( December 12, 2018 )

A merry Christmas treat

Hello All

Here is a written version of my Tale “The Robbers of Penwyllt “  enjoy and Nadolig Llawen .

Owen x

 

The Robbers of Penwyllt
By Owen Staton
The New inn was never new, Its thatched roof leaked and its doors were ill fitting and rotten, rain would run down the inside of its walls to be collected in buckets and its fire was no more than a dull glow on even the darkest of nights. Two hundred years ago this Halloween was one of those nights.
Gathered around the dying embers of the fire were two of the blackest hearted men that the hills and valleys of Wales had ever seen, a pair of brothers with Murder on their mind. Their names were Iago and Gronwy and they were Wreckers . Now Wreckers for those who dont know were thieves of the worst kind. Using their lanterns and bells they would lure cargo laden ships onto jagged edged rocks and cause them to flounder. Surviving crew members who swam ashore would meet their end at the hands of these evil minded fiends and their cargo would be stolen as their bodies floated in the shallow waters of the Welsh coast. Iago and Gronwy were two of the most feared men in Wales and they had won and lost many fortunes in this the blackest of all trades.
Iago was tall and thin, his shoulder length hair matted and lank, he spoke with all the grace of a wounded weasel. His long coat was ragged and torn and his Tricorn hat never left his head. He carried with him a long sharp and rusty knife, one that he had long ago pulled from the shallows as he searched through the remains of an unfortunate wreck . Gronwy could not have been more different , huge in Girth his body seemed to be held captive by his clothes in the same way that a small sack tried in vain to hold a large load . His face was mostly covered by a sea weed infested bush of a beard and he puffed and panted with effort at every step his overburdened body was forced to make.
The Church bells rung outside ,their solemn chimes echoing through the fog that had descended on the deep valley outside like an unwashed shroud.
“Its time “ said Iago placing his pewter mug on the rotten table in front of him as rising from his chair he made his way to the door followed slowly and noisily by his brother.
The air outside was heavy and dank as the Wreckers clambered into their carriage outside . Pulled by an emancipated black Mere called Shadow who strained with every step the cart slowly made its way up the winding road that was the main artery through this the darkest of all valleys on this the darkest of all nights .
. Silent they travelled both Wreckers minds intent on the deed before them until suddenly Gronwy opened his barely visible mouth and started to speak .
“ Are you sure this is going to work ?” He rasped , his voice like that of a wounded fox with a bad winter cold.
“ Of course it will “ replied his Brother “ The Shepard told me, why would he lie ?, A Coach Passes this way on this day every month, a coach so full of gold that if you opened the doors it would flow out like a river, gold to pay the soldiers based in Brecon , gold that will soon make us the richest Men in all of Wales”.
“ It better be tonight ‘ rasped Gronwy “ I’m sick of your plans coming to nothing, don’t let me down again “ The huge Wrecker turned and pulled a large Blunderbuss gun from under a blanket in the back of the cart and placed it across his knees.
The two brothers made their way through the thick darkness of the Swansea valley, branches from gnarly oaks leaned over the road to hang down like hooked claws and nameless animals crowed and called from the darkest heart of the forest until at last they came to their destination.
Penwyllt , a place so dark it was said that the sun only shined there for an hour a day and that was at the height of midsummer . Near the road were many old caves and caverns and old abandoned ruins and there looking down on the road was a rocky outcrop that offered a view for as far as a man cared to look. Hiding both Shadow and the wood wormed carriage near the ruins of a long empty hut Iago turned to Gronwy and outlined his plan.

“ Right brother , you go and sleep near the cart , I will climb up the rock and watch the road. When I see the lamp on the coach I will give a call, like the hoot of an old Owl and then and only then you jump out in front, point the gun and stop the coach. Do you understandthat?”
“ Yes , but make sure you get this right, don’t spoil this “ replied Gronwy making his way to where the carriage waited. Soon he was asleep as Iago climbed the rock and laying on his stomach watched the road.
The dark night grew darker still and after an hour the only sound the Wrecker could hear was that of his brother snoring. The night grew long and the first lonesome streaks of the dawn sky broke over the eastern side of the valley , then he knew the coach was not coming . Not this night.
Suddenly out of the corner of his eye he spied a light on the road. A light so bright that it could only be that of the coach, he watched intently as the light grew in size and brightness cupping his hands around his mouth he was about to make the call of the Owl when suddenly his black heart started to beat even quicker. The light was joined by a second light, then a third and then more and more and these lights were not high like the lights of a coach but low to the ground . Iago stared in wonderment not knowing what this could be . The sounds of his brothers snores echoed around and then , to his terror it became clear what had created the light.
Each of the small lights were carried by one of the Tylweth Teg one of the Welsh fairies , now these fairies are not the sort of ones you read about in tales written for children . These are strange capricious creatures that could make you fall asleep and not wake for a thousand years. These beings would replace a baby with a changing and make sure the parents
Watched from afar as it grew into a warped strange creature. This was Halloween or Calon Gaeaf as it is known in Wales and this night of all nights the Tylweth Teg loved nothing more than to dance under the new winter sky.
Some of the Tylweth Teg were warped Goblin like creatures that shuffled and crawled while others were as beautiful as the dawn , each of them danced and capered along the forest road a small light in one hand and a gold coin in the other .
A Gold coin, hundreds and hundreds of gold coins, Iago who had up until now hidden his face with his hands , terrified of what the Fay people would do to him slowly peeped between his fingers and watched as each of the creatures made their way to a small cave opening nearby. Each of the Tylweth Teg stopped at the entrance and in a myriad of strange unearthly voices called into the darkness “ Gallwch” before disappearing into the cave only to emerge moments later without the gold coin.
“ They have a password , a password known only to them and now to me “ Iago whispered to himself as the last of the Fairy procession vanished into the forest around him. Carefully he lowered himself down from the crag and walked to where his brother still slept . Suddenly Iago stopped and turning on his heel quietly made his way to the cave entrance. Even amongst Thieves loyalty only goes so far.
Kneeling down at the cave entrance he peered into the darkness . Nervously he reached into the cave with his hand and watched as his arm vanished into the black cavern before him. Summoning all his reserves of courage he took a deep breath and cried “ Gallwch” before stepping into the cave.
Iago made his way down through passage after passage , feeling like his journey would take him into the vary centre of the world, up and down , left and right the passages went on for what felt like an eternity before finally they opened up into a large square room.
Lit by orbs floating in the air the room had great hooks hanging from the walls like those found in a butchers shop , and from these hooks hung great sacks and from these sacks flowing like a river onto the ground were gold coins beyond count . Iago leapt into the coins and started to fill his pockets, fill his coat , fill under his hat he danced and capered with joy as more gold coins than a man could spend in a hundred lifetimes suddenly became his. Iago laughed and screamed and fell to his knees with joy.

Then everything changed .
What Iago thought was a pile of rags in the corner of the room started to shuffle and move , What Iago thought was inconsequential suddenly became the focus of his very being as the rags fell away to reveal the skull of a horse with bright glowing green eyes. Iago knew he was now doomed as he looked into the eyes of Y Fari Lloyd.
Y Fari Lwyd , the first horse that winter claimed , the queen of the Fairies , the Winter Mare The Fari Lwyd was the loathsome skull of a felled horse that stalked the valley above Swansea port. It was said that just to look at her meant certain death. Iago covered his eyes and fell to the ground as Y Fari made her rickety way over to him and spoke in a voice as old as the Mountains and as Capricious as the sea.
“ Why have you come here Thief? “
“I’m not a Thief “ pleaded the Thief “ I came here by accident look I Will put all the coins back “ Iago emptied his pockets, his coat his hat. “ Look I know the password its Gallwch” Iago pleaded with the Mare.
“ Gallwch , is the password to enter “ stated Y Fari “ but what is the password to leave?”.
“ You mean there’s a password to get out?,oh please let me go I beg you , I will never come here again I promise “ Iago pleaded to the Mare
“ Your Luck grows short but my patience is endless “ stated Y Fari. “Your fortune however is truly beyond compare for you have come here at Calon Gaeaf the night when the spirits of the forest are at their brightest, the time that kindness lights the darkest reaches of our black hearts. Go now but know this , if anybody else comes here , anybody . They will stay an eternity with me”
Almost before y Fari finished speaking Iago was gone. He made his way through the dark passages until he burst into the night once more. He would have run all the way to Swansea Port but a figure stepped in front of him. A figure with a gun.
“ Where do you think your going Brother?” gasped Gronwy .
“We have to get out of here now” screamed Iago gesticulating wildly.
“ You robbed the coach and left me sleeping didn’t you?” Said Gronwy with true venom in his voice. Iago pleaded with his brother but at this moment fate like it often does intervened and a single gold coin slipped out of his jacket and fell to the ground.
Gronwy stared at the coin and lifted the gun and pulled back on the trigger. Iago covered his eyes and waited for the inevitable but suddenly his mind became clear and he spoke.
“ Yes Brother I robbed the coach, I put the money in that cave “ He said pointing to the cavern entrance. “ Make your way down to the left and just keep going , you will find the gold and are welcome to it.” . Iago then ran and ran until he came to the sea. He was never seen in the Swansea valley ever again.
Gronwy made his way to the cave entrance and peered in . Squeezing his belly between the rocks he made his way in and was never seen again.
A few years free that fateful Halloween night world renowned Opera singer with a voice as clear as a crystal lake came to the Swansea Valley, her wish was to build a castle, a castle with towers so high as to touch the sky. Armies of workers flocked to the valley to dig and build. One fateful evening at the time between times the workman dug deep into the ruins around Penwyllt and far beneath the earth they came across the great chamber full of Hooks. Cautiously the workmen entered and peered with horror at a great rusty hook at the far end of the room . From it there hung a Human skull . Of the gold there was no sign. Carefully one of the builders removed the skull from the hook and placed it within a sack which he kept under his bed.
During the dark heart of the night the Builder awoke to the sound of screaming . Sitting bolt upright he realised that the sound came from under his bed as the skull cried out in the sack, its teeth chattering together. The workman bravely grabbed the sack and leaping onto a horse rode all the way to Swansea port.

On arrival he ran up the stairs outside the great Greek facade of the museum and hammered on the door. The ancient caretaker took the sack from the builders trembling hand and carried it downstairs to the darkest room in the deepest vault and placed it in a safe.
But still it screamed.
The next day a boat took the skull far out to see and dropped it in the deepest water where it sank beneath the waves . Only then did it become silent.
However it is still said that even today if you go to Craig y Nos in the deepest part of the Swansea valley at the Time between times , the time when it is neither night or day but the Sun has gone and the sky is grey, you can still hear deep beneath the earth the cries of a man . “Gallwch , Gallwch “ he screams and he does not relent until the sun breaks over the mountains which it seldom does in this the darkest of valleys.

( November 16, 2017 )

The Importance of Stories

This week I have been unwell, not mildly sniffly or with a slight headache but properly unwell In a stuck in bed for a few days sort of Ill . I’m usually the type who can’t sit still for a minute so for me to be confined to quarters so to speak is real punishment indeed. I found myself staring at the ceiling for the most part of last Sunday just wishing I would feel better and really feeling how long a day can really be?.

What I did have wers my thoughts and it was then I realised the importance of stories in helping us get through the day. I turned on the daytime tv and it was full of bad news and War, I read the daily paper and the same was true, it was only when I picked up some of the huge pile of unread books that I have here that I realised that for some people who (through no fault of their own ) are stuck at home through age or illness or just because of the weather or what ever? having access to good stories and accessible and affordable entertainment is an absolute must.

It would be so easy to get into a depression or a rut to cease whatever it is you have to do and just lie there without stories. When the bed becomes uncomfortable the fact that a book or an audio story can whisk my mind away to somewhere I want to be can make all the difference . Don’t think of tales as a frivolity , to some people they are the only thing that helps get them through the day.

Dont underestimate the power of writing or telling a tale , you don’t know just who your audience is or what they are going through. I am already getting better but for some people who spend months or years bed bound they maybe the difference between a long long day and one filled with imagination and tales?.

On that note a massive thank to Washington Irving, Ali Smith and Michelle Paver for giving me stories instead of my bedroom celing for a couple of days.

Take care all

Owen x

( November 5, 2017 )

Midwinter – post Halloween

September and October are really funny times as a storyteller. The world grows a little darker, Summer becomes a distant memory and suddenly everyone wants to listen to stories again. For the last few years for different reasons I deliberately stepped back from the crazy Halloween demand and did other things but this year I decided to do things a little differently and embrace the stories once again.

What a month its been .

I have travelled and performed all over Wales to brilliant and big audiences who seem more appreciative of classic Ghost stories than ever before, Its been exhausting its been exhilarating and its been brilliant. I am a storyteller and actor I suppose so it was about time I did some more storytelling.

If you have been to see me in the last few weeks then thanks very much for your enthusiasm and for appreicateing what I work hard to bring you. I really enjoyed doing it maybe  should stick with it in future.

Diolch

One of the things i did was be involved with a couple of book launches that my good friend Mark Rees organised due to the release of his New book Ghosts of Wales – accounts from the Victorian archives (available from all good bookshops ). These events have proven to be amazingly popular and the demand to make them a regular thing seems really high. I really hope that we can do this and I am really looking forward to the launch for Freddie Fawkes which is really coming along nicely.

I also made a long overdue return to my spot on the D6 Generation and want to thank you all for the kind words on this they are as ever really appreciated.

Anyway onwards and upwards, I have a little left over from Halloween and then its on to Christmas and this Christmas is one I am really looking foreword to .

Owen. X

( October 28, 2017 )

Just what are we celebrating?

Hi All

Just thought I would put finger to key and update the blog with something thats been playing on my mind for a little while.

Its Halloween next week and as a storyteller it is naturally the busiest time of the year. I think most storytellers would agree with me when I say that I do more work in October than I would in the six months previous. people tend to remember that they love stories at this time, people seem to recall that the darkening nights mean getting together and being spooked by old tales and memories that have scared them since childhood. Its a fantastic time of year.

Halloween however has always been a controversial  time of year , what began as a Holy day in the Christian year has in the last fifty years or more become a celebration of something darker. A celebration of things that go bump in the night and things that hide just beyond the veil of the mortal realm. It does not sit comfortably with some people and that is fine. Where do I stand ?, I love myths and legends, I love stories and I love Mysteries, I love Halloween but in the last few years i have noticed a shift towards something else and to be honest I really don’t like it at all.

I love America, I have spent a many a happy holiday there and am proud to say that many of my best friends American. Without a Celtic or Saxon or Norse background their Halloween has always held a more modern slant I feel , a celebration of the old universal Monsters and creatures from literature or even just “Dressing up” in general (Kim Kardashian is this year dressing up as that well known Halloween icon Cher). They really celebrate with almost the whole of October given over to Halloween events and parties in some places. their fantastic theme parks are alive with Halloween  decorations and scares and trick or treat is a national institution .

The last few years in the States has also seen the rise of the “Walk through ” haunted house, these often pop up in theme parks or even in unused warehouses etc and usually for a fee customers can walk through and be scared by actors jumping out at them as they travel through the set. Great fun, it really is. However as each attraction tries to outdo the other I have noticed the ante growing and growing and now many of these attractions are themed on the latest slasher movie or scary icon (chainsaw wielding clown seems popular this year) and thats where things don’t quite sit as nicely with me as I would like.

There are many horrific things happening in the world today sometimes it feels on a daily basis , do we need to celebrate this?. Halloween to me has always been  a celebration of the unknown not of the all to familiar. I feel we have a responsibility to protect our tradition and not let it be hijacked and become a festival of horror.

The slasher movie is a form of entertainment thats for sure but lets leave it where it is and keep halloween a celebration of the imagination. There is much that is frightening about the unknown and our myths that it does not need a chainsaw wielding maniac to scare us. The world is full of evil folks lets protect what is good.

Im not saying for people to keep away from these attractions if thats what you like but just remember its not what the day is all about . There just got off my soap box before my word count runs out.

Take care everyone and Happy Halloween

Owen

x

( October 19, 2017 )

Freddie Fawkes and the Great Dinosaur Fraud

Hi Everyone,

once again massive apologies for the lack of updates, I am such a blog Tease but i really hope to remedy that. Firstly may I please thank everyone who has come out to see me in the last few months, the support as always has been fantastic and I appreciate every single person who takes the time to come and listen to my tales. I will shortly be performing my version of Charles Dickens “The Signalman ” at pontardawe library at 7pm on the 2nd of November and at neath Library on the 8th. I am really looking forward to bringing you this fantastic ghost story which has turned into a bit of a personal favourite of mine. I will also be performing at The launch of Mark Rees’s new book Ghosts of Wales on the 28th of October at Tabernacle arts centre in Mumbles at 7.30 pm. The book is a great read and it will be fantastic to see some of you there.?

In the meantime i have been busy writing myself and feel confident enough to tell you that my book “freddie fawkes and the Great Dinosaur fraud” nears completion. I really am delighted and overjoyed with this book. I have thoroughly enjoyed the writing process and cannot wait to get it out for you guys to read sometime in the new year. Its aimed at young adults and focuses on the adventures of Young freddie fawkes who uncovers a conspiracy that could shake our thoughts on the Prehistoric world to the core

. Think , Jurassic Park, think ET , think Petes Dragon and you may be fairly close to what I’ve aimed for. Its been a delight.

Before I go can I commend everyone at Criw Craggy in Craig Y Nos for staging the first ever Swansea valley Storytelling festival which i had the pleasure to host. Despite the weather we had a great event and one which will suerly grow in the telling . I for one cannot wait until next years event.

In the meantime please take care everyone 4151261152_ebda57820c

Cariad

 

Owen x

( December 31, 2016 )

New year New goals , new deeds , new tales

Hi Everyone.

Been a long time since I last updated this site but all that is changing. I have been dormant too long. This new year will see a flurry of activity I promise and a load of new projects by myself. The last few years have been very interesting with me being involved in a number of theatrical television and radio projects. I have however been somewhat lax with my stories I feel. This will change in 2017. Work is well underway on two new books and I hope to have another cd released in the next twelve months. I also have a few exciting new projects that i shall tell you about very soon.

In the meantime I would like to thank everyone of you who has kept faith with this site and continues to support me greatly whenever I perform. The storytelling audiences this year have been out of this world and in numbers I could only dream about in the past. This year I will perform more widely and more often and you will hear of it first at this site.

Its the new year folks, forget the old and live big and well in the new.

Blwyddyn newydd da.

 

Owen x

( April 18, 2014 )

Observing not Looking

I have recently been going through a bit of a Barren phase when it came to writing new stories. Spent hours digging through old Myths and legends and even listened intently to ancient audio Ghost stories in the hope of finding a little gem that could aid me in my quest to find that perfect tale. Nothing jumped out at me , absolutely nothing. I eventually sat down and resolved myself to maybe revisiting some old favourites or perhaps using some well worn and well known works that would provide few surprises but maybe some home comforts to my audiences. Then I started observing. I live in a pretty rural area. the forests are lush and green and peppered with ancient structures and foilage that seems to leap from another world. I have a pretty energetic dog and have for the last year been a pretty avid runner trying to stride out there with a view of losing a few pounds. By observing I mean taking the time to really look around and use my imagination. Those of you that follow me on Twitter (@Owenstaton) will notice that I have been posting pics of places that have awakened my interest or caused my imagination to fire itself from its slumber. It has done me the world of good, once more the pen is flowing and the words are tumbling forth. New tales are being written and performances planned.

Don’t just look my friends, observe it makes a Hell of a difference ..

 

Owen

( March 31, 2014 )

Speaking with a different Voice?

Hello All,

Apologies to you all for the delay in updating or indeed caring for this blog in what seems like an age. I feel in the past I have used it to just post upbeat missives about forthcoming shows and what can only be called ramblings about projects or people I have been fortunate to meet or work with. I think that its time to move in a different direction, its time to dance to a different beat and time to start telling stories. I am supposed to be a storyteller after all…..

I started telling stories in 1997 , the other day that didn’t seem long ago but now realise that its seventeen years ago which is incredible. I didn’t plan on becoming a storyteller, I didn’t particularly want to become one but it happened and has been happening ever since. I write a lot, I perform a lot, I draw good audiences and I travel widely . I have released a CD I have written stories and travelled to many different countries promoting storytelling and performing for vastly different audiences. I have won awards at the biggest theatre festival in the world and reviewed consistently well throughout my career but there has always been something missing, something lacking and something lonely about what I have done.  I look around , I read and I hear of all the wonderful festivals and clubs that are now promoting storytelling around the country. I read endless blogs and fascinating snippets of all the wonderful performances that are taking place throughout the land. I see , I hear but I do not participate and I can only assume that I am speaking with a different voice…..?

I do not call my self “a Teller” (tellers work in banks), I never wear robes and my religious beliefs are actually quite orthodox. I have a day job and am actually quite fond of the things that many people in this great land are fond of. I don’t think Im any better or worse than any other storyteller or performer I have just come to the conclusion that I must be speaking with a different voice?.

I wonder is my voice unique or are others feeling the same?, others that perhaps have performed for dare I say “the established storytelling voice” only to find that voice suddenly silent when you require it to speak on your behalf. Are there others out there who feel that although the audiences are more than willing to gather at your fire, its  when you require the warmth of the established flame all you find are dirty embers and a freezing breeze that swirls around you..

I consider myself a nice person, I have made few enemies and count my friends many. I have often wondered why when turing to some of the others who share my passion for the wondrous things in this and other worlds I feel I am reaching out to the coldest of shoulders. I have come to the conclusion that I am speaking with a different voice..

Thats it folks I will leave these words upon this parchment, they feel lighter now they have left my chest. Please feel free to comment, I would like that , unless of course you don’t like my voice, but that is fine too..

Until the Time between times…

 

Owen

( September 12, 2013 )

Darkness falls and the tales begin

what a wonderful summer it has been, I have travelled everywhere and told tales to many hundreds  of people. In all honesty my feet do not seem to have hit the floor, and here we go into what I call the “busy” time of the year. The nights grow darker and you can feel the winter creeping in on us like a claw. Halloween shuffles towards us and I am working on a new halloween show called “Unearthly mutterings ” which i shall bring you more news on very shortly. i am still writing, I am still performing and this year has seen me have some wonderful opportunities such as opening the fantastic Ysgol Y Cribarth in Abercraf or performing for visitors in the brilliant Margam country park. Im enjoying it, I hope you are. Get ready folks its going to be a really busy few months.

( March 12, 2013 )

The snow still swirls and now I just wish it would stop

Hello all and thanks for joining me here.

Wow the year is flashing by in a blink and my feet have hardly touched the ground. this is by far the busiest year i have had so far and it just continues at a rate of knots. Firstly big thanks to all who attended my shows at Coelbren and Margam your support as ever means the world to me and it was just great to see some familiar faces again. The snow continues to swirl and as i type this I am gearing up to take the plunge and step outside into what must be the coldest wind I have ever faced. My work with”Bear bones” is really coming along and as you will have seen on the welcome page to this site we now have a list of dates and I would love to see you there if it is possible as the boys from the bear band have really added a new dimension to my stories with their wonderful music. I cant wait for this one, I really cant .

You may also have noticed that the dates for my performances at Changing seasons in Craig Y Nos are also now available. this is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth and I for one cannot wait to once again perform there. The food is also fantastic and they are offering a ticket that also provides high tea or Tapas. Get up there folks its going to be great.

Just a quick update guys but know this, things are going well and will only get better. Take care and wrap up, its still cold but there is always a welcome at the fire.

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