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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Every customer this morning has asked: "What about that old Bubonic Plague?"

Things are a bit fraught. We've all gone down with bad colds, that is to say half of us are suffering and knowing the vagaries of our air-conditioning system the rest will follow in three days' time. The good news is that we've found that a combination of Flu Strength Doctor Collis' Horse Jollop, licorice and hot, sweet tea zonks us out completely: they could drop an atom bomb on us and we'd not notice.

Alas, not all are so comforted. Bronwyn comes down from lending, bringing back the debris of the latest Big Wild Read Wild Happening and news of shortages on the front line.

"We're quarter-staffed due to school holidays, sickness and covering for vacancies in branches. We've got leaves and compost all over the children's library. We're drawing straws to see who's going to cover in ref. And two of the PCs have stopped working.

"But we've rearranged all the books in the book sale so all's right in the world."

Observations on the spontaneous motions

Helminthdale Reference Library is not the haven of quiet, donnish research that you might imagine, nor that the Reference Librarians might claim when justifying their stock selections. Some right yobs come in to use the computers or, worse, read the papers (in my experience some of the people who read The Investors' Chronicle have the manners of pigs).

Dora's covering up there this morning. One of the customers recognises her:

"Oh I wasn't expecting you up here. Shouldn't you be at Gypsy Lane?"

"Not any more. I'm having to work up here these days."

"How are you liking it?"

"I'm not really. There's some very ignorant people up here."

"Yes, and I expect you find that some of the public aren't much better."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jaw-droppingly lacking in self-awareness

I swear this is true. T.Aldous approaches Noreen:

"I've just put my 'phone through to your desk because you're the only person who answers my 'phone when it's ringing. Will that be a nuisance? People keep interrupting me with 'phone calls while I'm working."

Noreen was too gobsmacked to give any of the long list of entirely sensible responses that came to her five minutes later.


As part of The Big Wild Read Frog's organised a bunch of seed-sowing and plant-growing activities for the kids last week.

Maureen at Roadkill Library has already had one kid trying to sell her the seeds back for 20p.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Art imitates life

This is spooky. The great Winsor McKay, he who did "Little Nemo In Slumberland," drew this cartoon almost exactly one hundred years ago. How could he have predicted Helminthdale's customer transaction processes so uncannily?

Got my feet on the ground

Milton looks out of the staff room window at the sheets of water passing for a light shower.
"What do you reckon? If we get flooded out would it be worth putting all the crappy old equipment into the waters so that we could get replacements on the insurance?"

"Probably not. Knowing our luck we'd get like-for-like."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chivalry, if not dead, is unwell

"We've not had a pile of new boxes littering the place this week," I mention in passing to Noreen, thinking this is a good thing too.

"We should have had twenty-five boxes of incoming books. They were to be delivered this morning."

"Where they?" I asked.

"They arrived OK: I answered the door when the delivery man rang. 'Twenty-five boxes,' he said. And he expected me to unload them from the van and bring them in myself! I got the trolley and asked him to lift the boxes down for me. He refused: 'I've not got time for that,' he said. So I told him that in that case he may as well go away again. I've complained to the supplier about him."

Noreen is a not tall lady in her fifties.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To a young ass, its mother being tethered

I have had this conversation three times so far this week, with slight variations in vocabulary.

"What does it mean when it says that an item at Glass Road is marked: 'Unavailable for reservation; at old site.'?"

"It means that the item is unavailable for reservation because it's been left behind at the old site."

"So we can't reserve that item?"

"No. It's unavailable for reservation."

"Why is it unavailable for reservation?"

"Because it's been packed away in one of the boxes piled up at the old Glass Road site. It'll probably be coming back here, everything else does."

"So I could place a reservation on it and then when the boxes are sent to Helminthdale someone could look for it in the boxes and then send it to us."

"No. These items are not available for reservation."

"So what happens if a borrower wants to reserve it?"

"If you choose to borrow a set of keys, go over to the old site, open up, rummage through the boxes, take the book back to your library -- having tidied up and locked up behind you -- then discharge the book on the circulation system and thus make it available for reservation then I can't see that there's anything I could do about it."

"I can't understand why we can't reserve these items."
The answer to this last is either "because you're too stupid for words" or "yes you can but you don't like the answer." I should let gentler souls than mine decide on which.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The boundaries of epistomology

"Why are we still carrying so many vacancies on the front line?" asks Jim.

"We need to keep the posts vacant so that we can pay for the temporary staff needed to fill the vacancies," replies T.Aldous.

Whiling away the time

I had a go at a few of the quizzes in Blogthings. You know the type of thing: "Who would direct the movie of your life?" (Ingmar Bergman) "What colour are you?" (Dark grey) "What type of animal are you?" (Dead rabbit) Then I did "Should you quit your job?"

Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 76%

Your job is a total bummer, and probably the worst job you've ever had.
Your boss is a jerk. And your company is probably in trouble.
Think about finding a new job quickly, even if it's just a not-so-great transition job.
You've got to get out of there as quickly as you can!

Should You Quit Your Job?


"You're too cynical," complains T.Aldous.

It always amuses me that the people who complain the most about me being cynical are the ones most happy to tread on the faces of their fellow man.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

You'll never guess what!

"You'll never guess," says Frog.

"What now?" I ask.

"We're having another Big Book Sale."

I am frankly puzzled.

"How's that different from the Big Book Sale we've been having up here for the past three months?"

"That's Helminthdale Library's Big Book Sale, organised by Doreen. The new one's going to be Helminthdale Library Service's Big Book Sale, organised by T.Aldous."

"You're taking the piss."

He wasn't.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Prayers for the faithful

What a thoroughly depressing afternoon.

I've just had a meeting with colleagues from elsewhere in the north of England. This is generally a good thing: they're a nice bunch of people; we have interesting discussions; and it's always consoling to know that we share common problems and aren't just festering in our own private hells.

Unfortunately, things are bloody awful all round. We all have to deal with our local lunatics (for some of us it's chiefs and/or reference librarians; for others it's chiefs and children's; or chiefs and branches)(it's odd how often chiefs feature). This is mostly OK, it's part of the game and adds to the gaiety of nations. The new elements of awfulness are part of a wider, nastier picture. We had our blood-letting last year and still have the gaps in provision and vacancies to show for it. One of our colleagues has had three of his colleagues offered early retirement and is covering for his line manager (sounds familiar!); another finds that their new reorganisation means that there aren't any jobs left for 75% of the librarians but those who choose to remain may be eligible to apply for six posts which might arise from phase three of the restructure. One of our colleagues has been retired early along with his line manager and his line manager's line manager and the people who are standing in for him aren't allowed to go to external meetings in case they compromise local confidentiality issues. We're moving libraries into shared premises in the name of co-location but in reality just finding uses for spare capacity in council buildings regardless of suitability of premises or location. Most colleagues have been doing similarly lately. In one case they've reopened as a Community Information Point; in another as a Learning and Information Centre; another as a Community Learning Centre; another as a Community Reading & Learning Centre; in fact anything other than "library." At one library staff are now generic council workers "doing housing enquiries in between stamping out books," something which sounds horribly like something I successfully argued against in other circumstances fifteen years ago.

The discussion lists this week are full of librarians boasting about not getting their hands dirty with stock selection or stock promotion ("we don't need a local library catalogue"). I can't help wondering how successful Tesco or Wal-Mart would be if they gave up bothering about stock selection. And given the central government push of customer choice (however spurious that choice actually is), I can't see the sense in not promoting local stock locally using web catalogues and web sites as aggressively as possible. Mind you, given the choice between a librarian who can't be bothered doing decent stock selection and leaving the job to a supplier I'd go for the supplier every time. And too many librarians don't give two hoots about the quality or accuracy of their catalogue. Perhaps I've been naive all along.

All in all, I'm not convinced I see much of a future for the public library service in all this.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Spontaneous generation

Seven new boxes in the corridor that ought to be the fire escape. Nothing new there but these are humongous, the size and roughly the shape, of roll-top desks.

"What the hell are these?" I ask Seth.

"I know where five of them are going but not the others," he replies.

"That's not the question I asked."

"I know, but that's the question I'm worrying about."

It turns out that they're display stands for the Books For Sharing collections, of which we have four. A fifth is going to the new Noddy Library as part of the development of this site, so Mary ordered five stands. Somebody amended the order and added the other two. Only one person has the authority to amend an order once Mary's signed it.

"What on earth is she going to do with those two stands?" asks T.Aldous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What a shocking bad hat!

An overheard classic. T.Aldous ambushing a colleague on his last day before three weeks' leave:

"I know you're getting ready to go home and that you're going to be on leave for the next three weeks -- lucky you, I can't remember my leave -- but could you give me the current stock figures for Roadkill Library? I know it's not moving until this autumn but I'm worried that we won't be able to fit all the existing stock in the new library so I need to know how much of each type of stock we're likely to be dealing with. I know it's not ideal asking you now but we need it before you go on leave."

Serves the poor sod right for not buggering off mid-afternoon. Strangely he's not that pissed off, which makes me suspicious.

"You've already got those figures prepared haven't you?"

"The secret of magic is the art of preparation," he replied smugly.

"Is that why you asked me for the under-fives statistics?"

"End of July, you wait," he winked.

The Diary and Doings of a Moist Visitor

Working as we all do backstage in a darkened cellar we generally have no idea of the doings of the weather of the day except when we come in, when we nip out for lunch and when we go home. Our body clocks are all to cock and seasonality has withered on the vine. As, indeed, have we by and large. The good news is that we're less badly affected by the vile weather of the past few weeks than most folk.

Of course we're not entirely ignorant: if we be bothered to care enough we can divine the weather from the signs about us:

Staff room full of open umbrellas
Either it's been raining or it's an art installation.
Not to be confused with: open umbrella in staff toilet, which suggests an unpleasant medical condition.

"Good weather for ducks!"
It's raining.

"Turned out nice again!"
It's raining.

"God, this weather!"
It's raining.

"Isn't it warm today?"
It's raining.

"They said it would be fine today."
It's raining.

"What's it been like round your way?"
It's raining.

"Will you just look at it!"
If said by someone staring out of the staff room window: it's raining.
In any other context: you really don't want to know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Questions, questions

"We need to set up a staff questionnaire that we can keep on running to demonstrate that we're responsive to ideas and suggestions," I'm told. "Can you set something up like that?"

Oh I think so.

Pottering about

There was a bit on the 'Today' programme about a row between Asda and Bloomsbury about the price of the latest Harry Potter book. No doubt we'll soon be getting another "why have you bought all those copies of the book at suppliers' discount when you could have popped round to the supermarket and got them cheaper?" or "why didn't you buy them off Amazon and get them a bit cheaper" letters from a councillor or one of the council's accountants.

The answer to the Amazon question's quite tricky to explain if the person asking the question isn't much fussed about the impact of supply times on CPA-related performance indicators and the potential costs of part-order deliveries. Councillors and council accountants should be much fussed about both these things. (Notice the use of the conditional tense there!)

The supermarket one's easy: you're not going to see 95% of the titles we've got on our shelves in the supermarket, they're not high-volume sellers and so can't compete with tins of beans for shelf space. Of course, if we were only buying occasional bulk orders of best-selling titles then that's precisely what we should be doing (and off-setting the processing costs with the discount). But we're a public library and we don't, which is why we negotiate contracts with book suppliers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The perils of reading

There's always someone worse off than yourself. I guess there are some compensations in having a Chief Librarian who refuses to read things.

An articulator of bones

I'm being provocative:

"So tell me, Frog old fellow me lad, you know how Glass Road's being moved into the school and any library manager you bump into will spontaneously tell you all the plans they have for working with the school: 'We'll get the kids to do this,' 'We'll have to organise some after-school activities,' etc. etc. etc."


"Have any of them actually spoken to you about doing anything with the school and the kids there?"

"Don't take the piss, it's not nice."

Party animals

The girls at Dutch Bend had another Anne Summers party in the weekend. This is a terrifying prospect for those of us with weak stomachs. One of the participants is Elsie Bradlow, one of the Reference Assistants who retired last year. Elsie is a lovely lady but is extremely away with the fairies. Lucy Raindrop, who's covering at Noddy, hosted the party and told me all about it.

"How's Elsie these days?" I asked.

"She's getting worse. She brought me a birthday cake."

"Was it your birthday?"

"No. But she told us to pretend that it was and we ended up having to humour her. We sat around my living room with glasses of wine and boxes of things you don't want to know about singing 'Happy birthday' while she insisted I blow out the candles."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Singing in the rain

It's my own fault, I've no one else to blame. I was reading yet another newspaper article about corporate bonding exercises and I wondered out loud what our corporate song would be.

When I left the staff room there were three people doing Leonard Cohen impressions, singing "We're h-a-p-p-y."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Designs for living

It's the end of another crappy week at work so of course something like this has to pop up in my inbox at 5pm.

More than sense can scan or imagination attain

"I think we should take Lola off the project she's working on and get her to organise the Big Wild Read," says T.Aldous.

"Bronwyn's already got that sorted," says Frog. "And the Big Wild Read started two weeks ago."

The epidermis of poetry

To be a library (trad.)

"You might have read," T.Aldous said
In some untimbered barn,
"It is your fate to relocate
And all that sort of yarn.
With moonlight flits such stock that fits
Will move quite seamlessly.
Then off we'll go and hey presto!
We'll have a library."
He told us. "We'll have a library."

Such stock unfoxed we found we boxed
And labelled each in turn.
Propped up on planks in serried ranks
For whom it may concern.
They stayed that way for many a day.
They festered fruitlessly.
When people say: "Lord, what are they?"
"They're for the library,"
We tell them. "They're for the library."

The ages pass: hay turns to grass
And pigs fly south to nest.
After this wait they set a date:
"Next Tuesday would be best."
So's not to waste any undue haste
They dither endlessly:
"Now, what goes where?" "Not that, not there."
Around the library,
They dicker round the library.

Despite it all it's a close call
With shelved books of a kind.
A slight snafu means we've no clue
As to which stayed behind.
(We later learned when backs were turned
T.Aldous heedlessly
Shuffled the pack and took some back
To the old library
Or Helminthdale, at least some library.)

Hip hip hooray it's opening day
And you know what that means.
A bunch of toffs who soon sod off
And not a hill of beans.
They'll politesse the local press
But as for thee and me
They'll give short shrift. But once adrift
We'll be a library,
Despite it all, we'll be a library.

(A recording of this song is available on the MLA Victor label)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time was, that when the brains were out, the man would die

Seth's lending me a hand with some of the People's Network workstations: it takes two to shift the study carels so that I can access the PC processors and the network points. Along comes T.Aldous.

"So that's where you are! What do you think you'e doing? I want you to move some boxes in Noddy Library."

Then he stalks off. I turn to Seth:

"Just remind me: you are caretaker at Helminthdale Library aren't you? Not Borough-wide shit-shifter?"

"Oh yes," he says with feeling. "And if he's not careful he's going to be shifting Glass Road by himself."

Cooee Mister Shifter!

Seth's not happy. T.Aldous has decided that he wants everything shifting out of Glass Road next week after the old site closes its doors for the last time and everything shifting to the new site. Three problems:
  1. For the past decade Glass Road has been the repository for the old crap that didn't take root at Helminthdale.

  2. The new Glass Road site has no storage space and has two-thirds the shelving capacity of the old site.

  3. T.Aldous is expecting Seth to do it all in one afternoon.
    You have to bear in mind that we've only had two-and-a-half years to plan and prepare for this so we're badly taken off guard. I decide not to wind Seth up any, I don't want him going the way of Lemuel.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Every so often I can keep a straight face.

    "You know that application problem with your web catalogue?"


    "Well the supplier's got in touch with us and he's made some suggestions."

    I bet he has.


    "What on earth are all these boxes doing here?" shrieks T.Aldous. "I expected them to be out of the way by the time I got back off leave. We need to reorganise this workspace."

    "We need to reorganise this workspace," is code for: "I want to budge Frog into the middle of the office so that I can have a waiting area outside my office so that anyone visiting me can sit on settees and have a cup of coffee while they're waiting."
    1. Where are these settees coming from and what budget are they being paid out of?

    2. If people have come over to have a pre-arranged meeting with T.Aldous then he should damn well have the courtesy not to keep them hanging around for half an hour while he prattles on the 'phone with his back to the world.

    3. If we're reorganising this workspace there are a whole heap of higher priorities than his sodding waiting area. Like perhaps somewhere for the Branch Librarians to work, or perhaps something that ensured that Management Group wasn't split over four locations and three floors of this library (teamwork anyone?)

    4. Given his prediliction for commandeering staffrooms and workrooms for private meetings because he can't have them in his office as it looks like a remainder sale in a carrier bag factory how soon before we're all ordered out of the building so's he can have a private meeting on his sofas?

    5. Who's going to be making this coffee then? It was bad enough when he had a secretary but now she's retired and the post gone into T.Aldous' Vacancy Limbo there's nobody left to do it. Clever money's on his asking the Finance Officer to do it because she's not doing anything important like pricing up Book Sale items.

      And that's before we even start asking ourselves the question "what on earth are all these boxes doing here?"

      Morse code melodies

      Jim's getting a bollocking off T.Aldous for all to see and hear in the middle of the open-plan office. He's taking it quite well really, though there were a couple of moments where I noticed his right hand balling up into a fist and the effort of will involved in unclenching and turning the movement into a discursive gesture. In the circumstances it's impossible not to hear the conversation.

      "You had no right to do that. I needed to see what you were planning before anything like that could be done."

      "But we went through it all in a Management Group meeting before Xmas and we agreed that that's what I should do. It's in the minutes, I'm not making it up."

      "Well I don't remember agreeing to it."

      "It's in the minutes. And I've been sending you weekly emails giving you and the rest of Management Group details of progress and asking for feedback."

      "You should know by now that I only ever read emails with red exclamation marks on them. I'm far too busy for the others."

      Jim didn't know that, of course. It'll be interesting to see what he does with the knowledge. Some of us have an archive of hundreds of emails giving T.Aldous exclusive knowledge of what we intend doing whether he like it or not, each one ending

      "Please let me know if you wish any variation on this plan."

      Tuesday, July 10, 2007

      But the folks are not all of them crazy

      Not just us then...

      A Librarian's Guide To Etiquette

      Motive power

      Apparently one of the emails waiting for T.Aldous on his return from Amazonia was one from the Chief Executive asking how many buildings had been released as a result of the library co-location programme that's been running for the past three years. The answer is, of course, none: although we finally decamped from the old place at Noddy and went live in the community centre in March we only finally cleared it out yesterday, despite our being contractually obliged to be out of the place by 30th April. I can't imagine these are related facts.

      And there's certainly no truth in the rumour that T.Aldous knew nothing about it until Warner rang him up to ask why he hadn't been reading his emails.

      Monday, July 09, 2007

      Tote that barge

      Seth's been all day shifting shit at the old Noddy Library. This is the stuff that had been sent here then out to Noddy then back again and then back here and finally shifted out again just before T.Aldous went on leave. The library's got to be cleared out (the deadline for clearance was a couple of months ago) so Seth's been given the use of a van and one of the chaps from the council's shifting gang to get the job done.

      A nice complication to the job is that we can't afford to take all this gear to Helminthdale's council dump as it's far too expensive so they having to drive over to Pardendale, adding seven miles to each of the eight journeys involved. Not helped by the roadworks: Helminthdale has roadworks simultaneously at each and every junction on the outer ring road at the moment.

      Upon his arrival he's met by T.Aldous.

      "You've been a long time about it haven't you?"

      Friday, July 06, 2007

      The power of positive thinking

      Bronwyn and Salome have been doing online book selection since they started their jobs as Branch Librarians in the east side of the Borough. Nancy and Flossie refuse to do online book selection, which means that the Branch Librarians for two-thirds of the west side of the Borough aren't selecting any new stock. When challenged they fall back on the good old

      "We've not had any training."

      The solution is to tell Bronwyn and Salome to do the book selection for those libraries, too.

      The irony is that Bronwyn and Salome haven't had any training and just got on with it. While Flossie and Nancy were in the same training session as Lola this time last year and have conveniently forgotten it.

      Thursday, July 05, 2007


      I've just had my first look at the new Glass Road Library, up round the back of St. Barrabas' Primary School.


      Your library authority moves your library to a new shared location. What will be its unique selling point?
      Having the entrance around the back of the building.
      Hiding the entrance behind the dustbins.
      Blocking the entrance by having service vehicles parked there.
      Providing no customer parking whatsoever.
      Having no signage saying that this is a library.
      Being located at the top of the only hill in the village.
      Having the spring for the local beck arise just above the entrance.
      Having to close the library for to accommodate OFSTED inspectors.
      All of the above.
      pollcode.com free polls

      Wednesday, July 04, 2007

      I don't want that image for my band

      Free Online Dating

      Ah well. The good news is that Readers' Digest have written to say that I may have won a prize.

      More customer feedback

      T.Aldous comes in, flourishing a copy of a letter that's been sent to Warner Baxter.

      "Mr. Jenkinson's sent Warner another letter thanking Lippy for the good work she does for his mother who's housebound,"

      says T.Aldous as if he were passing drawing pins.

      "How many's that he's sent?" asks Frog later.

      "Three now," replies Lippy.

      "How much does he charge?"

      The return of the native

      T.Aldous arrives back from leave the worse for wear for jet-lag. Most of us pretend we haven't noticed he's back. It's probably a forlorn effort to prolong the dream but it's worth a go.

      A rule for sisters

      A plea to the ladies: any time an innocent male asks you why you've got a turkey baster on your desk don't answer the question! Please.

      There are no illusions left for some of us

      Tuesday, July 03, 2007

      Reference and misinformation

      Milton turns up at my doorway.

      "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"

      He's just been having one of his occasional forays into understanding Helminthdale's reference stock policies and needs a wet flannel on his forehead.

      The trouble started when he got a 'phone call from Dutch Bend complaining that they hadn't had an update of their "Jane's Fighting Sailors." He said he'd look into it, secretly balking at paying that much unless there was a damned good reason for it.

      "Is there a copy of Jane's Fighting Sailors here at Helminthdale?" he asked Eileen.

      "Yes," she replies, "but it's an old one. It's not being updated here."

      "Why is Dutch Bend getting an up-to-date copy but not Helminthdale if Helminthdale's the main reference library in the borough?"

      "I don't know; the Acq. team decide on the updates."
      [bollocks said I]

      "When was your last update?"

      "Two years ago."

      "So you've not had a copy on the shelves for two years?"

      "Oh no, it's still there."

      "Hasn't anyone complained about its being out of date?"

      "Oh no. I don't think anyone's noticed."

      "Why on earth is it on the shelf if it's out of date?"

      "Oh, it's used all the time."

      This is wrong on so many levels I can only commiserate and reassure him that the rules of information librarianship seem to have evaded Helminthdale somehow.

      Just fade away

      Having established that we can regain access to our web catalogue on staff PCs by being naughty I now find that some of the pictures on it are missing. I check our Flickr account: all the files are there. It turns out that they're being blocked by the council's Internet Frivolity Filter.

      What I can't understand is why half the images and why those ones in particular. King Kong in drag, posted in March, is OK as is a picture of a courting couple posted in January. A picture of Lord Kitchener, posted on the same day as the courting couple, is blocked, as is a picture of a pencil.

      Someone in the Town Hall has a peculiar idea of frivolity.

      Delusions of adequacy

      Amid great fanfare we are presented with the successor to "Scoring Points By Ticking Boxes" (a thrilling yarn, soon to be a major motion picture). The council's Excellence And Expediency Directorate proudly presents "Bobbing Up: An Excellence Toolkit." I grit my teeth and get to slide 78: "Can we do it? Yes we can!" (oh come on, who's going to invent anything as unbelievable as an eighty-four slide PowerPoint presentation?) Anyway, I got as far as slide 78 before I started rocking to and fro and moaning. My neighbours had curled up into balls on their chairs. Three people at the front (including one of the presenters) fell asleep and a lady at the back had to be given air. All in all a rousing success.

      I get back to the office and dig out my Scoring Points by Ticking Boxes" mantra card. To my utter lack of astonishment I find that the summary of points is exactly the same as the "key outcomes" list in slide 65.

      So at least we'll all be consistent non-achievers then.

      Monday, July 02, 2007

      Quick! We must find a library!

      I've spent the day trawling round libraries in the rain. All for to make one simple change to the desktop at each library, a job that would take literally a minute each time were I allowed to proxy into them from my office. No chance of that as not even the IT helpdesk are allowed that.

      Sodly massed

      "How's Lemuel doing?" we ask Seth. Seth tells us he's doing fine and he'll be out of hospital at the end of the week. Very good, we say:

      "Tell him we've got some boxes for him to shift."