If you've had enough of Deliciously Ella, Helmsley and Helmsley and even Jamie Oliver, this is the blog for you! Maverick Priest, Stand-Up Comedian and Messy Cook Maggy Whitehouse has had enough of fake food pictures. This is real cooking — down and dirty and scrumptiously yummy. Maggy is also the author of the bestselling comedy novel 'For the Love of Dog' and 16 books on metaphysics and the Bible.
Another memoir from my Life of Miracles - this time how I met and married Henry Barley.
Henry married me because of a hedgehog. I married him
because of Steve Winwood.
I had long been cunning in my resistance to marriage,
while believing all along that I wanted it. With
middle-class angst, too much puppy fat and enough training in not showing off
to make me dull as ditchwater, I believed no one worth having would want me. I
didn’t realise that my strategy of falling in love only with those who were
unavailable was also an effective defence. I can’t say the men I languished
over were commitment-phobes; most of them were seriously committed — committed
that is to steam engines, amateur dramatics, their own reflection or their
And yet, one day, at the age of 32, I found myself in
the far reaches of China, being proposed to by an ordinary, unassuming,
perfectly pleasant grey-haired man, nine years my senior, whom I’d met just seven
days before. He had never even kissed me and I’d not looked at him twice (apart
from asking him to lend me the money to buy a hedgehog).
We were in the far north east of China to make a
documentary and he had just been out late that night to record something known
as ‘wild track’ – ambient sound for editing into a documentary.
I heard him come in at about 9pm and took him a mug of
cocoa — because I was nice, that’s all. I’d have done it for any of the crew. It
was sub-zero outside; there was no heating in the motel and I’d travelled in
China for long enough in the 1980s to know that sachets of hot chocolate were a
survival aid, not a luxury. You could activate them with the constantly-present
thermos of hot water left in every room for the ubiquitous tea.
I didn’t fancy Henry a bit, that honour was currently reserved
for the (married of course) production manager.
Politely, I knocked on his door and waited.
He opened it, looked understandably surprised;
accepted the metal mug and asked me in.
I went, diffidently. He asked me some questions about
myself and indicated that I should sit down so I perched politely on the end of
the single bed.
He said ‘thank you for the cocoa.’ And then said something
weird that I didn’t catch about the rest of his life.
I said, ‘What?’
‘I’m asking you to marry me,’ he said.
In north-east China in 1988, there were no mobile
phones, no email, no social networks and no normal telephones which I could
have used to bolster up my defences by phoning a friend. I was as far out of my
comfort zone as I possibly could be, filming a TV documentary with a herd of
strangers who expected me to know what I was doing when I didn’t. I was cold,
tired, terrified, disorientated, lost, lonely and out of barriers.
So I said, ‘Perhaps.’ That was because I was nice. It
seemed rude to say ‘You must be out of your tiny mind!’ to someone who was
either being very kind or who genuinely was out of their mind.
‘Excuse me, I have to go now,’ I added, politely and
He nodded, smiled and opened the door for me.
Yes, I did look back down the corridor when I got to
my room to see if he was watching me. He wasn’t.
I didn’t have any experience of marriage proposals and
I was more perplexed than anything. I slept perfectly well until about 6am and
then was wide-awake for no obvious reason. It wasn’t the light; that morning
was dull and overcast. It wasn’t the birdsong; you don’t get much birdsong when
the local population has eaten all the birds. I had politely eaten sparrows on
many previous visits to China though I never managed to cope with sucking out
their brains bit which was, according to my interpreter, a delicacy.
It was murky and cold so I clambered into every layer
of clothing I could find and went out, as bulky as the Michelin Man, for a walk
in the birches and aspens of Jilin Province.
It was only very early autumn but already the trees
were mottled with gold and we were high enough for the sun to be rising across
the valley below me. It was not going to be a particularly dramatic sunrise;
there was too much cloud and the sky was dull grey rather than silver. I
walked, my mind full of that day’s filming and whether, as a first-time documentary
director, I would be able to continue to fool the rest of the crew that I knew
what I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about Henry’s proposal — in the cold light
of day, that was plainly ridiculous. But I did have my Walkman on, mostly
because the aforementioned lack of birdsong was rather depressing.
Once I was warm enough, I stopped walking and sat down
on a log to watch the dawn. I changed the cassette and the introduction to the first
track of the often-listened-to Arc of a
Diver by Steve Winwood began to play in my headphones.
I put the previous cassette in the pocket of my
anorak. And, as I did, I kid you not; a tiny sunbeam broke from the dark clouds
and flowed across the fingers holding the cassette recorder. As I looked down
at the unexpected warmth, it began to expand, widening until the light shone
right into my eyes, making me screen them with my hand.
I stood up, the better to see the emerging dawn and,
as I did, Steve began to sing:
‘Stand up in a clear blue morning, until you see
what can be. Alone in a cold day dawning, are you still free? Can you be?
‘When some cold tomorrow finds you; when some sad
old dream reminds you; how the endless road unwinds you. While you see a chance
take it. Find romance, fake it. Because it's all on you.’
‘It’s not a clear, blue morning,’ said the critic. ‘You
couldn’t be that stupid!’ it added as
my thoughts turned to Henry Barley, still asleep in the basic accommodation
below. But I knew, I knew that
Nemesis had found me. I knew that I would go back down that hill and say ‘yes’
to marriage to a man I barely knew and certainly didn’t love. It was time. It
was time to surrender: to learn how to love a real human being and to learn how
to be loved in return.
When I lived in Birmingham, I used to go to
the German Christmas Market in Victoria Square; it was an interesting sparkle
of an experience but there really never was much that I wanted to buy—or eat,
for that matter. So when we moved here, to Devon, and I discovered
that Exeter had a Christmas Market in the Cathedral Square, I wasn’t all that
keen...but I do like to get Christmas cards from the cathedral and you don’t
have much of an option if you want to visit St. Peter’s in November or
December; you can’t get there without encountering the market. And what a market it is! So far it’s my
favourite. Ever. Okay, I’ve only been to about six and I’m going to Italy next
week so I’ll report back on the Florence and Lucca Christmas Markets which may
be stunningly incredible but, trust me, if I like a Christmas Market, then it’s
a good one. I’m a total Christmas shopping cynic. How much of a cynic? So much so that I
don’t agree with the concept of chocolate Advent calendars. Advent is about
Top Tips: The Law of Attraction 101. Have you ever wondered what that Law of Attraction that's talked of so often in Spiritual and Holistic circles might be about? Here's a beginner's guide. ·Whatever you think about you begin to create in reality. This is the Law of Karma in action – what you put out you get back. What goes around, comes around. Nowadays it’s known as The Law of Attraction — similar vibrations are attracted to similar vibrations. ·This is often thought to be a ‘New Age’ thing but it’s very old — and a definite part of the Judaeo-Christian teachings. The Gospel of John starts with, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Our words are our thoughts in action and they create reality. Deuteronomy 30:18 sums it up: “I call heaven and earth to bear witness on your behalf this day that I have placed before you life and death; blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that you and what you sow shall live.” We are choosing what to think every second — even if that choice …
I'm asked quite often how to cleanse spaces, whether they are at home or the office. So here is my Church's recipe for Holy Water and the blessing we use for spaces. It works — there are many other ways of blessing a space also so you should choose the one that resonates for you. If the Christian symbology doesn't work, then it's not for you and that's fine...The wording says 'priest' but you are the priest if you are saying the prayers. The Blessing of Holy WaterFill a jug with water and place about a tablespoon of salt in a small bowl.Where there is a + make the sign of the cross with your hand over the salt or the water.Over the salt say the following:I cleanse you, creature of salt, by the living God, by the holy É God, by the omnipotent É God, that you may be purified from all evil influences, in the name of the most Holy One, who is lord of angels and humanity, and who fills all the worlds with his majesty and glory. Amen.I pray to you, O God, in your …