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.

Here’s a wall of brains! I’m told by the aforementioned Twitter thread that the one wearing a Fez did Tommy Cooper impressions. I also learned this:

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.