Digital Raven (digitalraven) wrote,
Digital Raven
digitalraven

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Suits and Torches

I wore a suit to work yesterday. I had to, I mean, we all had to. But it's only the third time, and most people can't remember the first two (interview and first day), so they were asking me where I was, because let's face it, the thought of me in a noose scares most of them, let alone a straight-jacket as well.

There was a reason: The Queen was there. Grand opening of the new international headquarters and all. To say that I was less than impressed is an understatement. Here's someone who is taking in a shitload of cash and gets applauded by complete strangers for the simple foible that her ancestors were better at beating other people over the head with rocks. Not exactly the most ringing endorsement, I have to say. Further, because a bunch of hopeless wankerspoliticians were here to see the whole spectacle, the canteen was closed.

I was not happy about this. See, SOP on getting in to work is to wait about half an hour and then go get the bacon rolls. A decent hunk of dead pig to start the day. As this was not an option, we were offered a "Danish". This substance[0] involves pastry and sugar in some sickening combination. It's the sort of crap that archdemonspeople in the first and second circles of the foulest Pits of HellHR and Marketing would have with their morning decaff-extra-milk coffee-substitute. We were told, rather patronisingly, that bacon rolls were impossible because vegetarians couldn't eat them. That's not the worst. The worst is that we later received a packed lunch consisting entirely of things that were acceptable for vegetarians and mostly for vegans as well.

I'm sure the three vegetarians in our office of almost 100 people were glad. I was climbing the fucking walls.

See, this is discrimination. If I choose not to eat meat, then I can choose meals that do not include meat, and can go to places that either serve food without meat or that ban real meat-eaters by not offering a real-food option. These vegetarian restaurants are bad enough, seeing as how most normal restaurants now have to offer things to cater for vegetarians. Having a no-meat diet enforced on me steals my freedom of choice, specifically my freedom to say "Give me half a pig's worth of bacon, and use steak instead of bread!" A diet enforced by shitheads who insist that vegetarians are somehow better than other people really gets on my tits. When less than 5% of a population are vegetarian, they should not dictate what the rest of the population may consume. If they do, it is a perfectly reasonable response to kill them, fillet them, cook them in a white wine and mushroom sauce, and serve them with roast potatoes on the side.

The other part of this rant is a much simpler one, though much more contentious. For half the day, the smoking are was closed. No access, none at all. No smoking at all. Given that the area is fucking miles away, in a spot that nobody would dare go to if they weren't desperate for a hit of nicotine, this is rather ludicrous. The right to smoke and to be addicted to nicotine is still there, enshrined in law. It's legal. The smoking area ensures that nobody else must suffer from passive smoking. The whole place is set up to allow any employee to take ten-minute breaks whenever, be they to go to Starbucks for a coffee that tastes slightly less like camel urine than the default stuff, get a sandwich from the deli, have a cig, do some shopping, whatever. Denying one of those options to people who are addicted both physically and psychologically is cruel and unusual torture. Given the workstress, I came within millimetres of eating someone's face while screaming "Death death death! Kill kill! Gimmeafuckingcigarette!"[1].

But anyway. Betty. Pointless public figure sat on shitloads of cash for fuck-all reason. Was at work yesterday. I was not too chuffed.

Fortunately, the torchie/steward meeting yesterday evening went well enough. I didn't fuck anything up too badly, and I didn't see akicif wince in pain. There's a chance that I may not suck at something.

Speaking of torchies, draft of the all-call to go on the Samhuinn mailing list:
Summer's End is almost upon us. The Summer Court, inaugrated at
Beltane and led by the Green Man, have one last night of revelry planned --
a torchlit procession from the Castle esplenade to Parliament Square, the
length of the Royal Mile. But their celebrations are cut short as the Winter
Court attacks, and the Horned God leads the wild hunt out of the darkness.
Finally, the Green Man and Horned God do battle in Parliament Square, the
Green Man falling as Winter comes upon the world. The Winter Court celebrate
their victory with the crowd of onlookers, and the cycle of seasons turns
once more.

As all of this goes on, there are two important roles that must be filled. The
Torchbearers provide light for the procession, a stoic, black-robed group of
observers who cast light over the whole event but cannot act, and the
Stewards, who protect the procession from the crowds who come to watch the
revelry and the battle.

--

This is a call-out for volunteers. We're looking for people who want to be
torchbearers or stewards for the Samhuinn procession on the night of the
31st October.

What we do
Stewards clear the route for the procession, and ensure that spectators
don't break through and disrupt the proceedings. Trained to deal with people
and crowds in a non-physical way, they provide security and stop any
incidents before they happen. Torchbearers are a part of the procession, in
full costume with a 2-metre long metal torch. They guard the outside edges
of the procession, helping the stewards to keep people out but without the
freedom that the stewards have. The two groups work together to stop
breakthroughs and to keep the crowd safe.

If we don't have enough stewards, Edinburgh Council won't let the procession
go ahead, as it's unsafe for both the performers and the crowd. If we don't
have enough torchbearers, nobody can see what happens.

Why would I want to do it?
Being a torchbearer or a steward is a great way to get involved with the
Beltane and Samhuinn events, especially for people who can't spare the time
needed to get involved with other groups. It's not just the busiest who get
involved, people join for lots of reasons -- some have worked as stewards or
bouncers and enjoy the chance to apply their skills, and some of us just
like carrying fire and looking scary.

Torchbearers and stewards will train together as much as possible, with
members of both groups learning non-physical crowd control and other
techniques that come in very handy on the day. It's a chance to meet new
people (in the pub, even), and to be a part of something that's a hell of a
lot of fun. Stewards and torchies also have a front-row seat for the whole
performance -- if anyone's standing in front of us, then we have a problem.
It's also an excuse to show up to the club afterwards in costume.

When is it?
Both groups meet at the same time and place, the back of the Hollyrood
Tavern, 7pm on Wednesday nights. There'll probably be one or two people
stood having a cigarette and welcoming people. Later meetings may take place
outside, so we can have test-burnings of the torches and practice carrying
everything around, or in a large open space where we can carry (but not
burn) torches without freezing. We'll keep everyone advised of changes in
venue. There's also a number of informal ball-making sessions where we make
sure that the torches have enough fuel to burn. These work best with lots of
people, but there's no mandatory date or time. They're generally hour-long
sessions, after which we go for a test-burning or head away to the pub..

The actual event happens on Samhuinn Night (Monday 31st October), starting
at about 9. For people who have day-jobs, leaving early on Monday is a good
idea. While it's theoretically possible to leave work at 5 or 6 on the day
and still be in costume and facepaint and fully equipped for a 9pm kickoff,
it's not the kind of thing you want to do.Likewise, given the club
afterwards (and the possibility of a performer's after-party), taking the
day after off is a sensible thing to do.

The real reason I'm writing this is simple procrastination. I will pay for it soon enough...

[0]: A dessert before any real food does not count as food.
[1]: A perfectly accurate line coined by gominokouhai
Tags: rant, torchies
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