Another Day

I’m not a fan of doing huge amounts with spreadsheets even as I acknowledge how powerful and versatile they are. This is mostly due to my number blindness which makes reading and recalling number sequences something akin to wrestling an oiled python.

Currently however that’s what a significant part of the day job entails, so I am now very pleased to have a couple of days off for the weekend – being able to remotely work has brought the advantage of bringing some form of structure to the week after all.

I’m hoping to use the weekend to get some letters off the DDC as a general nice thing for people. I’ve hand written some missives with a drop pen and calligraphy inks on some traditional paper-milled paper, and included a D&D game prop and a little present in the envelopes too.

I hope it brings a smile to everyone’s faces, but especially to myr s who is particularly struggling with lockdown isolation at the moment. Fingers crossed.

Being a Listening Ear

My counsellor is the first to tell me that I have a tendency to want to help people and put their problems above my own – and she usually says so when I’ve spent a long time talking about my concerns about a friend, or someone I work with. So this extended period of lockdown and general stress has been an exercise in closely managing my own mental reserves so that I stay boundaried in the sense of maintaining my own safety while still being present for people.

Its not easy. It can be quite seductive a call to throw grand dramatic gestures. Everyone wants to be a hero after all, but keeping the slow and steady drip of checking in on people – listening when they do or do not respond, or sending the odd off-colour joke without expecting a reply – seems to be a middle ground that is allowing me to not over extend myself or to feel that I’m abandoning people.

Its hard when there’s that little voice wanting to leap down the phone and hug someone who is clearly in distress, but that little voice doesn’t take into account other people’s wants, needs, or support networks – that’s where it becomes unhealthy in trying to impose itself.

That’s the point where it becomes about me, not about them.

I am glad to bale to report that I amvery lucky with the support networks that I do have, and with the friends that can and do ping in and out of sight on various platforms. I’m doing my best to be a reliable generally positive part of their networks, rather than a burden on their time or the cause of a heavy sigh.

So, silly memes and reimaginings of scenes with disney characters, songs and daft videos – all of these and more will continue to flow as distractions. I might even get some work done in between them all too.

Morning All

Well its a glorious sunny morning and we’ve all the windows open to let a gentle breeze through the flat. The sound of birdsong is mingling with the chattering of children being walked around the estate and the dull roar of the M3, and an enormous bluebottle flying round the living room trying to find the open windows in front of it.

I have coffee, all is well

Okay, the windows being open may be partially to dispel some of the lingering smells of the after effects of the rather chilli-heavy mince dish Lady M cooked last night but thats purely coincidental.

We had another Cards Against Humanity game last night, this time factoring in Doctor Who and Harry Potter among the standard decks, and because there was no one on an absolute roll the scores were pretty even – making for a game that at one point I’m sure we began to think might never end. (We were playing first to twenty with seven of us in the game.)

So having a quiet day of officially not working is good timing as far as I’m concerned. I may do some more prep work for the D&D at some point today, but otherwise sitting and reading, and continuing to chat and be nonsensical with the DDC and anyone else who happens virtually along is the entirety of my plan.

Retail Support Therapy

We’ve all been looking in the DDC for ways to brighten each other up during the lockdown. I mean, we’ve been looking at ways of making life easier as much as possible for as many people as possible too, but in particular we’ve been rallying round to help each other. I think it was brewing anyway, but as Lady B had her birthday recently it prompted a move to send presents that has since expanded across the whole group.

For the most part its sporadic – little things like postcards or small gifts made on a whimsy – but it is a wonderful little spike of pleasure when there’s something unexpected in the mailbox. While this is a thing that could happen at any time, I think the enforced isolation has made the effort more appreciated and more meaningful for both sender and receiver. If so, then I take it as an example of people rising to support each other in adversity – through a series of acts that you could be forgiven for thinking had been a thing long in the past. Now all our various communications channels are sprinkled with little remarks like “Oh I showed x what I’ve made for you”, or “Oh, reminds me I must get to the post office” – and each time I get a little glow in my chest that is almost certainly not heartburn.

It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else just because we’re choosing to reach out to support our friends and partners at this time rather than engaging in some grand gesture to help the world at large. Instead, I hope that it is a trend of rediscovering contact that has been denatured by the immediacy of social media. There is no immediate gratification of a notification on a phone or laptop – its merely something that appears at some point in the letterbox, and is all the more precious for it. I hope its something that catches on among friend and family circles as a rediscovery of a slower way of showing you care. Its less ephemeral that social media, and goes alongside the other ways of showing we care that we already use on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky.

Silver linings and all that

About Last Night

With isolation looming for many of us, a group of us self-confessed geeky queers set up a Discord server last night and started playing Cards Against Humanity.

The carnage was livestreamed on the Book of Faces for a while, and I have to say it was a wonderful three hours of letting our collective hair down and laughing at the world. My cheeks have not ached from grinning so much in ages.

Even with the coughing fits and pauses where we had to battle for bandwidth with everyone else using the site it was a great morale boost. It was exhausting, but much needed. Here’s to more, and I think there will be.

With all the worries and upsets around us, having a safe space to unwind is going to be all the more important, and this allows us to keep and make connections even as health dictates we keep our distance. I’d say it may even keep us sane, but that does seem like tempting fate.

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.

Decorating Day

Well, we had planned to be in the Midlands today for an extended photoshoot, but quite aside from the minor issue of large portions of it trying not to be under water right now, our photographer is currently recuperating from an operation to deal with a bleed on his brain a couple of weeks ago.

Quite understandably he’s under strict doctor’s orders to not work, and while we talked about coming over to be sociable anyway he wasn’t feeling up to it so we’ll catch up another time. It’s only the third time that fate has intervened in our plans for shoots so we’re not going to get a complex about it. We’re just glad that he’s making good progress back to health.

So instead we said those immortal words: isn’t it time we sorted out the guest room?

Not even a fraction of what’s been unpacked

Now it’s true that it’s been a bit of a dumping ground while we sorted out other rooms, but at least we’ve already got all the paint and supplies. This morning therefore became an exercise in stripping everything feasible out, as well as excavating the paint and brushes from the boiler cupboard – the same one containing all the Funko boxes from our collection.

In addition to the general debris, we also had most of our cosplay props, some costumes, and what felt like half a ton of material and scraps – along with most of the games we’ve accumulated over the last few years.

So, it’s been a busy day so far. We’re currently on a break to let the ceiling dry before we give the walls a quick wash down and get on with finishing the room. And then we can reorganise what’s in there once that has all dried.

There are three sofas in this picture

Hopefully we’ll make good time this afternoon, or we’re taking turns sleeping on the sofa and piles of costumes this evening.

Last Day Off

We did a lot more adulting today to sort out the mortgage, solicitors, and so on – and then decided to go pay a flying visit to Lady S. We got there just on time to join her to go pick up the cub from school, and then spread some joy with some presents from MCM.

There was a particular Funko Pop that the cub had wanted, but as they were away on holiday we’d picked it up as a Con exclusive. I’ve never seen someone hug and kiss a Funko box before, so that was an experience.

We had badges and pins for everyone, and an extra Funko for Lady S whose health hasn’t been fantastic recently. Like Lady M she’s coping with fatigue and pain through her body – which has dampened her spirits considerably.

Even so, with Lady J joining us to chatter, we all had an afternoon that passed in animated conversation and that I don’t think any of us wanted to stop, even with meals, medications, and tiredness hitting us.

Still, a good end to our break.

Little Victories

One of the things of which I am most proud this weekend has been how well Lady M has done with all the crowds at MCM. Its been a long hard struggle for her, and being able to engage and flourish in the heat and confusion of such a big and busy Con has been joyous to watch. It has also been a little bit scary as she dived in and organised photographers with verve, charm and a little cheek to maximise the day.

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Lord and Lady M in pirate garb with Kisasa Cosplay as Kaylee from Firefly

Its been a huge leap forward, even as she’s found it exhausting. What has been even more of a blessing has been how the people who have been along on this journey with us through posts here, on social media, and in keeping in touch let her know how pleased they were to see her there – without overloading her with excessive schmaltz. Thank you all, especially our friends in UKCC and Squad UK, for being amazing and supportive.

Portsmouth Comic Con

IMG_20180509_123418_839 (4)Last weekend, the three of us descended on the inaugural Portsmouth Comic Con for a weekend of cosplay, comic book geekery, and board games. Nearly a week later, we’re all still exhausted, which is why it has taken me so long to write it up.

The two-day event was held at the Portsmouth Guild Hall – an impressive building just outside the city centre next to the station with a large open square in front of it across from the Council offices.

Lady M and I opted to stay at the Premier Inn just across the road – while Lady S was on dog-watching duties at her home in the evening with most of her family away. We approached the weekend with a mixture of excitement and trepidation as it was the first convention we’d gone to as a throuple (I guess that’s a word now). Everyone has their own way of engaging with conventions, so part of it was a concern that we’d be pulled in too many different directions – and there was also a small fear about how we might find any stress about being out and about in public together. As it turned out: none at all. We did, admittedly, confuse some people in restaurants and local pubs, but that was more to do with our being in costume rather than anything else.

IMG_20180509_123418_831We were very pleasantly surprised at how well the event was run. First-time conventions have a reputation of suffering from problems as part of a steep learning curve. We were happy to findĀ instead efficient and courteous security and ticket management staff – and a well laid-out floor plan that was accessible and made good use of the wonderful building it was housed in. Food and drink was reasonably priced – though on the first day there were huge numbers of crowds which made for long queues.

Even so, everyone we spoke to agreed that it was really well done and great fun to be at. What differentiated it from some of the bigger Cons, like MCM, was the focus remaining on comics and creators. There were loads of big name artists and writers, with a strong focus on independent creators. In many ways it reminded me of conventions I went to in the early nineties – in a good way. It was friendly and felt a celebration of pop culture rather than just an opportunity for big names to show off merchandise and upcoming features. That, as much as anything else, made it memorable and fresh – and we were overjoyed to hear on the Sunday that the event had been so successful that it would have a follow-up next year.

IMG_20180509_123418_837 (3)We all went in cosplay on each day. Saturday I took the work in progress that is my Captain Jack Rackham (based on the pirate featured in Black Sails), Lady M went as Rizzo of the Pink Ladies from Grease, and Lady S went as Kitty Owens – a gender-bend play on a WWE wrestler called Kevin Owens. With the addition of a set of kitten ears, gloves, and a tail bought from one of the stalls inside, this cosplay became Kitten Owens.

Sunday saw a switch around. I reprised my old favourite: Harley Quinn; Lady M brought her work in progress Mad Hatter; and Lady S donned a wig and gown to grace the stage as Lady Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones.

On the Saturday we’d discovered the free games tent in the grounds of the Guild Hall, but Sunday we settled ourselves there for a good portion of the afternoon as we were all pretty tired from our wanderings and exertions on the first day. Joined by Lady B (a friend of Lady S), we played the Plague Inc board game and spent perhaps a smidgen too much money on new board and card games to share with friends and family in future visits.

I won’t go into how much we spent, but let’s just say that Lady M didn’t have to haggle hard to get a discount each day we were there.

IMG_20180509_123418_830 (3)As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Lady M and I took leave of our senses and entered the Cosplay Masquerade competition. This involved getting up on stage in front of a hefty proportion of the Con while we were in costume and talking about ourselves and why we cosplay. We didn’t win, but we did have fun, and that’s absolutely the whole point of the exercise.

The Masquerade was run by Go Geek, and all credit has to go to their Master of Ceremonies forĀ  running a smooth operation of getting upward of thirty people up on stage, interviewed briefly, and then off stage again to make room for the next with a seemingly unending stream of patter and humour that made it a delight both to engage in and to observe.

IMG_20180509_123418_834 (4)It was a blazing hot weekend – the first May Bank Holiday – and those wearing wigs or hats (most of us at one point or another) were very glad to find well ventilated and shaded areas through the day. From our conversations with various guests and fellow convention-goers we were not alone in this. Paradoxically the only place that didn’t have shelter was either side of the main stage where we queued for the Masquerade.

It made the decision to slip out of the event and retire to the nearby Wetherspoons pub very easy. There, we engaged in the traditional cosplay activity of confusing everyone by not acknowledging that we were dressed any differently from anyone else. Its a tough job, but somebody has to do it…

So – a successful weekend with plenty of laughter and fun. Now the focus is on getting ready for MCM London at the end of the month. In particular we’re working on our group cosplay based on Black Sails – the poly triad of Jack Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Max. Its going to be great.