Mr B. and the ‘Safety Chickens’…………

The story behind the story.

Inspired by the chickens my sister used to keep and the fact that she wanted three as the third was always ‘the safety chicken’. Just In case something happened to one of them.

I’m also tickled by the idea of chickens having far more intelligence than they are normally credited with.

So, without further ado, I give you:

Mr B. and the ‘Safety Chickens’…

SSB August 2017 2

This is a story about three chickens and one fox, who over a time, develop a ‘grudging’ respect for one another.

First let me introduce you to, Mr B as he likes to be known. An urban fox, well used to and well suited to life in the city.

“Hello, my name is Bernard, though I prefer to be addressed as Mr B and I am a rather clever and resourceful fox, even if I say so myself. 

 Must say I love city life, it’s so much easier, than living in the country. Moving here was certainly, one of my better decisions. Food is far more accessible and just easier to get. 

 I have made my own home and space carefully hidden in the same garden as three chickens. 

 Three pesky chickens

 I say pesky, because despite my best efforts, I have yet to gain access to their coop or lay a single paw on them. Not for want of trying I can tell you” 

Now let me tell you a little more about the chickens, firstly their names, Hannah, Holly and Henrietta.

Three rather special chickens, also well used to life in the city. The traffic noise, the hustle and the shenanigans of the urban foxes. And as it turns out, they are a very good match for Bernard, despite his best attempts to keep them under continual surveillance.

SSB August 2017 1

So, let’s go to them directly, to hear what they have to say….

Henrietta: – ” ‘Does he ever get bored of watching us, all the time?” 

Hannah: – “No I don’t think so, though I wonder how much he knows about what we are really doing?” 

Holly: – “Enough I think to realise that we are no ordinary chickens. he’s probably worked out that we have learnt to strengthen our coop. He barely bothers to come near it, these days.” 

“Hmmm, still we can’t take anything for granted ” – Hannah

As you can see, these three chickens are clever and resourceful matched against a seemingly clever and resourceful fox.

Each has their own distinct personality but to Bernard they are simply the ‘safety chickens’. Because he never sees just one, he never sees just two. For Bernard they are always, always in threes.

They are also always busy doing something, they are never alone and never still. In fact, half of him wonders if it is still worth trying to catch them, as over the months he’s noticed a physical change in them.

So, back to Bernard, to hear what he has to say: –

“It’s almost as if these chickens know that the fitter they are, the tougher they are going to be to catch and eat. Every day I see them they are doing something physical.

 They also seem to spend a lot of time, pecking around the humans and their machines and generally getting under their feet” 

Bernard is genuinely perplexed by the behaviour of the chickens, he has a hunch that something is going on, but can’t quite put his finger or ‘paw’ on what it is.

Unfortunately for him, he just happens to be sharing the garden with three of the leanest, meanest, most physically fit chickens he will ever come across.

They are clever and cunning and at this moment in time are quite frankly running circles around Bernard.

They are determined to avoid being caught and eaten, and so between the three of them have devised a strict regimen of physical and chicken brain training to keep them alert and one step ahead of Bernard.

So, let’s go back to our three chickens and hear what they have to say:

Holly: – ” For us, it’s all about ‘skills and drills’. We need to keep ourselves in ‘tip top’, condition so we can keep ourselves out of trouble.” 

 Henrietta: – “Absolutely, we realised a long time ago, that we couldn’t rely entirely on the humans to keep us safe. Must give Mr B, his due, out of all the foxes we’ve had to deal with over the years he has probably come the closest to breaching our defences.”

 Hannah: – ” Yes, he has, I’m even wondering if he’s finally realised how we learnt to strengthen our coop.” 

Indeed, this is true, Bernard has noticed how frequently the chickens scratch around the humans, whenever they are in the garden, appearing to do what chickens normally do.

In fact, what they are really doing, is busily learning more and more about the human machines and how to use them.

Where else would three chickens have learnt to fortify and strengthen their coop? Bernard is a pretty intelligent fox but so far, he has been unable to find any weakness, no obvious way into their coop.

It hardly seems worth the effort of checking these days……

Here’s Bernard…….

“I can’t swear to this but I’m sure I’ve seen them trying to use the human machines.

 I’m convinced that their forays towards the humans and their things are not entirely random or accidental. Those three are definitely, up to something.” 

 Poor Bernard, you almost feel sorry for him, well almost……

Our three chickens know they can’t take anything for granted, as far as Bernard is concerned. They hold the firm view that he will never give up, that is just what foxes do.

Because of this they are highly disciplined about checking the coop every day for any signs of damage. And punctilious about their daily exercise regime.

They believe that these days there’s a lot you need to learn and do to survive, as an urban chicken. It’s a tough world out there.

Luckily for them the humans quite often work outside in the garden, with their laptops and our ‘clever’ chickens have learnt to ‘google’ and cover their tracks whilst extracting the information they need.

Their motto is: –

‘Too tough to eat and too clever to be caught’ 

And for the moment this is working for the them, I guess only time will tell if this changes.

Until next time

Janice Taylor





My ‘transformational’ business………..

The story behind the story.

It’s been just over a year since I started blogging my stories, so it seems appropriate to go back to my very first story, ‘The woman who turned her husband into a dog’ and see how things have turned out for her.

So, without further ado I give you:

My ‘transformational’ business ……..


“Hello, it’s been at least three years now since I first shared my story and things have certainly moved on quite a bit since then.

‘My husband’ is doing very well, all things considered.  I keep very good care of him and I believe he’s a lot happier – with less responsibility and lots of regular walks.

However, as he was the main earner in our little household – I had another problem. I needed to find a way to supplement our income, dog food, vets bills and doggy treats, don’t come cheap. Particularly as I too want to enjoy some of the finer things in life.

Over time it had dawned on me that if I could turn one human into a much loved pet – perhaps I could do it with a few more.

Clearly I would need to refine my technique, package and brand my service. Then perhaps, just perhaps I could build a  business, with a real future.

So, dear reader that is precisely what I have been quietly doing these past year or so, working on my brand, my marketing and identifying my ideal client.

As, it had occurred to me that there must be other women, perhaps some men too – who would find it, how can I say, more ‘convenient‘ to have their spouse/partner ‘transformed‘. At the right ‘price point‘ – my service would be far cheaper than divorce and not as ‘permanent‘ as murder.

So, it has been with infinite care, circumspection and discretion, that I have launched my ‘transformational‘ business and achieved enough success for clients to start finding me.

With my website and a few carefully worded tweets – potential clients are starting to find me and the transformations have been successful and well received so far.

Of course I need to be very careful with my contracting and agreements. Don’t want to find someone changing their mind – once the transformation has been completed. There is no ‘going back’ with this, though I may well develop this ‘option‘ in the future.

I conduct careful and in depth interviews to be very sure that each client fully understands the consequences of what I do. That they fully understand, the change is irreversible.

Currently I am limited to dogs – but I can see a lot of potential for my business. Especially as a few enquirers are starting to ask about other animals. Cats, pigs and goats, I have even had someone ask about a chicken . It’s all about ‘innovation‘and ‘development‘.

I’m even wondering whether I can franchise this out  and train others to do what I do and branch out that way…

The  sky’s the limit I say…………”

Until next time……….

Janice Taylor


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………………….


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.


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



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.


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.


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

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…………………….


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.


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

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


Janice Taylor

Inner Peace, with two bars of Green and Blacks…………..

The story behind the story…………………….

Since becoming a mum over thirteen years ago I have developed the habit of travelling with food and drink just about every time I am on a train. It no longer feels right to set off without a few provisions.

It was whilst travelling to London one Saturday that I fell to chatting with a mum and her young son and we did indeed end up sharing a bar of Green and Blacks, has to be said one of my favourite chocolates.

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

Inner Peace, with two bars of Green and Blacks……………

SSB March 2016

 Another Tuesday and another tedious train journey home, from London Bridge to Brighton.

It was the usual squash and discomfort of the 17:45 and Julianne knew she was highly unlikely to get a seat, so she reasoned far better to find a standing space and use the time to meditate and reflect on the finer points of life.

No real point, getting overly excited about the constant delays, lack of seats, lack of information and lack of space. Whatever you needed it was probably lacking when it came to this particular service.

So as her mind started to drift and soar, her breathing and heart rate slowed as she made herself as comfortable as she could in the crowded carriage.

However everything changed very quickly as the train juddered to a halt.

Oh what now?’ she thought, irritably.

Still this was fairly normal and most likely they would be on their way again in a few minutes. Better to resume her meditation and allow her mind to drift off again.

Except that after a few moments it became obvious that the train was not about to start start moving again soon – and now there was something being said over the tannoy.

“This is your driver – apologies for the delay, but we are being stopped at a red signal. We should be on our way again, very shortly”

Okay no need to panic, just another minor delay. Let’s see if I can make myself marginally more comfortable and get back to my daydream.’, thought Julianne.

Inner peace – that’s what I need to focus on and maybe a piece of the Green and Blacks from my bag. I’m glad I managed to pick up a couple of bars at lunch time.’  So with this in mind Julianne set to rummaging about in her bag, to locate her chocolate.

Breathe and it will all carry on as normal.’

However fifteen minutes later, the train was still not moving and by now it was becoming obvious to everyone that something a bit more serious was going on.

This shared, but largely unspoken view was confirmed when the driver spoke again.

“Sorry ladies and gents, it’s not great news. We are it seems going to be stopped here for a while longer. I can’t precisely say how long, but will confirm as soon as I know more”

This announcement, was all that was needed to produce a series of groans, moans and rolling of eyeballs as the passengers finally started talking to each other. Mainly sharing stories about past delays, lack of communication and so on and so forth.

Julianne on the other hand simply pulled out her bar of chocolate and proceeded to chomp her way through it.

It was while she was thoughtfully eating her second row that she felt a gentle tap on her arm and a voice ask

“Could I have a piece of that please?”

A bit cheeky’, thought Julianne, but she couldn’t think of any real and valid reason to just say no, especially as she did have another bar in her bag.

“Of course” she smiled with as much grace as she could muster.

“Help yourself” and she passed over the partially finished bar – she couldn’t quite see how she could just break off a small piece and hand it across.

“Thank you” – replied the young man, who had made the request. “I do normally carry something with me- but must have forgotten today”

“If there is a bit more to spare.” interrupted another voice “I could do with some too.”

What is this?’ Thought Julianne as she watched her bar disappearing through the carriage.

Am I the only person with the foresight to bring food with them?

“Why don’t you open up the second bar?” Another voice called out cheerfully.

“Looks like we are going to be here for a little while yet”

Oh for goodness – how on earth did they know about that?’ – thought an increasingly exasperated Julianne.

Still she didn’t quite have the nerve to deny outright the existence of the second bar she had stashed in her bag. So she simply pulled it out – chipped off two squares for her own consumption and waved the rest of it around until a pair of hands took it and it again disappeared into the bowels of the carriage.

By now the train had been stopped for just over an hour, passengers had adjusted positions and generally tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible.

Julianne could hear low murmurs as people conversed and the occasional “mmmm, that was nice” as they consumed what she assumed to be her Green and Blacks.

Oh well’, – if a couple of bars of chocolate were helping to keep up morale on the train. Who was she to complain really? Tomorrow she would work from home and enjoy the bar of Green and Blacks sitting in her cupboard……

Until next time

Janice Taylor