Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

November 2012 Issue 143


I’m Nicola Batty’s partner Andy Sewina, I’m writing to let you know that she passed away on November 1st 2012 and that we had a small family funeral at Manchester Crematorium.

We will be holding a Celebration of her Life on Friday November 30th from 13.30 until 16.30 in the afternoon at St. Anne's Church Hall, Trinity Road, Sale, M33 3GD. I hope that many of her family and friends will be able to attend.

St. Anne's Church Hall is at the rear of St. Anne's Church.
Bus routes: 18, 19, 268, 272, X5. 41, X41, and 99.
The nearest Metrolink station is Sale.


You can make a donation to Ataxia UK by following one of the  links below:


Saturday, July 07, 2012

July 2012 Issue 142

Nicola's Editorial
I don’t know what’s happened lately to this terrible climate, but it seems to be a typical British Summer: cold, wet and generally shit. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of sunshine when we go down to Kent later this month. As for Manchester, I don’t like it at all, it’s the middle of summer but it’s still so grey and horrible. I’d really like to move away from here but it’s not possible, I’ll have to just keep on dreaming.
It seems like the safari has been put off until Winter as Andy thinks August will be too hot in Africa. I must say I had the same theory and am quite glad to wait, although I want to get out there so desperately. But I suppose he’s right to be patient because I don’t want to spoil it by being physically unhappy, so he’s right to wait a bit longer.
There is a strap which goes over my shoulder, around the front of me to stop me from falling on to my face. This strap is part of Ziggy and is very useful when fastened properly. One Saturday when my sister Suzanne came round, I didn’t put the strap on right and it got caught around my neck and so I became really stressed because I needed to sit up and couldn’t do so. I needed to get free, I was being crushed  and smothered. I became really upset and distressed and kept saying to Suzanne, please help me get free of this strap. I was so upset that I became totally incoherent so she couldn’t make out my words            but she was sufficiently worried that she called the doctor. Both the doctor and Suzanne thought I may be having some sort of heart attack and so sent me straight to hospital, which left me completely confused. I just lay there going on about this bloody strap and pleading for someone to take it off me. The nurse eventually found the strap and undid it and I was instantly relieved of the tension and could breathe again. From then on I just felt frustrated about having to go through all these tests, like chest x rays and things like that, I hate hospital, being cooped up when all I needed was fresh air and to breathe once again. Even though Suzanne came every day to see me I was very unhappy.
So when both Andy and Brigitte were there they got me dressed and sat me back in Ziggy, which felt so good after days spent lying in bed, totally unable to move or do anything for myself. When they took me outside and bundled me into a taxi, I couldn’t believe it. I was free at last and kept taking in great gulps of fresh air, which I needed so badly. I never needed to come home and be with Andy once more, as badly as I did then.
That was a few weeks ago but as I’m still getting the same feeing of being squashed down in Ziggy and desperately needing fresh air, I wonder what the truth is as everyone tells me there was never any strap around me. Indeed when I went out with Brigitte I became so distressed by being inside the house, I needed to get out into the fresh air and breathe, then I knew there was no strap but still the feeling remained. so now I wonder if maybe something may be wrong with my heart after all. I’m not frightened about this as I enjoy everything as much as possible and just as long as I have people around who will take the time to listen to my ramblings, I’m happy. I do still crave to go away and do other crazy things as far as my body will let me. perhaps I will just live inside my head from now on, until I die.
As I say this I’m laughing, but it seems totally crazy to be talking about my heart when I feel perfectly fit as far as my body is concerned, so it seems quite ridiculous to think that my body will ever let me down but I suppose it will someday, but not yet. So take no notice of me.
Just to prove I can’t be silenced I’m still alive and kicking very much kicking furiously back, as my own body has let me down. I might have imagined the strap as both Suzanne and Andy told me that it doesn’t even exist so I just don’t know what to think, am I going completely out of my mind? Perhaps I am but I’m sure this can’t be insanity maybe, it is but while I still have breathe in me I’ll still create just be patient. I’ll be back, I promise.
I’m afraid I’ve got absolutely nothing to say simply because it takes so much time and  physical effort for me to write anything new that I haven’t managed to write anything new I feel really depressed and frustrated by this not to mention angry why should this  be happening to me I can’t believe that it’s all over. However,  I have left a link to present you with a taste of  my old stuff. I used to be a novelist for god’s sake how can I be completely silenced by my fucking body. I still can’t even face the thought that I’ll be unable to create anything anymore, anyway there’s a chapter of Killing Time on my Weblog just to prove that I’m living on memories of how creative I have been years ago.
Welcome to Andy's bit...
Nic was in hospital for a few days the other weekend, she had been complaining that she had a tight belt around her chest, but there was actually nothing there. The paramedic’s who came to the house sent her to the hossie for tests.
I too am finding it difficult to find time for writing, in my case I have loads of ideas that I jot down on bits of paper, but I don’t think I’ve written anything up to my blogs for about a month now.
It’s Jack’s birthday this month, he’s going to be nineteen, can you believe it? So, Happy Birthday Jack!!!! Lots of love from Mum and Dad!!!
Many thanks for reading Raw Meat!
                                                  ****MORE IN AUGUST****

Saturday, June 09, 2012

June 2012 Issue 141

Nicola’s Editorial
Is it any wonder that I’m getting so confused these days when such bizarre things happen as my gentle son, Jack, ending up with a broken jaw? When we went over to the hospital to see him I was expecting to find him strapped up with bandages but there was nothing and Jack was sitting up and chatting away quite freely about his horrible operation to pin his jaw back together - so I don’t think there’s too much damage there.
I was reminded of a story I wrote twenty odd years ago, Robespierre getting his jaw shot and getting completely shattered so that it was made to be held together with bandages which were ripped off  by his executioner when he had to finally face the Guillotine, and his broken jaw fell amongst the screaming mob. It’s a wonderful tale which I’d love to share with you as I hope that someone somewhere must take some interest surely? Although I gave up with Jack as he obviously wasn’t interested in his old mum going on about the French Revolution I hope desperately that you would be surely? Although it may take some searching for Andy, I’ll begin by putting my short story Robespierre’s Jaw on my Weblog very soon.
I surely must have told you about the Jerry Farr Travel Award for people with Ataxia? All that’s needed is a crazy travel idea so it was no trouble at all for me to think of a dream of touching elephants on a touching safari in South Africa actually do-able. The safari also includes a ride in a hot air balloon which sounds fantastic, and also touching cheetahs though I hope they won’t be too bitey or I’ll come back minus several fingers. I still can’t believe that this will no longer continue to remain a mere dream as I’ve won the award after several years of trying.
Although Jack was originally going to accompany me on my adventure it now looks more likely that Andy and Brigitte will come with me, most probably in August. I believe the safari is for a week - I’m still having great difficulty believing it will become a reality for us all! I just hope that it won’t be too hot as South Africa in August sounds a pretty red hot time… still, I’m sure it will work out okay. Of course I fully intend to write about my experience as I’m quite sure I’ll have loads to say!
Whilst continuing to battle constantly with confusion, I’m also having trouble with such things as which way to turn the cup whilst drinking and which way to turn the bloody toothbrush every day, making my whole life such a headache, an everlasting struggle with gravity. Maybe that helps to explain why I love the feeling of floating so much in the water.
Speaking of water, I’ve just started going to hydrotherapy with my Mum and Brigitte every few weeks or so. It’s wonderful, the sensation of floating is beautiful, I no longer have to worry about keeping myself upright and all my limbs in place which does my head in! I think that feeling of floating can only otherwise be achieved when you go to sleep and slip into that beautiful other world of dreams. Is it therefore really no wonder that I long to escape forever sometimes into sleep and dream…
It’s been raining recently but May was beautiful, warm and sunny. I went for a wonderful walk  in the woods with Brigitte and her friend Joey, whose a crazy chap. I love  Joey, he’s crazy  but also really sensitive. He makes something as simple as a walk into something really special, and despite walking really fast he also spotted snails in the most unlikely places. He was describing all the butterflies. We promised that we’ll go rowing together this summer, we’re just waiting for the sunshine to return.
Now that Jack has come home, still with pins holding his jaw together, I discovered the story behind it, so here it is. He was in a supermarket with some friends, when a hefty chap came and socked him! It sounds like he was drunk but I don’t think he was arrested, I don’t know why it happened, the whole thing is horrible, poor old Jack ended up in hospital with a broken jaw – it was obviously quite some punch! There was absolutely no fight and Jack was just plain unlucky it seems. He’s okay now, thank goodness, but it’s not something we’re going to forget in a hurry.
A few weeks ago I went to the Ataxia clinic in Sheffield and the doctor there said I might have Sleep Apnoea and may not be taking in enough oxygen to the brain at night, hence the dreams, which are now quite famous. A friend of mine, who also has FA and Sleep Apnoea, has to have an oxygen mask at night and she says she feels like Darth Vader.


I wrote this piece of creative writing for my Dad – it’s one of his memories which he told me about many years ago. When he was a boy, my Dad lived with his grandfather who was a hairdresser above a shop in Plymouth, where he used to spend hours reading books on astronomy and science. I remember a story he told me about his grandmother, who was dead. Some people used to believe that she had been poisoned by her husband’s second wife, who didn’t like her and so did away with her. Whether there’s any truth in this I don’t know but that’s how the story goes.
Another dream I had, it feels like years ago, but I can’t get it out of my head is a painting of a woman in conventional Victorian dress standing alone on a hillside holding a shepherd’s crook in one hand, it’s called unnecessarily, The Shepherdess my dream told me it was by, Shannon although I’ve never seen the painting before, at least I don’t remember doing so, but it’s completely without colour which means that I must have seen  it in a book somewhere. Does anyone recognise it?  As it’s driving me mad!
I’m afraid I haven’t been terribly creative lately it’s about as much as I can do to keep my poor old brain in some sort of order. What with the continuing battle with my bloody body, just that is quite enough said, but I still remain at heart a creature of deep imagination. I’m constantly having really vivid dreams which become so mixed up with reality that I’m in danger of going completely mad, but then I’m not too worried about this. Although, I don’t know how long this is going to last?
As for The Space Between I just can’t cope with completing it by myself so I’ve handed it over to Suzanne because I trust her as she’s a creative writer herself and actually a poet of some experience and also she knows me and understands what I’m trying to say. So far I’ve given it to her to read and we’ll take it from there.
Need I say that we would appreciate any comments and suggestions from you as Suzanne produces each chapter.
It's a good one, this - the first part of Chapter Six of Killing Time is on my Weblog Without Boundaries. So please do keep those comments coming they're welcome, thank you!
Welcome to Andy's bit...
May I take this opportunity to congratulate Nicola on winning the Jerry Farr travel award this year. It's an amazing thing set up by the family of Jerry Farr. So a very big thank you to Jerry Farr's family and all those involved in the award at Ataxia UK.

Just when I was getting really fed up with the winter, I discovered some great news – that the Jerry Farr travel award is open again this year. This was totally unexpected to me, because I thought the award was just a one off… but apparently not, maybe until the money runs out. Anyway, I’m going to apply for my Tahiti expedition again, only this time, making it a shade less ambitious by sticking just to Tahiti!! I’m ruling out flying round the world!! Hopefully I’ll have more luck getting in touch with the campsite. I thought briefly of completely rethinking my travel plans… perhaps Tahiti was just too far, and I should go for somewhere in Europe, a bit more realistic. But why should I ?? I’ve always dreamed of going to the South Seas, and with my particular obsession with Gauguin, Tahiti’s still my first choice and it seems perfectly realistic so far… so why not aim for the top, and dream? Better luck this time.
(MARCH 2011)
Although I was going to make my application for the Jerry Farr travel award for a Ziggy safari this year, so far things don’t look totally hopeful as far as safaris go - basically they are too expensive, way beyond the five thousand pounds limit. It’s a shame , as I was quite into the sound of these safaris which cater also for people with sight problems - and include things like elephant interaction and touching the cheetahs which sound amazing! As this award is open to all applicants who have Ataxia, I’ve asked my friend Sue for any more ideas… I feel a bit stuck as to what to do now, I’m wondering whether to completely forget the idea of touching safaris and go instead for a straight holiday in the Bahamas, or whether to try for another idea I came across when making my application last year… this one was for a Ziggy jungle trip in Brazil, staying in a hotel in the middle of the jungle which sounded pretty freaky. Although I’d much rather camp in the jungle, maybe that’s pushing it a bit…
(MAY 2011) 
Last week I found out I didn’t get lucky with the Jerry Farr application… which means there will be no touching Elephants or Cheetah’s. Naturally I’m really pissed off about this, as I was really looking forward to this Touching Safari in South Africa… though I suppose it was pretty inevitable in a way. The letter from the Jerry Farr organisation said that the standard of applications was very high which made it difficult to choose. Andy’s just told me that the organisers only received eight applications from all over the country, which I find absolutely incredible. I would have thought most Ataxia people would have applied again this year, especially because the project limit has gone up. I can’t see any reason why everyone shouldn’t apply for such a great idea as the Jerry Farr Memorial Fund… can you?
And from Andy's bit...
(MAY 2011)
I was sorry to hear that Nic failed to win the Jerry Farr travel award again this year. After missing out last year and the year before with her proposal to go to Tahiti, (which is something she still wants to do) she simplified her application this year proposing an African Touching Safari, for blind people. When we found out that there were only eight applicants and that the standard of the proposals was very high, I said maybe they should have given the prize to the worst entry as they obviously need the break, whereas somebody who is able to put together a winning entry is probably able to find the funding from elsewhere. Anyway… Congratulations to the winner, I sincerely hope they have a fantastic holiday.

Don't forget to read Nic's Online novel Killing Time. You can clink~this~link.
Thats all folks! Many thanks for reading Raw Meat!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

May 2012 Issue 140

Nicola's Editorial

Though it makes quite a nice change I suppose that I can actually remember a few days so I haven’t forgotten any birthdays recently but I’m still finding it rather difficult to wake up properly so that my head seems to be becoming a complete tangle of dreams and reality, memories and the here and now so that it’s like some sort of dense forest full of tangled briars which coil around like snakes with a life of their own - so that they might well even be living and threatening to overcome… so you see that I can’t disentangle myself from this and so I’m never quite sure if I’m awake or asleep.
It’s definitely disturbing even if not down right frightening I suppose as I wonder if I am in fact loosing my sanity? But I don’t feel myself in the same way so that’s rather nice to think of as I feel there’s no danger of me suddenly murdering Andy while he’s asleep which I suppose he’s rather glad to hear. For instance, I dreamt last night about  Andy’s brother, and I thought we must have been in Thailand because it was definitely a warm place… but then also my Mum was involved so that it might have been in a greenhouse but then also my own boy Jack was there so I don’t know exactly what went on so really all I’m certain about is that Andy’s brother was there. Such dreams as these become even more disturbing when I fall asleep and dream really deeply so that I never am really sure whether I’m awake or asleep. Though this ability to dream so deeply is something to be envied I suppose, never the less it takes a sinister quality when it threatens to invade my life.
When I went my Dad’s recently I was surprised to find him talking about him going out to the park on his new scooter which apparently has four wheels, but I can’t visualise it as I didn’t actually see it – or rather touch it, so I’ve got no idea of the dimensions of such a contraption. I don’t know why I never actually got to touch it as now it’s plaguing me… though I did think it might appear to be a sort of buggy – I don’t think it can be like a motorbike, that was that because my Mum told me that it had only one seat when I asked if I could go on it with Dad so it obviously can’t be that big I  feel – so I’ve got absolutely no clear picture in my head. Anyway the main point of this is that my Dad’s okay even though his scooter remains a bit of a mystery to me.
One of my friends was telling me recently that he’s just decided to write his autobiography and so I asked my Dad if he wanted to write his, but he was reluctant to do so as he thought his life was totally too boring  and uninteresting and conventional.
“ Not at all,” I said “ it depends how you write it.”
So I have begun to write a few short stories of my own based on the stories he’s told me in the past about his life which must have left impressions on me because I still remember them even though they were about the bits of his life he may have told me about thirty years ago. I’m going to include the first of these here, The Bullfighter’s Trousers, which I’m still not satisfied with so I hope that you’ll be able help me by sending your criticisms. Here we are then, please do read and send in your reaction and comments as I need them pretty badly.
This is specially for you, Dad
In the 1970’s CJ the accountant lived with his wife and family in the town of Stockport, a suburb of Manchester. He worked for an engineering firm in which he held an important position as a manager, which meant that he needed to travel all over the world. On this occasion he found himself in Madrid where he stayed for a few days in a rather nice hotel. As he was there with a few other chaps he knew, they were having a meal together at the hotel restaurant when a swarthy-faced Spaniard came over and in broken English asked for a light. Though at first they could make head nor tail of what he said, eventually they did and began to chat with him. He was called Manuel and it emerged that he had the room next to CJ, on the fourth floor. CJ was rather surprised to find out that Manuel, who was a good deal shorter than him, had a job as a bullfighter, he didn’t seem to be aggressive enough and CJ found it difficult to imagine Manuel in the ring with all the crowd shouting “Ole” as the tiny figure faced up to the bull.

On the way back to the hotel the following evening CJ had to squeeze between two parked cars and somehow managed to catch his leg on the ariel of  one of them and rip his trousers and also his leg so that the fabric soon became soaked in blood… although CJ managed to stop the blood before it did too much damage his trousers were ruined, so he limped back to the hotel. When he got there he went straight upstairs in the lift to his room and began to feel slightly panic stricken as he had searched in his wardrobe for another pair of trousers; as luck would have it he suddenly remembered that he had an important business meeting the next day and so obviously he needed to look more like a respectable British accountant so he went to the room next to his and tapped urgently on it. Manuel opened it eventually in his pyjama’s as it was pretty early in the morning by then and looked at CJ in surprise.
“Manuel, I need to borrow some trousers quickly!” Said CJ.  Although at first Manuel just stared at CJ, he quickly overcame his surprise and; after some moments of searching in his wardrobe he reappeared at the door and handed CJ a pair of white trousers which the accountant took at once without examining them too much as he was grateful and not to mention a little desperate.

Back in his room CJ simply stuffed the trousers in a drawer and climbed straight into bed for he just wanted to get some sleep before the meeting. The next day he had to rise early and had time to examine the white trousers more closely; they turned out to be extremely tight when he put them on and not at all suitable for his important business meeting - but what could he do? He searched frantically but his own suitcase was just about empty as CJ was one of those who believed in travelling as light as possible. So he was forced to inch along the hotel bedroom and very carefully and daintily taking tiny steps all the way along through the streets to the business centre where the meeting was to take place, very red in the face.

The other accountants tried not to stare but CJ was extremely embarrassed as he sat down very carefully at the business table - he kept his eyes downcast the whole time and was almost too embarrassed to get to his feet when it came to his turn to speak and would try his best to give his paper about finance with his tight fitting silk trousers clinging around his bottom all the time - CJ thought he must surely die with shame. After the meeting he inched his way quickly back to the hotel and decided to catch the very next flight home… he was simply unable to go on. When he got back upon British soil he was almost unable to return to work the next day as he was quite sure that all the other accountants at his office had heard about him, and he fully expected to be sacked by his boss - but nothing was said. He wondered why Manuel had worn such a ridiculous pair of trousers at all - though he tried to imagine Manuel in the bullfighters ring facing up to the bull wearing tight white trousers he thought that they must have looked stupid indeed - but there you are, that’s Spanish bullfighters for you, he concluded.


It’s really depressing for me to have to face up to the fact that the confused state of mind I’ve been talking about, has inevitably affected my writing. I’ve found it pretty much impossible to remember quite where I’m up to with things. I’ve been thinking of taking up Ruth’s idea of writing a little bit every day, but I don’t want to make a diary of any sort but something I can keep up with and maybe put straight on my blog. I haven’t really thought about this very much as the idea has only just come to me, so nothing will happen just yet. It was even difficult for me to remember where I was up to in Fireworks, but last week I was able to get myself together enough to pick up the thread again. It was quite enough of a struggle without even being able to think about The Space Between. It’s unthinkable for me to have to leave it unfinished, but things look pretty bleak at the moment and that may be what I’ll have to do in the end, but I don’t intend ever to stop writing all together – it’s impossible for me to live without creating scenarios for characters, some real and some I’ve invented. This is something very much like breathing to me, without it I just can’t face any sort of life.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re all as bored of that subject as I am myself, so back to Fireworks, my short story based very loosely on the gunpowder plot, or rather Antonia Fraser’s wonderful epic upon that subject. So far the extremely tall boy, Guy Fawkes, has moved to London from York where he had lived with his father in his candle shop and where he saw the Irish green angel on the moors. Guy follows the Angel’s orders and goes to London where he meets Robert Catesby. Meanwhile the King has been visited by the Orange Angel at his breakfast table and the angel instructs his to give orders to make everything orange. So this piece is from the fourth chapter, The King’s Purple Wardrobe, and I won’t say anything more but just let you read it.
By the way, both Andy and I are still working on the Ebook of Catching The Light, so keep your eyes peeled for it!


Copyright Nicola Batty © 2012
Early in the morning of the following day the king’s stage coach rolled past the Orange Church very slowly, the king looking carefully out of the window all the time. He was searching for a suitable building in which to make  his purple wardrobe. You see, he had never lost his passion for fine clothes and had decided to build himself a wardrobe where he could  keep all his fine and fancy robes with their sumptuous fur and jewels. He needed a suitably elegant building.
            The king called out to the driver of the royal coach to stop. As he glanced down a jewel on his golden crown sparkled and caught the light from the sun that was still rising in the sky.
“Stop the coach here! I want to examine that building, I think it may make a perfect wardrobe.”
So all the Royal Soldiers obeyed and surrounded the king as he walked slowly around, the fine stone structure. Meanwhile, close by, Guy and Robert worked away, not wishing to attract attention. But the king was more interested in finding a suitable site for his wardrobe.
“Stop! I think this building will do for my wardrobe… I want it to be painted with orange and purple… perhaps stripes would look rather nice,” he told the royal guard, and ordered them to go ahead and begin the work. Guy and Robert continued their own painting nervously.
“Just keep working, quick,” Robert whispered to Guy. “We want to get finished as quick as we can without drawing any attention to ourselves.”
So they continued to paint desperately, but nevertheless one of the kings soldiers stopped them just as he began his own painting as he’d been ordered, with his pot of purple paint in his hand.
“Wait!” he said, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Guy turned round, his brush covered in orange paint, thinking quickly. “I’m just giving this orange church a fresh coat – it was just getting a bit shabby, that’s all,” he said and turned back to his painting as casually as he could.
Within a few hours the king’s new wardrobe was finished – the sunlight caught on the freshly painted purple and orange stripes and caused them to sparkle. It brought out the beauty of the stained glass windows, the red roses and yellow leaves accentuated by the deep purple paint behind the window. The king himself nodded approvingly, even daring to speak to the head of the soldiers quietly.
“You’ve done a very nice job, you must thank every one of your soldiers,” he muttered, aware of his big tongue making his words difficult to understand. The head soldier frowned.
“I’m sorry, your majesty, could you say that once again? Please forgive me but I can’t make head nor tail of what you’re saying, I’m sorry.”
The king sighed heavily, removing his crown and turning it around miserably in his hands. He turned away and went back to his coach where he could shut himself away, pulling the blinds down over the window.
Guy and Robert carried on with their work, greatly relieved.
So the royal soldiers marched away, back to the palace, leaving Guy and Robert to finish their own orange painting.
It took the king several hours to emerge from hiding in his palace to return to his royal wardrobe, taking with him his fine robes, all his clothes requiring a separate carriage of their own. Still, the king remained silent, watching the soldiers carefully as they stopped the carriage and moved all the clothes and stored each item carefully in the new royal wardrobe. The king simply smiled, waving his hand as the last soldier scurried thankfully back out. Robert and Guy looked on as they packed away their orange paint and cleaned their brushes and returned to the tavern at which they had found rooms. 
Welcome to Andy’s bit…
The NaPoWriMo poetry month of April is of course now finished and you can read my thirty entries on my SweetTalkingGuy bloggage.
Over on my Dream Genie blog at Properjoes.blogspot.com there's a little message to anybody who may be interested in the Premiership this season!!!

More from Urban Scrawl Andy in June.

Thanks for reading Raw Meat!!!!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

April 2012 Issue 139

Nicola's Editorial
Sorry if I’m a little late with this issue - I only just remembered it was Raw Meat time once again… but by now you’ll probably be well used to my bad memory which may be simply the first sign of a decaying brain - otherwise know as Old Age. Depressing really as I’m not actually that old at all… let’s just forget that particular subject altogether and move quickly along onto more interesting things like Spring. At one stage recently it felt actually warm enough to venture outside without a coat which now seems absolutely incredible as that horrible cold wind has returned form the north pole and quite blown all the warmth away. So we’re back to coats and hats and even putting the heating on… April too… sigh
It suddenly dawned upon me that it’s Easter weekend which seems incredible to believe, but there you are. Tomorrow is Good Friday which always brings back vivid memories of my grandmother who died on Good Friday about 13 years ago. It was really ironic because she always loved the spring time, so everybody decorated her coffin with loads of Daffodils, Hyacinths, May blossom… other such smelly flowers which everyone also brought to the church, so that her whole funeral was wonderfully smelly. So this time always makes me think of her… her name was Henrietta Honey, a beautiful name… and even though all the time that I knew her hair was quite grey my granddad told me that she used to have beautiful long auburn hair which was the envy of all the other girls back in the 1920’s and 30’s. My granddad’s now dead only a few years ago actually, as he lived to the incredible age of 95. He used to be a sailor and in the war he was a gunner on a ship down in Plymouth. My mum grew up by the sea and so quite naturally loves the sea and has lots of memories about going out fishing with her dad in her small rowing boat. They used to catch lots of Bream and Cod and then row back to shore in time for my mum to go to school in the morning. Enough of such memories as they are making me feel rather sad though I’m not quite sure why exactly. Anyway here I am now nothing much seems to be going on as we’re all still waiting for the spring to come and the winter to well and truly pack it’s bags and be gone. Still waiting though…
As always, I’m continuing to struggle to keep my head in some sort of order in my battle with my old enemy, confusion… though by now were on such close terms that I suppose I could call him “friend” or at least “ acquaintance”. I suppose I can blame most of this on my hearing which has recently become pretty useless, or at least not as good as before and as it’s always been something of a problem it becomes even more so even though I certainly wouldn’t call myself deaf by any means - so I suppose I shouldn’t really complain too much. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. It’s just that I’m becoming so mixed up… I start talking about one thing and then start another - making my dictation while trying to write something extremely difficult to understand… not just for the reader but also for me! Also I keep forgetting things so that I’m constantly rewriting what I’ve already started so that the whole thing becomes an entire jumble! Therefore, I apologise very much if any of this issue is at all repetitive or mixed up… please just indulge my state of mind as I can only hope it will improve!
As I said, confusion remains, and so I’m having difficulty remembering anything much that’s been going on lately but one thing I remember clearly - and that’s the Easter weekend. I remember this clearly, because it was really special for me as on Easter Saturday I saw my good friend from Norfolk, Sally. I very rarely manage to meet up with her now-a-days as she’s a busy school teacher and is one of those people who always seems to be too busy to see you. So it was really good simply to sit and have a good old natter… or at least as close as I’ll ever be able to come to such a thing these days, now that it’s become so very difficult for me to manage to exchange any information with people because of both speech and hearing problems. Then later on I went down to my Mums near Nantwich where it was lovely to be able to see my Dad who’s become pretty much housebound these days due to his chest condition which is getting worse, as he has great trouble with breathing. My dad will always remain one of my most intimate friends, no matter what happens - we’re looking forward to our forthcoming trip up Snowdon which mum and I gave dad as a birthday present last month. But back to Easter - mum and I went to Nantwich where there was a small zoo with such animals as lizards, snakes and frogs - it was just a shame that I couldn’t hold them! Still, I really enjoyed it - simply spending time with my parents was a pleasure. Of course we had Easter eggs in plenty along with a dinner that my brother cooked, before coming home.


One date I actually remembered just in the nick of time was April the 5th, the birthday of Sun-Hyae my friend from South Korea who I met about 13 years ago,  I think it must be at least, but in the days when I used to have a community service volunteer - a sort of live in helper. I remember she had her own little room which Andy built, and she and I developed a very close friendship which is just as well really, as I can remember there were other CSV people who I didn’t get on with at all or were not so close and remained merely acquaintances from the past. Sun-Hyae and I still write regularly on the internet, a few  years ago she actually came over from her flat in the city of Seoul to stay with us for a few months. She’s a good deal younger than I am, hence she’s quite physically strong and used to be able to help completely which I valued a lot as it gave me independence I was craving so much. She also managed to get along fine with Andy which is much easier than getting on with me I’ll admit quite readily. One of the most exciting things we did was to drive with both Andy and Jack who was about six all the way to Venice, stopping a few times on the way in France, Switzerland and finally Italy where we both camped and stayed at a hotel at one point in the Swiss mountains, though this was a last minute decision as Andy had been driving for about ten hours or something stupid after we lost our way and were going around for ages going up and down the mountains trying to find the bloody campsite. I still remember this clearly… Andy’s frustration and my increasing nervousness that we were going to break down - or have an accident and be stuck there, unable to contact anyone for help. These were the days before the mobile phone so… you can understand my worry especially as my young son Jack - who was hardly more than a baby then and so completely reliant on his mum. I remember that it was near Zurich, where we only stayed for one night as we couldn’t afford any more than this! Sun-Hyae enjoyed the comfort and was extremely reluctant to leave it I remember but she had no choice really and so climbed back in our trusty car and we drove on to the next stop in the Jura Mountains to a really big camp site where we stayed for several days. This was a wonderful countryside site set on the side of the mountains amongst lakes where we both canoed and went rowing… these were back in the days when Andy was much more adventurous than he is now I suppose. After this we stayed on the edge of  Lake Garda for a few days before the final stop at Venice itself on a massive campsite… actually it was just outside Venice I remember,  we had to get a ferry to take us over the water which Jack loved. Venice itself  was so busy with tourists I found it a bit too much and preferred the back streets from where  the coastline of Yugoslavia was visible. I still have such vivid memories of us buying a present for Jack to keep him occupied which was a string puppet of Pinocchio and the incredible sense of failure I felt when he burst into tears and wouldn’t accept it! Thank god that he’s matured somewhat now and we get along quite happily despite everything. Anyway, the point of all this that I’m trying to make is that through all this my constant friend was Sun-Hyae, she and I were even closer than I was to Andy back then. Now I’ve become much closer to Andy and quite naturally turn to him for support through my troubles at the moment. So Sun-Hyae and I still keep in touch regularly thanks to the internet and I still look back on that holiday over three weeks and covering a distance of two thousand miles with great fondness and gratitude to Sun-Hyae. In fact I’d like to dedicate this issue to her as a belated birthday present… many thanks  and even love to you Sun-Hyae!


I do hope that some of you have been following Catching the Light which I’ve been serialising on my blog every week… well, now this little story has come to an end it’s time to begin presenting my novel Killing Time chapter by chapter. Although I wrote this novel some time ago, I still think it’s not bad at all if just a little ambitious. One of my friends who read it called it “sensational!" which was quite a compliment… or at least I took it as such!
Copyright Nicola Batty © 2002
I’m including here the latest bit I’ve written - I think the chapter we’re on at the moment is called “The Green Tattoo” though I’m not quite sure what number the chapter is - you’ll have to forgive my confusion - hopefully it’s only a temporary thing or at least I hope so. Anyway, here’s an extract:
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 covering 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 it 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.”
Welcome to Andy's bit...
The big thing right now is Nic's novel Killing Time which we are starting to serialise on her weblog Without Boundaries. The introduction and The Prologue are already Online along with the wonderful cover which was designed for her by the fabulous Gary Parkinson. It's well worth clinking~the~link below and taking a look for yourself. We will be adding a chapter (or part chapter) each week. Here's the introduction to Nic's novel Killing Time.
NaPoWriMo 2012
Thirty poems in thirty days is the theme once again for National Poetry Writing Month, you can see my entries on my SweetTalkingGuy bloggage.
Many thanks for reading Raw Meat!!!

Friday, March 09, 2012

March 2012 Issue 138

Nicola's Editorial
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.
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.
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!
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…

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!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February 2012 Issue 137

Nicola's Editorial


I was really glad to see the back of January, which brought absolutely nothing but stress and illness… generally best left completely alone. But having said that February seems to be so far only slightly better… still I suppose the main thing is you can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, if not actually catch it. Talking of which I’ve just decided that Catching The Light is going to be the next book to serialise on my Weblog… following straight on from The Reluctant Vampire and it’s new alternative ending. By the way I’d welcome any comments anyone of my readers could make on this, as you must realise by now how essential it is to me to receive some sort of feedback from my readers following whatever I’ve been serialising on my Weblog. There’s a space at the end of each post where you can leave comments… so please do, I’d really appreciate anything you’d say.


I was delighted by the impact that The Reluctant Vampire made… it was so exciting to me to realise it was being read avidly by enthusiastic readers from such places as Russia, Australia and even good old Manchester. And the really nice thing was that as soon as I put a new chapter Online people began reading at once… it was almost as if they’d been waiting with enthusiasm. So such a response has spurred me on to follow the vampire with my little fairytale Catching the Light… and then to follow it with the more ambitious novel Killing Time. I’ll say more about this later on in Raw Meat… now, back to my stressful January.


This precious liquid turned out to lie at the heart a lot of my problems… as I said, January was extremely stressful in one way or another, best forgotten in fact. Having said that I’m going to tell you this incredible story about how I cleared up many of the problems I was having with sleeplessness and leg spasms by simply drinking water. A friend actually suggested to me that I had a water infection which was causing the dreadful spasms and many sleepless nights which were rapidly beginning to get to both me and Andy. Ever since I began drinking water all the time I began to sleep much better, and the spasms became controlled as they usually are.


It’s that extreme cold which is beginning to get to me now that February is here and although there’s a glimmer of light on the horizon, it’s still so dark. It’s that horrible feeling that you just can’t face going out at all that’s beginning to piss me off by now. I can’t see any way around the black - especially as there’s no way of escaping abroad in the foreseeable future for me… I just don’t know what to do. I’m trying my best to wait for spring, but it just seems so remote at the moment. I hoped that the end of January would mean a slight raise in temperature… but no such luck. I suppose this cold is nothing compared with the Antarctic, but that’s absolutely no comfort any more. You’d think that this weather would make it easier for me to remember and write Raw Meat, but I’m afraid I’d forgotten all about it because… I suppose I could blame my problems with sleeping, and the confusion which has remained long after the water infection has been cleared up. I’m not quite sure where the source of this confusion lies… sometimes I’m beginning to doubt my own sanity though not sure why. Let me elaborate…


That very special state of sanctuary which eluded me totally for so long during the last month, has at last come back to me. now it’s returned, it brings its own problems… at least as far as coming back to reality goes. Although I’ve always cherished my ability to lose myself in dreams, I now find it’s a struggle to disentangle them from reality so that I’m constantly in a state of confusion… did something really happen, or have I just dreamt it?? dreaming so vividly that it’s quite frightening sometimes when I wake up in the night, and Andy can’t understand what I’m trying to say, I’m quite incoherent… even on occasion in tears! I want to put this ability to dream so vividly to some constructive use by keeping a dream diary, which should make for some interesting reading, I hope.


One of the most positive things that happened in January was my sister Jan’s 50th birthday… so I’m going to dedicate this issue to her, though I suppose it’s a bit late now. Her friend Jim is taking her to Sri Lanka next month, to see a cricket match, though I’m sure they’ll see a bit more of the country than the cricket field. It should be a damn sight warmer than here… which I’m extremely envious about.


Although I first heard about the exhibition in Liverpool of paintings related to Lewis Carroll’s best loved story right at the start of January, for reasons I’ve already explained, it was during the last few days of the month that we actually managed to make the train journey, still battling against the extreme cold. Although I was hoping that the exhibition would include paintings directly related to the Alice books, I was actually disappointed to find that they weren’t generally, most of them seemed to have nothing to do with the Alice books at all but were merely painted by vague friends of Carroll. I fount the most memorable pictures there were by Tenniel himself from both Alice books. While I remember vividly in great detail, as I myself copied this illustration from Through the Looking Glass some 20 years ago – The White Knight, which shows Alice walking alongside the white knight on his horse, which is hung with crazy objects, such as turnips, a telescope and a pair of bellows. I still have my copy of the illustration down stairs, and still remember every detail… I loved Tennille’s style, with its simple black ink lines, which seemed to capture that Victorian feel perfectly, I just hope I’ve done Mr Tennille’s illustration justice.


I should make some effort to introduce my fairy tale here, as I’m going to put the first part Online tomorrow… though it’s a bit of a struggle to remember it clearly. I could blame this on the feelings of confusion and forgetfulness that I’ve been speaking of. Slowly it’s beginning to return to me… the setting is a remote Irish peat bog covered in mist all year round. Entering right through the mist, we come upon the palace beautiful on an island, and an assortment of strange characters such as a man made entirely of wood, an elf with green pointed ears and a character with a literally flaming orange beard – no prizes for guessing who those characters are based on! The island is ruled by King Oscar, the gentle giant, along with his beautiful wife, Queen Constance, who has a face like a deer. King Oscar and his friends Robbie the elf, and Charles of the flaming beard go into the nearby woodland and find a secret glade… I’ll leave the rest to you to discover! I was really pleased with this short story and found it really easy to write something which was so completely new to me, as it was so unlike anything I’ve usually written. Though it’s based very loosely on the life of Wilde and his circle, it also involves characters from Wilde’s own writing… and so the whole effect is an entanglement of historical characters, fictional ones and fantasy ones. I do hope I’ve whetted your appetite sufficiently to make you want to have a look at my Weblog. As always, I greatly welcome any comments you can make!


I found this piece quite exciting to write for two reasons – not only did it deal with first my old favourite Scott talking about his forthcoming trip to the Antarctic, but also because we finally meet with the real meaty heart of the novel, the Wilde short story The Portrait of Mr. W H. This was the first time for ages that the story itself was met head on… so to have the beautiful volume designed by Ricketts and Shannon actually in Kathleen’s hands filled me with the same sense of tingling excitement that I remember so vividly when I very first discovered by chance that Kathleen Bruce later became none other than Scott’s wife. This incredible coincidence suddenly had to be picked up on, as I’ve always wanted to set the final part of the trilogy in the Antarctic, though before I had no reason for doing so. So, all that needed to be done by me was to embroider upon the relationship between her and Shannon as there was only a good friendship between them… but whose to say exactly how far their involvement went? as passions always come and go so fleetingly. As a historical fact all that is known about Kathleen Bruce is that she first met Scott in a London hotel and that they were fairly passionately in love initially there could be no doubt. The South Pole expedition came after such a relatively short time and I was seized by such a bizarre conscience that I felt I had to put right then, even though I had and still have very little idea about the final part of the trilogy… I just hope it’s going to come as soon as I begin to write it. This is the most magical thing about writing it just means that you’ve got to act blindly and take a plunge into god knows what… which is really pretty hairy as you will be able to imagine. I’m relying on my imagination to a large degree because I don’t actually know so much about either of them, factually, but it seems obvious that they were drawn together pretty instantly by agreeing to get married the following year… so I’m assuming that they were both besotted with each other… or at least Scott was with Kathleen, judging by the amount of letters he sent her from the Antarctic. I still haven’t yet read Blake’s biography and I still remain undecided whether to do so, or to simply write in my novel trusting only on my imagination it was not so easy for me to see why Kathleen was so taken with the captain as a scientist – they don’t apparently seem to have anything in common… unless I could work on Scott’s obvious obsession with the Antarctic – I could use this single minded obsession as a resource the initial attraction between them. So I’ve used that in this piece, then there was the difficulty of making Scott interesting immediately in Wilde so that I could bring the book into the conversation without sounding too contrived, it had to sound quite natural. As I presumed Scott was obviously a man of some intelligence despite being a scientist!! I still have every intention of going down to Cambridge with my twin sister to visit the Scott museum.

The Space Between

Copyright Nicola Batty © 2012

The story so far:

There are just two copies of Wilde’s short story… one of these has been taken overseas to America by Georges, while the other has been made into a book by Ricketts and Shannon. A few years ago Shannon gave this volume to Kathleen as a seal of their commitment to each other – but since then the passion between them has cooled and Kathleen, keeps forgetting to return the book although he keeps asking. Finally she has found it and laid it aside to remember the next day… But then she receives an unexpected visitor… Now read on:

Chapter Seven 1907 cont.

That evening Kathleen was startled when she heard somebody knocking at the door and wondered if it could be Sarah, having forgotten her key once again. Putting down her cup of coffee, she went to open the door and opened it, allowing the frosty night air to intrude. She stood staring stupidly for some moments, without seeming to recognise the Captain, with his familiar Navy jacket and cap, which he lifted ceremoniously in greeting… but his smile was so very wide that Kathleen was filled instantly with delight at his obvious spontaneity.

“And may I say good evening to you, Miss Bruce? I do hope I’m calling at a convenient time.”

Her laughter bubbled to the surface and overflowed; she shook her head, stepping back and ushering him inside.

“Not at all, Robert – I’m really glad to see you… any time at all would be convenient for me. Do come in – you’ll have to excuse the mess of the place, I’m afraid, as I wasn’t expecting any callers and you can imagine how we artists live.”

Robert Scott followed her into the drawing room but didn’t take the seat, she offered.

“No, that’s alright, I’m afraid I can’t stay too long. I just called round as I’ll be in London for the next few days… I’m giving a series of lectures a the Geological Society, about our forthcoming trip to the Antarctic, which seems more definite now. I just want to publicise the event as much as I can, to try to raise both interest and finance. The trip is set for 1910.”

As he looked at her, his eyes were filled with excitement. She was infected by such great enthusiasm, how could she possibly not be?

“Don’t worry, it’s just lovely to see you again, Captain Scott. May I perhaps come to one of your talks? I’d very much like to.”

“Well, of course… but I thought you might prefer to go to the theatre, as I believe there’s a comedy on which you might find amusing and perhaps slightly more entertaining than one of my lectures.”

“Well, can’t we do both? I like the sound of the comedy… do you know anything more about it?” she asked, touching his hand lightly. “You should stop being so formal with me, please drop the Miss Bruce right away.”

He nodded enthusiastically, his smile returning with equal vigour.

“Of course, if you agree in return always to call me Con, as all my friends do. I’d like to take you to see The Importance of Being Ernest, by Oscar Wilde. I’m a great enthusiast of his.”

“Oh, I’d love to see anything by Wilde.” She stopped suddenly, remembering the book she had just laid so carefully down upon the bookshelf upstairs. “By a strange coincidence, I’m just reading a book of his, The Portrait of Mr WH, which you might be interested in if you’re a Wilde enthusiast. The friend that lent it to me used to know him personally and the story hasn’t been widely published. Would you like to see it?”

Scott’s face lit up.

“I’d be very grateful.”

Without further ado, Kathleen turned and ran out of the room and up the stairs. When she returned with the small red volume, she crossed the room and pressed it into his hand… she was almost overcome with relief at losing such a burden as it had become. She turned away, afraid that Scott might realise what a precious an rare book he held in his hands. She didn’t want him to know – she wanted him simply to take the story. Scott carefully examined the little book, turning each beautiful page with reverence. When he raised his eyes back to Kathleen, they were filled with confusion.

“Kathleen, it’s a beautiful book – you should take great care of it. though I’ll admit I’d love to read the story myself, I’ve read everything else by Wilde I should think. Such a work of art, I’m quite sure you don’t want to lend it to me.”

Kathleen nodded in determination.

“No, that’s quite alright… you should take it. Please, take your time.”

She reached out and took both of Scott’s hands, urging him to close the book – she didn’t want anything more to do with it. Scott closed the book reluctantly, but still seemed slightly hesitant as he placed it carefully inside his jacket.

“Well, if you’re absolutely certain. I’ll return it as soon as I can. Thank you.”

More from Nicola’s work in progress trilogy in March.



Welcome to Andy’s bit…


Twenty nine Haiku in twenty nine days is the target for the first of this years Online poetry challenges. I’ve been writing one each day and reading and commenting on the other contributors work as it comes in. When I say Haiku, they are not brilliant, they are more Haiku style, if the truth were told. But as ever, the whole idea of the project is to get people writing and communicating, and to that end it works. I of course have come up with some weird stuff and you can read them all here if you so desire on my SweetTalkingGuy bloggage.

More from Urban Scrawl Andy in March.

Many thanks for reading Raw Meat!!!

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!!!!!
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