Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Friday, January 06, 2012

January 2012 Issue 136

Fourteenth fantastic year!!!

Nicola’s Editorial


Twenty-twelve began with me in a very confused state of mind, which has become quite the usual thing for me lately. I’ve been having great trouble sleeping of late, and so have been swinging dramatically in mood according to whether I’ve spent the entire night awake trying desperately to get to sleep, or whether I’ve had a really good night absolutely sound asleep, simply because I’ve been so exhausted! After sleeping so deeply, I find it really difficult to return properly into reality, and tend to get really confused about what’s real and what’s not! The state of becoming totally wrapped up in my own dreams fills me with panic… I’m scared of not being able to control my dreams and allowing myself to slip into the realms of total insanity! Having Andy as my constant helper doesn’t help at all, he sees this state of disconnection from reality as a perfectly natural one to encourage, and so I shouldn’t make any effort to control it. Well, perhaps he’s right… insanity is not such a bad state to be in, is it??


Andy’s idea of this ideal state of mind being somewhere hovering between waking and sleeping, reminds me very much of Keats, the wonderful romantic poet. I always adored Keats when we studied him twenty odd years ago at Polytechnic on my humanities course. I still remember his lovely ramblings about negative capability, which is much the same idea as Andy is talking about. Keats also used to go on about the tiptoe effect, which was actually that moment in between sleeping and waking, which Keats adored as the most exciting state of mind to be in, where your mind was open completely to inspiration and creativity. I think I’m right in saying his beautiful Ode to a Nightingale is on this subject, but do feel free to correct me if you’re an English teacher. Keats still is definitely my favourite poet, a true Romantic genius. I defy anyone to call me pretentious! But enough of these philosophical ramblings – let’s get back to reality.


I spent a really memorable few days over Christmas at my parent’s house, complete with Andy and even – this is absolutely incredible – our son, Jack!!! I only very rarely see Jack in passing these days, as he’s so often out with friends – so it was really special to be able to spend time with him and everyone else on Christmas Day. Boxing Day was even better as my sisters Jan and Suzanne arrived and my brother Steve turned up later, so that pretty much the entire Batty clan were there. It was lovely to be with all the family once again after all these years – I never thought it would be possible to go back to old times so successfully. It was quite sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end, and to return to Manchester and relative solitude…


On Boxing Day, I awoke following a really bad night and my Mum asked me if I’d like to get up. I just said, “There’s no point in doing anything.” She simply laughed and said, “You sound just like the Pointed Man…” Of course, I had to laugh as well… I don’t know how familiar Nilsson’s record The Point is to you, as it’s pretty old (about 1971, I believe) but I remember it very well and it’s associated with my childhood so closely that the two have knitted together so as to become inseparable. The Pointed Man was covered completely in loads of points, I was trying to remember some more details from the book of the story which came with the record. My Mum said “I think we’ve still got the record upstairs… let me have a look…” and she returned with the record and the book. It was amazing to be able to sort of see all of those old pictures from long ago. Even though I couldn’t actually physically see them, they were still there in my head, all I needed was to have my memory jogged on the names etc. Oblio was born without a point, although everybody else in the land of Points had one on the top of their head… Oblio was banished to the Pointless Forest, with his dog Arrow, where he met such memorable characters as The Pointless Man.


You might remember me talking about this book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery in the last issue… well, my Mum gave me a copy of the book for Christmas, one of those very special presents which bring back such memories of childhood. In fact I rather think this book has become quite a significant one for people of my generation… a friend was telling me the other day about both her mother and step-father being given the book for Christmas… yet another amazing coincidence!! I still have vivid memories of the prince standing alone on his tiny planet, which he eventually had to leave for some reason I can’t remember. I’ll have to re-read the book as soon as possible to find out the details.


My Reluctant one is still being serialised on my Weblog if anyone would like to have a look for themselves. It’s been creating quite a stir, I believe… particularly well received in Germany, Russia, and America. I’ve been really surprised by such an enthusiastic reception particularly because it’s one of my very earliest works, even written before Dry Rot and totally different from the stuff I’m writing nowadays… which makes me wonder if maybe there isn’t something to be said for that extremely light-hearted, direct freshness. I’m wondering about following The Reluctant Vampire with Dry Rot in the same format, chapter by chapter. I’d also like to put up my fairy tale Catching The Light… and also Fireworks which isn’t yet finished. These are ideas… I would appreciate any comments you could make about this. It’s the direct communication that keeps my imagination alive. Particularly exciting is the fact that many people have been looking right back to early chapters… so please remember that it’s not too late to catch up on anything you missed – and then read on as far as you like!


Although nothing much actually seems to happen in this piece, I particularly wanted to include it in RAW MEAT to get some feedback on it because I’m not at all satisfied with it as it stands. I’ve written several more pieces since this about Kathleen and wanted to spend some time leading up to the introduction of Scott into the story and making him aware of Shannon’s existence. I wanted to use the idea of Shannon taking photographs for the portrait he’s going to paint of Kathleen, but was also quite nervous about it. I have memories of photographs being taken in the film of The Railway Children but as that came out forty odd years ago I’m not sure I can trust my memories, and as I don’t know exactly when it’s meant to be set, I don’t know if photography equipment would be the same in 1907, the time I’m writing about in The Space Between. Would Shannon take the picture by holding up a flash light and putting a cloth over his head, as I remember in the film? I’d welcome any comments from readers of this issue on any of the technical details in the extract in order to help me feel happier with it. I’d greatly appreciate any help you can give me, as I feel quite literally in the dark about this one. Many thanks.

But all that aside, I’m really happy with the way the novel is going at the moment. It’s really nice being able to spend time with Kathleen as a character. I will remember how totally amazed I was to discover that she later married Captain Scott of the Antarctic, as I’d become interested in her initially in relation to Shannon, and therefore always knew her as Kathleen Bruce. I decided then and there to incorporate her in to the story as a means of introducing Scott and developing naturally into my version of setting the last part of The Space Between in the Antarctic… the whole thing seems so completely spontaneous and natural, I felt I must pick up on such a coincidence and use it as the final setting to The Space Between.

I haven’t yet read Kathleen’s biography properly and I’m still undecided whether to do so, for it seems clear already that the contrast between her and Scott’s Navy background and Kathleen’s artistic, fascinates me – but they must have shared something for they are obviously pretty passionately in love. She travelled with him to New Zealand when they set off to the Antarctic for his final expedition. And even though it was only four years since their wedding there was obviously some intimacy between them. It’s easy to imagine that the Scott family were quite shocked by the idea that their son wanted to marry such a character as Kathleen Bruce – the story about her brother who was a vicar who rode around London on a motorbike with a walrus in his sidecar in an effort to raise money for his church must have been known to them. But none the less, it’s this contrast between Robert Falcon and Kathleen that fascinates me.


Copyright Nicola Batty © 2012

The story so far…

By 1907, there are only two copies of Wilde’s original manuscript remaining. T he original one has been taken by Georges over to America; the other copy has been made into a book by Ricketts, his partner Shannon has given it to Kathleen Bruce with whom he had a close relationship. Shannon has been asking Kathleen to return the book to him for sometime, but she keeps forgetting. The following scene takes place in Kathleen’s studio in Chelsea in the spring of 1907. Now read on…

CHAPTER 7 - 1907

“Please continue with what you’re doing, Kathleen, I’d hate to disturb you,”

Shannon said as he snapped another leg of his camera tripod into place. And patiently carrying his huge, cumbersome camera over to it. He gave Kathleen a brief, encouraging smile, although his air remained strictly professional and detached, this was all part of a job he was doing, he had to remember. “This shouldn’t take long. I’m sorry, I know how artists hate being disturbed.”

“That’s alright, please don’t worry about it.”

Kathleen turned back to her work but could only hold the tiny clay figure she was making uselessly while her thoughts remained far away from here and now…. in fact they were back at that time in Shannon’s studio all those years ago, the passion still intense between them. She watched Shannon from the corner of her eye, aware of every movement he made to capture this present moment and fix it within the camera. It seemed to Kathleen a pointless task, though at the same time she knew it was essential for the background for them to move against. “So anyway, Charles, when would you like me to come and sit for you? Would next month be any good? I’ve not got too much planned then, I should be able to come over.”

“Just a minute.”

Shannon held up the flashlight above his head and the bulb exploded in his hand, much brighter than the intermittent sunshine that poured in from time to time through the tall windows. Shannon reappeared from beneath the dark cloth at the back of the camera, blinking as he came back into reality. “I think that one should be fine. I’ll check my diary and send you a date if that’s all right. I want to get the background painted first… something for you to move against, that’s the way I like to work.”

Kathleen said nothing, but she felt her smile was slightly sad. It seemed so useless now, so empty, now that all their promises had come to nothing, shrivelled up pieces of paper, decomposing dreams. No matter how many times that flash light exploded, the time had already slipped away and could never be resurrected. Still silence fell between them as Shannon continued to take as many photographs as he could, allowing himself plenty of room in case his pictures failed.

“I’ve just remembered someone I have to see in Chelsea while I’m here.” Shannon raised up his finger as he emerged once again from beneath the dark cloth, frowning slightly as a thought struck him. “Would you mind if I left my camera here for a few days? Will it be safe?”

“Yes, please don’t worry… it’ll be quite safe here.” She smiled brightly, quite relieved that she could repay Charles, if only in a small way, for everything lost between them. With great care and deliberation Shannon replaced the canvas cover around his camera and carried it to a table at the back of the studio.

“I’ll leave it here, out the way, then. I’ll come and collect it as soon as I can, it may be a couple of weeks.” Turning back towards Kathleen, Shannon put his bowler hat on and glanced out of the long windows to make sure that it had stopped raining. Looking back at Kathleen suddenly, he added, “Actually, I’ve just remembered something… could you give me Oscar’s story then? When I see you? That should keep Rick quiet… he keeps on and on about it.” Kathleen nodded mutely and watched his movements as he turned to go, and in that moment she felt a crumbling sense of realisation about the space that had arisen between the two of them – yet she felt quite removed from the realisation, as if it had all passed by long ago and she was simply regretting the decay of their love. She even managed to smile at him as he stepped out of the studio, watching silently… there was nothing more either of them could say now to each other. She heard the studio door bang finally, and picked up the model she was working on at once.

More from Nicola’s work-in-progress-trilogy in February.



Welcome to Andy’s bit…


Happy New Year to all of Nicola’s readers!!! This is the fourteenth year that we’ve been producing Raw Meat, first as a single sheet of paper in 1999, which we mailed to people for the price of a postage stamp. Then as the content grew we started to print it up on an A3 printer in three colours and sometimes on different coloured paper. We had readers in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, France, Germany, Poland, Canada, and South Korea. As well as many people in England, and a few in Wales and Scotland. In September 2006 we put RM#72 Online, it was a bit disjointed and ended up as two separate posts, we kept the paper copy for subscribers for a further three months and in January 2007 Raw Meat became an Online only publication. Which means we’ve just completed five years full time Online too!


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 interpreted by your server as junk mail I advise you to add the properjoes address to your contact list.


Here’s the link to my corny comedy script.

And the link to my corny poem, Batman and Alice…

More from Urban Scrawl Andy in February.

Thanks for reading Raw Meat!!!!!
Go To College Online