Who is Wolfenoot, Man?

A few days ago I wanted to upload something about International Men's Day, but I was too pressured with work and too tired to find the energy or mental capacity to string three words together. Today is both Wolfenoot, a spontaneously created new festival dreamed up by a child and dedicated to the celebration of lupines and canines (being a lupophile, I am always willing to add a celebration to my calendar). Plus today is also the anniversary of the very first episode of Doctor Who being aired in 1963. Not having the wherewithal to churn out three separate contributions, the following meander is a mash-up of all three events.

The theme set for this year's International Men's Day by whoever dreams these things up is role models and, conveniently enough, this is where the Venn diagram overlaps because, as a child, the Doctor was one of my central male role models. That my main model should be a fictional entity may say something about the quality of the flesh-and-blood men in my life at the time, or it may reflect something of the unreality in which I have always lived, drifting in and out of narrative streams. Or a little of both. I have dim memories of Jon Pertwee, but my main Doctor growing up was Tom Baker and he remains the yardstick by which all subsequent actors are measured.
The introduction of a female Doctor has proved divisive, with people having strong feelings both for and against. The BBC, as part of its sales pitch (or damage limitation, depending on which side of the fence you sit) has put out interviews with Jodie Whittaker pointing out, amongst other things, that women can serve as role models for children of both sexes - which is true. Boys and men can admire women for a thousand different things, and there are many women whom I admire. However, the one area in which a woman cannot readily act as role model is in formulating a male identity (nor vice versa, of course). For me the Doctor was influential in formulating a sense of manhood that, as a very weird child,I could identify with - never having been a very macho sort, the sporty, laddish, blokey sense of self and all the behaviours and attitudes that went with it never appealed and would have proved an ill-fitting costume if I'd ever tried to don it. The Doctor was a dynamic man, charismatic, energetic, one who rushed to aid the weak and vulnerable, challenged the boorish and tyrannical, stood outside the mainstream and created his own way through the cosmos. Isaac Asimov and Gore Vidal have both spoken about the anti-intellectualism in American society, and there's certainly an element of that in British society too (especially, and ironically, in schools where being nerdy or a know-all is seldom welcome by the other kids and often derided as unmanly... David Newsome cites various Victorian Christian sermons that derided "all that is effeminate, un-English, and excessively intellectual", lumping those things all together!) For the Doctor, his genius was part of not only what made him a hero but his very manhood. He stood in direct contrast to all the gun-toting, muscle-bound heroes for whom a punch in the face or a a hail of bullets was the standard response to almost any problem or challenge.
The Time Lord was always a lone wolf, cut off from his own people and rebelling against their stuffy rules of non-intervention in the problems of other species. The assorted companions he gathered around him - humans, aliens, tin dogs - were a surrogate pack to balance out the absence of his own kind, especially since he left his granddaughter behind to have a life of her own in a ruined futuristic London. You'll note I'm stretching this a bit to shoehorn in the wolf imagery.
When the Doctor returned to our screens in 2005 the Bad Wolf theme permeated the episodes of the first season (and resurfaced under the wonderful Tenth Doctor), without ever really getting a proper explanation beyond some waffle about the name of a space station. So I'll suggest one here - wolves are the most social of species and so a lone wolf is an outcast, a "bad wolf" that has lost one family and is yet to be accepted by another. The Doctor is the lonesome outcast tracking through the wastes, always searching for - as we found out in the anniversary special - home, the long way round. Given the utterly depressing statistics on male suicides and homicides, perhaps there are quite a few lost men searching for a place to belong. The key to good mental health for wolves, Gallifreyans, and humans alike is positive relationships - loved ones to bond with and share mutual support, to go adventuring with, to keep each other grounded and stable. It's why he had his Sarah-Janes and his Harry Sullivans.

That's enough meandering for now - it's the full moon and blood calls to blood, for even a Time Lord who is pure in heart and flies his Tardis by night may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. Or something. I've been at the gin again.

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