- Nicola Batty
- I am a writer of novels, plays and film scripts. I live in Manchester England with my partner Andy and our teenage son Jack. Andy and I started my Newsletter Raw Meat and began publishing with Rawprintz in 1999 to showcase my work. Some of you may be confused by my continual references to Ziggy, that’s my wheelchair! Both Andy and I are writers. I’ve recently lost my sight – hence the continual reference to my being confused! Thanks for visiting.
More About Me...
Here's another one of my favourite paintings from the mid-eighties, copied from either the video or the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel or the book... I don't remember which. I was completely obsessed by Birdy when it came out and watched the film over and over again - it's about a young chap who's completely obsessed with birds and flying... absolutely wonderful. Birdy himself was played by Matthew Modine and he's the one who is actually in this picture of the film that I copied from. I was very impressed by the way he managed to pose perching on the bed-rail, and also I loved the night colours of the striking image. The other chap in the film is Nicholas Cage, who has since become a bit too famous for my liking... I think this was one of his best roles. I was really pleased with the way my effort turned out - it took me ages to get all the flesh colours just right so that they didn't appear artificial.
Here's my piece for Writer's Island, the prompt this week is: Titles
The beautiful young witch narrowed her emerald eyes as she looked at the little girl standing before her.
“Wait a minute… I’m sure I recognise you from a book when I used to teach English literature” she said thoughtfully, “Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There… I believe that’s the full title. I used to teach it before I turned to the realms of magic, and moved on to become a teacher of Necromancy at Hogwart’s several years ago. Where Bart and I know each other from… isn’t that right, Bart?”
Breaking off, she slipped out surreptitiously into Bart’s robes; the young wizard glanced towards Alice uneasily.
“Professor Madigan… don’t,” he muttered in a low voice as he shifted from one point to the other, fidgeting with the hem of his robe. “You’re embarrassing me… not to mention Alice. Remember, she’s a well brought up Victorian girl.”
“Come along now Bart – I’ve told you before that we’re on first name terms now, surely?” The witch sidled up closer to Bart, wrapping her arms around her. “I’m Elvira to you now… don’t you remember that evening in my office?” she glanced dismissively at Alice, giving an impatient tut as she turned back to Bart. “As for you my Victorian friend… I don’t know what you think you’re doing here. You don’t belong here at all do you? How did you manage to step over the boundaries of time? Is it something in the floo powder do you think Bart?”
“I don’t think so,” objected Bart quickly, “ we haven’t used the floo powder yet – have we Alice?”
The little black and white figure glanced up shyly, twisting her apron strings rubbing one grey stockinged leg with the other foots black shoe.
“Mister Dross is right, Professor Madigan I’ve not done any time travelling at all… just look around the room. What do you see?”
The witch gazed slowly all around, swivelling her bright green eyes as she took in the monotone surroundings. The vivid blue shades on her robe stood out starkly against the background.
“I see what you mean… everything is straight out of the Tenniel illustration for the book. Which means that…” she paused, tapping her teeth with one pointed scarlet fingernail. “We’re the ones who’ve done the time travelling, me and young Bart not you, Alice… we’re still in your age, aren’t we? That’s the first time I’ve ever travelled in time with floo powder, I must admit – that’s quite impressive. How do you think we managed to do that going backwards?”
Bart gave a shrug, looking away.“It’s my first time as well Elvira. I don’t know how we managed it… something in the mind control, maybe.”
My version of Chatterton.
This is another one of my very earliest reproductions of my Pre-Raphaelite paintings done when I was I think about eighteen. It was copied from a black and white photo, and after I saw the original in the Tate Gallery and discovered I had got the colour of his trousers wrong - they are blue not pink!! Ah well, call it artistic licence... I've always been fascinated by the great romantic tragic story of Chatterton, and also the great romantic story of the Victorian painter, Henry Wallis falling in love with the wife of the model for Chatterton George Meredith.
Here’s my bit for Writer’s Island – the theme this week being ‘Reunion’.
Without another word Bartholomew led Alice over the fender and stepped into the ashes which covered the grate. He hesitated for a moment before closing his eyes tightly, a look of intense concentration furrowing his brow.
“I’m not at all sure this’ll work when there’s no fire,” he told Alice quickly, “but it’s worth a try anyway. I’m going to try and go back to my old school, Hogwart’s… I left it a couple of years ago.”
Alice glanced up at the young wizard uncertainly.
“What do I do?” she asked, “How can I help with the magic?”
Bartholomew shook his head, concentrating hard and clutching Alice’s hand close to him.
“You can’t do anything, I just have to lead the way and think of wherever I want to go. You just follow.”
“Alright,” stepping into the grate and being instantly enclosed by darkness, falling down… and seeing around her head spinning shreds of energy, places, people she had never met and did not recognise… still she kept falling, unaware of the young wizard clutching her hand.
Eventually she realised that her surroundings had become still. She gazed around back over her shoulder and thought at first that the room was her father’s study back in Victorian Oxford – for she was sure she could smell both the chalk dust and the age of academic books. Alice turned, eyeing curiously the bent and beautiful head of a young woman sat behind the huge dark wood desk in the centre of the room; beside her she felt Bartholomew’s grip on her arm suddenly tighten. The young woman behind the desk unwound herself slowly as she rose to her feet, her dark hair falling almost to her waist. She had the most beautiful emerald eyes Alice had ever seen in her life. the young woman’s face broke into a wide smile as she caught sight of the two figures in the grate. She moved towards them with her arms outstretched.
“Bartholomew… Bartholomew Dross? Where have you been? Come here” she exclaimed breathlessly, her arms enclosing the wizard and pulling him to her with a strength that unnerved Alice. “Come here, you errant young wizard, you! I thought you’d left me for good!”
Bartholomew shifted uncomfortably in the room he was obviously enjoying himself. “I told you I’d be back… Professor Madigan,” the young wizard said so warmly. “I couldn’t just leave you, could I?”
The beautiful witch screamed with laughter throwing back her head so that her long black hair swung out behind her.
“I’ve told you before not to call me Professor… it keeps us at such a distance, Bart… and we know each other fairly well now don’t we?” so saying, she stroked the young wizard’s cheek gently with her fingernails which Alice noticed were filed to sharp points. Alice gave a little cough; she felt distinctly uneasy. As Professor Madigan switched her gaze onto the little girl.
“I’m glad to see you once again – I couldn’t believe I’d lost you within the labyrinth of time and dimension, I knew you’d come back to me. she took a step backwards, looking at Alice coldly. “But I see you’re not alone, my dear boy. Who’s your travelling companion?”Alice squirmed beneath the intensity of the witches green eyes – but she could say nothing.
Another piece of shrapnel for Writer’s Island on the theme of “Treasure”.
After rowing all the way out here to this remote Writer’s Island, I pull up my boat right onto the bank and look all round me uncertain which way to turn now. The sun’s beating down overhead and looking up I see a lonely seagull flying far above the isolated palm-tree growing near by. There are bunches of coconuts on it of course. I climb up towards the tree slowly, because I still doubt who I am or what I’m doing. I can tell the ground beneath my bare feet is sloping up - but that’s all I can tell, and it’s not much to go by. I’m not even sure if I’m a woman or a man, because although I’m dressed in ragged trousers and shirt I can’t tell whether they’re from the eighteenth century and I’m a pirate or if I’m a twenty-first century version of myself.
Standing in the shadow cast by the leaves of the palm-tree I can see a slight bump in the ground and I feel sure I know what’s inside. The map appears magically in my hand but I don’t even have to look at it; I feel around on the bump in the ground for a way in, for I know what’s underneath. Ah, here it is I pull the metal handle and feel myself falling through space. There’s nothing to stop me spinning round and round… I see the sky, the endless blue sky and the seagull screeching perhaps, and the sea by turns, sky, sea, then darkness. I sit up slowly feeling the ground beneath me as hard as granite. There’s no sunlight, it’s so cold in here, wherever I am. I feel uneasy but not too scared. Somewhere in my flight I dropped the map – but who needs the map anyway? As I blink my eyes, trying to bring them into some sort of focus I’m not a bit surprised to find my sight confronted with such a dazzling array of colours – not to mention textures – that I know I’ve found it. The treasure, the writer’s treasure, buried deep on the island. I stare at the jostling, dazzling jumble of assorted things, none of which I can give a name to – some of them seem to be tangible, made of metal or stone, or jewels even, maybe. Others seem to be changing all the time shifting incandescent areas of light, now bright, now a subtle soft glow like moonlight. I stare and stare so hard it hurts my eyes. I can feel the tears coursing down my face… perhaps I‘ll become Alice once again and be drowned in my own tears. That doesn’t seem to be such a tragedy in the circumstances.
My little piece for Writer's Island on the theme “A fork in the road”.
A FORK IN THE ROAD
The moon was full that night, and the haze of heat hung heavy over the island… indeed, the clouds seemed to touch the mountain tops and to scratch them. As I walked along the dusty road, the silence of the night seemed to enclose me completely… I could still hear vaguely the distant Greek music from the bar which I’d just left. My boots creaked gently as I moved them back and forth, the gentle clinking sound of the buckles creating their own music.
Something on the road ahead suddenly caught my eye, glinting in the moonlight with a strange incandescence. It looked like something unearthly, something totally unrecognisable. As I approached and bent down to pick it up, I could feel the layers of heat rubbing softly against the skin of my bare arm, and the texture of the sensation lulled me, calmed me. As my fingers clutched around the metal object and lift it reluctantly from its resting place, I can tell right away that it’s nothing but a piece of cutlery. I turn it round and round between my fingers without believing it - what on earth is a fork doing out here?
As I heard the car and saw it’s bright headlights, I stood up slowly. The car was an open top one - perfectly suited to this place. The man inside the car opens his door and steps outside, looking at me curiously. The night silence still hangs heavy all around… and I still clutch the fork to my side, turning it very slowly around.
“Are you alright? Is anything wrong?” The man asked. I notice the slight accent touching his words… making another soft music.
“I’m alright… I just found this.” Taking a few steps towards the man, I hold out the metal object towards him. He takes it slowly and laughs very gently, he sounds like the sea.
“The original fork in the road, eh? Well… can I offer you a lift?”
I turn my face up into the full light of the moon, so that it bathes me completely and runs over my arms like a river, a gentle shower of warm rain. As I begin to move towards the car I’m aware once again of the jangling of the buckles on my boots. I heave open the car door and step inside.
“Yes,” I said, “take me towards the sea.”Silently, he climbs beside me and switches on the headlights once again, though we don’t need them as the moon is still so very bright.