‘THRICE TOUCHED BY A SAINT’

Back in 1992 my German Shepherd, Macduff nibbled at a dead fish on the beach. Later in the day he began to bleed profusely from his rear and a visit to the vets was imminent. He was admitted as an emergency and put on a drip, diagnosis, mercury poisoning. The prognosis was very poor and the vet did not think Macduff would last the night and told me to be prepared for the worst. In my wallet a picture of Saint Padre Pio with a small relic of stigmatic bandage on the back, sprung to my mind. With the vets permission I hung the photograph in the kennel. When I returned home the whole night was spent in prayer to Padre Pio asking and pleading for intercession. Next morning without any sleep behind me, the car found its own way to the surgery. As you can imagine my heart was in my mouth when I walked through the vet’s door.

‘He is still with us!’ I was told as we both walked towards the kennels.

A sigh of relief, but as we entered the kennel I saw my huge dog, a shadow of his former self. The vet told me he had lost over half of his body weight in the last twenty four hours. Nevertheless, Macduff lifted his head from a cushion and weakly barked at me. He was over the worst and the vet was speechless. Padre Pio had heard my prayer of that I was sure. After a few days of hospital care he was home and craving cucumber and toast and after six months he was back to his old self. I left my photograph of Padre Pio with the vet and he put it above the operating table.

His parting words to me were. ‘Only a miracle could have saved him, and we have witnessed one!’

Macduff lived for a further four years and passed away at the grand old age of twelve.

Moving forward to 2003 my partner at that time was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after positive smears. Again, I turned in prayer to Padre Pio but I did not tell her what I was doing, such stuff had a tendency to freak her out. So for three nights running sitting in vigil and praying to Padre Pio, I pleaded for intercession. Around ten days later, she told me strange sensations were happening in her head and visually a signature kept appearing every time she closed her eyes. So blue, gold and purple shafts of light were all around her when she closed her eyes and combined with the sight of a strange signature, she was anxious. I knew what was happening or thought I did, so I asked her if she was able to reproduce the signature. As the pen scribed across the page, my questions were answered, it was the signature of Padre Pio.

I fell to my knees in tears and told her she had been healed. Needless to say her anxiety overtook what was really happening, and it was not until the following week when she was informed by the oncologist, ‘there was no evidence of cancer’, she finally believed me.

Fast forward to February 2021, I awake in the early hours unable to breathe, and in the midst of a massive heart attack. Deb called an ambulance and fortunately it arrived very quickly and off to hospital I went. By the time I arrived, to say I was frightened is an understatement, I was petrified, especially when the doctor told me what was happening to me. It is decided a stent needs to be fitted in one of my coronary arteries, and I find myself in the theatre surrounded by machines and a lot of folk milling around. Of course by now I was a little calmer, thanks to medication to numb the pain and relax my muscles. Laying there watching a huge screen as my heart went boom de boom, I was mesmerized by the procedure. It really is quite a surreal experience watching your own heart, and various arteries working in real time as a catheter is introduced to put the stent in the damaged part of my heart. However, all seemed to be going as well as it could be and the surgeon completed the procedure and started to withdraw the cannula.

Suddenly, a gasp from the surgeon followed by a cry of ‘Shit!’ The pericardium had been nicked and I witnessed a dark shadow spreading across my lungs on the big screen, I was bleeding out into my lungs. For the first time in my life, I prayed for me, I was probably going to die if they did not get this sorted properly and quickly. In my mind I silently screamed for forgiveness to Padre Pio, never would I sin again in any shape or form if I could be saved, just this once. Whilst the surgeons busied themselves with trying to stop the blood loss from my heart, I prayed and prayed for Padre Pio to save me. I felt calmer and could swear I felt hands on my head. An aroma drifted around the operating theatre and at first I thought it was fresh air spray, but it was not. Jasmine filled my nostrils and others too remarked on the strong fragrance.

The immediate danger was over but I remained very poorly and was admitted to coronary care, where they put me in a private ‘goldfish bowl’ next to the nurse’s station for observation. For three days I floated in and out of consciousness with the Discovery channel echoing from a television on the wall. Every time I woke up there was some program or other reflecting times and interests throughout my life, almost as if various times were being replayed. The aroma continued until I was moved out of observation, but the emotion of the experience did not, and even today I can remember almost every moment of the experience.

I am so glad to be here and I know it was a miracle I survived, but I did. I think there is much for me to do yet!

Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin, friar, priest, stigmatic, and mystic, now venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. He compared weekly confession to dusting a room weekly, and recommended the performance of meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote: “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry”. He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.

‘Crach Ffinnant – Justice Prevails’

Book Three in the Crach Ffinnant series, ‘Ravens and Dragons’ is due for release shortly and thus, Book Four begins, it is 1402. Here is a short extract.

CRACH FFINNANT – JUSTICE PREVAILS
BOOK FOUR

Of course, Reginald de Grey protested at his treatment, being manhandled and verbally abused, but Emrys reminded him that a sharp knife would soon stop his moaning.  De Grey became silent and morose, not at all his usual arrogant self.  Sitting alone isolated from the others with his back against a tree, closing tired eyes, trying to block out the catastrophe he found himself to be in, he prayed for sleep to come, but it would not.  Instead voices of rebels, speaking in Welsh, a language he did not understand, echoed in his ears, he knew not what they were talking about.  Paranoid thoughts began to enter his mind.  ‘What if the rebels killed him before they arrived at Glyndwr’s camp?  What if he were to reach there, and Glyndwr decided to kill him?  There was no love lost between the two and he was, after all, responsible for Glyndwr’s problems with the King in the first place.  What if Henry refused to pay the ransom?’  He had so many questions and all were without answers.  Once again, he tried to sleep, without success.

The night came and with it, a further drop in temperature.  Emrys and his men huddled around a fire, blazing in the dark, causing shadows to dance amongst the trees.  Lookouts were relieved by others and came to sit at the fire to thaw themselves out.  Emrys decided to allow the prisoners and Reginald de Grey to come closer to the blaze.  He did not think Owain would be too pleased with him if he let them all freeze to death.

In the morning, as dawn broke on the horizon, the rebels stamped the fire out, burying the embers in an attempt to conceal any evidence of their camp.  The prisoners were cajoled and bundled onto horses and re-tied.  Reginald de Grey once again protested at the treatment he was receiving so Emrys reminded him of what would happen if he were not quiet, waving a knife menacingly under his nose to emphasis the point. 

Emrys took hold of the pommel on the saddle and hauled himself up onto his horse.  Turning in the saddle and lifting his harm, Emrys waved to his men.  All silently moved into the forest.  Reginald de Grey looked around to see if there was anything of note, but all that met his eyes were trees, hundreds of them. The procession rode on through the forest in silence for at least half a day before entering a clearing.  They had arrived at the rebels’ encampment.  Reginald de Grey saw the rebels were well organised.  They had built huts and stables in a semi-circle which housed some of Glyndwr’s army and their horses.  A communal kitchen sat on the other side, pots hung over fires where some men stirred pans with wooden spoons, whilst others sliced up venison for the meal.  At the far side of the compound was a blacksmiths’ barn, alive with the hammering of hot iron.  Amongst sparks that flew here and there, were two large Welshmen, working at anvils, covered in sweat. Rows of mountain ponies were tethered to long ropes, heads deep in nosebags, enjoying grain.  With thick coats they were content in the winter cold.

Emrys dragged Reginald de Grey from his horse and holding him by the shoulders, said.  “And now, my fine feather peacock, time for you to face justice!”  He pushed him towards the largest of the buildings. “Move!”

Owain Glyndwr stood on the veranda. He quietly waited, watching Emrys shove and push Reginald de Grey through the snow towards him.  The fine Lord was not looking his usual preened and arrogant self – indeed, just the opposite. 

I stood next to Owain and although he rarely flew into a temper, I could sense he was seething at the sight of Reginald de Grey.

“Well, my Prince, here he is, at last!”  I said.

Owain did not answer immediately, he was glaring at Reginald de Grey, tapping irritated fingers on the hilt of a dagger which hung at his waist belt.  My Prince then replied quietly, as if trying to contain anger bubbling under the surface.  “It is him.  I have a mind to forget all about a ransom!”

“My Lord!”  Emrys bowed his head and pushed Reginald de Grey to his knees in front of us.  “This is Baron de Grey of Ruthin.”  He paused.  “An old friend?”  He asked, sarcastically.

“So, what will I do with you, Baron?  Cut your throat?  Bury you in a tree alive?  I have so many options.”  Owain stepped towards the Baron and fetched him a hard slap with the back of his hand, full in the face.  De Grey was knocked from his knees at the force of the slap.  His nose bled and a cut opened on his lip as he lay prostrate in the sludge and snow.

THANK YOU 2019 WELCOME 2020

2019

It is not until New Years Eve, one can truly reflect on twelve months now gone and waters passed under the bridge taking in its flow, memories, achievements and adventures. There is no doubt 2019 took me to places both in my head and around Wales I did not plan, nor expect. ‘Crach Ffinnant – Rise of the Dragon’ (Volume II) released at the beginning of the year was another milestone in this incredible journey with Words Matter Publishing since winning a writing competition the previous year with ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’ (Volume I). Spurred on and no pun intended, it was clear Volume III must be written and the quest began.

Debbie and I set about touring North Wales particularly sites of great relevance to the story of Glyndwr. From castles to abbey’s to mountains holding nothing but historic memory we camped and pondered, me writing and Debbie sketching. ‘Crach Ffinnant – Ravens and Dragons’ was born and completed with very little effort but a shed load of fun and adventure. Volume III is due for release early in 2020.

We attended book fairs and events throughout the year, signing books and giving readings, spreading ‘Crach’o’Magic’ wherever we landed. Lazzmatazz 2019 hosted a book fair and literature festival as a fringe event and due to success, this will also be a feature of 2020.

After a grand summer as autumn approached, out of the blue we received a call from Cheryl Beer http://www.thesleepingstoryteller.com Cheryl offered to publish our children’s story, ‘Pablo the Provider of Pixie Picnic Parcels Packed with Poached Parsnip Pie Products’ telling of a pixie with memory problems beautifully illustrated by Debbie Eve. In October Cheryl gave us the book, beautifully printed and presented, made from sustainable sources, it was a joy to behold. An unexpected ‘fairy’ had come to call, waved a magic wand and whoosh!

I have been busy throughout the year recording the audio book for ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’ and again ‘crach’o’magic’ struck. Grant Eden of http://www.oystermouthradio.com expressed interest in a serialization for radio and ‘Tales from Wales – Book at Bedtime’ was born with ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’ narrated by me as the featured book. With eight episodes of twenty nine completed, ‘Crach Ffinnant’ has hit the airwaves across cyberspace with more magic to be revealed in 2020.

This whole journey is exciting and certainly full of magic, seeing my creation of Crach Ffinnant grow and begin to flourish from an idea, to paper, to print, to radio and now….. if ‘crach’o’magic’ prevails… to the screen. Volume One – ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’ has been pitched for Project Alpha 1 hosted by BooksOffice in London. Voting is for one month beginning 14 January and if successful work will begin in March of 2020. I am also submitting my historical drama, ‘Ballad of Penygraig’ in a further project later in the year.

2020

With 2019 almost done I look forward to the adventures ahead this coming year with the release of Book III ‘Crach Ffinnant – Ravens & Dragons’ and completing Book IV, ‘Crach Ffinnant – Justice Prevails’ ready for release in the summer. I cannot pretend some trepidation in my step when considering the bids for my work perhaps getting to the screen, it is exciting and full of magic and in the meantime, Book at Bedtime continues on http://www.oystermouthradio.com More ‘road trips’ for research, fun and intuitive magic, Lazzmatazz 2020 and other events. With no idea where last year would end, there is some idea where this one starts. Happy New Year to all.

SPECIAL THANKS

I owe the following people much gratitude for their support in 2019. Debbie Eve, Tammy Koelling, Cheryl Beer, Grant Eden, Michael Kennedy, Karen Gemma Brewer and the many kind folk whose paths crossed.

NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK OUT NOW!

‘PABLO THE PROVIDER OF PIXIE PICNIC PARCELS PACKED WITH POACHED PARSNIP PIE PRODUCTS’

The story is suitable for small children. This beautiful little book is published by http://www.thesleepingstoryteller.com and made from sustainable forestry. Quality printing provides memorable illustrations of good colour intensity. It is a ‘collectors gem’. Visit our online shop!

http://www.lazaruscarpenterauthor.com

http://www.debbieeveillustrator.com

COMING SOON – CRACH FFINNANT – VOLUME III – RAVENS AND DRAGONS – A SNIPPET

“We have seen their campfires, my Lord, they have heavy horse and armour and hundreds of foot soldiers with pike and long bow.  I counted an army of fifteen hundred strong.”  Said Gogh.

“Fifteen hundred?”  Tudur needed clarification.

“Yes, my Lord, fifteen hundred.”  Gogh confirmed his count.  “There are Flemish among them and word says they have travelled from Pembroke in the south.”

“That is one hell of a march, Brother!”  Tudur remarked to Owain.  “This is a formidable force.  They will attempt to cut off any means of escape if we are attacked by Hotspur from the north.” 

“How many men do we have at arms now, Tudur?” Owain inquired.

“There are one hundred and fifty here in the compound and another three hundred more in the forest.”  He paused for a moment and then added.  “We do have a lot of long bows and, of course, sure-footed mountain ponies, on our side.”

“Good, as although we are outnumbered by more than three to one, their horses and army are heavy with armour.  If we were on a battlefield of pasture, we would be slaughtered but we are in mountainous terrain.  So, I suggest we withdraw even farther away and wait for them.  The mud, swamps and rock will slow them considerably.  If we make them chase us, I believe they will tire and when the rough ground holds them up, we will make our attack.”  Owain looked at Tudur and smiled.  “We will win.  Worry not.”

The runes I cast earlier in the day suggested a great confrontation and that guile and intellect would overcome the day and a great victory is predicted over adversity.  It seemed to me as if the reading was referring to this imminent battle with the English.  To have been able to create such a large force, Henry must have sailed his army around the coast and then marched them north, or, perhaps, he had gathered them from his garrisons in the south.  It is possible that the Flemish mercenaries met them at Pembroke.  The fact is, we could never know how, but all that really mattered was Henry’s army was less than four days away so we had to move quickly.

Owain gave orders for the men to prepare to ride out at dark and meet up with our major force in the forest so that by the time the English appeared, we would be organised and in wait.  After the evening meal, Tudur and a group of twenty-five rode out into the night.  They were to mislead the English, taking them into our waiting trap.  It was a good plan but only time would tell if it would work or not.

As the cock crowed, Owain and his men mounted their horses and set off at a gallop to meet with the remainder of our force in the forest on the western slopes of Pumlumon, about twenty leagues from Aberystwyth.  Tudur had orders to harass the English and lead them towards Owain’s troop.  This was a good place for a battle, their heavy horses and armour would quickly get bogged down and they would be unable to organize themselves.  Our bowmen would take care of the rest and as Rhodri was in charge, hopefully we would see a repeat of his last ambush where they had wiped out a force of English when they had also been outnumbered at three to one.

Tudur and Will looked over the rock and down into the valley.  The sun glinted and reflected from the English armour and spear points as they marched along.

“They do not seem much organised.”  Will whispered to Tudur.

“Aye, they certainly seem to be lacking basic military skills, even their formation is ought but a disorganized rabble.”  Tudur scratched his chin.  “Look at that!”  He pointed at a small group of soldiers who had simply left the main contingent, and had squatted to the ground to start a fire to camp. 

A knight on an enormous white charger galloped towards them and seemed to be shouting at them but they turned their backs on his protestations, carrying on with whatever they wanted to do.  Fighting certainly seemed to be the furthest thing from their minds.  The knight reined in his charger and galloped away in frustration, leaving a cloud of dust and mud behind him.

“No discipline there, my Lord.”  Observed Will.

“None, indeed, Will, which is bound to be in our favour.”  Tudur moved back from their vantage point into the scrub.  He stood up and said.  “Right, gentlemen!  Let’s have some fun!”

Tudur directed his small band of men efficiently.  Dispatching a few to take cover further up the pass, with their longbows at the ready.  He sent two riders on fast horses to make themselves known to the front riders of the English army and told them to frustrate their path by leading them into a chase.  The two set off at a gallop and on finding their vantage point, waited for the enemy to arrive.

The riders at point of the English force, rode into the clearing, ignorant of what lay ahead of them.  One whistled while daydreaming, whilst the other simply glanced here and there with no real interest in much, almost nodding off in the saddle. 

As Tudor’s men watched from the trees, they signalled to each other, dug spurs into their mounts and trotted into the clearing, just three hundred paces in front of the English riders.  They both stood their mounts in a prominent place, where they would clearly be seen. 

Suddenly, one of the English caught sight of the Welshmen, quickly taking him from his daydream, he shouted at the top of his voice.  “Rebels!  ….. Welsh scum!”

debbieeveillustrator.com

wordsmatterpublishing.com