Saturday, 5 October 2019

Location, location, location........

Of course, a book is all about words, and so is a radio drama, but a TV drama or a film is all about images.  the story is told through fleeting images -- and sometimes loving and lingering images, but always images.  As time has gone on, the number of words used in a one-hour TV drama seems to be reducing and reducing inexorably.  So locations used to enhance viewing pleasure, and to increase the impact of the storyline, become hugely important.

If there is one thing that Pembrokeshire has, it is filming locations.  And bits and pieces of the Angel Mountain saga are placed in some fabulous settings, most of which happen not to have changed very much between 1800 and the present day......


Anything filmed in this part of wales is guaranteed to be a smash hit, if the director of photography knows what he or she is doing.  Then comes the story.......

A medley of Marthas

......... or a "multitude" or a "murmuration" ?? Anyway, whatever is the corrective collective noun, the ranks of those who have played the part of Martha Morgan thus far are about to be increased dramatically, in more senses than one.

Two beautiful young women, Rhiannon James and Anna Munro, have played Martha in our photo shoot and in our promotional video, bringing quite different features of Martha's character to the fore.  It has been delightful to work with both of them.

Then we owe a great deal to Lis Evans, who has attended all of our book launches and has read -- very beautifully -- extracts from Martha's diaries.  Then we have Leanne Masterton, who narrated the diaries in the original Corgi audiobooks based on "On Angel Mountain" and "House of Angels."

Next up, we are going to get at least two more Marthas, as female narrators are pulled in for the charity and commercial recordings of the books.  No names as yet.

And then..... the TV series.  I wonder which Welsh actress will be favourite for the role?  Or roles, since Martha is a suicidal teenager at the beginning of the saga and a sexy and eccentric matriarch at the end -- and that must involve at least two actresses.

Audiobook developments

We have already reported on the plans for the Calibre library to make recordings of all 8 of the Angel Mountain novels available for blind and partially-sighted people.  They have the books  and they are into the recording schedule.

Those recordings are of course strictly non-commercial and "charitable" -- and are covered by special rules from the Charity Commission.  I'm very pleased indeed to be able to do something to help people who have a tough time of it.

On a more commercial front, I have had it confirmed that the company (no name yet) responsible for the exclusive library supply of audiobooks in Wales also wants all 8 of the novels, and is prepared to commission brand new recordings.   The stories will also be available on Audible and other platforms.  I'm hoping that each recording will involve a male reader for the prologue section of each book, and a female for the diary sections.   The signs are looking good.

There will of course be a brand-new "branding" exercise, and this will inevitably bring the books to a new audience.  Increased awareness and a larger fan base -- that has to enhance the likelihood of the saga being turned into a multi-part costume drama for TV.

There are developments on that front too, but for the moment I have to keep quiet.........

Thursday, 3 October 2019



In the context of our ongoing campaign to get the "Angel Mountain" narrative used as the basis for a multi-part TV costume drama, we are pleased to record that we have had splendid letters of support from our local AM Paul Davies, broadcaster Roy Noble, Assembly Culture Committee chair Bethan Sayed AM, PCC Chief Executive Ian Westley, Jill Evans MEP and Sian Gwenllian AM. We are very grateful to all of them, and we hope for more endorsements from all who wish us well.......

Some extracts from the letters:

"I am very aware of the potential cultural and economic benefits of such productions being set in and made in Wales. It is also important to tell the stories of Wales and to ensure that our unique history, landscape and culture is shared positively and globally. I am therefore supportive of your efforts to secure the appropriate financial and other support so that this drama can be set and made in Wales and our rich cultural heritage can reach a larger audience."

"I'm delighted to add my voice to those who would like to see these novels converted to a TV series. I have no doubt that if the Angel Mountain Saga was converted into a television show, then it would certainly build on Wales's growing reputation and also give viewers a wider understanding of Wales's cultural and historical past."

"I have read most of the Martha Morgan novels and I believe it is a unique and fascinating story. It reflects the history, of not only one part of Pembrokeshire but of Wales itself, as well as its people. The heroine – the central character - is a powerful role model for young women in Wales, in particular. At a time of great uncertainty, a project such as this would make a major contribution to maintaining Wales's European and international profile."

"Any project that projects Wales to the world for all the right reasons is to be recommended and supported, If it is done through a strong saga, against the backdrop of a deeply embedded Celtic heritage and culture, then the applause should be resounding."

"The whole series is so well embedded in the north Pembrokeshire landscape -- it is bound to have a massive positive impact on the perception of Pembrokeshire as a visitor destination if it is screened."

"In terms of what makes good television and film, I believe personally that the Angel Mountain Saga is an enthralling one, with a huge amount of potential and the prospect of a significant audience."

A discovery -- Mistress Martha and bipolar condition

One of the most satisfying things about being a writer of fiction is the emotional bond that is developed between writer and reader. Or maybe I should say "SOME writers and SOME readers." Anyway, if you are a writer who takes such things seriously, of course you want to elicit a strong emotional response in the hearts of those who are rooting for your hero or heroine and following his/her adventures in minute detail. They have paid good money for the book (or some of them have!) and they want to be INVOLVED.

So as a writer, you finish the text, get the finished book out there into the marketplace, and await developments. With a bit of luck, you get reviews in the newspapers and magazines, other reviews on the Amazon and Goodreads web sites, letters and phone calls. Most of the reviews are of course good, because the reviewing process is a cockeyed one, in which people who hate the book they are reading tend not to finish it and probably will not be bothered to write a review. That having been said, of course a writer gets a boost every time an enthusiastic review appears in print or in social media.  Some writers are so desperate for approval that they bribe their friends to post reviews on Amazon.  And the most satisfying reviews are those in which there is a strong emotional response.

The most moving responses to the Angel Mountain books have been from women who have themselves experienced some of the situations in which Martha finds herself -- dealing with a traumatised husband, the death of a child, recovering from rape, the loss of a husband, or a miscarriage. The most moving tribute I have ever had as an author was from a lady who had herself experienced a miscarriage and who turned up to one of my talks in order to thank me for my description of what happened to Martha and how she recovered from it. She was amazed that a male author had written the text, and said it had given her a sort of catharsis which enabled her to move on with her life. To develop that sort of bond with somebody you have never met before is both humbling and richly rewarding.

But then there is the matter of Martha's character.  She is who she is, and I did not have to "invent" her because of the strange manner in which I was "given" her story.  During the writing of the eight novels about her life, while keeping true to the narrative that was already inside my head, I wrote about her behaviour and her responses to situations as accurately and as honestly as I could.  Whenever I tried to make her do something out of character, she gave me a kick and said "I would not have done this at all" or "There is no way I would have reacted like that."   Somehow, out of all this turmoil, came a fully formed and rather eccentric heroine:

Martha is undoubtedly a very strong character, with a multitude of virtues and vices.    But since completing the books I have been asking myself "Why these violent mood swings?"  "Why the episodes of black depression?"  "Why does Martha rush about like a whirling dervish at times, getting involved in things she should really stay well clear of?"  "Why does she become so obsessed with her projects and her plans that she fails to see what the effects are on those whom she loves?"  "Why does she take such pleasure in conflict that she appears to others to be vindictive and vengeful?"  Over and again she has to be ticked off by Bessie and Grandma Jane for her insensitive behaviour.  Over and again she has to be healed by Joseph Harries or rescued by her angels..........

It's rather intriguing that when I was asked, after the publication of "On Angel Mountain", what Martha looked like, I always replied "Catherine Zeta Jones" -- ravishingly beautiful, with black hair, brown eyes and a voice rather like that which I heard in my strange delirium back in 1999.  Twenty years ago, if a film of the book had been made by Hollywood, Catherine would have been exactly right for the role of Martha Morgan.  Too late now, maybe......... but then I discovered that Catherine suffers from bipolar disorder, and is, to her great credit, perfectly open about it.

Suddenly, this explained a great deal about my precious heroine -- her erratic behaviour, her episodes of frenzied activity involving all sorts of collateral damage, and the confrontations with her black dog from which, on a couple of occasions, she barely escapes with her life.

So Martha, from the very beginning, and without me knowing about it, suffered from bipolar condition (let's call it "condition" because the word "disorder" triggers off all sorts of negative responses).   And that explains comments like these:

"I found myself getting very cross with Martha and some of her decisions. I also became very attached to the characters. This book will get under your skin….”

"Tears rolled down my face as the life of Martha Morgan came to an end and I felt a real sense of loss. All of the books have been amazing, enthralling, educational and inspirational. I congratulate you on such an achievement.”

"I had a calling of the mountain and by chance fell upon your books. They have along with Martha Morgan saved me in many ways and made me realise I am completely normal. Amazing work -- thank you from the bottom of my heart …."

I find that last comment incredibly moving.    I'm still trying to work out where this takes us...... but it may also lead us to examine the supernatural components of the story which makes it very different, for example, from Poldark, or Pride and Prejudice, or Downton Abbey, or Wuthering Heights.  Do we move from rational drama into the realm of the irrational?   There are the ravens -- are they real, or supernatural, of just hallucinations associated with bipolar "events"?  The battles in the sky -- real, or imagined?  The premonitions experienced by Martha, which lead to her being accused of witchcraft -- what do we make of them?  The symbolism of the angels?  The beliefs associated with Joseph Harries and his contacts with demons and the spirit world?

It is a feature of bipolar condition -- in some individuals -- that hallucinations are experienced and that voices are heard.

My dear Martha, perhaps I understand you a little better today than I did yesterday.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Audiobook news coming soon........

News coming soon on the audiobook versions of my novels.  Before that, we look forward to welcoming Matt Addis to the PENfro Book Festival this year, on 13th October at Rhosygilwen.  He will talk about the mysteries of audiobooks -- how they are recorded and published.  He is one of the best in the business -- listen to a snippet from Alexander Cordell's "Hosts of Rebecca" here........

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Gwasg Gomer to close publishing arm

I was sad to read this, since Gomer has printed several of my titles in the past, and I have worked with their publishing arm as well.  They were always very courteous and efficient.......

However, I am not entirely surprised. The Welsh publishing model is based almost entirely on subsidies paid out by the Welsh Books Council, and I have questioned on many occasions the strategy of publishing large numbers of Welsh titles that hardly anybody wants and hardly anybody reads. I don't have the sales figures for Gomer titles over the past few years -- they are never released -- but I imagine that many of their titles will not have sold more than 200 copies, with the occasional title doing well (rugby players and referees are always popular.....). And I have repeatedly made the point that publishers like Gomer have not actually needed to work very hard on their marketing either, since publishing costs are generally covered by grant aid. In that scenario, you might as well just publish a book, collect the subsidies, then then move on to the next one. Throughout Wales, hundreds of titles have been published over the past few years which would never have seen the light of day if publishing had been strictly commercial -- governed (as in England) by the laws of supply and demand.

Anyway, I wish Gomer well -- I hope they flourish as a printers, but even there they are operating in a very competitive world.



Welsh publisher Gwasg Gomer is to close its publishing arm after 127 years in business, it was announced today.

Gomer Press is a printing and publishing company based in Llandysul, west Wales. The company was first established in 1892 and is owned by the same family to this day. Jonathan Lewis, the great grandson of the company’s founder, is the current managing director. Until today Gomer Press described itself as being both a thriving printing company and publishing house and was the oldest in Wales.

Every year, they published over 36 titles, specializing in books which have a distinctive Welsh identity.

In a statement issued by the company, they said:

"Gomer, the printer and publisher, having considered the strategic direction of the company has decided to wind down its publishing department to concentrate on its printing division thus ensuring the future of its 55 employees. In the meantime, Gomer will continue working with authors and the Books Council of Walesto publish titles already scheduled, as well as continuing as a publisher for the 3,500 titles currently in print, ensuring royalties continue to be paid to authors, and the popular books can be printed as and when required."

Gomer Press is a printing and publishing company based in Llandysul, west Wales. The company was first established in 1892 and is owned by the same family to this day. Jonathan Lewis, the great grandson of the company’s founder, is the current managing director. Until today Gomer Press described itself as being both a thriving printing company and publishing house and was the oldest in Wales.

Every year, they published over 36 titles, specializing in books which have a distinctive Welsh identity.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Coming soon -- the whole saga as audiobooks

Good news from Calibre Audio Books -- the registered charity which produces and loans out audiobook versions of books to people with impaired vision or other reading difficulties.  As reported earlier, "On Angel Mountain" is now available in audiobook format:

Following discussions about practicalities it turns out that the readers of the audiobooks actually prefer to work off paperback versions of the books which they can mark with highlights, comments etc to assist in the reading process -- and it appears that the sound of pages being turned is so small that it makes no difference to the quality of recordings.

So copies of the other seven books in the series are winging their way to Calibre HQ, and the recording process will start quite soon.  Calibre depends upon volunteer readers, so although the quality will be less "professional" than readings done by full-time actors and actresses, the books do at least become available to a vulnerable readership made up of people who really do appreciate them.   It's good to be able to do something for people who have a tough time of it.......

There is no money for me as a result of this arrangement with Calibre, but if blind listeners enjoy the books when they are added to the Calibre catalogue, they will say so -- and the word will spread.

And as reported earlier, we are also talking to a fully commercial audiobook company with a view to commercial versions which will be available in the retail marketplace and also through libraries.

House of Angels -- coming next in the recording studio.....

Monday, 8 July 2019

On Angel Mountain — now available from Calibre audiobooks

Good news — Calibre, the organisation that produces audiobooks for those who have impaired vision, has recorded and issued a new audiobook version of ”On Angel Mountain”.  They read it, liked it, and recorded it — 13 hrs and 30 mins of listening.  It’s available (for members only) in various formats — downloadable from the web, on a USB memory stick, or on an MP3 CD.  Full details here:

Apparently the feedback from listeners thus far has been good, and I have now given Calibre permission to record the other 7 books in the series.

There are no payments or royalties involved here — Calibre is a charity, and all of the books on their list are recorded free, to bring pleasure to those who have sight impairment or other medical conditions that make reading difficult or impossible.

There are not many Welsh books on the Calibre list, and I hope ”On Angel Mountain” will go some way towards meeting a need.  Anyway, the deal helps to spread the word about Mistress Morgan and the saga, and will bring a little more pleasure into the lives of many people who have a tough time......

Sunday, 2 June 2019

North Pembrokeshire -- insufficiently authentic?

It's interesting to see this piece about John Seymour and the "self-sufficiency idealists" who flocked to Wales -- and to north Pembs in particular -- in the 1960s and 1970s.  So was there an authentic "peasant society" in north Pembs at the time?  No way -- a part of it might have been "authentic" to an extent that satisfied John and Sally when they first came here.  But as they soon discovered, the community in this area is and was just as complex and multi-layered as any community anywhere.  And the idea that John went off to Ireland after a while because Wales had become "insufficiently authentic" is pretty cockeyed too.  As in all cases where somebody moves out of one place and into another, rather complex push and pull factors were at play........

Land of song or savages? Why the English get Wales so wrong

For those who cross the border dreaming of a mythic retreat of crags and castles, reality can bite hard

 Mike Parker

Extract: Over the past half century, the trickle of English idealists escaping to Wales has become a torrent. Godfather of them all was John Seymour, author of bestsellers The Fat of the Land and The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, who bought a farm in Pembrokeshire in 1964: “I was back in a peasant society where people still brewed beer and killed pigs and we were no longer freaks,” he wrote. In the late 1980s, he too flounced out of Wales, declaring that it was by then “insufficiently authentic”, whatever that meant, and resettling in Ireland. Other green gurus have since come and gone, often hurling disappointed brickbats as they depart.

Friday, 31 May 2019

The new edition of "House of Angels"

Just received from the printer!  The new edition (this is the fifth printing) has a gorgeous new cover designed by Martin -- based on one of the images of Rhiannon taken during the photo shoot with Steve Mallett.  We think the new image captures the mood of the novel really well......

There are some technical changes too -- the pagination is slightly different.  We have the location map, as usual, and also the image of "Martha's water colour" and an image of Martha with the raven.  The paper is slightly lighter than before, making the book open more easily; and the spine margins have been increased a little for ease of reading.

All in all, Biddles the printers have done a great job.  Somehow or other, we have managed to keep the cover price at £7.99.  If we can cover our costs through sales, we will be happy......


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Gavin and Stacey returns for a Christmas special

BBC Press Release:

Bafta and multi-award-winning Gavin & Stacey, starring Mathew Horne and Joanna Page, supported by a cast including James Corden, Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon, Larry Lamb, Melanie Walters and Alison Steadman, is set to return for a one-off special this Christmas on BBC One.

The hit British sitcom, created and written by Ruth Jones and James Corden, will be produced by Fulwell 73, Tidy Productions and Baby Cow Productions.

Ruth Jones and James Corden, says: “Over the last ten years we’ve talked a lot about Gavin and Stacey - where they might be today and what their lives might look like. And so in secret we took the plunge and wrote this one hour special. We’ve loved revisiting Barry and Essex again and bringing the characters back together has been a joy. We’re so excited to get the chance to work with our fabulous cast and crew once more and to give fans of the show a festive treat this Christmas. Thank you BBC for helping to make this happen.”

Gavin & Stacey broadcast over three series (plus a Christmas special) from 2007 to 2010 on the BBC. Gavin (Mathew Horne), an ordinary boy from Essex in England and Stacey (Joanna Page), an ordinary girl from Barry in Wales, spoke on the phone to each other every day at work, they finally met, fell in love and got married. The series went onto explore the simple love story of these two young people from different parts of the UK, and the impact their relationship had on their friends and family.

The sitcom was a breakthrough hit for BBC Three and the 2008 Christmas special and third series moved to premiere on BBC One. The shows 2010 New Year’s Day finale had record ratings for the series with 10.25m viewers.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “Everyone at the BBC is hugely excited to be welcoming back Gavin and Stacey to BBC One this Christmas. We can’t wait to see what’s happened to everyone over the last nine years, and what’s next for one of the nation’s favourite comedy families.”

This Gavin & Stacey special (1x60’) is a Fulwell 73, Tidy Productions and Baby Cow Production for BBC One. It has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy. Gavin & Stacey is created, written and executive produced by Ruth Jones and James Corden. It is also Executive Produced by David Peet, Leo Pearlman and Ben Winston. Shane Allen is the Commissioning Editor for the BBC.

Further details will be announced in due course.

Series one broadcast from 13 May to 10 June 2007 on BBC Three
Series two broadcast from 16 March to 20 April 2008 on BBC Three
A Christmas Special broadcast on 24 December 2008 on BBC One
Series three broadcast from 26 November 2009 to 1 January 2010 on BBC One


It looks as if BBC Wales has no involvement in this, in spite of a considerable Welsh component in the story.......

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Uplift through the act of reading

Love it!  Steps at a university in Lebanon.........  helping students to reach the heights.......

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Still life at Ceibwr

At  Ceibwr today, just in time to catch the thrift before it gets too old and dry.....

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Game of Thrones and the Northern Ireland economy

Some interesting information is coming out relating to the economic impact of "Game of Thrones" -- filmed mostly, but not exclusively, in Northern Ireland.  Now that the series is finished (with a somewhat critical reception from most fans) the originators of the project are working on a pilot for a prequel -- presumably on the basis that you can never have too much of a good thing.  However, with 72 episodes shown, one wonders when the "weariness factor" will kick in, and whether there really is a big audience out there wanting more.  We shall see,,,,,

Anyway, the impact of the project, which started in Northern Ireland in 2010,  has been vast. An estimated 350,000 people visit Northern Ireland each year just because of the series, bringing in c £50 million per year in tourism revenue. Beyond that, there is huge value in the "branding" of the province among the audiences (measured in millions) for the series right across the globe.  The calculation is that the project has brought in £251million  thus far -- not bad for an initial investment of c £16 million (through support mechanisms, grant aid and other incentives) from Northern Ireland Screen.

And most of those in the tourism business assume that the "GOT" effect will continue far into the future, just as the Lord of the Rings effect is still being felt quite forcefully in New Zealand.


Game of Thrones is 'game changer' for NI tourism
By Sara Girvin
BBC News NI North-East Reporter

Its long-awaited finale has been and gone but Game of Thrones is still big business for Northern Ireland.
It is estimated to have brought £251m into the economy since production began in 2010, according to the region's film agency NI Screen.
Over the same period, the organisation gave £15.95m in production funding to the hit fantasy drama series.
But that was a worthwhile investment, says NI Screen's chief executive Richard Williams.

"It's been a game changer for the screen industry," he said."This is the biggest show of the decade and certainly within industry terms everyone knows that it's being made in Northern Ireland.
"That has revolutionised our standing in the screen industry all around the world."

On what the future holds for filmmaking in Northern Ireland, Mr Williams says "If we can't collectively sell the supply chain that was behind Game of Thrones, the crew, the studio, well then what can we sell?"
Figures from Tourism NI, the region's tourism development body, paint a similarly upbeat picture.
They suggest that 350,000 people come to Northern Ireland every year just for Game of Thrones - that is one in six leisure visitors.
It is estimated they spend £50m each year.

'Driving people to NI’

The HBO production has turned Northern Ireland filming locations into tourist hotspots.
Tour operator Caroline McComb hosts Game of Thrones tours every day of the year with one exception - Christmas Day.
"For us, Game of Thrones has been that big game changer we always hoped we'd get," she says.
"It's the thing driving people to come to Northern Ireland."
She does not believe business will be affected by the end of the show.

"I don't see any reason why the numbers will dwindle."We've only to look at what Lord of the Rings has done for New Zealand to see that there's absolutely no reason why we can't continue with this in Northern Ireland," she said.
Sean McLaughlin took over at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy, County Antrim, four years ago.
His restaurant is a refreshment stop for many of the Game of Thrones tours along Northern Ireland's north coast.
"It's gone from one tour bringing in about 18 covers per day to serving approximately 110 to 130 covers per day - just for Game of Thrones fans," he says.
"I think we'll see numbers continue to grow - the lasting legacy of what has been created is phenomenal.”

'Buses never stop’
But the influx of large numbers of tourists to some small villages has caused problems.
Marian Boyle is a resident in Cushendun, County Antrim, and says tourist coaches are disrupting the residents' lives with a "lot of intrusion".
"I'm all for tourism in Northern Ireland but this sort of tourism - herding people in and out - they come to see one thing and that's it," she said.
"For local residents it is frustrating - the constant buses never stop.
"At the weekend when it's busy you can be driving through hundreds of people who just don't see this as a road."
There are also issues at the Dark Hedges outside Armoy, County Antrim.
Just 10 seconds on Game of Thrones was enough to make it a tourist attraction.
Congestion and damage to the trees led to traffic being banned but that is not always obeyed.
More Game of Thrones attractions are in the pipeline and a prequel to the show is being filmed in Northern Ireland.
But tourism bosses admit there is a balance to be struck.
Judith Webb, who is responsible for screen tourism at Tourism NI, says: "Success has meant that we really do need to consider visitor management issues and work is happening to manage those situations."
The show has "transformed Northern Ireland into a leading international screen tourism destination", she adds.
"What's planned will extend the whole life of Game of Thrones - there is a lot of investment moving forward and we're hugely positive about the future.”


Sunday, 19 May 2019

Stormy times......

Another fabulous image from Tez Marsden -- this time from Pwllgwaelod.  Click to enlarge.

Check out his gallery for more wonderfully evocative images from Martha's world.......

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The big 2019 dramas

Here is an interesting list of the big TV dramas for 2019 --  some of them have of course already been shown, or are in progress....

Can we pick up on any trends?  It's not easy -- one might be a trend towards more modern or present-day dramas, which might be explained partly on cost grounds alone, since they are much cheaper to make than costume dramas.   But the big shows -- like "Good Omens" will be so complex that they will cost well over £1million per episode anyway.

Is there a drift away from costume drama?  Difficult to say -- there are some big costume dramas in the mix, including Gentleman Jack, Summer of Rockets (is there a trend towards post-WW2 and Cold War dramas?), The Luminaries, War of the Worlds, Peaky Blinders, Poldark (the final series), and Year of the Rabbit.  Lots of cop shows / crime shows  written to a familiar formula -- there seems to be an insatiable demand for thrillers with nasty (and complicated) villains, troubled police and unconventional investigators.

Witch this space....

PS.  Several others missed off the Radio Times List:  Beecham House, Catherine the Great, Dracula and Tom Jones

Friday, 10 May 2019

Moments later.........

This is one of my favourite portraits from Steve Mallett's fabulous photo gallery of "Martha Morgan" images -- featuring Rhiannon James in the role of the heroic heroine.

This is a reminder of one of the most difficult passages in the saga -- because moments later Martha enters the kitchen with the basket of logs, trips over and loses her baby.  No man can ever hope to portray a miscarriage and its aftermath in print -- and it was probably presumptuous and foolhardy to think that I could do it with due respect and sensitivity.  But that is how the story came to me, and I had to try.........

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Enchanted Land

Just for fun.  I have discovered this amongst assorted ancient papers.  It's a little poem I composed in 1994 as a Prelude to a "Celtic Entertainment" based on local mythology and folklore, presented here in Newport during our 1994 Spring Festival.  Enjoy!


Now come to our enchanted land
Where dragons roar and monsters roam
And down upon the golden sand
Amid the breakers and the foam
A water horse looks out to sea;
For there amid the noonday haze
A mermaid combs her hair, and she
Knows all the distant ocean ways.

On sunlit crags sit holy men
Like David, Brynach and their friends
Whose shadows now and voices then
Have blessed us all, and made amends.
And heroes, giants, princes, kings
Ride through the flaming sunset west
With silver spears and golden rings
Upon some grand Arthurian quest.

The sun goes down, and now we hear
The phantoms of the deep dark night.
And goblins growl, and in our fear
We dread the witch with second sight
Who flies across the winter moon
And casts her spells and leaves, they say,
Poor folk bewitched; and as they swoon
The devil talks while others pray.

The hounds of hell, do they exist
As great black beasts, with glowing eyes?
Who hears the battles in the mist
Or overhead, in moonlight skies?
Who sees the flickering candle glow
Beneath the trees or by the stones?
Who knows the knocking? Who can know
The dusty rattle of dry bones?

But now the growing light of dawn
Sends all our morbid fears away.
We wake and stretch, and with a yawn
We open eyes and see the day.
The fairy folk have come to town
With magic food and purest gold,
With dainty shoe and jewelled gown
And gifts for mortals young and old.

We know the eagle and the wren,
The dancing stones, the prancing steed.
We know the giants and the men
Of mighty word and mightier deed.
Hear Shemi Wad and Aby Biddle
Who tell tall tales of days gone by
While fairies come and madly fiddle
For dancers under azure sky.

Where is this land of moon and sun,
And dark and light, and present past?
Where’s golden girl and man of fun
With magic first and truth at last?
Why, this is our enchanted land,
And nothing is quite what it it seems.
We have our ways, and by our hand
We weave our magic in your dreams.

Brian John
Prologue to a Celtic Entertainment, 1994.