Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nicola's November Editorial

It seems to be one of those rare November days when the sunshine is bright and the sky totally clear. Usually Autumn deteriorates towards the end and becomes a total mess of slushy leaves and grey clouds over head, hanging so low that they’re threatening to squash you. It’s a shame because Autumn should be so beautiful with all the colours of the leaves. Now that October is finished I suppose that all thoughts should be turning to Christmas… but it’s too early!! I think it’s disgusting how soon it’s all foisted on us against our will, at least against mine. Christmas should be kept in a box and not opened until Christmas eve.
So it’s back to November and it’s nearly time to celebrate my great hero Guy Fawkes. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of seeing a building in Manchester with these words painted across it: GUY FAWKES WAS INNOCENT. Say no more – I wondered if this slogan was painted by a catholic hand or not, but it’s nice to know that my respect for Mr Fawkes is shared, even if it is too late. I was delighted to receive through the post the taped version of The Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser which is one of my favourite books. It’s perfect timing – just goes to show how his spirit lives on through the centuries…
This time of year always reminds me of the birthday of my friend Sally’s little boy on November the 7th. I said that she should call her son Guy… but she went for James, which was a slightly treacherous move! Ah well, the timing was right at least. I met James again last week when I went away to Norfolk. Jack and Mum came over to visit me and we all (including Sally and her kids) went to the seaside – not really the right weather! Still, it was most enjoyable… I think I appreciated spending some time outside Meadow House which was the name of the place I was staying at. It was a sort of Ziggy hotel, in a way… not really at all like the old nursing home that I stayed in a few years ago. It was a very convenient way of seeing Sally and getting away from the city for a while.
When my mum came to visit me she said “Hey, there’s a dirty big photo of Stephen Fry in the hall… maybe he opened this place!” Sure enough, he did and then someone else told me that he lived just outside Swaffam. This same Ziggy person suggested that I write to him to a) share our interest in Wilde and b) send him some of my novels concerning Wilde. Sally said she could easily find out his address for me… I don’t know if I’ll take up the suggestion. Still I’ve got nothing to lose…

I was really glad that I’d seen Brian Gilbert’s film Wilde before my sight became too bad, so that I still have clear memories of Stephen Fry and Jude Law to cling to. It was pretty inevitable that Stephen Fry would play Wilde some day, because of the uncanny resemblance! He did a pretty good job, I thought, of understanding Wilde and presenting a sympathetic portrait and I was particularly impressed by the piece which accompanied the Wilde film script; this was sort of an introduction written by Fry himself. The director and actors seem to have worked together to recreate Wilde and do him justice. It was a labour of love it seems. I was actually more struck by Jade Law’s striking portrayal of Bosie, a truly nasty piece of work. Though absolutely charming of course! I remembered sequences from the film that I was not at all daunted by the prospect of writing about it for my dissertation Reinventing Wilde, which is still available, by the way!

Another film which I have vivid memories of is an old classic The Time Machine, after the book by HG Wells. I loved this story as soon as I read it… though I felt that it was incomplete and much more should have been said on the subject of time travel. The impossible actually taking place effortlessly, without a clash. Watching the fashions changing on the shop dummy in one of the sequences from the film, filled me with such a scary feeling that lives with me still… it’s like the clash between the impossible and reality if you see what I mean. Anyway, this theme of time travel is coming into the book I’m currently reading, My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time. It’s a great book so far… totally weird, so that impossible situations take place all the time without effort. I wouldn’t call this book a science fiction novel at all – though I suppose it is slightly, in the same way that Killing Time was.
Still on the subject of my own stolen time or an extract of it, which I wrote last month for the History Matters website. Do you remember me going on about it in the last issue? People were asked to write about one day in history and then all the accounts would be stored in the British library for future generations to read. I was so excited by this idea that I got to work on my own dull day – but the thing was, it wouldn’t be just a dull day for anyone reading it in a thousand years from now. Anyway, here follows my own story of the 17th October…


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