Gatherings and Meanderings

My first draft of this entry started with a meandering mutter about how busy April has been, but that then led to a slightly maudlin piece about how I’m not writing at the moment, despite my best intentions. So I’ve scrapped that.

Lady M is still not doing well, but is improving – so much so that we were able to get to a big family gathering to celebrate significant birthdays for my parents this month – there’s good days and less good days, but pills and therapy seem to be helping.

In other news, work is work; cosplay prop-making is happening; and yeah, still here.

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Making It Up As I Go Along

I don’t think I ever really knew what I wanted my life to look like, or indeed had any thought about career when I was younger. Going to university was just expected, with no idea of what I wanted out of it. My first job was – well it was there and books were involved.

Jumping into Library Systems support mostly came about because it involved less contact with the public and some interesting technology learning opportunities. Everything from there just sort of drifted, and in large part I think that it came from never really expecting to still be around at some vague point in the future.

I never really expected to reach 18, then 21, then 30. I certainly didn’t expect to see 40, and now here I am powering on through. I still don’t have a plan, and I’m still largely making it up as I go along.

So far, so good.

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Wonder Women

I curled up on the sofa with my partners last night to watch Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – based (a little loosely) on the creators of Wonder Woman.

The film is of particular interest to us both for the comic book history link and due to the polyamorous relationship between the title characters.

As a spoiler-free review, we were very pleasantly surprised by the film. We’d had no small degree of trepidation about the depiction of their relationship but instead we found a gem of a film full of heart.

There were plenty of moments that resonated with us as a triad, and from our own experiences, that were in turn humourous and heartbreaking. We were so glad to have taken a chance on it, having heard varied reviews.

Ladies S and M both remarked that what they liked was that most of the focus was on the relationship between the two women as a driver, rather than it being male-led or salacious in how it was presented.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but treat it as a love story and the levels of dramatisation as a necessary evil overwriting the strictest historical accuracy and it’ll wash over you and leave a lovely glow.

It’s definitely a film to curl up with on the sofa rather than a big blockbuster, and as such it’s a good contrast to our usual fare.

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First Con of the Year – CosXPO

We went to Reading University on Saturday for the first ever CosXPO – aimed specifically for cosplayers to basically get together, hang out, take part in crafting workshops and show off their creations.

We went as Harley and Rizzo – an outfit that Lady M has been rushing together over the last three weeks with grim determination – and the number of smiles and recognition she got really helped boost her through a low mood day and make all the hard work worthwhile.

It was a small event, but well attended – and it was good to catch up with friends on both sides of the camera. We essentially took over the student union building – and despite the weather being a bit ropey we had smiles and laughter all round.

The staff were friendly and couldn’t have been more helpful, and the bar operated at student union prices, which made lunch a lot cheaper than expected. Outside the building, we had the run of the green and beautiful landscape of the grounds, and we found some great spots for playing around.

Will we go again? Yes, if they do another. It wasn’t a traditional Con, but as a one-way event geared towards photos and socialising it absolutely worked for me. We didn’t stay the whole day, but that was down to Lady M’s health rather than any dissatisfaction with the event.

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Meetings Everywhere

My role at work is always evolving – and part of that is a re-evaluation of the balance between frontline and admin work, and involvement in more strategic working groups.

Sometimes this means being a bit canny with how I juggle my day, and at other times means I spend an awful large chunk of my working day travelling between branches. The last couple of weeks have leaned more towards the latter.

This is fine. Everything is fine. There is no need to be alarmed. Where do I work again? Maybe one day I’ll see my library again…

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Unexpected Visits

Last Friday, Lady M had to go to Germany for the day. As you do. And as it was my day off, I agreed to drop her at Heathrow and pick her up again in the evening to spare her some hassle at this end of the journey.

“Ooh,” says Lady S, “do you fancy coming down for the day then to meet the family?” I hasten to add that this wasn’t actually on the day itself, but a few days prior.

“Why not?” I said, so mentioned to Lady M that I’d drop down to Portsmouth and be back in plenty of time. So far, so normal.

Then work started getting a bit hectic and stressy for Lady M, so the day before she was due to fly out and back, Lady S suggested she come back with me so we could be friendly faces to welcome her back.

I thought this was a great idea. The look of joy on Lady M’s face when I told her we’d be getting Lady S staying for an unplanned weekend lit up the room and confirmed that this was indeed a popular move. So, duly buouyed by the knowledge her girlfriend would be waiting for her return, Lady M hopped on her plane, and I discovered the joy of navigating into Portsmouth and not ending up on a ferry by mistake.

Lady S’ family is a wonderfully sardonic and laconic bunch. Her dogs are daft as you might expect, and even the cat tolerated me. Her fiancee was nervous of meeting me; but after I bought lunch and we started comparing pet and customer stories we seemed to click and there was even a degree of relaxation.

Once her father realised I understood both coding and game level design principles, gave me a great rundown on the physics engine tweaking he’s doing on GameGuru. As for Lady S’ son – well he seems to have taken a shine to me, or at least a desire to show off his favourite games and nestle up for hugs, much to his mother’s bemusement.

As for the weekend itself, well I was working on Saturday, and Lady M was focused on finishing a costume for this weekend’s CosXPO convention so aside from a trip into Kingston we largely took it easy and just enjoyed each other’s company.

And then we mentioned that Lady S also has tickets for CosXPO, so would be there, health permitting. That did make Lady M grin even more.

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Into the Woods

Back at the end of February, on my birthday weekend, we went on a photoshoot in Bourne Wood. It’s just out the back of Farnham, and has been used as a location by a number of Hollywood films – if you remember the scenes of Harry Potter and friends being hunted by dark wizards, for example, then that’s the woodland we’re talking about.

We’d set up the shoot with Toneagraphy Photography just before Christmas after having such a good experience of shooting with Tony in October at MCM. What I didn’t know until that weekend was that plans had also been made for Lady S to join Lady M and myself.

It was a bitterly cold day, not long before the snows hit, so while I was wrapped up warm with multiple layers as part of my costume, the same was not true for my poor partners.

Lady M had updated her Poison Ivy costume to include a winter cloak, while Lady S was channelling her inner Death Eater to present a young Bellatrix Lestrange. My rucksack was full of spare blankets and slippers to try and keep some warmth in people between bits of the shoot.

Bourne Wood is just off the North Downs, so it’s hilly terrain, and well loved by local families and dog walkers alike. The reactions of each to seeing various people in costumes accompanied by a photographer and lighting kit ranged from making a wide berth to simple curiosity and asking what we were doing.

Gender-bent Harley Quinn closeup

Somehow “taking photos” didn’t seem enough, so a brief explanation of cosplay and conventions usually then started. That was pleasant enough, but in near freezing temperatures we did start hoping people would avoid us after a while.

So, it was exhausting and cold, but also fun. Yes, we played dress-up in the woods. The photos that have come back from Tony are beautiful. One of the things I love about his work is his use of light in his compositions. He’s also more than willing to explain what he’s doing and why, and to share views of the raw shots while we work.

It has in turn made me more thoughtful about the composition and framing of my own photos, even if I am only using a phone.

Most importantly, it was fun. If you’ve not done a photoshoot before – and the cosplay element is irrelevant for this part – then consider giving one a go with someone you trust. It’s a fun and collaborative experience that has inspired memories and conversations ever since.

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