We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I won't unscrew my elbows, I'm not stopping

A trying day. I'd arranged for Milton Bradshaw, our new Reference Librarian, to have some meetings with me and a couple of suppliers. Yesterday he told me he couldn't make this morning's as T.Aldous has decided that it was more important that he accompany him on an Imperial Tour of the Provinces. Unfortunately, I couldn't reach our guest in time: havng spent all day driving up from the south coast he didn't pick up his voicemail until he was at his hotel.

Despite everything we sort of got two meetings after all. Leastways, Milton managed to have a half hour's chat with the rep before T.Aldous appeared at the doorway tapping his watch ("sorry to interrupt but it's important that we go soon.") This afternoon's rep turned up on time, which is more than Milton was allowed to do. He arrived in a rush a few minutes late with a butty in his mouth.

"You definitely get a tour when you're on tour with T.Aldous, dont you? I told him I needed to be back by two and he finally let me go at five to. Then I got stuck at the roadworks round the back of the abattoir."

I thought he'd done damned well to get back at all. The staff bookies missed out on making a killing: none of us would have staked money on his escaping.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mephistophelean engines of pleasure

Frog's surveying his spam with interest:

"If I got a bigger manhood and larger breasts I could just stay at home watching the rugby and enjoying myself."

The lad's due a holiday.

Utter redundancy

The strapline on Saturday's edition of the Helminthdale Clarion says: "Don't forget to put your clocks back!"

You can't keep a growing lad down

God, I hate coming back to work after holidays. Three-hundred and six unread emails. All the incoming emails from anyone I know has been autoforwarded to the "Deleted" folder and my inbox is full of spam. If I took up one-tenth of the offers of gentlemen's pharmaceuticals, larger body parts or ladies of dubious repute I wouldn't be needing a holiday, I'd need an undertaker.

Most of today's emails are from staff complaining about spam in their inboxes. Welcome back Kevin.

Friday, October 20, 2006

These are a few of my favourite things

Printing isn't working for any of the People's Network clients in any of our libraries so none of our customers can print anything. Again. There isn't a day where it's not malfunctioning somewhere or other. And seeing as our IT people have decided that they can't save anything you really have to wonder what's the point of our having MS Office on these PCs. It's being looked into (this is the third new system we've tried since it was decided that the original wasn't technically fit for purpose).

What's even more depressing is that only four libraries report the problem. The rest have given up on the thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Every day's a re-run and the laughter's always canned

Coming into work I hear my name. Is it angels calling me to better things? No, it's Seth hanging out of one of the upstairs windows:

"Run, Kevin, run! Escape while you can before it's too late!"

I reckon it's too late for us all already. The best we can do is pull the deckchairs a tad closer to the band and hope for a decent sing-song.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


It occurs to me that it isn't every job that gives you the opportunity to find out what noise a turnip makes.

Volume control

Exchange of notes attached to a copy of Peter Rabbit's Noisy Book:

"Frog —
The sound for the turnip on this book is very, very quiet. Please can it be replaced?"

"This is the Library Edition so is very quiet."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lose your blues and laugh at life

Here goes, the best ever: just had a call from one of the branches to say a mouse isn't working.

"Have you cleaned it?"

I innocently asked.

"Yes. We know they don't work when they are dirty"

"So there is no dirt around the rods in the mouse?"

"Don't know."

"Well how did you clean it?"

"With a sponge and warm soapy water!"

I give up.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Keeping the same plot because
it was hardly used the last time

T.Aldous: "Haven't the new guys been set up on the PC network yet? How long does it take?"

Me: "It depends on what else is going on and how much time IT have got to work with."

"I would have thought it would be quick enough, like one, two three. I can't understand why it's taking so long."
It took him two months to give me their names.

Full of wise saws and moral instances

He's been in again, with the poor new bods in tow. This time to show them round the computer store room (I'm not making any of this up). He's showing them "the server" (the network hub and central heating unit).

"Every so often the shopping centre toilets that are immediately upstairs overflow and the water runs through the ceiling. It isn't often that noxious materials come through."

I can't think what sort of an impression that made!

A change of pace

Message from Catty Library:

"Please can these people have access to the back-up drive. I won't include the new library assistant as they won't have been set up."

My response:

"Who is the new library assistant? It might be a good idea to get them set up on the network and with access to the back-up while I'm at it."

And so...

"That's an idea. Their name is T. Tedwell."

"I need full names for them to get on the network."

You can't make rubbish like this up

T.Aldous has spent the past five hours talking at the new bods, poor wretches. God alone knows what sort of an impression he's making on them. I know what impression he's making on me...

Having arrived at work I went to get my beginner's caffeine fix.

"They're in the staff room," I was warned.

Ah well, never mind. In I went. As I stepped through the door T.Aldous was holding the fridge door open:

"As you can see, we have a choice of milks: skimmed or normal."

I made a quick exit, collapsing into a giggling heap in a corner. Having recovered my professional composure I returned to the fray to retrieve my tea cup.

"...the clock's really good because it tells you when it's time to go back up to the library at the end of lunch break."

Perhaps my favourite quote of the morning was:

"And this is where the Stock Procurement Manager used to sit."

I didn't say: "more than a year ago."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Let us be thankful for fools

Remarkable. T.Aldous sent me an email at quarter-past nine last night with the names of the people who are starting on Monday morning. I won't be able to do anything about it until the IT Call Desk is open on Monday morning. Sigh...

Evidently he was busy last night. He's rearranged a lot of the furniture downstairs and nobody can find the pedestal cabinet that holds the safe key so Seth has to go and ask the shopping centre security guards to change a fiver for the till.

Seth's already Extremely Happy, having found a long shopping list of things to be done left by Himself last night. The list begins with "clean out and wipe the drawers of the desk by the clock machine" and goes on at length, the true message being: "I have done jack all about this over the past two months and now I'm panicking and want to make a good impression." It must be good to live in hope.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Act as if it were impossible to fail

We have a bunch of new folk starting on Monday. After weeks of asking I'm still none the wiser as to their names or which PCs they'll be using so I can't set them up. T.Aldous' reason is that he's waiting to find out how to spell the name of the girl who starts at the beginning of next month. (uh?)

If they end up sitting twiddling their thumbs on orange boxes it'll be as good an intrduction to Helminthdale Library Service as any.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Is anyone there," cried the traveller

One of the more irritating petty nuisances of this job is Tilly's habit of not answering telephones if she can possibly help it, her being Secretary and the rest of us available to answer 'phones for fun. Putting her 'phone through to the Acquisitions Team while she goes for a fag and forgetting to bring it back is just sort of one of them things. The real teeth grinder runs:
  1. Telephone rings

  2. Tilly gets up and walks into the centre of the room, well away from any 'phone which could pick up the call.

  3. Tilly shouts: "whose 'phone is that?"

  4. Pause

  5. One of the rest of us (usually one of the Acq team) gives up and takes the call.

  6. It's a call for Tilly or else for T.Aldous, who has his 'phone put through to Tilly.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    As grumpy as the rest of us

    Grey, wet & miserable. As good a description of me as the environment. It's often assumed that working in a library couldn't possibly be stressful. Of course it can: staff on the counter or enquiry desk dealing with the public are subject to pretty much the same stresses as any other front-line staff. Most people see libraries as A Good Thing, thank Heaven, so most interactions are neutral or positive but the public being the public, you never know which time things will kick off. It's years since I worked at the front line (that was advice work) but every so often I have to deal with the public, usually because of a problem or a complaint. This time it was because someone in the car parking section of the council put their 'phone through to the reference library where I was sat setting up a PC.

    "Hello, Helminthdale Library."

    "Is that parking?"

    "No, sorry, it's the library."

    "It is parking, that's who I've rung."

    "I promise you, I'm sitting in the reference library."

    The guy on the line wouldn't have it that I wasn't sitting in an office a mile away and didn't want to know when I found a direct number for him that couldn't be diverted to 'phones in the library. Quite rudely (him, not me).

    I can still do the patter but I don't have the patience that I used to have and am still profoundly irritated by this idiot.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    They like their bit of magic from a younger bit of stuff

    I knew there'd be trouble... We're having what Julian and Sandy would call "a little bijou do and drinkettes" to mark some occasion or other in the annals of the department (I sincerely can't remember what). Amongst the dignitaries haunting the reference library is Satchmo Flannelback, my old boss in the one-stop-shops. Camp as Christmas, he sees himself as a Friend of Dorothy Parker. The name plate on the enquiry desk catches his eye:

    "Eileen Moody BLib ALA. Blibala. Blibala: that's an odd name. Is it Albanian?"

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    The Belle of the Horse Meat Shop


    "Why's Lippy been singing Cole Porter songs all morning?"

    "I expect she got laid last night."

    I only work in libraries for the posh chat.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Paying tribute

    The girls at Dutch Bend have arranged a George Michael tribute act for their Christmas do. Apparently he drives onto the stage and falls asleep at the wheel.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Winter wonderland

    Since the beginning of the week Helminthdale High Street has been festooned with Xmas decorations. All along the length of the street the eye is bedazzled by two snowflakes and a reindeer with a broken antler.

    A brown study

    A colleague's AV facilities are in the main reading room and in a rather bijou space called the auditorium, (it's like a great big drawing room in a country house - it's huge and it has a stage and all the gear). You can plug all kinds of things in there (PCs, Video, wireless PA with microphones, etc. etc. and it has wireless Internet too, not that I'm envious at all). There's also a switch for lowering the motorised blinds on both floors of the main reading room - all very Bond-like I can assure you. It occurred to them the other week that they needed audio out so that people videoing lectures, events etc. could plug directly into the PA and not have to use their own microphones for recording the audio track.

    The controls for all of this are in a number of little panels/switchplates which are either on one of the walls of the auditorium or discreetly on a pillar in the main reading room where the audience can't see them

    So, he got a quote from an electronics company we use and kicked it upstairs for approval. The quote is approved. But with a caveat. "The chair of the board of trustees objects to the brushed stainless steel face plates quoted for this installation - we would prefer a smooth brown faceplate" It's mentioned to the Great One that *all* the faceplates installed to date are stainless steel, (except for the two white plastic ones some divot used for the switches for the blinds) and said do you want to continue and try to get a brown one given all the others are stainless or white?

    Well, now he has to go back to the company and ask them if they can install the XLR audio out connector as quoted, except on on a BROWN face-plate, and by the way can they quote for changing the other six or seven they have in different parts of the library and make them brown too.

    The spirit of T.Aldous walks abroad!

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    A man whose work has been spread over many fields

    Leaving do last night for "African" Brown, who's got his 40 years and packed it in. Astonishing opening to his retirement speech:

    "When I started in the 1960s we didn't have to bother with all this crap like Equal Opps and Performance Monitoring."

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    All kinds of everything

    Five of our branch libraries closed last Saturday for good. Have spent all day with a caretaker in a van going round and taking all the IT equipment out of them. Apparently it is a risk to leave equipment in empty buildings. They have been empty but for eight hours per week for the last however many years; how much greater risk now, and what are our priorities really? Cost of van hire, salary of caretaker, salary of Systems Librarian, huh! Feel a strop coming on.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Oh! Don't the wind blow cold!

    My turn for the latest round of daft in-house reservations. It's always interesting to see what other people come up with. This time I've received a book on male sexual fantasies. I am very much against our having books like this in our lending library stock.

    There aren't any pictures.

    A view from the other side of the mirror

    I'm not enamoured of the new council web site. I understand the whats and whys and hows but I'm still not enthused. So I understand what people mean when they say to me that they think it looks dead boring. But like I say:

    "Just as we're being kept securely under the thumb as to what we can and can't do on the web site by the Press Unit, they're having to work to central government expectations as to what is and isn't on the site and how it'll look and feel. In the end we're going to have to accept that it's written by suits for suits, and not for libraries' preferred target audiences."

    It doesn't escape me as I say this that the Press Unit all wear jeans and I'm the one wearing pinstripes.

    Monday, October 02, 2006


    For various reasons, mostly sentimental, I'm doing a lot of printing today and my ink cartridges are running low. I can't get replacements as I need to fill in a stationery form to give to Tilly so's she can give me the cartridges. But I don't have a form and can't get one because I've not filled in a stationery form asking for one. Luckily, Noreen comes to my rescue and lets me know where they keep their secret stash.