Guide My Dear Clochard

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Soon Bemelmans was leaving presents for the clochard—an old coat, some cigarettes—and the two became friends. The maniacal principal of this institute almost drove me to suicide. I had to leave or I would have killed him. Now free, the clochard offered Bemelmans his services.

But this is embroidery. Bemelmans was born into a family of innkeepers. His uncle Hans owned hotels around the Austrian Tirol, where young Ludwig—known as lausbub , or rascal—was sent to learn his trade. In no time, Ludwig lived up to his nickname and Uncle Hans gave him an ultimatum: go to reform school or go to America. Soon he was a busboy, later assistant banquet manager, at the old Ritz on Madison and Forty-sixth Street, surreptitiously sketching the over-fed patrons on the backs of hotel menus. Bemelmans later published his memories of life at the Ritz as Hotel Splendide , which was also serialized in The New Yorker.

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As Bemelmans the writer-illustrator succeeded, Bemelmans the hotel employee diminished, but he never disappeared. It was like his dream of the perfect life.

It had everything he wanted: his art and his innkeeping under one roof … in the middle of Paris. La Colombe was also a money pit. Something gets in the way. He has to sort it out, in much the same way that one might sort out a visa problem in a foreign embassy or a broken tent peg. Only this tent peg is ten foot tall and trying to kill you and everyone you know.

This is the other thing. The relationship between the Doctor and his assistants. At a certain point — I don't know, I suppose they'd been watching too much Moonlighting or something — it became a kind of law that there had to be this flirty, will-they-wont-they unresolved sexual tension thing going on between the Doctor and his assistants. You just knew they were fucking. It simply wasn't discussed. There was no need. I refuse to believe that anyone could possibly watch these episodes without the casual working assumption that whenever these characters were not onscreen, they were in bed — either making love or smoking post-coital cigarettes.

But for all their cooey eyes and pouty good looks, there is something strangely asexual about Doctors Nine, Ten, and Eleven.

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And you certainly can't imagine any of them smoking. It's like Twilight. As soon as I saw Chris Eccleston as the Doctor, I knew I wasn't going to like him because he looked like he'd just stepped out of Gap in the latest collection. Since then we have been given a series of Topman Doctors, Doctors who dress only in the most boring and conservative of present day high street fashions. And what, I ask you, do contemporary cuts and trends mean to a man who travels through time at will? In the older series it is made perfectly clear how the Doctor acquires his clothes: they are found, stolen, improvised.


In John Lydon's autobiography, he discusses his inspiration for the ad hoc style that later became known as 'punk'. Street urchins, bums, tramps — whatever you want to call them — had a much better way of wearing their clothes… I sensed an indestructible jauntiness to it, almost cavalier and reflecting pride in what they were… Wearing bin liners came from watching the transients in London.

I used to love the way they wore bin liners. I thought it was so shiny and neat, much better than leather.

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The Doctor is just such a tramp. A time-travelling transient. A cosmic clochard. He is a man who lives in a phone box. The Doctor is, in many ways, more homeless, more itinerant, more immigrant, than any man whose gaze you have ever avoided in the street. He has no home, no country, no planet, no temporal dimension to call his own.

It is about time he started acting as such. If you are not deeply worried, somewhat disturbed even, by this figure then something is wrong. So I believe we need a Doctor who is bitter, irascible, shifty, and a bit smelly. Not someone calculatedly wacky like Tennant or Smith, but someone who you suspect probably has serious mental health issues. Someone utterly socially inept and slightly frightening, and someone who you would probably cross the street to avoid. Share this article:.

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