November 2008 Issue 98
The year is wearing thin... only two more issues left until the big 100! And what will be inside that issue? A paper hat? A toy whistle? Or absolutely nothing?? A surprise gift, I suppose. But back to November, here and now. I once read somewhere that more people commit suicide during this month than at any other time of year. I can fully believe it, I've always found November to be particularly depressing and bleak... to far away from Christmas to feel excited, yet just near enough to feel really wintery and cold.
THE NEW PRESIDENT
I'm now going to do something that I never usually do... talk about politics. The new President of America is black... so what? Why is everyone making such a fuss about the colour of the blokes skin, if we're meant to be so progressive and enlightened? Of course it's high time that coloured people were placed in positions of power, and I welcome this wonderfully named President - he has to be an improvement on George Bush surely? But I do wish that people could just be accepted as people, and not as black or white or a Ziggy person etc.
I suppose the same amount of fuss will happen when a new President is finally elected who is in Ziggy... if that ever happens during my lifetime - which I doubt. I suspect that when someone in Ziggy does become President, the big welcome that everyone gives him/her will be tainted with self congratulations for everyone wants to be known, to be recognised as a right on person. Back to the new President... the most remarkable thing about him to me, is his name Barack Obama! When first I heard it, I thought this was the name of the shattered angel in Dark Materials Philip Pullman's trilogy... But it's a little different.
ZIGGY MEETING - 'ME AND MY WRITING'
Still talking about Ziggy - soon we'll be going to the next meeting of the Ziggy group aka Manchester Ataxia. I've been allocated a slot during this meeting in which I'm going to put Andy to good use and get him to read the piece which I haven't yet written, called Me and my writing! Although I've got plenty to say on the subject which doesn't involve Ziggy. This will be a great opportunity to promote The Ziggy Collection!
THE COMPLETE ZIGGY COLLECTION
Andy has been working on the collection trying to sort out the various computer problems of transferring it to CD ROM and hopefully we will have it ready in time. I hope that several members will be interested in the collection... and of course anybody else who reads this, please remember that The Ziggy Collection is now available on CD ROM with the cover illustrated by my Dad, C J Batty and an extra story Second Sight written specially for this collection which itself has been renamed The Complete Ziggy Collection. The CD ROM is advertised in the Raw Mart section of this Newsletter.
Thinking about the website brings me onto a rather interesting comment left by a mysterious 'Danny' who's actually a bit of a mystery man 'cos Andy can't get through on the phone number he left. So Danny... we'll be glad to send you a printed copy of Raw Meat if you send us your street address! Please could you e-mail me and do so?
I think I mentioned in the last Newsletter that I've been involved with some up to the minute research with the Audiology department at Manchester Royal Infirmary. Well... it seems this research is an ongoing process and I'm having yet more tests measuring connections between my Brain and nerves... And the final test I had yesterday was a rather nasty one.
I was rather anxious about this test which was to get readings between my eardrum and nerves which actually was done by jabbing a needle with a transmitter wire connected to it into my eardrum again and again. Not a pleasant experience in fact I told them to stop after only half one ear. This was actually pretty infuriating, I only later discovered that the test was vital in order to find out if I would be suitable material for a cochlear implant. Recent research has shown that some people with nervous system disorders like mine may benefit from a cochlear implant after all... despite my being told the opposite last year so... the Doctors said I could have the test done again under a general anesthetic which I might consider. There seemed to be a lot of questions left... Nothing definite yet but things could be promising...
To finish off this issue it's essential to bring the subject back into the realms of fiction... too much reality is extremely bad for the health. After reading so much about Ricketts, I decided it was high time to return to reading a bit of fiction. I unearthed a novel by my old favorite Peter Ackroyd which I can't actually remember reading which seems incredible. I've had the book for twenty odd years it's called First Light, it has an amazing surreal cover which could be lots of things. Likewise the book so far is hinting at weirder things though at first it seems to be a quite straightforward story.
MY KIND OF STUFF!
Unlike most of Ackroyds stuff, it's set only during contemporary times; but the novel definitely points back to the prehistoric settlement which has been discovered. I'm waiting for the novel to become more complicated, interweaving different strands of peoples lives and perhaps involving a bit of ritual sacrifice around the standing stones etc. ... all my kind of stuff!
This is the section of
Raw Meat where you can
advertise your own publications.
THE complete ZIGGY COLLECTION!
Nicola Batty's collection of autobiographical short stories,
originally published in four slim volumes is
NOW AVAILABLE in CD ROM format.
Please e-mail Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org for further info.
THE BARKING THING
First of all I must apologise for the formatting of the October issue of Nicola Batty's Newsletter. I just couldn't get it right. Whatever I tried to do the fonts kept changing. Nothing seemed to stay still for very long. Then, when I came to do my bit the whole thing went haywire! Everything I typed ended up in italics. In the end I gave up.
Thankfully, things seem to have settled down this week and so far we've managed to get Nic's editorial down and a couple of bits for Raw Mart without any problem. I hope I haven't spoken too soon because I still need to import Raw Materials and Nicola's story. Anyway...
Phew! Australia seems to be the 'in place' right now, Nic just received word from our friend and Shakespearean actor Nick Simons, who is currently in Melbourne. Nice one Nick! Also the research that Nic was talking about (in her bit about the Audiology department) was done in Australia too.
Finally, don't forget that you can order a copy of Nicola's digital book The complete Ziggy Collection. This collection of autobiographical stories which was originally published in four slim volumes is NOW available in computer disk format, which means you can upload the complete collection plus a new story that Nicola has added for this publication. Wow! Don't miss out, we might never repeat this offer (only joking!).
MORE FROM URBAN SCRAWL Andy in RM#99
copyright © Nicola Batty 2008 www.rawprintz.blogspot.com
I am staring dully out of the window at the leaden sky, watching the men load the last few remaining crates containing our precious objects into the back of the van. My hands grip the edges of the windowsill, for it causes me great pain to be present at their departure. The sky is darkening already even though the clocks have not yet struck five; a few bleak, half-hearted droplets of rain are blown against the window, the beautiful window it’s stained glass border still in tact. I wish that the tears would slide out down my withered and wrinkled cheek – but they refuse to do so, for I have always been proud of the fact that I never show my emotion. I rest my hand to my face and scratch my beard thoughtfully, still watching the van move along the Avenue lined with tall, stately houses. Suddenly, I turn away and gaze around the empty room. All the shelves are bare and there are conspicuous spaces on the walls where paintings once hung. There are only a few remaining crates left now; they are scattered in the far corner of the room; I gaze across at one of them, seeing the labels stuck onto the lids like a final inscription, ‘the property of C Shannon and C Ricketts.’ I look away numbly, for I cannot bear to see them go. Taking a few steps towards the fireplace, I wonder for a moment about making a fire and lighting it for the cold is beginning to seep through the bare floorboards and into my bones. But I stand there still, making no movement. I rubbed my gnarled old hands together, trying to entice the warmth to come back to my body and flow through my veins once more, the way it used to. These hands…, which had once created such exquisite designs! I think blankly of the massive portfolios I have just sold, which were filled with my costume designs, the jewellery designs, book illustrations. Where were they now? I stare into the empty crates feeling nothing. I am past all caring now.
You won’t believe this, but I’ve rewritten the last pieces of this bloody short story that has been giving me so much hassle… I didn’t really want to put the same piece in yet again because I thought you would be as sick as I am at the thought of reading more about Ricketts. But in the end I decided that it might not be such a bad idea, seeing as this piece is completely different from last time. I wanted to get that particular sadness about the end of Ricketts life, to capture his complete loneliness… separation from both Shannon and his beautiful collection. I tried writing the story as a play but it didn’t work…. I find stage so limiting, you can do so much more with a story. Involving different sounds and memories, juxtaposing them and generally farting about with the structure. So I went back to the short story yet again; but I was making it even more difficult for myself by reading Ricketts biography at the same time. As a result I came to discover different characters and things that I had to put in and change as I went along… which was tedious. My main worry about these this particular piece was that Ricketts – my ultimate my hero – appeared nothing but a dirty old man. Of course I didn’t want to do this at all… and yet I wanted to involve his close relationship with the delectable young Sewed, as it was his final intimacy. He highlighted the complete loneliness of Rickets final days, when Shannon developed his hostility towards him, which I think must have been absolutely devastating for the poor chap. I think also that this partly explains Ricketts physical relationship with Henning.
You may well ask why I’m taking such pains with this short story… why I don’t just give up and go back to ‘The Space Between’, which is my novel. I ask myself exactly the same question... to tell you the truth I don’t really know why Ricketts is so important to me. I just feel that the tragic ending of his and Shannon’s life together makes wonderful fiction… maybe the reality was a bit too horrible, but the fiction is good. It is also the story, which is not generally known… it fits in well with the other short stories I want to collect about the lives of historical characters, which are not generally known. Thinking about Shannon’s brain damage, I was particularly fascinated by how this affected his and Ricketts relationship, especially as there was no exact information available. So I had to make a lot of it up though I don’t mind doing that at all! While Shannon could certainly identify some of his own paintings, and was able to hold a decent conversation about art with Ricketts, I wonder in fact how much they talked to each other in those last months? Ricketts biography says that in the end Shannon wouldn’t even speak to Ricketts so that he wasn’t so affected by Ricketts death. Even though Shannon lived on for another few years, there was nothing really left for him... where as nowadays he would be encouraged to draw and paint, then he wasn’t and so he had nothing.
I am still having occasional thoughts about getting back to ‘The Space Between’… but I’ve just got to get this Ricketts story right, I don’t know why its so important, but it is. ‘The Space Between’ will just have to wait.
Many thanks for sticking with us! Hope to see you all again for RM#99!