Building Worton | Based On Reality

So you’ve got a fictional town. It has a name, Worton, great. It has districts- Too many at first but they’re eventually cut down to a manageable level. It is still, however, the size of Bolton and any town that size is going to need a rough geography at the bare minimum. If you just throw things in as and when you need them you’re going to end up with a continuity nightmare. A good geography provides a framework for your characters and plot to bounce around inside, it constrains them and stops them getting out of hand, it directs them and influences them. It also gives the reader something to latch onto, something to help them better imagine the story.

How did I create my own geography then? How did I actually lay the foundations for Worton?

I used reality. I used the town I grew up in and places I knew, places I passed on a daily basis, for inspiration.

The story starts off in the Serpent’s fall hotel, a derelict, abandoned building in the town centre. We later learn that this is where all of the problems began, in a roundabout sort of way, and I return to it several times over the course of the story. It was based on a similarly derelict old pub in the town centre- They’ve spruced it up a bit now, though it still looks a bit dodgy. Police Tower, a bit further down the road, was based on something I once saw in the local paper. Someone was actually planning to build a skyscraper, though it never got off the ground. In Worton the opposite happened… They built the damn thing and it was an eyesore. Lupus Tower, meanwhile, is based on a a particular office block I used to pass by.

The park in Beiderbecke, right down to the supermarket opposite, is real and I practically relocated it wholesale into Worton, right down to the abandoned railway bridge in the middle (Where Will and Harris have their duel in the first book) and the pathway where the fight happens after Will blows up the nest in the second segment of the first book. The nest does exist (or it did) but it is nowhere near the real park. It is, in fact, on the other side of town. The hostel at the end of the park is completely made up but it is based on a stereotypical, gothic asylum on the outside and a seventies hospital on the inside.

Beiderbecke College was based on quite a few places, mostly the schools I went to. The exterior is based on my own sixth form college- The front and side entrances and the two main buildings, one of which is used for younger students in the books (though they didn’t exist in prior versions). They weren’t connected by the kitchens and canteen in reality. The auditorium is a near dead ringer for the auditorium of my high school, the only differences being that my high school auditorium didn’t have any permanent seating and the windows were only on one side, not two. There was no store-room at the back either. The assembly hall was based on the main hall at Bangor University and the rest is a cobbled together mish-mash of generic school rooms that you can  find anywhere.

Other real places include the town square, though the real one is much less appealing, the two cemeteries (Cemetery Hill and Yogi fields), Beiderbecke Labs (the real one is much less scary and is actually an apartment block) the reservoir & the entirety of the Hood council estate.

Mender Vale Forest, now to the north of Worton though originally I placed it somewhere south, is based on Delamere Forest in Cheshire, which is where Amanda also gets her surname from. Consciously, however, I had to make it darker and thicker and more overgrown- The first time we actually see inside it the forestry commission has been out of action for a year so it kind of had to be. I added an overlook point as well, Witch’s Rock, which I don’t think exists in reality.

But of course, it isn’t enough to just pull in bits and pieces from real places. You’ve got to make up your own stuff too, use your imagination. Reality gives you a grounding but without imagination you might as well just use somewhere real. Crest, for example, is completely made up although I did have the tenement slums of Edinburgh and Glasgow in mind when it came to creating it. Will’s old school, Worton Grammar, is a generic Victorian, inner city school and wasn’t based on anywhere in particular. Will’s two houses were originally quite generic before I fleshed them out, though the ginnel at the back of the first was based on a place I used to know. It’s similar to some that can be found in Bangor and in some other towns. Most interiors are a complete fantasy, from my own head, as is China-Town and most of the Cornfields district.

However, every reader is going to have their own idea of what Worton looks like based on their own imaginations and their own experiences and their own interpretation of the books. I have my image of Worton (which is, seeing as it is my town, the most correct) but it isn’t definitive. It might help me to write everything, but at the end of the day mine is the view that matters least in the grand scheme of things.

Building Worton is a series of posts going behind and beyond the scenes of the Dark Legend books- Spawn, Swarm, Stop The Cavalry and Sting. All are available from Amazon (including in paperback) and other eBook retailers.


A Problem with Noise

The other week I was sat on a train out of Lime Street Station- It was after that jaunt to New Brighton- and then a whole family with a kid gets on and sits directly in front of me. Most of them were quiet, even the kid. It was the fully grown man that was with them who was being loud. First of all he started shouting to the kid about head lice.  Some would argue that he was ‘only being playful’ with the kid… But he was literally shouting the word ‘nits’ (and only that word) over and over again at the top of his voice. That’s not just playfulness, that’s uncalled for. Then he started speaking to his wife or girlfriend or symbiotic flesh partner or whatever relation she was and he still shouted. No indoor voice, just spoke in as loud a voice as he could to a woman who was right in front of him. He was an arsehole, basically. No respect for anybody else on the train.

Normally I would have blocked out the sound with my iPod but the train was one of these ancient ones, all squeals and creaks and death rattles which drown out any attempt to listen to music but not the idiot in front. So I had to sit there, getting more and more irritated at this arsehole in front. I seriously wanted to knock the shit out of him. Lord knows the other passengers might have commended me for it but he was the kind of arsehole who would have got all up himself and claimed he wasn’t doing anything wrong if anyone tried to stop him. If that had been me, dealing with it, it would have only made matters worse.

I noticed at the time that this one incident, this one loud arsehole, was really affecting me. This incident was affecting me to such an extent that I was starting to collapse, mentally speaking. I was beginning to withdraw, to shake, to get really angry and want to shove this guy’s head through the window of the train. Most people would be able to cope with a loud arsehole such as this, to bottle things in, but I wasn’t doing that. This one incident left me shaken, left me drained, mentally.

Sadly, this isn’t the only time this has happened. It is becoming a more and more frequent occurrence. Noises, especially repetitive noises (like someone shouting about head lice, over and over again) are really affecting me. It doesn’t come gradually either. If a noise starts, and especially if it is a noise that has been persistent in the past, then I’m gone. I’m immediately shaking or sweating and I’m tense, anxious and upset. If it happens in the night then I’m left unable to sleep. It happens with people playing loud music, people shouting in the street, hammering, drilling, general construction work… Even the sound of too many cars driving past can set me off, especially if they’re going stupidly slow or revving their engine or if it’s ten on a Wednesday morning… Or even ten on a Monday morning come to that. There are a lot of noises that set me off, in other words. There are some noises, however, that don’t. I can cope with stuff like twittering birds and seagulls (not pigeons though. Those little gits can sod right off.) and police sirens. It all depends on how persistent or how annoying the noise is.

I never have liked loud noises, actually. I’ve hated noise for as long as I can remember Years before they flopped at Eurovision the band Scooch came and performed at my school. They were just as terrible then as they were when performing at Eurovision but that isn’t why I hated them. I was sat right at the front, near the speakers and the noise was horrendous. I really didn’t like it, and not just because it was from one of the worst bands to ever to disgrace the record industry.

There was another incident involving a tennis coach who came to do some classes and try and drum up support for his tennis place. It was around the time of those ‘waaazzuuup’ Budweiser adverts, another terrible stain on humanity’s record, and this guy was obsessed with them. Needless to say he tried to get the entire class to do the same thing and that, for me, was really just a living hell. It was a loud, persistent, irritating noise and when it came to my turn I just wasn’t playing ball. Nah mate… You can fuck off with your waaazzuuup bullshit, yeah? The next week there was a different tennis coach, from the same place, and he tried the same thing. Just… No! To me, and still, that thing wasn’t clever or cool… It was just a loud, irritating noise.

There have been other occasions where I’ve been overwhelmed by noise. I don’t like crowded, noisy pubs and nightclubs are a harrowing prospect for me. I avoid them if I can. Generally, I prefer silence and solitude but being, largely, a creature who depends on the urban environment for survival, that is sometimes difficult to get. Over the years the problem has grown to this point we’re at now… The point where I want to start decking people.

Back in the present, in an effort to relieve this problem, I bought myself some earplugs. I thought that when the persistent noises began I could just slip them in all would be well. The next night some drunken buffoons were shouting somewhere whilst I was trying to sleep, so I decided to try oyt the earplugs. Their effectiveness was limited. They muffled the sound but not by nearly enough. I could still hear the morons. They did, however, manage to muffle the sound enough so I could sleep. Then I woke up the next morning with an ear infection… from the ear plugs.

So what is a man to do? I’m already dosing myself up with a morning cup of chamomile to relieve other problems and the earplugs were a waste of money. There isn’t much in the way of available treatment for this sort of thing either, from what I’ve found. There are some doctors out there who don’t even think it exists. It doesn’t help that people don’t seem to even consider that this might be a problem or don’t shut up and stop the noise when they’re asked to. People seem to think they can make as much noise as they want. Would therapy help? It might, but proper therapy is expensive and I have a feeling this is tied into much deeper shit. It isn’t something that is just going to go away, even with therapy. It’s going to either take years to deal with or something I have to live with for the rest of my life.

Maybe, therefore, the best option is to retreat to the mountains, to silence, and live as a hermit. Ahhh… If only I could!


Goblins, Fairies, Fantastical Creatures and Adulthood

As children we were all, you will probably agree, blessed with a plethora of folk stories, folk songs, myths and legends. Meanwhile, the first songs we heard and learnt by heart were nursery rhymes- Little Jack Horner, Wee Willie Winkie, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Pop Goes the Weasel. Though most of us had no idea what they were on about half the time. Mulberry Bush? What the fig is a mulberry bush? Rice I can understand… But tuppeny rice? And half a pound of it? What, does it cost fifty pence? It’s fair to say that metric measures and the introduction of decimal currency have turned Pop Goes the Weasel into an impenetrable dinosaur. But back to the matter at hand… Our early stories were fairy and folk stories- The Brothers Grimm, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots. The rest of our stories were littered with elves, goblins, witches and all manner of other beastly, folkloric creatures. Our childhoods were steeped in folklore.

Some of our childhood traditions and stories, particularly the nursery rhymes, are only a couple of centuries old- Pop Goes the Weasel dates to only the mid seventeen hundreds. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush is a century later. Many of the folk stories, however, are as old as the hills. In some cases, for example if you live in North Wales, those folk stories are the hills.

In the end, all our childhood traditions and stories and creatures come together to form a rich cultural legacy, a tapestry which we are all well aware of and can recite and recall even into adulthood. As adults, however, we tend to dismiss all of it as exclusively for children, as nonsense, something to put to the back of our minds. Unless we’re reading or watching fantasy we cast aside elves and goblins in favour of more rational fair. But should we leave it all for the children or should we be prouder of this aspect of our heritage? Should we embrace it all a bit more?

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Building Worton | Will & The Monomyth

When I came up with the plot of Dark Legend I didn’t set it to any formula. In fact, originally, the overarching plot was very loose and the linking threads were only going to come together at the very end. It was extremely episodic in its nature- A fact that is still reflected in the format of the books. As it grew and developed I allowed it to organically knit together into one story, basically the story of Will, a kid who sets out to save the world (because nobody else will,) accidentally becomes famous for it and as a result gives birth to a modern legend.

The titular ‘legend’ is something that grows and comes about throughout the course of the six books. It is a very specific idea, one that crystallises itself around Will, concerning a warrior who will supposedly save the world- Standard heroic fare in other words. Will is at the centre of this legend and although his friends jocularly refer to him as such, he isn’t actually the legend of the title. The legend doesn’t physically exist, it is only born as a consequence of Will’s actions. It is invented through rumour, gossip, tabloid trash and as a result of a human need for hope amidst a dire situation. The legend is something that Will either rebuffs, ignores, or uses to his advantage at various times, sometimes to his detriment.

Had I proscribed the story to any kind of formula (which is hardly ever a good idea) the most likely formula would have been the monomyth or ‘hero’s journey.’ This was theorised by Joseph Campbell in his book ‘The Hero With a Thousand Faces’ and it’s been liberally used in practically every science fiction/fantasy franchise ever since. It consists of seventeen steps which, unsurprisingly, neither Will nor Dark Legend fits in with it.

1. The Call To Adventure
This is something we never see. It’s also made quite clear that Will is not ‘called’ to adventure… He chooses it. He is nothing special, not pre-ordained to save the world, but he decides that he will and only by what follows does any kind of ‘saviour’ come about (and that saviour isn’t even real. He’s a collective figment.) You could argue that this applies to the side characters but, again, they choose to go with Will. They can walk away any time. They aren’t called.

2. Refusal Of The Call
At no point does Will ever refuse to fight the graffe. There are times when he gets tired with them, when he wishes that the whole business would end and there are times when he is on the verge of surrender but he NEVER refuses to fight. He may well deny that he is any kind of hero or saviour but that is not the same thing as refusal, especially when all the time he’s in denial he’s clobbering fifty plus mutants a night.

3. Supernatural Aid
Campbell specifies this as some sort of protective guide who presents the hero with some kind of talisman or artefact to help on his quest. The closest Dark Legend has to this is Erac, a rejected specimin of the early graffe experiments. However, Erac only shows up long after Will has begun his journey and he never offers Will any kind of talisman. He does offer his help to Will, and occasional advice, but it is more often than not for purely selfish reasons. Erac has his own little secret and he’ll protect it at all costs. You might call the red and black rings talismans but they aren’t supernatural… And the black has been ‘missing’ for a long time so…

4. Crossing The First Threshold
Never happens. Will crosses this long before the story begins. According to Campbell this also involves ‘Threshold Guardians’ which, likewise, don’t exist.

5. Belly Of The Whale
‘The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died.’
No. Just… No. What does that even mean? Apparently a ‘final separation from the hero’s known world and self.’ Quite frankly, I don’t think this happens anywhere in the series. Even if it did happen it would probably be some time before the story has even begun.

6. The Road Of Trials
This one is just silly- The hero faces tests and ordeals, some of which he fails. Isn’t this just a general, common story-telling element and not a part of some formula? Every main character is going to face some kind of challenge or test or have some problem to overcome, no matter how mundane. That is the main thrust of storytelling. Without it there is nothing to tell. So of course, Will has his ordeals but what would be the point if he didn’t?

7. The Meeting With The Goddess.
This is another one which makes little sense to me- The hero supposedly encounters some kind of all powerful, unconditional love often represented by what Campbell calls ‘the queen goddess of the world.’ The real world doesn’t work like that and NOBODY in Dark Legend is representative of any kind of unconditional love or comes across it or gets it given to them. Love is a game of give and take.

8. Woman As Temptress
The hero is lead astray, often by a woman, and almost abandons the quest- There is very little that would make Will actually give up his cause, least of all a woman. Whilst he does get around a bit and he isn’t averse to a pretty face, he is without a doubt an absolute slut, Will is always very much his own master and he always knows that his job has to take precedence over pretty much everything else. There are temptresses, but none in the way that Campbell means them.

9. Atonement with the Father
This doesn’t have to be a father, it can be a father figure or whatever is representative of the ‘ultimate power.’ Campbell claims this is representative of the abandonment of the ego and the id. The hero supposedly rises and understands the ultimate power or father figure. The trouble with Dark Legend is that, again, Will is his own master. There is no ultimate power and the closest he has to a father figure is DI Fisher, whom he doesn’t need to answer to and already pretty much has an understanding with by the end of the second book. Yes, Will is going to have to atone for his sins before the end and face some consequences for his earlier actions but the only one doing any judging is himself. He only has himself to atone to.

10. Apotheosis
Our hero comes to an understanding of some sort that prepares him for the final battle- In Dark Legend there are revelations, yes, but none that serve to prepare Will for the final battle. There’s no sudden, divine revelation that changes everything. The way in which Will prepares for the end is seeded throughout the entire series, starting with Joe and Greg foisting themselves onto him in the first book. It’s in how he grows and in his interactions with his friends and enemies and in what happens to him. The final battle comes about as a result of six books worth of plot and character development, not some sudden and new found knowledge.

11. The Ultimate Boon
From here on in I can’t actually say much because it would give the ending away- But the ultimate boon is essentially the end goal of the quest and the achievement of it. Will’s goal, right from the start, is to live a normal life. To get that he has to beat both Harris and the graffe… But, if he somehow manages to achieve both of these things (and if he doesn’t, or if he dies, then there is no ultimate boon) it makes the remainder of the hero’s journey irrelevant as far as this story is concerned.

12. Refusal Of The Return
That is, a refusal to return to the real world once the goal of the quest has been reached- But Will can’t refuse, can he? Achieving his end goal, essentially, would mean that he has returned to the ‘real world’. He doesn’t have a say in the matter.

13. The Magic Flight
The hero runs off with the prize back to the real world, usually in some mystical way. Err. See above.

14. Rescue From Without
The hero is rescued by powerful guides and brought back to the real world. Hmmm… No. I don’t think you can interpret any part of the ending as this.

15. The Crossing Of The Return Threshold
This is self explanatory- It’s basically ‘The Return’ but as this would be the same thing as the ultimate boon (If Will even gets it) I’ll just refer you to that paragraph.

16. The Hero Becomes The Master Of Two Worlds
IE: The physical and the spiritual- It doesn’t happen.

17. Freedom To Live
A dead character can’t have the freedom to live, can he? But let us blithely assume for a moment that Will survives- Do you really think for one second that everything he has been through isn’t going to haunt him for the rest of his life? Will might get his prize, a normal life, but living free of all the death, the pain and the anguish that has come before? No. He’ll never have that, whatever happens.

So, as you can see, although parts of the monomyth apply to Dark Legend, it doesn’t fit in. You’d have to do some pretty dodgy acrobatics to get it to work if you wanted it to.

Building Worton is a series of posts going behind and beyond the scenes of the Dark Legend books- Spawn, Swarm, Stop The Cavalry and Sting, with No Angel Born in Hell and Extinction still to be released. All are available from Amazon (including in paperback) and from various eBook retailers

Building Worton | The Inevitable Spin Off

Dark Legend has gone through a lot of changes over the years, in terms of both plot and how the story is told. I’ve toyed with TV scripts, movies, books, radio adaptations… But when all is said and done the one thing that I’ve never done is written a spin off, though I have had ideas. Most of these I had before I had the ending or even the whole plot properly fixed. As such they tended to involve characters who, these days, don’t even make it to the end.

One was a ‘next generation’ kind of thing- Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, only more shit. There were two actual plans I made for this and both would have featured the kids of Will, Joe, Dan and Doug (and others) taking on a vengeful megalomaniac- In the first case this would have been Cornelius ‘Nephew of Jonathon’ Harris who plans to resurrect the graffe. Two of the children inevitably, inevitably, would have ended up getting together at the end. It wasn’t very good or very fleshed out- The children were called Henry (Will’s son) Will Jr (Son of Lex) Josephine (daughter of Joe, who would have ended up with Henry) Belthoq (Doug’s son) and Agrippa (Will’s nephew) I actually had an episode list as well, which makes it look like it would have been a roadtrip sort of thing- Episode 2 was called ‘Steal a Car?’ and 3 ‘The Open Road.’ Episode 7 was, interestingly, called ‘Return of the Human Jaffa Cake,’ presumably something to do with an antagonist character from the original pilot draft.

The second version is sparser and calls itself a ‘cartoon spin off.’ Belthoq has disappeared and Agrippa is renamed Octavian. The villain is Hiroto Nakumi and he’s joined by Harper’s grandson, Jeremy, as his sidekick. This plan, strangely, has blood types. Lord knows why.

Neither of these ideas would have worked. The most obvious reason for this is that there is no imperative for the story. There is no reason for it to exist- It doesn’t do anything for the original characters and nor does it offer any good reason for continuing the Dark Legend saga. It also doesn’t sit well with the ending- Either the original ending from the TV version or the current planned ending- They’re similar but different- With the books it is more emotionally traumatic for the surviving characters.

The other spin off was called, wait for it, The Adventures Of Randy. It would have happened in place of Randy’s arc during the second half of the story (or from Sting onwards) Instead of his graffe infection/reversion driving him round the twist he would have stayed as he was (cardinal sin, no character development) and it would have followed him going on the run for a certain criminal act in the second book- Which at this point wouldn’t have been motivated by his madness but by his own desperation. Each episode would have featured a one shot ‘Randy girl’ whom he would try to get off with, and fail. Their names were all ridiculously smutty- Like Nurse Lickmiov in the first one. It would have ended with him going to prison, and out of nowhere coming out of the closet, where he would finally walk hand in hand into the metaphorical sunset with one of the other inmates- This idea of Randy being in the closet was something I was later able to work into the main story although if he is gay (and I’ll leave that for readers to decide) he never does come out. In short, this was a very bad idea that is both too contrasting to the original and pointless. This spinoff, I find now, is highly problematic.

The third and final spin off was more a continuation and I got as far as writing the first bit of a script for it- Dark Horizon. It would deal with the fallout from the ending and was the least silly of all the ideas here, which is why bits of it live on in various guises- Notably the two main characters, Corwen and Luke, who both make appearances in D.S Proctor. It did have some interesting ideas- Like the opening where a couple are walking on Watership Down and find themselves mauled to death by mutant rabbits. At another point Mount Snowdon would have erupted as well. I actually like both of those ideas. With work, this could have been salvaged but I decided that if I ever do do a continuation it has to be done very, very carefully so as not to ruin the original. I would rather leave some ambiguity than provide the answers by way of something like this.

Building Worton is a series of posts going beyond and behind the scenes of the Dark Legend Book- Spawn, Swarm, Stop The Cavalry and Sting, with No Angel Born in Hell and Extinction yet to be released. They are available from all good eBook retailers and in paperback from Amazon.

Dragons & I

Dragons are some of the most fascinating and persistently enduring creatures in world legend. They’re pretty hard to get wrong and most people don’t feel the need to tamper with them to any great deal, at least physically speaking. Most dragons in Western mythology and popular culture are of the big, fire breathing lizard variety. Sometimes they will be guarding a mountain of gold as well. This is particularly evident in older works like Beowulf, which has gone on to further influence the shape of the dragon, including Smaug, perhaps the most famous dragon of modern times. The Hobbit borrows heavily from the latter part of Beowulf, where Beowulf fights a dragon guarding a treasure of gold and gets himself killed. Tolkien even admitted this himself. This isn’t surprising when you realise that Tolkien was a scholar of Anglo Saxon literature and an expert on the former. Quite frankly, dragons are a bit badass and when using one you can’t go much wrong. Your story and your writing style can go wrong, just look at the film adaptation of Beowulf with Ray Winstone, but your dragon likely won’t be.

I like the idea of the dragon. They’re a good, formidable, mythological force of nature. Although I’m not obsessed with them, if I go back through my memories they turn up frequently in my life and in the things I do like.

(Image courtesy of Picture by JRR Tolkien)

Right now, for example, there is an ornamental dragon not far from my right shoulder- Ceilliau. I bought him in Chester eighteen months ago and named him after a mythical dragon in my own works. I’ve never gone into Ceilliau’s back story (only ever mentioned him) but writing this is making me think that I should. Across the room, level with my left shoulder, is another dragon- Goch. He’s less corporeal than Ceilliau, being as he is a picture printed on a mug. Goch, for anyone unaware, is the name of the red dragon of Wales. His full name is Y Ddraig Goch. I bought that mug on a long forgotten adventure to Llanberis, from the little shop of the National Slate Museum. There’s a crack in the handle but until it actually breaks off I’ll keep using it.

One of my earliest film favourites was The Sword in the Stone, which features Mad Madam Mim turning into a dragon towards the end. Otherwise it’s a pretty dragon free film. A more recent film which I have an affection for is How To Train Your Dragon. I first saw it on the television a few Christmases ago and I fell for it. For me it’s one of those perfect Christmas film. I would have loved to have watched that when I was a kid. If that was around when I was five I’d have gone hard for it. I’d have had a How to Train Your Dragon Lunchbox, HTTYD toys, the video game if one exists. I’d have searched out the books. I’d have walked off towards the mountains in search of my own real life Toothless… In fact I might just do that anyway. My next mountain trip will be a week long expedition to find a dragon.

Two dragon films stick out for me, however. One I saw at home, on the television, and the other at the cinema. The home film was Flight of Dragons, a bog standard high fantasy type film which I can remember for having particularly beautiful artwork. I look again now, now that the years have passed, and that doesn’t seem to quite be the case, it isn’t as good but maybe that’s because animation has improved an awful lot over the last few years. The other thing I remembered was the theme song. For some reason, in my head, it was sung by a woman. I’ve just listened to it again and it turns out to have been Don Mclean of American Pie fame. It’s a more awesome song than I ever expected. When I saw the film it was on Cartoon Network, a channel I wasn’t normally allowed to watch, and nobody else was around at the time (which is why I had Cartoon Network on.) Maybe I also remembered it for that reason, because I was watching it on the subversive.

(Image courtesy of

The other film was for a friend’s birthday party back when I was six. It wasn’t a film I was especially keen to see but I went with it- Dragonheart. I remember everyone being given huge party trays of popcorn and I didn’t get through mine. I’m not a fan of popcorn. That was probably one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences I can recall though. I’ve never seen Dragonheart all the way through since, though I have seen snippets of it when it’s been on the television. It’s always come across in my head, since first watching it, as a bit corny. The trailer makes it look that way. But hey, I’ll watch Sean Connery as a dragon any day of the week, corny film or no.

My last dragon comes from literature, mythology more specifically. With this we’re going back to Wales and Arthur and that old story of Merlin, Vortigern and the white and red dragons. It was in a book I first took out from the regular library and which I then found in the school library. I only ever read the first chapter, never able to get any further, but that first chapter cemented itself into my brain. As I say, it was the story of the child Merlin and how he is kidnapped by Vortigern’s men and then uses the dragons to demonstrate how the native Britons will be victorious. In this version the dragons were buried under Mount Snowdon and not, as they are usually said to have been, under Dinas Emrys. Snowdon actually plays a very different part in Arthurian legend but for years I assumed that it was Snowdon where the dragons. I had a plan to one day go to Snowdon and find the dragons- In a way I did find a dragon there, or near there anyway. It’s to the left of me.

‘He didn’t mention me once!’ (image courtesy of HBO/

I’d never really thought about it before writing this but dragons have turned up again and again in my life. I’ve never thought of myself as having any particular fondness for dragons but looking back I find that I do have a slight love of them. I love The Hobbit and Beowulf- Beowulf was the first bit of ancient text I ever read cover to cover. There is all the above to contend with. Maybe in future I should keep an eye out for these dragons.