Pagham-verse, Podcast, the day we ate grandad, world building

#EldritchGirl S03E01: What the pest is HE doing here? Musings on Myrddin

What the pest is he doing here?

Ricky Porter

Introducing a Bearded Old Bastard

Ricky has mentioned Myrddin and his distrust of Welsh poets before – towards the end of THE CROWS, where in his POV he is sulking about Eglantine Pritchard and the dangers of speaking Welsh, in case some ‘bearded old bastard’ shows up. In the hardback edition, there’s a short story called ‘Gerald’, in which Ricky meets Myrddin for the first time as a 10-year-old.

In THIRTEENTH, when Ricky is severely depressed and threatened by Wes’s presence in the house, he explicitly thinks of Myrddin by his Latinised name – Merlinus Sylvestris – and complains to himself that Myrddin was a better prophet than he is.

In THE DAY WE ATE GRANDAD, Myrddin makes an actual appearance. He isn’t real, exactly: the idea for Myrddin was workshopped with Robert Mitchelmore, whose poem, ‘οὐκ ἔπεφνεν ὄφιν: he did not slay the dragon’ (2010), appears as an epigraph to Part 2: Fall of the Titans.

Praise poems were meant to render their subject immortal, so that their names would never die so long as the poems were still spoken. Myrddin has, by now, so many stories and faces, that he is an immortal figure wherever his myth is known, and in that sense is no longer a man but an avatar of his own fame. That means there are baked-in limitations to his powers; he can do everything the stories about him say he can do, but no story has been written where Myrddin saves the world from a Lovecraftian entity, so in that sense, he is powerless.

Myrddin is also not a heroic figure – he’s not a man of action, but a seer, a bard-prophet, and in the Welsh tales he was given his gift of prophecy by God to annoy Myrddin’s father, who was the Devil. Myrddin was meant to be the antichrist, but was baptised on the way out of his mother by a quick-thinking nun, which restored his free will. The infant Myrddin, now able to choose for himself, decided to devote his powers for good – mainly to aggravate his dad – and thus was given the spiritual gift of prophecy.

In my version of Myrddin, I’ve conflated his shape-shifting powers with those of Taliesin, another bard-prophet, and used parts of ‘The Battle of the Trees’ in his speeches. Myrddin is a Carmarthenshire lad, and looks a bit like an estate agent until you look more closely and see that his smart suit is just another skin he wears.

As to what Myrddin is doing there: he’s been interested in Ricky for a while, and this time he’s in our world (as opposed to the Otherworld) because one of his very distant descendants has asked for his assistance. All will be revealed in Chapter 3.

If you want to read the short story ‘Gerald’, where Myrddin and Ricky first meet, you can do so in the back of the hardback edition of THE CROWS.

I have 2 signed copies left in my Ko-Fi shop which are part of the book boxes that come with bespoke Pagham-on-Sea (sea spray and peppermint) and Fairwood House (lavender and earl grey) scented candles by Avalon Alchemy. If you tell me your favourite theme or chapter, I will do bespoke annotations for you in the margins of the hardback copy, as well as sign it.

I’ll be bringing out a collection of shorter Richard Porter fiction to go with the novella THE SUSSEX FRETSAW MASSACRE as a paperback release, which will be released as THE SUSSEX FRETSAW MASSACRE AND OTHER STORIES: AN ABRIDGED BIOGRAPHY OF RICHARD EDWIN PORTER.

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