I hope your day has been peaceful, your people kind, your sustenance plentiful, and that you are now sinking into a celebratory relaxation
Lady M and I have spent the day with boy s and Lady W and the cub, and caught up with my parents and brothers by way of a Google Meet so we’ve been blessed with laughter, silliness, and no particular urgency along the way.
Plans have been laid to visit my parents some time in the next couple of months, and I need to track the Charleesi down to pass presents to her as well.
Lady M and I have a quiet day planned tomorrow, with a few gifts between us as we mostly focused on giving things to other people and opened things from the rest of the family.
I do have one piece of loot from Lady M that I’ve opened today:
She’s had this hidden away for the best part of a year following a Kickstarter and I love it. The open framed dice have a rough iron feel that along with the skulls suggests a dice set suitable for a villain in one of my games. The case itself has a good heft and solidity too that has a good tactile feel.
I shall now have to find a suitable way to display it
And suddenly we’re nearly there – ready to feast and spend time with people. Bonus points are awarded if they’re people we love and cherish too. Today has been spent in the traditional activities of visiting people to drop off presents and have a natter – in this case Lady B – and gathering up people for transport so they’re in the right place for celebrations in the morning.
As is also traditional, there’s a few gifts that also need properly wrapping up ready for handover to the Claus, and so that’s why I am currently “banished” to the living room to play on the XBox and blog while Lady M is busy in the other room with Christmas movies and wrapping paper.
I’m looking forward to not running around too much tomorrow as my ribs are hurting quite a bit after all the bustle. I currently have a hot water bottle against my back to ease that side, and am sitting carefully upright and shallow breathing to manage the front. I will no doubt get jumped on by a child tomorrow, so I must remember to take extra painkillers with me when we go round to the boy s – which is where we’re cooking and spending most of tomorrow.
So, I hope you all have a wonderful day that goes to plan, fills you with joy, and brings you some peace amid the bustle and celebration.
We had the excuse of a celebration and a special request from the cub – and that’s how we ended up driving round the M25 to out the back of Caterham to play some laser tag in the woods. The original plan would have had us just watching while kids battled it out, but with some last-minute cancellations we had enough slots for myself and Lady M to join in while boy s watched from the side-lines and huddled under all our coats.
The mechanics were fairly simple – a sensor on the gun and three types of gun: a sniper, an assault rifle, and a submachine gun – each with differing rates of fire, range, reload times, and damage done against a notional value of hit points. Two teams of roughly a dozen on each side, and referees keeping an eye on it all. We had one hundred hit points per life, and five lives in a non-contact game where minimum distance to the other team was five metres.
And you know what – I really enjoyed it. We all did. I favoured a sniper so I didn’t have to run around too much and could put years of pinpoint FPS gaming to good use. The games were quick with some variants and two different arenas – and footing by and large was good despite snow and frozen mud. One small disclaimer, I did manage to lose my footing and do a very impressive tumble where I broke my fall by landing with the point of my elbow in my rib. It’s a bit sore, but some painkillers and the occasional wince of discomfort are seeing me through.
I hadn’t heard of GO Laser Tag before – and not having to wear a load of sensors was a big bonus – staff were friendly, kept good control of the sessions, and all seemed to be focused on making sure everyone had a good time. Their website is https://www.golasertaglondon.co.uk/ and for something a bit different that caters to a wide age range its a good option. We all enjoyed ourselves and have been making noises about not being averse to doing it again. Let’s face it, for the British that’s a glowing endorsement.
It also gave me a good excuse to give the new car a bit of a stretch on the motorway rather than just the local trips I’ve been doing for work and while I’m not a petrol-head, it was a smooth transition and satisfying to get some different driving under the belt. The new car is a plug-in hybrid so while it runs quite happily ramping up battery power from the flywheel to augment general driving, it can also operate as a purely electric car. As soon as the charge card is all sorted out, I’m looking forward to using it on the local commute.
I was invited along last night to something that Surrey County Council hasn’t really tried before – an awards ceremony for outstanding individuals and teams. Various nominations, including some I put forward for my team, were whittled down to a select few, and my invitation lay unnoticed until my co-chairs in the staff LGBT+ network started commenting about how the date clashed with various family plans and asked if I was going. One hasty brushing off of the spam filter later I’d got the paperwork sorted.
Hosted at Sandown Races, the traffic was… heavy as only rush hour can be in that neck of the woods, but I was there on time and headed for the very sparkly-dressed people standing at the main entrance to gain entry. I’ve not been to anything like this before, so the nerves were firmly squashed, and I stepped forward all suited and booted.
It was a good evening – partly to meet people I’ve only ever met on Teams and Zoom, and partly to make new connections with my staff network chair hat on. There was live jazz and reasonable food and drink for a corporate bash, but the people there were definitely the draw. I think setting it right at the beginning of the Christmas period was a good move as it gave people an excuse to break out the glad rags and let their hair down a little bit. The mood was light, the networking was non-stop, and I was somehow surprised still to find how many people either already knew me by sight or reputation – or who wanted to talk in my network capacity.
There were some amazing stories that came out through the awards of the amazing work done with and for people in our local communities and in the pursuit of equality, diversity and inclusion for all. I don’t say it lightly, it was inspiring and I’m determined to get more library recognition in for next year. As it was, our Young Employee of the Year award went to a Saturday Assistant based in Camberley Library – much to his complete surprise.
I was even home at a not too late time – so I was quite buzzed for work this morning and spent quite some time making sure my peers and staff knew about the awards and how we need to get nominations started for next year. Pleasant to have something nice to plan really.
I was wearing three metaphorical hats today and no physical ones as a sunny day dawned on Pride in Surrey at Camberley’s Recreation Grounds.
Eight in the morning saw me assembling the library stall as part of a wider group putting together stands in the Surrey County Council marquee and there was very little let up from that point.
My metaphorical hats were those of being one of the Library Group Managers, of being co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, and part of my extended polycule as we coordinated various vehicles and modes of transport to get there. Somehow the plate spinning didn’t get out of control and I was able to slip between the competing roles with ease, which was helpful.
The whole day has been amazing – a much bigger site than last year at Godalming and thankfully all on a level rather than the entertaining slopes we coped with previously. The route of the parade was also far longer, weaving through the town and shopping centre before heading through residential streets to the park. Barring one very small group of teenage boys trying to be edgy we also had nothing but support and cheers from the crowds who had turned out. If there were counter-protestors (as had been threatened) they didn’t disrupt or dismay anyone.
Instead I was able to support colleagues, network with politicians and other organisations, mind our library mascot for their appearances, and still spend time with my loved ones and the assorted children we had with us.
We may even have persuaded our political portfolio holder to get his face painted with flowers and he very gamely let us decorate him in celebration of his being a fantastic ally both of libraries and the lgbtq+ community.
I’m home now, footsore, slightly sunburned, but fed and watered. Everyone has been delivered home to where they need to be, and I’m having my last cuppa to round out the day. It’s been a good one, and so’s the cuppa.
It’s been delayed a couple of years by the pandemic but today is special. The Charleesi is having her graduation ceremony. We came up after work yesterday evening and have a quiet morning planned before it all kicks off.
I’m proud of her. She has done so well and brokered her hard work and focus into a job she enjoys and a life recounted with wry humour.
Well, here we are again – well done everyone for getting through another chaotic time. I’ve been purely focused today on chilling out with the xbox after a busy few days – escorting Lady M and boy s in turn to get their booster jabs and running the gauntlet of last minute christmas shopping with them each for starters. Tomorrow is planned to be mostly round with boy s and the cub in the new flat to welcome in their first Christmas. I’m sure the cub will play up as far as he can push things – but then he’s eleven and I would expect nothing less.
So, I’m off back to watch some Masterchef and share some wine and curry with Lady M – see you on the other side
There was a lot going on today, but some good things among the chaos. Most notably, boy s received confirmation of securing his new flat, and after some banking shenanigans is due to pick up his keys tomorrow. As a major distraction from the stress of it all, he’s now playing Sims4 on the XBox while we eat our bangers and mash, and muttering under his breath about all the clothes packing he’s going to need to do tomorrow. I think he’s in that slightly bewildered state where he wasn’t really expecting to get the flat, and now its all becoming a bit more real. He’ll be fine.
Just to throw an organisational spanner in the works, the cub’s birthday is due among all this upheaval – we have plans for the weekend, and I’ve just spent a spare fifteen minutes with the bedroom door firmly shut while I wrapped a selection of presents. With his birthday so close, he’s a bit sensitive about Christmas wrappings and trappings so mindful of that I had some more generic paper stashed in the cupboard. It’ll make a nice surprise for him when he gets to see them. For now there’s a small stack of presents on top of the wardrobe that he walks by and never looks up at.
Like most preteens he lives in his own little world by the gaming logic that best appeals to him. For example, his school tries to encourage him to read with a reading star scheme and everyone in the class contributing towards awards and bonuses like days not wearing uniform. He has decided that as he doesn’t read every day he can’t get the reading star, therefore won’t be contributing, so therefore why bother. Its a very selective and circular form of solipsistic reasoning that he specialises in, while sounding to his own ears very reasonable.
My work continues to be an adventure, full of ups and downs, but today was all about boy s and his search for employment. The first good omen was his replacement bank cards arriving with the right name and our address on the paperwork.
The second good thing was all the traffic lights cooperating on the way to the interview as I drove him there.
And successful he was. Its a seasonal job with Thorpe Park, so won’t be long term, but it’s a huge boost for his morale to get something so quickly after moving up here.
We had to celebrate of course, so after a quick rampage through the local shops to sort out new trousers and shoes, we went out for a meal and have let the tension wash away in food and drink.
Now if we can just get the cub sorted at a new school…
Somehow we managed to get not only the polycule but some friends and acquaintances all together at Pride In Surrey in Godalming yesterday. What a day!
I made sure to find appropriate flags, a Pride gamers tshirt, and went to town on the beard with coloured hairspray to match the bi-flag. I got a lot of compliments, and I thanked my stars for the experience of creating my Obadiah Stane cosplay and the beard dyeing required for that.
We had to get there early as I was in the Parade, so we split and arranged a meetup point for later. I eventually found the way to the assembly area, chatting with various random people along the way. It wasn’t the most precise staging and organisation in the world but it felt appropriately anarchic for Pride’s origins – and soon enough we were winding our way up along Godalming’s High Street
It was my first Parade, and it felt good to be in good company and an atmosphere mixing joy, protest, and representation. Surrounded by work colleagues, associated organisations, and family groups, we brought colour and noise and cheering to a normally very sleepy small Surrey town.
What was heartwarming was the support along the high street from families and businesses alike. People of all ages and backgrounds wanting to see what was going on, and cheering along. It was all a very strange, as in unfamiliar, experience – and one that I want to be part of again – with extra performance next time.
Even slightly grey and misty weather didn’t dampen anyone’s mood, and in the polycule we spent a good few hours taking turns to venture out in small groups from our blankets and bags base to explore and meet people.
We may have bought more gin.
What was also wonderful was that there was a quiet section set away for young families which included stalls for support services and advice on health. The library was well represented, as were a number of other areas of both the County and Local Government organisations, staffed by volunteers.
I’d love to see more participation by other areas and teams, so I plan to advocate for that for next time – even off duty my brain keeps looking for improvements.
Long day short, a great day, especially coming out the other side of lockdown and pandemic, and especially with so many other Pride events cancelled. As I said to one of our Councillors: its a good start.