Thursday, 29 August 2013

Oh my, what a ride!

I was lucky enough to get tickets for the final event of Neil Gaiman's 'The Ocean at The End of The Lane' signing tour, it was up here (well almost) in Inverness, only a two and a half hour ride south of me.
The venue had 400 seats and sold out in such a short time it wasn't funny, I was just so lucky to see it when it was advertised. I had planned to take my oldest who adores his work but other pressures meant he couldn't come, so my daughter jumped at the chance and we went south.

I am a big fan of being early so we got to town in time to get some food and wander a bit as well as drop into Waterstones, she wanted a hardback copy of Coraline but we couldn't find one, so she took my paper version with her. I offered her a copy of the new book but she wasn't sold on it. We planned our arrival time and how long we thought it would take! ho hum I should have read the tickets closer, doors opened at 6.30 pm not started at then! so we were very early, humm very very early but we chatted to others in the queue and got more excited as time passed.

I saw folks I knew who had come down and up and over to see the event, I knew more than a dozen of the crowd well and more to wave and nod at, and best of all every one was chatty, welcoming and relaxed. One friend who brought her family down had her husband who was looking a bit like a fish out of water! he sidled up to me and whispered that the queue was 'made of Weirdos' to which I said yes wasn't it good! He wasn't impressed and stood like a spooked horse forced to stand in line with strange folk. My daughter and I giggled, as did his wife and daughter.

The doors opened but as we all had numbered tickets to seats there was no crush or push, very civilized and fun, I found our seats and went to get drinks, had mine bought for me by friends at bar which was nice, then got back to find daughter had moved us, to the right seats! My state of mind was suffering already. We found the row behind had other dear friends who we would have looked for if we hadn't seen them, but instead we chatted about mad things for the time it took for all to get in, get drinks and get settled and finally after 7.30 pm the stage lit up. In our chat I showed her my 'new' business cards, and she showed me hers (not like we don't live less than 5 mins apart!) and the people next to her asked questions and she ended up giving out cards! See mad things!

The stage was our focus as we first had the local Waterstones guy on doing the introductions and then the interviewer and Neil! My hands hurt from clapping and no one else existed. Neil read a passage from the book, we were transferred to another place, to a different time, when burnt toast was so much more important than lost cars and missing comics was a major crime, so what if it was found under a dead body, when could he get it back! This later led to a discussion in the queue for signing about Peanut Butter and when you got it in the UK easily, oddly I didn't find this an issue as the time for the book wasn't fixed, wasn't long past or when the rationing was or any such time limit. Also got daughter thinking about chocolate spread and I had to buy her some  on the way home.

The reading took no time at all and for ever, but we sat mesmerized for ages, He read it as he wrote it, the right pace and the right emphasis, always makes such a difference to hear a writer read their own work. Reading aloud is a lot harder than most people think, getting the pace and feeling right has been the downfall of many a reader. The interviewer had a series of questions he asked then threw it out to the audience, one of the first was what did he read as a child! Oh bliss another like me who read any and every thing, no one told me Frank Herbert wasn't for me at age 7 or 8, I too read Conan and other 'adult' books. In the back door to the Denbenham's in Exeter they had a remaindered basket, books reduced and marked down, they had yellow pen on the ends, or in some cases a chunk taken out so you knew at the desk at a glance it came from the cheap bucket. It was full of unknown and very much pulp fiction, my parents let me have a book out of the basket occasionally, and for me this was a dip into a magical world. I loved science fiction and fantasy so anything with a space ship or a dragon or a multicoloured planet view always got chosen. My world was formed by these windows of life lived by others. I long thought I was an oddity, my friends read Enid Blyton, I read Lovecroft! I rode with Haggard, struggled with Tarzan, sailed Westward Ho! I didn't know they were for adults I just knew they were fun, maybe I wasn't alone.

Neil told how he didn't mean to write a novel, how it was a short story for Amanda his wife, how he took longer than she was away to write a story for her while she was away. We listened as he explained how she liked this but not that and how he had written it for her likes and hadn't meant it to be  published book, until they saw it and loved it. We traveled with him on his journey and laughed and cringed with him, I was near the back but felt like I was just on the edge of his circle, he was talking to me. The questions from the floor were so good and such high quality that I shelved my rather silly question. The girl next to us, who we had chatted too when she sat down due to her amazing purple hair! a truly wonderful colour! asked how he felt letting what was a personal story almost a love letter out in to the world. How he felt sharing it with us all. his reply was so sweet and helped understand more of what he wrote it for.

He was asked what he wished he had written, and he spoke of reading the lord of the rings and how he kept a copy with him so if he slipped through a time space gap to an alternate universe where every one was the same but no Tolkien how he planned to get it published in his own name. And being only 12 at the time how he would then cover his tracks and kill the person who had helped him to keep the secret. The ideas for Coraline were so good, where he got them and how he put together different ideas at different ages, and again I wasn't to only kid who worried that parents would move, and forget to take them, while at school, only while he thought how to cope, I used to rush home to make sure I caught them! Daughter refers to her boy friends mother as her other mother! so we had a good giggle at the idea of button eyes and plans to defeat them.

He spoke of Neverwhere and how he has written a sequel/short story for the first time in 20 years, and how the idea of re-visiting is becoming more likely the more he thinks about it. He loved the Radio Four production and it had re ignited his love of the work and doing more of it since. He said that he wanted to write about the lost invisible people in London, the ones no one looks at in the street, but that no one would read a book that raw so he looked at the world we don't see under our very noses and how you become invisible and lost. He said that people have come up to him since and said since they read Neverwhere they have become more aware of people in the street and started giving money and time and respect to the 'invisible' people. I read an article about people with disabilities the other day which pointed out they are people first not a disability first! and that is true of so many groups in life.

He spoke for ages and my sore hands got another work out at the end, mind you we also got a smile when Stuart Kelly the interviewer fluffed his name. Called Neil, Ian and then had to change it fast. The queue then formed for the book signing, now most of the 400 people there had their books to be signed, Though I did see kindles, audio books, and strangely even a hair brush! in the signing queue. They had us filing round the hall, up the stairs  along the balcony and through the rooms to signing, and then out. They took small children, disabled and elderly first so they didn't have to wait or stand in the crush, one guy behind us kept getting so close he stood on our feet! and he was tall and big and my daughter was small and intimidated, but most was good natured and fun, we chatted to our in the line and one point we saw the film crew filming us so we waved, well two of us did to the embarrassment of the rest :-) much fun.

Time passed and I can only say how good he was, he signed until we were all done, he kept going no matter what and took the time to see us. He liked the worn books, and the read copies, he draw little creatures and things for the people, he made my daughters night when he drew her a little mouse in the Coraline book, she had the graphic novel and the previous person with one had lots of space and he drew a mouse pic, but daughters didn't have space and she was so upset, he heard her and when hers came out he drew a little mouse in the gap. He also wrote Dream in her copy of Ocean, which she hasn't let out of her grasp and went to bed with last night (or early this morning). At this point he had been signing for over an hour and had more than an hour left to go. So nice. He signed my book, and at the moment in time he saw you, to give each of us this attention left us quite giddy.

We came out on the street full of wonder and giggles, clutching our books too hyped to relax which was good as by the time we got out of town it was after eleven at night meaning we wouldn't get home until 1.30 am. Even having had just over 5 hours sleep I can honestly say it was an amazing night, Thank you to Waterstones and their staff who made it easy to worship, thank you to Neil for allowing us to worship, and also to the Ironworks who's venue allowed us all to see and hear easily.
Also if you look at the last picture you can see the kindle cover and hair brush waiting to be signed!

Monday, 26 August 2013

What do you mean its not Monday!

Who took my week? First week back to school and I am already days behind, I am sure this was supposed to be Monday!

Oh wait it is, and now I am a week behind, I shall worry about the gap another time.
I have 5 classes of first year library skills to start, they are timetabled for this week and once done I can look beyond them, I still have to copy the main sheet they take away and get out the boards and things I use to help them. I need at least a week to get myself sorted but have less than 24 hours to my first class. Years ago I used to have two double lessons in the old timetable, that is 40 minutes times by 4 so 160 minutes in total, I spent 30 on intro, and 50 on fiction and how they are shelved and how to find them. I then had 20 minutes on why we stored non fiction differently and then 50 minutes to go over the Dewey and then 10 to let them wander and get paper work done for them. Due to time pressures and timetable changes my current crop will get 55 minutes on all that! but what will happen is I will gloss over the fiction and deal with that ongoing, I shall focus on practical Dewey and get them thinking subjects and like headings and then I shall do it all again after the bell goes! I have been into classes and given the intro's, I have already rolled out paper work! and have the hope to finish after they leave. Hurry hurry, no one wants to lose time from their own teaching, and English have an vested interest in them getting running in the library asap!

I have been chasing things this week, figures for a budget for the new build! data for the profiles, dates for the new accommodation in Thurso, dates for the MOT for the vans. My world is emails and phone calls, my sleep is dreams of excel sheets and proforma's, My to do list has so many things dependent on returns and information back I am in hurry up and wait mode! Another joy is the send of month information, the forms to make sure all get paid right, the expenses and stats, the hours open vs hours due to open! All due by the month end which is Saturday!

I am reading a draft of a book at the moment and I will be sharing it when it is finally published, I feel very privileged to read it in a raw form and I have made notes ongoing what catches my eye and what doesn't fit!
In a similar vein I saw this post in the history girls about words, I love how language changes and how the past words mean different things, I like how a word in my parents childhood is no longer so biting and critical and I love the idea that naughty means a tap on the wrist now but meant a whole different thing of wickedness in Shakespeare's time. I often wonder what future will think of our own words and usage. Will the really bad misspellings of the now become the accepted of the future? I saw these posters and wanted them, sadly the strong language means It isn't fully acceptable here.

I am awaiting the info to send my proxy vote for the latest round of cilip guess the new name game! No no I am not becoming cynical but the latest video was a little disconcerting, we are professionals and one of the issues the name change was to address was to find a way to acknowledge it, but then I realise this that is not Cilip done and quiet frankly talks down to me. Few who follow all the to and fro need to be told the details so dryly, and by a professional from another profession! Those who may be new to this deserve to hear from our own people in Cilip what is happening, I felt a bit sorry for the guy who was pushed over a parapet to be a figure head or scapegoat, which wasn't needed, and not appreciated. I am not saying we shouldn't change nor that the proposed name is wrong, just that for an information group we are a bit pants at sharing.

I finish with a quick picture of my curious cat, asking what I am doing? With her little Ginger mask and cute white paws! She will be waiting for food when I get home. And I hope I now have some idea what days it is! um Tuesday?

Monday, 12 August 2013

No wait, it is a return to Normal!

The last few weeks have done wonders for my soul, days of getting up when I woke, going for a walk and just sitting still. The alarm went off this morning and I felt I had been dumped in cold water! The day was started, I actually managed to get up and out within the time planned and got to work with time in hand. The inbox was waiting and my white board is up full of reminders and job lists! Ring here, email there, get that done for then etc.
 The paths of Devon seem to be a long way away now, the physical distance eclipsed by the mental distance. I need to be back at work and in work mode, my brain needs to be firing on all cylinders, but the wonderful few weeks of no pressure, no need, tomorrow will do, seems to be just waiting for me to step back into but is too far away. I am checking and getting all my library skills classes sorted and ready, I have a pile of lovely new books to process and get on the shelves! Even a new one I won called the 5th wave! which I am so looking forward to.

I did a small detour in my journey home and collected all the Highland Schools books from Target Who and have been delivering or dropping at the van delivery place all the different bundles. This is a great idea and I think any one who is giving school books should be applauded! If I can do my bit by collecting them and dropping them, well that's even better.

I was reading my blogs I follow the other day when I came across this one and its story. Now I might add I love Ripplescrafts and their lovely wool! but she has raised the problems that Woolywormhead is having. Many years ago when I first came to internet shopping and was very tentative I ordered some hand dyed wool form a lass who loved wools, I kept a loose contact and bought a few wools from her, she then chose to move from dyeing to designing and I bought the odd hat pattern, and time past.Her community and world is now being threatened, I could wax lyrical and thump on tables but all I ask is you have a look and read for yourself about what is happening. 

Another blog I have been following also not libraries unless I am looking for an odd thing to celebrate is the blog of days, which is a daily blog telling you what tomorrow is in celebration of, I did love the middle child day last week and singer sewing machine day :-) The guy who writes also writes as Curmudgeon and occasionally misses the odd post, but overall it posts most days and makes my giggle.

The new name for Cilip is out and it still hasn't solved the problem, Here in Scotland we have (had) a system for the education department to support schools, that included emails and forums and space to share good practice, the system is called 'Glow' it doesn't stand for anything, isn't a short form or the initials, and means nothing special. But all the kids know it, know what it means and use it. I am not suggestion we rename us something random like the light keepers or gatekeepers or some other semi daft idea but I am needing to fall in love with the new suggestion yet...
Just a final shot of Devon, this yellow cottage was owned by a little old lady called Gladys who my mum used to go up and down to in her final years, but it never looked as good as it does now :-). The village had a scarecrow competition and their entry is in the top window.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Dreamy Devon

I am having fun getting online, but that has been the only problem with being in the sunny and restful Devon. The sun has been almost too much, but the rain has been welcome. I have been taking pics and walking, and more walking! Even spent some nights under canvas on the Isle of Purbeck, wandered and enjoyed, and wished I had packed more chairs! The sun on the sea, the blue blue skies, I have no need of work or being at home (yet).

I am now in the last few days of away time and I am starting to wonder what is awaiting me, I have been and looked in on my emails but there are many, and my patience is not needing the challenge. I am checking my online world in the pub down the road and have nearly finished my pint. My teens will be asking 'what's for tea!' and my latest wash load will need hanging out. I will be posting more when I get back and in the groove but until then I shall go back to my restful sunshine and my dreamy Devon.

I can recommended the Norden campsite which was fab, not expensive and great facilities! I will get pictures up when I get a computer which connects and takes my sd card :-).