Dawn walks and daytime TV: two perspectives on working from home

We asked Library staff to write about their experiences of working from home during lockdown. Maria Menezes and Tim Haillay share their thoughts.

I’m in Week 10 of lockdown!!!!

By Maria Menezes

When lockdown came into place I hated my first week at home because I missed seeing people – I’m a people person.  As the weeks went on I found it easier to cope with my new working environment and amazingly learn new technology on my own – I’m now a Zoom whiz.

However in Week 6 I was not in the right frame of mind but zooming and talking to friends and family helped me through this rather dark period – it’s difficult not having anyone directly to talk to at home living by myself.  I have now accepted that this situation will continue – but hopefully not for much longer.

I need structure and though I have tried to set myself a “rota” being the Rota Queen (hee hee) it doesn’t always work.  I can’t wait to get back to work – daytime telly is awful.

Up with the larks

By Tim Haillay

The idea of working from home when we were still working on campus was not an attractive one to me, mainly as the physical journey to work was part of the discipline and by losing that, part of the holistic work experience would be missing too. My coping strategy therefore has been largely based on keeping things as normal as possible.

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Listen, Learn and Connect: Mental Health Awareness Week May 2020

By Gemma Price, Lynn Perez and Lucy Oakley

In the wellbeing group for staff, we have been looking at how we can best support and inform colleagues, particularly at this time. We know how difficult the current situation continues to be for all of us, adjusting to unprecedented changes in our work and home lives.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, from the 18th to the 24th of May, we wanted to focus on resources and activities that would help support wellbeing and calmness, and also provide some positive information and ways to connect with ourselves and our surroundings. We sent out an email each day of that week, our aim for each email was for them to be accessible and helpful, no matter what everyone’s individual situation may be.

The week started off with our Music Monday email. We had such a positive response to our previous lunchtime music session that we thought it would be good to share the playlists and engage with people further. We listed several playlists created by staff, highlighting music that made them happy.

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Weetabix Trifle and beyond…

By Rose Lock

Women’s magazines. Trivial, eh? Just a collection of inconsequential articles on how to keep your man happy, patterns for knitted shorts, vile make-do-type recipes, and adverts for lipsticks and washing powder.

Well, yes, all of these things can be found in the copies of Woman’s Own, Woman’s Friend, Woman’s Realm (do you see a pattern emerging?) and Woman that we hold as part of the archives at The Keep, but to dismiss them as trivial really does this amazing slice of history a disservice. The idea of the feminine being somehow less important (as I am sorry to say has been the tendency for more time than I care to think about) gifts us archival time travellers with a view into the past that is wonderfully unguarded and true to the moment. Adverts, advice columns, recipes, short stories; none of these exists in a vacuum, they all come from the worlds women lived in, aspired to, and wished to escape from.

We can use these snippets to see through the wormhole and into the past, and catch a glimpse of the sort of woman who might make Carnival Queen…or, as I have always thought of it, Weetabix Trifle.

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We’ll meet again – or how I gambled away Vera Lynn’s autograph and ended up in a Zambian jungle with a bunch of hippies…

By Danny Millum

Normally when you tell your family / friends about what you do, unless you’re a fireman or a nurse they just zone out (especially when your job title is Metadata Discovery Officer).

But it really seems as if the BLDS was actually my genetic destiny, as it turned out that not only was my dad interested in the project but it turns out that collecting African pamphlets runs in the family.

Buried in our loft were the following:

  • East African Annual 1934-35 – Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar
  • Table Talk Annual Review 1935 (Melbourne) – incl sections on Australia’s Overseas Territories
  • Holiday 1947 (Philadelphia)
  • Times of Ceylon Annual 1958
  • Zambia 1964-74 – celebrating ten years of independence
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Write for Wellbeing on 12th May

By Suzanne Rose

“Writing is an incredibly powerful tool, because if you can be yourself when writing, then you have what might be a rare space in your life for completely genuine self-expression and self-reflection. Who you are is important – and finding and expressing that is important to Mass Observation, as well as to other people” – Kim Sherwood, Writer.

12th May is Mass Observation’s national diary day and we welcome day diaries from people across the country recording their everyday lives. The more ordinary the better. Of course, we are currently living in extraordinary times and so we are expecting this year’s crop of 12th May diaries to be anything but ordinary.

If, like me, you’ve been juggling home schooling, home working and looking after your own health and well being and that of your family, I would recommend sitting down and writing. You could even download and print off a diary template from the MO website, so your kids can join in too. We welcome drawings as well as written diaries and everyone is invited to take part.

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‘If you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut’ – football, poetry and fables in BLDS African port harbour magazines

By Caroline Marchant-Wallis, Daniel Millum and Tracy Wilson

There are many fascinating rabbit holes to explore in the BLDS Legacy Collection, and you often come across them in the most unexpected places. Perhaps this just shows our limited imagination, but when we first came across a run of journals relating to different African ports and harbour authorities our hearts didn’t leap with excitement.

File under “worthy but dull” and move on was definitely the first reaction to a front cover like this:

The front cover of Cameroon Inter-Ports
Credit: BLDS Legacy Collection Project team

And let’s face it, if you were asked what you thought lay within the pages of Cameroon Inter-Ports – Organe du Liaison et d’Information de l’Office National des Ports du Cameroun you’d probably have said the same thing – tables, charts, reports and the odd tedious institutional history.

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‘Are you drunk’ or is there ‘something wrong upstairs in your brain’? : Unparliamentary expressions in Zambia 1964 – 1974

By Caroline Marchant-Wallis, Daniel Millum and Tracy Wilson

We’re taking the opportunity of our (temporary) exile from our beloved BLDS collection (personally given its resemblance to a Cold War nuclear shelter I voted that we should spend the lockdown period in the IDS basement where the collection is housed, but University management thought differently) to spend a bit of time writing about some of the interesting and unusual items we’ve already found as part of the project.

These are found in unlikely sources. At first glance the title The Zambian Parliament 24th October, 1964 to 31st December, 1974 sounds of course worthy of inclusion in the collection, and of interest to scholars of Zambian political history, but possibly a little dry. Yet delving inside shows the Zambian parliament to have been a more colourful and contentious forum than you would expect the official record to reveal.

 The first Cabinet of the Republic of Zambia upon its Independence from Britain on 24th October, 1964. Credit: Mwebantu via The Gambian Observer
The first Cabinet of the Republic of Zambia upon its Independence from Britain on 24th October, 1964. Credit: Mwebantu via The Gambian Observer

In his introduction, President Kenneth Kaunda solemnly states that he has ‘repeatedly reaffirmed our complete confidence and trust in democracy’, and this is followed by a quote from Edmund Burke stating that Parliament should be a deliberative assembly of one nation guided by the general good. However, it appears that not all members had taken this lofty Burkean approach to parliamentary discourse, as can be seen from a brief perusal of appendix one, which contains a list of ‘unparliamentary expressions’ for each year.

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Making the most of your online meetings

By Karen Watson and Adam Harwood

Back in February, myself and Adam agreed to write a blog post about meetings, drawing together all the information, skills and ideas gained from creativity training and out in the world. Lindsay produced a great infographic that you can see here:

Credit: Lindsay Crook

We were going to put this together with some general thoughts we had about attending and chairing meetings. When we chatted about this earlier this year, we were really thinking about the format of meetings. Do we need to sit round a table? Can we go for a walk and talk? Is it OK to move about during a meeting? Move forward a few weeks and here we all are forced out of our meeting rooms into our homes. Having meetings from bedrooms, lounges, kitchen corners.

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‘♪ Getting to know you… ♪’

In a slight change to the usual format, Library pets have hijacked the
Q&A for Wellbeing week. For the final installment, it’s Gayemarie’s dog Alfie, Annette’s dog Bramley, and Nell’s cat Gwen.

If you’d like to submit your answers to the Q+A, fill out the template and
send it to library.innovation@sussex.ac.uk, or get in touch with the Blog
admins – Lizzy, Kate & Sam…

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