My employer announced very recently in a very public forum that they were going to be disconnecting from Stonewall as they developed their own in-house EDI leadership. This immediately set off a storm of homophobic and transphobic abuse and crowing on social media, which was made all the worse because this was the first that the various staff support networks had heard of it. Needless to say there are a lot of hurt and upset people, and a large number of very vocal and passionate meetings are being held. Others are better placed to have those arguments about how to proceed, so a colleague and I who are part of one of those networks have been reaching out to people in our service who were at the meeting to offer support and to offer confidential support to those who are not comfortable speaking publicly.
As with most things like this, the decision lies in the complicated crux of politics and business logic, but damningly it seems to have been done with a naivete about the message being sent to the wider world, and to the staff who had in recent years been beginning to trust their employer. I have at times been fighting back tears of incoherent rage both for my sake, and on behalf of the people I manage and work alongside faced with the enormity of the hate that this move has enabled, and I and my colleague are carefully monitoring and offering support to each other – and thankfully are being in turn supported by both our management and the people we work with. That has been the saving grace I think in the last couple of days – that the overwhelming majority of people in the service are supportive of the whole LGBTQ+ community and are equally shocked by this move – especially so soon after Pride.
There’s a lot of processing and pointed awkward questions now going on; and there has at least been a recognition of the hurt caused and an understanding of just how badly this has gone. That doesn’t erase it, but it does give us somewhere to start in working out where we move on from this point.
I am saddened, and the black dog has been barking loudly in response to all this, but tomorrow is nearly here, and there’s work to be done. As ever I am minded of the question: If you don’t move to work on this, when who else will? Representation isn’t just for the nice things in life, and I’ve got my sleeves rolled up.
Like an overrevved car with smoking wheels, the week has managed that age old trick of standing still and generating a lot of noise and motion – but somehow still isn’t over. I actually had that moment of being genuinely shocked this afternoon that it was only Thursday.
Between running round helping boy s gather things for his new flat, various illnesses, and general stresses with work deadlines it has been packed. I’ve had conversations around outreach opportunities with partner organisations ; talked about potential Arts Council funded events for the future; focused on further recruitment; and generally steered and pushed things as only a library manager can.
There’s a lot there, but as a lot of it is kind of setting things up rather than necessarily delivering discrete results, I think it hasn’t felt as productive as it has. I suppose it could be worse, but it has felt at times like an extended anxiety rush with added heartburn. But hey, there’s still Friday to look forward to.
My day started with one of my branch managers phoning me while they were having a panic attack on top of what turned out to be an acute asthma attack. They were worried that they might have to close their library as they were working on their own. There’s a lot to unpick there, and once I’d talked them through getting their breathing a bit less on the edge of collapse I wasted no time in telling them that I couldn’t care less about closing the library – their health is far more important. This is an individual who is new in their job and feels they have a lot to prove, despite my telling them many times over that they are doing a great job and literally have nothing to prove and they need to slow down.
While still reeling that in I got a call about another member of staff wrenching their back while reaching for christmas decorations in a cupboard, had an update on another person about to undergo surgery, and had calls from the cub’s school that he wasn’t well and could someone come and retrieve him. I may have growled about that as he’d pranked me this morning by walking out of his room with red vaseline around his mouth so that it looked like he had foot and mouth but was thankfully at that time okay. Lady M meanwhile had called in sick with a heavy cold, and while down in Portsmouth boy s had also succumbed to the same cold.
It turned out that the cub has, you guessed it, got the same heavy cold as Lady M and boy s – so I’m chalking it up to Con Flu from the weekend. Lateral Flow Tests have remained negative.
Me? I haven’t got time to be ill. I had school runs, building health and safety inspections, job shortlisting, event risk assessments, and partnership meetings to sort out – and retrieving boy s from Portsmouth after hours. Tomorrow I have more of the same, so I’ve quarantined everyone else in the flat in the other rooms and laid claim to the sofa. If I get this in the same week that I’ve had my blood pressure medications increased, I won’t be happy.
So, could you all just stop falling apart please? I haven’t finished my turn yet.
Well the little plague goblin’s PCR came back as positive but as the rest of us are double jabbed we don’t have to isolate – just him. We’re going to organise PCR tests anyway just to double check even though our lateral flow tests remain negative.
That would be enough on its own but this week seems determined to throw obstacle after obstacle in the way, which is probably why I’m currently sat in a closed library waiting for a BT engineer to remote fix an issue that has in traditional fashion been bounced between several different services to try and fix – and that it feels like the least stressful part of my week to date.
Mostly I’m just reminding myself that I need to keep time and energy for myself so that I can support colleagues and family and friends. Its a very familiar refrain and so if sitting on my own in an empty building forces me to do so then I’ll accept the unexpected respite time with as much good grace as I can muster.
It’s turned into a mixed day of productivity and pastoral support for a variety of reasons for people. It’s knocked me sideways a bit, but on the plus side I’ve got some editing on the short stories done.
Today has felt like a day of firefighting, but I’m not entirely sure why. I think with an extended network outage at one site, and a need to do some frontline support while juggling deadlines it has all felt a bit more fraught than usual.
It hasn’t been helped by staff being a bit snappy under stress, which no matter how adult about everything I remain, still feels personal.
A late evening working meant a much needed gin when I got in, along with hugs from Lady M, boy s, and the goblin. There’s some advantage to coming home to the assembled crowd.
I’ve been learning about report configuration for a new system today. I also gave someone detailed interview feedback, and did some troubleshooting on new kit with staff, more or less all at the same time with some expert time-slicing.
So, I’ve rewarded myself with getting a frame for a small print I got at Christmas and I shall shortly enjoy finding a wall space for that.
Sometimes, when I have an idle moment, I cast an eye out at the carpark outside my current library (we rotate between sites mostly, it feels sometimes, to annoy the staff) and I marvel at the parking skills on display.
My particular favourite in the loosest sense of the word today was the SUV that was half parked across one and a half disabled bays. By half parked, I mean only the front half of his vehicle was in the chevrons surrounding it, leaving the rest poking out and blocking egress for any other vehicle that wanted to leave.
He’d just dived in you see, and not being disabled he didn’t want to take up a marked disabled bay. So he blocked everything and two disabled bays at once. I did point out the free parking on the other side of the road that was totally empty but by then he was fleeing with his child’s reserved books.
It’s been a very long day. Nothing horrible, and mostly very productive, just long. I was supervising some new staff so that took a more active management and training regime than usual, and then I had counselling this evening as well. That’s taken a lot out of me.
Nothing like a discussion of whether my supporting people is a way of pushing away help to get you double guessing yourself in knots.
It isn’t, for the record, but that’s the type of day its been. Tomorrow brings the next episode of the DDC, so hopefully see you there at 7.30pm London time. I might even have written a plot by then…
We ended up not gaming this evening, but not for the reasons expected. Lady M has had a headache, myr s had a tummy ache, and so we were considering not playing. Then we decided to give it a go anyway.
Our collective pieces of technology decided not to cooperate. We had plugins fail, browsers crash, voice comms break down… so after 20 minutes we threw our hands up and started comparing notes about using Inkarnate and designing homebrew items for the game.