Surrey Stars

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.

Camberley Pride

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.

Celebrations

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.

Today is all about her.

Christmas Eve

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

Keys and Presents

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.

I try not to rise to the bait.

The boy’s Doing Well

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…

Well, That Was Amazing

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.

On Holiday

About time too – this has been another hectic week, again dominated by interviews and surrounding shenanigans – but at least we got to celebrate boy s’ birthday with a grand polycule gathering this evening. We met up for a meal once Lady M had finished work, and of course battled the usual assortment of roadworks each direction – because some things in life are a fixed and constant feature.

As is tradition, boy s cried over one of his gifts, and tried to hide under his own shirt when the restaurant staff sang happy birthday – he made the mistake of mentioning it when we arrived.

On an unrelated note, I am becoming convinced that one of the posts I’m trying to fill is cursed, as the second person I’ve offered it to has now accepted another job elsewhere before they’ve even started. They were, at least, very apologetic.

Happy Pride Month

The sun is shining, and the flags are flying – both at home and at work – welcome to Pride Month. I’ve been busy working at the nearest library to me as we change how we manage stock, but we also broke out the flags and bunting that I got back in February so we could brighten everything up.

And then when I got home I found some extra flags I’d ordered had been delivered, so Lady M and I decided to decorate our balcony as well:

And then we enjoyed the warm summer air and listened to small children excitedly shouting about flags while we chatted with neighbours.

It’s been a good day.

And Now… The Weekend

I was working today, and exhausted yesterday, but at last it’s the Easter Weekend and I have plans.

Tomorrow we have a special guest for our live stream for the DDC as it is Lady B’s birthday weekend. The stream is in support of Chrysalis, and I even have a plot lined up.

Then on Monday we’ll be catching up with the ex-Lady M and the Charleesi (plus boyfriend) for an open air catchup for the first time since before Christmas. I can’t wait, it feels like years rather than months since I’ve seen them.

So that’s the plan.