- 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...
The original was painted in 1851
by John Everett Millais.
The following piece is my offering for Writer's Island
the theme this week being “The gift”.
As Alice stared, the lines curved and moved before her eyes - connecting with each other and then suddenly disconnecting.
“What is happening?” she cried in astonishment. “I don’t believe it! Moving pictures? Now I feel I really must be going mad!”
“No, your certainly not doing that,” came a smooth voice from the fireplace.
Alice looked up, startled; sure enough, a figure was emerging from the fireplace - though Alice found this vision quite easy to believe after seeing such strange things already in Looking Glass house. She watched the boy as he carefully stepped over the fender, gathering his midnight blue dress robes around him as he did so. The stars and moons scattered all over his robe glistened in the dim afternoon light which came in from the window.
“You're very lucky, I declare,” remarked Alice “that the fire wasn’t alight… or else you would have burnt feet!”
The boy chuckled dryly. “That’s where you’re wrong, I’m afraid… I’m a wizard. Or at least, a trainee one… just wait until I’m graduated next year!”
Alice said nothing for a moment, she simply stared at him.
“I don’t think I believe you… a trainee wizard? There’s no such thing my father says. Tell me truthfully, who are you?”
The boy wizard looked at her thoughtfully, nodding his head slightly.
“Am I not meant to say something like “I think you should tell me who you are first. I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten my Alice in Wonderland… it’s been a long time since I read it.”
“Don’t worry about that I’ve moved on from Alice in Wonderland anyway, this is Through the Looking Glass now,” said Alice quickly. “But who are you anyway? I’m curious to know.”
“Ahhh… you’re quite right to be so,” said the wizard, brushing a piece of dust from his robe. “My name’s Bartholomew Dross. I’ve come from Hogwarts school of wizardry. I was trying to get to Nocturne Ally, but I must have taken a wrong turn… I’m sorry to disturb you, Alice.”
As he turned to go back into the fireplace, she stopped him by catching at the sleeve of his robe.
“No - don’t go! Wait… I might come with you. I’m rather intrigued… I’d like to learn some wizardry also. How do you travel through the fireplace?”
The young wizard stopped at once and turned to Alice, smiling gently.
“You need floo powder to do that Alice - let me give you some. I’d like to leave you with a little gift… something to remember me by. That is, if you won’t come with me now, back into the fireplace. Will you?”
Alice gazed in wonder at the little pot Bartholomew handed her - she opened it and stared at the white powder inside. And she felt quite breathless with excitement. “But what do I do? How does it work?” She demanded.
Bartholomew stood there in the fireplace gathering his wizards robes around him and holding out his hand towards Alice.
“It’s easy - won’t you come with me, and I’ll give you a practical demonstration of travelling in time and dimension. You’re not afraid?”
Alice shook her head and fearlessly took his hand.“No, I’m not afraid,” she said, stepping over the fender beside him. “Lead the way!”
For the Writer's Island prompt: Unforgetable
Stepping out onto the mantelpiece from a smoky shroud of the mirror, Alice hesitated for a moment; it was a long way down and she feared she might break something- either her own leg or perhaps one of the little moving creatures scattered on the carpet far below. So she clambered down, lowering herself carefully by degrees- taking care all the time that her feet should not make contact with the wriggling, squirming things along side. Bending down, she examined them- what could these things be? They didn’t exist on the other side of the mirror, that was for certain. Alice glanced into the fireplace and noticed the absence of any flames here- another thing that was changed in Looking-Glass House. She held one of the red squirming creatures in the palm of her hand and looked at it closely, bending so closely that the ends of her hair tickled her hand, as did the spiky points of the kings crown.
“Wait a moment! I recognise you… you’re the king, aren’t you?” Cried Alice, though she wasn’t quite certain if he would be able to hear or not… in this world, everything seemed different. The king continued to squirm, seeming more frightened then ever. “Please don’t be frightened- I won’t hurt you,” Alice reassured him, speaking as gently as she could. “It’s just that… I’m very surprised to see you alive and moving. As I’ve just seen you, your static on the chessboard… how can such a thing be true? My eyes must be deceiving me!”
Eventually the king found his voice and began to scream… it wasn’t a loud sound at all, more like a shrill whistling of a kettle. Never the less Alice wanted him to stop right away.
“Please don’t do that! Do you want me to drop you from such a height- I may break you- you must be quiet,” said Alice firmly, setting the chess piece down quickly on the edge of the fireplace. She watched the king sit down at once, regardless of the ashes around him. The red queen came hurrying up to him and tried to help him compose himself once more into a royal chess piece. Alice watched them distantly.
“This is a curious thing indeed! Moving chess pieces… I shall have to make a note of it in my Memorandum book right away, or else I shall forget it.” So saying, she took out her little book from the pocket of her pinafore and turned the pages carefully to that days space. Then she searched around for a pencil, for she was sure she had seen one in the original room… so surely it must be the same over here? Sure enough, eventually she found the pencil, - though it seemed to be a little changed, though she wasn’t quite sure exactly why. As she began to write in her book, she found the pencil felt quite heavy and difficult to control. She couldn’t work it out.
“What is going on? This pencil has a mind of it’s own… it seems to be writing all manner of things I don’t intend at all.” Eventually she laid the pencil down, and noticed there was something hanging on the end of it- another moving and wriggling chess piece of course, probably one of the pawns. Alice tried to shake it loose angrily.
“This really is too bad! Everything seems to be against me in this world… obviously Looking-Glass House is not meant for me. Perhaps I should go back through the mirror, and be done with these wriggling things.”
Still the pawn clung on to the end of Alice’s pencil, forcing it to move up and down the page to make random lines… or at least they seemed at first to be perfectly random though as Alice examined them they seemed to form some sort of shape…To be continued… ?
Here's one of my many sketches of historical hero's, this time one of the greatest Romantic poets John Keats. I can remember actually copying this sketch from the cover of Keats' biography in about 1980, in my flat at Offerton, even though Andy says there's no date on it. Although I'm not generally a big liker of poetry, Keats is one chap who's poetry I do really admire and know quite a bit about - I did my BA dissertation on the poetry of Byron, Keats, and Shelley. If I remember rightly (it was many years ago) the title of this dissertation was The evil of sensuality in the poetry of Keats, Byron, and Shelley. Good title eh? I should have put my sketch on the cover, as I did with Wilde for my MA dissertation Reinventing Wilde a few years ago. The reason I like Keats' poetry so much is because it's so immediate and tangible - straight away you can feel it moving, taste it on your tongue and see the colours changing. I also think he had a Romantic tragic end - dieing of consumption on a boat on the way to Italy where he was hoping to make a recovery. He was only twenty-five when he died. I don't know anything about the original artist C A Brown, but I presume he was one of Keats' chums.
This is one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite reproductions, partly because I really like the original... The final phase of the Pre-Raphaelites have their own very distinct style, involving lots of rich colours. Also I was very pleased with the way my efforts turned out... Andy thinks it's better than Sidney Harold Meteyard's 1913 original! It's the dramatic colours I love most about this picture... they faithfully convey that feeling of dangerous dreaming. By the way the title is a quote from Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott.