June 2009 Issue 105
THE BIG BANG
Already it’s the sixth month… I’m very aware at the moment of the passing of time, though I’m not quite sure if this is a premonition of disaster or not. Maybe its simply recognition of the power of maniacs we have controlling the countries. I’m thinking particularly of the situation that has recently come to light in North Korea, where they were discovered to have been testing an atomic bomb by exploding it under ground… thus breaking an agreement made some years ago. I’m not sure whether they’re actually considering attacking or invading anyone else, but the threat is there. It’s all completely insane. I just wonder how much longer we can expect things to continue in such a state… in relation to all this, petty lives, with all their trivial worries and concerns, pale into virtual insignificance. I hope I’m not being too depressing – that’s not my intention at all! Just the opposite in fact… for if we realise our days are numbered, then we should live each day like it’s going to be our last. That’s the theory anyway…
THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE
Andy has passed on a piece of news to me, which has captured my interest completely… in fact; I think it’s become a virtual obsession. Apparently another plane has disappeared inside the Bermuda Triangle, (I think it was found 700 miles off the coast of Brazil, but if it had been flying for four hours before it disappeared, it could well have gone missing inside the Bermuda triangle. Andy) flying from Brazil to France with 200 odd people on board. It seems pretty obvious that the plane either crashed into another plane or into the sea for some reason, as the wreckage has been found around the area… so there seems to be no great mystery there. But even so, this doesn’t really explain why so many boats and planes have gone missing within this comparatively small area of the Caribbean. All right, the Caribbean may be a particularly unpredictable and dangerous area to travel in by sea or air, as regards to storms blowing up suddenly, but can it all be so rationalised and explained by statistics, which after all can be twisted to explain anything? Seeing as the Bahamas are located within the triangle, I wonder if there have occurred any mysterious disappearances on land there? The Bahamas are also in the triangle and I suppose the Beatles came back from there in their visit there in the 60’s , which is good news as I think my mum is going on a Caribbean cruise, which will probably sail through the triangle…
I looked up the three points of the triangle to get some idea of the area, and found one point to be Bermuda itself, one to be Puerto Rico and the other in southern Florida, which could possibly be Key West! I can imagine that this could be true in such a place as the pier at Key West. Anyway besides all that about the triangle, I would love to go to Bermuda someday. It was going to be one of my stops on my round the world trip – we actually found a website about Ziggy friendly places to go in Bermuda! So maybe I should continue this research and … who knows?
The idea of a person going missing for good is an intriguing one: it could mean they’d simply changed their name and identity and started again as someone else, rather like Reginald Perrin (from the 70s sitcom The Fall and Rise of…) or Rose in the film Titanic. The website about the Bermuda triangle annoyed me because it said statistics showed the number of disappearances to be not particularly high or mysterious. There must be some basis for a superb work of fiction here… something along the lines of a disappearance in the Caribbean and a reappearance of another identity in a different country and time. I will work on it. One more thing about missing identities… I was thinking about Shelly, our cat who disappeared around fifteen years ago. I had a theory at the time that Shelly had been put out, quite literally, by the sudden appearance of the screaming baby Jack. Also, we were having our lift installed then, which involved lots of noise and strange movement – so I really couldn’t blame Shelly for leaving. I suppose he might have been run over or something, but I’d like to think that he’s living somewhere other than Moss Side and with another name.
A BUDDHIST RETREAT
We’ve just returned from a little break – not in Bermuda this time, but London. We actually went down to stay with our friend Sheila for a few days, and during that time went for an amazing walk in Wimbledon! At the time, I didn’t know exactly where we were, except that it was a wooded area with a river… I felt it was extremely beautiful and shady, which was lovely on such a hot day. I’ve always loved woodland anyway, but this spot was particularly peaceful for some reason. I felt Ziggy go up some steps and I asked where we were… it turned out to be a temple, which Andy said afterwards was painted dark red and filled with pictures of Buddha. This explained the peacefulness of the place – I think Buddhism works excellently in encouraging a tranquil state of mind. In the city, it’s a particularly wonderful retreat and it’s a wonderful idea to have a Buddhist retreat in the middle of Wimbledon!
I’ve been extremely pissed off recently when I became aware that practically all the light I could see was simply white, no colour. Maybe I’ve been losing the ability to see colour definitely and that my whole world was now black and white… it was like someone had turned the colour off on my television. Yet while we were sitting outside at a barbeque last week, I noticed the blue light from the sky was still almost visible to me around the edges of my vision… I wonder how much of the colours we see are a physical sensation or simply a psychological awareness? Although I may be losing the physical ability to see certain colours, they will still remain in my head, so it’s not such a depressing realisation.
Apart from making such amazing psychological discoveries, I’ve actually been hard at work on another editorial job for the Manchester Ataxia branch. I’ve called their Newsletter the MAB Mag and you can see my efforts, if you like. (e-mail me for details) I initially had misgivings about becoming fed up with repeating the same issues in RAW MEAT but I think RAW MEAT will always be different for me because it’s been going so long and I feel on much more intimate terms with it. The Chairperson of MAB, Sue, encouraged me to edit the Newsletter as she felt it would help me to feel more involved with the group – which I was concerned about. It seems to be working so far! Already I’ve spoken to, and met several members who I never knew existed, even though we’ve been sat together at meetings for the past year.
They’ve not been having band practice in our front room for a while – though I’m not sure if this is because Jack’s been hard at work with his revising or just coincidence. Yet he does seem to be taking his exams quite seriously, which is quite nice… he told me that his year, finish school next week, though he’s still got a few more exams to do. We’re going to see his band this afternoon in a concert for part of his music exam. Soon they have a school prom (which sounds very American to me) where apparently formal dress is expected. So a shopping trip is called for… More News Next Month…
Although the novel seems to be developing very slowly at the moment, it’s definitely an ongoing process – I haven’t come to the end yet! In fact, the ideas need to be worked through separately so that the novel reaches its conclusion naturally. I’m still wondering what to do with the book – no definite conclusions yet, but I’m quite tempted to branch off completely into fiction, though I have to be careful not to push the boundaries of credibility too far! I’ve already mentioned my idea of taking the final book to the South Pole – or at least the Antarctic – but I want to keep it credible and not totally wacky, which I think would be a danger. Yet the presence in The Space Between of Kathleen (who later married Scott) makes the temptation to connect the two ideas, too tempting an opportunity to miss.
Anyway I’ll concentrate on The Space Between for the moment; it seems to be developing quite nicely, with quite a few different threads, which have still to reach conclusions. It is nice in this extract to be able to return to the crucial issue of The Space Between – of course, the manuscript of The Portrait of Mr WH itself. I thought it would be quite a tempting idea to have just the one copy printed by The Vale Press, which has never come to light… this leaves the ending of my novel quite open, because it’s credible that this single copy could have disappeared and yet could still exist somewhere.
Returning to Ricketts at his new studio apartment in Holland Park, it felt like breaking new ground with him in more ways than one – I think that he must have had a lot of misgivings about making such a move after living in big houses for so long. This may not seem important, but I think that to him it would have been, for he laid such an emphasis on his immediate surroundings being beautiful. Andy reminded me though, that the apartments would have been the height of luxury – not only massive and with huge windows, but maybe Ricketts and Shannon would have two floors – one each, I suppose. This is quite a tempting idea to develop, because it may have been almost a natural continuation in their relationship that they each became more independent of each other. This fits in quite well with Shannon’s relationship with Kathleen, which I wanted Ricketts to comment on for the first time. While I don’t think he would have been jealous at this point, from the bits I’ve read of his diaries he was obviously concerned about Shannon getting married to someone and I’ve chosen to make it Kathleen. The way the novel seems to be leading at the moment makes me wonder if the link with Scott should be developed, it seems too natural an opportunity to pass up. I’m still dithering…
More Raw Materials in RM#106
The Space Between
The Story So Far:
It’s now 1903; Wilde has died in Paris a few years ago and his manuscript has supposedly disappeared with him. But really it turns out to have been taken to London by his friend, Gustave, who has now given it to Ricketts who wishes to publish it. As the Vale Press is closing, he thinks it will be a fitting swansong.
THE SPACE BETWEEN
Copyright Nicola Batty © 2009
“So far it’s the only one I have… Robbie has one, the original, I think.” Charles gazed at the book in Shan’s hand and for a moment was tempted to snatch it back, so strong were his possessive feelings. He held his hands clenched tightly into fists at his sides, staring into the open pages and imagining Oscar’s spirit rising amongst the twilight shadows. “But I could get more printed easily enough. I’m thinking of another five or ten for private circulation.”
For a while Shan said nothing, simply gazing at Charles with his clear blue eyes clouded with concern. After a time, he cleared his throat very softly, closing the covers of the book as if putting it to sleep.
“That’s too many… if I were you I should stop with this one. I still think it’s a dangerous book for us to be associated with.”
Charles stared at him silently, his fingernails driving deep into his own flesh and he relished the sensation.
“But how can you say that now that Oscar’s dead? Surely that changes things.”
Shannon gave a long sigh and shook his head slowly, keeping his eyes firmly on the frontispiece before him.
“You would think so, wouldn’t you, Charles? But all these years have changed nothing… the law remains the same as ever. Men like us can still be imprisoned for such things – I’m afraid Oscar’s spell in prison did no good. It changed nothing.” Raising his eyes suddenly to Charles, the directness of Shan’s gaze seemed to bore right through his friend so that Charles turned away uncomfortably, pretending that a painting hanging on the wall nearby needed straightening. Behind him, Shan cleared his throat loudly and laid the book back on the table. “So we must still tread very carefully… I don’t think you should get any more copies printed. They may fall into the wrong hands.”
Charles stared fiercely at the painting he had adjusted.
“Are you sure that’s all there is to these sudden doubts you’re having, Shan? Are you being quite honest with me?”
“Of course … what do you mean?”
“Well…” Charles shrugged awkwardly, trying to control his voice. “There isn’t any more personal reason why you don’t wish to be associated with Oscar?
For a moment Shan made no reply, simply shaking his head in bewilderment.
“No… I’m afraid I still don’t know what you mean.”
“Well… think about it, Shan. Isn’t it obvious.” Charles moved impulsively towards the painting, his hands twitching all the time. He swallowed, aware that his voice was trembling. “I’m talking about Kathleen, Shan… obviously I’m talking about her. That’s the real reason behind all this, isn’t it?” After a pause there was a long, awkward silence, followed by Shannon’s soft laughter.
More from The Space Between in RM#106
Welcome to Andy’s bit.
SONG FOR CLIFF
This month I’m going to share my song lyric for Cliff Richard with you.
GOODBYE NO NO
Goodbye no no, goodbye
I don’t think so
My love affair with you
ain’t over yet
It seems like yesterday
when we first said hello,
Goodbye no no, goodbye
I don’t think so
I sing this song for you
to let you know
that you are my number one
I won’t let you go
Goodbye no no, goodbye
I don’t think so
Never never, say
never ever, though
Cos who knows what
tomorrow may bring
don’t you know