The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

An evening with Colin Dexter

Tuesday was a good evening. The library had organised an author visit and myself and Steve went along to meet Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse books. We had a great time. Unlike some previous authors, he could hold his audience's attention, and was really entertaining. Although we both got the feeling the talk he did was a well practiced one, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. He was full of tales of his exploits during his promotional tours around the UK, which sounded like quite an experience.
I found the bits where he talked about how he approached writing more interesting though. Every author goes about it differently, and his approach, to write in the pub with a couple of pints of real ale each night seemed a thoroughly sensible one! It obviously worked for him as all his novels have been bestsellers! His idea of taking a real life experience and then twisting it was good. His first three novels in the Morse series seemed to be based around experiences he or one of his friends had had, with the lip reading in The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn being quite a personal one for him since he is deaf in the left ear (and not far off in the right)
Everyone seemed to have a great time. It was a shame there wasn't really more time, as he barely touched on his involvement with the TV series, as the audience seemed to want to hear more about the writing. We'll have to try and catch him again, so when he asks what we want to hear we can shout for TV anecdotes!
One of the best visits the library has organised so far. There's rumours of Iain Banks visiting later in the year... now that will be one night I wouldn't miss.

Current Book: A Life of Surprises: short stories
Current Music: Paddy Kingsland: Doctor Who: Full Circle
Current Illness: Lousy stinking cold

Monday, March 27, 2006

Haircuts and other matters

I got my haircut at lunchtime. It's always a bit odd to see all the grey hair falling on my lap and realise it's mine... I'm coming to terms with it slowly. I should think myself lucky that I'm not losing it. I may be thinning a little on top, but it's not receding, which is good. Anyway, the haircut wasn't bad. I never quite know what to expect. I went for the standard no 1 round the back and sides and short and spiky on top, and it seems to have worked out well this time... sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes its left too long on top and gets too long to spike successfully, sometimes It just looks rubbish from the start, but today's I rather like, even if I've been wandering what the nice smell that's following me around is, realising an hour or so after that it's the product they used to spike my hair. I can't work out what it smells of this time. Last time it was oranges. Ah well, I don't suppose it matters much since I'm too tight to pay lots of money for hair products!

We've started to make our way through the massive Shakespeare boxset that we bought earlier this week. Apparently the correct term for watching all the Shakespeare plays is a Bardathon. Anyway, I'm digressing. We decided to watch them in original broadcast order (these are the complete Shakespeare plays that the BBC produced between 1978 and 1985), so Romeo and Juliet was first up. It was very good. People say that Shakespeare is difficult to follow. I think it's difficult to read but watching performances of the plays is different. providing it is played well the language and meaning is easy to ascertain. We certainly got really involved. I think it helped having a play we both know quite well, it remains to be seen how we cope with Richard II next week. If we enjoy each one as much as this one, then this will have been a very worthwhile purchase.

Its going to be a busy week. The library has Colin Dexter coming to visit to do a talk tomorrow night, which we're off too, Wednesday is swimming (we managed 36 lengths last week!), Thursday is my brother's birthday and Friday we're off to see my cousin in Stevenage before going to Si and Simon's for the weekend. We haven't had a week like this for a while. I hope Steve doesn't get too stressed. he tends to when we have a lot on. One things for sure, I don't think I'm going to get much done on my dissertation this week. Ah well, there's always next week.

Current Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
Current Music: Jim Noir: Tower of Love
Current Big Finish Adventure: Doctor Who: Timeworks by Steve Lyons

Saturday, March 25, 2006

More Echoes...

Just a week to go now until the cast finally hear Echoes of the Protii. I can't wait. I'm pleased to hear that we're doing well for orders so far. This is the best thing of all, that we're doing something we've all enjoyed with the proceeds going to charity.
As I've written elsewhere, my family are very grateful to Great Ormond Street for everything they've done for Luke and Annabel over the past few years. It's nice to be able to give something back. The proceeds are all going into my sister and brother-in-law's fundraising effort for their forthcoming parachute jump. They more than any of us know the great work that Great Ormond Street have done. Their fundraising is going well, with several great prizes being donated by local firms for their raffle (including a Dyson cleaner!), and with the proceeds of the CD, they should be well on their way to making the £800 target they need to do the jump.

Again, for anyone interested in obtaining a copy of Echoes of the Protii, you can get more information here:
More information about Great Ormond Street Hospital can be found here:

Friday, March 24, 2006

More about the training morning!

Due to popular demand, I present more great things that happened during our training morning. Firstly, as reported the morning began with the director of our department telling us just how lucky we are to not have libraries closing down in the Borough, and then to remind us how committed the council is to keeping it's permanent staff. So all those poor casual workers, who filled in at a moments notice over the last few years are now out in the cold... actually nothing has been said to them about the lack of work, after a couple of high profile settlements made through the union/ tribunals recently... they're afraid more might sue them! At least this guy had an interesting voice.
Next up our beloved head of service, who, in a green jacket at least one size too big for her, told us how great it is that we are having these meetings (failing to mention how she'd disbanded them a few years back) and that it's a real step forward for the service, like the restructure. She told us of all the great things that have happened in the library service in the last ten years (no mention of anything controversial, of course) and then invited us in groups of 6 to plan her strategy for the next 10 years by getting us into groups to come up with good ideas. Our team was full of useful ideas... they'll never happen.

After tea and banter and yawns, the local councillor with special responsibility for libraries came to tell us about his recent trip to see the new library just built in... can you guess... I bet you can't... I bet you best guess isn't even close... yes... SINGAPORE! He went to visit the new national library in Singapore. It's on 5 floors you know! He failed to tell us anything vaguelly useful about it, like how they issue books, do archiving, how many visitors it gets a year, but he did tell us how he got to go out for lunch with the head of the library, who wouldn't let him pay. He even had a photo or two to show us from his visit. Of course, he went on tell us, at length, there wasn't really much that this had in common with the Borough's libraries... oh really? I am shocked!
He couldn't hold his audience, he droned rather than spoke and his hair was badly dyed...
The head of the service natuarlly thought he was superb and thanked him for his informative talk. Compared to the information she passes to her staff, it was full of detail.
Oh yes, a fun morning was had by all!

I just feel sorry for the people who made the effort to come in specially for it... they won't be doing that next time.

Current Music: Queen: Killer Queen
Current Book: Doctor Who: Fear Itself by Nick Wallace
Current Supreme Commander: Servalan

Thursday, March 23, 2006

...And relax

Yesterday was the first day for ages and ages where I could just have a day off to relax. It was fantastic! No stress, no having to do anything, just myself to please and it was much needed. In many ways I can't wait for the course to finish so that I can have this sort of time back. My days off over the last two years have been filled with the need to study and write assignments and the like, so it'll be great once it's all over and can have my life back again!
Still, on the plus side I did score 80% on my last assignment, the one written when I had the flu, so I'm feeling very happy! I don't think I've scored that highly on a piece of University work, so I'm really pleased. :)

This morning we were subjected to the first library training morning. This seemed to consist of people coming in to tell us how lucky we are in this service, as things are so much worse everywhere else, so don't complain. Funny, I don't think they thought we'd see through their clever strategy, but then they always underestimate us! It used up a couple of hours and there were some nice biscuits, so hey, it wasn't a total loss!

Current Doctor Who: Robot
Current music: Blur: Strange News From Another Star
Current sweets in sweetie drawer: Jelly Babies

Friday, March 17, 2006

We had a very pleasant evening with Grandma yesterday. She's staying with Mum and Dad for a couple of days on the way back from her 6 week trip to New Zealand. It sounds like she had a wonderful trip (despite the bizarre actions of my Uncle and Aunt, who she stayed with) and she looks really well and happy at the moment.
I sometimes wonder if she suspects I'm gay. It's such a difficult thing. I don't want to tell her in case it upsets her and she finds it hard to accept, because I don't think that's fair. Of course, she might be fine about it and surprise us all, but I don't know that it's worth taking the risk. Last night she did give Steve a kiss as she left, which seemed odd under the circumstances (since he is just "my friend"), but maybe I'm just reading too much into it all and looking for patterns that aren't there? Who knows.
Anyway it's been lovely, as always to spend some time with her. I've been very lucky to be a part of a young family, meaning that I've still got one active Grandparent left. I've spent a lot of time with them over the years and I'm glad of that. I miss Grandad though, even though I didn't see him all that often, I miss the fact that he's not around. He was a very special man.

Current mood: Thoughtful
Current music: Blur: Beetlebum
Current Doctor Who Reference Book: I, Who:2

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Last night we finally resumed swimming. We made a decision at the start of year to try and keep up with it better than at the end of last year, and would you believe it, last night was only the second time we've made it to the pool this year. With illness, trips away, more illness, tiredness, and some other excuses, we simply havn't had a chance to get round to it, so it was really good to be able to find we had no excuses and had to go last night!
We managed 26 lengths, which isn't bad. By the end of last year we were up to 40, but it's going to take us a little while to get up to that level again. I'm not a strong swimmer, and with the added problem of my dislocating shoulder I do worry about exercising (and that's another reason for me not to go the gym!) but the swimming seems to do me good and get me to use the shoulder a bit more than I would normally. I still can't do proper backstroke, because that movement really doesn't help the shoulder, but I seem to get along ok. Just got to remember how to do front crawl without ending up with a mouthful of chloriney water!

Current book: EF Benson: Lucia Victrix
Current Music: Agnetha Faltskog: My Colouring Book
Current words of dissertation proposal: 2345

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dissertation Ideas

I've just done another couple of hours on the proposal for my dissertation. Having avoided doing one for my degree, this is all pretty new to me. Even the course over the summer didn't really prepare me too well for doing this. At the moment I've just re-written the literature review after seeing a slide on preparing it and realising I'd fallen into the all the "Don't do this" traps. Still, at least I realised in time and it hasn't taken too much work to get it up to a better standard.

Despite these problems I'm finding I can't wait to actually get started on the research itself. I'm looking at the needs of older users within public libraries, as I think, certainly within our own service they're a group of users who tend to get neglected, despite them being the group who use the service most frequently. There's much we can do for them, if only there was the interest. I've got the joy of questionnaires and interviews to come (I don't think I'll be able to shut most of the older people I'll be interviewing up, but I'll deal with that when we get to it!) but it's going to be quite interesting I think.

Current words completed of dissertation proposal: 1415
Current music: Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit#
Current plans for dinner: Fish and Chips

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Sometimes you find yourself being selfish, despite not wanting to be. I suppose I just wanted a evening where I come home from work and I'm not forced to go and do anything. As I embark on the dissertation (and it is beginning, slowly as I do my initial literature review for the proposal) I can see a lot of my time being eaten into, and just for now I don't want to feel like I've got to do things. It's very difficult to find a good balance to it all. I know that I have to come home and do some work every night just to keep it going, but balancing that with everything else that needs doing is often tricky... I need to eat, to sleep, talk to Steve... all of that and more, and trying to fit it all together so nothing suffers is hard.
So I'm not going to the pub tomorrow night and I don't want everyone coming back here after they've been to the pub, because I'm tired enough as it is, and I know they'll wake me up however quiet they try to be... and bless them, they're never quiet! At least I said something this time... I should have one the other week when they were here for the weekend when I had flu. I suppose I should stand up and say something more often, and not let myself get cross inside for tring to keep everyone happy, but, as I said, it isn't easy!

Just so this isn't a total rant, I really enjoyed watching the video to Steam by Peter Gabriel... it's nothing special, but the big hat and his smile were quite infectious! Great stuff. That DVD turned out to be a bit of a winner overall, and I'm looking forward to watching the one Dad lent us. He seemed to enjoy it very much!

Current DVD: Peter Gabriel: Play
Current Mood: Selfish
Current favourite colour for big hats: Purple

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Cotswolds

Having finished the marvellous Air, I've now started another of the enjoyable Agatha Raisin books by M.C. Beaton. These are a series of crime novels, set in the Cotswolds, with a retired, bitchy middle aged heroine, Agatha Raisin who since moving from London has found herself embroiled in murder investigations around the sleepy Cotswold village of Carsely. These are great books, very easy to read with engaging mysteries and a great set of characters, especially Agatha who is really well drawn.
That said, the latest one in the series, The Terrible Tourist has turned out to be something of a disappointment so far. I think it's that old mistake of taking your characters away from their natural setting. Agatha works so well within the confines of the village, especially in her interactions with the other inhabitants, that it doesn't feel right to follow her on holiday in Cyprus. Maybe it's just because I haven't got to the murder yet!
This novel, more than the others, also suffers from massive info-dumping in the text. It's as if MC Beaton was so desperate to show her research that she just wrote paragraphs of information in that slow the book right down... show not tell! You'd think she'd know that!

I've just made a really lovely cup of tea! Sometimes you get one that's far better than any you've had for ages... this is one of them. I think it's fair to say that over the last few months I seem to have adopted the McCow approach to making tea: always leave the teabag in the mug and come back to it a while later and it seems to have paid off. Don't tell him I said so though!

I'd really like a hot cross bun right now, but I'll stick with my banana for the moment!

Current Book: M.C. Beaton: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist
Current music: Simpson/ Derbyshire: Chromaphone Band
Current Sandwich Filling: Liver sausage

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wrapped up in books

The very best books you read make sure you find yourself completely wrapped up in their world, so much so that you don't really want to leave. I'm finding that with Geoff Ryman's Air at the moment. I enjoyed his last novel, Lust a great deal too, particuarly the way that he twisted and mangled reality throughout, but in a very thougtful way. 253 was a trickier read, but at the same time a very cleverly crafted book.
In Air, he's very carefully crafted a world a few years in the future that seems plausible. Setting the novel in a corner of China takes it away from the world most of us know already and through that, he's able to deal with the fear of technology that is found in people who've never had access to it before. With that we also get the fears of a global culture swallowing up the centuries of tradition that have been built up in the village, something that seems very pertinient.
I've really enjoyed the way that Mae has the two parts of this argument inside her ( I won't reveal how for now, as there's a certain someone who might want to read this book soon!) and how she has to deal with trying to make the village ready for the sweeping changes that are coming to the lives of it inhabitants.
The characters are extremely well drawn, and although I haven't quite finished it yet, this is, I think, one of the best novels I've read for a while. Highly recommended.

Casting news for the second series of Doctor Who has brought a wave of panic to PS today, and reminded people of the "horrors" of celebrity casting seen in the 1980s. Personally I find I don't much care either way. I'm willing to keep an open mind and see what he does with the role before I judge him. Of course, as we all know, fandom is a conservative place, and they'll judge things before they even know what they're like. Some things never seem to change a great deal.

We had some very happy news last night. Our good friend Jody gave birth to a son yesterday morning, and so we're really pleased for Paul, Jody and Tabby. Congratulations! Hope we get to meet him soon!

Current music: Super Furry Animals: Juxtaposed With U
Current mood: Happy
Current words completed on dissertation proposal: 560

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Echoes of the Super Furries

Isn't it a great cover? Well done Pip Madeley!

Echoes of the Protii is an audio adventure based on a story written by myself and my good friend Si Hunt. Si has always had ambitions to make an audio version of it, and so only two and a bit years since the original story was written we recorded it on a very hectic day in January. I won't tell the full story of its creation, as this will pre-empt Si's forthcoming articles on it all, but I can say we had a great deal of laughs writing it originally and much fun was had recording it. I can't wait to hear it at the start of April. More details on the adventure can be found here:

It's a grey and rainy Tuesday here. On the up side the heating has been repaired in the library now, but on the downside it's now sweltering in here as they can't control the timer so it's either freezing or hot... we can't win. Ah well, I suppose we're used to that! Today has brought the usual timetabling cock ups which has meant a member of staff is supposed to be in two places at once. Honestly, does no-one ever check these things before doing the time table? It's such a simple thing to get right... or so you'd think!

I was listening to the Super Furry Animals on the way to work today. Despite the rain that made me smile. They're a terribly underrated band, who deserved to do a lot better with their last two albums than they have done. I still can't believe that there hasn't been a second single released from Love Kraft. There are so many great songs that deserve a wider audience than they're getting right now. Frequency for one, which has been a big favourite of mine since the album came out. They're probably my favourite band these days, as even 7 albums in, they haven't made a duff one. That doesn't happen very often.

Current music: Super Furry Animals: Ice Hockey Hair
Current Weather: Wet, Grey and Windy
Current Fruit: Bananas and Oranges

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Unlikely Passion

It's funny, but I never saw this new passion coming. Over the last few months I've found myself becoming passionate about my job! I rarely get myself involved in things, mostly because I've always been a bit of a coward when it comes to standing up for myself, but I've found I've become more and more of a rebel against the management of our library service over the last few months.

We're going through a staff restructure at the moment. Actually, we're living with the results of the restructure at the moment, and it's not working as well as it should. The problem is none of the management want to listen to our concerns. They ignored them through the consultation process and they're ignoring them now. We've got a staff that is stretched to it's limits trying to make it work, but we don't seem to get the support we need in return.
Now, I don't think it's too much to ask that they address our concerns (particularly as it's backed up with plenty of evidence) in their review, but because our library assistant jobs have not substantially changed (on paper, the reality is somewhat different) we're being denied the chance to talk to human resources about the change and my efforts to bring the concerns to a big staff meeting to be held later in the month have so far been met with the usual stony silence? What can you do? It's a job I realy enjoy, but we're having the best bits of it worn away by staffing shortages and lack of time to get anything other than our normal duties done. It's the customers who suffer, as they simply do not get the level of service they deserve... but then the management couldn't really give a toss about them.

We'll see how it all progresses, and in the meantime I'll keep the pressure on and hope it does some good!

Current music: Kate Bush Aerial
Current Doctor Who: The Mind Robber
Current temperature in the Library: 14 c

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Welcome to my amazing world

Is my life worth chronicling I ask myself?

Well, I've been writing it up for over 10 years now, and found that my handwritten diaries were getting less and less use as time went on as I spent more time on the PC... so, of course, a blog is the ideal replacement. Here we are then... welcome to my amazing world.

So who am I?

I'm Simon Hart, I'm 30 years old, I'm 6ft 4 tall with greying black hair and I'm a library assistant in a busy public library. I have a wonderful boyfriend who makes me laugh a lot, I love Doctor Who (indeed I can't really remember a time when I didn't; it's been a part of my life for that long) and many other cult TV shows. I love all sorts of music, with my big all time favourite being the work of Neil Finn and Crowded House, who people seem not to know until you mention he wrote the song "Weather With You" and then they nod and say "Oh yeah, he's great." He is great!

So here we are then. I've ended up buying a house with my boyfriend just round the corner from where I grew up after swearing that would never happen and you join me in a stable and happy part of my life. Whether that makes for exciting reading remains to be seen, I can't promise much but I'll do my best!

Current book: Air by Geoff Ryman
Current Doctor Who: The Invasion
Current music: The Best of Elton John 1970-2002