Haven’t Melted Yet

It has felt a bit of a close-run thing, but the feeling of living in a blast furnace has retreated somewhat – and as I write this with the door open to the balcony I have a strong breeze ebbing and flowing in. I think there may be a storm on the way – or at least some bursts of rain. It has been interesting to point out to the cub that this evening’s temperature of 23C is nearly half what it was on Tuesday and before this week he would have been complaining that it was hot. He is still trying to wrap his imagination around the fact that Monday and Tuesday are the hottest that the United Kingdom has ever been since they started recording such things. I think he’s more used to reading about history than living through significant moments of it.

The cub has been staying the last couple of days as his school term finished yesterday about lunchtime, and boy s is working. With Lady M off the other side of London for work, I’ve therefore been balancing work with having a young lad around the house. He’s not quite old enough to be home alone, but the difference just this last term has made in how he’s growing up tells me he’ll be fine. For now he’s sat in the other room eating his supper before he goes to run around the estate a bit more to burn off some energy from being cooped up.

On the work front I’ve been getting more engaged with the new co-chair role for the LGBTQ+ Staff Network and meeting a number of stakeholders in the EDI work being developed by Surrey County Council. I’ve begun work drafting some training slides for an Allyship program we hope to roll out next year – on the basis that we need a starting point and I have the capacity and expertise to create some copy to begin the conversation. What has struck me is the enthusiasm and understanding of the importance of this work by so many people. It has been heartening to have level-headed positivity mixed with the pragmatic acknowledgement that there is no simple fix and there are a lot of hard conversations that need to take place.

I’m cautiously optimistic – and I hope that the need to be kind is something that can be nurtured and brought to bloom.

Hot Memories

So, here in the UK we’re having a heatwave with temperatures pushing 30C as I write and warnings of 40 tomorrow. As I’m diabetic I’m keeping an extra eye on myself and keeping hydrated and as in the shade as I can so I don’t burn my shaved head and boil my own brain. Perhaps I’m not particularly exercised at the moment though because of my relative memories of visiting Florida a few years back during one of their heatwaves. You could tell it was hot because even the native Floridians were commenting on it and I lost track of the number of overworked air conditioning units I saw leaking everywhere.

Thinking more close to home however, I was reminded today that the last time we had weather like this was in the summer of 1976 – which for me remains the high bar of the perfect summer (at least judged through the eyes of four year old me) – the days were long, we ran around in very little. We had a paddling pool pretty much permanently up or being refilled. The garden paving slabs were too hot to walk barefoot on – but of course being me I made a game of how long I could run on them before either hopping into shadow or onto the dry crinkled grass beside it. I don’t remember burning my feet but I’m sure my parents despaired.

We had a dog – a dalmation – who very sensibly stayed indoors, or stretched out in the shade with a expression of “touch me and die”. He was a vicious brute, but he was our vicious brute, and he would greatly enjoy accompanying dad into the church to lie on the cool flagstones inside and keep him company.

Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I’m mixing up memories of being older in a similar hot summer a few years later while living at a different vicarage but the basics remain the same. I can’t remember very much from my childhood – but hot summers definitely made their mark.

Is there a point to this? Not really, just sharing reminiscences born of the heat and how this weekend is largely spent doing very little, or appreciating the shade as I do things like take the recycling out or do battle in tesco to take advantage of their air conditioning. At least with no children in the house I can enjoy walking round naked in the flat while the water from my most recent cool shower evaporates. Now there’s an image…

Windy Weekend

We had a bit of a storm blow through on Friday – Storm Eunice to be precise – and while everyone battened down the hatches, I was on duty at one of my libraries to coordinate with staff to keep as many places open as possible. We’re fortunate that my area is a relatively built up and urban environment rather than being at the top of any hills, but even so I was wary for a couple of places that were either vulnerable due to their surroundings or their approaches.

In the end, despite needing a window boarding up at one location where local youths had caused some damage, we managed to keep everywhere open except for one – and that was due to a precaution with an older member of staff rather than any direct risk.

Still, looking out of my library window and seeing blocks of polystyrene the size of an adult bouncing down the road where they’d been blown off a building site nearby was quite impressive – as were the fallen small branches – and so I wasn’t totally surprised to find that the main road past us was closed by police for a good chunk of the afternoon.

Saturday was merely windy but I battled through it to help do some computer diagnostics on boy s’ PC with the aid of an old friend – we couldn’t fix the immediate problem, but we’ve narrowed down the hardware issue and a plan is now in place to Frankenstein a solution so that he can get back to streaming and being creative in his downtime.

And then yesterday we gathered back round to boy s for Sunday Roast and watched as random bits of branch bounced off the grass outside – all very restful. Anyway, to round up, all are well and nobody hurt, and no appreciable damage to anywhere or anything connected to us. Compared to other areas of the country we’ve done very well

It’ll Pass By

I was having lunch with Lady G the other day, sitting under shelter in a pub garden and watching the storm clouds gather. An older gentleman at the next table said “Oh I think that’ll miss us and pass by” – which of course meant that no less than three minutes later the heavens opened and we watched a young family sprinting to cover back inside, clutching their lunches and trying not to drown their drinks.

As we were in a sturdy wooden shelter, the three of us watched this without comment until a loud thunder and lightning crack detonated directly overhead. As we had just been talking about the book Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, I couldn’t resist looking up at the skies and saying “missed us!” Several more lightning strikes and rolls of thunder followed as the storm surged past.

We may have teased the gentleman about how the storm had indeed passed by…

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Well we won’t be going to Disney this year, but the heat today in the South of England is roughly comparable to the weather we’d have had out there anyway, so maybe this is nature’s way of apologising for coronavirus.

We were due to get the results back from Lady M’s MRI scan this morning, but the specialist got called in to perform emergency surgery first thing, so we’ll talk at some point this afternoon. Work sent me home so I can look after her, so it at least gives me a chance to catch up on work emails rather than be front of house. On the positive side, the leaks from upstairs have been fixed, so that’s a good thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m back to the fridge for cold water. Stay hydrated everyone!

Oh? Sunshine? Again?

I thought we’d had all the good weather we were going to have now that people have been out and about more. I am pleasantly surprised therefore to have clear blue skies and sunshine all around as I go to pick up my prescription renewals.

Last night’s DDC game was fun for me, if no one else, in that it allowed me no small amount of GM sadism. The group is still investigating the buried remains of an old goblin temple, and had discovered several very old sets of remains from what looked like a pitched battle.

Beyond an open archway was a large room with benches along the walls and an enormous carpet that smelled awful. Rather than just take this in as a bit of scene dressing, there then followed real fear as they tried to investigate for traps, or some nefarious purpose to the carpet. At one point they thought the carpet might leap into life and try to eat them.

It was only when someone tried to flip the carpet, and the corner tore off wetly in their hand, that they accepted that their GM had been telling the truth the whole time – that it was just a carpet and there were no traps.

Okay, I may have used the “are you sure?” and “which corner are you reaching for?” approach, but I think I have done my job well in instilling caution in my players. I’m sure the next carpet will be just as innocent.

Would I lie to you?

Good days, Bad days

With the weather a bit cooler today, its made me realise what about the steady heat blanket of this week has had me struggling a bit.

Essentially the lack of breezes had brought a heaviness that was reminding me of the dissociative parts of my depression. Everything was feeling dull and distant and my head was responding to the familiarity of those sensations.

Being a reasonably smart cookie, I recognised this on a subconscious level at least, because I’ve been making efforts to drag myself outside the flat in search of light and sound, and at least hints of moving air. Being around people, talking online, keeping busy, these have all kept my brain shaken from the old tracks. So thats a good thing, possibly even means I’m learning to look after myself.

That said i didn’t really put it all together until counselling this evening, but then that’s what its there for.

Bit Windy Out There

So we’re quite lucky in that the worst of the high winds seem to have passed us by – but it is still strong enough out there to be slapping at my beard as it gusts. Unlike some friends we’ve not had electrical disruption locally, and having no garden we’ve not had to chase after any lawn furniture or escaping trampolines.

We’ve got off lightly really. Even so, my first thought when none of our computer systems fired up this morning I did wonder if it could somehow be blamed on the weather.

Even so life goes on. In total defiance of the weather, a local school duly sent a class of young children round to see us, wrapped head to toe in thick jackets and warm hats and hoods. Cue one session if the history of libraries, how to treat your books, how to use the library, and a game where we arranged the children in alphabetical order – as you do.

Considering we had no working systems to demonstrate it all went rather well. Now to batten down the hatches before the next storm arrives. It must be winter or something.

Soggy Morning

I’m off to a masquerade thing this weekend, and so need to sort out a suitable mask for Lady S. Fortunately there’s a place near me that stocks all sorts of things so I’ve dragged myself out of bed in my day off to pop down to Kingston.

It’s a bit soggy. It’s raining so much the pigeons are hiding under the old barbecue on my balcony. From the sound of the cooing they’re busy making new pigeons. I’m half expecting to see them wearing galoshes the next time they’re perched on the railings.

Being Pride month, and an obstinate bugger, I’ve thrown on my Queer Umbrella t-shirt. It’s buried under my hoodie and thick coat, but it’s there. The last time I wore it was while at Con when popping out for supplies while Lady M was laid up with a migraine and heatstroke.

On that occasion I had a man yell “Queer!” in my face, which I suppose proved he could actually read. I looked at him. Every cosplayer on the street looked at him. He looked up in the silence and realised I was a head and a half taller than him and twice as wide. He dipped his head and went away.

I do not approve of this rain

I’m lucky. I’m a white male who easily fits into the bear stereotype in appearance. I’ve woken this morning to read two stories of homophobic assaults just in the first ten minutes of being awake, and as many incidences of people shouting about straight pride. I’m not dignifying that with capitals.

Pride is protest and visibility in the face of aggression. It’s political, it always has been, it started as a riot in the face of police brutality.

I’m queer. I’m bisexual, polyamorous, sex-positive, kinked and not going anywhere. Sorry, not sorry.

Just, who ordered all this rain?

Back to The Smoke

We sheltered in a number of motorway services...
We sheltered in a number of motorway services…

So, we survived the downpour of Storm Desmond by basically being on high ground on the Cumbrian borders. It’s only really been today that I’ve looked at news sites and seen the havoc wreaked on places that I’d been planning to take the Ladies during the day.Our duvet day was therefore confirmed as the best possible solution to horrendous weather – nice to have that decision upheld even in hindsight. Still, it wasn’t all sitting and reading quietly. In the middle of the afternoon, we heard noises outside and had to investigate, if only by peering out the window.

It turned out that there had been a car rally planned in the truck park next to the hotel, but that was almost a complete washout too – with tricked out small cars trying to speed up and down an access road. We had heard one of them – a little Ford Fiesta with an out-sized exhaust that was definitely trying too hard. The driving instructor in his sticker-emblazoned car was more alarming for his inability to steer or to pick up any speed despite being in a Mondeo, and to be honest I can’t remember much of the other vehicles. As you can tell, it wasn’t quite a classic car rally.

Lady M as a Posh Poison Ivy

As for the party, well we might have been a bit more dressed up than some of the other guests, but I like to think we made up for it by being generally more glamourous than many people.

The general theme had been put forward as being generally around the 80s, and so there were a large number of UK editions of Thundercats comics spread on the tables, classic penny sweets on vinyl records, our Hostess (the Lady Pixie) dressed as She-Ra, and the Inimitable Hugh as Ripley from Aliens.

I have to say that his jumpsuit was fantastic, with all the right patches and loving attention to detail throughout the whole costume. We really must get him to a convention at some point. It’s just a shame that with his goatee and the massive curly wig he looked rather like a Fast Show incarnation from a Scouser remake of the film, and we kept expecting him to start telling everyone to “Calm down, Calm down!”

Lady P went to the Ball after all as Cinderella
Lady P went to the Ball after all as Cinderella

We had people dressed up as Pac-man and a couple of Ghosts (by the application of painted cardboard), a number of Beetlejuices, a Robert Smith (he, of The Cure), a Suggs, and a Ghostbuster complete with inflatable Proton Pack. My particular favourite was Lady Pixie’s younger sister, who wore a red hoodie, and a pair of handlebars and a basket with a miniature ET sitting in it hanging from a strap in front of her.

There was a degree of good-natured ribbing of us Southerners*, which was a good excuse for every anti-Yorkshire joke to then be pulled out by the Lancastrians. I apparently got a pass for having a Welsh background, even if it was still perilously close to France.

Knowing the weather was getting worse and we had a long drive in the morning, we didn’t stay until the bitter end – plus our assorted anxieties around not knowing many people there nagged at our heels a bit – and so we disappeared again into the night with the sounds of Men Without Hats’ Safety Dance ringing in our ears. It was that kind of night…

Good evening, I shall be your Death tonight...
Good evening, I shall be your Death tonight…

And the journey home was… well, motorways and more service stations and sudden cries of “I need the loo!” before we got home safe and sound, ready to do battle with the new week. Lady M continues to do battle with companies and bring them to their knees. Lady P has started a new job at Game, and I am a beacon of calm and serenity in the face of the public and new staff movements.**

At least the weather has calmed down back in the South, and is now merely freezing cold. Extra layers are becoming more than an option as I walk to work each day… Must be why I’ve applied for a couple of new jobs this week.

* well, of Lady P and I, Lady M is rather more Northern than they were.

**this statement may in fact be partially or wholly untrue and should be taken as at least an intention, no matter what wailing or gnashing of teeth may be detected.