Q:'An asteroid, which hit the earth in 1996, and was said to show signs of life, came from which planet?'
Q:'In which year on this day did Wallis Simpson die?'
As I make my way thru the bar of The Barley Mow on Rivington Street towards the upstairs room and the launch of Bats, these are the questions being shouted across the floor to the packed tables of quizzical looking folk and surreptitious gizmo wielding cyberspace searching patrons of the night's pub quiz. Luckily, these are not the questions to which I need answers. I am here with an altogether different question:
'Why is it called Bats?'
I'm asking this of Holly Pester (above), who is tonight launching her small, idiosyncratic, quirky, experimental publication.
Turns out that Holly has a number of answers to this question. And so do other people here tonight. So here's a selection:
1. It's 'Stab' backwards.
2. From a marketing point of view, it is one syllable and a punchy kind of word, easily remembered, very clear.
3. It has a resonance with Wyndham Lewis's Blast (and minus the 'l' it is, in fact, an anagram of this)
4. There's the whole Bats/Batman thing going on. When Holly gets a car she can call it the Batmobile, or the Batcar, or whatever it's called. So there's additional resonance there. This evening is called Bats Begins (geddit?)
5. Bats Entertainment.
6. Bats Life.
7. I think by this point I had gotten enough answers.
One final thing, though. It could've been called bats, or foxes or spiders, apparently. All things that are known, but which can be disturbing, or frightening.
There's a small crowd of people here, including Emma Bennett and Bill Leslie from These Horses, who are friends with Holly and have a small book of their own here tonight for sale at the Bats Shop. Oh, yes, there's shop here. Well, actually it's sign saying Bats Shop propped up on all the old paperback books on the pub bookshelves, but there are copies of Bats, the These Horses book and a 'special edition' launch night Bats reader. For 50p. Which, of course, I have to buy...
There's beer and wine available from the bar and jam tarts and pies at our tables. Holly does a reading from Bats and we all clap.
I get talking to a guy who tells me about 'art criticism plays'. I'm assuming you are familiar with this genre? Mmm, me neither. Seems like they are plays written for specific shows which are then performed in the space with both an audience and, maybe, a planted audience. I confess, I was interested but confused. I don't think one has ever been performed yet. But, when it does...
Anyway, time is getting on and I have to go. I say my goodbyes and head home.
When I get off the tube there is a tingling mist coming down, the streetlights are glowing through it like we're at sea. It's eerie. Down one of the side streets I see a fox tripping across the road. There are loads that live round here.
When I get home I creep upstairs to make some notes on the computer. On the wall above where I'm sitting there's a small spider.
So I sit at the keyboard.
For the Bats.