The Terrible ends to perfect lives…Who would wish to be Saint…?

Saint Denis

I was doing some research for a short story I was writing…when I came across some interesting facts about Saints…and Patron Saints…There are quite a few bizarre ones and if you read into their lives you discover some riveting stories…

Did you know that Saint Drogo,  is the Patron Saint of Unattractive People…yes such a Patron Saint exists…

This Saint, who during a pilgrimage, inexplicably fell victim to disease that caused gross deformities. He face became so deformed and ugly that children would run shrieking whenever he came into their vision. He was given refuge, a small cell, by some town folks, who could no longer bare to see the distress this man caused the young children of the town…if truth be told he could have tried wearing a mask, or putting a scarf to spare people his ugly face… For forty years this Saint survived on a simple sustenance: barley, water and the Eucharist.
You have the likes of Saint Apollonia, who as legend has it, her martyrdom had involved having all her teeth violently extracted or smashed. She died in the year 249, was martyred for not renouncing her faith during the reign of Emperor Philip. If ever you have a tooth ache, forget clove oil, pray to Apollonia, who was so determined not to renounce her faith, having had the “teeth treatment” jumped into a fire voluntarily.

St Margaret of Antioch, , when jailed for her beliefs had met the devil himself, in the form of a dragon, who proceeded to swallow her whole, with her Christian powers she managed to flee the dragon’s belly, a cross in hand. Attempts were made to execute this woman including, drowning her and with fire, but all failed, leading some of her captors to be converted.

St Roch born of noble birth chose instead a humble life bereft of wealth and privilege, to work amongst victims of a plague. He traveled the breadth of country healing many a plague victims. He was soon to fall victim to the plague himself, and he secluded in a hut in the woods, whereupon he was there befriended by a dog, who brought him sustenance and licked the sores on his leg until he was healed. Back in civilization, at this point a stranger to many, he was imprisoned, his dog however continued to offer relief to prisoners.

Saint Denis, who fell foul of Pagan priests, was promptly beheaded, but managed to walk with this head neatly tucked under his arm, while continuing to preach the word of God.
St Lucy, found herself in a situation, whereby her torturers gouged her eyes out, however God restored her sight, before she died…consequently she became the patron saint of eye problems and blindness.

It is incredible when you read the lives of these Saints, the horrific brutal tortures they went through. Saint Peter the supposed first Pope of Rome, was allegedly crucified upside down, however this is open to conjecture…some believe that St Peter asked to be executed this way, being unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus Christ.
St. James the Just… The leader of the Church in Jerusalem was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple, another one refusing to renounce their faith. Like many of the Saints, this was not enough to see him off, so his enemies proceeded to beat him to death.

St. Matthew, was another who managed to defy his torturers, having been captured his body was set afire. When the flame was extinguished, St. Matthew was incredibly still alive and unharmed. Then He was accused of being a sorcerer and was set afire again. This time he yielded to the flames.

I guess not all Saints perished in pitiful brutal dramatic ways…and they earned their “Sainthood” through other means, less dramatic means. Regardless of whether you are a believer or non-believer, or indeed total skeptic, some of the stories of the Saints, make fascinating reading.

Article by Francis H Powell
Author of Flight of Destiny.


What if they’d been writers ?

genius negative

They have had every morsel of their lives dissected in every conceivable way, but what if they had been writers themselves…what would they have written?

John Lennon could have been an artist (he went to Liverpool Art School) his work appears to be scribble-like cartoons, with an element of wit. His life was dramatically cut short, killed by a crazed “fan”…but what if he’d lived much longer and felt inspired to write a book? What would he have written?

John Lennon was somewhat of a complex character…he was brought up by his aunt and only formed a relationship with his mother, when her life was cut short, by an accident. His autobiography or Beatles Memoirs would have made compulsive reading and copies would have flown out of book shops…unless of course he inserted some controversial comments, like his quote concerning The Beatles being more popular than Jesus Christ.

Would he have written a book similar to a “Beat Generation” type novel? Some kind of psychedelic drug induced masterpiece. He certainly went through an acid phase. He was noted for his acerbic wit and sometimes cruel sarcasm, juxtaposed with this was his passion for causes, and for “world peace”. What would he have made of…this post September the 11th world we live in?

Jim Morrison packed a lot into his 27 years on this planet, he was a natural poet, might he have not also been a great dark fiction writer? Similarly he might have written some great drug fueled novels.

The more recently diseased Amy Winehouse, who could have written an open honest account of all the demons residing in her head, but unfortunately drugs and alcohol got to her aged 27…Alternatively she might have chosen to write about how the Music industry manipulated her fine talent.

What of Politicians…once Richard Nixon had passed through all the political memoirs…he might have chosen to write a political thriller, full of corruption and intrigue. Bill Clinton (ok this man is still alive) could write something with political intrigue mixed with erotica/kinky sex…there seems to be an influx of EL James type writers, so he could do really well out of this.

What of artists? Picasso tried his hand at a multitude of artistic disciplines, what would a cubist novel read like? The story would have to be viewed from different angles and facets and would be very fragmented. Or perhaps he would have written a novel about “the noble art” of Bullfighting (which in my book is far from noble).

Leonardo Da Vinci, was a writer of sorts, well Leonardo was everything, not just a genius painter, he was a visionary, who could have written some of the most incredible Science Fiction stories ever, he would have surpassed HG Wells, who equally had an incredible vision of the future. If his novel was written using “mirror writing” to read it would take forever., with lots of obscure references.

Stanley Kubrick, a brilliant film director, would be hard to predict what kind of book he might have written…he was such a versatile director, capable of turning his hand to different types of film. He Was also a very meticulous and precise man, who did a lot of research into his films, so we could expect books with lots of detail, as well fired with a rampant imagination.

Comic genius and a master of mimicry, Peter Sellers, was another “complex character”. Almost preordained that he would be an actor, his life guided by his strong Jewish pushy mother “Peg” who contrived to build up a massive ego in her beloved son. Though known as a “comic and incredibly naturally funny man, who is well known for his portrayals of inspector Jacques Clouseau, Sellers desperately wanted to be seen in a much more serious light, not type cast as a clown like Clouseau. A great paradox with Sellers as well as many other comic greats, was that he suffered so much anxiety and from deep depression. He could easily conjure up different characters, so if he had written a work of fiction, maybe he would have been a highly imaginative character developer. Given his bent to be taken seriously, perhaps he would have written a very serious dark novel. Because he played so many different characters, he himself was lost amongst all these characters, maybe writing a book might have helped him to find himself.

Maybe if a lot of these characters had settled down and written novels, there would have been many therapeutic gains and maybe their shortened lives might have been extended…what if?

Francis H Powell is a writer and author of Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories. Follow him on Twitter @Dreamheadz

Am I a freak?

Am I a freak-

What do we understand by the word freak?
Why are most humans so cruel?
Why are we all so desperate to be part of the “norm”?

one that is markedly unusual or abnormal: as
a : a person or animal having a physical oddity and appearing in a circus sideshow
b slang (1) : a sexual deviate (2) : a person who uses an illicit drug
c : hippie
d : an atypical postage stamp usually caused by a unique defect in paper (as a crease) or a unique event in the manufacturing process (as a speck of dirt on the plate) that does not produce a constant or systematic effect
a : an ardent enthusiast <film freaks>
b : a person who is obsessed with something <a control freak>
See freak defined for English-language learners
See freak defined for kids
Examples of FREAK
1. eccentric, artistic types whom many regarded as freaks
2. I had a terrible rash on my face, and I felt like a freak.

It seems to be part of human nature to constantly judge others physical appearance. Perhaps the human race is getting even more narcissistic, after all don’t we go around taking “selfies” and plant them on the social media. God help anyone with an over-sized nose, ears that jut out, bulging eyes, a prominent pimple, a mole that is so eye-catching it directs people’s focus, like a ship to lighthouse in a thick fog. Anyone with extreme characteristics is liable to a lifetime of abusive comments, ridicule, being stared at…fingers pointed at them on public transport. Parts in horror films beckon, but the front cover of vogue does not.

In Victorian times those deemed to be “freaks” were placed on the stage, were put “on show”. The Victorians had a bizarre curiosity, there were the bearded ladies, included amongst these was Julia Pastrana resembled more of an ape than a woman. Pastrana, a Mexican-born woman suffered from hypertrichosis, a disease that causes the person to be covered from head to toe in long, thick hair. To compound things…she had a large nose and thick lips. She later had the indignity of being mummified, along with the still born child she gave birth to, who had the same features as her. Freak shows are a terrible indictment of the Victorian times, a time when Britain was at the height of imperialism.
John Merrick, more commonly known as “The Elephant man” had the most unimaginable skin disease, allegedly suffering from elephantiasis. Like some of the characters in my book, poor John Merrick, was an object of curiosity and ridicule throughout his life. His body was characterized by his malformed head, curved spine, “lumpy” skin and overgrown right arm and hand. His life was brought further to the public’s attention, with David Lynch’s file “The Elephant man”. The real reason for Merrick’s severe condition is even to this day open to conjecture.

What we can say is you are unfortunate to be born with a condition like John Merrick’s you will have much suffering to endure and will need the kind of indomitable spirit that John Merrick possessed. From the moment we are born, we are dealt different cards of fate, some are born lucky others face a life of hardship on account of their atypical physical appearance.
As children we are conditioned to be like the pack…we want to be like the others, included within the group of those deemed “normal”. Even a child with ginger hair, might suffer at the hands of others…vicious name calling…In my school if you did not match up what was considered “the norm” for example if you were effeminate, or had an atypical name (it was an all-boys school full of pubescent boys) you would be showered with all manner of insults, “lesbo” “lesy” or the likes. We had dormitories with up to twelve boys crammed together , like an army camp for privates. We were there for thirty-six weeks of the year, the other boys were “inescapable”. For this reason I escaped to the art room, where I could be at least express myself on paper or canvas and get away from this existence I really despised. I guess it was where I began to feel an “outsider”. I was never going to join the army, I was never going to be a businessman, like many of the other boys, primed for such activities… I was going to blessed with some comfortable life, with a comfortable career beckoning.

My Short stories are littered with freaks…for example there is “Bugeyes”…who is rejected at birth, on account of his extraordinary large eyes…and needless to say he is ridiculed by all…with a myriad of jokes that involve large eyes…for example “moth eyes”. People assume he is “stupid” but this is far from being the case.

Francis H Powell is the author of Flight of Destiny a book of short stories. He is also a musician and video maker…check out this video…it’s called “Bring out the freaks” and features Rayo, a multi-musician, who plays guitar and piano on this track.

Euphoria, then thrown into the jungle of editing, polishing, proofing then promoting


Surely any aspiring writer must feel a sudden wave of euphoria, when they get the news that their manuscript, that they slaved over for years has finally been accepted by a publisher. Such euphoria can be compared to an unsigned group that has just heard a record company is going to release its first single, or a young painter learning a gallery is going to put on their first one man show. When friends ask for news, instead of giving the humdrum response “nothing new” or another typical prosaic answer, you can respond “my book’s going to be published” in a voice filled with pride and exhilaration.

But what happens next? The next process begins, the author being assigned an unknown editor. In my case this unknown editor was from a far off country. I am from the UK, but live France and the editor is based in Hawaii. Of course communication has developed a lot in recent times and e mails begin to flow to and fro. It takes me time to master the process, of accepting and rejecting edits.

Editing problems are compounded due to the fact that I am British, therefore we have spelling differences but also grammatical differences bare their heads, as well as other culture clashes. It is often frustrating waiting for updates. At times I am really flustered as I sense some of my original ideas are ebbing away and that my stories are becoming infused with another’s ideas. Editing takes forever and I reach the stage whereby I can’t imagine my precious book ever emerging out of this mushy soup of a process. Sometimes I feel like I have to negotiate to keep my book with all the hallmarks of my writing style, having to fight tooth and nail to preserve my stories as I see them . I am strong willed but a real novice in this book writing business. I think as a creative writer, not a person trying to sell a product.

Following the long drawn out editing process, (I fully admit I learned a lot from my editors and my writing grew a lot) there was the polishing process…which often seemed to blur into editing. It was a real relief when finally a line was drawn and my book reached the giddy heights of being published.

Not much time for the chinking of champagne glass and pats on the back…a new challenge arrived in the form of an e mail telling me I was now about to begin a long process of promoting my book…so from writer to promoter, with no time to rest on my laurels. I have been on facebook quite a while and have a rather dormant twitter account… I soon find myself a disciple of Goodreads and try to locate any similar sites to place my book, to grab reader’s attention.

An email arrives with a link to a book trailer which my publisher has made from me…visually it looks great…but the music is another matter… he seems to have chosen some funky track which is at total loggerheads with my book of dark surreal stories…I send a urgent prompt reply expressing my concern with his choice of music suggesting I provide my own music (I am a long standing electronic musician). Thankfully my concerns are addressed and eventually a new video is posted on Youtube.

As with the editing process…I also prove to be a total novice concerning the promotion process…I have been serviced with an extensive PDF with lots of information concerning what I MUST do…this writers manual is useful but…it is a slow process…I use Twitter but I had no idea of the use and value of a #hashtag. I steadily learn author’s tricks to win likes, followers, reviews, spotlights, guest spots, youtube views…etc…etc…It’s a bit of a jungle out there and writers are helping each other or competing with one another for readers and sales. Before the promotion process began I had no idea what a ISBN number was. I still have novice inscribed on my forehead, but I have managed to do quite a number of interviews, guest articles, I have managed a writer’s event, so I feel some sense of progress.

Francis H Powell is a writer and author of Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories. Follow him on Twitter @Dreamheadz