There are some mysteries that lie unanswered for centuries, even for millenia: the symbolism behind the Nazca Lines in Peru; the purpose of Stonehenge in Great Britain; the location of Atlantis or whether it was simply a story thought up by Plato.  However, in this day and age you can find the answer to almost anything and so we are left with an ever dwindling number of true enigmas.  I am privileged to share the happy news with you that I have found the answer to one such mystery well within the span a single lifetime.

When I was a lickle pickle, barely of school age, I remember being with The Mothership at my grandparents house.  My memories of the day are hazy, but what I do recall is that we were all watching something, but whether it was on TV or video I couldn’t say.  A man was standing in a very fake-looking forest of trees, when all of a sudden the sound of marching footsteps started to echo around the place.  The man started to get a little frantic, the footsteps drew closer and tensions were high.  The only additional details I can attach to the memory are that I strongly believed it to be an episode of Doctor Who, I’m sure it was in black and white, there was possibly a squealing female and eventually a small army of soldier-creature-things appeared.

Written down it doesn’t sound so scary, but at the time the metallic echoing footsteps drawing ever closer were frightening enough to drive me to The Mothership’s legs.

That memory has haunted and taunted me my whole life.  No one that I asked ever recalled a show from the 80’s that matched that description, not even on reruns; no one could help me, it remained something stuck inside my head for over 20-years.  Until yesterday.

The internet is a wonderful thing.  Dating back to the 1960’s when the US government commissioned research into computer networking, with the National Science Foundation and private financiers getting involved in the 1980’s, it being more fully commercialised and made available in the 1990’s, until today in 2011 when we have around 2.1 billion people, almost a third of the worlds population, using the internet in one form or another.  Lots of social networking sites have sprung up over the years, recently there has been a trend for both blogging and micro blogging sites and, more specifically, Twitter has risen to be one of the most popular sites for micro blogging.

Twitter is a network made up of almost 175 million account holders, all with their own singular interests and motives, possessing a hive of shareable information, ultimate networking at your fingertips in 140 characters or less.  I decided to use this network to try to get an answer to the question that has dogged me for over 20-years.  In this day and age there are so few mysteries left, I saw no reason why this one should not be put to rest as well.

My search for answers went as follows:

  • @WayoftheGeeks Can anyone remember which vintage episode of #DoctorWho involved a forest & the sound of marching footsteps getting closer? Childhood memory.

I added the helpful followup of:

  • @WayoftheGeeks I vaguely recall it being black & white, poss a female companion with him, & the forest looking a little fake/studio but nonetheless scary.

Two of the people I’m networked with on Twitter, @_L1vY_ and @tattooed_mummy, kindly retweeted my message to share with their own networks.

It was lovely to find that I wasn’t alone, as almost instantly someone replied to me with:

  • @carbontwelve was it a black and white forest with trees they could climb up? if so… i have the same memory and question :p

Even more amazingly, with a few minutes of me posting my original question:

I replied with my thanks:

  • @WayoftheGeeks Nutcracker looking soldiers, you absolute wonder! That scary memory has been tormenting me for the last couple of decades!
  • @clq I’m glad I could be of assistance!

I then paid it forward:

  • @WayoftheGeeks @carbontwelve I got my answer, is it yours? RT: @clq Prob a long-shot, but could it be “The Mind Robber”? (CC @_L1vY_ )
  • @carbontwelve omi, it actually was 😮
  • @WayoftheGeeks All hail the interweb, a 20+ year old scary childhood #DoctorWho memory mystery solved. Huge thanks to @tattooed_mummy @_L1vY_ & @clq
  • @_L1vY_ Amazing just how many circles of us geeks a few RTs can reach!

This was quite a humbling example of how far technology has come.  A question that has been lurking in my mind since childhood, the answer to which had previously been limited to my immediate circle of direct friends and acquaintances, was now something I could take to the world, and the world was happy to help.  In fact, in less than 10-minutes of my asking a question I had received the answer I hadn’t been able to get for years.

I’m now dredging my mind for childhood mysteries that I want solving, call it a test of the internet if you will.  I remember a book about a family of four involving seagulls on string and an indoor beach.  Let’s see what networking can achieve!


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