Operation Christmas………………

The Story behind the story…..

Today’s story is to celebrate our tattered and somewhat worn Christmas tree, which is at least 15 years old and our ever-growing collection of tree decorations. Every year I feel compelled to add a few more much to the annoyance of my husband and the amusement of our daughter.

So, without further ado, I give you

Operation Christmas………………….

renewyou-xmas-2016-2

Here we go” – muttered Snow as he felt himself lifted from the tin and carried across to the tree.

What’s it going to be like this year?” he wondered as he surreptitiously glanced around and watched as the rest of the ‘gang‘ were pulled out and placed at different parts of the tree.

Of, course ‘their owners‘ had no idea that the Christmas decorations were in anyway sentient. It had been a long 11 months, 15 days, 4 hours and thirty mins stuck in a tin with a bunch of disgruntled and squished decorative personalities.

So, it was a real relief to be ‘out and about’, dangling from the tree. Snow knew from experience that wherever anyone was placed initially, would change. It was the same every year, no one was ever entirely happy with their first branch and every year he had to remind everyone to leave it a few days before moving to a different branch. He was convinced that they would get caught out one day.

It would also be nice one year to get a real tree. However, Snow was a realist and after ten years or so he had given up on this idea.

As Snow looked about he noticed the reindeer, stretching their legs and Father Christmas stifling a yawn. ‘Honestly’ thought Snow, ‘How much sleep does he need?’ He stiffened as he strained to hear what he knew to be the ‘tinkling’ of the bells as they tested out their notes to check they were still in good working order.

ssb-dec-2016

He would feel better once the tin was completely empty and he could do a full ‘roll call’. – last year they had had a lot of fun hurling themselves from the tree onto the pile of presents below, trying to guess their contents.

They’d been lucky not to have damaged or torn any of the wrapping paper and they’d almost been caught when someone had come downstairs to go into the kitchen.

It would take some time now for everyone to be assembled and placed on the tree, so Snow thought he may as well relax and enjoy the view. He would get a chance to sort out swops and generally check up on everyone much later in the evening.

It was a few days later, after the usual settling in period, present guessing and general messing around that Snow suddenly became aware of the ‘hooded figure‘ in the room. He knew the house should have been empty, they had listened to all the commotion as their owners left.

He knew that this person should not have been in the house, let alone gathering up the presents and putting them in a bag.

Snow could sense Santa’s dismay and fear, but regardless, now was the time to act. So, signalling to Santa, Snow gently started to sway backwards and forwards. Santa looked at him with some surprise, but luckily decided to join in. It wasn’t long before all the other decorations were doing the same and the whole tree looked as if it were moving, tinkling and glowing.

It took a few seconds for the intruder to notice what was going on and he might well have ignored the ‘tree’ and its commotion had not Snow given the final signal for every decoration to launch themselves at the intruder’s bagful of stolen presents.

This was the final straw and with a yelp, the intruder dropped the bag and ran out of the house. Whatever was going on with this tree and this house, he wanted no part of it.

So, it was that ‘Operation Christmas’ as it came to be called was debated, discussed and celebrated by Snow and all the other decorations, for years to come.

Their owners on returning home, realised just how lucky they’d been not to have lost all their presents just before Christmas and resolved never to leave everything out again.

And of course they would never know the full story …..

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

 

A letter to Norfolk ………..

The story behind the story…………..

Going back to my historical roots this month, as I await the arrival of the third and final instalment of the Hilary Mantel series, recounting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII.

I am excited to see how she will portray his downfall and impending doom.

So this month’s story is how I imagine Thomas’s growing sense of peril, the stage at which he starts to realise that his life, ‘to all intents and purposes’ is over and that the only thing left for him to do is to throw himself on the King’s mercy so he can protect his family and household.

Am also intrigued by his relationship, with Anne Boleyn’s, ‘Uncle Norfolk’ as he is ‘affectionately’ named by Cromwell and his household in the Hilary Mantel’s series. A relationship that seems to be based on mutual fear, some respect, loathing and necessity in equal measure.

So without further ado I give you ….

A letter to Norfolk ………..

SSB Feb 2016 1

It is dark and quiet in the nook where Thomas Cromwell sits and contemplates his ‘bleak’ future. It has been some weeks since the kings humiliating, ‘annulment’ from Anne of Cleves, the ‘Flanders Mare’ as he so dismissively referred to her.

At least now, things are settled, Anne very sensibly accepted the position of ‘King’s Sister’ and the ‘friendship’ between her and the King has been cemented with ‘fond’ exchanges of gifts and letters.

But even with all this Thomas is still very much aware of the Kings wrath and anger and senses that his time is coming. It is perhaps too late to save his own person, but he must of course do what he can for his family.

The king may still show mercy and a kindly face to his loyal subject.

ssb-oct-2016-1

So it is with all this in mind that Thomas Cromwell, one of the most powerful men in the land picks up his quill and slowly and thoughtfully begins to write:

My Lord, Norfolk

These are desperate times.

I see I have miscalculated, I have too many enemies and know too many secrets, for me to survive the King’s wrath.

We have oft over the years not seen ‘eye to eye’, but I think in these ‘times’ we might be able to do a little business. I turn to you now, as a long standing associate and man of influence, as I believe we understand each other and our King.

My request is simple, to do what you can for my family, they are completely without blame and the King’s righteous wrath when it falls, must fall on me alone.

I only ask that my household is left to live a peaceful and comfortable life, quietly and away from court if necessary.

Whilst I, will throw myself on the mercy of our dear King. I remain now and ever more his most faithful and ever dutiful servant. Undeserving of his grace and mercy.

Yours

Thomas Cromwell

As he signs his name, Cromwell sighs and carefully seals the document, he will ensure it is sent tonight. He must act now with all haste, have everything ready and in place. There are other letters to be dispatched, but this one must go first.

Things may yet turn out for the best, he knows that Norfolk would happily see him hang, that much is abundantly clear but perhaps he will look more favourably on his family and household.

Only time will tell.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The Emoji’s take action………………

The story behind the story

I have been fascinated to observe just how quickly emoji’s have become a part of our everyday life and communication.

It’s been interesting to see how these have become in a very short space of time an integral part of the way we communicate electronically.

It seems we are increasingly using emoji’s in our communications and finding that in general they can add colour and texture to our tweets, Facebook messages and texts. I do need to admit I am nowhere near as proficient as some people in their use, so find myself largely limited to ‘Smiley faces’, where appropriate.

So my mind being the way it is,  started wondering what it would be like if the emoji’s simply decided to ‘not play ball’ and the impact this would  have on the rest of us.

So without further ado, I give you …….

The Emoji’s take action…………………….

ssb-sept-2016-1

There is much discontent in the electronic world of communications, amongst the emoji’s as they come to realise and feel that they are not as appreciated or recognised in the same way as the words.

Particularly as, since their inception, they have been ‘patiently’ waiting to be included in the main Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries alongside the ‘words’. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that this is not going to happen anytime soon.

So it is, after much debate and discussion amongst themselves, the Emoji’s by a sizeable majority, vote to go on strike and simply remove themselves from electronic communications for a few days.

But they find even after a few days, that their ‘disappearance’ doesn’t quite have the impact they are hoping for. The ‘humans’ although initially irritated and annoyed at having their ‘emoji’s’ disappear, quickly become used to the new state of affairs and things to a large extent continue on as normal.

The Emoji’s then decide to ‘disappear’ for a few weeks………

However, this longer ‘disappearance’ is just put down to a bug, some fault in coding and whilst teams of ‘human’s hunt down the error, everyone else carries on as normal.

The emoji’s seeing this and realising that the human ‘coders’ are chasing them down, return to work, whilst they reconsider their options.

ssb-sept-2016-2

It is ‘Happy Smiley’ face who hits upon the ‘buddy up’ plan and shares this with the others. This new plan should be far more effective, as the strategy is simply for each ‘emoticon’ to pair up with its emotional opposite and each time it is selected for a message, their emotional opposite would go instead.

In other words, as ‘ Happy Smiley Face’ explains, every time someone selects  ‘me’, ‘Angry’ face would appear instead thus completely changing the tone and meaning of the message.

So it is, that with another majority vote, the ‘buddy up’ plan is put into action and the emoji’s start swopping all over the place……

  • Sympathy, with laughter……..
  • Hopeful, with cynical …………
  • Joy, with sadness or wicked, depending on who’s available at the time………………..

You can imagine that it doesn’t take long for the humans to notice that things are going  wrong with their messages and as the action continues, miscommunication between the humans builds. Plan ‘buddy up’ really starts to take effect as relationships breakdown, friends turn on friends and all sorts of chaos ensues as messages are turned ‘upside down’.

The emoji’s seeing this devastation, seeing the misery and unhappiness their action is causing realise that their role is simply too important and decide to go back to what they know best. They decide that with or without entry into the dictionaries, their role is to facilitate human communications.

Maybe better to just create their own book, so they can continue to support communications between the humans in the only way they can.

So there you have it, until next time….

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

A houseful of Clones……………

The Story behind the story……………

We all have things in our lives that we don’t particularly enjoy doing, those ‘chores’ that we could quite happily live without. For me, it has to be said one of those ‘chores’ is cooking, it really is not my favourite pastime. In fact, if it was genuinely possible to concoct, prepare and consume a ‘reasonable’ meal in three minutes, I would consider this too much time. There are just so many other things I would rather be doing.

So with this in mind, I found myself imagining what it would be like to outsource this and a few other household tasks and it got me thinking about the old Walt Disney classic, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and the fantastic ‘Cat in the Hat’.

So without further ado I give you, my take on this:

A houseful of Clones……………….

SSB 1 Aug 2016

It is with great excitement and anticipation that Juliette, opens up the box that contains a rather special package.  It has taken some months, but now it has finally arrived and all she needs to do is follow the instructions and she will be forever free of all household related chores.

This will provide her with all the help she needs to keep on top of running a home and a demanding full time business.

All things considered, this, if it works will solve all her problems in one fell swoop.

What else could you possibly need, if you could grow your own team of ‘specially cloned’ helpers all with the focus and desire to make your life easier?

I should explain, Juliette, has made the decision to invest in a Beta version of ‘Grow You’, – a cloning system especially designed for ‘busy’ people.  She had looked very carefully through the brochure, completed the online questionnaire and sent off payment and hair samples to the ‘Grow You’ corporation.

Now with the arrival of the package she is all set to move to stage two, ‘growing’ her clones to full size and inducting them into her life so they will know exactly what is required of them.

And because finances are a ‘little tight’, Juliette has opted for the three ‘clone’, package: – she reasons she can always buy another set to enlarge her team if things work out.

So with infinite care, Juliette, follows the instructions and carefully stores her pots in her spare room. It is the warmest in the house and it will keep them out of the way and safe whilst they come to full size over a period of just one week……………..

Exactly one week later, Juliette has her three full sized clones and as part of their induction she names them, J1, J2, and J3 and allots each its own set of tasks.

J1, is in charge of all food preparation, buying, cooking and tidying up the kitchen

J2, is responsible for the garden and maintaining all outdoor space

J3, is responsible for cleaning and tidying up the house and ironing.

All, starts well as each clone, diligently and methodically sets about their tasks leaving Juliette free to pursue her work and her interests. She finds that she can get so much more done, without the daily hassle as she sees it of cooking, cleaning, gardening all the stuff she has absolutely no interest in.

And so things continue on smoothly for some months……………….

However, during these months, the clones themselves have grown a bit more ‘self-aware’ and realise that they are a ‘bit bored’.  They too have other things they want to do. So unknown to Juliette, they decide to ‘outsource’ their tasks. They reason it won’t matter too much as long as the tasks get done, Juliette will still get her meals prepared and house and garden tidied. Just not by them.

Strictly speaking this should not have been possible, but as the original kit was at Beta stage only, there was one small flaw. The clones are actually able to clone themselves, which is exactly what J1, J2 and J3 do and they conceal the additional three clones (K1, 2 and 3) and things continue on in much the same way, with K1, 2 and 3 doing all the work.

SSB 2 Aug 2016

Juliette remains blissfully unaware of anything being amiss, she had taken the time to carefully induct J1, 2 and 3 into her life and can see no need to do anymore, unfortunately they are not quite so careful in inducting K1, 2 and 3.

For this and other reasons it isn’t too long before the 3Ks decided to create their own clones, they had observed the 3Js and felt that they could also use their time to ‘follow their interests and passions’. Who wants to iron, when there is singing to be done, instruments to be played and books to be read?

So as you can probably guess by now, the 3Ks go ahead and create their own clones, following the example from the Js and name their clones L1, 2 and 3 and barely bother to induct them into Juliette’s routine at all.

It has to be said, Juliette is still largely unaware until one day noticing that her garden is looking particularly unkempt, she ventures into her garage to remonstrate with J2 only to find that it is crammed full of clones. All busy arguing and trying to conceal themselves in various ‘nooks and crannies’ as they become aware of Juliette’s presence.

After some months the original group of three had ‘grown’ to 18, and seeing this Juliette immediately contacts the ‘Grow You’ corporation and arranges to have her garage ‘cleared’. She is assured that they will all be well looked after and able to lead productive lives, just not with her.

The ‘corporation’ had as a gesture of good-will offered her the Alpha kit, but after some thought, Juliette declines and decides that she will find another way of making her life a bit easier. She remembers seeing something about a range of robots, maybe that is worth pursuing?

I suppose muses Juliette, to herself, as she reflects on her ‘clone experience’ they were all versions of me, so it makes sense that at some point they too would find household tasks unfulfilling and boring. And maybe I could have checked on them a bit more along the way….

So until next time

Shortstoriesblogger

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The Scribbler returns…………….

The story behind the story

This is really a continuation of my interest and fascination with Tudor history and in particular Elizabeth 1st.  I am still really keen to ‘get inside her head’ so have decided to grant the scribbler at least one more ‘audience with the Queen, this time after her historic defeat of the Spanish Armada.

So without further ado, I give you:

The Scribbler returns…………………………………..

SSB Feb 2016 1

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”

Source:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_to_the_Troops_at_Tilbury

Stirring words indeed your majesty” – remarks the ‘Scribbler’ as he makes a deep bow to Elizabeth and carefully folds away the piece of parchment from which he has just read her recorded words.

The scribbler has been granted a second audience with his Queen as she wants to ensure that her ‘subjects’ fully appreciate the size and scope of her victory over the Spanish and the ‘vanquished’ Armada.

Elizabeth merely smiles, she knows that some of this is flattery, but then which woman isn’t susceptible to a little flattery every now and then and in her hour of need her ability to speak and speak exceptionally had not deserted her.

Her subjects would never know just how badly things could have gone, so she had needed to show herself to her people and show them that she herself was prepared to take up arms in defence of her realm.

After reading the Scribbler’s last piece she is reasonably happy with the thought of another ‘article’ that will show her in all her glory and majesty. However little does she know that the Scribbler has his own agenda and is fully determined to ‘get inside’ the head and heart of his illustrious Queen.

So he has carefully planned his approach and decided to start by repeating her ‘stirring’ words and flattering her with thought and care as most intelligent men have learnt to do around Elizabeth. He is not bad looking for a commoner, clearly his style of dress cannot compete with the lords and ladies of the court. But fortunate for him he has the build and proportions that Elizabeth has been known to find attractive in a man.

He has a certain ‘swagger’ about him, a ‘devil may care look’ which Elizabeth finds ‘passing’ attractive, though she would never deign to admit as much.

A great victory your majesty” he continues “a chance to show the rest of the world that, England has a true and steadfast Queen”

Yes” she muses “We have won a great victory this day and one that shows the world that we are not a nation to be trifled with”

Of course your majesty”, responds the Scribbler, “Your people will want to see your words written and recorded for posterity”

Naturally“, replies Elizabeth, “My clerks can provide whatever you need and I of course look forward to seeing my words printed throughout the land

She pauses, as she can see no other reason for the scribbler to be still in her presence, but annoyingly he is not showing any sign of leaving.  So, if he can’t take a royal hint, she will just dismiss him with  a nod of the head.

However, the Scribbler is watching her very carefully, he knows he has been dismissed, but again he wants the story behind the story and so he sighs and ventures with:

I wonder what your father would have thought?

Elizabeth stiffens, no one dares to speak of her father unless she does so first. Who is this impertinent man, perhaps a night in the tower might be required?

“I only ask“, continues the scribbler quickly, “As he never achieved as King, what you have achieved today as Queen”

What is it about this Scribbler thinks the queen irritably, why cannot he take his leave?  Yet despite her irritation she has to acknowledge the truth in his statement.

As Queen she had defended her realm, with a navy that was her pride and joy, with sea and land defences that had been ‘sorely’ tested.

She had achieved far more than that ‘pumped up’ Henry, with his ‘overblown’ ideas to go with his ‘overblown body’. What had he achieved really?

And now his ‘bastard’ daughter from the ‘goggle eyed whore’ sat victorious on her throne with the world at her feet. All without the benefit of a husband.

Yes, what indeed would he say?

A man that was so desperate for a male heir that he murdered her mother, so that he could marry again.

He would be truly flabbergasted and amazed that a ‘mere’ woman sat on the throne of England. At this thought a slight smile plays around her lips, but she isn’t going to share her thoughts with this commoner.

He had more than enough for his story, “You may leave us” she smiles. Give him a small token of favour, she may well want to summon him again.

Yes your majesty” replies the Scribbler he can see that his question has sparked something in the Queen and next time he would get the real story.

Until next time

Shortstoriesblogger

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

No Capes! ……………………

The story behind the story

Partly in deference to the Edna Mode character from the 2004 film, The Incredibles. Loved this film, and particularly loved Edna and her absolute insistence on ‘No capes’ despite the frequent requests of her ‘client’ Bob Par, aka Mr Incredible.

This story is also for one little boy who loves his action heroes, none of them female as far as I can tell. He clearly loves his mummy but maybe doesn’t quite see her as an action hero.

So without further ado, I give you:

No Capes!……………………..

SSB No Capes 1

My name is Kevin and this is what my mum says every time I ask her to add a cape to her uniform. I keep asking because I think she would look really cool in a cape. But she always, always says, ‘No’.

I have to call it a uniform too,  she does get very cross if I call it a costume. She says it takes away from the work she does and what she does is pretty cool and sometimes a little bit dangerous.  Because you see in real life my mum is a ‘Super Hero’, with her own special powers.

To be honest I think her ‘uniform’ is a bit boring, without a cape. If you didn’t know, you would just think she was going to the office, though I suppose the fact that it is orange does make it stick out a bit.

My mum doesn’t really like the colour, but ‘needs must’ she says. She prefers to just blend, do the super hero ‘thing’ and then leave. She never hangs around for interviews afterwards, ‘I haven’t got the time’, she says. “Would make me even later picking you up”.

 I think it’s really cool that she is a ‘superhero’ even if it does sometimes makes her a little late for pick up at the end of school and she can’t always drop me off if she has special ‘superhero stuff’ to do.

But I like it when she tells me about what she has been doing and how she used her ‘special’ powers to save the world. So now, I need to remember what her ‘Super Hero’ powers are.

Well, my mum can…………………………

Pick up the tiniest sound of ‘trouble’ from anywhere in the world, including mine. Really annoying if I am trying to get something from downstairs, when I am supposed to be in bed.

See through the thickest of walls, this is a problem when I am trying to get on the IPad when I shouldn’t or when I am arguing with my sister.

‘Pop up’ wherever she is needed, she had to do this a lot when I was little and running about all over the place. Mum says,’ I didn’t always know or see the danger’.

 Freeze time with her ‘special look’, she says this is really useful when me and my sister start fighting. I think she sometimes does this with dad too.

And because she can ‘just appear in an instant’ wherever she thinks she needs to be, she is never too late for school. She just has to remember sometimes where that is. One time she almost forgot to pick me up from my football match at Queens Park.

But, my mum, always has good stories to tell and is always very careful about how she uses her ‘Super Hero’ powers.

It is really annoying, though when she seems to know exactly when I’ve been a bit naughty.

Having a cape” she says, “Would just get in the way

Sometimes I say to her, “Mum, why don’t you use your powers to do the shopping, or the things around the house?”

And she says, “As tempting as that would be. I have to save them for when they are really needed. What would happen if I used them up on everyday things and then didn’t have enough, to get a cat down from a tree, to stop a child stepping in front of a car or getting someone to hospital?”

 Sometimes I ask, if I can go with her and she always says, “When you are a little bigger, and you have learnt to use your own superpowers.”

And I say to her, ‘Mum, please get a cape?”

And she always, always says “Absolutely, not, no capes!

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The mission……………..

The story behind the story……..

Partly in response to the ‘Lego movie’ with its incessantly upbeat song ‘Everything is awesome’, really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, but the constant and ‘never ending positivity’ of the main character Emmet did make me smile.

It’s this proliferation of positivity on some social media channels that I find can get a little ‘wearing’ at times. Don’t always want or need to be constantly bombarded with happy thoughts, vibes, happy emoji’s or OXOXs. Still to be fair I don’t want a load of all negative ‘cr#p’ either.

I also remember my irritation largely irrational I know when music from U2 was downloaded onto my phone a year or two ago. Appreciate it was from a good place, but still felt my space and my choice had been compromised.

So without further ado I give you:

The Mission…………………………

SSB the mission May 2016 1

What can I do to help you make a positive change in your life today?”  Chirped the voice from the App as Sylvia tapped on it. More it has to be said from idle curiosity than anything else.

I am your happy app designed to bring joy and positivity to your life.”

‘Oh really!’, thought Sylvia as she struggled to shut the App down, her curiosity very quickly replaced with annoyance.

She had absolutely no recollection of downloading this particular app and she groaned inwardly as it continued to send notifications each accompanied with either an emoji or some ‘cheery’ noise.

It was while it was encouraging her to step fully into her awesomeness that Sylvia, almost stepped into the path of an oncoming bus as she continued struggling to shut it down.

Not sure how awesome she would have felt under the wheels of a bus, and she may well have needed more than a few healing Chakras to recover. Anyway after taking note of the ‘salute’ from the clearly shaken driver, Sylvia shut down her phone and resolved to sort it all out once she was safely back at the office.

Then she could take a good look at the ‘App’, that had somehow appeared on her phone.

Unfortunately for Sylvia, she had a few issues to deal with as she arrived at work and at some point during a particularly trying exchange with Rex a member of her team,  she automatically switched on her phone, having forgotten all about the ‘App’.

It wasn’t until she was back in her office that she was again reminded of the ‘App’, when it piped up:

I think you could have handled that a little better.”

“How would you have handled it?” Sylvia asked somewhat sarcastically as she gazed in astonishment at her phone. She had in the rather heated exchange with Rex, completely forgotten about the ‘App’ and her intention to sort it out.

To her total amazement her phone started to vibrate in her hand, as though it were thinking and then announced:

I might well have arranged another time to talk through the issue in greater detail, rather than trying to sort it all, in that moment”

There was something in the tone, that brought Sylvia very close to throwing the phone across her office. However, she chose instead to take a few steadying breaths as she considered the ‘App’s response.

It was true that the issue was more complex and involved than a quick chat in the corridor merited and Rex had been decidedly unnerved by the exchange.

Still it was one thing to be bombarded with ‘happy notifications’, quite another to have the thing eavesdropping on her conversations and chipping in with advice. Even if it was well meant.

How do I get rid of you? She asked, clearly there was no need to type anything if it could just hear.

“You can’t” came the instantaneous reply, ”I will only leave once my mission is complete”.

“What mission?” Sylvia croaked, she was feeling decidedly ‘freaked ‘out by this whole exchange and she resolved to renew her phone and number at the weekend.

“To make you happy” came up on the screen……………..

So until next time

Shortstoriesblogger

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk