Published by
Scarletta Press, 2008
ISBN-10: 09765201-9-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-9765201-9-1
Currently available in softcover only.
List price: $16.95

Buy a signed copy direct from  Bill 
$20 including postage

  The Loki Stone in St. Stephen's church, Kirkby Stephen. Page 101.

 

One of Walter's bowtops.

Bill (obviously half-in-the-bag)and Uncle Walter, in an Appleby pub. 1981.

Appleby 1981, my son Danny sitting at the yag.

The author, Gill Barron, Danny Watkins and Uncle Walter. Appleby 1981.

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On the fiddle or just scraping a living?

Kids in their Sunday best. Appleby 1984. ...................................................................................................................................

 Uncle Walter Jallin' the Drom. 

The Vale of Eden, Cumbria.

Beyond the river the once wooded campsite is now green fields.

 

Bill standing on the old Carlisle to Settle railway line where his adventure began.

 

The author finds a railway tie similar to the one that ripped his foot. (now used as a paperweight in his office.)

The Scandal Beck flows south to Friar's Bottom.  Prehistoric runrig terraces scar the hill.

Bill sits at the yag, an accommodation wagon is behind him.

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Old Joe, the 361 ft. University clock tower may have served as the model for Tolkien's Orthanc.

The Bell pub in Harbourne, where the Tolkien nerds used to meet.

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Hereford Cathedral.

The Mappa Mundi, The Garden of Eden at the top (East.)

The British Isles (detail from the above map)

The Bonacon does his fiendish thing.

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Glastonbury, The Isle of Avalon

Glastonbury Tor in 1907.

The Holy Thorn, Wearyall Hill, Glastonbury, (The Tor in the background)

 

The Once And Future Celt

Twenty-one year old Bill is stranded in a Gypsy camp with an injured foot, cared for by the beautiful, unattainable Riena. The Gypsies, or Romany, suffer a negative reputation in Britain, a notion that Bill’s stay challenges. With his prowess on the fiddle and keen interest in their culture, the Gypsies—and Riena—grow to accept him. Bill discovers that his Celtic roots may not be so different from the misunderstood Romany.

After making his way back to his parents’ home in Birmingham, he has difficulty finding work in recession-ravaged England. When he finally lands a position loading dishes at a university cafeteria, he tells his proud Irish mother only the “university” part. Meanwhile, his Welsh father takes him to his ancestral homeland to reveal family secrets. In search of a new love, Bill soon leaves home again and on his travels he comes full circle in his spiritual journey to be a true Celt.

The Once and Future Celt is an engaging, hilarious meditation on the power of family, identity, the origins of language and the opposite sex. It completes a trilogy started by A Celtic Childhood and Scotland Is Not for the Squeamish, and is a gem of a memoir on its own.

Reviews:

“This is a delightful and often touching book, full of sly rebellion. Bill Watkins has a perfect ear for the more nonsensical sides of the heritage instinct, and a shrewd eye on where he came from—and where he's going. Delicious.” —Frank Delaney, author of the novels Tipperary and Ireland, and the six-part BBC series The Celts

“The title of The Once and Future Celt hints at the good natured whimsy which pervades this delightful book.  Watkins has composed a personalized picaresque exploration of what the scholarly constructs of ‘Celtic’ mean to ordinary Britons in the context of modern, post-imperial Britain. Based upon a narrative of his own adventures as a footloose young man and drawing upon his personal Welsh and Irish heritage, the author has created an engaging quest for the ‘Camelot of the Mind.’ Episodes featuring the genuine ‘other culture of Romany (‘gypsies’ or travelers) and the made-up ‘other’ worldly culture of undergraduate medieval role-players will lead readers to wonder how much ‘Celtic’ is a product of individual invention and how much a label based on historical traditions. This book will appeal both to those who enjoy a fast-paced read populated with an array of well sketched characters and to those who enjoy ruminating about the issues which it explores."
– Frederick Suppe, President, Celtic Studies Association of North America 

“They say the third time's the charm. Bill Watkins’ first two books had charm in spades, but the third in his trilogy tells you the ‘why’ to the other two books’ ‘what.’ In The Once And Future Celt, a young man at once wise beyond his years and goofily open to the whims of the universe sets out on the road shortly before his twenty-first birthday to find his true purpose in life. He encounters Gypsies, privileged-but-clueless college students, his contentious but loving parents, bureaucratic officiousness and strange fellow sojourners on his way. In his travels he also finds love, wisdom, the key to his Celtic roots and his future path (hence the title). Bill Watkins is a born storyteller, descended from a long line (on both sides) of Celtic yarn-spinners. He manages to be disarming, funny, entertaining and possesses a keen grasp of human nature and its foibles, often all within the same sentence. Read this book and be mightily entertained.”
– Sherry Ladig, contributing editor, Scottish News In Minnesota

"It's obvious that Bill Watkins loves language. And he is not afraid to use it. A very enjoyable read."
– Alphie McCourt, author of A Long Stone's Throw

“His knack for storytelling is the equal of any Irish bard, and he knits together fact and legend like a finely crafted Celtic knot.” —Minneapolis Observer Quarterly (Winter 2008)
“Frank, hilarious and honest … The Once and Future Celt is a strong choice for anyone who enjoys real-life, down-to-earth storytelling.” —The Midwest Book Review (August 2008)

PHOTOS

A visit to a gypsy camp by a German film crew (c.1979)

Bill Watkins. Walter Sedlmayr. Tilly Wood.  Rienhart (cameraman).....................................................................................................................................................

The film crew pose with the travelers.

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Sue, Uncle Walter and myself tuning up for a session. Winter 2004.

Myself and Uncle Walter at his camp in Cumbria, summer 2008.

Fell ponies are wee toughies.  Uncle Walter-built bowtop wagon in background.

Photos from scenes depicted in the book. 

Near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

"Dappled in the shadows beneath the boughs, strews of rich green moss spread a living velvet   across tumbled stone and tangled tree root..."

Page 5  (Note the time code data - this picture was taken 13th January, 2004.....!)

" ... and on reaching a bubbling ford in the river, the sudden realization that I was totally lost."

Page 12

"...a rough moorscape dotted with Iron-Age hut circles, prehistoric cultivation terraces and vast oblong burial mounds ... known locally as Giant's Graves."  Page 75

"... a series of massive brownstone arches. It looks like one of the Roman aqueducts in Spain."

Page 77

All that remained of "The Struck Oak" in 2004.  Page 83

Pendragon Castle, on the banks of the river Eden.  Thanks for the photo Gordon.

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And on to The Kaulo Gav. (Birmingham.)

 Pickets at Saltley Coke Works, Birmingham during the 70s miners strike.

Tolkien town:..................................................................................................................................

Perrot's Folly a 97' tower that is thought to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's notion of Minas Tirith.

The view from the top of Perrot's Folly shows the other tower rising out of Edgebaston Water Works, Birmingham,

Minas Morgul, perhaps.

.Dr. Sampson (Sam) Gamgee (1828-1886) was a surgeon at the Queen's Hospital in Birmingham.

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Wales, Land of Song (and pubs.)

The Hundred House Bleddfa, where generations of Watkins took their ease. (Diolch John Dingley ffotograffs.)

 

The ancient church porch in Bleddfa.

   

Bleddfa church and graveyard where generations of Watkins are "pushing up the daisies."

The Red Lion Inn at Llangfihnangel Nant Melan.

My favorite photo of the "auld rebel," singing it up, oblivious that the clock says it well after midnight!

           

The Seven Stars Inn, Aberedw.

  Zoot-suited dad befriends a local lovely in a rustic bar. 

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Hereford calls:

 

The Barrels pub in St. Owen Street, Hereford.

Plas Gwyn before the squatters moved in - now refurbished and turned into fine apartments.

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A sojourn in Stroud:

30 London Road, Stroud is now a nice hotel. The old Post Office is now the Lord John Pub.

The Woolpack Inn, Stonehouse, Glouscestershire.

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Journey's end:

A beautiful day over Cadbury Castle, Somerset where Bill and Uncle Walter made camp in the trees below the ramparts of the Iron Age fortress and our story, The Once and Future Celt concludes.  Thanks for dropping by.