Short Story: The Voice

One of the secrets that both literature and films would have us believe is that magic is a matter of knowing and speaking ancient languages. An extra corollary of this is that any such magical curses or writings will mysteriously be able to be translated perfectly into a modern day idiom and set of rhymes even though all language drifts and warps in tone and usage by way of slang and cultural references.

The secret is that such ancient forms of language are a key for the reader’s brain to process and operate in a correct fashion so as to manifest the expected results. By forcing the brain to process concepts in a given way, shortcuts can be taken in exercising will. Most people reading from grimoires and crumbling texts are therefore effectively using a fixed “off the shelf” means of creating an effect.

This is where the concept of the classics enters – your fireballs and magical missiles, spells of invisibility and illusionary faces, and the summoning and banishment of ghosts, ghoulies, and other things that go bump in the night.

With familiarity comes assumption and, dare I say it, laziness. Everyone ‘knows’ you use dead languages like Latin to make things happen. They rarely stop to wonder why Ancient Rome wasn’t consumed in fire or by demonic forces during the course of day to day conversation in the average marketplace.

Here’s where the second part of the puzzle clicks into place. Rome didn’t implode because there was no intent behind the words to create magic effects. Well, largely because they thought you had to read from the secret texts of the Egyptians, Sumerians or Scythians. Are you spotting a trend yet?

So that’s what brings me back to the look of surprise on the mugger’s face when he found himself instantly obeying my command to “Drop it!” His knife was already falling from suddenly splayed and arthritic fingers before the pain registered. Magic gave the push to the voice of command.

He may have even dropped it in surprise without the curse’s bite. That’s one of the fun things about applying some common-sense assertiveness training and attitude. The hours spent practicing the mental gymnastics so that I could invoke the curse just add the sting and make it easier.

It’s one of the reasons that people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m a wizard, and I will never tire of being underestimated. Magic, as I keep telling people, is the art of lying – and I’m very good at it.

Lazy Sunday

We’re having a quiet day chez myr s. The dogs are in close attendance as a Sunday roast is prepared; and the cats have retreated under the sofas to pursue their private vendettas out of our sight.

The tegu has appeared briefly to sniff the air and gone back to sleep. The tortoise has paused in his efforts to headbut his enclosure down. The cub is… Well he’s engrossed in YouTube videos that mostly seem to be full of people overreacting with screams at the camera.

So that’s the extent of our excitement today, with music contesting with a sport channel for providing background noise. We had a late night fuelled by YouTube so our body clocks are urging a slow day ahead of the couple of hour’ work that myr s is scheduled for later.

I plan to finish and post a short fiction piece later while they work: I’m determined to keep fighting to get back to writing regularly.

Roll on the Weekend

I’m working in a quieter library this week, so while there are fewer people around it does still make for a reasonably steady rate of use, even with people starting to twitch about potential illness. I’ve had two people this week mention they’re stocking up on books to read if they have to isolate themselves, and our numbers for events are down. So far though the very British shrug is being deployed.

That said, I am looking forward to having the weekend off, especially as I’m going to go see myr s for a couple of days. Getting away and letting the sea air clear the lungs a bit is definitely in order – and it’s also the second anniversary of my collaring them so there are some small presents to exchange which is always fun.

At least I’m generally aware of what my body’s usual range of complaints is so I’m not panicking when my fluctuating sugar levels give me sweats, or my sinuses complain when I shift stock and boxes around, disturbing dust in the process. Here’s to as calm a weekend as possible.

My, My, My Corona

Well, hello pandemic – we’ve been expecting you. Of course, being British and therefore fundamentally fatalistic I’m looking forward to getting it and not even noticing, or complaining that I get it while I’m booked off on leave already.

The most immediate impact in our household has been that Red Dragon 6, a Hannibal convention due to take place in a couple of weekends’ time, has just been postponed. The costumes will therefore stay in storage and we’ll find something to do, even if it’s just the three of us curled up on the sofa, possibly with the cub in attendance too.

I’m still not quite sure why everyone is panic-buying toilet rolls or why people are even buying antibacterial bottles and sprays and ignoring the soap.

In the meantime let’s all keep calm and carry on. If nothing else it has been very confusing for a Hungarian colleague of mine who thinks we’re not taking things seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The thing is: I work with the public – people of all ages and backgrounds – so I’ll almost certainly come into contact with it if I haven’t already. I’m also diabetic and am being treated for my blood pressure, so I’ll just keep being hygienic, touching my own face as little as possible, and limiting the possibility of my passing anything on to anyone else if I cough or sneeze – the same as I do with coughs, colds, the flu, or any other seasonal illness that does the rounds.

And my depression also chips in here, that if I get it and die, eh…

Gentle Catch-Up

What a lovely weekend that was – we finally got round to dropping in again on Lord and Lady P for the first time since we bought our flat from them. The thought had occurred to make mischief talking about how awful our last landlords had been, knowing they’ve known us long enough to join in the joke without hesitation – but we were all having such a good time that I think I only mentioned it in passing in the end.

We’d headed down after I’d finished work on Saturday and got there in time for supper and this led to a gentle evening of chat and admiration of Barney, their adopted retired greyhound – who sleeps for approximately twenty two hours a day and always looks on the verge of tears with his expressive eyebrows. At one point he was moving so little that they thought the GPS tracker on his collar was broken.

What we all enjoyed however was going in the morning in to Worthing and a children’s showing of Onward at The Dome – if you get the opportunity to go to a showing of anything there, do so – its a beautiful building and certainly for me a pleasant nostalgia-fest of old-school cinematic experience and surroundings.

A relaxed grazing session of lunch followed and then a winding journey home along the A-roads rather than motorways so I could get used to driving an automatic for the first time. Lady M has been given a Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid to replace the BMW 2 Series, so its a markedly different driving experience – but one that will be good practice for our trip to Florida later in the year.

Lovely weekend, lovely company, much needed.

Happy International Women’s Day

I am very lucky to have a great many amazing people in my life – today is all about celebrating the women who have shaped, supported, challenged, and occasionally rolled their eyes and let me learn from my mistakes in my life.

Obviously I cite my amazing partners at this point – because let’s face it I’d be a hopeless mess without them – but also the people I’ve known along the way here, as well as family, friends, and colleagues.

I could write a long rambling post here, but it feels like that would veer into being about me and that’s not what it should be. Today is about celebrating and hyping these amazing people who make the world a better place

Oh yeah, World Book Day Happened

That said, I’m not too worried about not blogging on the day about it as so many schools have decided to do things on the Friday before the weekend rather than have dress-down days. Only this morning I had a number of Harry Potters appear for Rhymetime, making me wish I’d brought in one of my replica wands with which to join in the fun and practice some spells with them.

Yesterday was the day itself though, and as libraries we did our best to fit it in with our general mission of getting interesting books in front of variously interested people of all ages. I was unable to convince any of the staff working with me to actually dress up as anything, so I was left to fly the flag and adopt most of my Harley Quinn cosplay while still remaining professional and unscary to the majority of our customers. In other words: no weapons, no facepaint, no fake tattoos, or blood (fake, or otherwise).

Just an average day at the library

In practice this meant a white shirt, the red and black waistcoat made by Lady M, and the old red and black nail varnish. This was fine, and bemused a number of elderly customers who didn’t dare ask what was going on. My staff are used to it, so all was well. We just didn’t get any children older than two and a half in all day. You might think therefore that this was a waste of time, but I say any excuse to wear cosplay at work and be paid for it is no bad thing. Then again, I am famous for having no shame over these things.

I couldn’t be bothered to remove the nail varnish last night, so I’m still wearing it today, along with my more general casually smart library manager attire. So far I’ve had ten people admire and compliment my nails while I’ve been serving them. I’ll take that.

Unexpected Geekery

In retrospect, given the engineering crossover I shouldn’t have been surprised, but a random conversation with our regular visiting electrician at work took a very welcome sidetrip today.

I’d logged a call about a flickering light the other day, and he’d been sent to deal with it. He mentioned in passing that our lighting tubes aren’t fluorescent any more but are actually LED strips made to look like the old tubes so they work in the old fittings.

I was curious about this, especially from all the posts I’ve seen and conversations I’ve had with fellow cosplayers who fit and use LEDs in their costumes and props so he starting demonstrating how they’re constructed – at which point I mentioned the similarity to the old Force FX lightsabers that I’ve still got knocking around in the flat.

At which point he asked if, back in the day, I ever played Star Wars Galaxies. Well actually yes I did – a lot – it was a huge favourite, at least before the developers tried to turn it into a retread of World of Warcraft and introduced Jedis. So we got talking about how we’d played, and how I’d specialised in crafting fashions and vehicles and everything in between in the Guild – how the huge open sandbox of it all meant you could just go and use it as a social space and find that just as rewarding as doing any missions.

This then, in front of my bemused staff, turned into a long debate about the relative benefits of multiplayer and single player games, and the role that mindlessly shooting things after work just allows you to reduce your worries and attention spans to simple goals and elements so as not to carry on the frustrations of the day.

And then we looked round and remembered we were both meant to be working, laughed, and got on with things. A nice moment of connection and a reinforcement that the semi-casual way I play is not unusual amid the routines of living as an adult (or at least aspiring to appear to be one).

Dreamy McDreamface

I’m going to recount two dreams, and ask you which person out of myself or Lady M had one, either, or both of them. This is partly to amuse and entertain you, and partly – well, we’ll see.

Dream One: I have come in to work as usual, and made my way to my desk only to find two colleagues next to it emptying the desk of my staff member and packing it’s contents into a cardboard box. I ask them what they are doing, and they say that the staff member has been fired because there is a policy that if someone fails a particular piece of training twice they are out the door. I am absolutely livid about this. How dare they do that without even involving me in the decision? Then I wake up, still cross.

Dream Two: I have come in to work to find a grand reorganization of the office space taking place. Desks are being rearranged, privacy screens shifted into a maze like configuration, and cables everywhere as IT and project managers try to keep everything going. I look round but my team is nowhere to be seen. Someone says they’ve all gone to the canteen until I tell them where to go. I look at the schedule and maps but can’t focus my eyes because I had a really late night and they feel like they’re burning trying to make sense of what’s there. I decide to close my eyes and nap for a minute, and then I wake up and my eyes still hurt.

So which is which? And what do you think it says about what our brains are trying to decode and process at the moment?

Have fun.

It’s An Anniversary

Oh, yeah, by the way, today’s been the eighth wedding anniversary of myself and Lady M – eight years since we all gathered at Rowton Castle and had a massive party that also happened to have a wedding attached to it.

In typically disjointed fashion I’ve been back at work trying to remember passwords and catch up on all the many weird and wonderful things to have happened during my week away, while Lady M stayed home, ran things to the tip, and spent half the day chatting with the ex-Lady M about how proud we all are of the Charleesi.

By contrast, myr s has been struggling to find a way to style their new haircut in a way compatible with a favourite character in the Final Fantasy series – so I’ve been vaguely trying to remember what I used to spike my hair many moons ago when I had some.

The eighth anniversary is known as a Bronze anniversary, so as we always try to incorporate something of the relevant material in our gifts, I gave among other things a bronze knotwork pendant and a bronze keyring with the date on it – and Lady M gave me a miniature bronze armillary replica, and a set of bronze gaming dice from The Grinning Gargoyle

It’s as if she knows me or something

And then being soppy romantic buggers we sat on the sofa and caught up on some episodes of Altered Carbon before pottering around a bit more while I tinkered with laptops and desktop patching because we both have work again in the morning and celebratory silliness will have to be reserved until the weekend – where we’ll be catching up with Lord and Lady P for the first time in ages.