ALIVE AND WELL – LAUNCHES TODAY


fb-thumbnail-gold-sq Today sees the launch of our first Inspirational Storytellers publication, Alive And Well – and living in a heart near you, published by IS Publishing with 100% royalties being donated to the “end hunger” charity The Extra Guest. I’ll raise a cup of green tea to that!

Alive And Well

Synopsis

Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba may have left his mortal body on 24 April, Easter Sunday, 2011, but he lives on, not only in the hearts of us all, but in his teachings as well. This book is a cross-section of Baba’s wonderful spiritual wisdom condensed into 5 chapters – Sathya (truth), Prema (love), Shanti (peace), Dharma (right conduct) and Ahimsa (nonviolence). It is suitable for both long-standing devotees and those who are just discovering “The Ocean of Bliss” that is our beloved Swami. In line with Baba’s mission, 100% royalty payments from sales of this book are being donated to the “end hunger” charity The Extra Guest. http://theextraguest.com

The Extra Guest is a not-for-profit organisation with no governmental or political affiliations that seeks to fund world-wide ‘end-hunger’ projects and help those in poverty to create a sustainable future. The charity also aims to raise awareness of humanity as one family, encourage an ethos of sharing and promote the practice of ‘ethical dining’. The Extra Guest responds to Emergency Aid Appeals around the world and currently supports Sustainable Living projects in:

Liberia – Rice farming project
Bangladesh – Coping with Poverty and Natural Disasters
Faridabad, India – SOS Family Strengthening Programmes
Local UK Food Banks.

Buy in the USA http://ow.ly/npUB6

Buy in the UK http://ow.ly/npVIY

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NEWSFLASH – NEWSFLASH – NEWSFLASH


fb-thumbnail-gold-sqI am proud to announce that the first book officially published by Inspirational Storytellers (IS) is now “live”. Also, within the next few days the first CD to be produced under the IS banner will also be available to buy on Amazon. The reason I’m proud is because they are both my products! The details are as follows:

Alive And Well – and living in a heart near you!

Alive And Well

Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba may have left his mortal body on 24 April, Easter Sunday, 2011, but he lives on, not only in the hearts of us all, but in his teachings as well. This book is a cross-section of Baba’s wonderful spiritual wisdom condensed into 5 chapters – Sathya (truth), Prema (love), Shanti (peace), Dharma (right conduct) and Ahimsa (nonviolence). It is suitable for both long-standing devotees and those who are just discovering “The Ocean of Bliss” that is our beloved Swami. In line with Baba’s mission, 100% royalty payments from sales of this book are being donated to the “end hunger” charity The Extra Guest. http://theextraguest.com

The Extra Guest is a not-for-profit organisation with no governmental or political affiliations that seeks to fund world-wide ‘end-hunger’ projects and help those in poverty to create a sustainable future. The charity also aims to raise awareness of humanity as one family, encourage an ethos of sharing and promote the practice of ‘ethical dining’. The Extra Guest responds to Emergency Aid Appeals around the world and currently supports Sustainable Living projects in:

Liberia – Rice farming project
Bangladesh – Coping with Poverty and Natural Disasters
Faridabad, India – SOS Family Strengthening Programmes
Local UK Food Banks.

Buy in the USA http://ow.ly/npUB6

Buy in the UK http://ow.ly/npVIY

The CD is a remastered version, including musical backing track, of Native American Wisdom. A meditation CD that has previously only been available to buy directly from me. Below is a sneak peek at the cover.

NAW - Cover

What’s Hap’nin Man?


Here is an update of what is happening with regard to some exciting projects I am currently working on.

TAJ-Final Version-EBFirstly, I am proud to announce that Wednesday July 3 sees the official launch of The Amazing Journey in paperback. Originally published as Astral Travelling, The Avatar and Me, The Amazing Journey has been completely revamped. There is a brand new cover, some slight rewrites, the manuscript has been re-edited and there is a new chapter, which was written in January 2013. Although the book has actually been available since February this year along with the eBook version on Amazon Kindle, I was not entirely happy with the layout. Now that all outstanding issues with the interior have been resolved I’m going ahead with the official launch.

I’m also currently working on a book called The Avatar Speaks, which is a compilation of inspirational quotes by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It will be available in paperback only and 100% royalties will be donated to the “end hunger” charity The Extra Guest (see link below). There are also plans for Book Two of Fragments Of Divinity that should be published before the end of the year.

http://theextraguest.com

On the CD front, I am back in the amazing DB Studios in Stroud, Glos (see link below) to work on my latest project, which is a revamping of Native American Wisdom. It is a wonderful meditation CD that up to now has only been available directly from me. But I am adding a new backing track (which I played on synthesizer and recorded a few days prior to writing this post) and making it available to buy on Amazon.

http://www.dbstudios.co.uk/

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Writer Moyra Irving – The Story Behind The Extra Guest Part Two


The Extra Guest Part 2

 moyra1The following day Myrrnah slept till late but was woken abruptly by the telephone.

‘Well, of course, we never liked him, dear.’ Myrrnah sensed an unspoken ‘Yes!’ at the other end of the line and her mother’s thumb, raised in triumph. There was little attempt to hide her relief – or disdain, hearing that David had left. ‘However,’ she continued airily, giving her daughter no time to elaborate, ‘we have a suggestion for you. Your father and I are taking off for six months or so. So, why not come back to Brighton and run Langton’s while we’re away?’ Myrrnah – who knew the business as well as they did – would be their new manager.

But I never do go back, Myrrnah reasoned privately then suddenly she remembered the child with the bowl. What if this wasn’t really going back at all – but moving on? She remembered Sally’s words too:You should open a restaurant. Something different, with a twist,’ and pictured the Brighton hotel’s rather dated dining room, transformed. There was, she mused, so much she could change.

Time passed; six months became five years and the Langtons, happy to leave things in their daughter’s hands, retired. The drab old dining room had soon become The Extra Guest, a stylish eating place known for its imaginative cuisine, and the little seaside hotel quickly doubled its bookings.  Each summer Lupin Mc.Innery came to stay and would often recall, a little wistfully, The White Hart, and how much she had missed its curious but alluring human presence. And often, Myrrnah would have a dream in which she was searching for something she’d lost. She would embark on long journeys to unfamiliar places, driven on by a sense of loss, until at last her dream led her to The Gallery where the Hart appeared, clear as day, in the window. Thereupon, having gone inside to buy it for her friend, she always awoke with a thrill.

And now ten years on, she was back in Hartridge once more. Puzzled by the portrait of the woman in pink, she strolled back into town, bought a coffee and panini in the Ambergate Arms where she unfolded her newspaper and spread it across the table:

Myrrnah Langton is here to promote her latest cookbook ‘The Extra Guest.’ It highlights a new trend in ‘ethical dining,’ initiated at her Brighton hotel. Ms. Langton encourages her diners to pay for an extra place setting (or ‘extra guest’) and proceeds go to combat poverty in the undeveloped world. £0.5 million have been raised so far and schools built in several African villages. The scheme has now been taken up by restaurants and bars throughout the U.K.

It was a full-page article with colour photographs of the newly painted hotel and smiling school-children, neatly uniformed; and there, in the middle of it all, herself. She felt a sudden surge of affection – almost love – for the woman in the publicity picture. Shyly displaying her new book, her eyes were bright enough but behind the closed smile was a certain buried loneliness. There had been no-one since David, no-one in ten years, for how else would she have done all this? A successful hotel, a collection of cookbooks and a thriving charity had left no room for anything else. She refolded the newspaper and glanced at her watch. The book signing – she had almost forgotten and Lupin would already be there, waiting and wondering what had delayed her.

She hurried back to The Gallery for one more glimpse of the woman in pink. But the portrait was no longer there, only an empty easel. It was, she felt, rather like looking in a mirror and finding no reflection; she had suddenly ceased to exist. For those few moments outside The Gallery the woman in pink had become an extension of her self – and perhaps more than that: a promise of things to come.

‘I noticed a portrait here earlier.’  She pointed to the empty easel and hoped that the girl at the counter hadn’t spotted the likeness. Her neck reddened but the girl was busy, tidying the counter.

Woman in Love? It’s not for sale?’

‘And who is the artist?’ Myrrnah persisted, emboldened by curiosity. She pretended to study a collection of Fine Art postcards on a nearby rack.

‘Miss Trostin? The owner?’ Annoyingly the girl made everything she said sound more like a question.

Myrrnah imagined her Miss Trostin; an elderly lady most likely with a talent for water colours.

‘I see.’ She hesitated. It was clearly all a coincidence and anyway, time was now short. ‘In any case, I was looking for something quite different. I was told you might have it here.’ She lied – she was, after all, only here on the strength of a stupid old dream – and began to describe the white deer with human eyes. Feeling foolish, she took a postcard at random from the rack, searched in her purse for some change and waited for the girl’s response, afraid suddenly that she might actually say yes.

Frowning, the girl opened her order book and ran her finger down several pages. Finally she shook her head. ‘The White Hart? No luck, I’m afraid?’

A current of air from an overhead fan cooled Myrrnah’s cheeks. Unsure whether it was relief or disappointment, she reached falteringly into her bag to call Lupin then remembered she had left the phone in the car.

‘Miss Trostin did have it here once?’ the girl murmured as an afterthought but Myrrnah was already through the door. ‘For quite a while, maybe?’

Lupin was already outside the book shop where quite a queue had formed for Myrrnah’s latest recipes. Later, every copy sold and signed, they wandered back to her car, debating whether to stop for supper at the Ambergate Arms or take a leisurely drive back to Brighton and arrive before dark.  The mobile phone on the passenger seat displayed six missed calls, two voicemails and an impatient text from the hotel receptionist: Tried you several times. Please return urgently – half the staff down with ‘flu.

Suddenly The Gallery was forgotten and as they set off hastily for her annual visit to the sea, Lupin spread out a handful of cards on her lap.

‘I have a good feeling about today all the same,’ she confided, selecting The Wheel of Fortune. ‘After all, the best things always happen when least expected. It’s a good omen for us both, I’m sure.’

They arrived an hour before opening to find Langton’s in chaos. With three staff ill and the sous-chef sneezing violently, Lupin prepared the tables while Myrrnah grabbed an apron and set to work in the kitchen. Soon she was interrupted by the girl from reception.

‘Excuse me, Ms. Langton, but there’s someone at the desk insisting that you see him now. I’ve told him you’re busy but he just won’t go away.’ Myrrnah wiped her hands on her apron and followed her into the hall.

A distinguished looking man carrying two large packages was waiting at the desk. His hair was dark and he wore an elegant suit and well-polished shoes. ‘Good evening,’ he said. ‘Do you happen to have room for an extra guest?’

‘I’m sorry, sir.’ She smiled professionally and ran a finger down the list of rooms. ‘We’re a little short-staffed today but I can find you a room for tomorrow.’

His face lit up. ‘You don’t remember me at all, do you? I’m Richard Austen from The Gallery. It seems our journeys have crossed today.

His smile was a searchlight.

‘So, you’re Miss Trostin?’ Myrrnah said, mimicking the girl in the gallery. Then she laughed, remembering the scruffy angel at the party, unrecognizable now with his smart suit and tidy hair. ‘And you’re really the new owner?’

He nodded. ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

Myrrnah hesitated, taking in his golden skin and inviting smile. He would certainly impress the guests. ‘I don’t suppose you’d like a little job for the evening, would you, Richard? I guess we could always find you somewhere to stay.’

‘Well, why not?’  He had begun to unwrap one of his packages but changed his mind and asked if they could be placed somewhere safe for a while. ‘These can wait till later, I think.’

‘Well,’ said Myrrnah, locking up as the last of the diners left. ‘Shall we eat?’ She set a place in the empty restaurant for herself and Lupin and their unexpected extra guest. ‘Let’s open a bottle of something special.’

Richard had collected his two packages and began once more to un-wrap them. He removed a canvas from the first and leaned it against their table. The woman in pink looked back, poised and untroubled by love.

‘I’d better explain. This is how I saw you at Phil’s – not as you were then of course, but as you will become one day.’

He had worked painstakingly from the little New Year’s Day photograph and, as the years passed, the portrait had changed, become gradually older but curiously more beautiful. ‘She’s taken ten years to finish and I reckoned now was the time you should have it.’

Before she had time to thank him he was un-wrapping the other package and soon he revealed another canvas. ‘I found this in the Oxfam shop, soon after you left. I mended the frame and I rather think it inspired me to paint you. Now the portrait’s done it seems time to pass it on.’For a moment it seemed that the White Hart had actually winked.

Myrrnah filled their glasses and proposed a toast. (He was, she had to admit, a complete angel; and a rather presentable waiter too): ‘To Richard, our extra guest!  Lupin, your heart is in the right place at last, the book is selling well and we’ve made enough here this month to build another classroom.’ And it seems perhaps I’ve learned to love myself too, she smiled, if Richard’s portrait is anything to go by.

‘You love all this, don’t you?’ Richard Austen observed.

‘Oh yes,’ she answered. ‘It’s my passion – just as painting is yours, I suppose.’

‘No Myrrnah dear – not painting!’ Lupin teased when they were alone. ‘Not by that look on his face.’

‘Rubbish – he hardly knows me.’ She protested but her apricot cheeks had ripened a little.

‘He’s just spent ten years getting to know you, silly girl. Remember The Wheel of Fortune? The best things happen when least expected,’ said Lupin, carrying The White Hart to her room.

‘Give it time.’

Writer Moyra Irving – The Story Behind “The Extra Guest” Part One


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(The Story behind) The Extra Guest

Part 1

Myrrnah Langton cleared her throat as the call went onto voicemail. ‘I’ll be a little late – just an hour or two, no more.’ She dropped the phone onto the passenger seat, relieved that she wouldn’t have to explain her delay, and gathered her things from the back of the car. ‘This is it, girl,’ she told herself. ‘You’re here. No bottling it now.’

She took a long breath, holding it close as if reluctant to let it go. A sigh followed – an intonation of such bleak resignation that it took her by surprise. No-one had forced her to come after all.

The phone rang the moment she left the car. She glanced back at the passenger seat where it lay and paused, her key ring looped over one finger. If she went back now she might change her mind, drive off without finding what she had come for. In any case she didn’t believe in going back; it was a rule she had lived by for years.

Ignoring the phone she crossed the main street and stopped at a kiosk to buy a local paper. Celebrity Cook Returns to Hartridge, the headline announced. Book-signing today. Close by, a signboard in the shape of an arrow advertised a gallery. She walked briskly in the direction of the arrow, fanning her face with the newspaper. There was still time to get to the book-signing. She could see the gallery ahead of her now, at the end of a row of half-timbered cottages. It was a still day, hot and airless, and she stumbled a little on the cobbles, slowed down by her narrow skirt and high heels. She smiled nervously, aware suddenly that she had broken her own rule. After ten years away she had, at last, returned to Hartridge.

Upstairs the gallery windows were wide open; faded curtains hung undisturbed by any breeze and baskets of parched lobelias drooped in the midday sun. The shop, now under new management, was closed for lunch. There was a card in the window advertising a vacancy for a part-time assistant. Reading it Myrrnah caught her own reflection in the glass; a graceful girl, with well-cut hair and serious eyes; in the heat her cheeks had taken on the colour of ripe apricots.

She searched the display anxiously, eyes darting from one canvas to another, desperate to find there what she had come for. Tiny hedgerows in enormous mounts, scenes of foxhounds and horses and an extravagant painting of lilies in a china pot: nothing. She sighed and loosened her jacket. It really was unbearably hot. Her blouse was damp and sticky on her back.

Undeterred, she shaded her eyes and peered further into the gallery’s dark interior. A girl was reading at the counter, unaware of her presence and nearby, beneath a small spotlight, sat a woman of perhaps sixty-five. She appeared serene and unaffected, a pink cardigan thrown carelessly about her shoulders. Tiny hearts decorated the low scoop of her neckline and at her throat hung a small silver locket, also heart-shaped, which had fallen open to reveal a miniature self-portrait. Although no longer slender, the woman had a contented poise. As though no longer troubled by love, Myrrnah wondered; a compensation for lost youth perhaps.

It was an accomplished painting, almost life-size. She narrowed her eyes. Careful brushstrokes revealed little lines and folds, shadows where the eyes had sunk. But there was also something oddly familiar about her, a sense of having met her somewhere, of some shared experience. And then it struck her: the woman in pink, though so much older, had the same serious eyes and apricot cheeks as her own. This is me, she marveled, in another thirty years, a plumper me with features that have begun to droop and hair that is no longer sleek.

Just then a siren pierced the stillness; with a single stroke it cut the day in half. For someone, somewhere that sound would signal the end of life as they knew it. Just as it had, for her, ten years ago…

They had been standing at the entrance to The Gallery, gazing blankly at the display. ‘Let’s go in,’ Myrrnah said, glancing up at the flat above, where a cloud of smoke escaped from the open window. ‘Lydia’s obviously having trouble with lunch.’

It was New Year’s Day and a small crowd of guests squeezed past them, armed with flowers and bottles of wine.

David Langton was staring into the distance. ‘Myrrnah, I’m leaving.’ Just at that moment a siren sounded and an ambulance turned into the cobbled street, its lights flashing. As it passed Myrrnah placed a hand on her chest, realising that for someone somewhere, things would never be the same again.

‘But you can’t. Philip will expect us.’ Silent now, the siren still echoed in her heart.

David stared down at his shoes. One of the laces, she noticed, had come untied. ‘Myrrnah, I really can’t do this. I’m leaving Hartridge.’

Lupin Mc.Innery had warned her about him from the start. They were unlikely friends, Lupin being twice her age, but she was very wise in her own eccentric way. She read the Tarot and was keen to give advice, especially where love was concerned. Her house was filled with obscure old volumes on dusty shelves, huge lumps of crystal and framed reproductions of Dali and Magritte.

‘He’ll be off, you’ll see,’ Lupin pronounced one day and selected a card from her pack. ‘Death!’ She crowed, waving the card before Myrrnah’s eyes as proof of her judgment. Then, seeing her concern, added: ‘But you will find love.’ She paused mysteriously then began a lengthy discourse on courtly love and the medieval tradition of pursuing the beloved. ‘Remember, never go hunting the hart.’ She tapped her chest softly. ‘Instead of looking for love, first be in love with yourself!’

Myrrnah looked up and noticed a new painting on Lupin’s wall. A white deer with startlingly human eyes stood out from the collection of prints. It was quite old and in a broken frame, its surface cracked, and it looked quite out of place with all the other pictures. It had come from an old aunt, thought to be mad, and passed down through the generations. Although intriguing at first it was not, as it turned out, an easy companion to live with: for there was nothing the White Hart missed, nothing those searching eyes did not see! It seemed, Lupin said, to draw everything to the surface, each secret thought, each hope, each uncomfortable memory. But seeing it, meeting it, there today, Myrrnah felt unusually happy, as though the hart had spotted her and was determined to stick around. She stepped from one side to the other but wherever she turned The Hart went too, following her every movement; and unaware, it seemed, of its own imminent fate. For soon the painting would be gone, stuffed into a box of paperbacks destined for Oxfam, something that Lupin would regret in the years to come. The hart’s image was, in any event, already etched in Myrrnah’s heart.

Outside the gallery she watched the back of David’s head as he walked away then turned mutely and went inside. At the back of the gallery a scruffy young man in enormous boots was cutting mounts. Hearing her enter he looked up from his work and smiled broadly. For a moment she stood perfectly still, caught in the searchlight of that extraordinary smile. He had rather golden skin, suggesting that he had caught the sun even though it was winter, and spiky blond hair that was black at the crown. As he returned to his work a pretty girl with cropped hair burst in through the door and, with a brief wave to Myrrnah, threw her arms around the boy.

‘Sal!’ The boy’s face lit up again.

Sally’s boyfriend has the face of an angel, Myrrnah thought, climbing the stairs to the flat above. She paused on the landing and watched the young friends in the gallery below. They were clearly untroubled by love.

‘So who’s the woman with the serious face?’ the angel murmured.

‘Oh that’s only Myrrnah,’ the girl replied. ‘Uncle Dave’s missus.’

The guests had assembled in a low-ceilinged room where Philip’s paintings filled the walls: bold abstracts and some loving but unflattering studies of his wife in handsome frames.

‘So where’s that twin brother of mine then?’ Philip greeted Myrrnah with a glass of wine in his hand. He wore a paint-spattered tee-shirt, his hair tied back in a rubber band. ‘Don’t tell me, too busy to come? Just as well – Lydia’s ruined lunch.’ He looked Myrrnah up and down appreciatively and she ruffled his hair, thinking how he couldn’t look less like his brother David with that ridiculous pony tail.

She glanced around the room at the others, feeling out of place. All those arty people: painters, sculptors, and a few musicians who had travelled up from London, strangers mostly, and she with nothing to say. She began to wish she hadn’t come.

‘Now, you’ll remember Matthew and Vanessa?’ said Philip. The couple nearby gave a little wave. ‘And you must meet Richard Austen; he’s our new framer, an old school friend of Sal’s. Not a bad painter either.’ He pointed to a self-portrait that Myrrnah recognised at once as the scruffy angel downstairs. ‘Sal should be back by now; I’ll give them a shout.’ He opened the door and yelled down the stairs. ‘Richard! Sally! Come and join us.’

Just then a flustered Lydia appeared, hurriedly pushing past her guests to reach them. ‘Oh, this wretched oven – thank God you’re here!’ She offered Myrrnah her cheek. ‘At least you’ll know what to do.’

She butted open the kitchen door and the two women disappeared together into a cloud of smoke.

Myrrnah peered into the fridge and pulled out a jar of olives. Used pans, some of them ruined, filled the sink. Every surface was littered with recipe books and abandoned attempts to interpret them; carelessly opened packages spilled their contents onto the tiled floor. It was chaos but at least in here she was safe, wouldn’t have to worry about David or offer opinions about paintings she didn’t understand. Here she was in her element.

‘Right, Lydia. Shall we start again?’ She opened a cupboard in search of inspiration and took down an expensive-looking bottle of vintage olive oil. She had given it to Lydia last year but it had never been opened. ‘By the way, David’s left me.’

Lydia stared blankly. ‘What! I don’t believe it – I’m sure he’ll be back.’

Strange, they’d never married, David and her, though they’d shared a house, a bed and even, by coincidence, the same name for years. Myrrnah of all people: capable, kind and with looks to die for! ‘He’ll be back,’ she said again.

‘Nope,’ Myrrnah snapped, tipping burned potatoes into the bin. ‘Some things can’t be saved. Now just leave me to it, Lydia, and talk to your guests.’

Lydia hovered then obeyed.

‘Give me twenty minutes,’ Myrrnah called after her, ‘and I’ll rustle up something they won’t forget.’ Growing up in a small seaside hotel, she had always loved to cook. It was what she did best and she had discovered very early in life that whatever the crisis, cooking was always the answer. For some reason, the more stress, the better the dish; so today, lunch promised to be exceptionally good.

She surveyed the mess in the kitchen and began to clear a space. Inside however, the confusion was harder to clear. Things hadn’t been right for a while. Was it the stress of his job, she wondered, or another woman? Whatever the reason she knew he’d already left her months ago in a way.

A little later she reappeared with a huge bowl of pasta a la romana. A tray of little side dishes followed – olives, mozzarella, artichokes – and a bright insalata mista, all glistening with oil and lemon.

‘A masterpiece!’ cried Philip, admiring the perfect blend of colours. ‘Richard! Be an angel, will you?’ He passed a camera to the scruffy young man who obligingly captured Myrrnah’s impromptu creation.

Throughout lunch the guests discussed their latest projects: music, sculptures, photography, painting, and the recent exhibition at the Saatchi gallery. Sally and her friend were arguing good-naturedly about whether a messy bed or a pickled sheep could really be called art while Myrrnah sat quietly, wondering if soon she might soon slip away unnoticed.

‘But Rich, Hirst and Emin are so brave and original,’ pronounced Sally, ‘true reflectors of our time.’

The scruffy angel frowned. ‘Ah, but do they actually inspire?’ He turned his attention to Myrrnah. ‘It’s important, don’t you think – to inspire and not simply reflect? Whose work inspires you?’

They were all so intense. She had always gone for posters in wooden frames, colourful things from Ikea that brightened the room. Not their kind of thing at all.

What the hell am I doing here, she wondered, on New Year’s Day with my ex’s family and a bunch of people I hardly know? She glanced across at David’s empty chair where someone had draped a jacket.

‘I’m no artist,’ she began apologetically, avoiding the young man’s searchlight smile.

‘But clearly you are,’ Sally protested. ‘A culinary artist. People would pay a fortune for food like this. You should open a restaurant. Something different, with a twist.’

Richard nodded. ‘You could be the next Delia.’

Hearing them Lydia and Phil joined in. ‘Or Clarissa Dickson-Thingy.’ They all laughed, remembering the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ on the television.

‘A full English breakfast is the best cure for hangovers. The liver embraces it,’ mimicked Phil in a plummy voice. ‘I loved their style.

Myrrnah excused herself quickly and went into the kitchen to make coffee. Lunch over, it would soon, thank God, be time to leave.

‘A Happy New Year to everyone!’ Lydia sang as Myrrnah returned with the tray of coffee. She passed round dishes of Christmas cake and burned mince pies.

‘May it be unforgettable,’ said Philip, rather ambiguously Myrrnah thought, for certainly it had begun that way. Then he clapped his hands for silence and proposed a toast:

‘To the lovely Myrrnah: for saving the day.’

‘To Myrrnah,’ they all echoed, sipping wine.

Next he raised his glass to David’s empty chair. ‘Absent friends!’ He slurred drunkenly, spilling his wine as Lydia nudged him sharply. The moment passed and the talking continued.

Philip began flirting with a girl little older than his daughter but Lydia didn’t seem to mind. Occasionally he would glance back at his wife and smile as if to remind him self – and her – how lucky they were. They are close, Myrrnah thought wistfully; too close for petty jealousies. Openly affectionate, they would taunt each other mercilessly at times. But it was safe to do so. Myrrnah watched them now, envying their honesty and ease. But it had not been so with David. Together, they were awkward, their dealings polite and cautious. They spoke only of things they observed – the need for a new piece of guttering or the state of the garden since the last storm – but never things that were felt. That was no longer safe to do, it seemed.

Someone put some music on the hi-fi and one or two, tired of chatting, got up to dance. Myrrnah went to fetch her coat, her handbag slung over her arm. ‘You can’t go yet!’ Philip and Lydia chorused. ‘We need a group photo first.’

The scruffy angel took up the camera once more.

‘Do count me out,’ Myrrnah pleaded but he feigned not to hear. Then, as everyone gathered round and smiled for the camera, she jumped.

There in David’s seat, for an almost imperceptible moment, sat a small child. He seemed as surprised as she was to find himself in such unfamiliar company. But meeting her gaze he smiled – such a look of love it was – and held out an empty bowl. His eyes were familiar, not unlike the white hart’s. ‘So will you help?’ he whispered and instinctively she bowed her head, having the feeling there was something extraordinary she’d just agreed to do. At once the bowl began to fill with golden coins.

The camera was passed from person to person. ‘Damn, I blinked at the wrong time,’ said one. ‘I look drunk,’ said another. ‘But look,’ Lydia laughed. A spiral of white light hovered over David’s empty chair. ‘We have an extra guest.’

As she left, the angel touched Myrrnah’s arm in passing. ‘Did you see him then, the extra guest?’

She returned home to find that David had emptied his wardrobe. His car had gone too but the house keys were still on the kitchen table alongside a note (which turned out to be a check list of things to pack) and an empty coffee mug that he hadn’t bothered to wash before leaving. Still wearing her coat she sat down, unaccountably happy, and stared at the empty chair opposite her. The boy with the bowl still hovered in her mind.

The house had never felt so peaceful.

For more information on the wonderful “Extra Guest” charity please click on the link below:

http:theextraguest.com

Showcasing Writer Moyra Irving


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Today I am welcoming Writer Moyra Irving to my blog.  Before we have our chat here is a little bit about her.
Moyra is a storyteller and artist who has been involved in healing and spiritual growth work for over 30 years. The foundation of all her work, both artistic and practical, is ‘Soul-centred living’ and the recognition that we are all divine. Her stories are modern-day parables, all based on one theme: Coming Home to Your Self.
Through personal retreat she has created two sets of Guidance Cards, ‘Take Me to the Mountain’ and ‘Fiery Love,’ and six meditation and healing CDs for those wishing to retreat while living and working in the world. Storytelling provided the inspiration behind her charity The Extra Guest (Food for All), an end-hunger charity that supports food-aid and sustainable living projects around the world. Please contact Moyra on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/moyra.irving  or visit http://www.theextraguest.com/
Thanks for coming all the way down from Stoke-On-Trent Moyra for tea, twiglets and witty banter…  So, what actually made you start writing; was it some kind of inner pull?
My pleasure Richard.  Well, I love reading and I suppose I’ve always been a day-dreamer so ideas for stories come easily. I enjoyed English at school, especially learning about the structure of language. Some people have a natural ‘feel’ for language and write flawlessly without ever having to think whether something sounds right or not. However, for most of us I think it helps to know the basic rules of one’s own language whether writing factually or exercising the imagination. The two go hand in hand for me. Once the ‘rules’ of writing are mastered they can be put aside or skilfully ignored in order to create an effect. Some people think that grammar and spellings don’t matter – but imagine a composer attempting to create a symphony without any knowledge of music or an artist with no knowledge of colour or perspective or basic drawing skills.  With the right tools at our disposal we can eventually go beyond them and allow our imagination full rein. Perhaps only then we begin to create something worth reading.  Oh dear, are you still there? I think I went off on one for a while
I haven’t gone anywhere Moyra, I’m hanging on to your every word!  It seems to me that ‘The Extra Guest’ has a hint of autobiography in there, is this true?
Ah yes, the story. Thanks for bringing me back! It’s actually based on a novel I began in 1995. The ‘Extra Guest’ excerpt came to me while I was enjoying a bath. Most ideas come to me then – and often while I’m driving, walking in the countryside or, best of all, sitting on a train. Although Myrrnah, the character in the story, is very loosely based on me, she has actually directed the current phase of my life (and not the other way round). It was because of her that I decided to set up a charity similar to her own.
Tell us about your other projects, including The Extra Guest charity?
Other projects?  How much time have you got, Richard? I’m slowly completing a novel, ‘Hunting the Hart,’ which weaves together my interest in art, spirituality and human love, I’m working on two non-fiction pieces too: ‘Take Me to the Mountain’ and ‘Fiery Love.’
Two years ago, with the support of a group of friends, I set up ‘The Extra Guest’ charity: www.theextraguestcom  In recognition of the ‘extra guest’ at our table – that is to say, anyone who has little or no access to food – we promote the practice of ‘ethical dining.’ We work with restaurants that are willing to support our cause and diners are encouraged to make a donation at the end of their meal.  All donations go directly to fund food-aid and sustainable living projects around the world and we can proudly claim that nothing whatsoever is lost in administration. People are quite suspicious of charities these days and so we feel it’s important to reassure them that their money (100% of it) goes directly to those most in need. We all work as volunteers, covering overheads ourselves, and in less than two years we have raised over £20,000.
I’m also a healer and counsellor and eight years ago I set up (together with a small group of friends) The Centre for Spiritual Growth and Healing in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. As part of this initiative we offer a monthly Free Complementary Healing Clinic for the local community. We run entirely on donations and provide a ‘heart centre’ where people can come for inspiration, spiritual companionship and healing.
You are also an artist, I understand?  Tell us something about this aspect of your work?
321 256 028 081Yes, I almost went to Art School at sixteen to study graphic design but ended up staying at school to finish my A levels in Modern Languages instead. In my first few years as a teacher I taught both art and languages.
Although I always loved to draw as a child – Life Drawing and Portraiture in particular – I am now inclined to more esoteric, abstract work. As a student in Paris I loved  the French Impressionists’ ability to paint ‘light’ and I think this may have influenced my work, although in a more abstract way.
What are you working on at the moment?
In my head, quite a few themes. However, time doesn’t allow me to paint and write so for the moment writing is my focus.
OK, I am an alien, I’ve just landed on Earth, and you are the first earthling I meet.  What’s my first impression?
That’s for you to decide, Richard! (Hmm … do I really want to know your first impression of me?) Actually, I’ve always felt like an alien myself, especially when younger, and my attempts to ‘fit in’ had varying success. Fortunately, the older one gets the easier it is to be oneself. I’m a very friendly alien anyway – like the Space Brothers, just ‘here to help’! (With apologies to Gerard Aartsen, author of a book by the same name).
What was the first record you ever bought?
Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ I was very young so can perhaps be forgiven! My taste has changed a lot since those pre-teen days. (Surprised you owned up to that one Moyra! Ed.)
Who is your favourite band and have you ever seen them in concert?
What a difficult question. There are so many – but I definitely can’t leave out The Who. I never tire of hearing them but didn’t get to see them live. However, I did see the Beatles and the Stones (both in Paris during my student days) and later, Leonard Cohen and Eric Clapton whose earlier stuff I like very much. I don’t have a current favourite but enjoy rock music, though not exclusively. Off the top of my head I’d include: The White Stripes, Guns n’ Roses, Florence and the Machine, and Calvin Harris. Please don’t ask me if I like James Blunt or I may have to be rude … (Some great bands there Moyra… and my lips are sealed with regard to James Blunt! Ed.)
What is your claim to fame?
I make no claim to fame – infamy perhaps but not fame. I suppose the sort of answer you might be interested in would be this: Mick Jagger was one of a group of friends and he did my Maths homework for me. He is a few years older than me (we girls weren’t interested in boys of our own age). He used to play tapes of his own music at parties and we’d all shout, ‘Take that rubbish off, Jagger!’ Two years later he was on the radio with a hit single ‘Route 66.’  For some unknown reason he decided to send me his Rugby football shirt for my birthday one year. He was, as you can imagine, very narcissistic, very sure of himself. And I, (very young, very innocent), tried desperately not to feel flattered and therefore sent it back, pretending to be piqued. It was maroon and gold and had his name stitched inside. Shame, it probably would have fitted me perfectly.  Had I only known then – I could have auctioned it and would be a rich woman today.  (Wow!  Sir Mick Rubber Lips himself!  Presumably it was his mum who sewed his name into his rugger shirt so he wouldn’t lose it? Ed.)
And finally… one more question.  As the world holds its breath… Marmite?  Love it or hate it Moyra?
Marmite – definitely a reason to hold one’s breath! Love it,  but don’t indulge.
Marmite lovers are always welcome on my blog Moyra!  Thanks once again for coming and all that remains is for me to inform the readers that on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I will be featuring Parts One and Two of The Extra Guest Story.