Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 2007 Issue 81

Nicola's Editorial...
Back on track once again and slightly more punctual than the last issue, you’ll be glad to see. Thanks for all the personal response from everyone… I know now that RAW MEAT will be read and welcomed! It’s difficult to concentrate on writing this today but only because the weather’s so good - which comes as a relief I suppose. Typically, it seemed to brightened up once we arrived home from our holiday and it’s remained beautiful ever since! On such days I’m reminded of my old habits of creative writing at night, or in the evening at least which I never imagined I could change… it just goes to show what you can do when you have to.
When I was younger and could write independently I used to believe that darkness was necessary to encourage the creative juices to flow. This was no doubt linked to my obsession with vampires and Gothicism! I would sit reading in the garden all day if it was sunny, and then write at night. I never would have dreamt that it would be possible for me to change, but I have done without thinking. Yet I still have certain sympathies with night time and creativity… I’m sure there is something in the air maybe, which touches some part of the brain. I’ll have to work on this theory…
But to return to the here and now, we’ve just come back from camping in Norfolk with Jessica, Jack and his friend Justyn, so it was quite a crowd! When we arrived it was raining so that everything got wet – Andy wanted to come home because things looked so miserable but we were persuaded to stay by the boys. Justyn was particularly looking forward to going sea fishing as he’s a keen fisherman so we ended up going to different beaches every day while Justyn fished. Sounds pretty boring but the weather turned really sunny later in the week so everyone enjoyed it. We all ate Justyn’s catch – one sea cod!!
While we were staying in Norfolk we actually managed to see my friend Sally who was recovering from a little bout of pneumonia! But she was itching to return to her teaching job… and was full of interesting stories. One of these was about her two pet rabbits, one of whom was called Bottom (after Shakespeare’s character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream). “They both came to a tragic end… they were savaged by the neighbours’ Alsatian,” Sally told me matter-of-factly. “My god, how horrific,” I sympathised. And that was not the only tragic tale of pets that Sally had to tell… her own Alsatian had recently died from something like a brain tumour… so now she has a new dog called Max. I asked Andy what type of dog he was and he described it as “A big hairy thing.”
As I said since our return from Norfolk it’s been far too beautiful weather-wise for computer work. But now it’s slightly cloudy which means RAW MEAT will get done! So I suppose it’s good news, in a way. Although the computer certainly has its advantages, the question still remains with me; Is making RAW MEAT only available on the internet a good idea? What do you think? Please do send in your comments! We will send out any printed copies if they are requested. Although I’ll admit to feeling slightly more well disposed towards the computer since making contact with my old friend Steve Speller through the internet, which was amazing! We’ve found his website – he runs a design/photography business now. By strange coincidence Steve has a photograph in the National Portrait Gallery of none other than Stephen Fry with a cat!!! So it seems we have another mutual friend as well as Hawksmoor.
So we finished Hawksmoor, and what a brilliant ending it was! I felt totally satisfied that the murder mystery wasn’t all tied up conclusively… that edge of strangeness of times getting mixed up and affecting each other came through perfectly. Since finishing the book we’ve started on Still She Haunts Me which is a work of fiction based on historical fact by Katie Roiphe. It’s about the relationship between Charles Dodgson and the daughter of the Oxford dean, Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for his Alice character. It’s a fascinating question, how far was Dodgson’s obsession with little girls, a dirty and dangerous one… and how much of it was just a Victorian obsession with childhood innocence and purity. Nowadays Dodgson would be instantly thrown into jail and ostracised completely – is this over the top I wonder…
Of course the Alice books are great favourites of mine and were all through my childhood. I can still remember in great detail the nonsense rhyme about the mouse’s tail from Alice in Wonderland which was laid out on the page in the shape of a mouse’s tail. Talking of poetry reminds me that my sister Suzanne’s book of poetry is about to be published, and you can order a copy now from Amazon. Full details are available on the Bloodaxe website – it’s called The Barking Thing and has a wonderful cover! Well worth a look… clink the link
Well, that’s just about it for this issue… but before I sign off I must tell you a couple of interesting concerts I’ve been to recently. The first of these was back in April when The Australian Pink Floyd Band were playing at The Manchester Arena. Although I’ve been to see them 3 times already, I was very enthusiastic about seeing them again – and they were great! Not simply covering all the Pink Floyd numbers, but doing their own versions of them in their own style. They had a new lead singer who was really cool – he introduced all the members of the band as Bruce or Shelia… including himself of course!
Both Jessica and I had to go to Stoke-On-Trent to see our hero, after we’d been reading his auto-biography for so long. His book is really two stories in one; the first one, Head On is about The Teardrop Explodes and the second one, Repossessed is about his life in the 80’s and his solo career. It was wonderful to see the man himself after reading about all his weird obsessions with stone circles and toy cars… another interesting fact is his American wife is called Dorian, like Oscars character! Anyway, he’s still playing music and writing songs. He gave the appearance of being a rock star, complete with leather jacket, long hair and sunglasses – very cool!
Raw Materials copyright (c) Nicola Batty 2007
I’ve broken off in mid-flow, part way through a piece of chapter six to write Raw Meat… which is pretty frustrating because it’s turning out to be somewhat crucial in terms of plot development etc. It was quite exciting for me to write it and watch all the various threads coming together without intending them to! I knew that the Rickets/Harriet story would come into focus in this chapter but it’s news to me that I could bring together all those strands which have been mentioned, like the gay culture background. To have Ricketts talking about this will also lead him on to mention of Wilde and the bit of his manuscript which is something I wanted Ricketts to mention to Harriet at some point. But here would be an excellent place to do so! As I’m writing the conversation between Ricketts and Harriet I’m constantly aware of how totally unrealistic the situation is… The likelihood of having a bloke from Ricketts’ background mixing with an ex-prostitute is highly improbable, to use Oscar’s words! But this doesn’t mean that I can’t write my fiction for it’s only based on fact and it’s not tied down by it. And after all who knows? Maybe Ricketts really did form an alliance with a girl from Harriet’s background? One never knows these things for certain… I’m tempted in the next two books to continue with the Harriet/Ricketts relationship, despite Ricketts having been known to continue his life long companionship with Shan there’s nothing at all to stop me filling in various gaps in his life with my own fiction, if it doesn’t go against the known facts. And the whole area of sexual relationships is a lovely one to work with – particularly gay ones because they were so underground in those days. Even though Ricketts and Shannon were quite openly living together nothing very much is known for a fact about any sexual relationship between them which intrigues me!… In fact I think that this was one of the initial reasons which made me want to write about Ricketts as well as his flaming orange beard of course!
That whole area of basing fiction on historical characters seems to be one which is gradually becoming popular or at least more frequently used… or is this just wishful thinking? In this months editorial I mention Still She Haunts Me which uses Dodgson and Alice in much the same way as I’m using Ricketts and Harriet, and there is also a novel just come out about my old friend Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. Hopefully this will open doors for the publication of The Space Between… or at least that’s what I would like to think!!
Copyright (c) Nicola Batty 2007
PLEASE NOTE: The following is a first draft extract taken from Nicola's work-in-progress-novel and may well be very different to the final published version.
“Well, it’s not quite what I’m used to,” said Charles hesitantly as he sat down on the edge of the low wooden bed beside the door. He bounced up and down a few times tentatively and the bed springs creaked. He laughed. “But I dare say it’ll suffice. You’re here, that’s the most important thing.” Getting to his feet he took a few steps across the room, reaching out towards Harriet and pulling her into his arms. Although she tried to relax and respond to his sudden passion she found it difficult; she felt all the time that she should not be there, that she was intruding on someone else’s property. He stopped, sensing her unease. “What’s wrong?” He asked quickly.
She shook her head slowly, turning away towards the large empty fireplace which was flanked on one side by a wardrobe and on the other side some shelves. She sighed, glancing at him quickly.
“Nothing… I just feel a bit – awkward, you know.” She gave a shrug, reaching around to the back of her head to unpin her straw hat which she lay down carefully on the chest of drawers beneath the window. “You say this is not what you’re used to… well, it’s certainly not what I’m used to! All these rooms, all this space! Are you sure you can afford to rent the whole floor?”
Charles laughed, resuming his seat on the bed. He plumped up the pillows behind him so that he could lean up against them comfortably. “Of course I can, do stop worrying. I’ve settled it all with Mr Dyer downstairs… he’s quite happy to let us have these rooms now that his daughter has moved out with her family. So come here and sit down… relax.” Reaching out once again, he pulled her down onto the bed beside him. She responded to the warmth of his embrace, welcoming the slow gentle tickling of his beard against her cheek. “I want this place to be right for you… for us, and Jack. It was Jack’s choice and so it’s right. It must be fate.” He paused and raised his head, glancing towards the door quickly. “Talking of whom… where is Jack? Is he here?”
Harriet laughed and sat up, removing the pins from her hair. “He’s gone out to play. I think he’s gone to find Freddie,” she explained, getting up to place the pins alongside her hat on the drawers. For a moment she stared at an embroidered sampler on the wall, unable to read it. Then she turned back to Charles thankfully, resuming her seat beside him. “Freddie’s his best friend. Emma’s son.”
He nodded, stroking his beard thoughtfully.
“Oh yes, I remember. Does Freddie live near by?”
“Not far. About ten minutes. I think Jack’s gone to tell him about his new bedroom – he’s so excited! He can’t believe he’s got a whole room to himself… even if it is a small one.” She lay back again, propped up on her elbows. For a while she watched the afternoon sunlight falling over the patchwork bed cover, causing it to shine like many coloured jewels. She gazed at it in silence for several moments, shaking her head in wonder. “I still can’t believe all this is truly happening,” she said finally, allowing Charles to gently push back her long dark hair from her face. “I keep thinking it’s a dream and I’ll wake up at any moment. Are you really sure you can afford all this? We don’t need to rent the whole floor you know – we could live in just one room.”
“Harriet, I wouldn’t like to think of us all being squashed in one room… there’s no need.” Charles said with impatience. “These rooms are lovely and they’re not too expensive for me. Besides, I’ve already told you that it’s all settled with Mr Dyer. So don’t say another word about it, please. Now we should change the subject… tell me about yourself, what you’ve been doing all these years since we last met?”For several long moments Harriet allowed the silence to stretch between them, afraid to disturb it’s natural shape. Finally she smiled faintly and shook her head. MORE FROM THE SPARK IN RAW MEAT #82
Nicola welcomes any comments about her writing - you can leave a comment Online or e-mail her directly at: nicbat3963@aol.com
You can find out more about Nicola Batty when you visit her website at: www.Nicolabatty.co.uk
Welcome to Andy's bit...
I know I've said it before and yes I'll probably say it again sometime 'The Web is Weird!' Sometimes, things go to plan and everything is hunky dory - other times, like today, nothing goes quite right. We spent two days fixing this computer last week. It was running so slow we had to call in Nic's brother Steve to give it the once over. Thanks Steve! Today, it's running fine after its defragging and debugging and decluttering and general clean-up! Apart from the fact that I just can't get the clink the link thingy to work properly but that could well be down to blogspot problems rather than anything to do with this trusty machine. Like I maintain, the web is weird!
Back to more pleasurable things, and yes the weather is lovely, at the moment. As many of you know, I love to get out and about in the place(s) I call the countryside on our doorstep. And what better way to spend a summers day than canal walking! I'm not the only one (honest!) there's loads of people trekking up and down the towpaths these days. I went this week along the Bridgewater canal between Broadheath (Altrincham) and Lymm Cheshire. A beautiful stretch of canal and if you combine it, like I did, with the dismantled railway that runs between the same two points you pass or call in at (depending how thirsty you are!) at least six real ale pubs along the route.
We went to Dunham Park this week, not once but twice. The first occasion, I took my bike, thinking that I could get some much needed exercise while Nic and Ruth went to look at the deer. No such luck! I was cycling along the broad tarmacadam pathway, when I was stopped by a National Trust Worker who informed me that cycling was banned in the park. Fair enough! I dismounted and apologised to the said official. Aparently the rule is you can cycle if you're five years old and under. My arguement is, that cycling is part of the solution to all this global warming thing and should be encouraged. I and every other cyclist knows that there are places, like crowded footpaths, where it isn't a good idea to cycle. But surely in a National Park the size of Dunham? And, how do you tell a six year old he's not allowed to ride his bike in the park anymore?
'Happy sixth birthday son!'
'Can we go to that nice park today dad, and ride my new bike?'
'I'm sorry son, cycling's not allowed in that park!'
'It was yesterday dad!'
'I'm sorry son, we'll have to find a different park to go to, now that you've grown up!'
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