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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Forty Years On

Is it really ten years? Time flies when you're having fun.

Helminthdale is Helminthdale. Still. And forever. There are roadworks on the Penkridge Road, same as there has been this past forty years. The rain it raineth every day. Councillor Donkeyhanger still points at potholes in the road for newspaper photographers.

For all the eternal verities the place has changed. The Monkey's Arms is boarded up and closed, as are The Black Horse, The Red Lion and The Milkmaid's Dagger. By one of those coincidences known only in fiction the only chain store left in town is Chains R Us, which started life as a licensed sex shop but now specialises in the more lucrative trading in Staffordshire pit bull terrier accessories. The bus station, the council bin yard, the Meeting House of the More Peculiar Than You Would Ever Give Credit For Methodists have been bulldozed as part of Phase One of the building of Helminthdale International Airport. You would scarce know the place.

T.Aldous Huxtable, poor devil, has gone on to his final rest. To his credit, he did manage to leave the library service in a better state than he found it, which is no bad thing. The frustration and fury at the opportunities missed along the way must be tempered by comparison with the works of so many of his predecessors and contemporaries. Many of his achievements are history, but at least he had them.

What of the others? Most have moved on or out, though a few remain. Doreen feeds the ducks at Milkbeck Library and Norma is still threatening to unleash the gazebo in the car park at Windscape. And Frog, dear old Frog, still marches on. He must be potty.

Despite the harsh cold winds of Call Me Dave's Austerity Helminthdale Library Service still manages to have a library on every other street corner, though how long it can continue to buck the national trend is anyone's guess. And when the time comes there'll be no going down to The Monkey's Arms for a farewell drink.

Is it really only ten years? It might be Paris in the Edwardian era.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year in pieces

I'm not re-animating this blog. This is a coda or end-piece, or codpiece if you will, to explain why I feel that we have come to a close.

The world of Helminthdale Libraries is become a darker, more savage one than the one I had been chronicling. To be sure, there was always that cruel feral streak of the girls' playground about the place and there were always too many smiling assassins but things have grown appreciably worse as Call Me Dave's austerity measures have hit what was already a basket case of a local economy.

I was having a drink at Bronwyn's leaving do — the latest of many and only the last of this year's — and it was depressing to realise looking around that nearly all the people in the room were historical footnotes, at best, as far as the Library Service was concerned. Including myself.

And the real bloodbath has hardly started: next year, although no libraries are closing there'll be a major cull of front-line staff, books and other resources. Caretaking is already a thing of the past so God alone knows how the buildings will be staying open, what with hardly anyone to staff them and roofs held on with sticky-backed plastic.

For all his many and various faults it's hard to escape the nagging confirmation that the idiot T.Aldous presided over a Golden Age. Sadly, so much of the managed change that could have eased the pain of the new horrors, or even forestalled some of them, were blocked as efficiently and ruthlessly as were all the other grim realities of the new millennium.

But that's all history now.

I can't really bring myself to write about what's happening here. I'd feel like a hospital orderly describing the last days of a dying vagrant. And I'm not up for that.

It's been a great ride and it's given me the opportunity to chat with some lovely people. May Providence look after you. Thank you and goodnight.

I think I'll go home now.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Forever is composed of now

Yet another meeting where librarians tell me that they're too busy to put information on the web.

"It's easier if more than one of you are doing the job," I explain again, "that way you can divvy it up into more manageable workloads."

"But how will we know who's doing which bit?"

"if that's a problem you could always divide the work up thematically."

"That won't do: some themes overlap and some won't fit into the themes."

"Is it really that much of a problem?" I ask.

"The problem is that we won't know if somebody else has already done the job."

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is as clear a statement as to how we got up shit creek as you are likely to read.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I've got me tickling tackle and me nicky nacky noo

Dennis is working with us on a six-month work placement at Umpty Library. Any ideas he may have entertained about libraries being sedate, genteel places have been shot to bits by some of the customers.

"Donny!" shouts Mrs. Tumbleweed, "I'm trying to remember the name of that book I had the other week. I can't remember what it were called but it were about a lass as was taken up the jacksy by a sheikh. It were a Mills and Boon. I have to have them in the large print these days."

Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision

A sign of the times: Maisie, who is one of the gentlest of creatures, has been on the warpath this week because Jack Harry and Milton did some clever last-minute ordering and then made themselves scarce when the time came to authorise the payments. I take a 'phone call from her:
"Are they in?" she asks.

"No," I reply, "can I help?"

"No, it's about that frigging, frigging, frigging, frigging, frigging invoice."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hang out the aspidistras

Mooching round the "all you can eat for a fiver" section of Hannigan's Truss Boutique, I bump into Ken Barmy. His council is very excited because they are to have a pre-nuptial visit from The Royal Couple. Their library overlooks the processionsary parade and they've spent the day being vetted by The Riot Police Of Hearts (P.C. Neddy Strangelove and a team of dog handlers, most of whom have been remanded pending medical reports).

"The Mayor and Corporation will be presenting the happy couple with three pounds' worth of Ann Summers vouchers," he tells me.

They're a couple of months too late in the efficiencies process to be awarded the freedom of the city's public lavatories.

His own white leather toilet seat

It wouldn't be March without a few dozen new chairs in the fire escape corridor...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's special: monkeyhands and chips

"Calling all librarians! Augmented reality app could save librarians hours," says the link.

Given some our librarIans' shall we say tenuous links to reality I think augmentation may be a step too far.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chalet rash

I take a phone call for Milton.

"Sorry, he's on leave this week," I explain.

"That bloke has more holidays than Thomas Cook," mutters the caller who's been trying to talk to him for the past month.

Brutish summer time

They've put the clocks forward in Helminthdale. We're all very worried about That Hitler.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

Ooh, there'll be some heads in Helminthdale this morning...

Yesterday evening we repaired to The Monkey's for Julia's leaving do. And very convivial it was, too. If, as threatened, she ever sets herself up on Facebook there'll be some explaining to do about the photographs.

Ours was not the only leaving do: most of the Engineers' Department was saying its farewells in the billiard room; the benefits advice team in the snug; the business advice team in the dining room; and the adult careers service on the main public bar.

Given the state of the borough before the cuts efficiencies, I can't say that any of this makes me optimistic for the future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood

These are difficult times and there are days when any of us can be a bit high-maintenance. It's Posy's turn all this week and she's going for it in a big way.

To be fair, she ended up being the one having to have the meeting with the bollock who wants us to give him a pile of money to "repurpose the reading library journey."

Thursday, March 24, 2011


You can always tell the approach of the end of the financial year as all the managers disappear like the last of winter's bramblings.

Consequently, there's nobody around to countersign any of the invoice slips for the as-per-bloody-usual last-minute spendings. And nobody to authorise the orders in the first place.

The good news is that this means that the year end process is a doddle because they say so and have never seen any proof to the contrary.

And to be fair, it mostly is. Because they're not involved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spirit messages

I get a 'phone call from Milkbeck Library:

"I'm calling on behalf of the volunteer who's doing the family history session. He can't get any of the People's Network PCs to log onto the network."

Two points here: the person ringing was the member of staff responsible for that day's running of the library, including providing access to the Internet for the public; and it's their job to have logged those PCs on at start of play,


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Infinite similarity

I really am sick and tired of this fucking place.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Consecrating an armadillo for St. Swithin's Day

Receive an email with the latest corporate exhortation to man the galleys for the glory of the nation.

"For fuck's sake, do they think I've nothing better to do?" I explode.

It turns out that on reflection no, I don't.

Trips around the lighthouse

It's going to be an interesting week. Julia's demob happy as it's her last working week before taking the remainder of her annual leave then early retirement. Her resentment at feeling that she was not wanted on voyage is more than tempered by the relief she's feeling now she's had sight of the iceberg.

Most of the rest of the nonsense is ladies sharpening their elbows.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The hand of the world is wounded by its own skill

The council's email servers are struggling because of overcapacity. Which is to say that they're full.

It probably doesn't help that librarians will insist on sending out 15Mb of high-definition photos that they've already put in the library folder on the intranet to 54 colleagues within the library service.

Or that half those colleagues don't check their email...