Hot and Bothered

It is lovely and hot here, with gentle breezes now and then that brush across the balcony. At least it is more comfortable now than when the full heat of the sun was in play.

The good news for me was that I was working in an air conditioned library. We’ve been moving furniture, laying down vinyl signs and hazard tape, and generally getting ready to open in a couple of weeks.

Its going to be an odd experience re-openimg, and there’s still disquiet over what may yet happen. It has only ramped up with seeing footage of people abandoning all pretense of distamcing. Beaches, rivers, pubs – all swamped by people who seem to believe that the danger is past.

I really wish I believed that. I really wish that things were safe enough to see loved ones, family, and friends.

Working Pride

Sadly with lockdown still wreaking havoc there’s absolutely no chance of getting to a Pride event this year, but at least through work there is an opportunity to celebrate a little.

I’m working as part of the LGBTQ+ Pride Network where I am, and this week has seen an invitation go up on the staff Jive network to post rainbows either as flags, themes, filters or whatever for Pride.

Cue one virtual Pride picture

Its only a little thing, but seeing everyone putting up posts is heartening. The rainbow Funko has been produced by them in support of Pride and the It Gets Better Project with part of the proceeds going to that charity.

So there’s a positive thing.

Battling the Fear

Lady M had to pop out this morning to drop some things to the post office, and then get some ingredients to do some baking. All things that sound innocuous enough, but when she returned, she was exhausted – and revealed that her stress levels had spiked so hard when getting to the supermarket that she’d had to stop and have a bit of a breather. This is not unlike the sort of conversations I’ve been having with staff this week.

The UK government decided to lower it’s pandemic severity rating from a 4 to a 3 this week, to catch up with the announcement the week before that it was going to recommend more places opening up. There are more than a few medical and clinical workers facepalming at the moment, but in truth it is a political decision as much as an interpretation of the highly contentious statistics of infections and deaths.

Lady M, like many of my staff, have obeyed the lockdown – in no small part because they’ve been working from home and so haven’t had the experience of seeing people getting used to the strange interpretations of social distancing and mask wearing that different people have been making. I’ve been able to get out and do grocery shopping while she’s been battling work issues so my usual internal grump is around the anticipation of queueing a while.

By comparison, Lady M has also had to battle the stark clash between media sources urging care and the reality of the Great British public who are worse than a bundle of cats for staying and doing what they’re told. I shall continue to bear this in mind as we work to get the libraries open safely for both staff and customers. On both sides we will have people who are rightly nervous on some level about accessing the buildings and the treasures they contain – and I hope we can maintain both understanding and kindness in the process.

Buy My Stuff

Might as well be blatant about it for a moment. After years of people saying “oh you should do this professionally”, or “you could sell your art” I’ve caved and opened a Redbubble store at Ludd72.redbubble.com and begun filling it with both old and new stuff. Some of it will have been seen on Instagram in some form or another, but a lot of it is going to be brand new as I’ve been taking fresh photos of some of my line art.

Yes, this design is in the store

There’s prints, canvases, stickers, pins, some t-shirts, dresses hoodies, even a couple of clocks and duvet covers, all depending on the resolution of the original artwork and I’m going to keep adding to it – because we all know I can’t stop drawing stuff even if I wanted to. A lot of my older stuff tended to be done for web sites only, so they’re only really suitable for smaller pieces – so at the very minimum there will be pins/badges with those designs – but newer stuff and actual photography will be on the larger items.

Go on, have a look, put a smile on my face and maybe get one on your own…

I’m not good at this commercial stuff…

Seeing Happy Faces

I’ve carried on with doing risk assessments with my staff the last couple of days. If there’s been one common observation it has been the look of relief on people’s faces as I’ve let them into the building.

Many of them haven’t been far from their houses during lockdown – for a couple it was one of their first forays out of their house – but each of them visibly relaxed their shoulders and smiled as they re-entered the library and saw colleagues.

I don’t know about anything else, but those moments alone have made the effort of the last few days worth it.

Risk Assessments

I’ve started the process of talking to staff to identify concerns and issues around reopening the libraries next month if things continue as they are. For the most part so far there’s a general pragmatism and desire to be getting on with things – as much for the sense of not being in limbo any more as anything else. The biggest concern so far has been around using public transport.

The concern has ranged from contamination risks and distancing to potential delays due to any distancing preventing their getting the bus on time. We’ll see what tomorrow’s interviews bring.

For the most part, bringing people along on these risk assessments is part of a process of getting their active involvement in thinking about their own responsibilities to themselves and their families.

I can and have done assessments of the work places alongside colleagues against known recommendations, but the only people who can give me an informed assessment of how they’re doing and especially what their fears are are the staff themselves.

It is a good excuse to get to see familiar faces again as well. Even where we’re discussing contentious or difficult issues its still a pleasure to be catching up properly. We’ll see if tomorrow manages to be as productive.

Making the Most of Things

A colleague told me yesterday to try sitting on a tennis ball to relieve the pain that she believes is sciatica. So that happened. I shall keep an eye out for a spare, I’m sure I’ve seen one knocking around somewhere while cleaning out the library.

It’s fine. Its just pain. As long as I keep active nothing seizes up too badly.

As a morale boost though some Discworld merchandise themed around the Assassins Guild arrived at lunchtime. I used to have a diary at work based around the same organisation, and I do miss it, if only for its sleekness and the bemused expressions of colleagues.

Today had at least a portion of it devoted to arranging risk assessments for next week, so there was some productivity at least. In other news I got a bit bored and started photoshopping more pictures of myself:

At least if I go missing mysteriously there will be plenty of options for alarming photos for the media. Oh well, time for bed I think.

Meeting and Plotting

Its been a long day, but it feels like its been productive. I spent this morning with some colleagues putting together a risk assessment for reopening one of the libraries. Lots to consider but the writeups didn’t take too long to complete.

The bonus for the day however was getting home to find a care package from one of the DDC – specifically Mre B – full of hand crafted items, and tactile delights. It absolutely raised my spirits and I’ll post photos when everyone who has had one sent has received their parcel.

Corporate Queerness

Well, that was an interesting meeting. I signed up a few months ago to the fledgling LGBTQ+ Network at my workplace, and have since stepped up and got more involved with helping shape and run it. To that end we had a quick virtual meeting via Teams to start to thrash out the basic Values and Aims of the group.

This is based partly on the corporate aims and values for diversity and equality held in common working here, and looks at promoting wider sharing of information and practice among other things.

Along the way, people started dropping their ages into conversation around how different age ranges seem to prefer making social contacts. This ranges from apps, activities, social spaces, and the more traditional clubs and bars; and really emphasises again just how easy it can be to apply a wide brush to expectations that are then immediately subverted by individual experiences and expectations. It also revealed that I was the oldest person present, so to speak.

To quote Lady W as I recounted this later, this meant I was the oldest queer in the village. This amuses me, as I would in no way hold myself up as any kind of exemplar of queer experience in any community.

But there you have it – if need be I’ll be a voice for those who don’t feel they have the confidence to speak. There are worse roles I could take on.

Quietly Working

I’m taking advantage of the hard work yesterday clearing down old archives to make sure that the bags of confidential waste are prepped and ready for collection by our secure shredding service. If nothing else its giving me a workout, so I’m pausing a moment for a cuppa.

If there’s one thing this week of clearing out rubbish and shelving has made clear to me, it’s how the lockdown has affected my stamina levels. Before this week I’ve been having aches and pains, but now I have muscles letting me know that they’ve been used, and that’s a good thing.

What I shall need to be aware of is that many of the people I work with will be in similar states as and when we reopen in whatever capacity to the public. It can be very easy to forget that working in a library is quite physical between shifting stock, being on your feet most of the day, and of course moving around to help people all over buildings that frequently have multiple floors.

When are we reopening? Well we don’t actually know yet. We were working to the assumption that it would be July, but the announcement this week of non-essential shops being allowed to reopen in a couple of weeks time has also folded libraries into that umbrella.

We’re still working out how to best do it safely, and are doing assessments on how to phase some sort of service back into play. In the meantime, data cleansing and physical cleansing are an ongoing process in preparation of any announcements.

So we’ll see what happens. Interesting Times…