Keep showing up, come what may

In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s killing – I found myself teetering between bone weariness and diabolical rage. I could not make sense of any of it, my outrage, my anger, my hurt, my dismay was all bundled up in a knot that took me some time to untangle.

I still do not know how this will affect me in the long-term, but one thing I am noticing is my fierce determination to keep showing up, come what may.

SSB 1 March 2019

In the early days, I watched in a daze as events unfolded around the world, on social media, and in the area where I live. I noticed and appreciated how some people were able to share their thoughts with care and consideration. I looked for and found leadership and guidance from those people who laid out their feelings in a coherent way. While I could barely string a sentence together, I was still in the middle of a rant, with thoughts like, ‘why bother?  Nothing is ever going to change,’ careering through my head.

So, what helped?

Two things,

I read – the articles and posts from other black people who were able to marshal their emotions and thoughts and express them so eloquently and, I followed others that were also struggling, realising that I was not alone in this.

I wrote, free-flow in my journal, allowing myself to put it all on paper. Get it out of my head, and my heart and dump it all on the page. Better to heave it out onto the page, my rage, my disgust, my fear, than have it churning around inside of me.

To quote, Alice Walker, ‘writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.’

Today, I am more contained and calmer as I have settled on a way of being through this.

So, as a black woman, I am fiercely determined to:

  • Keep showing up come what may.
  • Get my writing out into the public domain.
  • Have those conversations with white friends and colleagues.
  • Celebrate black excellence wherever I find it.
  • Remain vigilant, watch what people do as well as what they say
  • Continue to support those who speak out against racism.

So, there you have it

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

 

 

Standing by your colleagues

‘Jackie Robinson was the first black player in the US to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s colour barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error, and his own fans began to boo him. As he stood humiliated at second base, ‘Pee Wee’ Reese came over and stood next to him, put his arm around Robinson and they faced the crowd together. ‘

Source: – UCB July 2014

I am still processing all that has happened in the USA with George Floyd, and I have more to say around this topic. But for the moment the story above reminds me of an incident that happened to someone I know, let us call her Sue (not her real name) while in a meeting at work.

careerresilience friends

The story then goes onto explain how the crowd grew quiet, the game continued, and Robinson acknowledged, that one arm around his shoulder probably saved his career. There are times when others need to step forward and stand with you. When someone made a racist remark in a meeting with Sue present, there was no one who ‘put an arm’ around her. Over the years, we have discussed this and recognise that in many ways, this was the most disappointing and upsetting aspect of the whole sorry business.

Clearly, some of the people in that meeting had not heard the remark, some were perhaps shocked, others might have been deeply embarrassed, and others still might not have taken the comment seriously. We will never know for sure – what we do know for certain is that no one challenged the comment publicly (not sure if anyone else challenged privately, either). On this occasion, there was no ‘Pee Wee’ Reese to stand shoulder to shoulder with Sue.

After some reflection, Sue did take it further with her manager, and there was eventually some resolution as people were able to sit around the table and sensibly talk through the event. Sue did come away feeling that she had addressed the issue to the best of her ability, I guess we both wished that ‘in the moment’ someone else could have stepped forward to stand with her and acknowledge the wrongness of the remark.

I believe that in situations like these, you are fine if you know, your friends and colleagues have your back.

So, there you have it until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

Our delicate little flower

That is how I would describe our almost seven-year-old Viessmann boiler, an Orchid that needs lots of tender loving care. Because without fail, at least once and generally around this time of year the heat exchanger contained within it, gets clogged and the whole bloody thing shuts down.

For those of you interested in this type of thing a heat exchanger, and I’m quoting from the Viessmann site: A heat exchanger does precisely what its name describes – it allows heat to be exchanged between two fluids or substances, usually water or gas, without letting the substances mix together.

If you would like to read further, please visit the site: https://www.viessmann.co.uk/heating-advice/what-is-a-heat-exchanger

Pittabread April 1 2020

Since we replaced our twenty-year-old Worcester Bosch, which in my opinion was more of a weed and thus more robust. Our Viessman has required a more hands-on approach, more delicate handling. And before anyone asks we had a MagnaClean fitted on the advice of our registered installer, so there is no real reason for any dirt to get through.

So, during our seven years together, I’ve developed a bit of a ‘love, hate relationship’ with our boiler. I can sense its moods and read when the bloody thing is going to break down, no mean feat, with some of our extended winters.

And two years ago when I first noticed fluctuations with the hot water from the shower, I booked our heating engineer for midday on Monday 19th February and, precisely two weeks after making the call our boiler stopped working entirely on the Sunday before.

Since then, I have been pre-empting any problems by booking ahead with our heating engineer.  I was all set to make the call, as usual, this month, but then we had Lockdown, and it seems if our ‘flower’ stops working, we are on our own.

The minute there is too much detritus in the heat exchanger the whole boiler will shut down. And yes, I know this is to protect it, but if this happens in the next week or so, we will have neither heating nor more importantly, hot water on tap.

So, the question for the immediate future is, will our boiler make it through the current crisis?

If it does, I’m celebrating with cake and a glass of bubbly.

If it doesn’t, I have a plan 😉.

I’ll keep you posted.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

A brief history of my hair

Looking back, I realise I’ve had quite a few different hairstyles over the years. And now it’s clear to me that each change of style signified a momentous shift in my life. So, as well as I can remember, this is what happened to my hair.

The Afro

Of all the styles I’ve had in my life thus far, my beloved Afro was the most labour-intensive. I spent at least an hour each night plaiting my hair and then a good twenty minutes each morning undoing it.  All, so I could maintain its’ softness and shape. I wore my Joan Armatrading sized ‘fro’ almost perfect in its’ roundness with great pride for about six years, through secondary school to my third year at Poly.

Mum finally said yes to an Afro when I was in my fourth year at school. Until then, I’d had it straightened with a hot comb every week and then braided.

Pittabread 2 Jan 2020

So, growing, up in the late 70s, in the Medway Towns, I then had to hunt down a hairdresser who was both able and prepared to cut it. And here I must say, ‘thank you, Chris,’ you took some finding, and I still remember the look of panic on your face when I first walked into your salon.

Mum had offered her services, but after seeing her use the green salad bowl to shape my sister’s Afro, I politely declined. I was determined to find a professional, though to be fair, my sister’s style didn’t turn out too badly.

Then, of course, I had to get the first morning of school out of the way. To say my appearance in the changing room, on Monday morning caused an uproar is putting it mildly. Friends and enemies alike had grown used to my shoulder-length braids. And I spent the next two years extracting, pens, pencils, rulers and various other bits and pieces from my hair.

Much the same happened when I left to go to college.

The Wet Look Perm

From the mid-to-late eighties, when I was in my early twenties, my style of choice was the wet look perm, the most expensive and time-consuming of all.  I spent hours, days, months sitting around in my local hairdressers waiting to get my head seen to.

With each treatment, a cocktail of chemicals was applied to straighten, perm and then set my hair, so I may well have shortened my life with the stuff I inhaled during this process. Mind you the same can probably be said of the two years I spent sniffing at the various chemicals as part of my Chemistry A’ level. I couldn’t always be bothered to traipse across to a fume cupboard or dip a bit of litmus paper into a tube.

But no matter, I always felt great when I finally emerged with shoulder-length wavy hair, kind of Rita Hayworth like. Until of course, my natural hair grew back, and then I’d have to go through the whole bloody rigmarole again.  Not to mention all the potions needed to maintain the texture.  I had bottles of ‘Sta, Sof, Fro’ permanently stacked on my shelves.

I also spent a lot of time changing pillowcases.

Pittabread March 2 2020

 

Synthetic Braids 

Not too much to say about this one, I don’t think it lasted too long. I ended up with shoulder-length braids that were a mixture of nylon and my hair. All I can remember is it took at least eight hours to put them in and even longer to take them out. Still, there were no chemicals involved, and they lasted longer than the perms.

The weave 

I opted for ‘the weave’ in the early 90s while travelling around Australia for three months. I had my natural hair plaited in concentric circles around my head, and then a curtain of synthetic hair sewn onto it. The effect was shoulder-length straightish hair that I hoped would be easier to manage in the heat and humidity of Australia. It wasn’t a complete success.

The short perm

At the age of thirty,  I decide enough is enough and march into my hairdressers, demanding she cut it all off. Seeing my shoulder-length natural hair, she refuses, and after some negotiation, we agree on a short perm. I can’t tell you how much lighter I felt when I left that evening with a head of hair that was the shortest I’d had in years. Despite the chemicals, I loved it; and I said goodbye to Rita Hayworth, forever.

And this was the style I chose to wear on my wedding day.

The Number One

I lost patience again and perhaps a bit of sanity when I became a mother in my late thirties and decided hair was mostly overrated.  I didn’t have the will to bother. So, I bought myself a pair of clippers and had a few attempts at cutting it myself, with mixed results. I even persuaded my husband to have a go, which was even worse.

When we eventually moved to Brighton in the early 2000s, I found a local barber, who could cut it how I liked. And I oscillated between a number one and number two for almost ten years.

The Unloved Hedge 

My hair stayed short much to the chagrin of mum until she died and then, of course, I couldn’t bring myself to cut it. The unloved hedge is how my daughter chose to describe my hair for her English homework. By this time, it was not quite a full-blown Afro. I’d left it to grow a couple of inches, but without the benefit of nightly plaiting to keep it soft and manageable, it had become a bit unloved.

Things might well have continued in this vein had I not holidayed in Jamaica, where our housekeeper offered to ‘tidy up my head.’ She plaited it up for a reasonable fee and assured me that if I left them, they would, over time lock and I’d end up with dreadlocks. In the meantime, and to the relief of my aunt, I had a headful of neat and tiny plaits. Jamaican women don’t do tatty heads, especially when visiting relatives.

Dreadlocks Sept 2016

 

The dreadlocks 

Today, I am the proud owner of a head of shoulder-length locks just as the housekeeper predicted.

Though I strongly suspect if mum were alive today, she might see my dreadlocks as being a bit too ‘Rasta’ ;).

So, there you have it until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

A memorable end to a forgettable night

This month’s post is an airing of an old favourite, going back to my days as a single woman in my late-twenties and some of the bonkers things I used to do. After almost thirty years, this whole episode still makes me laugh but also demonstrates what a ‘nightmare’ I could be at times 😉.

So, without further ado I give you, a memorable end to a forgettable night:

Pittabread 2 Jan 2020

Back in the early 90s my friend, Fiona and I used to regularly go clubbing mid-week. We would faithfully promise each other to be back or at the very least heading home by 1am, which invariably ended up being nearer 2am. But in those days we were both able to get up for work at 7am the same morning, and still function. As I approach my sixties, I cannot begin to imagine doing this now, not without having at least one, maybe two weeks to recover.

In any case, I used to meet Fiona at her place, and we’d both then trot off to Charlie Chan’s in Walthamstow, for our midweek ‘boogie’. I can’t recall the last time I went clubbing, but I think the ‘peak’ of my clubbing career was from my late-20s to early-30s. It was a small window. Though, I do vaguely remember being turned away from Faces in Essex, some years later at a Christmas night out with work colleagues. Don’t think we were glammed up enough and it was a spur of the moment thing.

However, on this one night we were joined by another friend, let’s call her Tina. At the end of the evening, Tina had the number of Gavin, the young man she’d been chatting with. I, on the other hand, had achieved nothing. After a few drinks and a few dances, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. So, when Tina emerged triumphant from the club, waving a slip of paper and declaring she had his number, I didn’t stop to think. I grabbed at it and shoved it straight into my mouth.

Fiona immediately dropped to the floor on my right laughing, and Tina swung round to stand in front of me, demanding that I return her property. I just stood there happily chewing away, and it was only when an increasingly frantic Tina started screaming in my face that I decided to do the right thing. It took some doing; I was on the point of swallowing. But in the end, I coughed up the ‘precious piece of paper’ and deposited it onto her palm. Much to the amusement of Fiona and the relief of Tina.

And rather wonderfully, Tina and Gavin invited me to their wedding reception, where he took the time to thank me for not digesting his number. It just goes to show, you can’t stand in the way of true love.

Now, as I listen to some of the old club classics, on my Spotify list and bob along, it reminds me – ‘you can take the girl out of the club, but never quite get the club out of the girl.’

So, there you have it, until next time

Pittabread.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Lessons from being a mum, 2019

I was amazed and very proud of my daughter, a few days ago as we sat discussing her progress on her two- year college course. She is currently studying a mix of A’ levels and BTECs. But it was her comment on her Summer exams that floored me, and I’m paraphrasing here; ‘if I don’t do well, I can retake. I’m not going to worry about the outcome too much.’

Now before you all write in to put me straight, let me point out; clearly, I would prefer she does well and is happy with her result. Before her GCSEs, both my husband and I encouraged her to focus on putting in the work, rather than worrying about the result. But to hear this from a little girl who was always petrified of failure and putting a foot wrong, this is a huge step forward. As her mum, I am hugely relieved to hear she has a plan B and whatever happens, we’ll both be there to support her.

Isobel on beach 2016

So, now, I’m thinking again about the lessons I’ve learnt from being a mum.  Both the serious and the not so serious:

  • First things first, despite tummy bugs, infections and sickness, the preschool years were a walk in the park.
  • ‘Mummy I have a tummy ache,’ ninety-nine per cent of the time all that is required is a trip to the loo.
  • I learnt to cope with just about anything that emerged from either end, through sickness or illness. I was amazed at what I could get on and do when I had to.
  • You will be hijacked by your emotions when you least expect it. I remember bursting into tears, when our daughter emerged on the stage as a star in her preschool, Nativity. I then laughed as the star I’d made for her started to slip off her back.
  • ‘Mum, I am bored is not a cue for me to leap about providing entertainment. The ability to manage boredom is an under-rated skill.
  • You feel their pain when they are upset and hurting.
  • There are times when I need to act as a buffer between her and the rest of the world, school and life in general. To give her the time and space, she needs to just ‘be’.
  • When I need to step in and play, ‘bad cop’, and say ‘no,’ on her behalf. There is at least one P.E. teacher who is still probably shaking her head at the mention of my name  ;).
  • That I can start to relax a little and let go of some of my anxiety. In the early days, I always felt I needed to be especially alert and watchful over her.
  • I’d fight to the death for her. But I can’t fight all her battles, as she matures and grows I will need to step back and allow her to face the consequences of some of her actions.
  • That I’m tougher in certain situations than I thought and will hold it together if I perceive that my daughter needs me to be firm and clear, interestingly I am noticing this in my work with vulnerable young women.
  • I need to ‘pick my battles’, know when I need to stand firm and when to simply, ‘let it go.’ In the past, more experienced mums have said to me, ‘you will not have the time and energy to fight everything, decide on your priorities and stick to them.’
  • These days our children seem particularly anxious, something that is not helped by social media. There have been times when I’ve said to my daughter, ‘if they are not friends with you in the real world, they are not your friend in the virtual one.’
  • Not everything is a drama; I don’t always need to get swept up in it all.
  • I am far more interested in her resilience and her ability to persevere than her exam grades which will always be relatively short-lived.
  • Being consistent is helpful, I am consistently ‘grumpy mum’ as far as my daughter is concerned, but I am there for her, and I think she knows that.
  • Get the help you need when you need it. There is no shame in bringing in professional help.

And my final lesson:

Our daughter is a wonderful gift, pure and simple.

So, there you have it

Until next time

Pittabread

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

 

Do you need a block of wood?

I know I do. October is an odd month for me, one where I usually end up feeling out of sorts, grouchy, and generally grumpier than usual. Sometimes it catches me unawares, takes a while for my brain to consciously register what my body has already identified as an anniversary. Well, two, actually and this might be why I am returning to one of my favorite films:

‘There are a million things one might do with a block of wood. But what do you think might happen if someone, just once, believed in it?’

– Suzanne Weyn, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Medium 2 Oct 2019

This sweet, beautifully cinematic film contains one of the funniest boardroom scenes I can remember seeing. The main characters sit around a large oak table with a motley collection of toys to discuss the Emporium’s ‘temper tantrum.’ It’s the bickering between the two supposed adults; Henry superbly played by Jason Bateman and Molly, which makes it so funny. As Molly, played by Natalie Portman, tries to describe, to explain the ‘magic’ of the shop to Henry, who is entirely focused on ‘the paperwork.’ He is the accountant or ‘Mutant,’ hired by Mr. Magorium to go over the books.

I also deeply appreciate Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium for the straightforward and elegant way in which it deals with death. Understated and sensitive, this film shows how death affects those left behind and how it might affect the person facing the end of their life.

But the real purpose of today’s blog is to look at our hero, Molly Mahoney, and how her lack of self-confidence contributed to her losing her ‘sparkle.’ Somewhere along the line, she has lost sight or confidence in her dream to write and perform her first concerto. She has become too comfortable in her supporting role as the manager within the ‘magical’ toy store that is the Emporium. Seeing this and knowing that change is coming, Mr. Magorium, played by Dustin Hoffman, makes Molly a gift:

Mahoney: ‘What is it?’
Mr. Magorium: ‘It’s the Congreve Cube.’
Mahoney: ‘It looks like a big block of wood.’
Mr. Magorium: ‘It is a big block of wood. But now, it’s YOUR big block of wood.’

Medium Sept 2019

Mahoney: ‘Thank you. I was just saying last night I don’t have enough big blocks of wood.’
Mr. Magorium: ‘Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.’

– Suzanne Weyn, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

And, so it begins. It takes an accountant, a death, and a block of wood for Molly to find her ‘sparkle’ and recognize her magic. Until then, she had firmly believed that Mr. Magorium was the only one capable of producing it. Only when she is forced into defending the ‘block of wood’ and the store’s magic, in yet another discussion with Henry, does Molly begin to see and own the magic Mr. Magorium had seen within her all along.

It’s her self-belief that finally restores and renews the shop.

So, I ask again, do you need a block of wood?

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Thank you at http://www.waldenfans.com/mr-magorium-and-the-power-of-believing-in-your-children/ for the excerpt.

 

 

Almost 30 years ago now.……………

Still can’t remember the exact date I stopped smoking, but I do know it’s not far off thirty years ago, now. Looking back, it seems almost too easy to forget that I was at one time, a pretty heavy smoker.  Puffing my way through 25-30 cigarettes or roll-ups a day, my habit increased markedly once I started working full-time.

Stoptober Pittabread Oct 2015

So, to mark the start of Stoptober, I am updating a post I first wrote and shared four years ago.

Because in the end I gave up, simply to get rid of the slightly ‘sickly’ feeling I had every time I woke up in the morning. I grew tired of the daily nausea.

My motivation wasn’t money, and it certainly wasn’t about my health in general. I was only interested in finding a way to rid myself of the daily physical queasiness that was more annoying, than debilitating. So, I decided in the first instance to think only in terms of two weeks at a time. At the time I saw no point in setting myself a long-term goal as far as quitting, was concerned.

The first two weeks were the worst, the time where I chewed, sucked and munched my way through a ‘mountain’ of sweets, gums and chocolate. Decided to worry about any possible weight gain, another time, though in the end I discovered this was largely another myth.  And it was as much about keeping my hands busy as anything else, especially after so many years of rolling my own.

In any case, two weeks became one month, one month, three and before I knew it a whole year had passed without me smoking and apart from the first few months, I didn’t suffer from any strong physical cravings either.

Strangely enough I didn’t experience any real ‘cravings’ until around five years or so later when I went on a ‘girlie’ holiday, with a friend and my sister.

I remember waking up from an afternoon siesta with a real ‘gut wrenching’ craving for a cigarette and realising that I could so easily undo at least 5 years of non-smoking I opted for the Vodka. It worked, one tot or maybe two, 😉 was enough to kill off the ‘craving’, but it taught me a salutary lesson. I was never going to be entirely free; it could still surprise me at any time.

Today, I think the maxim ‘once a smoker always a smoker’, still applies to me. So, on those occasions when I wonder to myself, ‘how nice it would be to have that one cigarette’ especially after a good dinner I remind myself that:

One, would become three, three become five and before long I would be puffing my way through a packet of twenty a day. Far better, to not bother.

I also don’t ever want my daughter to see me with a cigarette in my hand, don’t know why I feel so strongly about this, just do. I couldn’t bear to see the worry and anxiety on her face if she ever saw me with one. Helps keeps me focused.

So there you have it, until next time

Pittabread

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS The early morning ‘queasiness’ did in fact disappear.

 

Woman walks into a bar, meets a bear, a coyote and a rat……..

Have you ever wondered what you would do, if you ran across, a bear? No, me neither until our recent holiday in Canada.

In August this year we enjoyed ten lovely days in Vancouver as a family of three, a city we’d first visited twenty years ago, when it was just me and my husband. On that first trip, visiting friends out in the country we had, from the safety of their kitchen caught sight of a bear in the garden. Still, the chances of this happening again in the middle of Vancouver seemed highly unlikely.

Vancouver Bear sign only August 2019

Which is why all three of us were discombobulated, by this sign, spotted while taking a walk in Robert Burnaby Park no more than twenty minutes away by foot, from our rented flat. Especially as me and my husband had carelessly dismissed our daughter’s questions and concerns about bears in Vancouver.

It’s highly doubtful that picking up the phone would have been my first response, though I did grab a rock, well maybe a large stone and my husband afterwards admitted to looking around for a large stick. Both of which would have been completely useless had we in fact seen a bear.

Nonetheless I was relieved to be provided with a bit more information on another trip out, this time to Whistler, eighty miles or so north of Vancouver:

Vancouver Me and bear 4 August 2019

If you meet me …..

  • Do not gather around me (or my cubs)
  • Stay calm, don’t run.
  • Back away slowly, give me space
  • Never feed me.
  • Keep dogs on a lead.

Would have to say, with some tiny adjustments this set of instructions could usefully be applied to the being on the right, 😉.

On another walk, in Queens Park towards the end of our stay we came across this sign, alerting us to Coyotes:

Vancouver Coyote 1 August 2019

I was particularly interested in what to do if a Coyote got too close:

Be Big, Brave and Loud

  •  Stand your ground with arms overhead
  •  Yell, ‘go away Coyote’, to alert others.
  •  Never run and maintain eye contact.

Not sure just how Big, Brave and Loud I would be if faced with a Coyote but still reassured by the practical advice. And I liked the fact that there was another Hotline to call, should your Coyote appear to be too aggressive.

Though must admit being Big, Brave and Loud sounds more like a good night out on the town to me, than a means of staring down a Coyote. But each to their own.

So, that just leaves the rat, and this is based on a long-standing family joke about the time I did pick up the phone to call Islington Council to report a rat I’d spotted snuffling amongst the bins at the end of my road. In my defence it was large, and I was reading The Rats by James Herbert at the time. But Outraged of Islington was seriously in danger of disappearing up her own bottom as she picked up the phone to report, said rat.

Luckily I have two younger sisters who very quickly brought me back down to earth, asking for details of the call and ‘did I think Islington was a completely rat free zone?’  You can read the full story here.

So, there you have it

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

How I met your dad………

I would love to say he wafted down into my arms on a gentle cloud, that our eyes locked over a crowded dance floor or indeed he came charging up on his handy steed and swept me off my feet.

But, all that of course would be complete bollocks.

Pittabread July 1 2019

It took a while, but I did eventually realise that I couldn’t do like a Disney princess, assume the position and wait for my prince to happen along. Which was a bit of a surprise, given that at the time I was working full-time in a village full of men; a.k.a Ford’s Research and Development facility in Dunton.

So, in the end I decided to roll up my sleeves and set about the serious business of finding a partner.

Enter, then the (I can’t for the life of me remember the name), dating agency with its’ £150 a year membership fee. This worked reasonably well to begin with, I even managed to date one person on and off for about a year. Unfortunately, Mr Click, best to keep him anonymous turned out to be a bit of an arse and I’m glad I took the opportunity afforded by a cold winters night to end our, ‘relationship’.

Then I found Selective Singles, via a purple A5 leaflet left behind in my new flat and attracted by the promise of meeting other discerning singles, I decided to give it a try. I was selective, I was single. It made sense.

There was quite a lot of paperwork; at least three in depth questionnaires on interests, hobbies, preferences, etc. And only once I’d completed and returned these was I then invited to meet Tim DeVine, the proprietor of Selective Singles at his offices in Covent Garden.

I did gulp when Tim revealed the cost of his service was £600. Good men didn’t come cheap, apparently. But seeing my reaction, Tim offered me a discounted price of £400 along with instructions to keep the details of our transaction, strictly private and confidential. To this day, I don’t think your dad knows how much more he paid, compared to me.

So, having parted with the cash and had my passport, payslips and proof of address checked, I was now on the official list of Selective Singles. All done and dusted with pen, paper, envelopes and stamps. The only picture I ever saw was the one Tim took of me with his Polaroid.

The rules of engagement were simple, details for each person were provided on a single sheet of grey A4 paper and it was up to you to pick up a phone, have a conversation and decide whether you wanted to, actually meet.

Must admit it only took about eight months or so for my enthusiasm to fade and boredom to set in. I’d had conversations, a few dates in bars and cafes. I’d spent a fair number of evenings waiting outside Covent Garden Tube, for dates, that didn’t always show up as arranged. Maybe it was time to embrace life fully as a single woman and move on. I’d come to accept that being a wife and mother was not going to be part of my future.

Pittabread July 2 2019

I was done, there were going to be no more singles, selective or otherwise. Your dad was the last name on my list. We had spoken a few times on the phone, about five months in and somehow due to holiday commitments on both sides we hadn’t quite managed to pin down an earlier time to meet. It worked out that he was going to be my final date. Feeling quite laisse faire about the whole thing, I did half contemplate not showing up.

So, while I was impatiently waiting at Piccadilly Circus, your dad had ten minutes, dressed in my  checked mini skirt, black jumper and knee length black boots, little did I realise that the man I was meeting for the first time was my future husband and that I was meeting him on his birthday.

So, there you have it.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS

A minor point, but if pressed your dad would have described me then as solid rather than slim build, the only part of my description he ever took issue with. I have to say after 23 years he’s probably right 😉.