Thursday, 31 May 2018

Dream Team 2018

Kezia Burrows as Martha -- a perfect fit for the heroine

Ben McGregor as David -- a man of integrity but also a certain naivety

I have been taking some advice on the "characteristics" of some well-known Welsh actors, and have been having fun imagining myself as a casting director!  So here is my latest attempt at assembling a "dream team" for a long-running TV costume drama series.  Of course, if and when the drama project is taken forward by a production company, the producer and director will have their own strong views on the most suitable actors for each role -- cost and availability comes into the frame too.  Actors are very busy people -- or at least they aspire to be busy, and in constant employment.  In an ideal world, they rush from one big role to another, sometimes working on several projects at the same time, and rushing back and forth between Hollywood and Wales!  In reality life can be pretty tough, even in the clearly defined world of Welsh-language drama.  Acting is a risky old trade, just like writing.......

Sharon Morgan as Grandma Jane, dignified, calm and fiercely intelligent

William Thomas as Grandpa Isaac, wise in the ways of the world and the rock on which both Martha and David stand.  He will have to lose the whiskers.....

Alexandra Roach as Bessie, Lady's maid and best friend.  Much more cheeky and outspoken than she should be....

Gwydion Rhys as Moses, dark and deranged, the disinherited son of the Lloyds of Cwmgloyn, obsessed with Martha and destined to come to a sticky end

Gwenno Dafydd as Blodwen Owen, the fierce housekeeper who takes no nonsense from anybody

Michael Sheen as Joseph Harries the Wizard -- Martha's saviour and mentor.  One of the great heroes of the saga.  He knows too much......

Aneirin Hughes as Squire Alban Watkins.  Thoroughly evil, manipulative and cunning

Mark Lewis Jones as Squire George Howell, Martha's greatest enemy

Ben Cullen as Lord Cawdor, the most powerful man in Pembrokeshire, but somewhat lacking as a military commander

Iwan Rheon as Billy the head man on the estate.  Fiercely loyal but not averse to a bit of mischief on the side

Ifan Huw Dafydd as Squire Benjamin Rice, the third of the trio of evil squires whose great purpose in life is to destroy the Plas Ingli estate

There are many other characters too -- more than 200 in the whole saga.  Work for almost the whole of the Welsh acting community, just as the whole of the British acting community seems to have got caught up in "The Crown" !!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Cilgwyn and Brynberian 1903

Some of the old "half inch" Bartholomew maps have just been released in digital format.  On the Pembroke sheet there is much of interest...........  note the following:

1.  In 1903 Brynberian did not exist -- there was just a small cluster of houses called "Bancau-bryn."

2.  In Cilgwyn, Penybont is shown as an Inn, and Tyriet farm is called "Cilgwyn".

3.  Note how small the patches of woodland are in the area where we now have the extensive Pentre Ifan and Tycanol Woods.

4.  Note the spelling of "Carn-ingle".......

5.  Cilgwyn Church is shown, but not Caersalem Chapel.

6.  Note the spelling of Waun Mewn instead of Waun Mawn.

I suppose that in 1903 there was a certain informality about place name spellings -- things had not been formalised.

Monday, 14 May 2018

How to get people to pay up..........

In the novels, there are many occasions where Joseph Harries the Wizard gets things sorted out with the help of the most subtle of threats.  More than once, he simply tells those with dark secrets to hide "I know what you have done."  That's enough -- the implied placing of a curse by a powerful wizard is enough to induce a state of terror in the message recipient.

I got this idea from Dr John Harries, the wizard of Cwrt-y-Cadno in Carmarthenshire.  When his clients were a bit tardy in paying their bills, he would send them a gentle reminder,  telling them that if they did not pay up by a certain date, "adverse means will be resorted to" in order to recover the debt.

And then he would sign off with "Your humble servant, John Harries."

Very polite, but utterly terrifying.......

Friday, 11 May 2018

John Harries of Cwrt-y-Cadno

As faithful readers of the saga will know, Joseph Harries the wizard is one of the key characters in the story.  His character as I portray him is based upon what we know (and that's very little) about the real Joseph Harries who lived at Werndew.  But when I was doing research on what the Welsh wizards of the time believed and acted upon, I had to dig into the story of John Harries of Cwrt-y-Cadno, about whom we know much more.,  The two were contemporaries.

This is a web site entry about the latter:

John Harries (Shon Harri Shon) (c.1785–1839) was probably born at Pantycoy, Cwrtycadno, Carmarthenshire, and was baptised at Caio on April 10th 1785. He was the eldest child of Henry Jones (Harry John, Harry Shon), Pantycoy (1739-1805), a mason, and his wife Mary Wilkins. He was educated at The Cowings, Commercial Private Academy, Caio, and at Haverfordwest grammar school, but it's not clear where he studied medicine before returning to Caio to establish his practice

I had not realised until now that he was an old boy of Haverfordwest Grammar School when he took up wizardry!  So there is a strong Pembrokeshire connection.

Neither had I realised that the National Library holds the manuscript of part of his "Great Book" -- called his Book of Incantations.  It is full of the most extraordinary material.  At the head of the post is one of the pages, and below is another.......

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Stonehenge Bluestones

Almost there -- this has nothing to do with Angel Mountain or Martha Morgan,  except that the mountain is made from a sort of bluestone called dolerite........

Anyway, the book is printed and is in the process of going out to the shops.  It looks good!  The printers -- Cambrian Printers of Aberystwyth -- have doe a top job for me on this one.  Hope that the readers like it too.....

Publication day is 1st June, and I am working on signing sessions, talks and other launch events.

The book will be on sale soon, and it can be obtained via my Stonehenge blog site or via the bookshop page on  my web site:

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Has PEN Cymru had a quiet word?

In a couple of earlier posts we discussed the absurdity (and indeed the appalling implications) of Literature Wales refusing to mention or promote the Welsh Poetry Competition because its web site had links to other web sites which were not "approved" by LW.

That was petty and seriously damaging to LW's reputation, and complaints were made to PEN Cymru, which normally deals with horrid things done to writers in fascist regimes far away from our sheltered shores...........

PEN Cymru declined to intervene formally, but it may well be that there have been quiet words in somebody's ear, since as if by magic, the latest LW announcement does indeed have a mention of the Welsh Poetry Competition, complete with a link to its web site.

So common sense is restored.  Thank goodness for that.