New Journal Time

I recently backed a Kickstarter for a journal aimed at enhancing the experience of writing – or at least help provide a means of organisation for notes – it’s called a PageOne, and my Kickstarter reward arrived yesterday.

Now, it may not seem to be a great or groundbreaking idea, but I found enough in the idea to put my money into – the lined journal is broken up into sections for character thumbnails, scenes, plot, research, things like that and puts me in mind of a fully bound organiser. Indeed, there are spaces for tracking submissions and other interactions, making this as much a paper-based project management tool as a creative canvas.

In software terms I’ve done similar with Scrivener, OneNote, and other online apps, but there’s something wonderfully visceral and reassuring about the heft of a journal – quite aside from not needing batteries or screens to use it.

My creative process always starts on paper anyway. I’ve tried with varying degrees of success to create from scratch digitally – and the short stories on this site are a good set of examples.

I’m more comfortable writing longhand on paper and then using the transcription process to perform a basic first edit and tidy of spelling and grammar.

The book itself is robust, with a leather-style cover as shown in the image above, and feels like the template of a classic Moleskine journal. The paper is good quality, and the printing, binding, and heft all tick the right boxes for me.

As an inveterate doodler and sketcher, it gives me the flexibility to indulge that side as part of the creative process while working through scenes – hence another reason for the many sketchpads and drawing filled journals stacked in my flat. The next time these pages appear online, they’ll be a mix of text and art.

Back to Work

Ah, its as if I’ve never been away – and so this week I’ve been striving to change things in my work environment – little but important things, especially given the recent walkabouts we’ve been doing looking at fire and building safety. I may not be able to conjure fresh staff out of the ether, but I can at least have a tidy and make sure life is a little less complex where I can.

So Tuesday I spent most of the day clearing out shelves and paperwork from a workroom at one of my libraries – removing anything financially related that was more than seven years old, and disposing of all sorts of broken bits of junk kept “just in case”. A fellow manager has maintained the charge today at that site, with the grudging assistance of staff who know better than to get in the way of someone described as “contagiously enthusiastic”.

Today I’ve been overseeing surveyors and engineers looking at leaks and other issues in another building, using my advanced knowledge of the building to accurately predict where the next domino in a cascade of events was going to wander next. There may also have been some more cleaning of surfaces, decluttering of access corridors and careful removing of wedges behind fire doors. I’m in equal minds as to whether the latter has been in the spirit of safety or spite.

Tomorrow will be more of the same – and no doubt there will be fresh assaults on my sanity and patience.

Weekend Gathering of the Clan

Aaaand we’re back from the Welsh valleys, gently baked from the glorious sunshine. We’ve been to another wedding anniversary celebration – this time of my mother’s cousin – and so we’ve been meeting various relatives whose names I have no hope of remembering. (To be fair I am awful at remembering most people’s names).

Our journey had been long, mostly due to roadworks and tailbacks from accidents, but I suppose that’s normal for any travel on a bank holiday weekend. We’d all been booked rooms at a hotel in Llangamarch – which certainly broke the ice – so the first evening was spent generally catching up and welcoming people.

Saturday was quiet – we were exhausted – so we slept through breakfast and instead went down to Llanwrtyd Wells to the Caffi Sosban which we’d so enjoyed last time we’d visited. One hearty brunch later, we went back to the hotel to chill out. We knew hat a minivan had been booked to make several runs on Saturday evening to drive us down to the farm freehold itself.

And yes, there was much wine, food, and conversation through the evening. Dogs were herded, small children steered away from the alcohol (mostly), and geese avoided.

We’re generally an amiable bunch, and storytelling really plays at the heart of all our gatherings. Sometimes the stories are even true.

At the end of the evening, the minivan reappeared and made multiple runs back to the hotel. An amazing evening, and with such glorious weather we were a little reluctant to head straight back to London.

Nevertheless, we left early to try and get the worst of the travel done before the roads filled – so we meandered back without any extra drama and have spent the rest of the weekend relaxing. All in all, a great break in routine.

Things Lady M Does: Knuckle Crunching

It’s a good thing that I know Lady M so well – the night time mutterings have taken on what could be interpreted as a more sinister tone…

Last week I was reading in bed, and Lady M rolled over in her sleep and began cracking the knuckles of each hand. We’re not talking a lacing of hands here in some complex motion, but her thumb moving to the top of each finger in turn and pressing hard so the joints crack.

It’s impressive enough to see and hear when she’s awake and aware, but done in her sleep it becomes somewhat threatening. She claims to have no recollection of doing so, though there is a devilish glint in her eye when I mention it that repeats when she does it while awake.

I think it’s connected to her fibromyalgia in some respects – an ache in her hands that cracking her knuckles relieves as a sensation. It tells me how uncomfortable she is that she now does it in her drowsy/sleeping state. So while I do tease, it’s at least half tongue-in-cheek because I’d rather she didn’t have to.

A Quiet Day

I deliberately took an extra day before I had to travel “just in case” – and I’m glad I did, because it has been lovely to just sit quietly with Lady M and have the day go quietly by.

We’ve taken turns playing on the XBox, reading, and sitting in silence – had a walk and a coffee, bought some snacks, and finished more work on a dress and top that Lady M has been creating.

Tomorrow will be more eventful, but it’s been good to just…stop.

Switching My Brain Off

At least for a little while – its been a busy old day, with many customers needing perhaps a little bit more hand-holding than anticipated. Nothing particularly outrageous happened; its all just been a bit relentless. On the bright side however, I’m now not due in to work until next week, and there are celebrations and shenanigans to attend in the meantime. As an added bonus, it happens to be payday tomorrow as well – meaning I can breathe a bit more easily for a bit.

I think my staff may have been a little concerned for my sanity today, all the same. I may have appeared at various moments looking a bit wild-eyed as I avoided certain customers, focused on completing certain tasks, and felt steam coming out of my ears as I attempted with my fellow managers to play enough shell games to cover staffing requirements. The relaxed expression currently on my face comes at least in part from the knowledge that I won’t be called upon to have anything to do with that for five days – three of which being a bank holiday so I don’t have to feel too guilty about my colleagues stressing in my absence.

My out of office emails have been set. My morning alarms switched off. I may even have a gin and tonic shortly…


I was in therapy last week, talking about various events in a busy couple of weeks, and how I’m keeping on top of some things, and how other things are knocking at me, and otherwise having a mental and emotional check-up.

As anyone who’s worked their way through counselling can tell you, it’s hard work that spares no blushes when everything clicks – and your relationship with your therapist can be as intimate when it comes to knowing each other as a long term partner. They learn what makes you tick, your tells, your buttons, and at their best when to back off and let you do the heavy digging.

That’s certainly the relationship I have with my counsellor – leading to more than one conversation where we’ve talked about her being as much my partner as either Lady M or lady s when it comes to our therapeutic relationship.

One of the things we explored was my sexuality, and in no small part how the attack so long ago has impacted on how I’ve expressed it over the years. The conversation veered between romantic and platonic connections past and present, and while contemplating it, I said the following (slightly paraphrased):

“For years I’ve not been comfortable showing or talking about myself, let alone exploring what it means to be me. Fear has been with me literally for decades, mixed up in the memories of the assault, but it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been able to start to reconcile things in my head.

Over the last couple of years I’ve met and got to know such a wide range of people at kink events and general social occasions that it’s helped me to start to separate the pain and violence of the attack from the sexual aspect and honestly come to be more comfortable in who I am and how my attractions manifest.

It’s my partners, metamours, and friends that have surrounded me with love and accepted me as I start to let go. I’m still having hard times, by more and more I’m just getting irritated and angry about them than being overwhelmed.”

Now, we talked about a lot else and the above is mildly edited for brevity, swearing, and other material that I’m either not going to talk about or that is irrelevant right now.

When I finally stopped talking, my counsellor gave me a picture to consider and think on, based on what is been saying – telling me that it matched the mental image she had of me while I talked.

The picture, if you hadn’t guessed, is the lion in the picture in this blog entry. It has a lot of resonance for me – and for my partners for various aspects they have experienced of me.

There’s all sorts of symbolism of fierceness, nobility, pride (and indeed Pride), polyamory (multiple lionesses tolerating me), and protectiveness. There’s a lot more to unpack, and I’ll probably have a whole string of blogs as I pick over the various meanings, projections, and inferences that I bring to it.

So that’s what I’m quietly ruminating over at the moment


I finally have some glimpse of the truth and irritation that lives in the hearts of fifty percent of the population. It’s my day off, and I needed to get some more coffee.

I was already slobbing around in a teeshirt and tracksuit bottoms, so I pulled on some trainers and slung my new hoodie on, gathered phone, wallet, and keys and stride in out. I was halfway down the stairs from the flat when my brain started to twig there might be a problem.

Where was I going to put my keys? Where, for that matter, my wallet or phone? I was halfway across the estate before my brain caught up to the conclusion that I had no pockets. Ah, I thought, so this is what it’s like.

I could have turned round then, but my coffee was calling, so I carried on, thinking that I really wished I had something to carry them in rather than all consumed in one of my fists. The only way to be more convenient and have my hands full would be… Yes, a bag over my shoulder.

It was at this point that my irrational hatred of “manbags” or satchels rose to the surface. Why need one? I thought, if you already have pockets?

As I walked across the car park, I spotted various women grimly holding possessions or wandering carefree with their handbags. I then got a bit confused at seeing a woman with pockets still carrying things in her hand until I realised she was playing Pokémon Go as she walked up to her car.

Once in the supermarket I if course had a basket, and then the luxury of a plastic bag in which to put my possessions along with my shopping.

How have women not risen up in fury yet at a lack of pockets?

Piss-Up In A Brewery

One of my brothers has his birthday next week, but decided to have a celebration this weekend as he’s away on the actual day. The initial notification said it was from five, but at some point the plans changed, because when I checked about things yesterday morning I was told it had changed to the afternoon, and was now at a local brewery.

The brewery in question was the Pilgrim Brewery in Reigate, which is tucked away in a courtyard off the top of the high street. It overlooks a cricket green and a croquet club, somehow managing to be possibly the most English view ever even as the beer flowed and the wide array of food laid on courtesy of a local deli tempted the taste buds.

There were a lot of people I didn’t know there. Lady M had a migraine so didn’t come along, and lady s was working. I had to force myself to be sociable therefore, but fortunately most people were happy to chat away and my anxieties soon eased away. Neighbours, local pub quiz organisers, some mutual friends, and assorted friends of his family were in attendance – so there were several variations on “so how do you know him” conversations to go through.

There were a couple of variations on the “ah yes, I’ve heard about you” statement that were directed my way but no one elaborated on what they’d heard so I just smiled benignly, and proceeded to talk happily and at length about my lovely partners, my extended family, and how proud of my daughter I am.

It wasn’t a riotous bacchanal, but it was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It’s also now revealed a couple of very nice bars that I shall have to introduce the polycule to at some point.

Indoor Water Features

I don’t think I’ve ever worked in a building that I’ve wished would collapse before I arrived at before. Perhaps I’ve led a sheltered life. Today’s work location continues to amuse and appall in equal amounts as more and more buckets are required to catch the water.

If the ceiling wasn’t largely made of thick concrete slabs, I’d be expecting to be able to star watch at night soon, but no instead we are almost lulled into meditative trances by the impromptu indoor water features dripping into and out of time with each other.

Add in to the mix a fairly important computer giving up the ghost and therefore knocking out the public’s ability to log on to our public terminals, and emergency staffing called in to cover for family emergencies and you can imagine my bouquet of delights today.

Oh I was also having a performance conversation with a team member, and doing a health and safety induction with a volunteer, while also supervising surveyors, workmen, and a legionnaire’s inspection among all this as well.

I did manage to get a couple of cuppas though, and I’m now off for a couple of days, so there’s plenty of time for the place to collapse while I’m away.

I do like to keep a positive attitude about these things.