Saying yes……..

I have been thinking recently, about how I can best encourage our daughter to create a life that she really wants to live.  And realise that so far in my life most of the funny, exciting and unusual things have happened to me more when I said yes than when I said no. So, this month’s post is my random collection of memories from when I just said, ‘yes’.

Emerging twenty-one years ago as a newly- wed, onto the steps of St Peters, Brockley and being showered with rose petals, appropriated from the garden three doors down. Someone (who shall remain nameless) had figured out that as neither confetti nor rice were allowed, stolen rose petals were the next best option.

Wedding day June 2019

Officiating as Reverend Janice, in the wedding ceremony, between Prince Aloysius Charming and Cinderella in the 2017 production of Cinderella and the Beanstalk at The Old Market, Hove. Couldn’t resist when asked in the final moments of the show. Some of you will already know, I love a panto.

Sightseeing around Paris with no knickers after a night out and a last-minute change of sleeping arrangements. In my knee-length skirt, no one would have been any the wiser if I had not inadvertently stepped onto an air vent whilst crossing the road back to the flat where we were staying.

Eating frogs, legs soaked in garlic on said trip to Paris.

Leading Prayers from the front of our church at Easter alongside my friend ‘Alice’ and our two primary age children. I stopped worrying about being stared at when I realised that all heads would be bent down, in prayer.

Squatting in a field at midnight, along with forty others, somewhere in France on the second leg of our coach journey to Italy. Our driver had consistently and persistently refused to allow us access to the loo on the coach but did generously allow us the time we needed to get ourselves sorted, in the field opposite the gas station. We’d already arrived too late to use their loos.

Tumbling out of a hired, white mini- van to play Gaelic football, in a park somewhere in North London. I remember lots of running around, I was a lot fitter then, lots of people (15 aside for Gaelic) but not so much with the ball itself. Come to think of it, I have a vague memory of having a go at rugby too.

Getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning to catch sight of a ‘Lesser Spotted Grebe’, well  some kind of bird. Travelling to somewhere like Kings Lynn, in my friend Mandy’s canary yellow Volvo along with Martin, our resident Twitcher.

Whooping it up at the Middlesex Sevens Rugby tournament and laughing at the three men bellowing out behind me, ‘It’s not the taking part. It’s the winning.’

Trekking for three hours on horseback in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, in 2014. It started with us stopping the traffic as we trotted across the main freeway and ended with a knee-deep jaunt in the sea.  I’d been under the impression that a paddle meant a couple of inches, around the horses’ hooves.

2004-12-31 23.00.00-190

Clubbing every night for a week, in Fuengirola, Costa Del Sol, on my one and only full- blown girlie holiday with my sister Jackie and my best friend Fiona. One of the funniest holidays I’ve been on, with its own cast of characters from the lovely Jonathon our tour rep, Lego Man who we took under our wing, Fiona’s fan club from Newcastle and applique lady, who always wanted a gossip with us ‘young uns’.

Returning to London by coach with food poisoning after a week of camping in Spain. I was meant to be earning my passage back by serving teas and coffees to the other passengers. But in the end the driver took pity on me and allowed me to sit up at the front.

Swanning around on campus in my first year at Hatfield in a graduation gown and from memory a straw boater. Ten pounds seemed such a bargain at the time for this iconic piece of clothing, spotted and paid for at Camden Market.

Being quizzed about my career prospects at the Houses of Parliament by my then boyfriend’s father, the MP for Bradford South as he was then. It was the first time meeting his parents, so being interviewed by his dad was a little nerve wracking to say the least.

Spitting out, after a night of clubbing, the chewed, saliva covered scrap of paper, on which was written the phone number of my friend’s future husband. She did have to scream at me a few times, before I deposited it into her palm.  She didn’t want to have to try and find him again in Charlie Chans.  But I did get a lovely thank you from her husband at their wedding reception for not swallowing his number completely. You’re welcome.

Singing a solo part with Brighton Goes Gospel at their summer concert in May 2013, my first term back after the death of my mum.

Watching Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi back to back in a London cinema with my mate, Jules.

Floating off on a cloud of Pethidine around sixteen hours or so into my labour with our daughter. The effect was instantaneous and as the needle entered my arm, all I clearly remember is turning to the nurse and asking, ‘how long does this last?’

Looking back, I can see that saying yes more times than I said no, meant that I did stuff and at the end of my days the one thing I know I won’t be doing, is boring myself to death 😉.

So, there you have it until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

My battered bible………….

It really has seen better days, but still in my possession because it was gift from a dear friend. So, if you were to open it up and turn a page or two you would see:

Janice

 Happy Christmas

Love

Alice

xx Dec 03

Written in ink that is fading now, but not her memory or her character. In fact, reading this again, reminds me that Alice was never overly sentimental. She generally said what had to be said and could be blunt and to the point at times.

Pittabread June 1 2019

Alice is no longer with us, as she died four years ago, but as I look at my red battered book, with its sellotaped spine, curling pages and rumpled tired looking cover. I think, in fact I know she would be pleased. This is a bible that has been well used and well worn, and Alice who lived with cancer for over ten years was an amazing woman of faith. She could when she chose, pray the ‘hind legs’ off a donkey and held a deep and abiding love and trust for Jesus Christ.

When I knew her, I had the privilege of hearing Alice pray. It didn’t seem to matter how many people were present, she was somehow always able to weave all the different requests, issues and pleas into a single, flowing conversation with her Lord. I used to sit and marvel at the words that seemed to flow from her and settle around whoever needed to hear them.

And yes, there were times when I would surreptitiously glance at my watch and wonder, a bit guiltily quite how much more Alice would have to say. But, oh what would I give now to hear voice and hear her cajole, plead and pray on someone else’s behalf? Or maybe even mine? This, for me was one of her gifts and I know it was something she worked on and developed as her conviction and belief grew.

My friend Alice was brave, loyal, prickly and frankly bloody annoying at times. But she was courageous in sharing her story and her faith. And I know I’m not the only one who thought this.

So, this tired, battered and barely taped together book is my small way of honouring Alice wherever she may be.

Though I suspect if she were alive right now, she might well have ‘rolled her eyes’ and quietly gone out and bought me another 😉.

So, there you have it until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS, Alice is not her real name, but those who knew her will recognise who she is.

In my fifties and so over cooking………

It’s finally time to come clean, I am bored out of my noggin with the whole, shopping, storing, preparing and cooking of food. It’s never been a favourite pastime, since my days of ‘Cook and Hostess’ at O’level.  My interest, in cooking has over the years quietly and determinedly slid off the edge of a cliff.  There are too many other things I’d rather be doing and if one more person suggests ‘bringing a dish’, I will run screaming from the room.

Noooooooo, let’s not. There are restaurants, cafes, takeaways, a city full of places to eat.

I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about Fennel. And I can no longer be bothered to invest the time and effort, life is simply too short.  But because we do in fact need to eat, I have over the years found ways to distract myself from the sheer tedium that is cooking – I sing, write, record video and or practice my tap. As often as I can, once I’ve bunged something in the oven, I go off and practice on my piano. If all else fails, I get my husband to do it.

Family holidays are for me an opportunity to forget about buying and cooking food. A chance to enjoy well cooked, interesting dishes without my effort. This is one of the reasons why, I stopped hosting overseas students. After twelve years, I could no longer be bothered. If the three of us want to eat beans on toast one or three nights 😉 in the week, then we can.

There, glad to get that off my chest.

When I was five and a half months pregnant with our daughter, I did try a French cooking course one summer, in a chateau in the Charente, in southwestern France. Despite the picturesque setting, all it did was tire me out and piss me off and I never tried a single recipe from the accompanying folder when I got back. It’s still sitting there, seventeen years later,  on a shelf stuffed with other cookery books that I’ve barely looked at.

Willy Wonka, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had the right idea, a three-course meal provided by a piece of magical gum. This scene, has always made me laugh.

 

Okay he had a few glitches to iron out, but the idea still has merit and the gum could always be served with a side salad.

So, it may by now, come as no surprise that I don’t bake either. Sorry ‘Bake-off’, happy to watch and all that, but no floury hands for me. A trait, I think  that I share with my mum, who from what I remember never really enjoyed cooking, neither. She too found it all a bit of a chore. In fact, when I was heading off to Poly in the eighties mum went out and bought me the ‘1000 Recipe Cook Book’, crammed with recipes for all occasions. Thirty-five years later it’s the only one that’s still in our kitchen and referred to, admittedly more by my husband. This is the one cook book that I will hang onto. Mum taught me many things, but cooking was not one of them.

Pittabread April 2 2019

Whenever she came to visit, the gift for mum was not having to think about, and cook meals. She would happily, garden, iron, decorate and clean ovens, but she would never have volunteered to cook. It just wasn’t her thing, so why ask?

Now, of course I do need to give some thought to our daughter and her relationship with cooking. I fear my lack of enthusiasm has passed through to another generation, though I do know a good cook book 😉.

So, there you have it.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Word Count: 588

A gag a day………

That’s what I am going to be taking away from the two-day stand up course I attended just a few short weeks ago.

Throughout the two days I was struck by the rigour and discipline behind professional stand up alongside the skill and knowledge of our facilitator, Jill Edwards. Now my plan is to get off my backside and attend more live comedy gigs. Something me and my husband used to do regularly, back in the day.

I also want to have a go at writing a gag a day, doesn’t matter how crap they are. At some point, I’ll produce one or two that might just be funny. Won’t know unless I give it a go and this fits in nicely with my daily journaling. Then and only then will I sign up for another course, hopefully before the end of this year. There is loads more for me to learn.

Pittabread Feb 2019

The whole point of stand up as explained to us by Jill is to tell gags. To set them up, then deliver the punchline. No more, no less. I was also relieved on our first day to find that we weren’t expected to memorise our material to begin with. There was no talking ‘off the top’ of our heads. Instead we were strongly, persuasively, and lovingly (I’m joking) encouraged to write out our gags first and then read them out. This is where I could appreciate just how tightly scripted a lot of stand up is, even down to the pauses, facial expressions and physical gestures. At least fifty-percent of stand up is in the silence.

However, I was not sure what to expect when I initially booked my place in May last year.  I clicked on the payment button, thinking that it would be a laugh, a new experience. Though as the 19th drew closer I did start to seriously question the wisdom of my decision and wonder if I should just back out. Then I decided I could attend but didn’t have to do the performance at the end. That was at least enough to get me there on Saturday 19th January this year.

What got me to return on the Sunday was the fifteen other people who also attended and Jill herself. After the first day I felt that these people had my back. They were an amazing group, who provided supportive feedback along with lots of laughter throughout the two days. No egos, no bullshit.

On the afternoon of the second day, whilst learning my set I decided to simply lower my expectations. It would be enough to get up on stage, remember my set, deliver my set and get one laugh. Just one. BOOM! Job done.

So, I finished the course prepared ‘to have a go’ at performing a set. Which is precisely what we all did in front of family and friends on the Sunday afternoon at the Komedia.

A big thank you to my husband and daughter for coming along and capturing my set on video.

You can see how I got on here:

Incidentally, given that I am primarily a career coach, here is a short piece, ‘why did the chicken cross the road’, written about three years ago now about the similarities as I see them between becoming a successful stand up and running a successful business. Have long had an interest in comedy and stand up.

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

My Fantasy Brexit Team ……………

Over the past six months or so I have been coping with the madness that is Brexit, in one of three ways; either I’ve been laughing at it, swearing at it or both at the same time.

So, for this month I’d like to imagine what if we had the option to remove the current pack of jokers and amateurs currently running the show and replace them with a small but select team of professionals. Two of whom are global superstars with the experience, stature and wisdom to negotiate at the highest level. The third would be there to add a bit of muscle and menace.

If I could. If it were at all possible I’d send in:

  • Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda
  • Yoda

To act as our main negotiators. I would then have Lieutenant Colonel Philip Smith, from the 2013 UK comedy drama series Bluestone 42 to cover their backs.

pittabread jan 2019 1

This threesome could in my opinion take the lead on our behalf and achieve the almost impossible.  Negotiate a sensible deal. They would be more than a match for Michel Barnier and the EU 27. The impenetrable and seemingly immovable EU might crumble under the unique and impenetrable wisdom of Master Oogway:

 ‘Your mind is like this water my friend. When it gets agitated it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle the answer becomes clear.’

Of course, it does!

‘One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.’

Which is precisely where I think we’ve ended up.

I am also sure that the charismatic Yoda, with his 800 years of training Jedi. His affiliations with the Jedi Order, the Jedi High Council and the Galactic Republic would bring some much-needed perspective to the whole Brexit debacle.

‘When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not.’

 Who’s going to argue with this?

‘Do. Or do not. There is no try.’

Let’s get on and get this sorted.

Then we have Lieutenant Colonel Philip Smith, never far away when needed. With a tendency to pop up at exactly the right time, with his rules on leadership and life.

‘What’s the first rule of hospitality?’ Don’t shoot the guests.

What’s the first rule of Brexit? Don’t stuff it up!

 I suspect the Lieutenant Colonel would phrase it slightly differently, but you get the idea.

Finally, I’d have them making their entrance to Eminem’s, Business, the Matoma Remix version. It is a bit sweary, but the chorus, especially nails it for me.

You can hear it here and then imagine the three of them marching in:

It would be epic.

So, there you have it until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS If you have any ideas for your own fantasy Brexit team, then do let me know.

References:

Master Yoda

Master Oogway

Lt Col Smith 

Word count: 454

 

It’s probably the way I’m wired……..

I haven’t yet had myself formally assessed, but it seems highly likely that I’m Dyslexic and have only come to realise this very recently as I approach my mid-fifties.

It’s taken a surprisingly long time for the penny to drop 😉, given that our daughter was diagnosed as having Dyslexia almost two years ago and it is something that is generally inherited rather than acquired. In my relief at having a definite diagnosis for our daughter and the report we could present to her school I didn’t stop to think about the how and the why.

The realisation only fully hit after I’d joined a writing group and I noticed in our discussions that I’d simply not read as widely as most of the others in the group. My suspicions were also aroused by the feedback I was getting about my written work. It’s the first time that I’ve had my writing looked at and analysed in this way.

Pittabread Nov 3 2018

Though even with this recent realisation I would still rather boil my ar**e than join a book club and no before anyone writes in I don’t think you need to be Dyslexic to feel like this.

So as an interim measure I paid a visit to the British Dyslexia Association website and took a few online assessments, the results of which seem to indicate that I may well be Dyslexic. I won’t know for certain until I have myself fully assessed by a trained specialist. To access their site, please click here.

But now as I look back I think I can see some of the ways it has impacted on my life over the years:

  • I know I had trouble with reading at junior school and was pulled out of all my other classes, so I could be taught individually by Miss Shaw. I don’t remember how long it took, but this approach worked for me. I learnt to read and moved on.
  • I never fully learnt my times table at junior school, despite being made to stand up and recite them with the rest of the class. I could learn the rhythm and move my lips along in time with everyone else, so unless the teacher came up really close she would never have known.
  • Without a pen and paper in my hand, I can struggle with spelling and as for mental arithmetic, forget it.
  • I kind of know my alphabet.
  • Over the years I developed techniques for building in the extra time and space I needed to prepare and process information. Really needed to do this in the final year of my engineering degree, when it seemed we were being hit by a tsunami of assignments. I needed time on my own to make sense of them.
  • It may well have affected my performance on graduate assessment/screening programmes, at the start of my working life.  I generally did well at interview but could never quite get through the written tests, which were often timed.
  • It took me seven attempts to pass my driving test, each time getting a little better, but I needed that extra time. Read all about it here.
  • I love writing, but I’m not a writer who can produce long flowing prose that fits seamlessly together. I write in chunks, in fact I write the scenes I can see in my head.
  • My creativity, crazy ideas and perspectives I’m sure originate from my Dyslexia as does my quirky way of putting things together. I may not always spot or notice what’s obvious to everyone else but pick up on the ridiculous and the oddly out of place.
  • I am easily distracted and put off by long complex, over descriptive prose. I tend to read over a piece of text more than once to get to the meaning. Sometimes the words just don’t make sense. Might well be why I often re-read books, once only doesn’t tend to work for me.
  • Today I can honestly say that reading is still not my favourite pastime, I find it tiring and a bit of a strain. Particularly when I’m having to read and make sense of things in a hurry. Large chunks of densely packed text are a real turn off and I can find myself skipping over it if it’s not grabbing my attention. In short, reading is and always will be quite hard work, though luckily for me I love learning, and this is the payoff for me.
  • Can never compose an email in one take, though this is probably a blessing.
  • If I don’t make the effort to concentrate I can find myself ‘zoning out’ in busy and noisy environments. This can be problematic especially when linked with my ability to daydream at the drop of a hat, you can read about my Walter Mitty tendencies here.
  • Do still on occasion stumble over my words when speaking and when having to read aloud.

My Dyslexia has most likely been in the background all my life, quietly driving me on. I successfully studied for three degrees because I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t stupid. Each time I embarked on any form of major study I followed the same pattern, started out ‘sh*t and got better’.

Almost as though my brain needed a bit of time to warm up.

Though what I’m learning as I start to come to terms with my Dyslexia is that it’s not so much about the outcome, it’s more about the mental processes and effort it requires to achieve the outcome you want.

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Word count: 937

 

O’ Level exam results in the Summer of 1980………

It’s been a tense time in the Taylor household waiting for and finally receiving our daughters GCSE exam results and it all worked out well in the end, but it has made me think back to the time I received my O’ Level results, in August 1980. They were not stellar, they didn’t set the world alight, but they were enough to get me into college, so I could study for three A’ Levels.

Perhaps it’s not so much the grades themselves that matter but what you choose to do with them and how you choose to move forward with what you have.

Pittabread Sept 2 2018

So, in no particular order, here is what I managed to achieve in the Summer of 1980:

Maths grade B, thank you Mr H, you were a brilliant maths teacher who knew exactly when to move me up and down through the sets.  I also remember with your tall frame and square shoulders we all thought you looked a little like Frankenstein and you were okay with me being the first to laugh when you suddenly slipped and fell in one of our final year classes. I did genuinely try to stop myself from being the first to laugh aloud, after the initial hush from the rest of the class.

Pittabread Sept 3 2018

English Language, grade B this was one of my favourite subjects and the one where I was hoping for an A.  Though my mark might have been related to my habit of writing over complicated plots and then once I became bored with my own story, I’d kill off my characters in quick succession. Still I got over this and it was all good.

English literature, grade C, I remember long hot, tedious afternoons in the school library listening to someone read from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Sorry 😐, but to this day I still couldn’t give a sh*t about Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene. I was too busy messing around with my two mates Sarah and Nuala, doodling in our exercise books as we attempted to draw each other’s hairstyles.  Or I was busy trying to locate and extract various pencils and pens from my Afro.

Chemistry, grade C had more fun with this subject at A level, especially when our fume cupboard broke down one day and chlorine gas was being released into the chemistry lab. Made me laugh 😂 when a PhD student attempted to analyse the atmosphere as we were being led out.  He would have stood there a little longer if someone hadn’t pointed out that the green gas billowing out into the lab was poisonous, Chlorine.

Physics, grade D, I might have soft pedalled a little on this a bit after being told by my prospective college that a grade D would be good enough to get me onto the A level course. I very much doubt this would happen today.

Who remembers CSEs, certificates of secondary education? A grade one CSE was equivalent to a grade C at O’Level.

Geography, CSE 1 enjoyed the subject but can’t remember much more than that.

German, CSE 1, found this far easier than French and it was an easy choice for me to make. Loved the fact that I was able to continue learning it at Poly as part of my degree. Also ended up staying and working in Switzerland for three months during my four years as an undergraduate. An amazing experience and opportunity.

Food and nutrition, grade C, I remember various culinary disasters with this subject and how we had to present our dishes at the end of each lesson. The funniest and best part of the lesson as far as I was concerned. I also managed to burn the apples for my Apple Charlotte in the practical exam. Luckily my teacher was able to nip out and grab a jar of cherries, which looked far better. This might be why cooking has never been a favourite pastime of mine.

Pittabread Sept 4 2018

And what did I end up doing with these?

Well, for some bizarre reason which I still do not quite understand I simply opted to do Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics without really thinking too deeply about it. This would not happen today. I just plucked them out of the air and thought I’d give them a go.

May well have had Biggles running through my head along with dreams of becoming a fighter pilot. But there was no notion in my head of not being able to do it because I was a girl. I finally let go of this ambition when someone told me that I wouldn’t get in with my flat feet.

Luckily, my wise and observant head Mrs G took one look at my options and intervened, suggesting I would be better off leaving school and applying to the local college. I need to thank her for pulling a few strings and helping to get me an interview.

My interview with the college chemistry teacher Mr G didn’t start well, especially as he explained to me ‘we don’t normally consider pupils from your school. 😝’ That was a real confidence booster I can tell you. Though he did relent and offer me a place if I achieved a grade D in Physics and a pass in everything else.

Today as I look back I am deeply thankful for the choices I made then and the support of my school head in getting me a place at college. Especially as no one, including me would have been aware of my Dyslexia.

Sometimes you just need someone to give you a break.

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS after two great years at College, some great teaching, great support from the other students and a lot of bloody hard work I passed all three of my A’ Levels.

 

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