Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tom Baker: Death & Me

I'll let you in on a little secret. Of course, sharing this with you all won't be all that big a secret. It's not exactly science fiction. No, in fact, it's definitely not science fiction. You see, the concept of death, dying, taking that last breath is a bit of an odd obsession of mine. The sheer thought of stepping into the next life and leaving this great blue planet is a rather frightening prospect. Some of you may have picked up on it given my tributes to those who have passed on previously.

Mind you, many will tell me, "you're still such a puppy." Granted, now that I think about it, I don't hear that quite as often as I used to. All of this plays into my fear of dying. I have a thing with hearts too. The One To Be Pitied often plays on that fear with great glee. If I see anything with hearts beating or surgery on hearts, human, monkey, what have you, my heart generally starts beating faster. Actually, the evil One To Be Pitied will often just say "monkey hearts, monkey hearts" when I'm most vulnerable just to see me get antsy and start clasping my chest. She's a funny one when it comes to torture.

Well, I was reading an article just today. As you know another obsession is science fiction. Doctor Who Magazine #412 is on shelves. It features an article with one of my childhood idols, Tom Baker. It's part two of their interview with the living legend. Well, in this second installment Baker sort of waxes on about life and his general surroundings. There really isn't much in the way of Doctor Who to the interview. The man is now 75 years old and he's not feeling overly obligated to attend funerals and I cannot say that I blame him at all. It's just not the man's style. Here is a little segment from the interview that sort of spoke to me.

I suspect I will have to catalogue these thoughts as I continue to age. It happens to all of us.

"The whole of life is a question of loss, isn't it? I met a boy in a paper shop the other day. He was only about 16, and looked rather frail. We were talking and he said, 'The thing is Mr. Baker, I don't want to grow old.' And he was only 16! But yes, everything is loss. The loss of childhood, the loss of youth, the loss of parents, the loss of... you know, hair! The loss of teeth. Everything is loss, and everything that's precious is loss. Finally, we don't own anything, do we, because we're defeated by death. We just have things. We don't own them, because we have to leave them, because we're on our way somewhere- to oblivion! It's a great terror isn't it?"

Um, yes Tom, it is. Okay, that poor 16 year old is done for. Anyway, now that you're thoroughly depressed, perhaps I'm not alone. At least Tom Baker, formerly the good Doctor, is with me, at least for a little while longer.

On a lighter note, Tom Baker purchased an old headstone and ran across a chisler at his gravesite and asked the man a favor. "I said, 'Hello!', and he said, "Christ! Doctor Who?' I said, 'Yes, I'm Doctor Who'. He was a great fan, and I asked if he wanted to make 30 quid. He said, 'Not half!' I told him I wanted him to put on the gravestone, in big lovely letters, 'Tom Baker, 1934 -'. I didn't want him to put the second date, as I wasn't sure of it yet."


Unknown said...

Fascinating stuff, death.. I just had a near-death experience yesterday when I finished the half-Marathon distance with all the pain in the world. I think I can now spend the rest of my life in front of the TV without feeling too bad. I lost about 10 pounds during the race and had cramps in every muscle in my legs - when stuff like that happens, you're kind of confronted with your own mortality. And when you survive it, you get a new appreciation of life. Coming home to a smiling 4 month old and a girlfriend who volunteered to go pick up some pizzas made me realize how lucky I am in a really cheesy way.

Oh well. Not really death related, but close enough. ;)

SFF said...

Ye, close enough is good enough right? Glad you made it. I run maybe 2.5-3 miles a few times a week, but nothing like a half-marathon so bless your heart. There's that word.

Seriously, like yourself, Tom Baker, I do value life and cherish the moments . At least we can step back and appreciate it. I think we're in that group. I know many have it rough out there and I count myself as one of the lucky ones.

Nice job on the run. Pizza sounds good even if it's cheesy. ;)