“You’re a geek!” she said. (“Why, thank you!” he replied…)

I was trawling facebook a couple of days ago looking to make new ‘friends’. I like to just ask people to be my friend, though maybe not always for the same reason as you. If I do it frequently enough, facebook will then ask me if I know the person personally, as in physically… I think. I can then lie, say YES by banging my finger down on my poor mouse, which’s never hurt anybody…

Little victories, you know?

You have to admit, though, that, apart from the wealth some geek and his geeky friends have attained creating facebook, it wasn’t so well thought out, was it? I mean, why would I be asking someone to be my friend if s/he’s already my friend? Defies logic. Of course, if you try to argue that point, they, at facebook, order you about like Nazi book burners: ‘You’re inferior to us… but we’re scared of your mind…’

What really irritates me is that I wouldn’t persist in trying to befriend people if they didn’t keep shoving potential friends in my face – is that what’s meant by facebook?

‘People you may know’… ‘Gary knows Sylvia, maybe you do too’…  ‘Look at all these people you may…’ – in other words: Go on, you know you want to! We can then block your account for two weeks and threaten to block you for life…

Like I care…

Or Gary posts something on his ‘timeline’ – lifeline for some – an article reading: ‘Six-times offending paedophile released from prison early for good behaviour and a sixth promise!’

 Today’s Daily Wail.

‘Let’s shame the bastard!’ grunts Gary.

Good old Gary. The trouble, however, is that although I agree with him, I still don’t ‘like’ his thread; the thread, in effect, repulses me. What, then, do I do? Where’s the ‘hate’ button, facebook??

Geeks, the lot of ’em! I say.

But if only I could think of another word, as terse and incisive as ‘geek’, without being vulgar… as terse and incisive as ‘geek’ once was, that is. For it would appear that to be a geek is no longer to be uncool…

… and I believe this is what my blog post’s about.

And so back to my debut novel, Wood, Talc and Mr. J. Phillip, our first person hero, mentions in the first chapter having been a fan of Dr. Who. But what he also does is make something of an effort to justify the idea; emphasises he was a young boy.

Have a read:

* * * * *

   ‘What have I done with the thing?’ She rummaged through her shabby, taupe bag, that once endless supplier of goodies those three evenings a week, with or without a bingo win. Into its magical depths her leathery hand would slide, and out would materialize a comic. Dr. Who and his war against the Daleks…

   The second Doctor was my second hero when I was a lad, second to my dad. Who could forget the day Mr. Hartnell plummeted to the Tardis’ console room floor and transformed into Mr. Troughton? I was at the impressionable age of five and, like all, had never before witnessed the act of Regeneration. In later years I’d prefer to trust the programme’s opening sequence of psychedelic imagery and spaced-out music had been my main attraction, had made me hip in spite of my tender age. But it was more down to scenes as when, around Christmastime, the Cybermen were popping out of grates in central-London and one of the slinky, silvery fellows hounded my favourite Doctor down a side street. That shot up the bum left him hopping, skipping and jumping off to the Brigadier like a secular turkey, and my sister and me rolling around the floor for the next two years.

* * * * *

What I’ll confess to here is that I wrote those lines a good few years ago, when living in France – I finished the book and put it away for as long; it acted as catharsis. What’s more, I wrote them before Dr. Who’s comeback, or around the time they at the BBC must have been filming Christopher Eccleston’s escapades in the first new series – I had no idea all this was going on, I’d lost track of things in England.

Coming back to the lines today, and I feel that England, maybe the world, is a different place – why should Phillip feel the need to justify being a fan of Dr. Who? Will it snow on Christmas Day? Who shot JR? Will Eastenders last? What happened to Oasis? Who are you betting the next Doctor will be??

Dr. Who: the BBC breadwinner; the recent export; The Christmas Special; the seven day a week treat…

For authenticity’s sake, I’ve kept Phillip’s lines, maybe as a reminder that the programme used to be for children, no matter today’s propaganda. As perhaps did Star Trek?

Okay, my old dad used to laugh as much as me at Kirk’s histrionics, as well as drool over every alien bombshell he conquered on every planet in the universe – he boldly went!  But still…

Recently, the University of East Anglia – only a ten-minute cycle-ride away for me – was in the national news when a confrontation between two opposing groups got out of hand, resulting in violence and a police visit – I must explain that Norwich isn’t used to this kind of thing, especially at the university, which has been voted the safest in the country for I don’t know how many years. But at least the unit to turn up was reassured to learn that… well, it speaks for itself. A double booking between ‘The Dr. Who Appreciation Society’ and ‘The Star Wars Planetarians Committee’? Or something like that…

Point being, the violence was viewed as understandable, and hence no arrests were made.

What fun it must have been for the police, getting their batons and cuffs ready, only to be met by geeks in their respective attires, going at it tooth and nail! Did anyone cop a sabre, I wonder?

And when they might have treble-booked, with the Star Trek crowd! ’Doesn’t bare thinking about…

The inspiration, by the way, for this post is no other than Ian Levine, the chap in some way responsible for Take That – oh, I’m sure he’s as sorry as I am. Very big on the Northern Soul circuit, is Ian, as a deejay and promoter. In fact, he was one of the interviewees on the BBC’s Culture Show a couple of weeks ago, about which I wrote a review. He was amid all that vinyl, as in one sneeze and we’d have lost him forever.

But – and it’s a big BUT! To view Ian’s facebook timeline is to experience another phenomenon, by way of its surreality, knowing who he is: you’re given the impression that for the cash he must make on a mere handful of vinyl discs – gold to some – which he sells now and again when he’s a little strapped, he says – goes to pay for safaris, the hunting down of lost Dr. Who episodes from the 60sstarring William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton. In places like India, wherever the call…

And he does this in no furtive manner – not on Orwell’s facebook! He’s a fanatic and doesn’t care who knows it, simple as that.

Now, I’m sure that if he’d let all this out 30 something years ago, he’d have been laughed out of Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino alike.

When, then, did it become in to come out, as it were?

Maybe Ian Levine’s never had any qualms about boasting his love for the Tardis dweller’s 3rd and 4th dimensional travels; maybe I mixed with the wrong people for too long… And after all, the Northern Soul lot, of which I am very much one, have been likened, by the uninitiated, to trainspotters.

Is it, then, a question of whatever your fetish, as per those whose it isn’t?

Or does what I’m doing right now have a lot to say in the matter? Those 35 or so years back, did I ever imagine writing for you, people around the world – he dreams – by simply tapping a button at the end of it all, like some Ziggy Stardust character of 70s fantasy? Mr. Bowie must be in his element… Indeed, did Bowie help make geek cool? Did it all begin with Space Oddity – how much of an influence was he on filmmakers, for example? And why am I implying sci-fi is for nerds only?

You see it all over twitter now, particularly amongst writers:

‘Writer of 3 sci-fi novels, yadda, yadda, yadda, self-confessed geek’, as in ‘I’m so cool for saying that and am far from alone!’.

‘paranormal nerd’.

‘supernatural drip’.

‘weed for the mystic’.

‘creep for creepy things’…

And it’s not just writers, either. Some cut straight to the chase: ‘#geek, into nerdy, pls follow’.

Yes. There’s even a hashtag – # – for it, to make geeking that bit easier.

And the comic geek… well!

‘I’m a comic geek – follow me!’

Can you believe that? Where s/he may once have trodden carefully, sh/e now tweets the illness –interest; slip of the finger – to the world!

But rather than veer down a route already taken – tweeters and twits; read a previous post – I guess the true aim of this post is to ask you whether you believe there’s a double irony at play: i.e., by stating ‘I’m an out-and-out geek’, does it allow us to freely be geeky? I’ll put it another way: by shouting ‘I’m an out-and-out geek’, a), do people think you’re being ironic, and thus refuse to believe it? Or, b), do people believe you but, because you employ the term ‘geek’, you’re in effect admitting the ailment and so at least recognise the severity of the condition? Or, c), do you actually disarm potential ridicule by your own admission – what else can anyone hurl at you?

Maybe I’m putting too much thought into it and getting nowhere in return. But it’s rather like Bono’s antics in the 90s, he who went out of his way to be a ‘popstar’, to wallow in irony. By doing so, was he also allowing himself to wallow in his narcissism?

Or, for a more unsavoury example, involving Jimmy Saville, by implying he was a paedophile, in that ‘jokey’ way of his, did he pave himself the perverted route of a punishment-free life?

Mmm…

Let’s get back to geeks, and all that is sci-fi, he shivers.

Or, have we already transcended the boundaries of the double irony? Do people of today do as they please, where once they’d have kept their interests private?

It can only be a good thing, if that’s the case. While ever consent is mutual. I should confess something else here. That the two major highlights of the 00s for me both happened mid-decade. Firstly, in 2005, I was besotted by the birth of my daughter – of course I was besotted! Secondly, not too long after, I experienced a thrill I’d  forgotten since my boyhood years, the moment Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor stepped into that dark room and met with a glow; heard that indefinable, guttural acknowledgement from one of his deadliest foes: ‘Doc.. torrr!’

Tingle down my spine? I was back with that “second hero”. And that Doc.. torrr!became my full-volume mobile ringtone for the following three years.

That being said, you’ll still never get me near a cinema for James Bond – is it only me? Or for the next, last and first ‘re-mastered’ Star Wars…

For William Shatner, on the other hand…

Aye, there’s a thought. Did Billy boy make geek cool? Or was he helped back a little by Luc Picard? I’ve actually asked him all this on twitter, old Billy boy … but he’s never replied…

And there’s another frightening thought: if I’ve asked him all this, the old Captain, on twitter, by simply tapping on that all-but intergalactic Samsung button of mine, in my frivolous, beam-me-up kind of way, what, then, does that make me?

Answers on a post card?

Live long and prosper.

Chris,

Chris Rose

Your literary, soulful friend

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