14 May, 2006

False start

I was late in yesterday evening thanks to delays on the Underground, meaning I missed the first two minutes of Doctor Who. And this was even after the programme had been shunted back in the schedules thanks to the FA Cup final. Even so, as soon as I saw the episode had already started, that was it. I had to switch off. I couldn't watch any more. Despite the opening titles having barely died away, the thought of me staying tuned and not having seen the whole thing was too much to bear. So I ended up missing not just the first 120 seconds but the full 45 minutes. And will have to wait until the repeat on BBC3 tonight to make amends.

You might think such behaviour pointless. But would you start reading a book two pages in? Begin listening to a favourite song by skipping a couple of verses? Dip into a newspaper column a couple of paragraphs from the beginning? These are experiences which demand to be enjoyed in full from the top, and cannot hope to do themselves justice if skimmed of their opening gambit. That's what openings are for, dammit!

So just like when Woody Allen in the film Annie Hall refused to go into the cinema once he'd discovered the screening has already started, I shunned 43 minutes of Doctor Who for something more boring instead. I just can't bear to have not been with a TV programme from the off. Stuff I've videoed invariably features a great deal of unconnected, unrelated airtime hailing from the minutes leading up to a specific show's transmission, simply because I couldn't handle having to watch something I'd taped with the start missing. Indeed, there's only one such instance in my collection, and that's the first episode of The Day Today, which is absent of the first 60 seconds due to me frantically trying to find a tape to record what I could already sense was going to be fantastic TV.

If only half the Underground network hadn't been shut down for engineering work, and if only the carriage doors hadn't stayed closed at Golders Green station thereby infuriating several passengers (all of whom, inevitably, were old women) creating a scene and hence a fracas and hence even more of a delay, I'd have been back in time to see the whole episode of Doctor Who and none of this blog entry would have existed. As it was I suddenly had a gap in the evening, neatly coinciding with a sudden outburst of heavy rain, which I was subsequently able to watch and savour and enjoy in a manner not possible had my attention been on a children's science fiction show.

Such is life. If Mussolini ran this country, it never would have happened. But as well as having trains that ran on time, we'd also have institutionalised facsism. Which, curiously enough, appears to be the theme of tonight's Doctor Who...


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