me

The Millennium Dome

Recently I stumbled across some photos from when my family went to the Millennium Dome in 2000! OMG!

If you’re not British (or are British but very young) you might not know the history of the Millenium Dome. I didn’t until quite recently. This twitter thread sums it all up perfectly:

Essentially the Millennium Dome was an expensive, extravagant, incredibly entertaining disaster right from the get-go and there’s a part of me that kinda wishes it was still there. Just me? Probably, yeah. Sadly I can’t really remember all the details of it very well either, because I was only about 12 I think and there was a lot to take in.

This picture, featuring as it does both an inexplicable sculpture of a squatting child and a McDonalds, pretty much sums up the essence of it.

This was Timekeepers of the Millennium, pretty much the only thing in the Dome that children would be remotely interested in. It was, if I remember rightly, basically a massive ball pit/play area where you could fire balls at each other with air cannons and generally cause chaos. It was of no educational merit whatsoever, which was probably for the best.

It at one point had a television show to go with it! It had the same name as the ride and aired on CITV. Most of it is lost apparently but I have some old VHS tapes to go through and I’m really hoping I might find some of it on one of them.

Here’s one of the Disney-like Timekeeper mascots. (If you’re viewing this post looking for pictures to illustrate something you’re writing about the Dome, please don’t use this one okay? You can use one or two of the others if you message me in the comments first.)

This here was a seaside-themed area. I think it was the first section completed on the Dome, I remember Newsround telling me so back in 1999. It had, IIRC… pretty much the same charm as your average British seaside.

Wonder if kids were allowed to play in the sand, like on a normal beach? I’m guessing probably not.

Now THIS! This is the Body Zone!

The weirdest and daftest section of the Dome. I clearly remember this beating heart (for it did indeed beat) hovering omniously above guests in this area.

WHAT? The WHAT NOW?

Outside in the slightly more fresh air there were some pretty, rainbow-coloured tents which I believe formed a “rest zone.” Probably for the parents who’d left their kids with the ball cannons.

In the very middle of the dome there was a show on every so often! And I remember it was actually really good?

Or at least, it had music and fire and lights, and that was more than enough for my 12-year-old self.

While going through the photos I also found this leaflet:

There’s a little map in there which gives you some idea of the scale of the thing. Might be safe to say the crowds of people drawn on there aren’t completely accurate, though. In many of the pics I have there’s… Pretty much no people in the background at all.

These photos were taken in May 2000 and by December it had closed. During its brief time on Earth it racked up no end of controversy, ended or at least severely stunted a few political careers, and had a gang of diamond robbers crash in with a JCB digger. We will never see its like again. The Sunday Times, which was I think marginally less crap back in those days, predicted the downfall before it even opened:

At worst it is a millennial metaphor for the twentieth century. An age in which all things, like the Dome itself, became disposable. A century in which forest and cities, marriages, animal species, races, religions and even the Earth itself, became ephemeral. What more cynical monument can there be for this totalitarian cocksure fragile age than a vast temporary plastic bowl, erected from the aggregate contribution of the poor through the National Lottery. Despite the spin, it remains a massive pantheon to the human ego, the Ozymandias of its time.

Look On My Wall Of Giant Animatronic Pubic Lice, Ye Mighty, And Despair.

went Out

I ventured out to Leicester town center via the bus. Not the most cheerful place to be, unfortunately. Most shops I used to casually just hang out, all gone. Empty unit after empty unit. And there are memorial signs for Prince Philip EVERYWHERE?!

It wouldn’t have felt so dystopian if not for all the shops that had signs up saying, “At 3pm we’ll be holding a one minute silence for Prince Philip” as if people couldn’t possibly have better things to do.

The St Margaret’s bus station has gone now, and it was pretty rubbish but it’s still weird it not being there.

It was at least sunny, and I got to hang out in Abbey Park for a bit.

My Harry Osborn article for the Mary Sue

Nick Spencer’s New Spider-Man Twist Literally Demonizes The Mentally Ill

I’m very pleased to announce I just got an article about Spider-Man, Harry Osborn and mental illness published at The Mary Sue! It’s, uh, not positive about Nick Spencer’s writing.

I hope you enjoy it. There are some nice comments on there, including one that actually vocalised something I’ve been thinking for a while – for all the terribleness of this storyline, the backlash to it did highlight how unexpectedly beloved Harry is among Spider-Man fans. (Maybe the real Harry was the friends we made along the way.)

In tiers

God, the state of the UK feels rough right now. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my family this Christmas anyway, but I just keep thinking at the back of my mind, “What if I can’t go see them for literal years? And what if I can’t go to the cinema, sit in coffee shops, visit theme parks, walk on beaches for literal years either?” (There is, of course, an “…if ever?” at the back of that, too.)

It could be so, SO much worse for me, I know that. I was ridiculously, painfully lucky. Lots of my loved ones were. I’m sitting right now thinking, “You’re fine, your family is fine, you have a fridge full of garlic bread, what have you got to complain about?” But I just really really wish there was any sort of end date whatsoever.

Potter stuff

It’s funny, but most of the memories I have of Harry Potter are almost nothing to do with the actual books and everything to do with the people I was sharing them with.

Like when I was a kid, still in school, I would read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to my younger siblings. My favourite bit was the Sirius-Pettigrew confrontation at the end. I used to LOVE read-screaming the lines, “THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS!” It was so dramatic and thrilling. But that was my voice, not JK Rowling’s-

When the last Harry Potter book came out I went to the midnight opening of the Milton Keynes Waterstones with a friend. First we saw Hairspray (which is a really good movie) and then we went next door to the shopping center. There were excited kids running around everywhere, it was like a little party. I got a t-shirt. I think I still have it, but I don’t wear it-

When I was a fully grown adult me and the same friend went to London for the day and we stopped at King’s Cross station. They had a Harry Potter tourist area there, they probably still have it. (I’m not going back.) We got in line and waited for ages and got our photo taken at the magic wall. My friend didn’t even like Harry Potter! But she was still willing to do all that.

So those are the sort of things I think about now.

Vintage Disneyworld ’99: Esmeralda

Esmeralda was always my favourite of the Disney women. She wasn’t a princess but I didn’t care. (This was before Disney really started pushing the ‘princess’ thing anyway.) She doesn’t appear in the Disneyland parks anymore ever from what I can tell. Disney just kinda quietly ignores their version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, probably because… well… if you’ve seen it you’ll know.

But then I found this old Disney autograph book in a drawer and in it was-

This was kinda interesting to me even though I could not remember meeting either of them AT ALL. (I was still a pretty young kid after all.) And also there was no date on the autograph book because children don’t think to date things! So those autographs could’ve been either from 1996 (when HOND actually came out) or 1999. But I have SO FEW MEMORIES of going to Disneyworld in 1996! That’s what the photos are for, to remind me, but honestly I kinda look at them and a lot of the time there isn’t any memory attached.

But a week or two ago I found this tiny little keyring photo album thingy, all the way from the late 90s. You could print out tiny little versions of photos (or get your parents to do so) and store them in a photo album so small you could carry it around with you on your bag or keys. Yeah… that’s what we all did before phones.

So I flipped through the teeny keyring album a couple of times. It was all pictures from our trip in 1999, which I do remember a bit better. And after looking more closely suddenly I realised there was one photo hidden behind another. I pulled it out and…

There was an Esmeralda in Disneyworld in 1999! I don’t know if she was the one who gave me the autograph or if that was a different ’96 Esmeralda, but hey she hung on for a few years in the park after Hunchback of Notre Dame came out and before Disney got cold feet about the contents of the film!

Thank you past me for hiding that photo away where I’d probably have never found it, ya dick.

A FULLY ILLUSTRATED story I wrote when I was nine!

I found this in a bunch of stuff and it’s quite something. Wanna see?

All spelling mistakes left intact and also I can’t help interjecting here and there.

Storys
My 1st story

Once upon a time there lived a mother who was always in a very bad mood and a girl who would have been very lovey but her mother didn’t love her at all. So the girl had no clothes and her mother only let her have a small biut of bread every day. She hated her so much that she let her go full-time danceing. She paid for it too.

[…….wait what]

One night the girl came home and flung herself on her mother ‘Mother’ she said ‘I was getting changed out of my danceing shoes and I saw this man. He said I looked lovey in my danceing dress.’ The mother was

very worried. She didn’t want her to love anyone. So she turned the girl out of the house. ‘And never return’ she said. ‘Off you go’ So the girl, whose name was Rose, had to go.

[Rose was one of my Barbies, I’m def writing about my Barbies here. Rose was a ballerina barbie, I remember that. I don’t think she was exactly this one but something very similar, with feet you could position into ballet moves.]

She ran out into the night. By the time she was a mile from home she bumped into something that caught hold of her. ‘Let me go’ cryed Rose. ‘Its me’ said someone. It was the man she had met at danceing. ‘Follow me’ he said and he took her to a big car. He went inside and pressed a button. The car turned into a house. They went into it. It had a four poster bed and some more spare beds. ‘Right’ said the man whose name was Ken. ‘Here is a dress’

[I also had a Ken doll]

‘Oh thank you’ said Rose and she put it on. Rose’s mother had had some more children. One was called Pale face and she was very nasty to people who were kind. The next was called Cupcake and she was a nice girl.

[And this is what Cupcake was! She wasn’t mine though, she was a friend’s.]

The next one was a small baby and no one knew if she was going to grow up to be a nice girl or not. ‘One day’ said Rose’s mum ‘We will get her.’ At Kens home Rose was haveing a great time at Kens house. One day Cupcake told her mum that she was going to run away because she didn’t want to kill Rose. She ran away that very day and soon she reached Kens home. She told them everything. ‘Stay with us’ said Ken.

Cupcake stayed with them. Her mother had never liked her so she didn’t mind. Rose liked her very much and so did Ken. Cupcake went out every week day to the shops. They gave her good food and Ken gave her a dress. One day Roses mother made a attack on her. Not with swords but with their hands. At last they went away and Rose was worried. ‘They might come again’ she said. ‘Don’t worrie’ said Ken. ‘I will lock the door.’ Rose was glad. Later, Ken asked some guards to guard the house. Rose’s mum was very very cross. And then she thought of a good plan

but Cupcake heard about it and she and the others made a plan. They would let the good people like the baby out and then they locked the door from the outside. No one could get out. But the poice told them off and they unlocked the door. So the mother made another plan. That night the mother took a bit of string and tied up Rose. She tied her to the bed and threw the bed in the dungeon. When Rose woke up she found herself in a dreadful dungeon. It was very dark and the door was locked. Suddenly someone came in.

It was her mother. She took her clothes and her bed away. Rose had to wear rags. But one night Ken came and hunted all around the house for the key that would unlock ther dungeon door. He looked in cupboards. He looked in chests of drawers. He looked in the wardrobe. When he looked in a drawer that was hidden behind a microwave Ken went to the dungeon and let Rose out. They first called the poilce.

They took Roses mother to jail and sent pale face to a school were you had to work very hard indeed and you never got even a short break.

[Seems a bit harsh]

The baby was sent to live with Rose and Ken and Cupcake looked after her very well. One night Roses mother looked out of the jail window to see the church all lighted up. Ken and Rose were getting married and they lived happily ever after

The End

[Call me, Disney]