Time Travel 21

I was just reading the Guardian’s piece about the rediscovery of episodes of Dr Who, The Web of Fear.

It took me back so strongly that it felt quite uncanny.  I have strong memories of watching this on TV with my sister Celia, when I must only have been eight years old.  I remember the dark mouths of the tube tunnels, and the yeti – who for the most part got glimpsed briefly – coming out of them with strange lights for eyes.  I remember the deadly fungus that made soldiers sort of flash in oscillating light then fall down dead – there was a kind of clumpy stuff, but in my memory there was a kind of horizontal layered cobwebby stuff across the tube tunnels too.  I don’t imagine I will actually watch these recovered episodes, but it would be interesting to know how much of that memory is accurate.

I remember the detail of the carpet and the furniture in our home.  A bit like Proust’s madeleines, this little recovered memory brings back so much.  Television was a shared experience then – Mark and Martin and Clive would all have watched the same thing, and we could discuss and play it together.  I was fortunate to have an extremely happy childhood.  It is strange how it makes me so terribly sad to recall it.

Weirdly enough – I have had a strange life – the article also gave me a vivid flashback to the first time I entered Jos, where the tapes were discovered.



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21 thoughts on “Time Travel

  • Mary

    I ‘chime’ with you Craig especially on childhood memories which become more vivid as one gets older. Like yours, my childhood was happy for which I am very thankful.

    ‘Into my heart an air that kills
    From yon far country blows:
    What are those blue remembered hills,
    What spires, what farms are those?

    That is the land of lost content,
    I see it shining plain,
    The happy highways where I went
    And cannot come again.’

    A.E. Housman #40 in the cycle A Shropshire Lad

  • Jemand

    I wouldn’t revisit those episodes, Craig. My experience is they end up looking crappy because, at that age, you didn’t appreciate how badly those shows were produced. Memories tend to stretch over time. Fish get bigger, ex-girlfriends get hotter, appliances more reliable. Dr Who is a good example of how an inverted garbage bin with plunger and an egg-beater poking out can arouse the imagination of young boys to fill in the gaps left by a small BBC props budget.

  • Komodo

    This was the era of Joe 90 and the Milky Bar Kid. We weren’t allowed to watch the box much at the incredibly lousy boarding school I attended; Dr Who happened to coincide with a permitted viewing slot. Even then I thought it was crap. From the point when the wibbly “WHO” logo morphed inexplicably into “OHO”, via the Daleks – visibly constructed by the Blue Peter team – onwards. The other thing we were allowed – even encouraged – to watch was the excellent First World War series. Genuine horror.

    But thank you for reminding me of that bastard school.

  • A Node

    I remember getting a similar ‘flashback’ a few years ago upon hearing a record for the first time since childhood. My recall was so vivid that I spent some time trying to figure out why. This is what I concluded:

    When we experience something new and unfamiliar to us, we observe it with our full attention, and memory of the event contains vivid first impressions.
    When we subsequently experience something similar, we interpret it using comparisons to the first occurrence, less concentration is required to understand it and the memory is less vivid.
    When we recall an event for the first time, we mentally re-create it from pristine memories.
    When we recall an event on subsequent occasions, we re-create it using a mixture of memories of the event itself and memories of our musings from previous recollections. Each time we re-call the same event, the original memory become more ‘diluted’.
    Therefore the most vivid memories are those of a novel experience which we haven’t thought much about since.

    A melancholy conclusion from this analysis is that we have a diminishing stock of vivid memories. As we grow older, we have fewer actual novel experiences, and fewer memories of them which we haven’t re-visited. Take my example of a song* not heard since childhood triggering memories of sitting by the radio on a Saturday morning listening to ‘Children’s Favourites.’ Having listened to it again, it has lost its freshness – if I hear it yet again it will have less impact. A vivid memory has been used up. How many more do I have left? Was that the last one?


    *It was ‘Sparky’s Magic Echo.’

  • mark golding

    I remember ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ – notably a worker on the ‘spaceship’ site running through a church cemetery, falling and ‘poltergeist’ activity causing a ripple through the cobble stone path. The inside of the ship was freaky with projections of insect-like aliens fighting each other in a bloody purge.

    We realise these aliens had visited earth in an attempt to change the minds of humans and equip them with extrasensory perception, insight and the power of intention…

  • Jemand


    Mark Golding’s comment just above, stirred a faint reminder of a movie I’d seen as a child but had been unable to find on the interbloggle after several tries in the past. I had no details to go on other than in the below google query.

    Google – “english movie excavate alien space ship”

    Now what do you think that query returned? The very first item was MG’s movie, which is the one and the same. Hah!

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    The past is a shadow that vaguely revisits. Nostalgia is warm and fuzzy because our brains conveniently reduce the untoward memories, and highlight the delight. Times in the past seem better than the present because of this.

    These are the good old days. Be here now.

  • Nextus

    Years ago I had vivid dreams about rows of insectoid aliens, and it took me a while to work out the source: it was ‘Quatermass and the Pit’, which I remember watching when it cropped up on late night TV in my formative years. At the time, I thought it was silly rubbish with risible special effects, but it obviously struck a chord somehow. I haven’t seen it since, but the memory is still vivid. As soon as Mark Golding mentioned the title of the film, I knew what he’d be referring to. There must be something very primal about that scene. Doctor Who, at least in the early incarnations, was aiming at the same emotional target.

    I recently went to a conference on cognitive neuroscience which shed some light on why these memories are so vivid. Even retrograde amnesiacs with impaired autobiographical memory can recover accurate memories this way, particularly at moments of high emotion. You could say it’s the flashbulb memory effect using emotional sensation as a primary cue, which bypasses the normal cognitive or conceptual routes to recall. There is a neuroscientific explanation for this phenomenon, but I’ll spare you the technicalities.

  • Indigo

    I was fortunate to have an extremely happy childhood. It is strange how it makes me so terribly sad to recall it.

    Something lost, perhaps? Or regrets for you know not what?

    Who knows …

  • craig Post author

    I have very strong memories of Quatermass and the Pit too. There were tow Quatermass movies, and one of them also I think involved the Underground. But exactly the same scurrying upright ant recollections.

  • Macky

    Well I recently come across a box set of Catweasel, a name I had completely forgotten about, and watching them again transported me back to my very early childhood. The good thing is that I watched them with my ten year old, and he absolutely loved them !!

  • BrianFujisan

    Dunno if it’s much worth telling.

    Music, Like Film – but if one is talking Hollywood – i must therefore insist Music is more important

    Dunno Why ..but i came through the metal music… but for some strange reason i got into coutry western sounds …listened to this shit for some months – now we go back to hollywood, where i loved a series called the virginian, and a kool dude named trampus or some such was my fave, always to the rescue….

    then Little house on the Prairie…i watched my own kids run wild like the oppening scene’s… in a Very secret place

    i always wanted to be the cowboy… as child – Fast forward to –


    This one song by Peter Gabriel Changed my Life outlook

    I could rabbit on doune here..but just in caseanyone is interested,,Peter Gabriel is at the new Hydro 24th oct

    I make native American Dream catchers, and sculptures now..This is my Chief Looking Glass, of the the Nez Perce nation



  • Clark

    Craig, it’s good to see you blogging again. I’m sorry not to have commented lately; I’m travelling about and visiting in Scotland, with limited Internet access, and not keeping up with the news. Best wishes to you.

  • see foolish fules

    Isn’t Peter Capaldi with a goatee not ominously disimilar to Roger Delgardo as the Master?

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Yes, as, childhood TV Proustian Madaleines go, Dr Who is pretty potent. But the one that fills the heart with unquenchable and inexpressible anguish is the theme tune from Belle and Sebastian. They play that on a loop when you go to Heaven. And you get to pat Belle.

  • DavidH

    Funny things, old memories.

    It makes me wonder. If those old Dr Who episodes had such a lasting impact on our young minds, watched in black and white and with special effects made from old egg boxes, then what kind of impact is modern entertainment having on our kids today? We’ve got ultra violent video games with graphics of people getting blown apart. Movies these days, even many of those made for kids, are much more realistic and designed for action and suspense, rather than imaginative story telling. That’s before you even start to think about sex and porn…

    Usually I’m dead against most kinds of censorship or social control but if it’s not our job to raise our kids in a healthy environment then what are we here for???

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I wonder if they’ll ever find the one, with Patrick Troughton in, about the seaweed monsters, a bit like The Day of the Triffids, where the seaweed took over people and grew out of their sleeves. Or the Battle of the Daleks. The Daleks’ heads were full of sizzling straw. Toilet plungers and egg-boxes deluxe. Heaven.

    Yes, I too was a fan of ‘Catweasel’! I actually knew someone who, like one might imagine the protagonist in ‘See Emily Play’ to have done, dressed in sackcloth and lived in a four-poster bedded room hung with diaphanous veils – well, it was the early 1970s.

    BBC Radiophonic Workshop – fab sounds, for expanding minds!


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