durham.
Yes, she thought sadly, it’s not for Thomas we keep vigil. For Thomas is in every way the soldier – in every aspect the boy my father never had. But Richard, whose hands seem better suited to the quill than the sword – Richard, whose sober seriousness is such an uncanny echo of another Richard dead for almost thirty summers – Richard is very much his father’s son.
They had bidden him godspeed in the Hall one hot August afternoon. Gervaise’s eyes had been bright with unshed tears as Richard knelt before him for his blessing. Afterwards he had struggled painfully to the solar window and stood there clutching at the sill, watching until the last tiny figures had rounded the edge of Hellistone Hill and were gone from sight. That night he had clung to her like a child and poured out his misery until her fingers had lulled him to sleep.
As a child – in fact right up until about 1988, Dr Who defined the weekend. The dodgy costumes and bargin basement special effects didn’t matter (and to a certain extent still don’t). The story of Davros as an audio play? ‘Genesis of the Daleks‘ is one of my favourite Dr Who stories from childhood and one of the few I can say has really stood the test of time, so I thought this one had to be worth the cost of its download. Boy, was I not disappointed…
‘Innocence’ opens what could be as many as fifty years before the events of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’. The war between the Kaled and Thal peoples on Skaro has not yet totally poisoned the planet but that process is well underway. Sixteen year old Davros is being pulled in opposite directions by the demands of his parents. His father Colonel Nasgard is insistant on his son following a military career, whereas his mother, the well-named Lady Calcula, has him down as a scientist in the making. And young Davros? Well, at first he seems quite happy at the family villa by Drammankin Lake studying the water life. Against a background of political intrigue and explosive (literally) personal and family revalations we see the beginnings of the journey from arrogant teenager to murderously insane genius.
Overall, this is play is a well produced 77 minutes worth of drama. Diehard Whovians will enjoy the backstory – for example neither the Kaled nor Thal cities is covered by a protective dome and nuclear weapons have not yet been extensively used. Drammankin Lake is not the nest of icky things it will become in time for the First Doctor’s visit five hundred years later.
Some of the dialogue is quite creepily disturbing – especially that between Davros and his tutor Magrantine. As Davros’ personality slides further and further along the sociopathic spectrum, he starts to take an unhealthy interest in his tutor’s experiments on the effect of nuclear radiation on Skarosian lifeforms…