Meetings Everywhere

My role at work is always evolving – and part of that is a re-evaluation of the balance between frontline and admin work, and involvement in more strategic working groups.

Sometimes this means being a bit canny with how I juggle my day, and at other times means I spend an awful large chunk of my working day travelling between branches. The last couple of weeks have leaned more towards the latter.

This is fine. Everything is fine. There is no need to be alarmed. Where do I work again? Maybe one day I’ll see my library again…

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Unexpected Visits

Last Friday, Lady M had to go to Germany for the day. As you do. And as it was my day off, I agreed to drop her at Heathrow and pick her up again in the evening to spare her some hassle at this end of the journey.

“Ooh,” says Lady S, “do you fancy coming down for the day then to meet the family?” I hasten to add that this wasn’t actually on the day itself, but a few days prior.

“Why not?” I said, so mentioned to Lady M that I’d drop down to Portsmouth and be back in plenty of time. So far, so normal.

Then work started getting a bit hectic and stressy for Lady M, so the day before she was due to fly out and back, Lady S suggested she come back with me so we could be friendly faces to welcome her back.

I thought this was a great idea. The look of joy on Lady M’s face when I told her we’d be getting Lady S staying for an unplanned weekend lit up the room and confirmed that this was indeed a popular move. So, duly buouyed by the knowledge her girlfriend would be waiting for her return, Lady M hopped on her plane, and I discovered the joy of navigating into Portsmouth and not ending up on a ferry by mistake.

Lady S’ family is a wonderfully sardonic and laconic bunch. Her dogs are daft as you might expect, and even the cat tolerated me. Her fiancee was nervous of meeting me; but after I bought lunch and we started comparing pet and customer stories we seemed to click and there was even a degree of relaxation.

Once her father realised I understood both coding and game level design principles, gave me a great rundown on the physics engine tweaking he’s doing on GameGuru. As for Lady S’ son – well he seems to have taken a shine to me, or at least a desire to show off his favourite games and nestle up for hugs, much to his mother’s bemusement.

As for the weekend itself, well I was working on Saturday, and Lady M was focused on finishing a costume for this weekend’s CosXPO convention so aside from a trip into Kingston we largely took it easy and just enjoyed each other’s company.

And then we mentioned that Lady S also has tickets for CosXPO, so would be there, health permitting. That did make Lady M grin even more.

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Into the Woods

Back at the end of February, on my birthday weekend, we went on a photoshoot in Bourne Wood. It’s just out the back of Farnham, and has been used as a location by a number of Hollywood films – if you remember the scenes of Harry Potter and friends being hunted by dark wizards, for example, then that’s the woodland we’re talking about.

We’d set up the shoot with Toneagraphy Photography just before Christmas after having such a good experience of shooting with Tony in October at MCM. What I didn’t know until that weekend was that plans had also been made for Lady S to join Lady M and myself.

It was a bitterly cold day, not long before the snows hit, so while I was wrapped up warm with multiple layers as part of my costume, the same was not true for my poor partners.

Lady M had updated her Poison Ivy costume to include a winter cloak, while Lady S was channelling her inner Death Eater to present a young Bellatrix Lestrange. My rucksack was full of spare blankets and slippers to try and keep some warmth in people between bits of the shoot.

Bourne Wood is just off the North Downs, so it’s hilly terrain, and well loved by local families and dog walkers alike. The reactions of each to seeing various people in costumes accompanied by a photographer and lighting kit ranged from making a wide berth to simple curiosity and asking what we were doing.

Gender-bent Harley Quinn closeup

Somehow “taking photos” didn’t seem enough, so a brief explanation of cosplay and conventions usually then started. That was pleasant enough, but in near freezing temperatures we did start hoping people would avoid us after a while.

So, it was exhausting and cold, but also fun. Yes, we played dress-up in the woods. The photos that have come back from Tony are beautiful. One of the things I love about his work is his use of light in his compositions. He’s also more than willing to explain what he’s doing and why, and to share views of the raw shots while we work.

It has in turn made me more thoughtful about the composition and framing of my own photos, even if I am only using a phone.

Most importantly, it was fun. If you’ve not done a photoshoot before – and the cosplay element is irrelevant for this part – then consider giving one a go with someone you trust. It’s a fun and collaborative experience that has inspired memories and conversations ever since.

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Cosplay Templates

I’m not saying that Lady M is focused on getting her cosplays sorted, but our living room currently has me sitting with my laptop while I marinate in coffee while she freezes YouTube videos on the XBox. She is copying measurement formulae to make her own bodice block templates from scratch. It looks and sounds like some dark art as she talks of replacing the existing templates that she’s made because they’re getting a bit scrappy.

Currently on the screen is a shot from a YouTube by Threads by BD

  • Neck Hole across measurement: (bust width/12)+1.3cm
  • Shoulder Width measurement: kept as is
  • Neck Hole Down measurement: (bust width/12)+3.8cm
  • Armhole Length measurement: (bust width/4)-3.8cm
  • Waist Length measurement: kept as is
  • High Hip Length measurement: kept as is
  • Low Hip Length measurement: kept as is
  • Bust Width measurement: (but width/4)+3cm
  • Waist Width measurement: (waist width/4)+3cm
  • High Hip Width measurement: (high hip width/4)+3cm
  • Low Hip WIdth measurement: (low hip width/4)+3cm

It makes sense to Lady M as she sits perched on the edge of the sofa with a notebook in hand. Notes are being scribbled in the pad on her knee; an XBox controller is balanced on her other knee; and she has the quizzical expression of a jack russel contemplating someone’s plate of food.

So I guess this is my Sunday for the next few weeks and months…

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She’s Still Here

I’m a contrary soul at heart. This will come as no surprise to pretty much anyone who knows me. I can be grumpy in the middle of celebrations, joyous in the middle of total chaos, and instinctively push back whenever someone tells me what I should be doing.

And yet, somehow I’ve managed to keep a marriage going with Lady M for six years – and have known her for the best part of ten years. I’m not sure if that requires celebration for us both, or a round of commiserations for her with everything that she has to put up with.

Our adventures together have ranged from rollercoaster highs and lows to contented fluffiness, and everything in between. The brutal honesty and mindfulness we do our best to practice can sometimes seem shocking to people on the outside, but it clears the air, tackles potential issues, and lets the storms pass so we can get on with life.

And yet, even so, I am surprised when I wake up and find Lady M curled up with me, often with innocent looking eyes and a demand for a cup of tea.

Thanks for sticking around.

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I Am Going To Write

You might think that someone who once wrote a response to the Brexit vote with a page full of the word ‘fuck’ might find very little difficulty in rattling out some nonsense to fill a page, let alone tell a short story. After all, its not a particularly high bar to beat, no matter how heartfelt it was. My creativity has taken a bit of a battering this year, and even sitting to scrabble out some stream of consciousness babbling is proving quite difficult.

But I shall persevere. I am a writer. That means I need to write. Therefore I need to stop worrying about the craft of my writing and just start flinging things up here to get back into the habit of writing. I have short stories to arrange, a novel to finish, more stories to finish, and a battle to complete with the Kindle publishing settings which don’t seem to want to verify my IBAN details.

I’m sure there’s an observational humour story in that, but perhaps when I have actually sorted it all out I’ll be able to look at it with more sanguine detachment.

So. Let’s get started.

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Introspective Mood

I don’t know about anyone else, but trying to come up with a title to a blog entry and sticking to it is harder than it looks – my brain wants to fire off in all sorts of directions at any one moment. So this time I’m starting to write first, and we’ll see what I end up calling this piece. It was cold enough last weekend while we went out for our photoshoot, but the snow that has started to grip even the balmy climes of Sunbury really has got the shivers going. It’s been a long and complicated week.

My week has included a lot of travel – made more interesting by the snowfall – and the making of contingency plans with staff for keeping the libraries open. On top of that there’s been meetings and appraisals, all of which seems appropriate as the end of the financial year sweeps round.

Perhaps that’s what’s got me in a contemplative mood this evening – a week of customer training that focused on mindfulness and self awareness, followed by the introspection of an appraisal with my manager that ended up as a rambling discourse over nearly three hours across a range of topics around communication, frank discussions of team dynamics, and the intricacies and appeal of cosplay.

It’s not a bad contemplation – its reinforced that I’m in a pretty good place right now – work is going well, I’m loved, and the weather will get warmer. Hopefully I’ll soon get my writing mojo back too. I’m starting to get story ideas. Its all good.

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