BOOKSMART INTERVIEW WITH JUDITH BARROW ON SHOWBOAT TELEVISION

My first ever television interview on a book programme talking about my work and in particular, Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy published by Words Matter Publishing. An absolute pleasure chatting away to Judith, she made me feel very comfortable and this was yet more ‘Crach’o’Magic’ in the making. This programme was made earlier this year and the book fayre and events we discussed are behind me now. It has been a grand summer getting out and about with Crach Ffinnant and making so many new friends at the same time as increasing his fan base. The roller-coaster of ‘Crach’o’Magic’ continues to unfurl.

Grateful thanks to Judith Barrow – Presenter Booksmart & John Rolls – Showboat TV

(Click the link below, scroll down, click episodes, click Lazarus Carpenter)

Thank you for viewing!

http://showboat.tv/programmes/0012/index.html

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crach-Ffinnant-Prophecy-Lazarus-Carpenter/

 

 

 

READINGS AT ‘STORIES & SONGS’

Here is the complete performance from a wonderful event in Morriston Parc, Swansea last weekend. Saturday, Narbeth Book Fayre prepared my energy levels for Sunday and here it is! Meanderings of Lazarus and introducing readings from Ballad of Penygraig with a performance of the song and from Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy, published by Words Matter Publishing.

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INSPIRATION

As a writer, musician and performer. folk often ask me what inspires my creativeness. All of my years have been fortunate in that, creative thinking and spirituality have formed the very root of my being and filled most of my days in one way or another in whatever I have done. After over six decades walking on this wonderful planet we live on, I know what works for me in terms of achieving my goals of contributing to the world. Being honest with one’s self and sticking to objectives irrespective of the trials and tribulations that inevitably shadow our journey is the key for me, ie not selling out and conforming to norms, risk taking and exploration outside of one’s comfort zone. Writing stories, songs, poetry and now books, is a wonderful pastime enabling me to share my soul. I am my own worst enemy in terms of critique, sometimes perhaps, hard on myself but that brings a confidence rather difficult to explain.

My inspiration comes from the joy experienced in the art of free thinking within a universe where I believe all things are connected and all part of an amazing evolution where ‘change is ever constant’. My writing is often a solitary occupation where I lose myself in a whirling imaginary world, dipping in and out of reality. This is sometimes also true of my music however, there is no substitute for creating with others. A true inspiration. Here is a wonderful example of a group of us achieving such energy.

(Rhiannon – Guitar & Vocals   Griff – Guitar  Me – Guitar  Kelly – Lead Vocal) 

Filmed by Debbie Eve)

 

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STORIES & SONGS – MORRISTON PARC – SWANSEA

What a pleasure to perform at this event with so many talented performers and it did not rain. A wonderful day organised by Stuart Loosemore and compered by Benedict Ferguson. Here is my performance for your delectation. Included is a spot of performance poetry, a reading and song from Ballad of Penygraig. This is part one…  A reading from Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy follows in part two.  Enjoyo!

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DROP BY SOON!

Crach Ffinnant – ‘Dreaming’

ABTRACT FROM CRACH FFINNANT – THE PROPHECY

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I was a small boy and, as I am a dwarf, a very small boy! My dreams first began when I was about seven years old back in my parents’ cottage in the Hamlet of Ffinnant. My father used to say ‘The boy is dreaming again!’ Mother would defend my daydreaming, telling him I was learning to see! Perhaps Father thought having one ‘seer’ in the family was enough. Mother was often busy helping others at a time when food should have been on the table, much to Father’s frustration. Father was a muscular, strong, quiet man who was well used to nature in his trade as a woodsman and he loved my mother very much indeed. He was always patient and kind and even though some of his words may at times have seemed harsh, they were always given for the right reasons. 

 Sitting at our evening meal one night, Mother announced that I would need a teacher in the future to help me go beyond where she was able to take me. Father looked at me, saying it was nature’s way of choosing my destiny by making me a dwarf and thus a seer and prophet. He dreamed of me becoming a woodsman like him, but my size made that quite impossible. Mother had said that I would not be able to start an apprenticeship until I reached my seventh year and she was insistent to Father that any future teacher must be of the best lineage. Father patted my head, telling me ‘all in a day’s work, my boy, all in a day’s work’.

 

 My daydream ended with a start. As I opened my eyes, splashing, streaming, gurgling sounds from the river brought me back into the now. Oh, the now! ‘Goodness me, how many paces did Fwynedd say it was from the fork in the river to the drovers’ path?’ I had a feeling that I was making myself confused and furthermore, getting lost. No, I could not be lost as I had not passed the trail. I remembered Fwynedd had said the trail was five hundred paces from the fork in the river. ‘How many had I come already?’ I wondered. The answer was, I simply had no idea at all. I, Crach Ffinnant, had not been paying attention, being too busy scrambling up and down riverbanks. Suddenly a thought occurred to me. ‘Was this five hundred paces of his stride or of mine?’ Given I stride three paces to his one and I knew this to be so as ‘by dragon’s breath’, I had been in his shadow for days. Even though the ‘warp-way’ had shortened our journey, it had not shortened his stride or lengthened mine. So, in dwarf terms, his five hundred paces becomes fifteen hundred paces for me. I still did not know how far I had come to be here, where I am now. ‘A solution exists for every problem, Crach, and it is always a simple one!’ Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd’s words rang through my mind. Pondering on such wise words, as my Master’s always proved to be, I considered that firstly, I had drifted off into a daydream, something I had been warned against, and secondly, I had been told to remain alert at all times, but I had not!

 

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CRACH FFINNANT – ‘Speechless!’

Abstract from Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy

 

Upon approaching a bend, I saw a horse-drawn wagon slowly coming my way, heading out of town.  A large Welsh Cob, with a proud chest thrust out, was breathing strenuously. Its thick bushy tail swished from side to side as he struggled through the mud. Strong legs, muscles stretched, veins prominent with blood pulsing to every sinew as it pulled the heavy cart laden with huge wooden barrels. There looked to be far too much weight on the wagon, some of the barrels barely hung on and were only loosely bound by thick ropes. A very overweight man clung to leather reins, huge hands at the end of thick-set wrists rested precariously on fat knees. A droopy, broad-brimmed, battered, old hat perched loosely on top of a very fat face. Getting closer, it was clear to this dwarf that the driver was rather worse for the quaffing of ale. Judging by his size and the state of him, he must have drained a barrel on his own. I laughed quietly under my beard. As the wagon drew closer, the cob snorted and whinnied under strain from its heavy load. It tripped on a furrow which made this fine stallion stop dead in its tracks, thus the wagon jolted to an abrupt halt. Instantly, two of the loosely bound barrels fell to the ground with an enormous crash. One burst into pieces, strips of wood splintering as the contents exploded, allowing gallons of ale to form pools amongst the furrows before sinking into the mud. The other rolled, undamaged, into a hedge.

 “Dam and blast!”

 The fat man came back to reality as he blasphemed. He was unable to stay seated as the wagon jolted and, like the barrels, was sent flying to the ground. He landed in a heap, face first, into the mud. His cursing became almost lost as he bubbled incoherently. His hat had been flung off into a puddle as he fell and I witnessed the fattest, baldest head that I had ever seen. He was the colour of beetroot, with a great jowl hanging loosely over his collar, spittle drooling from a tight little mouth that was almost unseen, hidden by limp flesh. The horse again whinnied and carried on undisturbed as the wagon wheels turned, sinking into the mud, squelching and splattering, drenching this heap of a fallen body upon the ground which now moved slowly, like a great boar rising from a deep slumber. He continued to curse as he rubbed mud from small piggy eyes with great fat fingers. He was clearly having great difficulty in his attempt to raise his bulk from the mire.

  I stepped to the side of the great horse and reaching up, grabbed at the loose reins, pulling them taut, the bit jolting in its soft mouth. Quietly the cob stopped and stood perfectly still, tail happily swishing, rest-time assured. Behind us came sounds of grumbling and groaning, accompanied by cursing as the heap scrambled in the mud. I turned around to see the huge man struggling to his feet, picking his battered hat from the sludge. Looking first at me with a glancing look of surprise, he then turned quickly, surveying the shattered barrel before noticing the other stuck in the hedge. He turned back towards me and shouted in English with a slurred voice, spittle dripping from the side of his small tight mouth.  

 “You, Dwarf …. You frightened my horse, you, you!” He coughed and spluttered. “Look at this damage! Who will pay for this? You? I think not!” Putting the dirty battered hat back on his fat head and turning toward the shattered barrel, he screamed. “Look at this, just look at it!”

  I looked at the fractured barrel, smashed to smithereens, scattered here and there across the sodden track. I knew some of his words, not all, but enough, I can tell you, to realise this fat heap of a drunkard was blaming me for the mishap. A mishap that would not have happened at all had he been of sober mind. Drunkenness did very strange things to folk, the most noticeable, of course, being an inability to speak coherently, whether or not the language could be understood. The signs are the same in every language. In every language, quaffing ale in great quantities ends up with nobody able to understand what is being said by the drunkard, often leading to great confusion and violence. But what I did understand, all too well, is that he was blaming me. His fat finger pointing menacingly at me did the trick.

  I managed not to speak, although I nearly did. Remembering my vow of silence and feigning dumbness, I gesticulated innocence and bowed graciously, removing my hat. He shouted some obscenity that I did not understand, whilst continuing with a wagging finger proffered in my direction. Again, I mimed my innocence, acting out the accident in front of my accuser. I suppose I must have looked amusing, to say the least. Pretending to be the horse, I mimed hauling the cart and tripping in the furrow. In mime, I quickly changed from horse to cart, thence to pointing at the barrels. The fat man laughed hysterically, holding his sides and dribbling, his chubby face looking fit to explode. I ceased my antics and stared at him. Another interesting observation about those who quaff gallons of ale is their ability to instantly change from anger to humour and back again. I sincerely prayed he would not return to anger and in order to perpetuate my safety, I mimed ‘me leaping out to stop the horse’, then ‘me as the horse stopping in my tracks’. Throughout my antics the stallion stood motionless, tail still swishing. He turned his shaking head and whinnied, stamping a hoof into the furrow, he whinnied again. ‘Was he laughing too?’ The fat man laughed loudly once more, slapping his sides.

 

 Thinking on my feet is what my Master, Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd, had taught me and I was doing just that right now. I hopped, skipped and jumped towards the hedge. The fat man belly laughed again. Playing the ‘fool’ or ‘strongman’, or ‘both’? He was about to make his own mind up about me. Wrapping my arms around the barrel, taking its weight into my belly, I lifted it with ease. The muscles in my legs tightened as I slowly placed the barrel back onto the wagon. I could see out of the corner of my eye that the fat man was impressed by my strength. Moving swiftly, I wound the rope around the remaining barrels to secure the load. ‘They will not fall of now!’ I thought, finishing off the final knot with a twist. The fat man hobbled and staggered in my direction, still laughing.

 “How, you are strong Dwarf!” He coughed and then smiled a knowing grin. “I could use someone like you!”

 He chuckled heartily whilst patting me on the back. Worse the wear for ale he may have been, but he still had a powerful hand! My back will probably be sporting four fingers and a thumb mark, giving evidence to his playful assault upon me, for days to come.

  “Well done Dwarf ….. Well done!” Coughing, he continued. “My name is Carter and carting is my trade.”

 His speech, less slurred now, made me think sobering up was in his runes. Hardly surprising after he had fallen head-first into the mud, a sobering experience for anyone, man or dwarf! Smiling again and steadying his huge frame against the wagon, he said.

 “I am sorry I blamed you, Dwarf. I must have fallen asleep at the reins. Too much ale!”

 He spat into the slurry, shouting again. Why is it that when people know you are dumb, they assume deafness and shout accordingly? I gesticulated I was not deaf and he laughed loudly.

 “Do you need work, Dwarf?”

 Straightening himself against the wagon for support, he continued more coherently and less loudly.

 “You saved my bacon. I am sorry I shouted at you.”  

 Sweeping his hat from the fat head, he bowed in my direction.

 “Thank ye Dwarf, thank ye.” he bowed again before replacing his hat, the brim flopping over his face. 

 I mimed my decline of his offer of work and silently pointed toward Shrewsbury.

  “We travel in different directions, Dwarf!”

  Shouting once more and slapping my shoulder, he started to clamber back on top of the wagon. I put my hands under his haunches and by giving a little shove upwards, precariously balancing on the barrel, he gathered his competence.

  “Here Dwarf!” He flipped a coin in my direction which I deftly caught in my right hand. “For your trouble!”

  Slipping the coin in my bag, I watched as he raised the reins. With a quick lash, cracking on the stallions flanks, accompanied by him shouting “Get on!” he nodded farewell with a smile on his big round face.

 The stallion strained in its harness, chest heaving, strong legs digging into sodden earth, it moved off, dragging the heavy cart behind with Carter perched on top, cracking the reins again. I watched them disappear into the distance as I sat down for a while to gather my senses. ‘Well that went quite well’, I thought ….. Being dumb had worked and not one awkward question had been asked, although I cannot pretend not to have been worried when he shouted at me. I had not found too much difficulty in understanding his words either. Now, that pleased me. So my qualms, though not without foundation, were groundless. Playing the ‘fool’, whilst demonstrating my strength, had matched well. So, my disguise was set.

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AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY 2018 PART TWO LLANDSLIDE MUSIC FESTIVAL CASTLE HOTEL LLANDOVERY

Leaving Tafarn Bach Music Festival and the excellent company of Tim and Sara on Sunday afternoon, we headed off towards Llandovery and the Llandslide Music Festival in the historic setting of the Castle Hotel.  Again for a Bank-Holiday, I was astounded by the lack of traffic on the roads and, an effortless journey lay ahead. Weather hitherto, said to be foul on Sunday turned out not too bad, apart from showers as opposed to the predicted storms, so an unexpected welcome result there! Turning into the Castle Hotel around five, we were in good time as I was due to play at six-thirty. Even better came the news, all running a little late because then we were able to enjoy the luxury of the Green Room, incredible buffet, tea, coffee, drinks and the resplendent comfort of Chesterfield sofas. Bliss I hear you say. It was! And we all got loads of free drinks, wonderful hospitality provided by Anna Marie and her staff.

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Ronnie Threechords sitting in the back ground, whilst his good lady tucks in. Fil Ziebicki and I putting the world to rights over a stiff one!

Fil Ziebicki 
Ronnie Threechords
Anna-Marie Elizabeth Reed
Ian Birch

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Munchies and relaxation in style now at an end and it was my turn to perform. Guess what, indeedy, I started the set with Man With No Sign again. I like it!

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Set over, we watched Fil perform and had a great sing along with some of his own material. Some readers may remember, Fil was this years winner of the 2018 Lazzmatazz & Welsh Connections Song Writing Competition. You can catch his winning composition, and the judges comments here 

https://www.facebook.com/lazzmatazz/videos/219158415559362/

With rock and heavy metal bands gracing the stage we adjourned to the lounge of the Castle Hotel to chill in comfort. Sitting and nattering we were joined by an elderly lady who asked if she could join us, as our little group seemed a little more interesting and animated than the one she was with. A charming lady with incredible energy and fortitude and a liking for dance, she shared many stories and opinions capturing our attention. At 78, a force to be reckoned with, there is no doubt. At the end of the evening we watched the last band whilst she danced like a teenager on her own and loved every second. What a delight! Finally returning to our home on wheels time for sleep and did we sleep. It was 1130 this morning when eyes opened rather hazily to a new day and after a very laid back start to the day, it was time to come home. What a blissful weekend!