The candidate

The story behind the story……………

This story stems from my attending a comedy improvisation course some years back now. The aim of which was to help trainers and facilitators to develop their style of delivery using comedy.

One of the exercises was based around the idea of putting together two completely different things.  So for me as a career coach and trainer, I was asked to go along for an interview but as a slug.

So without further ado I give you:

The candidate…………..

SSB Candidate 2 Jan 2016

‘Next’ – called out Tom a little impatiently, ‘do come in, Miss, Mr, Ms….,’

His voice tailed off as Brian trailed in.

‘Neither,’ interposed Brian smoothly.

‘I do not really occupy a binary world view of gender. I am simply a slug, but if it makes life easier for you, by all means call me Brian. I hope that during the course of our meeting I can demonstrate the skills and attributes that I can bring to this role.’

The panel of three stared open mouthed at Brian as ‘he’, settled himself as comfortably as ‘he’ could on the chair and politely enquired, ‘where would you like me to start?’

Brian was quite used to this type of reaction, but had learnt from previous experience that it was far better not to disclose before the interview that ‘he’ was in fact a slug. It was well known that many organisations carried the double tick symbol for disabilities but ‘he’ hadn’t come across anything for slugs.

‘Perhaps you can tell us about your career so far’ – suggested Tom. After a day of interviews, he just wanted to get through this as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Regardless of the nature of the candidate in front of him, there was still a round of questions to be asked, competency grids to be completed and scores to tot up.

So with a little wriggle, Brian proceeded to describe ‘his’ career and the range of roles he had held. In fairness Tom and the other two panel members were impressed as Brian outlined ‘his’ career succinctly and with  some eloquence. So much so, that they were caught a little ‘off guard’, when ‘he’ finished with:

‘Is there anything else I can tell you?’

The panel of three, quickly came to and indicated, ‘no, let’s move onto the next question.’

And as each panel member asked a question, Brian was able to answer clearly and calmly, giving specific examples to illustrate ‘his’ grasp of the question and demonstrate his relevant skills and experience.

So after forty minutes or so, all grid boxes were completed and just one question remained to be asked.

‘Do you have any questions for us?’

‘Thank you,’ replied Brian,  ‘may I ask, what would you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first 30 days?’

Again it was Tom, who fielded this question, though to be honest they hadn’t as a panel really considered this. But none the less Tom did the best he could.  At the end of the interview the panel thanked Brian for ‘his’ time and politely showed ‘him’ to the door.

‘Well?’ – queried Tom, ‘as far as I can see, ‘he’ was by far the best candidate.’

‘Yes’ – echoed Nancy as she glanced down at her form, all my scores are fully met or exceeded.

‘As are mine,’ interjected Jesse, ‘and yet how well would Brian fit in with the team we already have?’

‘I think to be fair,’ hiccupped, Tom as ‘he’ thoughtfully chewed on the fly that had been bothering ‘him’ throughout the interview. ‘The frogs in Accounts might well make short work of ‘him’.’

Janice Taylor

The free spirit ……..

The story behind the story……………

This particular story is based on a tale told to me about the son of a friend of mine, a little boy whom I have known since he was born. Over the years I have heard a number of different stories about this young man and his antics, so without further ado, I give you…………

‘The free spirit’……….

Free Spirit 2


“I am a free spirit”, announced Calvin, proudly as his mother gazed at him with loving exasperation, whilst waiting for him to get his shoes on, gather his school bag and get to the door ready for school.

“Free spirits don’t follow timetables, we don’t follow rules and we don’t…..”

“Oh”, interrupted his mother, hastily. She really was not in the mood for a treatise on the benefits of being a ‘free spirit’.  “That is interesting, what do you suppose would happen if we all became free spirits?”

At this Calvin’s, face lit up as his mind drifted imagining all the glorious possibilities of a world full of ‘free spirits’.

What would he do if could truly wander through it as a ‘free spirit’?

No school?

Or school only when he felt like it.

No homework?

Or just the homework that interested him.

No set meals?

Or just the snacks that he liked and when he liked

No timetable?

Or just his perfect day to let his mind wander and soar without the tiresome interruption of teachers talking, trying to teach him something.

No boring shops?

Or just the ones he wanted to go to

No money?

Or just being able to have what he wanted from the shops he wanted

This all seemed perfect.

Ahem”, interrupted his mother again, “We still do need to get to school”

As she gazed at her son, an idea began to take root. “I must admit I really like the idea of being a ‘free spirit’. I think I will try it tomorrow and see what it is like.”

“Oh“, said Calvin, “That does sound exciting, what will you do with your day as a ‘free Spirit ‘?”

Absolutely, nothing”, beamed his mother. “I shall have a day completely to myself. Have my breakfast at lunch time, lunch at tea and wander as free as a bird”

This all seemed perfectly feasible to Calvin until he thought a little more and remembered that tomorrow was a Friday, which was a school day admittedly but it just so happened Friday was one of his ‘days’. All sorts of exciting things happened on a Friday and he needed to catch up with his friends to find out about the party and the band he wanted to start up.

None of this was going to happen if his mother was going to be ‘swanning’ around as a ‘free spirit’.

His mother could see from her son’s face that he was giving her ‘proposal’ some serious thought and that he was perhaps a little perturbed by the idea of her being a ‘free spirit’.

I tell you what, Calvin”, she said gently, “Why don’t we find a day when we can be both be ‘free spirits’.”

As Calvin’s face lit up at this possibility, his mother then said, “But in the meantime, we still do need to get to school.”

Janice Taylor

The ‘Genie’ in my kettle….

The story behind the story…………….

Over the years I have seen two memorable performances of Aladdin the pantomime, once at the Stratford East Theatre as part of a ‘works do’ and the second time with family and friends where we were highly entertained by the London Bubble Company’s version in Deptford, South East London.

So today I am writing this story and wondering what might happen if a genie did actually appear from an electrical appliance?

To be fair, most of the stories we come across as children involving genies don’t really explore what they are like as individuals, so I thought it would be interesting to have a slightly ‘dodgy’ one, with a bit of ‘attitude’.

Influenced, also by the fact that over the years, we have somehow managed to work our way through countless kettles. They only seem to last for a few months in our house can’t quite work out why. So without further ado, I give you:

The ‘Genie’ in my kettle……………

Shortstory Dec 2 2015


“Your wish is my command” intoned the apparition that somehow appeared from my Russell Hobbs kettle as I wiped it down.

I very nearly dropped it, as the ‘apparition’ continued to emerge from my kettle. There did seem to be an awful lot of mist and colour swirling around in my kitchen, but after 30 seconds or so he settled for hovering a foot or so away from me, with a benign yet expectant look on his face.

“Sorry” I spluttered, “what are you exactly and how did you get into my house?”

At my seeming impertinence he closed his eyes and with the barest of sighs replied, “I am the genie of the kettle and your wish is my command”

“This kettle?” at this I really do think he ‘rolled’ his eyes and with a deep sigh said, “Yes, the kettle you have in your hands.”

Well this was a turn up, it’s not every day a ‘genie’ turns up in your kitchen after you have bought what must be your 30th kettle. We do seem to go through them at an alarming rate and to date not one had produced its own genie. Still I wanted to be clear about a few things before I committed myself.

“I do know the story of Aladdin, who has three wishes from a lamp. Do I have three wishes, with this kettle?”

At this, ‘my genie’ looked at me with a slightly puzzled expression and said, “I have no knowledge of this ‘Aladdin’, but you do have three wishes. So use them wisely”

“If you wish, I can make a few suggestions”, he offered, politely.

What happened next would have to be argued over in a court of law, it is my belief that the words remained in my head, but……

Without thinking, I murmured, really to myself, “I wish I knew what to ask for”

Then without me being fully aware, a couple of sackfuls of cash appeared in my kitchen.

“Hang on, I didn’t ask for that” I exclaimed, with some justifiable annoyance. This really was the limit, no good appearing in my kitchen, making all sorts of promises about wishes and then just dumping cash on my floor.

“Oh but you did my dear, first you wished to know, and I have simply provided you with a concrete idea”

As I looked at him, now starting to grin like the ‘Cheshire’ cat from Alice in Wonderland, a hint of disquiet started to grow within me. This seemed far too convenient, bags of cash appearing as if from nowhere. Then I remembered a small item of news that had caught my eye in the local newspaper, about a ‘robbery’ and the cash that had been taken and before he could say or do anything else, I said.

“Take the sacks and go”

My third and final wish, but it felt like the right thing to do. It worked with a small  ‘puff’, he was gone along with his sacks.

Can’t help feeling that I had, had a narrow escape, now all I need to do is go and buy a new kettle…….

A letter from Anne……………….

The story behind the story……………..

I have long been interested in Tudor history particularly that of Elizabeth I and more recently her mother Anne Boleyn, especially since reading Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ and its sequel ‘Bring up the Bodies’.

Find it deeply ironic that Henry VIII who was so obsessed with securing England’s future with a male heir should through his second wife Anne, produce arguably one of its greatest and perhaps most successful monarchs.

Through the eyes of Elizabeth I wonder what it might be like to realise that your father was ultimately responsible for the death of your mother and the loss of your estate and privileges and yet still be expected to be ‘humbly’ and ‘gratefully’ in awe of this man and ‘grateful’ for the life and the privileges you did enjoy.

I also wonder what it would have been like for Anne, formally so powerful and in demand, now to be bought ‘so low’ in the Tower. At what point would she have realised that she was completely ‘doomed’ in the eyes of her husband, family and ‘friends’?

An ambitious and fierce woman, who did not suffer fools gladly, it’s just as likely that Anne gave no thought to her daughter, as she struggled to come to terms with her own fate.

However I simply like the idea of one final communication from mother to daughter, if such a letter had ever been written I believe, Anne’s overriding concern might well have been to ensure that her daughter, stayed alive.

So this story ‘A letter from Anne’ is my small tribute to these two women, Elizabeth I and her mother Anne Boleyn.

A letter from Anne…………..

Hever Castle Gardens


My daughter,

When you read this, I will be no more. I had hoped and prayed that I would see you grown into womanhood. Well married, with estates, power and influence.
Believe me when I say I would have laid the world at your feet.

But first things, first.

Be a good and dutiful daughter to your father, the King.

Obey him in all things and remember he is both your beloved father and King.

Be thankful that in his beneficence he will bestow on you all things due to you as his most beloved daughter and in accordance with your birth right.

Be humble, remember that all you are, all you have and all you will be, comes from the King your father.

Take courage my daughter, remember you are a princess of royal blood – the blood of the Tudors runs through your veins.

Hold us both in your prayers.

Your loving mother and ever faithful and loving subject to the King.


The woman who turned her husband into a dog…………

The story behind the story……………

A story inspired partly by Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Metamorphosis’, first published in 1915, Metamorphosis is a story about travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning to find that he has become a human sized, insect like creature.

It has also been inspired by the ‘Just So’ stories of Rudyard Kipling, where disobedience and unhelpfulness have unforeseen and unnerving consequences.

So, without further ado, I give you…….

The woman who turned her husband into a dog…………

The woman who .....

“No, I don’t” – these are the final words spoken to me by my husband. And no before you wander off in completely the wrong direction and jump to completely the wrong conclusion. Let me assure you, that he is very much alive and doing well, all things considered.

He’s just not quite as he was.

Even now as I look at him, I’m still not quite sure how it happened. Though I am clear on what happened and reasonably clear about when it all started. So perhaps that is a good place to begin………

It was six months ago just before my 50th birthday when I experienced an unusual and unexpected yearning to get a dog. As if from nowhere, I felt a strong need for the unconditional love and companionship that only a dog could provide. Besides it would be a good way to get out and about to meet people and provide me with some much-needed regular exercise.

With these ‘happy’ thoughts in my head, I floated the idea of getting a dog past my husband and it’s fair to say he was less than keen.

‘Hmmm, yes, I can see some positives, but what about the poo, veterinary bills? What about my eczema? Why don’t we get some fish? They look pretty with no constant petting.’

So, I wasn’t too amused, when a week later, on my return home from a trip to London to find a tank installed in our home. Complete with a clutch of tropical fish and my husband standing by it, looking as pleased as punch.

‘This is something we can both enjoy.’

He was clearly very pleased with this demonstration of initiative and ordinarily I would have been over the moon with any show of action and follow through. I had half wondered, hoped even that he might have used my time away to look at compatible dog breeds. Size, temperament, hairiness, intelligence, etc. Sure, we had talked about fish in passing, but I certainly didn’t remember us agreeing to a whole tank of brightly coloured and frankly, annoying fish.

And, I am sorry to say that my response was short and to the point.


At what stage then, did I make my choice and start to wonder? Ask myself, what if? What kind of dog could I create, live with? Was it possible?

Even now as I look back the changes were subtle, small and gradual. The transformation took a bit of time and focus. And I’m still not quite sure how I managed it. Though I believe myself to be a rational woman, married for some 30 years now.

So, there you have it.

Until next time


Janice Taylor





The woman who turned her husband into a dog……………..

‘Let’s get a dog,’ she suggested to her husband, one day.

‘Absolutely, not.’

‘Just a small one, short hair, maybe brown and white, bright eyes. It would a great way to get out and exercise more.’

The woman who .....

‘No, it wouldn’t work, not with my skin condition’

‘We could look at breeds that don’t affect your skin’ – she said, but she could see the resistance in his eyes.

‘No and that is my final word,’ he asserted.

Hmmm,  she thought and Hmmm again. She kept this up for quite some time until one day…

‘Woof,’ – barked the bright-eyed, brown and white dog, as it scratched at it’s ear.

‘How lovely,’ she sighed, ‘I’ll call you, Terry.’