July 2011 Issue 130
Ever since July began it’s been really hot weather… camping weather in fact. I was very jealous of both Ruth and Jack both camping which is a natural state to be in in such temperatures. It’s a real shame that the climate in this country isn’t a bit more predictable and trustworthy - you always take a real chance when you go camping. When we went a few weeks ago the weather wasn’t that good at all, and on several occasions we had to run for cover from cloudbursts! I wasn’t that impressed either with the campsite itself… although it was fine for Ziggy, it was a damn sight to smell free for my liking - I mean, it was meant to be on a farm!! Maybe they just kept the animals completely separate from the campsite… anyway, our camping experience wasn’t a total success. If only the hot weather could have been a bit sooner than July - but that was the British climate for you I suppose.
HOLDING A RAT
Actually, I did come into close contact with an animal down south, though it was not at the campsite at all but when we went down to Worthing, that infamous seaside resort. We went to visit some friends in Worthing who had a rather interesting pet which I held. Though I’ll admit at first I was extremely dubious about holding the rat, Vim - I’ve always believed rats to be very bitey and even vicious. But maybe this rat was well trained as it was really friendly and just sat up in my two hands and looked around curiously. It was a white rat, and I wonder if that had anything to do with it’s name - I’m sure my mum used Vim cleaning powder. My Worthing friends always seem to have interesting animals or fish… they used to have a tank full of sea creatures.
OVER THE WATER
Just before we went camping I managed to complete and post onto the internet my chapter for the FA literary project I was telling you about in the last issue. I only wanted to do a little bit of research into the 1930’s, which is the time in which my chapter had to be set. I was really pleased by the comments I received from the rest of the group which all praised my ideas, so I think obviously they must have worked! The novel continues to be written by other members of the group - there are 25 in all. There’s been a lot of discussion lately amongst them over the internet about the publication of the novel when it’s finished… as far as I can gather, the group can’t find a publisher - which doesn’t surprise me at all, knowing how reluctant publishers are to handle anything which isn’t immediately commercial. The group are considering putting the novel on the internet where everyone can see it, which is a great idea I think. Andy and I suggested that they start a blog in which all the writers involved in the project could write a piece about themselves and their individual chapters… this seems to be the best way to spread the word around generally about Friedreich’s Ataxia and also about the writers themselves.
This literary project has inspired me to start my own in RAW MEAT, which you can read more about in RAW MATERIALS. I hope many of you will be interested in trying your hand at a spot of creative writing, particularly if it’s something you’ve never tried before. There seem to be a lot of these writing projects around at the moment, such is the beauty of the internet, making such ventures quite possible. It’ll be interesting to see exactly what shape the RAW MEAT story turns out to have…
Last week Andy was going on about an amazing story about a chap who claimed to be a magician who could walk across the water. He was watching it on a film on the internet. Pretty freaky – until we read a piece by a rival woman magician about how the trick is done, and the chap was just walking across Perspex tables just below the surface of the water. Still, I was impressed by the amount of organisation as this must have taken several secret divers to get the tables in place and making sure all the table legs were telescoped out so that they reached all the way down to the river bed. I’m not sure exactly how deep the Thames is, but the table legs must be really long!!
We discovered that this bunch of Wilde followers were actually connected with the Oscar Wilde Society, not working against each other as I imagined. We also found a bit on their website where people can buy or sell their own Oscar Wilde stuff… which is pretty interesting to me, as it’s somewhere I could sell my novels. They sell antique books from the 1930s, copies of Wilde’s fairy tales etc, which sound really beautiful… I didn’t look at the price though.
My friend was telling me this week that he’s dug out an old video of Hamlet with Mel Gibson – which I remember having seen when they came out about 1990. my friend was very impressed with the film and particularly liked the way Ophelia was played, saying it reminded him of the pre-Raphaelite painting of her by Arthur Hughes, which is an especial favourite of mine also. Later that day we attempted to go to the park but we were almost caught in a freak hail storm, so we hastily decided to rethink. I was delighted to discover there was an exhibition of pre-Raphaelites and the very first picture we saw was of course, Arthur Hughes’ Ophelia, what a bizarre coincidence! It’s an excellent exhibition that I’d recommend to anyone, it’s at the Manchester City Art Gallery, and it’s free as well! It was amazing, almost like seeing the pictures again. Some of them I didn’t recognise by the title, but they sounded so familiar when Brigitte described them.
I can’t believe it’s going to be Jacks 18th next week - now that makes me feel seriously old. I don’t think he’s planning any wild parties… well not to our knowledge any way. He’s broken up from college now and he’s spending the time as teenagers usually do - either in his room or out with friends. I think my mum’s going to hold a birthday celebration in her garden which sounds great providing it’s not raining! That’s the good thing about having a birthday in the summer time, as lots of people seem to do, the summer is a really popular time for being born. Although I’m not sure what the reason for this is… what do you think? Please don’t comment.
There’s been a slight division of opinion as to the way this RAW MEAT literary project should be constructed… my original idea was for the story to develop naturally, chapter by chapter, each chapter growing out of the preceding one, but my two literary colleagues think this would be too lengthy a process and people would lose interest in the project if they had to wait months before writing a chapter. They’ve probably got a point – anyway, they suggest everyone interested in writing a chapter straight away should do so and send it to me without worrying about it developing from the preceding chapter, so the idea would be to create a piece of creative writing that’s made up of many different points of view, though in the end all the pieces would be connected by the piece that I’m currently working on. You can read just the first page here, the rest will be following on in RAW MEAT in the next few weeks. I’ve mentioned very briefly several things about the character’s life story, which you may choose to develop; for instance, one of the reasons the character has come to the Alps in the first place… you might choose to invent your own chapter about this and send it to me when you’re done. Don’t worry about the length, that’s not a major concern, I just want to capture people’s enthusiasm, particularly those who are new to writing. So you don’t have to be experienced at all, just ready to write!
As this literary project is very much a work-in-progress, I’ve not even finished the first chapter, so there’s no desperate hurry for people to be sending me more chapters immediately, but at the same time I don’t want to lose anyone’s interest in the project; so please feel free to send me anything you’ve written as soon as you like. If you’re inspired by anything about this first bit of the chapter, then you should feel free to go ahead with your own chapter. Don’t worry about keeping it in the first person, as you may choose to write from a different point of view to mine. If however you feel inspired to write about what happens next to Gary, that’s fine… please go ahead and do what you feel is right. Keep watching my blog for further chapters, which we’ll add on as we receive them. The story created from all these different fragments should make an interesting read, so please join in with your contribution… lets see what happens!
THE SPACE BETWEEN
By the way, though I’ve not included anything from THE SPACE BETWEEN this month, it’s still very much in my mind… more to follow soon. I’ve just been somewhat distracted by this first chapter… which, I believe, is going to be followed by Andy’s own chapter. So you will be able to see for yourself how exactly the chapters fit in with each other…
THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
From here, several mountain tops are visible, and the way the early morning light catches the snow and ice on them seems to shift them into another dimension entirely. Though these mountains are real and solid rock, which I cannot argue with, I don’t feel confident enough to consider climbing them, even though I think I’d like to. Everything about the mountains seems slightly remote and untouchable at this hour. It’s right that I should be here at this time, in this country, I don’t have any doubt of that. The weak rays of the sun glance off the snow all around me, which makes the whole place seem fantastic, like another world completely, even though I know it’s not.
Turning away reluctantly, I begin to clamber down the side of the steep mountain. There are still patches of snow round about, and also areas which are covered in dense forest, where the trees seem to grow so densely that it makes me doubt that it would be possible for me to enter. So I passed by the forest and made my way on towards the cave in which I slept last night, for I’m beginning to feel a bit hungry now and am thinking about the piece of food I brought up here with me.
Although I’m wearing that horrible thick green sweater my mother knitted for me several years ago, for the first time I can feel the cold fingers groping their way through the wool to touch my skin and bones, even eating their way through to the marrow. Even though this sensation of ice is absolutely right for this place, it still comes as a surprise to me… I’m obviously not used to being up here in the alps, I’m just a city boy, after all. That’s what I’ve become now, after all these years – though I feel as if I’ve come back here, as if I was born to be in the mountains. Well, maybe I have.
I feel like I’m coming home when I reach my cave. Straight away I begin to make a fire to warm the place up a bit, though that’s not really possible to do. So I concentrate on my task, every muscle obeys me mechanically, without thought, for too much thought hurts me at the moment. I’m trying hard not to think, not to remember. I had to escape, I had to come here to the mountains, to be alone, I had to do that.
Hearing a sound from deep within the cave, I pause before entering it to feel for my flash light within my pocket, for it’s so dark in there, I feel quite nervous, I admit. When I find my flashlight and turn it on, it doesn’t work, so I throw it away angrily. It’s little things like this which cause my irrational feelings of violence, intense anger – absolutely unfounded, I know, and yet, what can I do but give way to these feelings and allow them to overtake me? I think about what’s just happened to me back in the city and I want to cry out to release some of the emotion that’s been suppressed for so long, so many years. I can feel my chest rising and falling rapidly and I try to steady myself before entering the cave any further. I don’t want to meet any intruder in this frame of mind – for who knows what it will lead to? So I wait, taking deep breaths and watching my fallen flashlight, lying miserably by the side of the cave.
You can read The Light Fantastic as it unfolds on my weblog Without Boundaries..
Welcome to Andy’s bit…
NIC’S NOVEL Nic has started The Light Fantastic and she is very exited about how it’s all going to work out. The truth is we don’t know how it will work but we want to do it.