DWM 482 We Will Do Our Best!

The boys will be starting Cubs in the new year (in fact they are due to be at their very first meeting on the day this DWM is published). I’m reading through the list of activities that they have to look forward to in the term ahead, and honestly, an awful lot of Doctor Who characters would have benefitted from these opportunities. Fire Safety: Caecilius and the inhabitants of Pompeii. Preparation for Astronomer badge: Binro the Heretic. Preparation for Cyclist badge: Pigbin Josh. Swimming gala: Peri. Handicrafts: Eldrad. (Half-human) Mother’s Day Parade: the Eighth Doctor.

It all looks very exciting, and they can’t wait to start. Camping! Badges! Games! Crafts! Helping! And of course they will need to Be Prepared at all times. When I was a Brownie you were supposed to keep everything you might need in one of your uniform pockets – eg a piece of string, a clean hankie and a 2p piece in case you needed to make a phonecall (for younger readers: if you were away from home and needed to make a phonecall, you had to go into a red box a bit like a TARDIS and feed it coins. I know! Can you believe we used to live that way?). I’ve carried on the habit until this day. (Being prepared, I mean, not wearing a Brownie uniform.) My handbag bulges with handy things and it pains me when, for reasons of it being so heavy I can’t actually lift it off the ground, I have to choose between taking a set of screwdrivers or a torch with me to the shops, JUST IN CASE. I make the boys carry spare socks and fold-up cagoules in their schoolbags, JUST IN CASE, and I have an emergency rucksack kept under the stairs with contents including foil blankets, water purification tablets, Mars Bars and a paperback of Doctor Who and the Cybermen by Gerry Davis, JUST IN CASE.

I realise by now you may be considering me to be overly paranoid or possibly in need of therapy. But just think how bad it would be the other way round! What if you knew that every time you went out you would probably be facing monsters but didn’t take even a pen or a packet of sanitising hand wipes with you? What if you sauntered on to an alien world heedless of weather or terrain conditions without a change of shoes, an umbrella or a box of blister plasters? Now that really would be odd behaviour. OK, so you might do it the first or even the second time you ventured out of your time machine, but after a while why haven’t you spotted your error? If I were travelling in the TARDIS, I would equip myself with a minimum of DMs, a woolly hat and sunscreen (in case of freak weather conditions), gold (for Cybermen), vinegar (for Slitheen),  antiplastic (for Nestenes), matches (not just for firelighting, but also for propping eyes open in the event of encountering a Weeping Angel), mistletoe (for werewolves. And in case of meeting cute alien boys) and a mirror (for Mara. Also for touching up make-up – see mistletoe). And antibiotics, a lot of antibacterial spray, a compass and a cardigan that could either be worn for warmth or used as a string substitute.

I don’t think any of the companions would have got far in the scouting or guiding movements. Yes, Ian – the resourceful originator of the whole cardigan/string thing – was fairly hot at making campfires, but apart from that, they all seem strangers to the woggle, and it’s clear that Be Prepared is a motto that means nothing to most of them. OK, so Tegan occasionally carried a very, very small bag with her (probably barely big enough to hold a hankie – although I seem to remember once hearing John Nathan-Turner say that there were no hankies in the TARDIS, or something like that, anyway), but her inability to wear sensible footwear pretty much rules her out. Adric did earn his Mathematical Excellence badge, but ruined it all by sadly failing his Getting Off a Space Freighter in Time badge. Leela would be fantastic at woodcraft, but considering that she thinks the ‘old and crippled’ should be slain, I can’t see her going down a storm at the Girl Guides’ annual carol concert for OAPS. Ace seems at first glance like a shoo-in – jacket,  boots, rucksack – but unless I’m misremembering from a distance of 30-odd years, I’m pretty sure the Girl Guide law says ‘A Girl Guide thinks of others before herself, does a good turn every day, and never throws explosives at anyone’. And none of the companions even thinks to ask the Doctor if he could just rustle them up their own sonic screwdriver! (Obviously Romana gets Brownie points for doing it herself.)

Honestly, someone in the universe really needs to set up a Companion Scout organisation. As long as they don’t include the Scout salute. The Doctor really doesn’t like salutes.