My first job interview in UK

How Markar discovered "Toad in the hole"

Photo credit: Robert Gibert - Public Domain

This was the day for my first interview in the UK. I boarded a coach at the Victoria station, bought a ticket to Leicester and sat down in comfort to enjoy the English scenery. I was thrilled when the conductor addressed me as ‘Sir’. It must have been my altered ‘posh’ suit bought at the Pettah Bale Market in Colombo.


My interview was at 2 p.m. and I had reached Leicester Hospital by 12 noon. Time for some lunch, I thought. I was yearning for a rice and curry. I found the canteen and studied the menu carefully. The cheapest was called toad in the hole. I wondered why people were eating toads? Maybe it was a British delicacy. After all, the Europeans eat frogs and snails – so toads in England – why not. I was about to order the toad, when I saw rice on the menu. My eyes lit up, rice at last! OK, they called it rice pudding, maybe it was like our milk rice (kiribath) back home. I ordered a plate of rice pudding and some Lamb curry to go with it. The waitress looked aghast when I asked her to put the lamb curry on to the rice. Why was she looking so surprised? Anyway, I paid for it and sat down to eat it. It tasted awful – sweet, milky, hot and sticky. I just could not eat it and asked the waitress why it tasted so sweet? She then said, “this is a pudding Sir, to be eaten as a dessert.” Really, why didn’t they say so”, I thought. That cost me a lot – nearly 500 rupees! I am still counting in Sri Lankan rupees. May be, I should at least have a pudding. Back to the menu card, and I saw “spotted dick”. I wondered what that could be, and my imagination ran riot. I had so many different visions of a spotted dick that eventually I decided not to take the plunge. I left the canteen, none the wiser.


As 2 p.m. sharp I was ushered in to the interview room. The senior physician was a tall man with a winning smile. Kindly and thoughtful, he had class written all over him – metaphorically of course. He went through the usual formalities, and then asked, “why are you here.” I was surprised at this question and said, “I have come to be interviewed for this job.” He said, “Yes, I know, I know but why are you here.” I was confused and took a while to realise that he wanted to know why I was in the UK. I said, “Sir, this is our mother country and I do feel I have come home at last! I do plan to stay here perme….”. I couldn’t complete the sentence before he said, “thank you, thank you. That is all.”


Guess what?

I didn’t get the job!! 40 years on, I still don’t know what I said wrong.

Hameen Markar

Recent Posts

See All

Absolute solitude in the bush

Upananda Bopitiya clearly has a talent for writing. This talent was kept under wraps for so long, but we are grateful to him for letting it see the light of day now. This time the theme is solitude so