March 2012 Issue 138
I was struggling to think of the reason why I was so reluctant to begin this issue here then the truth dawned upon me, I’ve been ill for the past few weeks which explains why I can’t think of what I’ve done over the past month… absolutely nothing. Well, perhaps that’s not quite true but it may explain why my feelings of confusion remain with me. I was struck down with the dreaded full scale British cold - congestion, sore throat, coughing, sneezing… the whole lot which only helped to confuse me further, even worse than in January. Sigh - is there no end in sight? It appears not sometimes.
Something mildly interesting actually happened the other week… I’m talking about my sudden realisation that now was the time of year to begin making my annual application to the Jerry Farr fund with a travel idea. I’m going to apply once again for the touching safari after my application failed to make enough impression on the judges… whoever they may be, relatives and friends of Jerry Farr I believe… anyway, Andy shared my enthusiasm for going to South Africa even though this time we can’t fly - which means we’ll have to take the boat to South Africa. I don’t mind doing this at all - in fact it sounds much more fun than flying, I found plane travel so very tedious and you get all the usual hassle with the airport. The whole thing is a bit of a nightmare - so I’m perfectly happy to take a boat instead, even though this may take quite some time. So far we’ve reach a bit of a dead-end as the cruise to South Africa was too expensive with the safari as well. We’ve been searching on the internet for other ways of getting there by boat but have come up with absolutely nothing - so it looks like we have a choice… either to forget the safari and just go for the cruise, or to get a cheap safari or to give up the whole idea, which right now I’m tempted to do as the whole thing is becoming too difficult to organise. I suppose I could kick this idea in the head completely and go for a totally different travel plan but right now I’m too confused about the idea to even think about it.
TOTALLY EXCITING ARMCHAIR
I’ve recently decided to cheer myself up by treating myself to a comfy reclining armchair and last week I went to look at some in the Ziggy shop with Brigitte and my Mum. I had a definite idea in mind of the type of armchair I wanted… a classic Victorian one which I’m basing on a memory I have of an old film involving either Sherlock Holmes or one of the Alice books, it changes as this memory is such a confused one, I wouldn’t like to say that it was made up completely… something I’ve dreamt, maybe. The armchair I’m thinking of is of dark green fabric, and the sides of the armchair curve round so that it’s really difficult to see who’s actually sitting there. Does this sound at all familiar to any readers or am I just going totally insane? So anyway the armchairs we’ve tried so far haven’t been quite right so we’re going to make another trip this week. This shows how extremely tedious my life has been lately, that I’m down to having to write about such things as if they a great important event - armchairs eh? Whatever next… talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS DAD!
I’m going to dedicate this issue to my dad, who’s 75th birthday is coming up on March 10th… so by the time you read this it will probably be just past - but never mind. Andy and I held a birthday celebration for him here last night - Andy cooked salmon as part of the wonderful meal, that’s one of the best things about Andy - his cooking which is quite superb. My brother Steve was here as well as mum and dad - even Jack made an appearance, which was quite impressive. I gave my dad just a birthday card with the promise of a holiday - I’ve known his great desire of going up into the mountains, so I’ve hopefully found a bungalow near Snowdon for a few days soon, which I hope will be a bit like Switzerland, as the doctors have advised him not to go there… so this will have to do. My dad seemed perfectly happy with this which is the main thing. The card I’d found for him was from an exhibition of Ford Maddox Brown which is at the Manchester Art Gallery as I know my dad really likes good old Ford… one of the founders of the Pre-raphaelite brotherhood I believe along with Rossetti, Holman-Hunt and John Everett Millais. It was a really special evening - especially for my dad hopefully! This Issue is for you, Dad!
THE ART OF TOUCHING
One of the main reasons of being so out of touch with reality over the past few weeks has been because of my hearing which has been causing me much strife (panic) - for a long time I’ve been relying almost completely on touching sign language which I didn’t really know at all before. It was Brigitte who first taught herself quickly and easily (or at least it seems so!) I was feeling so frustrated and cut off totally from everything that was going on around me that she encouraged me to pick up her use of the sign language on hands - which is actually quite easy, though it may seem at first completely beyond everyone. But no - even Andy’s picked it up and uses it all the time as our chief way of communicating. I’ve encouraged all my family and friends to learn as there’s no definite way of telling how soon my hearing will come back to me… indeed, perhaps it may never be restored fully, there’s no way of telling at the moment. I’m so glad that Brigitte used her initiative and learned the language as that’s become the only way I’ve managed so far to remain sane - or at least as near as I was before. Many thanks to you Brigitte!
I’ve become totally out of touch with what is going on exactly as far as The Space Between is concerned, so that for this Issue I’m going to put here and extract from the short story I’ve recently been writing Fireworks, which is very loosely based on the gunpowder plot. Guy Fawkes himself is a giant, and his friend Robert Catesby is only slightly shorter… I tried to free myself as far as possible from the real events and culture which is an extremely complex situation, especially as I wanted to base the story on the three colours of the Irish flag - green, white and orange as this was my way of showing the Orange protestant culture and the Green Irish catholic culture and religion - where I could use the white as a go between area connecting the two. I also wanted to bring in angels for some reason which I can’t honestly remember! Anyway my White angel is going to be a woman and she’s also the most powerful one standing between the two extremes - the Orange angel who’s a friend of King James, who was on the throne at the time - and the Green angel who’s an Irishman, who talks with a hard but fast accent. Anyway, here’s my chapter The Green Tattoo - see what you think.
The story so far…
The gentle giant Guy Fawkes has left his fathers candle shop in York for London, which is the home of the Orange King James. The Orange Angel befriends King James, and sits at his breakfast table sharing orange marmalade spread on their toast meanwhile Guy has been visited by the Irish Green Angel who encourages him to follow the Green Flame wherever it may lead him. Now read on…
THE GREEN TATTOO
Copyright Nicola Batty © 2012
Robert Catesby was a big, handsome chap - in fact, when he stood beside Guy Fawkes he was the same height as Guy. He had powerful muscles in his arms, so that Guy wasn’t surprised to see his green tattoo when he removed his shirt one evening at the local tavern. Guy stared admiringly at the Green Flame tattooed upon the rippling muscles of Roberts shoulder.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” he asked Guy proudly, taking another large gulp of ale from his tankard. He gestured towards another man who was standing nearby chatting with another one of his friends. “Kit did it for me… you’ll have to get him to do a Green Flame for you, Guy - if you want to join our little group of followers of the Green Flame.”
Guy glanced over at Kit, who was also a very tall man but not quite as tall as Guy or Robert. He felt slightly nervous with all these people - they seemed to be much more sure of themselves than he was… he felt a bit of an outsider.
“I don’t know,” he told Robert, anxiously. “Do you really think it will suit me? My muscles aren’t quite as big as yours I’m afraid.”
Robert roared with laughter, clapping Guy on the back so that Guy almost fell over.
“You don’t need to worry about something like that, Guy… don’t be silly! You’re not ashamed of being a Green Flame follower are you?”
“No,” said Guy, “but I am a little afraid of needles.”
Once again Robert roared with laughter, as he often did.
“Well, you’ll have to close your eyes and think of England… think of the Green Flame, and how it’s going to come back to this country in place of the Orange one.” He stopped, thinking of something suddenly. “That reminds me about my brother Andrew, who is a Green Priest… or at least he used to be. His Green Church has just been closed - the royal soldiers came and made him convert it into an Orange Church. They made him replace the Green Flame by an Orange Flame and made him put on Orange robes. Poor Andrew… he was very upset as you can imagine, Guy. So now Andrew has to follow his Green Flame somewhere in secret.”
Guy shook his head sadly.
“That’s terrible… the Orange Flame is becoming even more powerful all over the country.”
It was warm inside the stable, the horses breathing and moving gently from side to side as they waited patiently for their next meal of carrots to arrive. Robert stroked the nose of the nearest horse and rolled up his sleeve to reveal the green flame tattoo.
“What do you think, Andrew? It’s great, isn’t it?”
The Orange Priest stared silently at the tattoo, frowning. Although Andrew Catesby resembled his brother in many ways – like him, he was also very tall, but he was thin with small spectacles that magnified his tiny, black eyes. He turned away, returning to his task of getting the horses’ food thankfully.
“I don’t know, Robert… it’s a bit too blatant for my liking. You’re playing with fire, I think. Mind you, you have always been a bit… unsubtle, shall we say.”
Robert gave a tut of impatience and covered up his tattoo.
“I should have known I’d get such a negative reaction from you… it’s those orange robes that are beginning to affect you. Can’t you get back on green territory?” Without further ado Andrew began to remove his orange robes and replace them with green ones. He dropped the orange ones to the floor and Robert lifted them in disgust, using the toe of his boot.
“Yuck… horrible things, these… I hate having to wear them every day at the Orange Church.” He removed his spectacles and began to clean them, sighing as he did so. “The whole thing is such a charade… it’s all a game I’m playing. I just hope the royal soldiers don’t realise that the orange flame we’re burning isn’t real, just a fake.” Robert rubbed the arm of his brother’s green robe reassuringly. He picked up the green lantern and lit the green flame which burst instantly to life, filling the entire stables with a sense of safety and strength. Even the horses seemed to quieten and become calm, even though they were getting hungry by now. Robert placed the lantern on a shelf beside the harnesses, which hung on the wall. The two things seemed to go together perfectly without any trouble.
“I wouldn’t worry about that, Andrew… you’ve got no reason to concern yourself as long as you keep playing the game.” He began to help Andrew feed the horses. “Just keep on dressing as an orange priest for a while… it doesn’t have to mean anything at all to you, you’ll always be a green priest underneath. Like these horses… they’ll always remain green horses.”
More of Nicola's stories in April
Welcome to Andy’s bit…
Last month it was The Haiku Challenge that was taking all my free time, we had to write twenty nine Haiku in twenty nine days. At the moment I’m busy writing and experimenting with a new form (to me) The Quatern. The rules are quite simple, there’s just four verses of four lines each, and each line has to have a syllable count of eight. The first line of the poem is repeated as the second line of the second verse, then as the third line of the third verse, and finally as the fourth line of the fourth verse. There are no other restrictions that I know of. If you want to have a look at my attempt you can check it here.
As part of my Quatern writing I have been butchering Nursery Rhymes, I have done twenty so far, they are all old favourites, which I have re-read, re-researched and re-written in the Quatern style. See-saw Margery Daw, Ring a ring a rosies, Cock a doodle do, Ba ba black sheep, Jack and Jill, Mary Mary quite contrary, etc. and many many more. Have a look and see what you think, and feel free to leave a nasty comment.More from U S Andy in April.
Thanks for reading Raw Meat!!