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Author GillO


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My post for Illustrationmonthlydiaryday this month, a little delayed as usual.

I woke as I normally do, when Dave got up, but snuggled down in the warm with a coffee to listen to the Today Programme on the radio. Delighted with Russell Brand’s latest – he called Nigel Farage a “pound shop Enoch Powell”, which is spot on. I also read through emails and checked websites. The Nexus had downloaded an “update” on a fairly grand scale, which annoyed me, because some of the changes make it less easy to use (predictive text, I’m looking at you) and some bits I liked such as the floating leaves wallpaper are not available. I spent a little time trying to reconfigure it, but most of the irritating things are integral to the OS “upgrade”.

Up and showered and downstairs for breakfast and then to attack the fake fur again. I was so bothered about fitting the pieces onto a part of the fabric that I cut them out upside down. With fur this matters a lot, as upside-down doesn’t really work. Fortunately they sent a bigger piece than I actually ordered (probably a roll end – at the price I paid I feel no guilt at all in accepting the extra.) – so I was able to cut out another.

The doorbell rang when I was covered in “snow” – however hard I try to cut tidily, the stuff floats and covers everything. It was a man in a “tree surgeon” t-shirt, offering to trim our hedge for a bargain rate. Usually I send such people about their business, but as it happened we did need that sort of work doing, so I let him and his men get on with it.

He wanted cash, of course, so I popped out to the little set of shops up the road to get cash, which I needed anyway, and fell prey to the blandishments of the bakers, getting mysel...
Posted: 15 Dec 14 19:37 • More • Comments
And half an hour later the SunnyD Award winners are announced.

Lots of familiar names on the list, including quite a few of my flist - congratulations, guys! I'm particularly pleased that Illustrationsb_fag_ends won best fanfiction website - well-deserved.

I was astounded to win this:

Award SDMemAwards SMFAR30crossbook2

If you voted for it, many thanks.
Posted: 14 Dec 14 20:01 • Comments
Another lovely prompt from Illustrationsb_fag_ends, Holiday in Handcuffs. Who could resist that with Spike in mind? Set in S4 around Christmas.

Length: 863 words
Rating: PG13 (R by implication?)

Chained Holiday

In retrospect it all had a hideous sort of inevitability.

Giles refused point blank. He had a ticket and a passport and, come hell or high water, he was going to spend Christmas in London. Olivia was, mirabile dictu, still interested in him, and grass was not going to grow under his feet. In a wave of similar oracular sayings, some of which were even comprehensible, he vanished three days before The Day.

Xander was craftier. He told Anya Buffy was likely to ask him, before the idea had really fixed itself in the Slayer’s mind. Anya had definite opinions of her own, and they were not exactly conciliatory. “I have every expectation of a lot of orgasms for Yule and no stowaway vampire is going to spoil my party.” Eventually Xander would stop blushing and at least it worked.

It was never an option to ask Willow. A happy non-Christmas chez Rosenberg did not involve extra guests unapproved by her mother. Willow wasn’t in exactly the best of places either, just at the moment.

That left just the one place. Revello Drive. Buffy knew her mother had a soft heart and a softer spot for personable and polite young men, whether or not they were vampires, unless they happened to be dark, broody and currently in Los Angeles. There was a cellar and a comfy cot down there. It had to be done.

She started gently. “Mom, remember last year? It wasn’t just us, was it? You know, I thought it was kinda fun, having a guest.” The guest had been a psychotic alternate Slayer, but no nee...
Posted: 11 Dec 14 16:13 • More • Comments
It's been a ridiculously long while since I posted here. Blame wedding, cough, fake fur, bone idleness, any of the above in combination. I'll do a proper update soon, promise.
However, now, I haz fic - done for the Illustrationsb_fag_ends December prompts, which are beautiful and show a lot of thought and effort in the crafting, but haven't as yet garnered many actual responses. This is one for the prompt The House Without A Christmas Tree, though in this instance for "house", read "crypt". It's set in S4, around this time of year, a time Dawn remembers remarkably well considering she didn't yet exist.


Dawn had some very vivid memories of the holiday season before she actually existed, so to speak. There had been the weird Thanksgiving when there had been a bear and one of the Scoobies had stolen her kiddy bike and she’d tried to help mash the potatoes so they came out all lumpy and even Xander wouldn’t eat them, though he was kind about it.

There had been the weird stuff around Hanukkah (Willow told her it was then) when suddenly Giles was blind and didn’t even get cross with her when she tied his shoelaces together because he was so worried. And Buffy had been happier than she’d ever been, before or since, and Spike just couldn’t stop smiling and they’d cuddled each other so much that a self-respecting teen should have made barf-in-my-mouth noises, but they were just so cute she couldn’t help but smile with them.

There had been the ultra-weird stuff when they’d all lost their voices and she’d been so scared she’d just clung to Mom and wouldn’t let her leave the room. And Spike had dropped by the house just to check on them and gave her a hug, and there was one for ...
Posted: 8 Dec 14 19:51 • More • Comments
Awake coughing a lot - the doctor has given me antibiotics but says she will be amazed if they clear it up altogether, as it's clearly in the trachea and will take weeks to wear it out.

Dave brought me a coffee before he headed off to work, and I showered and packed a bag before going downstairs for breakfast and a quick check of my usual computer locations, replying to a few comments and emails. Delighted to see a couple of old friends have replied to the wedding invitation and hope to be able to come to it. Preparations for the wedding are taking over much of my life at present, but today I ignored the sewing on the table and the mountains of fur fabric. I did take in a big parcel of books, mostly intended as Christmas presents, but after a limited amount of pottering I put my stuff in the car and locked the house up.

I was on my way to visit friends in Selby for a couple of nights, but the first few miles took a ridiculously long time. There is a key roundabout on the southeastern approach to Coventry which is being redesigned. It was always a traffic bottleneck, but now it's much worse, and it took me half an hour to do the three miles or thereabouts to get through it.

Once on the motorway it was fairly easy driving as far as Nottingham, but much of the road beyond that is currently a cone farm (or breeding sanctuary?) with a 50mph speed limit, which was annoying. There was one on the M18 too, so a journey that is usually under two hours was over two and a half. No stop-start, but far too much sloooow.

On arrival I was plied with tea by the bucketful (no great exaggeration, as anyone who knows the household will agree.) and we chatted for a while, before Illustrationxrseyre had to go off to help run an Alpha meeting in York and I settled ...
Posted: 12 Nov 14 18:24 • More • Comments
I took four linked fics from the Illustrationsb_fag_ends Halloween challenge and revised them, extending them a little and tying them together to make something that worked as a single piece.

Be warned, though: this means three Bloody Awful poems within a relatively short space.

Rating: PG13 because of Spike's swearing.
Length: 1,322 words.

Bloody Awful Learning Process

“The bride was blooming, fresh and gay,
She almost danced into the church.
She laughed to think her wedding day
Had come, not left her in the lurch.

“For many an anguished year she’d staid
Awaiting her true lover’s kiss,
For dread of dying an old maid
She’d all but taken vows amiss

“An evil black-brow’d broody man
Had almost swept her heart away
Had stol’n her young faith then ran
Far off to LA’s brightest day.

“But lo, at almost her last gasp,
A wiry hero stepped right out
And seized her in his loving grasp
Knowing his heart was hers throughout.

“And thus she danced and thus she sang
Her love was waiting up the aisle
The bells up in the steeple rang
The people singing all the while.”

Giles looked up. “You think there are problems with the scansion? Just the scansion?”

“Well, yes. Know I’m a crap poet. Thought you might offer a word of advice.”

“Spike. Listen to me carefully. I know you love her. She is determined to have you. Be content with that, and the fact that her friends and family are more or less resigned to it. But the poetry? My best advice, and I am being completely sincere with this. Whatever your day job is? Don’t give it up quite yet.”

Posted: 5 Nov 14 11:10 • Comments
That post about William got a lot more attention than I expected. With that and all my Illustrationsb_fag_ends posts, I have responded to over a hundred comments today! And they claim LJ is moribund and our fandom dying. I hope I have now responded to everyone, though I know there are still a few fics I need to leave comments on still.

The William stuff was particularly interesting, with some intriguing ideas about explaining away the (Doylist) issues with Marsters's pronunciation by arguing a father with American links. Also, debate about where in the UK William and his mother lived. I am digesting this and will probably post more, but not tonight because I hate linking to myself on the SU Herald, and Sunday is my night to post.

The Illustrationsb_fag_ends Halloween challenged ended with 189 fics, of which a mere 31 were by me. I came fourth, narrowly beaten by Illustrationfoxstarreh, who had 73 points to my 71. Illustrationdrizzlydaze on 89 and Illustrationspuffy_luvr on 90 ...
Posted: 2 Nov 14 18:55 • More • Comments
A late-night exchange in comments with Illustrationshapinglight led to this. In my head-canon Spike/William went to Cambridge, just as canonical Giles went to Oxford. Bearing in mind that he was about the right age in about 1872, which makes quite a few brash young newcomer universities ineligible, where do you think young William the not-yet Bloody studied?

View Poll: William's university - which one?

Thank you for your input. If you vote "Cambridge", knowledge of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not essential.
Posted: 31 Oct 14 19:38 • Comments
I have actually been posting like crazy over the last week, because I've been participating in the annual Halloween challenge at Illustrationsb_fag_ends, the site for all your short fic Spuffy needs. Right now it is bursting at the seams with fabulous new fics, most of them written at the speed of light, or possibly smashing the space-time continuum altogether. It's on a points system, and when I tell you I have posted 23 fics and am lying only in third place, you'll see what I mean. Go look - there are some awesome things there.

When it calms down (it ends on Friday) I will revise them all, possibly linking some together, and post them here and at AO3, but that will take some time anyway.

In the meantime I have been busy doing other stuff as well. R was home for a few days, either side of a trip to Warrington. She goes to all the glamorous places, my girl. We did stuff together, shopping and going to see the bank and suchlike before she headed back to The Smoke on Monday evening.

On Saturday, though, I joined the tutor of my Shakespeare course from last spring and a bunch of his students for a walking tour of historic bits of Kenilworth with relevance to Shakespeare. Now as I have lived here just over twenty years I didn't really learn a lot that was new to me, but it was fun, and I really enjoyed the intelligent, knowledgeable company. (The first year undergrads were intelligent, the MA students and the tutors were fairly knowledgeable as well.)

We started with the site of the Abbey, once one of the richest in the Midlands, and by dint of bribery one of the last to be dissolved, in 1538. There are a few bits left, but most of it was reused for building local houses and adding areas to the castle.

Posted: 29 Oct 14 21:16 • Comments
I looked into my "other" folder on FB this morning and found a private message sent yesterday

This is from a student, A, whom I taught a very long time ago. I don't usually like to boast, because I am British and it really isn't the done thing, but this was so sweet and unexpected I wanted to save this here.

Dear Mrs. Othen,
As I took a walk down memory lane today, browsing through some old photos I wanted to tell you that I think you are an outstanding English teacher, and you are one of the reasons that I continued to study English into the 6th form and in higher education. When I was studying to become a teacher, your style of teaching, the way you brought Shakespeare to life and cared about students who were different inspired me.
I recognise now (ha!) that my behaviour probably made me one of your more challenging students, but I really appreciate the way you reached out to me and made a connection that has lasted a lifetime.
Thank you very much.

Totally unsolicited!

I have been participating in the Halloween challenge over at Illustrationsb_fag_ends. It's enormous fun and the Spuffy fics and ficlets are coming in thick and fast, and are fabulous. If you haven't seen them, you really should.

I have cut out the first of four fake fur capes for bridesmaids, and there are not enough lint rollers in all the world!
Posted: 27 Oct 14 09:20 • Comments
A good account here on Illustrationladydragon76's journal about the fic thief, who would appear to be Russian and have some sort of advertising deal which means the individual concern earns from people rushing to his/her site to complain. I strongly recommend reading it and boosting the signal. Illustrationladydragon76 has put in some excellent research on this.
Posted: 18 Oct 14 18:43 • Comments
Illustrationlost_spook has come across an unpleasant little site which is reposting more or less anything tagged "fanfic". You may wish to look or to reconsider your tag system.


Yes, I mean you.
Posted: 13 Oct 14 12:29 • Comments
A very long while ago I wrote wedding fic about Spike and Buffy getting married in Scotland. Initially planned to be a short PWP it ran away from me, resolutely PG13 at most, and covering four chapters without getting to the nitty-gritty.

Now I am not writing essays or reading for classes I thought I ought to catch up on a couple of WIPs and bring them to an actual conclusion. Here is one:

Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
Part Three is here.
Part Four is here.

Hotel Suite - Epilogue
Rating: R
1,447 words.
Spike, Buffy and some guests you may recognise.

Times had changed since Spike had last been part of a wedding party, in anything other than a snacking sense, that was. When his cousin Ida had married the happy couple had set off on their wedding trip straight from the ceremony, not even staying to partake of the meal. Just as well, in retrospect, as the discovery of her husband’s unfortunate gastric issues would have been particularly unfortunate in the context of a Victorian wedding breakfast.

He had known that he and Buffy would remain at the hotel after the formalities were over, of course – he had made the arrangements with the hotel. He’d left the frills up to the management, however – as long as his own food was bloody enough, who cared what the guests were fed on? Who really gave a toss about the first dance, for that matter? The dancing he planned to do with Buffy would be later on and very much in private. And fun. Cake design, like the dresses, had been left to Dawn and Willow.

It was his own bloody fault, then, in retrospect, that he found himself standing next to his new wife, Giles and a pack of hangers-on in a straight lin...
Posted: 30 Sep 14 19:41 • More • Comments
The marks and feedback for the Thackeray essay arrived today. 67, which is a good Merit, but lower than the other essays except for the catastrophic theory essay. The fact that the tutor of the course was second marker for this probably didn't help, but the feedback pointed out genuine issues and I'm not going all sour grapes. Really.

So, that's the MA finished. A comfortable average in the high 60s, so they would have to be spectacularly mean not to award me the degree; I'll hear officially in about a month and graduation, if I go, is in January, the week after F's wedding.

The bad news is that apparently there's a rule that says you can't do the same qualification twice, so it looks as if I won't be doing any studying this year apart from signing up for Italian again. This saddens me. I may try applying for an MFA for next year, but I have to come up with a project for that. Possibly finishing my YA novel.

In other news, Dave is now painting the downstairs loo and the fitter has finished most of the tiling in the bathroom, which is looking good. He should be finished in a couple of days, he says - there will be photos. It's so wonderfully not-green, so I love it already.

Feeling very flat this evening, as if I've failed, which I know is very silly and I'll get over it. I feel, once again, second-rate. Better than third-rate or fourth-rate, but still. It's my default brood and I need to snap out of it. I have (pending) an MA from a prestigious university. Durham still means a lot more, though. I think I need to write fic to pull my head out of the mess.
Posted: 29 Sep 14 17:21 • Comments
It's actually because my internet is fluctuating in and out so much that I am writing stuff in Word instead of reading and lurking.

I did get a chance to follow this link from the Illustrationsu_herald, though. It is a very long way beyond marvellous, though one does wonder if the artist concerned may have a wee bit too much time on his/her hands.

Yes, folks, it's an entire range of BtVS figures and playsets in LEGO. It has to be seen to be believed. There are even 'boxes' for comics canon!
Posted: 16 Sep 14 18:40 • Comments
Spike and LMPTM

It’s quite cheering that BtVS is still popular enough to generate new articles online, even if a fair proportion of them are just clickbait. It’s still clickbait with pretty pictures, after all. One such is 10 Depressingly Realistic Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its consideration of Spike and S7 struck me as worth further exploration.

3. Parents Don’t Always Know Best


Mutant Enemy

Episode: Season 7, Episode 17 – “Lies My Parents Told Me”

Let’s be honest: The seventh and final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a let-down. The “Slayer School” storyline was lame. The “real vampires” (or ancient cave-man vampires, or whatever) known as Turok-Hans were corny and inconsistently presented, at first being nearly impossible for Buffy to defeat one-on-one, but by the end of the season being cannon fodder. Willow was just sort of “there” and Giles wasn’t really there at all (having been written off to England the previous season). The season also had far too many “motivational speeches” that seemed like filler.
Really, it was Spike that carried the seventh season, with the only interesting storyline being his (First Evil, we’re sorry, but you would have been better suited to a multi-episode arc, not a series ending storyline).

So it seems fitting that it was a Spike episode that taught us one of the few lessons to be had from the season.
Interspersed with scenes from Spike’s past, the episode is basically a look at Spike then vs. now, with the surviving son of a Slayer he once killed looking to take vengeance on the vampire who left him an orphan. The parent in question is Giles, watch
Posted: 16 Sep 14 16:57 • More • Comments
Friday 12th September

Up in good time to finish collecting stuff together for Illustrationwriterconuk - my last year as chair and, as a local person I tend to accumulate a lot of the stuff – if it’s ordered online it makes sense for it to be sent to me. The evening before had involved Illustrationcuriouswombat doing a lot of ironing to create bags with our logo on and we (including S2C) had put goodies into the goody bags.

Later in the morning our bathroom turned up and was stored in the garage. To clarify – after a mere 20 years in this house we are finally replacing the very dated 70s green suites in the bathroom and downstairs loo with something a little less Thatcher-era in white. So, a man with a van brought a bath, a shower, two loos, two washbasins, a range of taps, outlets and chrome stuff, a vanity unit and a heck of a lot of tiles. These were all stored tidily away and I still managed to get the door closed. Use a garage to put a car in? You have to be joking.

Around lunchtime (which I sort of forgot to have) I gathered together the last of my things and headed to Sainsbury’s for last-minute white wine and fruit juice, then down to Coventry, to meet folks at the Ramada Hotel, the venue for our Event for quite a few years now. Several people had already arrived, and during the afternoon more and more trickled in. The hotel staff were sweet as usual, but more than a bit fussy this year – I had to have private conflabs with Szholt and Jyoti, and was asked to proof-read the menu! (Just as well – since the draft I’d seen on Tue...
Posted: 16 Sep 14 06:35 • More • Comments
Illustrationbrutti_ma_buoni's talk inspired very cracky fic. This in turn inspired Illustrationhobbituk to create an image. I'm ashamed to say I made one too. See my earlier (Saturday) post for the fic and her image. Here's mine:

Crackfic image copy
Posted: 15 Sep 14 11:04 • Comments
Illustrationbrutti_ma_buoni is going to make us work. Bearable fanfics from Mills and Boon summaries. We have to restrain our badfic impulses - she has confidence in us. (Silly, silly lady.)

Prompts don't have to be literal - even the worst prompts may have little bits in even a summary from a Harlequin novel - so you can make your imagination better than the source.

Now we are divided into groups. Each group has a choice of three summaries - printed very surreptitiously at work.

My group chose one about a rancher in Argentina.

We had to dump two things, keep at least two things and create a new synopsis, rating, possibly chapter headings. This is ours:

Honeymoon With the Rancher or, Dragged up on Dartmoor

John Watson runs a lonely, windswept guest-house on Dartmoor. One day detective Sherlock Holmes turns up at his door. He plants his stilettoes firmly in front of John who thinks Sherlock is an ugly woman and rejects his advances until suddenly he reveals himself to be a man going undercover as a drag performer. John points out that he is totally unconvincing as a woman: “You’re not fooling anybody dressed like that, mate.” he says.

“Damn. My informant told me that I had to look like this and tell you the birds were flying south for the summer. I think Mycroft was taking the piss.”

Sherlock is on his honeymoon, alone, having abandoned the wife he married - on his brother’s orders - at the altar when it transpired that his new bride had been sent by Moriarty to kill him on their wedding night when in the throes of passion. He feels the whole thing is a bit of an inconvenience in his mission to identify the breeder of the cross-dressing hounds of Baskerville and p...
Posted: 13 Sep 14 09:10 • More • Comments
Mez is telling us a story. It has a sorceror in it. The sorcerer is the good guy. Virgil's Aeneid is a Homer remix. And now we're on to Rocket Launcher fic.

Yes, we've started.

Fanfic is a conversation - "Yeah, not bad, but this is how I'd do it."

The act of writing is will always impose your own viewpoint on the original story. No two people will have exactly the same understanding of the original story - and every time you write you are reacting not just to the original, but also to all the other interpretations - fic and meta - that you have seen.

Take all the recent reworkings of Sherlock Holmes - viewpoints on the original stories but also their own viewpoints on each others versions.

You often don't figure out what you think/feel about an original story until you settle down to work out what you need to fit in and what to discard.

Fic can be a bad thing if it becomes about telling people off, telling people how they are seeing it 'wrong', writing a hit-for-hit rebuttal of someone else's work. Fic should be about bringing the new rather than criticising the already existing. Not a good idea to attack the writing - there is a danger that you just end up bashing a fic in a remix if you are not in sympathy with the original POV.

Inspiring each other - challenges, especially remix challenges are very much about a conversation. The emphasis is on reacting actively and creatively - the more fanworks there are out there, the more you inspire other people to create too.

From the floor: gentle mocking can be OK. The Whale of the Nazgul is a good example of an inspiring spelling mistake! Sometimes you may have a private conversation involving the offer to beta things. American/British English can also be problematic - 'Dr Who' with US spelling grates, and we assume Brit spelling in US stories has the same effect.

The All-Penguin AU came up - a conversation which took off, s...
Posted: 13 Sep 14 05:36 • More • Comments

For reasons which make little sense to me, my post is getting garbled. We have thrown pterosaurs at each other and played a quiz in which the prize and runner up prizes were all alcoholic. Blanquette De Limoux sparkling wine, to be precise.

We are now dining. Curiouswombat has fishcake in a pond. See photo above.
Posted: 12 Sep 14 16:47 • Comments
I've not posted much of late, mainly because 'busy' has been an understatement. Here's a quick round-up, though.

I think my last post of substance was from Worldcon, on the Saturday, when I was really tired and a bit low. Sunday was quite different. I was hailed as I walked in by Illustrationbrisingamen and we sat and talked for ages. Then I attended a couple of panels and caught up with Illustrationtlanti before I went to the meet-up for Diana Wynne Jones fans.

DWJ Meet

With Kylie Ding and Meredith DWJ meet

I skipped the Hugo awards in favour of sitting drinking with a bunch of people, which was a lot of fun.

On the Monday I also caught a few panels and took a few more pics. I travelled quite a bit using Schindler's Lift.

Schindlers lift

I took a few pics of random people:

Dalek and Jawas
Poisoning pigeons
Posted: 9 Sep 14 18:54 • Comments
This is a wonderful set of maps collated to explain Europe to non-Europeans. It's fascinating - far more Muslims, proportionally, in Sweden, France and Germany than in Britain, for example. And a telling map of parts of the world 'ruled' at some point by Europe. Japan, Korea and Thailand weren't. That's it.

It's just used up over an hour of my time. Go see.
Posted: 9 Sep 14 17:13 • Comments
For all my friends who are interested in British obsessions. This is a wartime public information film about the correct way to make tea. Giles and Wesley grew up with such rules.

Note that a man gives the detailed instructions, because it has to be credible! The accents are something else - you never hear anything like them these days.

I do wonder if the man is Alastair Sim...

And linked to that, one of a set (apparently) of EFL videos from the BBC, this one about idioms connected to tea. Though I would usually say "as much use as a chocolate teapot", not "as good as".

I have an essay to submit on Monday. 8,000 words, +/- 10%. So far, 2,500 and counting. Which explains why I'm all work-avoidy here.
Posted: 27 Aug 14 10:26 • Comments
I'm feeling my age a bit, not to mention my weight - my hotel is cheap, clean and comfortable, but at the "wrong" end of the ExCel conference centre, which is so big it has two DLR stations. This means about a half-mile walk at the start of the day - no problem - and at the end, by which time my knees and feet are killing me and every step feels like six.

OK, whine over, this is a very, very good con. I've been to all sorts of panels on YA, TV, mediaevalism and London, enjoyed really good conversations with total strangers and met lots of folk I know, most of whom are way busier than me. Not only did I meet Illustrationowlfish, I've now met the wonderful Grouting, who is particularly keen on assaulting her father with hula hoops and Illustrationowlfish's mother, who I accused of being her sister. Ooops.

Particularly noteworthy was a fascinating conversation in the Exhibition hall with a lady from Glasgow University's Historical Thesaurus project - like a standard thesaurus, but linking all the words and slang terms ever used in the language since Beowulf spoke it - to call it "awesome" would be to undervalue it. I also spent time with some OTW people, including a delightful lady who is in charge of translations into non-English languages, which is also awesome - a word I'm in danger of overusing this weekend.

Lots of cosplayers around, of course - enough to make a photo spread in The Guardian, and some amazing exhibits. I fell in love with a steampunk Dalek, a Tiki Dalek and a representation of the railway system of "Angst Less-pork".

Posted: 17 Aug 14 07:12 • Comments