Suitable For All Ages

Christopher Fowler

Acceptance is such a small step for anyone to take

A while ago I went to dinner with a publisher who brought along his 85 year-old mother without even thinking to mention it. She proved to be sharp and funny and enhanced the table considerably, preventing it from descending into an endless discussion about book rights. She certainly knew the square meterage of her home. ('You must come visit. My lounge is 32 metres. Try the prawns.') Another woman friend first introduced herself with the words, 'I'm old and will bore you, but sit here for a minute.' She wasn't at all boring. She was still producing fine writing at 90. Ageism feels like one of the last taboos in Britain. It's still unthinkingly prevalent in British novels and newspapers. It's possibly the last great taboo we've yet to deal with; I hope one day soon we'll look back with horror at ageism in print in the same way that we once accepted descriptions of women in newspapers 'pert blonde', voluptuous redhead', etc. One of the reasons why I made my detectives Bryant & May senior citizens was because I had become increasingly aware of how sidelined everyone over sixty five was becoming in London. Medical care improves and the government raises the retirement age, but we are now a city of invisible services (75% work in some form of media or hospitality) offering poor salaries. The workforce grows younger and peer pressure creeps in. Companies won't admit it in the reams of aspirational nonsense they send out, but they prefer to hire the young. It's understandable that the young would rather work with those of a similar age, but how can older people remain in employment? Unlike other countries, London seems to have no senior waiters. But the youth/age segregation goes much deeper. In Britain a number of factors shut older people away. The wild-west nature of Boris's employment rules, the anti-savings economy, property prices, changing neighbourhoods, social mobility, even the unpredictable weather keeps older people at home and forced into a lonely existence. In much of Europe multiple generations eat together regularly and live in the same building, so that there's a sense of community. It has become almost unthinkable outside of Europe to have your grandparents living with you. Instead the opposite has happened; the majority of Italians don't leave their parents' homes until they're in their late thirties. Perhaps now the young can repay the gift when the tables are turned. Bryant & May are fictional, of course, but I use them to express my opinions about age and society. I've looked in restaurant windows and chosen not to eat there because everyone inside is under thirty. There's a wall between the young and their elders that needs to be broken down. Acceptance is such a small step for anyone to take, and so very rewarding.


tony+williams (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 10:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Insightful. As the population ages, as the once standard pyramid inverts, it will be interesting to see how UK society copes or evolves.

Peter T (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 10:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Anytime you hear or read something about 'old' people, replace the 'old' with black or Jewish or even young and judge how it sounds.

Many young Italians are unemployed or employed on appalling contractual conditions while the state pension is relatively generous (my wife's mother's Italian pension is almost as much as LOML and I receive together). This provides a great incentive for the young to stay at home and keep their elders alive, at least nominally alive.

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 11:38

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I remember my grandad coming back from the pub and saying he didn’t like it - too many old people. He was in his 90s.
I hope that isolating ‘vulnerable’ old people hasn’t made matters worse - but I suspect that it has.

Martin Tolley (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 12:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's insidious and institutional. I've noticed in supermarkets I'm now confronted with "How are you today dear?" "Thank you my lovely" "Are you alright there darling?" Before I was 60 it just used to be "sir".
I also had a long and acrimonious (sp?) telephone conversation with some fellow when I rang my electricity provider to question a meter reading. He said (clearly working from some script) - "Oh hello, I'm glad you rang, I see you're over 65 now, we'd like to put you on our vulnerable register which gives you priority access for...." The day went badly for both of us after that, my blood pressure through the roof, and he much better educated in the Anglo Saxon vernacular.

Paul+C (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 12:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

That's a brilliant point, Peter T - I must remember it.

The best raconteurs I know are in their 80s and 90s as hey have a lifetime of stories and experiences to draw on. Elderly friends have described watching a German warplane dropping a bomb in 1943 and the impact two streets away knocking him off his feet; shaking hands with Marilyn Monroe in 1956 and the ghost of a girl drifting out of a wall towards her.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 13:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

They still have to pay less to young workers, so it pays to go younger, it looks like this may change for 21/22 year olds. Ageism at both ends. Equal pay for equal work.

April 22 Current

National Living Wage £9.50 £8.91 6.6%
21-22 Year Old Rate £9.18 £8.36 9.8%
18-20 Year Old Rate £6.83 £6.56 4.1%
16-17 Year Old Rate £4.81 £4.62 4.1%
Apprentice Rate £4.81 £4.30 11.9%

But kids are supposed to be at school or on an apprenticeship until 18 now, but at least they are pushing up the apprenticeship wage to the work level.

I also can't think of many TV programme that crosses age boundaries, Dr. Who and Strictly are about it. Most game shows don't appeal to all ages, most kids shows are shunted off onto their own channels. The loss of Top of the Pops and aiming radio 1 at 15 to 29 year-olds have had a negative affect, there is no national station for kids and not one that bridges adult and kids the way the old radio used to. Shame really.


Roger (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 13:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

One reason young people are more employable than older people is that they'll put up with worse - even more dangerous - conditions. I remember telling a young man on a shaky ladder on a slippery floor with no-one holding it that he was out of his mind and ought to demand better conditions. I asked about his union - a foolish thing to do in retrospect, as he'd never thought of joining one - and both he and his employer laughed at the mention of health and safety.

Joan (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 15:38

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I wonder is it just me, but I always think of the UK as being part of Europe and being European in many aspects. Socially quite a bit different from us over here in the Americas. The last time I was in Ireland, my Daughter-in-law was amazed and how the old and young mingled in a Pub on a Saturday night. Now it was a small town, and she was an American but still it says a lot about how we see older people.

Liz+Thompson (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 17:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When my mother in law was in her 90s (she lived to 98), she used to do the laundry for the other elderly people in the sheltered flats. They, the "elderly", were between 70 and 85.
Age is a state of mind! I'm 73, and have just joined a Tai Chi group, and I volunteer at the community centre - where we have every age and gender, in a number of nationalities. We mix quite successfully, and the more elderly among us sometimes play "pass the baby" when a tiny one turns up.

Ian Mason (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 20:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


We've had a series of power cuts where I live recently. When I was reporting one of these recently the (for some reason Canadian) lass on the phone asked "Is there anyone vulnerable in the household who might be particularly affected by loss of power, people with medical conditions, powered medical equipment or even just older? If there is I can put you on a register which means you get priority service during faults like this." That's the way to put it. I heard "priority treatment" and thought "There's nobody under sixty in the house, I'm having THAT thank you very much".

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 20:17

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This business of 'ageism' goes well beyond the social marginalising of the elderly. As I've mentioned before, demographers tell us that we in the industrialised west are approaching a critical 'crunch time,' when replacement fertility rates fall well behind the rate of aging in the populations. The potential adverse effects on economies and social welfare support for the elderly are sobering.

One viable approach of a 'potpourri' of ideas to mitigate the effects of this disparity is to permit, and provide incentives for, work beyond the retirement or state pension age. And additionally, allow able-bodied seniors who so choose, and may already have been retired, to resume contributing paid labour even if only via a formal consultancy or advisory programme. As can readily be understood, it is not merely a matter of finding replacement bodies per se, but availing ourselves of the knowledge and insights gained from decades of work in most cases.We are aging faster as a population, but living longer. Attention must be paid.

John+Griffin (not verified) Tue, 25/01/2022 - 21:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have my daily fill of young people teaching 6th formers, many of them alas Boris fans, and spouting rote learnt right wing views. However I also am not too keen on the elderly. OK I'm a 70 Yr old misanthrope. I often meet people of my own age or younger who are in the velcro-slipper stage. My current loves are harness running ‍♂️ my dogs, and orienteering; it's just my bad luck to have a world age group finalist in my own age group in my own local club.
You are as young as your brain tells you!

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 26/01/2022 - 06:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sometimes from the best motives people try to categorize others; providing a correct level of service is easier that way. We had a woman in our congregation who was in charge of the Meals on Wheels program and organized the whole delivery and payment system. She was 85. Unfortunately, she took ill and was sent to hospital where the doctor told her visiting friend that "At her age it is not really surprising that she is failing so much." The friend, a retired nurse, indignantly pointed out that we were talking about someone who had been in a responsible administrative position until a day before she was taken ill.
After all this covid stuff you're not getting me into a seniors' care home no matter what. Put all the most fragile people together and then cut them off from everything in life that they care for because they are most likely to be badly affected. My husband (also almost 80) has insisted on doing the grocery shopping since lockdown began and I don't go out without a good reason. That's not from fear exactly, just feeling that it is wiser that way. I don't know what it will take to change my feelings on this but I do know that I am in less danger of either sickness or isolation as I am than if I were in care. I am on the board of the seniors' college and we are still assessing from week to week as to when we can re-open.Community centres have opened, places that cater to all ages, and which can often adjust programs and procedures to current risk factors.
We have to advocate for ourselves and make sure the health people understand that because we've had better food and care we are stronger than those in earlier generations. Not always true, either, since my mother and her two sisters all lived to 99 and they had an aunt who lived to 106, still playing cards with friends, celebrating events, and perfectly in control of her mind.

Alan R (not verified) Wed, 26/01/2022 - 06:45

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Any stereotyping is lazy thinking. I am 75 and I hope that when I get old, I will not be subjected to ageism.

Paul+C (not verified) Wed, 26/01/2022 - 14:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen - I presume your aunt was playing Old Maid.........

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 26/01/2022 - 20:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I believe she was a bridge fan, Paul.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Wed, 26/01/2022 - 21:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

it's not just in the West Stu, China is also facing the same problem, (there was a recent report on the BBC about it.) it seems their one child policy did work and now they have the problem of an ageing population. Russia and a number the Eastern block countries are facing the same. In the UK the birth rate is higher than the death rate, the same is true of China but Germany and Russia are the opposite even though Russia has a lower life expectancy.

As you say a raft of options are needed, but the idea of equal pay for equal work doesn't seem to be part of it. If we have basic equality across the board then there is less friction, but for the rich to keep their money a divide and conquer is the order of the day. As to paying for things I think you can guess where I stand.

I find it's best to keep active, but I do enjoy doing nothing or just daydreaming.

As to age my great grandmother died in late 90's but my sister died at 41, I guess like health it's just the luck of the draw. I now people who smoked like chimneys and died old but I'm glad I gave up smoking over 20 years ago, things taste better (or worse depending on what I'm eating.) and I can run for a bus without feeling like I need a new set of lungs.


Phyllis (not verified) Thu, 27/01/2022 - 17:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

All this so much. Here in the US we take our seniors and ship them off to monolithic care homes with bored, underpaid, condescending staff who have all the warmth of prison guards working in a maximum security prison with locked doors but no bars.

I was a Paramedic chief officer and finally quit after too many battles with 'caregivers' over the horrors I saw in care homes and the attempts to find long-gone families that robbed the elderly of hope and a connection to life outside the walls.

It should be a criminal offense to abandon our history to pee and loneliness. Teaching young personnel that their elders were not a "raisin run" and that "honey" and "dear" and all the other condescending smirking ways the young dehumanize their elders is never acceptable.

We hate our senior citizens. Let's be honest. They remind the young of the unimaginable. The best revenge is knowing that someday they'll be facing the mirror. Or sooner. Half of America is now considered disabled, not in least part due to the damage of a Covid infection. But that's another can of worms.

Rich (not verified) Thu, 27/01/2022 - 18:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My friends are made of two categories - either my age, or years older. I've spent years around 'older' people who basically did everything they could to keep active, physically and mentally. I'm half and half, in that I'm lazy but have to keep going otherwise I would not be able to.

On the other hand I know a married couple (both in their 80's) who have spent years doggedly doing nothing. They go nowhere, they have no friends. They talk about old age as an excuse to not do anything ("You don't want to do anything when you're old") and look down their noses at other people their age who have a social life. As if it's something shameful to want to go out, have a nice meal or enjoy yourself/

Christopher Fowler Thu, 27/01/2022 - 22:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I saw 'I Care A Lot' with my jaw dropping, thinking it could not possibly happen - but apparently it does.

Tracy W (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 03:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just finished London Bridge us Falling Down. My heart is, shattered. My mom taught me when I was very young to sit and listen to the older folks and their stories. I've done this my whole life and am richer for it.

Anna-Maria Covich (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 09:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This made me think of 3 different anecdotes, 2 about older people answering back to those ideas and one of a 60 year old who was looking for work.
1) I was made redundant from my management job a few years ago. At the job centre course I had to attend ("this is a CV. Can you say c.v?") there was another woman who had also been made redundant. She was in her early 60s, so close to qualifying for superannuation, but nzpost had given her the chop. She'd worked for them for 45 years, delivering mail. She couldn't use a computer at all. The staff were really lovely and helpful and basically said they wouldn't be worried if she couldn't find work but would help her. I was so angry at NZpost for doing that to her.
2) my dad loves travelling in Thailand. He loves the beaches, the food, the culture, and often travels around with others he meets there. He hooked up with a group of young Germans on one trip, and showed them around some of his favourite spots. They kept wanting to eat at this terrible, expensive, touristy place. He asked why. "Because it's dull if young people." "Don't eat where the young people eat, they don't know anything! Look for old people, especially old locals, they know what's good and they won't over pay."
3) I worked in university management along side an Associate Dean. Whenever anyone commented on her age, usually in an apologetic kind of way (suggesting she wished she were younger) she would say "in proud if my age. I worked hard to get this old!" It made me change my thinking - it's not aging, it's getting a higher score. Every day is reason for celebration. Congratulations on your new personal best.

Anna-Maria Covich (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 09:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bryant and that Associate Dean would get a long so well. I should introduce them.

Jan (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 09:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sorry if this has been said b4 not got much time and unable to read through comments
1. (Us )oldies know where to eat

2. Multi generation housing is starting to become renormalised in UK again. Youngsters Can't afford mortgages or accrue enough points for H.A.

Paul+C (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 15:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here is my favourite poem about old age :

Warning by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Fri, 28/01/2022 - 21:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes, I have many days when I leap at that aging poem. I have some purple items to wear and a wide brimmed hat which I covered all over with bright red lace and decorated with dangly white plastic clusters. At the very least I wear it for Canada Day. If I were to make up properly for my carefully spent youth I would be out dancing till dawn, learning to play the bagpipes, fronting a protest rally against people who can't be bothered to take part in health programs and driving a neon blue convertible. (None of which is really all that daring or anti-societal, though.)
We have a teacher friend who is still teaching at 72. When we asked her why (our pensions are good) she said, "It's fine for you because you have friends and things." All she has ever talked about is teaching (not unusual) and how she couldn't afford to buy a house (she rents in an expensive part of town). We'll only talk to her if she has something to talk about besides school. It's all very well to keep working if you enjoy the job but she doesn't any more and I know from experience that teachers tend to keep teaching the same lessons over and over, even when the experiences of the children no longer match with that assumed by the material. Things change and we have to allow that to happen even when we know they're all going down the easy road to you know where.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sun, 30/01/2022 - 02:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I got into a little trouble when I told someone when I am old I shall turn purple, if you can't laugh at death what can you laugh at? I actually misspent my 20s, a much more fun time to do it.

The young are OK it's the middle ages where things seem to go wrong, by the time most are old enough to realise it's too late to fix things, or they have become too conservative and forget what they were like when they were young, and/or are fixated on holding on to what they have, fear in old age can be a terrible thing.


Mary (not verified) Sun, 30/01/2022 - 06:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here in the USA, there's a Red Hat club whose membership must rank in the thousands. When they travel together, they look like ambulatory poppy fields (but friendly, not like the ones in Wizard of Oz).

Ian Luck (not verified) Sun, 30/01/2022 - 10:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My late mum loved the poem 'Warning'. She never thought 'old', and neither did my dad. My dad had an aunt we all loved - she was tiny, and birdlike, and very elderly. However, nothing bothered her, and she was fun to be with - as kids, my brother and I always liked to visit. Unlike most old people we knew, she never talked about folks who had died, or unpleasant foot complaints, or post-constipation bowel movements:
"It went clang in the pan, Maureen, and when I looked, it was the size and shape of a front leg off of a Bechstein Grand - but without the shiny finsh. Another piece of cake?"
She knew about the latest pop songs, and TV shows: she thought young, and was always bright and happy. We were particularly impressed with her 'asbestos hands'. Several times, we saw her retrieve things from the oven sans cloth or gloves, most notably a PYREX dish, screaming hot, containing some baked apples, that she plucked out of the oven as it was nothing. Dad made her show him her hands. Not a mark.
We were all very sad, when she died, in her late eighties.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sun, 30/01/2022 - 16:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

There's biological or chronological age, of course, and then there's what geriatricians call 'subjective' age --- how you actually feel. Scientists are finding that people who feel younger than their chronological age are typically healthier and more psychologically resilient than those who feel older. So in other words --- not only are you as old as you feel, but unfortunately --- to CF's point --- you are too often as 'old' as others feel.

Jan (not verified) Mon, 31/01/2022 - 08:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I know this is not really the topic but how does that odd golden Halo thing work? How is the golden ring fixed in place around the statue? It's not a firework is it? It's lovely thing to look @ I just don't understand how it works

Helen+Martin (not verified) Mon, 31/01/2022 - 21:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A number of equi lengthed wires fastened to the ring and centred on that pointy hub, Jan? It's dark so the wires don't show. Either that or our friend has a self generating halo effect operating.

Frances (not verified) Tue, 01/02/2022 - 03:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

"It takes a long time to become young.”
—Pablo Picasso

Ian Luck (not verified) Tue, 01/02/2022 - 22:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

"There's no point in being grown-up, if you can't be childish!" Beautifully delivered ny Tom Baker, playing The Doctor's fourth incarnation (there are many incarnations, but only one Doctor), in the Doctor Who story, 'Robot' (1974).
At the time, the character's age was fast approaching 750 ("Soon be middle aged", his friend Sarah-Jane Smith once said.)

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 02/02/2022 - 00:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dr. Who is one of the great inventions of the 20th century. As must happen with the series' framework, the chief character is reinvented to suit the time. Some people say that your best Doctor is the one you met first. I don't know but David Tennant was my first and still seems my best.

Jan (not verified) Wed, 02/02/2022 - 09:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I did not dare make any refs to Mr F having a possible halo.( Ref most recent item in his blog 're humour. I just couldn't say it right. ) Think you r right about the mechanics of the fixings H. Was the way the tinsel thing looped round the central statue that threw me. Weird.

Dunno quite how Dr Who popped onto this thread quick scrolling back..... its Ian!

Baker was a good Doctor but surely THE Dr the guy who proved this "reincarnation" with all its possibilities and reimaginings was possible was Patrick Troughton? The Doctor who showed it COULD be done. Besides I thought William Hartnell was more scary than the monsters.

there's a weird internal history to Dr Who now like David Tennant being wed to the daughter of an earlier Doctor Peter Davison wasn't it? His Mrs was the American lass with the squeaky Chicago/ New York accent who used to crop up on tv adverts in the 1970s.

Jon Pertwee was at one time wed to the actress who was Rose in "Upstairs Downstairs" wasn't he ? I can't for the life of me remember her name. She appeared in "Star Trek TNG" after relocating to America.
He was a good if very flamboyant Doctor.

I read somewhere that Tennant may reappear as the Doc. Surely not? Could not get on with the recent female Doc just because I didn't rate her in the role Olivia Coleman might have been brilliant. Whittaker just didn't work somehow. Be interesting where they take it next

Helen+Martin (not verified) Thu, 03/02/2022 - 22:39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Once you have an image in your mind it's hard to fit someone else in the shape of the Doctor. I don't mean the physical shape, that's easy to shift, but the mental, psychological shape. "The Doctor could never do that" - or do it that way - sort of thing. Except that everyone develops over time and I suppose the Doctor would, too.

Ian Luck (not verified) Thu, 03/02/2022 - 23:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Jan, and everyone else - I apologise. Doctor Who has been an obsession of mine since 1968, and I thought his comment on age fitted here. 'My' Doctor is Patrick Troughton's portrayal of the character. Scruffy, apparently bumbling, given to brief outbursts of childlike temper, but with a mind like a steel trap. He had some of the very best stories, too, a great deal of which, tragically, the BBC 'lost'.
As I sit here writing this, I'm facing a shelf which holds several models of different TARDIS props, and about fifty different Daleks - and their creator, Davros.
Oh, and the actor whose name evaded you? Try Jean Marsh, who also appeared in the 12 episode William Hartnell story, 'The Daleks' Masterplan' (mostly lost by the BBC). She has a memorable death in that - she's accidentally aged to death by the premature activation of a Dalek superweapon, the 'Time Destructor'

Helen+Martin (not verified) Fri, 04/02/2022 - 19:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ian, why is/was it a Time Destructor rather than a Time Destroyer? The hard consonants are effective but the real word is just as scary.

Ian Luck (not verified) Sat, 05/02/2022 - 23:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen, your guess is as good as mine. The story was written in part, by the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation (the iconic Dalek props were designed by the late Raymond Cusick, of the BBC, by the way - Nation had no real idea what they should look like, other than they should not be man-shaped at all, and should glide about, in the manner of dancers with floor length skirts)
Nation was fond of using certain names over and over again - 'Tarrant' and 'Galloway' come to mind. Likewise words - 'Betrayal' and 'Destruction' were two often used, so he possibly used 'Destructor' because of his fondness for 'Destruction'.
A Dalek isn't a robot, by the way - it's a cyborg; what you see is an armoured shell containing a mutant, which resembles a large soft brain, with one eye, and tentacles like an octopus.(in reality, it was usually an actor called John Scott Martin scooting the prop around the studio).

Helen+Martin (not verified) Sun, 06/02/2022 - 07:17

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ah, but a mutant what? Creatures have mutations take place in their genetic structure and the offspring show changes so that they are mutated chickens or moonmen or whatever. Are the Daleks mutated from the "normal" inhabitants of their planet or from some other sentient race?

Ian Luck (not verified) Sun, 06/02/2022 - 23:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The Daleks are mutant versions of the Kaled race, who waged perpetual war against the planet's other race, the Thals. The war lasted so long that both sides were locked in to a war of attrition, neither side winning any ground. The leader of the Kaleds, a mad, crippled scientist named Davros, noticed that, due to the chemicals and radiation used over centuries of war, serious mutations had started to occur. Most wereeither killed or banished from the domed city. Some, however, Davros began experimenting on. Augmenting and altering. Cloning the most successful. He made them into little blobs of hate, with no conscience or remorse. He designed machines in which they could live, and move about and destroy. Davros hoped that his army of Daleks would end the war. Sadly for Davros, the Daleks started to learn, and decided that he wasn't pure enough, and turned on him. Daleks exist to hate and fear the 'unlike'. Terry Nation created them as spacefaring Nazis, being a child of the second world war, and being horrified of the stories of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.
His original story of the Daleks was similar, but not as complicated; Dals vs. Thals for centuries. Use of Neutron weapons by both sides causes both races to mutate: the Dals into grotesque shrivelled homunculi: the Thals into beautiful, blond men and women. The war ended, and the Thals became peaceful farmers. The Dals retreated into their fortress like citadel, and began finding a way to survive the highly irradiated atmosphere - the Thals had anti radiation drugs, but these were harmful to Dals. The Dals designed an armoured casing to live in, which they called a Dalek. They then started to plan how to eradicate the Thals for good. Not long after that, a bad tempered old man, his grand-daughter, and two of her teachers arrived in a battered blue box...

Ian Luck (not verified) Mon, 07/02/2022 - 00:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen - You might be entertained by the 1975 Doctor Who story 'Genesis Of The Daleks' on DVD. It's a chillingly dark tale, but always keeps coming up on viewer's best ever Doctor Who story. It's beautifully written, and the Nazi connection is clear - and that they are the bad guys. It also shows why Tom Baker's version of The Doctor is so loved: he's superb here. Or you could try to find the novelisation of the story, written by the late Terrence Dicks, who was, for a long time, the script editor on Doctor Who.
Every classic Doctor Who story has been novelised, and all carry further information than the TV show could. Characters have back story -action that would have been too expensive or difficult to realise is included. They're brilliant, and most have astonishing cover art, too.

Ian Luck (not verified) Mon, 07/02/2022 - 10:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I apologise humbly, for the misplaced apostrophe on the word 'Viewers'. It should, in context, look like: Viewers'.

Paul+C (not verified) Mon, 07/02/2022 - 10:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Tom Baker for me. His autobiography 'Who on Earth is tom Baker ?' is a wonderful read even if you have no interest in Dr Who. Chockful of funny stories. Incredibly, he spent many years as a monk..............

Helen+Martin (not verified) Mon, 07/02/2022 - 23:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My thanks, Ian. I learned long ago that asking a question here is one of the surest answer places. Oh, my.