There Are Times…

…when the idea of being a tolerant and adult human being is stretched too far; and I have to make a conscious decision not to step over the edge. I’m angry, exhausted, and unsettled from having to support my staff as they dealt with a mother slapping her twelve year old daughter around in the library in front of her other two newborns in a pushchair.

We’ve written up incident reports and are reporting under safeguarding, and all the proper people are in the process of being informed and called in – and I know I made the right calls in how to handle it.


The look in the daughter’s eyes as she told me she was okay made we want to get violent in turn. But that would just make me the large brute of a man beating her mother up and that’s not right either. Viscerally satisfying as an outlet for my horror, and no doubt momentarily cathartic, but in no way acceptable.

It’s horrible, and frustrating, but there you go. I have a bottle of wine open, and in this instance I think it’s needed.

Fiction Fragment: The Carving

It was so out of place that it somehow blended into being totally unremarkable. Among the general clutter of folded chairs and awning material, small tables and gardening tools it stood proud against the house wall. It was five foot in height, of which half was essentially a rough-hewn if polished stand, and then a life-like wood carving of an eagle in repose that emerged from the log that formed the whole piece.

It gazed serenely across the sloping lawn toward the treeline, past the grazing sheep. Every feather was detailed finely enough that you might almost expect the breeze to ruffle them on its way up from the valley. Only the wood’s natural colours and grains shone through, and yet they matched what you might expect an eagle’s brown plumage to be so well that when it turned its head to look at me there was no shock beyond an instinctive sense of wonder.

The living carving regarded me with an unblinking stare, seemingly more curious than alarmed. Nonetheless I decided against getting any nearer than I already was either to it or to the door handle and lock next to it.

All in all, it was the most beautiful and subtle magical alarm I’d ever seen, and all I needed to work out now was if its owner and its creator were the same person. All without getting my hand bitten off, for preference. Perhaps there was another way in.

Another Busy One

I was in a meeting this morning with other managers, specifically the other managers for our cluster of libraries, and I generally think I was able to steer the conversations away from agreeing anything too daft.

Indeed, in general when staff were mentioned it was to praise their achievements and highlight good practice. It was one of those positive meetings where we were able to catch up, make sure we were all doing things the same way, and mitigate some of the sillier upper management suggestions.

Then I got hit with being told that I would be interviewing prospective weekend library assistants on Saturday – somewhat the opposite of what I’d been previously told. I may have growled a bit before capitulating – mostly buouyed by the thought that I’ve already set up a drinks evening for that night in which I can recover.

This motif of changing plans then became writ large across the day, which is how I ended up getting home late after supervising an engineer whose installations of new public kiosks had gone a little awry.

It’s fine. I’m tucked up in bed with the whole thing to myself. Lady M is out on a team drinks night so won’t be home tonight, and lady s is at home sweating and swearing over her new cosplay project.

Time to sleep and recharge the batteries I think.

Library Life

I regularly (ish) use a tag on my Instagram account – – labelled #librarylife to mark book covers that I’ve photo’d, or displays, or even things peripherally connected to the concept of the library like pins or signage. I also use it for things in my home life that also fit the bill, like pictures of my book shelves.

What it rarely captures are the satisfying moments of working in a library where I make a connection, introduce someone to a new author, work with charities, or just make a shy child smile. Stopping to talk to someone who makes visiting us a part of their daily or weekly routine can put a warm glow in my chest. So can helping someone track down the best organisation to help them with an enquiry.

I love working in libraries. I may sigh sometimes at things that happen, or the way someone chooses to interact with me or my staff, but there’s a core of helping people that is immensely satisfying.

I see a wide cross-section of local life, and generally feel part of the local community – I feel very lucky to be able to work the way that I do. The added bonus is that it is a reasonably active job, mostly on my feet all day, so I even get a bit of exercise into the bargain.

Why am I saying all this? I suppose mostly to put an equalising spin on those posts where I make veiled grumblings or talk about the more outlandish incidents that occur. They’re all part of the fun of working, but so are the gentle things too.

Rainy Monday Wake-up

There’s nothing quite like the sound of what might be a river outside your window to add a certain frisson to the decision to open your eyes in the morning. Half-buried under duvet and a small mountain of soft toys, that was my first conscious sensory input this morning.

The knowledge that it was an Inset Day, and that lady s and I wouldn’t have to do battle with the cub to go out in that weather arrived soon after. It didn’t stop me opening my eyes to check that there wasn’t actually a river flowing down the wall. As it turned out, the auditory confusion was coming from driving rain against the window panes and sill, a fast flowing drainage overflow pipe, and some kind of outlet releasing steam from somewhere.

Content that the room wasn’t about to flood, I’ll admit I did then turn over and do my best to burrow back into the nearest pillow and snuggle for a little while longer. There are worse ways to start a day, even if you know you’ll be spending the rest of it on the train home.

Neither of us wanted to get up, even though daylight and pre-booked train tickets wait for no one – but I was at least already dressed when the cub burst in wanting morning cuddles. I was honoured with at least ten seconds of enthusiastic cuddles before he bounced off in search of breakfast, a charger, and his Switch (more or less in that order). He is never that bouncy on a school day. To be fair, neither am I.

Filter Silliness

I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.

I’m a cute lil devil apparently

What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.

While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.

Fabulous, or demonic? The jury is still out

Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.

It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.

Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.

And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.

Yes, I do actually go out in public and pull faces too

Fiction Fragment: Misheard

“I’ve got a cracked sole” Ben heard Roger say, behind him.

“There’s a place on the High Street can fix that”, he said. He turned to ask how bad it was.

“I think you misheard me. I’m not sure a cobbler’s going to be enough to sort this out”, said the wavering hole in space, as tendrils began to write through the gap.

Ben started to back away, and heard the door open. A new voice said “Hi! Oh! I guess I’ve come at a bad moment – shall I come back later?”

“No”, said the void-that-used-to-be-Roger, “this won’t take long.”

Geeky Romance

Part of our love language in our geeky polycule is to buy little things relating to our favourite fandoms. This may be Funko figures, or badges and other memorabilia – but especially it manifests in the purchasing of books. It is a common part of any of our wanderings in town to go into bookshops and keenly observe what we each are drawn to as a clue for birthday and other celebrations.

Lady M has this week been studying for a Foundation ITIL course as part of her work development – and has of course been finding her common sense and experience rewarded in how she has flown through the lessons and excelled at the practice papers.

This is, however, still a stressful week, and so at lunchtime I checked in via text to see how she was doing. Her mock exam had gone well, but a migraine was threatening to develop. Where others may have offered flowers or chocolates, I immediately offered to whisk her away at the weekend for a trip to the bookshop to buy her some books.

This is very much a type of romantic language that I love and appreciate, and a mode of gift-giving I wish to promote. You’re welcome.

Congratulations On Being Alive

There’s a whimsical note to this as it isn’t as grim as it might sound. On my phone I have set a target of a certain number of steps and minutes of activity, all of which is measured by the accelerometer and interpreted by my health app.

Activity can count as running, brisk walking, or anything other than a gentle amble, and so I can aim at some degree of cardio exercise even if I’m just shifting stock or floor walking with customers at work.

My phone of course likes to congratulate me on achieving these targets, and so little notifications appear on my phone when I meet or exceed them, followed by a roundup nearer the end of the evening.

As the font is a little on the small and cluttered side, I therefore keep misreading Congratulations on being Active, as a sarcastic and/or passive-aggressive snipe about still being alive.

I’m reasonably sure my phone isn’t actually trying to kill me.

Winter Wear

I discovered a new thing the last couple of days as the temperature dropped. My cosplay wardrobe and daily wear have converged and offer both comfort and fresh confidence alike. As Exhibit A I present the following picture:

Where the left hand image is what I’ve been wearing while out and about the last couple of days, and the right is cropped from a photo in May by Nathan Parker Photos.

Um, not much difference. Just add a bandolier of boomerangs and swap the leather jacket for a longer coat and you’re basically there. The very qualities that made me abandon the costume on the last day of that MCM are a positive boon when sharp winter winds are slicing across Sunbury Cross: The beanie hat protects my freshly shaved head, while the thick leather jacket and hoodie keep me warm and gently swaggering with added confidence. The cosplayer confidence definitely comes easily with this ensemble.

In part I think that’s why most of my cosplays tend to have elements that lend themselves to being worn separately. They remind me of good times with friends, or have a striking appearance that catches the eye, breaks the ice, and attracts focus. Whether it’s a distinctive item of clothing, or jewellery, or some other prop, it’s a little bit of flash to stand out and make people sit up and pay attention

Or something.