Hopes for Cornwall – to see it able to break free of rule from London. Decisions about Cornwall should be made from within Cornwall, by Cornish people who know their own land and its problems better than any one. Some people might think this is a “parochial” attitude but they couldn’t be more wrong. We have a global outlook. For all too long we’ve been brainwashed into this “Cornwall is too remote” way of thinking. Remote? From where?…oh, from London.
I love the spontaneity of this interview with author and Cornish public figure Craig Weatherhill. He has released fiction and non fiction books about Cornwall. We have exchanged messages over the course of time about music and most of all his love for the Melloron which you will get to hear later in this interview. As part of the ongoing story about Cornwall I am glad for getting the time to talk to one of the most interesting minds of this age.
For his works you can visit the Craig Weatherhill Amazon Page
I am planning to cover Cornwall this week. I am interested in what you do in preserving and promoting Cornwall’s rich legacy.
Where do I start…..?I set out decades ago to record and survey archaeological sites, with detailed, accurate scale drawings that recorded exactly what was there to be preserved. Back in 1974 no one had ever done this. I surveyed over 300 sites before professional bodies were formed to carry on with the work.
Cornish legend and mythology was also a close study, as were place-names, right down to field names – all this linked with the archaeology as there’s direct relevance.Then, I realised that no one had written comprehensive field guides to the best sites and monuments in Cornwall and Scilly, so I wrote Belerion and Cornovia (1981 & 1985), which remained in print until well after 2000. A new version of Cornovia, combining both the earlier books, came out 3 years ago.
I tried to promote the legends, and make people more aware of them, by writing the trilogy of novels (The Lyonesse Stone, Seat of Storms and The Tinners’ Way), which incorporate many of them.
Now, I’m looking at events in Cornish history that have never been fully, or truthfully, told.
Wow this is great! Ok so concerning Cornwall’s rich history and legacy, what can you say about the film, Mists of Avalon? It’s set in Cornwall right?
I’ve never seen “Mists of Avalon”. I think I remember reading the book many years ago.
And going back to your books, for those who only heard of them now, can you expound a bit on what they’re about? (The Lyonesse Stone, Seat of Storms and The Tinners’ Way)
The trilogy involves a modern family in the worlds of ancient Cornish legend. Their direct ancestor was the sole survivor of the flood that drowned the lost land of Lyonesse, said to have linked Land’s End with the Isles of Scilly, which is “why them”.
The first is about a sorcerer from legend, the Lord of Pengersek, and his mare (a demon in horse-shape) who is after a family heirloom which can give him true immortality, as he has lived for centuries dependent upon an artificial elixir.
The second has two more villains from the past, a storm-raising witch and a rapacious lawyer. In the battle to stop their schemes, the people of the sea become involved, with tragic results, but higher beings, such as the god Lugh and the goddess Epona, also lend a hand.
The third is an allegory on what Cornwall faces today with far too much external interference, and harks on Cornwall’s war with England in 1549, and brings in some of the villains from that war, as well as Cornwall’s very own sea monster (yes – we have one!).
All set in West Cornwall & Scilly. Most locations are real ones, and the books also bring in some real historical characters in cameo roles.
Have started a novel running a modern mystery-thriller alongside the story of the Spanish raid on Mount’s Bay in 1595. To be called “The Amezola Log”.
These days, I’m semi-retired, freeing up more time to spend with the horses, writing and music. In July I finally bought a mellotron, having wanted one for decades, and this features on Cornish band Skwardya’s new song “Gras dhe Nev” (Thank Heaven), written by Matthew Clarke.It adds a mix of strings and choir behind the song.
Speaking of Matthew Clarke whom I talked to in my last article, what are the things that you are involved with in the Cornish movement. I am keeping a close look at Kernow Celtic league and every one is taking interest in Cornwall’s Celtic heritage.
I advise the Signage Panel (bilingual signs), mostly on historic names. I’m still a member of the language group Agan Tavas. I’m also active with Save Penwith Moors against the desecration of our ancient landscape by the quangoes Natural “England” and “English” Heritage. I continue to research and write about Cornwall and its heritage.
I know you are passionate about your mellotron. Tell me more about this instrument. How did you fall for this one?
I could never afford a mellotron in the past. They were hugely expensive and hefty with it. The Mark II used by the Moody Blues weighed 350lbs, and the single manual M400 was still 150lbs. Then, last year, the Mellotron company developed the first digital model by sampling all 100 sound choices from the original mellotron tape archive, so the sounds are identical to the big analogue models, even to the 8-second note limit. This looks like the top section of an M400 but weighs only 33lbs.
Can you give me a good link for a video of a mellotron video of yours on youtube ?
Google ‘youtube cweatherhills channel’, and you’ll find one of me playing mine.
At this point , how is Cornwall doing in terms of Literature, Music and Economy?
> Literature. Cornwall is doing well, with writers like Alan Kent in particular. One great development is the production of translations of novels into Cornish (e.g. my The Lyonesse Stone > Jowal Lethesow), or bilingually published (Alan Kents’ The Cult of Relics/Devocyon dhe Greryow. Nor is Cornwall short of poets.
Music – Again, Cornwall is vibrant with music, with any number of groups (Skwardya, Hanterhir, Bagas Degol etc.), solo artists (e.g. Sue Aston, violinist), dance groups, choirs, and the available styles cover a broad spectrum, too.
Economy – Not well at all. The lowest incomes and the highest domestic overheads in the UK. For decades, London has taken around £300 million p.a. more from Cornwall than it gives back. Young Cornish people can’t afford to buy houses in their own land as 2nd homes have artificially inflated house privcs overall, and rents are extortionate. Cornish schoolkids get a fraction of central Govt. grants per annum than their counterparts in the Home Counties. Unemployment is high, and yet big firms and corporations (incl. Cornwall Council) prefer to recruit from outside Cornwall.
Are you currently involved in the music scene and festivals around?
As yet, I don’t perform music to live audiences, preferring to compose and play on my own (much as I write). However, if I improve and get more confident, live performances might yet happen.
I am interested in the Agan Tavas movement. Can you expound on this too?
Agan Tavas (“Our Language”) – a Cornish language society founded about 25 years ago, and with an emphais on the traditional language rather than very modern reconstructed versions). It researches, publishes, holds events, and social gatherings called Yeth an Weryn (language of the people). I was Chairman for 4 years before handing over to the current Chairman, Ray Chubb.
What are your hopes for your nation and what can we all do to make it come true?
Hopes for Cornwall – to see it able to break free of rule from London. Decisions about Cornwall should be made from within Cornwall, by Cornish people who know their own land and its problems better than any one. Some people might think this is a “parochial” attitude but they couldn’t be more wrong. We have a global outlook. For all too long we’ve been brainwashed into this “Cornwall is too remote” way of thinking. Remote? From where?…oh, from London. Who needs London? When you look at our geographical position, we’re perfectly placed for direct global trading. Far better placed than London is. Perhaps, with autonomy, Cornwall and the other Celtic nations could form a loose federation that allows each their independence, but also allows for solidarity when the need arises. Much as Europe was supposed to be but, hopefully, we’ll learn from the reasons why Europe never achieved that.
What can we do to make it happen? – Cut loose from the mainstream political parties who have serially failed us all, and get behind the pro-Celtic ones. In Cornwall, that means Mebyon Kernow which has just won a landslide by-election in one of Cornwall’s largest wards (geographically). In turn, MK has to be ready to develop and embrace some really high hopes but, with increasing public support, that will come. Plaid Cymru and the SNP both grew from very humble, and oft-ridiculed beginnings: now look at them! MK can do likewise.
I see a lot of things happening and right now. I am looking at Campaign Kernow and the commonwealth games. There are great talents from all around . If we talk about music can you point me to the right direction(for people who are seriously in need of music that represents Cornwall). For example.. this is a good one right?
Looking at their list of artists, I’d say that’s a great place to start. Matthew Clarke (Skwardya), Philip Knight and Sue Aston are also FB friends. A further, amazing musician is Medwyn Goodall, a composer and multi-instrumentlist who has produced a couple of dozen albums. You can find him and Sue on YouTube. Phil just sent a link for his new album – I’ll share it to you.
Oh yes! I am a fan of his music(Medwyn Goodall). And of course those people you mentioned. Can I see Phil’s link?
Years ago (1991), my first novel was also the first to be promoted by a film trailer. We needed the right music for it, so I asked Medwyn if I could use ‘Nine Maidens’ from his Druid album. He laughed and said that the piece had been inspired by my book ‘Belerion’! How about that for full circle?
The equally admiring society You and Medwyn.I am listening to Philip Knight’s youtube sampler.This is amazing because this is in Cornish Terrific voice too.
Yes, he’s a fine singer. He only put that link up last night!
Whenever I see Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), who has a place at Lelant, he says: “Any more books?”, and I answer with: “Any more records?” (He’s another mad horseman, so you can see how we met up).
I love Moody Blues( I might sound like a phony but the artists you mentioned are familiar to me)…wow Phil’s music really makes me smile. So much variety to it. These and other artists we discussed will be linked to the interview .
It seems that we have a terrific music scene in Cornwall these days.
You even get a couple of shots of what’s going on inside the ‘tron.
.. those are tape strips.. analogue sound extravaganza!
I’m still learning what mine’s capable of doing after 4 months with it. Yes – the analogue originals literally put heads on tapes when you pressed the keys, so the violins, flutes, choirs etc are the real thing, not an electronic imitation but, because the ‘tron’s a machine, it lends something of its own, hence the ethereal quality of the sounds. My digital M4000D is 24-bit sampled from the original mellotron tape archive.
You should upload a video of your playing when you are already confident .
I’ve got one. Want it? Sure!OK – one of my own (Drehafva’n Loor (Moonrise), and a Yes song.The word sounds and looks beautiful in CornishSent those two plus a demo of 16 violins and custom choir.============================================================================================================
The music has that impressionistic feel. Goosebumps! this is amazing stuff. You play so well.
Many thanks. Enjoy your day, too (although I expect it’s about bed time there – I’m downing my morning mug of coffee here. It helps to get my heart started).
It is only 3pm here. around 6 to 7 hour difference between us.
Less than I thought.
It’s 0745 here, just getting light (being winter). Very mild for the time of year, though. I was driving around yesterday with my car windows wide open!We’d expect around 8 or 9C around now (in fact, the last 2 Novembers were way colder than that). It’s actually around 14 or 15C and it was all sun yesterday after a stormy night.
Doesn’t often get above 24C here even in summer. We have sea on 3 and a hal sides of us, and the warm Gulf Stream current to help out. We’re about level with Newfoundland, which is probably frozen solid by now – but they (and New York to the south) are stuck with the cold Labrador current.
Ha benegys re bo dhis ynwedh.