How many blue things do you see?

I once owned a great green book on impact. Despite my not recalling its title, the book did have impact and I still recall some really useful pointers from it that I use to this day.

The reason I no longer own this book is because there are two types of people in life: those who acquire pens/ post-it notes/ staplers/ scissors/ lighters/ books and those who never have any of the above on account of being a sharer (who never gets the shared item returned.) Those working in L&D mostly tend to occupy the latter category, but not exclusively as you will hear later!, but I’m pre-destined to never retain the books I share with those I’m supporting. I could put some big label in it saying “This belongs to bookandbed please make sure you give it back,” but really, if we’d met, you’d know that that isn’t my style. (Possibly why bookandbed is perennially skint, but reasonably well-liked. I should create another blog on boundaries.) The reason I no longer own this book is that during a session I had with a team-leader I was partnering, they started talking about networking and asked whether I had any advice on the subject which brought me on to this great book I had read. I lent the book, but fortunately retained the idea that networking is only effective if you know what you are looking for. If you are a vet and you’re not really sure what it is you want from networking, you’ll tend to catch yourself nursing a warm glass of Sancerre, whilst collecting business cards with petless art dealers and cheesemongers. Don’t get me wrong, I resolutely flinch from those relationships where being pleasant is really a means to get something. My personal and business relationships tend not to be transactional, on my part at least. I very occasionally cross paths with someone in my field who never fails to make me feel as though I have had my pockets turned through. On a trip not so long ago, when rubbing shoulders at the airport, the contact swept up to me with a smile so broad I thought the body beneath it might disappear, leaving teeth hanging midair. “Have you got a silver BA card?” I was frisked. The reply that I no longer did was barely out of my mouth before I saw the blur of the back of a trolley bag. I laughed at this. A lot.

The long-lent book went on that one has to know what one is looking for to network effectively. A bit like closing your eyes right now and pondering how many blue things you have in the room you presently occupy. Chances are, you’ll think there aren’t any. Open your eyes and look and there are blue things falling out of every crevice. So with networking. Before you go to a networking event, you consider what it is you need and who might be able to help you with that. Say you want to build an extension. Then you decide you need to talk to builders. Or other people who have built extensions. Or planners. Or architects. Or people who work in the trades industries. Or people who work at gyms that have just been tarted up. Before you know it, you’ve a huge list of people it would be really great to keep an eye out for, because now not only will you have something to talk to them about other than the weather and how crap the wine is, but you may both be able to help each other out too. Etc etc etc. But first, know what it is you are looking for. Just feel free to talk about films too so that when you do run into a builder they don’t end up thinking you’re the kind of purpose who just wants you for your use of the lounge…

It’s a technique you can use in your life. There are things and people everywhere. You just weren’t looking. It’s a great technique not only for networking but to help you shoehorn yourself out of your rut and move forward with whatever you want to do with your life. Or for a hobby. Or just to improve yourself a teeny bit.

So it was, with task firmly in mind, that yesterday, teeth gritted in determination, mummy and MonkeyFace reengaged with reading because that’s what mummy decided is important. Reading. Books. Writing. It’s a bit tough after a 4 day birthdayathon. Monkeyface wants to sing happy birthday to herself and wants to know where her cake is every five minutes. And if cake was produced, there were tears because her big 2 candle was not in it and lit. I think this is called high-maintenace. But we endured. I read Cave Baby.

More at her than with her, actually, but I think daddybookandbed liked it and I know I certainly did. The big Flughafen book from Cologne airport was a massive hit with all of us, too. This morning we also read Dog Loves Books before she went off to her childminder.

Having dropped her off and walked to the supermarket with my own super mum, I started talking with her about our own local library, recently closed as part of the local councils book-burning rout in the latest round of austerity cuts. Magically, a local business saved it and it is run as a Community Library venture in a particularly deprived part of where I live. We were discussing the lack of sense of closing libraries in deprived areas – where in my opinion libraries are most needed – and the fact that our library was a Carnegie Library. Carnegie was one of those magnificent Victorians. That Carnegie, a benefactor, bequeathed libraries around the country for the benefit of generations in perpetuity, only for them now to be snatched away in a round of breathless penny-pinching, is to me as scandalous as robbing from the poor. To close these libraries up and render them inaccessible to those who need them most seems almost obscene. I wonder what I would have been without my hometown library…

So it was, during the course of our conversation, that we realized my own hometown library had also been a Carnegie library, the building having been put to alternate use housing Age Concern, Meals on Wheels and other civic-minded enterprises before I was even born. But, in a reversal of current fortune, my hometown library was put to other use because of its relative diminuitiveness and a much larger library built, that I used as a child, which still stands and remains in fantastic form today, not because a council decided the working classes don’t need books. Carnegie libraries stand in Dulwich Village, Forest Hill and East Dulwich, whose residents, without wishing to generalise, are not strangers to their marvellous local bookshops, many of whom I also follow on twitter. Their libraries are not in danger. Am I alone in thinking this doesn’t make any sense? More blue

When I returned home, the top entry in my twitter feed was to an article by Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate and the author of Cave Baby, the book I read to my daughter last night. The link was called “the best news I have heard all year” and as I opened it I had no idea what that news was. It was in fact that some Gloucesterites had take the closure of their library to the High Court and that closure had been thwarted. Blue again

At the supermarket, right by the till was a new monthly magazine on writing and being published. Blue blue blue

Even odder, then, that when the postman arrived, bearing my newly printed Christmas cards and another strange thick letter. It was my library card for my hometown library, so that I can continue to take MonkeyFace there when visiting my mother.

How many blue things can you see?

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