Thursday, 4 January 2018

Earthshock Part 6 (The Boy who was)

It was the end of a tiring day; boredom always made her tired and Rose had gone to the convention on a whim. She had nothing else better to do and allowed herself to be talked into attending the annual Dr Who convention because a) she used to enjoy watching it as a child and b) she was called Rose Tyler, which was apparently the name of one of the new companions.
Rose hadn't followed Dr Who since it was cancelled, dismissing it as a childish fad. She'd tried watching the TV movie with Paul... mc.. (The one out of Withnail and I that wasn't Richard E. Grant) and had given up on it after half an hour as tokenistic American crap.
So why had she been persuaded to go to this convention? Nostalgia? Desperation? She'd entered a limbo, between relationships. Darren had been committed to his version of commitment (which basically meant that his fantasies revolved around Rose pretending to be a younger version of his mother...) It was a very screwed up relationship, truth be told, but the sex had been amazing. Perversion did equal enthusiasm, after all.

But it had ended when Darren found out that he was adopted and then the real weirdness began. Rose backed out when he suggested a threesome with his, now non-biological, mother. That had been eleven months ago and limbo wasn't supposed to last that long, surely.
She realised that she needed to go out with someone in a worse, more desperate state than she. She figured that the convention was as good a place as any to start. She couldn't have been more wrong.
Dr who was now, aghast, cool -in a way that she could never have predicted. There were still the geeks and anorak brigades she was expecting but they were almost ostracised like the Ood, speaking their own, language of continuity and causality. The rest were all the beautiful people that surfed the cultural zeitgeist and knew when things were hot. After all, Dr Who was now winning awards, it was even expected to be talked about at school and work. Rose felt betrayed.
She had gone through hell as a child for liking Dr Who; worse, for being a GIRL and liking it! She didn't even love it like some -one poor sod had the piss ripped out of him for starting his own Dr Who Appreciation Society during the lunchtimes... he would now be considered as the arch-deacon of cool (if he still kept up with the programme).

She saw a couple of preview episodes at the convention, of the new series and couldn't believe how crass and cheap the series had become. It always had cheap and tacky sets and special effects but amazing stories. Now it had such a huge budget thrown at it that it must've run out of money when it came to supplying a script! It was so badly written she almost felt ashamed to have gone. The whole day had been a disappointment.
She was now nursing a Smirnoff Ice, her third, whilst waiting for the train home. She looked nonchalantly around, hoping to see someone, anyone, that she could chat up and salvage something of the day. She wasn't unattractive, after all! She didn't recognise him at first and had it not been for the convention she might not have made the connection. True, she'd had a crush on him when she was growing up, but had she not been drunk she would never have tried it on.

“Excuse me.” It had taken her thirty seconds to get off the barstool, catch her breath so she could speak coherently and walk up to him. Now she was closer to him she was less sure than ever if it was him.. but it was too late to back down now. He turned round, obviously surprised to be faced by the blonde stunner. “Sorry to disturb you,” Rose said, “I mean, you're probably tired of hearing this, but are you...Matthew Waterhouse?”
He smiled, his eyes slightly foggy, “Only if you're Rose Tyler.” He joked, obviously pleased with his pun.
“Funny enough, that is my name.” She smiled.
No...” He overemphasised the word to try and make it sound comical. It didn't work.
“Yes... so..are you?” She asked again, now a little worried that she was talking to a complete stranger. Despite being drunk himself she could see something shift in his features and all of a sudden she could see something of the boyish charm she remembered. He paused before replying, “Yes.. I suppose I am. Pleased to meet you, Rose Tyler. My name is Adric.”

Ironically Matthew, or Matt as he now liked to be called, was on the same train as Rose; which she found strange until she remembered that he actually lived in Haywards Heath. Back in the '80's that had been the town's only claim to fame. They talked a lot.. well, she did most of the talking. He chipped in when necessary; she felt as if she'd found the missing part.
It was obvious that Matt had gone to the convention in the hope that someone would recognise him -he probably went every year. He probably still couldn't get over the fact that he'd been killed off in such a final way.
Rose felt sorry for him. He'd let himself go quite a bit -his hair was mostly grey and in a strange kind of hedge-hog cut. He wore unflattering glasses to read (the only pair he could afford) and his dress sense was pretty poor. (he looked better as Adric) But... she had found her new project.

It turned out that he only lived around five minutes from Rose and it was very easy for her to make an excuse to go back to his place. His flat wasn't what she expected; there was some memorabilia but it was in poor condition. “I had to sell the best bits as I've not had many acting jobs since Who.” He'd explained.
It was obvious that he was a broken man which made Rose more determined. She kissed him then and he almost recoiled which made her question what she was doing. If it had been anyone else then she would surely have been in trouble, but this was Adric! Her childhood crush and she could help him. She could actually turn his life around! So she kissed him harder, this time he responded. She could taste the malt and barley tinged desperation on his breath but she loved him for it. Soon he was responding with such a passion -something she'd not known since Darren- and she had unlocked it.

That night, lying in her own bed she was thinking about the next series of Dr Who.. featuring the return of Adric! There was always a way of bringing a character back from the brink of death and through her it would be possible!
Rose spent as much time as she could with Matt. They re-watched episode after episode of Dr Who, but only the ones with Adric in, obviously. Matt was like a commentary track offering skewed explanations about how he had added to the script. Every now and then he got carried away with himself and would say; “Well, I always knew that we would get together; we're soul-stitched you and I.  I mean, look in Mawdryn Undead when I stare at the camera in that certain way... I'm thinking of you, of being able to place my hands on your body.” (Even though Adric had never been in Mawdryn Undead and Rose would only have been eight at the time, she thought that the sentiment was sweet...)

One day Matt asked Rose about going for auditions herself, but as a look-alike. There was a lot of money to be made, especially for her. Rose wasn't taken with the idea.
“I haven't got the patience to line up with a load of people that almost look the same as me.. it's kind of creepy, you know?” Matt laughed at that, knowingly. “And what if I get through?” She continued. “How long have I got before she leaves the series?”
“Or gets killed off.” Matt chipped in. Rose nodded sadly.
“Exactly. They only want who's current... How many people remember Ben or Polly, for example?” Matt looked puzzled. “They were companions of the first Doctor, and just proves my point.”
“Yeah... work really dries up quickly. One minute you're opening garden fetes, the toast of the town... and then next minute you're the boy who was... Death is pretty final, even in Dr Who. BAMPF... overnight, no more me! And then no one wants to know you, obscurity!”

Then there were the times when Matt would ask her for money; for agent’s fees and publicity photos he'd say. Rose wasn't earning much herself and on the rare times she refused him he would start to moan and become a petulant child again; those were the times that reminded her of Adric, invariably turning her on and they would normally end up fucking on the closest hard surface.
It was her friend, Grace, who was most upset by everything that was happening; especially as it had been her idea that Rose go to the convention in the first place. She never dreamt it would end in an actual relationship, let alone with someone who was in an even worse state than her! She only wanted what was best for Rose and arranged to meet up with them both one night.
Although it had been over twenty years since she had last seen Dr Who she was pretty sure that the person Rose was dating was NOT Matthew Waterhouse.
(There were times, however, especially when he was moaning, when he seemed really convincing. Rose would not be persuaded though; she knew best, even if it meant wrecking her own life... she would see Adric reborn.)

Three weeks after Grace met Matt she was drinking in her local pub wondering what the hell she could do to help her friend. She turned round to gather her wits and couldn't believe who was propping up the bar... It was him! That was it... she had had enough.

The next night Rose and Matt sat in their favourite cubical at Orange Square. The drinks were on her, again, but she didn't mind. She'd recently had a raise, and even thought Matt didn't seem to care, she was going to make the most out of it. Just then Grace stood over them, almost blocking out the light. There was somebody else, just behind her.
“Glad I caught you both.” She said. “I've got someone I'd like you to meet.” Grace stood away and what Rose saw totally flabbergasted her. It took Matt's single refrain of “Fuck.” to realise the truth.
“You bastard.” She shouted.
“To be fair, I never actually said I was he.” Matt said in a pitch-perfect impression of the man that was now standing over them both.
“But you let me think you were him!” She said, pointing at the real Matthew Waterhouse, feeling sick in the stomach now. Rose looked at Grace imploringly and could only say one word. “How?”
“I was drinking at the Snowdrop last night and saw the real Matthew Waterhouse and laid into him.”
“I, of course, had no idea what she was on about.” The real Matthew Waterhouse replied.
“As soon as I apologised profusely and explained what was happening Matthew seemed eager to help.” Grace continued.
“I remembered my doppelgänger from years ago.” Matthew said. “I often wondered what had happened to him when I was killed off. I never dreamed he'd sink this low... I just had to help!”
Rose whirled around to the stranger that sat next her her. “So what's your real name?”
“Rob... Rob Blotcher...”
“Ha! I remember now! Matthew laughed. “You had terrible acne as well -always had to smother it with tonnes of foundation before you dressed up as me!”
“Shut up! Shut UP!” Rob cried and pushed himself out of the booth, upsetting the drinks. “None of you will ever know what it's like.” And then he was gone.

“Can I buy you a drink?” She offered Matthew when Rob had departed. “'cause I was thinking...  you are the genuine article!”
Adric looked at Rose and smiled, almost enjoying the chance to finally reject someone.
“That's sweet... but I'm actually gay. Rob was more my sort than you, sorry.”

With apologies to Matthew Waterhouse – a companion for my generation.