DWM 485 What if You Turn Right?
Yesterday I learned how to meditate. We did at one point have to go ‘OMMMM’. I would wager that a good ninety per cent of you are now imagining you’re speeding down to darkest Mummerset (not a real place) with Mike Yates and Sarah Jane Smith, and any second now you’re going to feel the eight spindly legs of a giant spider appearing on your back. Then, possibly, you might start to reflect on other back-based arthropods such as the Time Beetle and before you know it you’ve turned into a snotty bucket of tears remembering the deaths of Sarah Jane and Martha, the horror of the ‘labour camps’ and finally Donna’s astonishing, incredible sacrifice and by this point you’re not actually experiencing much of the inner peace you were promised way back at ‘OMMMM’.
Oh my, Turn Left. Such a clever, brilliant, wonderful, devastating story. How one tiny action – turning right instead of left at a junction – led to a world without the Doctor and all that entailed. As the Master once said, ‘A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about.’ Way back when DWM was celebrating Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary I mused on how different my life would have been without the Doctor. If I’d turned right instead of left in the library, back when I was a small child – if I hadn’t picked a Target novelisation off the shelf and had instead gone for something considered more appropriately girly, like a book about ponies – well, then I wouldn’t have some of my dearest friends, or my lovely husband, or, ultimately, the sheer wonders that are Fan Twin and Non-Fan Twin.
But now another anniversary is upon us. It is a whopping ten whole huge years since Doctor Who burst on to the telly scene once more! So my meditating mind began to travel down a similar but just-slightly-different-enough-to-justify-a new-column-on-it road – not what would my life be like without Doctor Who, but what would it be like if Doctor Who had never come back? What if Russell T Davies had turned right in some BBC corridor somewhere along the line and 26th March 2005 had seen something else debuting at 7pm on BBC One – yet another revival of The Generation Game, perhaps, or a new version of Space: 1999. Would it have made any significant difference to my life at all? And I came to the conclusion that no, it wouldn’t. Friends, work, family – they were already in place. Oh, bits and pieces would have changed, of course – like no gathering of friends and family the night before Fan Twin and Non-Fan Twin’s Christening watching The Shakespeare Code while eating pizza, or three-year-old Non-Fan Twin wanting to look at all Van Gogh’s paintings after Vincent and the Doctor, leading to an enduring interest in art, or just all of us cuddling up on the sofa together to watch Deep Breath, or…
At which point I realised that my conclusion was of course totally wrong. Of course it would have made a significant difference to my life. Because it would not only have been a life without The Shakespeare Code and pizza and Vincent and the Doctor and paintings and curling up on the sofa and Deep Breath, it would have been a life without crying as Rose meets her dad for the first time and then loses him in Father’s Day (mega-snotty buckets), or laughing like crazy as Donna tries to save the Doctor from cyanide poisoning in The Unicorn and the Wasp, or being unable to walk past statues for a fortnight after Blink, or watching my children trying to re-enact the ‘Addams Family’ crawling TARDIS by sticking their hands through a toy police box during Flatline. It would have been a life without ‘my Sarah Jane’ in School Reunion; husband going around singing ‘Mr Blue Sky’ for weeks after Love & Monster; marvelling at the fairy-tale beauty of The Eleventh Hour and spending hours on eBay trying to find a tweed jacket that would fit Fan Twin; the many, many Daleks v Cybermen battles in our garden following Doomsday; my children offering to hold my hand during Mummy on the Orient Express so I wouldn’t get too frightened – oh, and Human Nature, Silence in the Library, Midnight, The Lodger, The Girl in the Fireplace, Amy’s Choice, A Christmas Carol… Turn Left itself… oh, so much fab stuff.
I can’t claim that any of those things were exactly world-shattering. Not life-altering, really. But they’ve made life just that little bit better, and that is significant. Because for some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about. And Doctor Who – well, it provides more small and beautiful events than most. And that’s got to be good for your inner peace, whether you OMMMM or not.