Earth hour for our earth?

Hola, compadres. We are back from our trip. We have been away in the jungles of Peru finding out more about deforestation, the impact of our decadent Western ways on the indigenous peoples and to conduct a thorough survey of South American subject indexing techniques, and those guys can chain index with the best of them, let me tell you.

Continue reading “Earth hour for our earth?”

Red Nose Day

As all our members will know, the LLF is a caring and considerate organisation. We are dedicated to fair play, honesty, inetgrity (especially that of our catalogue) and concern for our fellow person. This is not in any doubt, we are good people.

But sometimes this can be tested to the very limit. Brothers and sisters, I give you Red Nose Day. One day every two years when our televisions fill with images of suffering and pain, misery and deprivation, juxtaposed with scarcely-known people leaping about and telling old jokes and encouraging everyone to be gay and pleased with themselves. Are we being asked to celebrate the grotesque iniquities of our society by throwing a big party as if to rub the developing world’s noses right in it? The library staff felt it appropriate to come to work half naked today in order to encourage our readers to part with the hard-earned pension book. Old Mr. Throgmorton nearly parted company with his eyeballs, poor chap hadn’t seen anything like it since his time in Saigon.

The aim of this mayhem is, apparently, to raise money to be sent to whereever it is most needed.  I thought that our taxes were supposed to do that? But no, with our taxes being used to shore up corrupt and incompetent banks so that they can continue to oil the wheels of the capitalist juggernaut, the health and well being of us, the people, is left to Jonathan Ross and Peter Kay. Worse still, our copies of the latest James Patterson’s are getting a big dog-eared after a million borrowings. Will we get Comic Relief money to replace them? Wow. Charity money to large publishing house scandal, Hell’s Bells, things are getting a bit Sherdian.

Enjoy your Red Nose Day and have fun. Just don’t pretend that you are actually making a difference.

Burger King Maker

Where do I begin with this one. Prince Charles has gone for McDonalds in his latest tirade. A case, I fear, of the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable, if I may borrow a phrase from Oscar Wilde (class mark 822.8).

Now, don’t get me wrong, you’ll never catch any member of the LLF passing through the Golden Arches in preference to the nearest organic lentil cafe. They are the very epitome of corporate evil – peddling inferior, mass-produced, animal based foodstuffs to the masses with the promise of good times and plastic toys, paying the staff peanuts (non-organic ones at that) and mercilessly demolishing the planet’s resources as they go. We welcome support from anyone in our mission to have this behemoth brought to justice. But Prince Charles?

We have always taken a republican stance (sorry, ma’am, but can we assume you’ll still be opening the new Sunnybank branch library this summer?) and believe, sisters and brothers, that there is no place for a monarchy in a civilised democratic society. Charles is entitled to his opinion, as we all are (provided your library card is up to date) but to be told not to eat at McDonalds by a prince of the realm who has looked up from his Krug and truffles just long enough to issue his decree just makes me want to go large as an act of revolutionary defiance. Hell’s Bells, things could get a bit Sheridan down at the drive-thru if that were to happen.

So you see our problem. Or at least it would be a problem had we failed to see through such an obvious bourgeois diversionary tactic. This is a cruel artisto trick. A conspiracy betwixt ailing corporate leviathans and our own dear Royal anachronism. While we are arguing about whether the Big Mac contains real beef, Charles can quietly get on with the business of shooting defenseless wildlife. Comrades, do not be fooled. We will not be duped by thoughts of nuggets and fries and will continue our campaign to have Burke’s Peerage weeded from stock. Not lovin’ it!

On Your Bike, Blair!

Cautious and I sleep easy in our beds, separate beds (not that it matters), knowing that our daily efforts make the world a better place to live. Sadly those around us seem determined to trash the place.

Our esteemed Prime Minister decides upon the perfectly reasonable step of charging people for taking their gas-guzzling, squirrel-squashing, asthma-triggering, planet-warming, penis-extending, road-raging tool of capitalist oppression out onto the nation’s cycle ways, otherwise known as roads. Unfortunately, he then allows his own website to be used for people to wish to express an opinion on the matter. Guess what? Things all get a bit Sheridan and over 1.8 million people sign a petition saying they don’t want to pay. People of Britain, you have been conned. Duped by marketing suits in red specs who have convinced you that your car will allow you to whizz around the Highlands without seeing another soul or take your family windsurfing and park right on the beach. The reality, brothers and sisters, is quite a different matter. You will be sitting in a sweltering tin box behind a huge truck belching out noxious gases in traffic jams 15 miles long, as your mobile phone rattles in your glove compartment and your arteries harden by the minute and all for the privilege of getting to work to stoke the fires of capitalist greed. It is time to break free.

Our friend from Shropshire who started the petition believes charging is “sinister and wrong”. We doubt that it is more sinister than an online petition that is hosted by the target of the petition. Just fill in your email address and contact details it innocently asks. So, you give the government your contact details as you complain about a matter of government policy. I think not, comrades. Mark my words, they will use this to come round your house and confiscate your laptop as a weapon of the revolution. Which, of course, it is. Do not be fooled. Mr. Blair now knows that road charging will cost him 1.8 million votes and he knows exactly who these people are. To us, that is as sinister as whale-skin trousers.

The petition also suggests that money should be found to improve roads to ease congestion. Maybe we missed a meeting, but Cautious and I can’t quite see how making something easier to use will encourage people to seek an alternative to using it. Congestion will be eased by getting the evil motor car off the road, not by making bigger roads. It is time, brothers and sisters, for a library driven transport revolution.

Under new LLF proposals, we aim to take road charging to radical new levels. Those with 4×4 cars have clearly more money than they need and will be charged 16 times the rate of the average family car. Nissan Micras will be exempt, as will Trabants, for they are revolutionary and quite cool. All those using the roads for cycling will be given library fine waivers and “Love me, love my cycle” t-shirts. The enormous state wealth generated from charging will be used for installing libraries on trains and to fund trips to China to politely ask them to stay on their bikes. While we are there, we will also be looking at ways in which mobile library services can be migrated to a rickshaw-based solution. Come and join us, you know it makes sense.

Drop The Shopping

It’s just sooooo predictable. It’s as sure as the late return of Harry Potter books and the illustrated pages of Alex Comfort’s magnum opus being ripped out. If there is one thing we can all rely on for early January, it’s bad weather, rubbish songs on the hit parade and high street chains moaning about how awful their Christmas has been.

With cash dribbling from their pockets, we have a succession of economists and retail analysts bleating on about how profits are down, sales have not matched expectations and more stock has been put into the January sales. By stock, of course, I refer rows and rows of cheap designer goods fashioned by 4 year-olds in Asian sweat shops – not our lovingly collected stock of the world’s great literature neatly shelved for the entertainment and education of the people, by the people, for the people – and laboriously checked annually.

Olympics Not Ideal

You’d think they’d get the message, but it seems that no matter how few people turn up to the festival of contrived sports that is the modern Olympic Games, they still persist in holding them.

The games have cost billions of Euro to stage and as I watched the beach volleyball last night I could not help but be disgusted at the rows and rows of empty seats on view. Have you any idea, brothers and sisters, how many books, videos and date stamps that kind of money can buy? The libraries of the world are crumbling to the ground, great works of literature, as well as some Jeffrey Archer remainders, are being lost forever in dingy, damp stores and we see fit to spend all this cash on half-empty stadia, swimming pools without any flumes, easily-detected pharmaceuticals and endless, endless commemorative tat that, apparently, no-one is really bothered about.

Of course, one reason for the rows of unfilled seats could be the ridiculous sports that are now part of the games – synchronised diving, beach volleyball, dressage and that crazy 20km walk. It can only be a matter of time before date-stamping and close harmony shelving are, at the very least, demonstration sports, hell’s bells, that could get a bit Sheridan. Also, since when were highly paid professionals allowed to compete – tennis players and football players paid millions in sponsorship and yet still able to compete in this amateur festival. It’s nonsense. And while I’m on the subject, LLF do not feel that keeping our “top” athletes in energy bars and Deep Heat is a suitable way to spend lottery money. The lottery is a scandal anyway, drawing money from the proletariat and giving it to over-privileged kids in pipe bands so they can make that trip to Florida is just plain wrong in a civilised society, but to spend it on allowing athletes to train full time isn’t much better. What happened to the Olympic tradition of post-persons from Norwich finishing their round on a Monday and heading off to the Olympic 100m final by Tuesday afternoon? How we would marvel at the proud workers as they took unpaid leave from the shipyards, the fields and, yes, even the libraries to compete at the games. Now thanks to the greed and stupidity of lottery ticket holders, our Olympic hopefuls get to “train” full time. Where’s the romance in that? Nowhere – and it seems to be having the opposite effect in terms of medals anyway. No, we say this has to stop, the glorification of the hoi polloi for the amusement of the rich and privileged by way of meaningless metal gongs must be ended, for the good of personkind.

I wouldn’t mind if the games were the festival of international brother(or sister)hood that we would all like to see, but they are not. We bring the youth of the world’s nations together and force them to engage in competition, thinly veiled humiliation if you ask me. The LLF are not happy with this competitive edge. Faster, higher, stronger? What about Nicer, Neater, Kinder?

We would rather see some element of cooperation and harmony – perhaps a combined US/Iraqi/Afghan hospital and school building team. Or a British team dedicated to the learning of languages other than English? We propose a tournament aimed at furthering understanding between nations.

To this end, we call upon the youth of the world to come together to help clear the planet’s cataloguing backlog. We would be promoting libraries, making the world’s literature more easily accessible and getting rid of a really nasty wee job from Cautious Col’s “to-do” list. No fancy stadia will be required and no corruption-ridden voting process for the right to host the games, people would just be given a copy of AACR2 (between two) and a pencil. The opening ceremony would simply be a training day dedicated to the rule changes since the last tournament. What a wonderful, well ordered world this could be.

Free Jeremy Clarkson!

It’s just not fair, that poor man.

I speak, of course, of Jeremy Clarkson. We live in an age where intolerance will simply not be tolerated and yet poor Jeremy still feels unable to declare his true sexuality. Well, the LLF is here to help. He must be liberated from the petrol-driven shackles that bind him and come out of the closet. Jeremy, it’s OK to have the Communards on your stereo.

Such a shame that we live in a society that forces a man who so obviously prefers the intimate company of other men to hide behind such an unpleasant facade in order to hide his true feelings. Well, Jeremy. We can help.

No more the nasty, butch jeans-and-sports-jacket combo that simply isn’t fooling anyone. Step out in something more fetching, pastel shades, swirls of colour. Someone with legs as long as yours could wear leather; I think you know what we mean.

We’ve seen the way you look at Richard Hammond with a twinkle in your eye. He’s a good-looking boy, no denying, but there must be a reason that someone that annoying gets a job on telly. Cautious and I reckon that there must have been some horrible misunderstanding there. Did you suggest that the show needs a little Dick in a moment of weakness? It’s OK, Jeremy, the LLF understands and supports you.

We’ve both been working on the stockcheck and chatting (only time THAT’S allowed outside the fairtrade coffee bar, let me tell you) and we’ve hatched a plan.

We are here to liberate you from intolerance and fear, we will throw caution to the wind and leave no-one in any doubt of your true self but mixing with all those testosterone charged petrol-heads must be driving you mad, you mustn’t torture yourself in this way. Hell’s Bells, it must get a bit Sheridan at rehearsals.

A career in libraries, that’s the one for you, Jezza. You can help us weed the Nissan Micra manuals from the car maintenance section and we’ll give you your own bike rack. We know you’d rather be in the saddle. Also, working in a profession dominated by women will let you truly find yourself in a non-threatening environment. And the more persons-who-prefer-the-intimate-company-of-persons-of-a-similar-gender-type that we have on the staff, the more tattle-tape totty there is for real men like Cautious and I to enjoy.

Tesco the Oppressor

Brothers and sisters, a great wrong has been done. I discovered today that my local “Big Issue” seller has been repeatedly moved on from his preferred patch outside Tesco by the management of the store.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this sort of harassment in unacceptable. The man is responsible for selling the only reasonably priced periodical left in the country and he is shamelessly abused by the capitalist corporate demon. Is there any harm in asking me politely if I would care to enjoy some popular literature at an affordable price as I leave the store with my lentils and nut cutlets in a reusable bag? Are we to be refused access to this enlightening collection of urban street poetry and world music reviews? I don’t think so either, my friends.

As a company that makes £1.65 billion a day, it is despicable that Tesco should target those who have made “alternative lifestyle choices”. If those include roll-ups and cans of Super Lager, then let him be free to make them.

With this in mind, sisters and brothers, Cautious and I advocate the establishment of a new movement – the Coalition Aimed at Undermining Tesco In Our Neighbourhoods (CAUTION). The time has come to rid our towns of reasonably priced produce for the masses and smash the evil, welcomingly lit, empire.

I know enough people in the collective to borrow some recycled placards and march on Tesco and demand equal rights for this man (or woman, of course). The new group lends itself to some really groovy sloganeering – “Proceed with CAUTION!” and “Down with Tesco – we urge CAUTION!”. We must also take direct action – shop at the cooperative and refuse your “Computers for Schools” vouchers – yet another tactic of the corporate oppressor.

The march will have to wait until I finish my shift on the reference desk, but smiling at idiots for that length of time should put me in a suitably bad mood for the demo. I might even leave the filing until later and leave early. Hell’s Bells! It’s all getting a bit Sheridan here, but rest assured that anyone joining us will be given organic, gluten-free, fair-trade, low-fat, vegetarian friendly snack, I’ve saved enough Clubcard points to get sufficient for both, oops, I mean all of us.

Nescafe No More

Fair trade fortnight is finally here! It’s taken seven years to get off the ground but we’ll finally be able to sink the boot into Nescafe. Gold Blend? That couple would be the first against the wall if I had my way. Evil promoters of third world poverty and they obviously get sex quite often. My trigger finger’s itchy already. Or maybe it’s RSI from the bookstamping.

FFF has the full support of the Library, I can tell you. Dangerous Dave is already talking about turning a blind eye if anybody comes into the library with a coffee as long as it’s Café Direct! ( Sorry I didn’t mean blind, I meant “disabled due to inaccessible library systems resulting in visual impairment“ – sometimes forget the most basic of PC stuff when there’s a campaign on!)

There’s a whisper in the Library that Tesco’s student shelf-stackers are on board too so Gold Blend will be a bit less prominently displayed for the fortnight, shall we say. Or maybe it was that Tesco’s student shelf stackers are all bored, that’s the problem with whispers in the Library they can be hard to make out. Not that we tolerate many whispers in here right enough. Dangerous has started saying “eridan” under his breath after every time he says “Shhh” so things are kept pretty quiet here now I can tell you.

Of course we’ll both be on the Café Direct at tea breaks, and I don’t care how shaky our hands get – I’m having a second cup. Not such good news on the home front I’m afraid. Dangerous’ Mum is refusing to play ball and buy the proper stuff so he’ll have to go back to the Nescafe in the house. And I’ve got nearly a full jar of the stuff so I doubt I’ll run out in the fortnight.

We were going to distribute tons of the leaflets as well, but once we’d done a proper risk assessment we realised that it was quite likely the main entrance would get blocked as people stood to read them. And all that paper’s got to increase the risk of fire. Hell’s bells though, it’s all getting a bit Sheridan in here!