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, August 16, 2007

The cesspits of Doctor Who fandom.

Sometimes in our cosy and nice little corner of the Internet, it's easy to forget that there are Doctor Who fans out there that give us all a bad name. The fans who are never satisfied with any of the stuff that's created in the name of Doctor Who, fans who are unwilling to see any other point of view but their own, fans who cry out vendetta when other people argue with them... fans who think it's 1989 all over again, when fandom fought among itself. It didn't do any good then and sometimes it feels as if some fans haven't learnt a thing in all those years where everyone generally got along, united in the fact that the show was dead on TV.

Well we got reminded of that this week. Oh yes. A poster cried out that there'd been a "two year vendetta" aimed at him by Si, after Si laughed (quite naturally) at the suggestion they should make the BF mini-series Dalek Empire for TV. Funny how through the proceeding two years he'd never thought to mention this vendetta to anyone at all. He used to easy length reviews of stories and then get cross if no-one bothered to read them, but if they actually did, but disagreed with him, he wouldn't actually argue his point- he was more likely to slink off quietly or tell people they were wrong... anyway, he had his strop and was ever so nasty about Si. I stepped in and moderated it and probably didn't help a great deal, as I didn't really help Si out very much and we all read his frankly bizarre list of complaints. We'd heard it all before... cliques, nastiness... nothing new there. He came on ranted, ranted in a private message to me and then pissed off elsewhere to rant and rave some more.
Reading the ranting on The Anorak Zone was an eye opener. That forum seems to exist to complain about RTD's Doctor Who for all the things (in the eyes of its posters) isn't: adult drama, gritty, serious... oh you know, all the usual things people think Doctor Who should be, but isn't. It's a grim and nasty place, more so because that's where they go to complain about us! Well a couple of us anyway. Poor old Si seems to attract personal attacks, with several posters over there bearing a grudge against him... more perplexing was the mention of a certain member of our mod team and his wife, who'd been singled out for similar treatment. Quite honestly, he's one of the nicest people you could ever meet (not that I actually have, but I have a good idea he's as lovely in real life as he is online) (and actually, so is Si, one of my favourite people in the whole world) so the attack was jaw droppingly shocking! I was flabbergasted!
Steve would like to take the fight to them, but I'm not sure it's a good idea. Let them fester in the cesspool of a forum together and grow old and (even more) bitter. They deserve Tom, he'll fit in perfectly.

In much nicer stuff, I survived last weekend's fest mostly by reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and playing with Charlie and doing the barbeque. Charlie is lovely, despite weeing on the living room carpet the other night. It's good to be able to give him some attention, as I think he's been rather neglected the last few years. After a tentative start last week, he's now happy to run around the garden and be picked up (except when he's running around the garden!) and he's just ever so adorable!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Audited and Appraised

It's one of those weeks at work where it's all happening. Funerals, sickness, events, audits and appraisals. I don't get weeks like that very often I'm pleased to say!
Firstly our little event at Birch Hill was a great success. Chrissy and Sheila came up from Bracknell to make animal masks with the kids. They all seemed to have a really enjoyable time (especially Chrissy and Sheila!) and the masks looked fab. The library was really buzzing all afternoon and despite a few tuts from some of our older users, I think it was a really good afternoon. We did seem to be descended by more staff than you usually see in my little library though! Lisa was off sick, so Maggie had come up to help out on the counter for the afternoon, then of course Chrissy and Sheila arrived, followed by Philippa who was coming to see how to run the event as she's doing one on Friday afternoon. Then Richard popped in to use the loo and finally Doreen came along to... well, I'm not really sure what she was there for really!

The audit has been a bit odd really. As I've only been in the job a few months I found some of the questions a bit difficult to answer really, and I felt like I was being interrogated at times about why things happen. To be fair, many of the processes we use are somewhat antediluvian, and I think the auditor was taken by surprise that we're not even at late 20th century levels of money control... Hmm, well maybe her report will finally mean we get to have a till in each library. I hope so.

As for the appraisal, well, I was surprised at how lightly I got off. I suppose because it's still early days in this job for me, there's every chance I've got it a bit easy this year! I'm not complaining though, as with two libraries I've got enough to do every day as it is. So I have to set up a reading group in both libraries (which I'd been considering anyway), have fortnightly events of some kind (which we do anyway, but with reminiscence sessions coming to Great Hollands in the autumn we'll be more than fulfilling) change displays more often (which I can happily delegate to Lynn and Lisa) and boost the figures (which has already started)... so easy!
I was really pleased to get some feedback on how I'm doing as well. It seems I'm highly thought of and doing very well in both places. I'm considered a safe pair of hands and in general I'm doing a great job at brightening up both libraries and especially at turning Great Hollands around. It's a good start, isn't it?
I feel there are some things I have to work on to get myself up to speed on the job; there's still lots I need to learn how to do to and even though I'm better than I used to be, I need to make sure I'm really well organised- sometimes I really feel like I'm winging it (but apparently it doesn't show, which is good!) but I'm feeling very positive about it all at the moment. In the moments where Great Hollands is full of people and there's a happy buzz I feel like I'm winning. I think I might be cut out for this job after all!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tales of Tales of the City

I've been reading Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin the last few days.

The Tales of the City series was one of the many things I read in my holidays during my time at Sheffield, and along with The Crow Road would probably be some of the novels I love the most. There was just something joyful in my discovery at them at just the right time in my life: when I was ready to expand my horizons a little, find out about some other lifestyles I didn't know anything about (I was incredibly innocent and naive at the time) and enjoy reading for the sake of reading for the first time since I was a kid. I just wanted to read novels like I'd never done before!

What I loved about the series at the time was the ease of the style. The original books were compiled from newspaper columns originally published in the San Fransisco Chronicle in the 70s and in many ways this was part of the appeal. The short chapters read like scenes in a soap opera and it was really easy to feel part of the characters' lives very quickly. They weren't all sympathetic, but like friends, the more you got to know them, the more you were able to accept them for all their faults.
Aside from the wonderfully eccentric Anna, the one I liked best was Mouse, Michael Tolliver. He struggled to find love, and often had it cruelly taken away from him. He had parents he felt didn't know him and wouldn't accept his sexuality and he was flawed, but funny and genuine. It seems right that of all the characters in the series that this final novel should be written from his point of view.

I still approached the novel with some trepidation though. After all this time would it feel the same? Would the characters still be recognisable?
The good news is that yes it did feel part of the same series and the continuation of the characters felt right and above all it was joy to find out what had happened to them since Sure of You.
There's tragedy, laughs and families and survival and death. Death hangs over the book the same way that it hangs over Michael. His survival seems to be against all the odds, and yet he's still hanging on, smiling and in love. What a wonderful thing that is to read.
For those who haven't read it and want to, I won't reveal the end, but it made me cry. I just found being back with them all so moving... it sounds silly, but I came to care for the characters a long time ago and sharing a little more of their lives was a wonderful thing.

Highly recommended!