Laurie Taylor column

December 24, 2004

Do you like the turkey, Roger? I thought it would make a nice change from the usual goose. It's a Jamie Oliver recipe with leeks and porcini mushrooms. He calls it his "cheeky Christmas turkey".

Does he?

Roger, is everything all right? You're very quiet this year. Has anything happened at that university of yours? Are you still doing all that clever research?

No, mother. I told you last year. I'm no longer allowed to do clever research. I've been designated "Teaching Only".

Of course you have, Roger. But you're so good at teaching. Everyone tells me. So confident. So self-assured.

But I'm not. It turns out I'm really a failure. I'm not personally developed.

Who said such a terrible thing?

The people in the Department of Human Resources. They sent me on a Personal Development course. It was horrible.

I failed on what they call "assertiveness", and then I failed on what they called "thinking out of the silo", and then I got the lowest mark in the group on something called "emotional intelligence", and then I was the last in the entire class to show "personal initiative" by putting some cotton reels together with an elastic band and a bucket and making a suspension bridge.

My poor boy. There, there. Do stop crying. Come to Mummy.

Don't listen to those nasty people. How dare they say my Roger isn't personally developed? Who would know more about that than his own mother?

Now, finish off your lovely meal. Look, you've still got lots on your plate.

Mummy, could you do me a teeny favour?

Anything, my darling.

Mummy, would you please cut up my meat? Please?

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