Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nicola's January Editorial...

So we’re leaping into 2007, brimming with optimism and energy… forgive my sarcasm but January is always such a horrible time of year. The weather is bloody awful… the winter seems to drag on and on. I’ve always hated new year; it seems so artificial, everyone has to be positive and look forward, but I’d rather not make too many plans because they never work out! For this reason I don’t think I’ve ever made a new years resolution, and I feel sure that Oscar Wilde would have agreed with me. There’s something about making a resolution which makes it equally inevitable that failure will follow… which sounds totally cynical! Anyway, who’s to say what 2007 will bring? Resolutions or no resolutions, life goes on…
Tomorrow sees the official end of the Christmas festivities, with the dismantling of the crimbo tree. As that pine tree smell is one of the best things about Christmas, we got ourselves a real tree in a big pot and Andy’s job tomorrow is to somehow plant it in the front garden and so that wonderful smell will be gone! About 25 years ago, when I was going through my religious phase I wrote a poem called The After Christmas Blues. Although I’ve never thought much of my own poetry, I can still remember several lines from this. I’ve got the after Christmas blues and I don’t know what to do, I’ve got the after Christmas blues even though I never knew the Christmas Truth. It’s really embarrassing to repeat… how can the memory of it stay with me all this time? It should have been packed up and shoved into the cupboard with all the rest of the tinsel… the question is, did I ever really believe in such “truths”?
All in all Christmas itself was a very quiet one, just me and the boys. Andy cooked the full Christmas meal, not with turkey but goose. Or at least it claimed to be goose! Andy said it was a long necked duck… but what’s the difference anyway? I wasn’t that enthusiastic about duck but the organic cranberry sauce from my Christmas hamper was yummy! Jack spent most of the day reading his Kevin Smith books which he’d just been given by us, which he loved. Kevin Smith is a cult film director who always appears in his own films as a character called Silent Bob, who only rarely speaks!
Still on the subject of Christmas geese, I went with Jessica, Jack and Jack’s friend Justyn (all these Js!) to see The Golden Goose at the Library Theatre. I found it extremely difficult to follow as I don’t know the story that well. There was only a small cast so instead of there being a long chain of people stuck to the goose, in this version there was only two. What’s so crazy about two people being stuck together anyway? Why should the serious princess laugh? I found out all this about the play afterwards, when I talked to Jessica. I find it difficult to grasp what’s happening at the theatre, particularly if the story is slightly changed in some way.
But that’s quite enough about the situation with my sight, something I’m still adjusting to. Not being able to see the Christmas tree lights is still horrible; but this year I was amazed when Jack showed me his new lava lamp and I could see the red light! I had to get several people to describe the lava lamp to me – I’ve never seen one before, which Ruth was absolutely stunned by. “But how can that be, Nic? Everybody had them in the 60s,” she asked incredulously. I merely shrugged and said, “Well… I’ve led such a sheltered life, you know”. However the lava lamp now exists for me in my imagination. It looks wonderful!!
Time to decide on a new book to begin reading now that we’ve finished My Dirty Little Book Of Stolen Time. All in all this was a crazy yarn, wonderful and far fetched in the extreme… though perhaps a little too sentimental in places for my liking. So… what next? I think it may well be The Tragedy Of A Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel which has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for six months! Although this novel has a terrible title (in my opinion), I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to a tale based on the life of Lizzie Siddal, one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite beauties. As well as being amazing to look at, with her long red hair and soulful expression, she was also the wife of Rosetti and an artist in her own right. Several years ago I went to see an exhibition of her work in London which was quite amazing. She died young, of an opium overdose, and although her death was never officially acknowledged as suicide, it was pretty obvious that Rosetti’s affairs had been at least partly to blame. The novel should also be useful for me in that I may get some tips on life in the Victorian age or even just on basing fiction on historical fact.
To Be Suggestive will be the title of the novel I’m currently working on, so I guess I should start referring to it as such. The Space Between will be the title of the trilogy and each of the three novels will have its own individual title. Anyway, as you see in Raw Materials, it’s continuing to go fine. I’ve been thinking about Wilde’s life after his imprisonment, which was pretty brief as he died just a few years after his release! I was reading a piece about Rupert Everett getting involved in a film about this last part of Wilde’s life, although if this means he’s actually playing Wilde I don’t know.
You might be interested to hear about my meeting with Rupert Everett in the late 80s following some show… I can’t remember what it was, although he must’ve been in it! I went backstage with my friend Christine, who went upstairs to his dressing room and asked him if he’d come down and say hello, which he did! It was pretty freaky because he only had his underpants and shirt on, though he didn’t seem to mind! At that time I’d just seen the film Dance With A Stranger with Miranda Richardson and Mr Everett and I was quite obsessed with him. I had also seen him in a cult film version of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story Chronicle Of A Death Foretold - which was an amazing film! I still remember much of it vividly. It was set in South America so the whole film was in Spanish, including everything said by Mr Everett which really impressed me!
To return to my own writing, as promised 50 Bites is in the process of having its cover illustrated. I actually cornered Andy the other day and asked, “Can you say with confidence that 50 Bites will be ready by February?” Eventually I got the reply that the completion date will now be 1st of April. This was said with confidence. “It’s a good date anyway,” Andy added. It’s no joke though… the book will be ready by then. So with that promise, I’ll draw to a close for this issue and see you next month!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Welcome to Andy's bit!
Happy New Year to all of Nicola's readers. It's January 2007 and I'm still trying to figure out what happened to 2006. I don't know if it was the same for you but for me, last year simply flew by at an alarming rate. This year, I would like to try and achieve something. So often you seem to work so hard and yet, nothing changes. Anyway, I'm not talking New Year resolutions here, I'm talking wish-list! I wish...
Back to the business of Raw Meat, as you know by now, we published the final paper version of Nicola's Newsletter in December and this issue RM#76 IS THE VERY FIRST Online only Raw Meat. So, if (and you are) you're reading these words please can you do one little thing for me? SUBSCRIBE to the mailing list! Please! Why? I hear you scream! Because, if you join our mailing list we can inform you when Raw Meat comes Online! Thank you.
Some people have told me that they tried to sign up for the Online Raw Meat but failed. If you're one of these people, please try again. You simply have to insert your name and your e-mail address then press GO! A computer generated e-mail will be sent to you from Properjoes@aol.com and you then need to click the confirmation button and BINGO! You're subscribed for FREE. To avoid the newsletter being interrpreted by your server as junk mail I advise you to add the properjoes address to your contact list.
You can read my blog Proper Joes (AT) properjoes.blogspot.com
Although, I must admit that I haven't really written as much as I would have liked to. I also have a really bad poetry blog that you can clink the link to from Proper Joes. Happy reading folks!
More Kindergarten stuff in RM#77

Jack's Page RM#76

BY Jack Sewina
Scene 9
(everyone is back at home.)
lunchbox- I told you Steven wasn’t coming back.
Rachel- shut up. What do we do know?
Jamall- we’ve got to come up with a plan.
Lunchbox- what like offer someone up as bait?
Rachel- yeah!
Jamall- nice one lunchbox.
Lunchbox- what me? Oh, right yeah, yeah it was nothing.
Jamall- so what do we do lunchbox?
Lunchbox- well we offer the strongest person up for bait.
Rachel- why?
Lunchbox- well, so if they get in a bit of a tangle or takes is a kick or a blow.
Jamall- yeah!
Rachel- well who’s the strongest?
Lunchbox- erm. You?
Rachel- me?
Jamall- I agree.
Lunchbox- okay then. When the thing comes up the stairs you run into your room. Then we jump out. give it a blow in the face and then take off his mask.
Rachel- you made that up all by yourself?
Lunchbox- nah, I got it off Scooby-Doo.
Lunchbox- okay. Lets go.
(they walk up the stairs and get into their positions. None of them are talking. Jamall and Lunchbox are hiding behind the door. Rachel is standing outside weapon less. They WAIT for a few moments and nothing happens. Then they hear something downstairs. Then they hear it walking up the stairs and Rachel sees the ski mask. It looks at her for a few moments and then runs at her. She turns around to run into her room but revenge pulls her down. She kicks it in the face and it falls down too. she attempts to get up, Revenge sticks his axe into her leg. She crawls into the room and Jamall bends down to get the axe out of Rachel’s leg. He does it but then gets kicked in the face by Revenge, he is knocked out on the floor.)
Rachel- lunchbox.
(she nods to the axe on the floor as to say he understands. Rachel kicks revenge in his leg and he falls to the floor. Jack picks up his axe and raises it above his head.)
lunchbox- this is for Tony, Michael and Jamall’s brother!
Revenge- growl
Lunchbox- time to die bitch. (he brings the axe down on revenge’s face and the screen goes black, credits come up and some rock music starts playing.)
The end.

My Work-in progress-novel...

The Space Between © Nicola Batty 2007.
In fact Constance Wilde fell several months before her husband did. He was sitting in the Algerian sun, with Bosie on his arm, as his wife tripped and plunged headlong down the steep staircase of the House Beautiful in Chelsea. As she fell, she knocked against one of the black and while drawings given to the couple by Aubrey Beardsley, dislodging it from where it hung on the wall half way up the staircase. The drawing came tumbling after her, the glass frame shattering as it hit the floor. Constance finally came to a halt and lay there at the foot of the stairs. She stared dully at the broken picture, the sounds of her own body thumping against the stairs echoed round and round in her head, without diminishing as echoes should. Her fall had only lasted a few seconds, but it was obviously the beginning of the end, her final descent. The house was very quiet all around her, even though her head was full of sound… children screaming and crying, her boys wanting her and needing her… and Oscar, she both wanted and needed him. But where exactly was he? She didn’t know. And so she was alone, lying there at the foot of the stairs with the weak January sunlight falling through the glass panels of the front door, touching her hair as if it were playing a game. She was glad the boys were not there to see her fall. She lay perfectly still and rigid, unable to move. She didn’t want to move to discover what damage she had done to herself. Slowly, very slowly, she flexed her fingers as she heard the rapid approach of footsteps along the hallway. “Mrs Wilde! Are you hurt?” The familiar tall, dark haired figure of their butler had never come as such a relief to Constance; he seemed like an angel, kneeling down beside her to help. His kindly face was creased with worry and concern as he helped her up into a sitting position. “Shall I fetch the doctor?” Constance leant against Arthur’s arm, feeling the soft cloth of his jacket rubbing warmly against her white face. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the thought of herself falling, falling. A picture of herself sitting there hunched up, came to her so clearly that she could feel the lines on her face drawing up together into an expression she didn’t recognise. She attempted a vague smile for Arthur but it didn’t work. She felt tender all over… and all she could think of was the absence of her boys. Her family, all broken and scattered in fragments, like the Aubrey Beardsley picture. She shook her head vigorously, trying to clear the jumble of confused sounds and images. “Thank you, Arthur… I’m not quite sure what to do. Perhaps you could help me get up… into a chair? Maybe I will be alright if I just sit for a while.” Carefully the butler helped Constance to her feet and to a chair in the hallway. Her back seemed to be encased in metal. Every movement caused her pain. As she tried to move a shoulder to make herself more comfortable, the pain was so sharp it caused her to cry out. Arthur stood abruptly, beginning to put on his coat. “I’m going to get the doctor, Mrs Wilde. I won’t be a minute.” Constance gazed after him bleakly as he hurried towards the front door. “All right then, Arthur… if you insist.” He closed the front door behind him with a bang that caused the whole house to shudder and sway around Constance, as if it were a signal for the Last Act. She lay back on her cushions, wondering what she had done to herself. Through the silence she could hear the ticking of the ornate Grand Farther clock beside her; it seemed to be measuring time, spooning each portion up to the child’s mouth, and there were her boys again. That Christmas just passed… the boys singing carols for all the guests on Christmas day… that moment of pride and happiness, the joy of Oscar beside her and the people she loved around… was that all over? Was it really all over? She sat there rigidly, waiting. She felt the silence press against the sides of her head, no longer able to feel any sharp edge of pain… but only a dull ache, a sense of dread.
MORE FROM The Space Between in RM#77.


It's quite difficult to return to The Space Between after the Christmas intermission (which is a space between in itself). I broke off part way through chapter 5 so I'm including a portion near the beginning of the chapter which I've written afresh and stuck onto the existing Arrested. I don't know if you will even remember Arrested from a year ago, it was one of the first bits I wrote for The Space Between even though I knew that it wouldn't be used for quite some time. Well now is the time for it to be used… only the novel has taken a different shape now and so much of Arrested needs looking at and rewriting. Different characters have come into focus, especially Robbie Ross and even Constance Wilde. The story of Wilde's arrest is such a famous yarn I thought it should be given a new and different slant by telling it from a different point of view and of course Constance's fall downstairs was such a beautiful metaphor that it had to be used. It never ceases to amaze me that Oscar didn’t pick up on his wife's physical fall to mirror his own fall from success and splendour into prison and then obscurity. It’s a perfect illustration of that sweeping arc he talked about so much, that is his vision of life as a work of art in which downhill plummets will come inevitably after success. It's a sad fact that Oscar didn't only destroy his own career and life but also Constance's and I thought that she should get a look in for a change! I recently read the play The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde by Thomas Kilroy and that probably gave me the idea for including the piece you'll find in this issue.By concentrating on Constance's physical injuries instead of Wilde's imprisonment I hope to present the story in a new light and also to allow Robbie Ross a bit of space, which he deserves. This last period of Wilde's life which could be seen as his exile has always fascinated me, in fact I've written The Turn of the Century Party partly about it. I was reading recently in the newsletter of The Oscar Wilde Society that Rupert Everett (one of my many heroes) is beginning work on a film covering these last few years of Wilde's life spent around Europe, until his death as a penniless outcast in Paris… so perhaps it's not just me who's fascinated!! The structure of this chapter is something I'm still not all happy about… I'm concerned that having many little fragments will work against the rest of the novel, which is generally flowing. The way this chapter is working out makes it essential that it should be a central point of the novel, perhaps a halfway point, or a turning point anyway. For so long I've been working towards this chapter, so that now I've reached it I feel quite panic stricken at the realisation that there's still an awful lot more of the novel to go before the end! Not that I have any shortage of ideas or characters I want to develop after Arrested. My only worry is that I have too many ideas; it’s always an effort to keep hold of my imagination and organise my ideas into a coherent order. I want to spend some time in the latter half of the 1890’s developing Harriett’s relationship with Ricketts, and also Jack’s relationship with Freddie… these are both key elements which have been hinted at but need more time spent on so that the next novel will develop on naturally. I’ve still not made my mind up definitely where or when to end the novel. It would be logical in a way to include it with Wilde’s death in 1900 so it will cover the ‘Wilde years’. But I’m concentrating on the disappearance of The Portrait of Mr WH… which goes on long after Wilde’s death! Also because I’ve deliberately avoided drawing too much attention to Wilde himself, it would make no sense to end the novel when he dies. If this novel is going to be called To Be Suggestive then it should have an open ending based on fictional characters rather than real ones. Also it would be logical to end where the scene changes and sees the Portrait of Mr WH transported elsewhere, but I’m not quite sure where yet! Anyway, these are just ideas - the difficult thing is to organise them into a novel format! Although I’m well practiced at novel writing, writing a trilogy is quite different and presents new challenges… it’s more like writing one episode of a soap opera, where you have to keep in mind the ongoing stories of people’s lives. It’s an absorbing task which completely obsesses me… I just hope it all works out!!
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