On the nature of appeals

Well folks not quite there yet, but we’re almost there. Paul, my RBA union rep called me this morning to say that the company had been in touch again. We actually received a letter regarding the appeal last week but as it was subject to ongoing negotiations between the union and the HR dept I hope you’ll all understand I couldn’t really talk about it on the blog, although it was a positive letter.

From this morning’s call it sounds like we’re hopefully going to be wrapping this whole episode up very shortly and, I am pleased to say, in a manner which is mutually amicable. Sorry to be such a tease, but I promise I will post to let you all know the full outcome as soon as I can, but I did want you all to know that it seems to be going very well from both sides.

Archived

I had a most peculiar email the other day there from the National Library of Scotland. They, along with the National Library of Wales and the British Library are involved in a project called the UK Web Archiving Consortium, archiving (as the name rather implies) selected sites from the various kingdoms which make up the UK. They were asking for permission to archive a version of the Woolamaloo as a Scottish site of interest.

Well, as you can imagine I was as surprised as the man who ordered smoked kippers for breakfast only to be given a suffocating fish and a packet of ciggies. My poor flabber has been somewhat gasted, to say the least and I think I will humbly respond in the affirmative, while maintaining my right to mutter ‘wow’ and ‘huh?’ as the occassion warrants. Tell me, guys, is it just me or is that one of those events that just makes you go ‘what?’ in a bemused fashion?

There was also a little flurry of press attention again at the end of last week. I’m told I was in the List (the indispensable Glasgow & Edinburgh what’s on guide, which also has a very good comics and graphic novels section in the books review pages) and the Edinburgh Evening News ran a nice follow up story covering my move to Forbidden Planet. You can’t see it on the online version but the picture clearly had the Gandalf standup lurking in the background. I’m sure Sir Ian wouldn’t mind.

BBC Radio Five Live had me for a short interview which was more on work and blog matters in general rather than my own experience specifically and a photographer from the Independent came to take a pic for an article being written by Michael for this Wednesday’s edition, which again is on blogging and work issues and not just on me (which I’m sure is a relief to everyone tired of reading about it). I still feel a bit silly posing for pics and it is still very odd to read about or see yourself in the papers. Perhaps I should get a stylist. Although I suspect I’d require an army of stylists to try and do a make-over on me and even then they’d have their work cut out. Oh well – to thine own self be true as they say.

And in a bit of late-breaking news my old mate at Nil Desperandum who works for a major mental health charity tells me that The Third Force, a weekly newspaper from the SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) featured the old Gazette this week as well. I’m still rather amazed at the way this has gone around.

Herald

One of my friends phoned me this morning to tell me to check out the Glasgow-published Herald. There was an article expanding upon a join letter attacking Waterstone’s over-reaction to my blog sent in by Ken MacLeod, A L Kennedy, Iain Banks and Neil Davidson.

I was unaware of this happening – Ken had hinted that there was some form of joint letter by authors in the works, but this was a (pleasant) surprise. I’ve had so many folk from around our little, wired planet offering support and it is still incredibly uplifting to see something like this; to know that people will take some of their own time to help someone else. I feel humbled and uplifted at the same time and very, very grateful.

Appeal

Well, the appeal was yesterday afternoon. Ironically the location was at the branch down in Leith (the harbour area of Edinburgh), which I was instrumental in helping to set up back in the autumn of 2003. Last time I was there I had any number of bods from our head office coming up to view it and shaking my hand while congratulating me and my little team for the very good work we had done. Odd way to return.

We kept things short. We contested the notion of ‘public domain’ since there is no way an obscure blog can be compared to the likes of writing in a mainstream publication or mass media outlet – it is (or was) hard to find unless you knew what you were looking for and the supposedly offensive articles spread throughout large amounts of other material even more difficult to locate (assuming you knew to look for them to begin with).

We also pointed out that no customers had ever complained after reading it and that indeed I knew friends who read the blog and still shopped at Waterstone’s and writers who would attend events and buy books there, so the idea that I was somehow destroying the company’s image was ridiculous – they read it and still shopped there.

The new item was the recent news I received from my previous manager who left over a year ago. He kindly contacted me after reading about it all to say he was surprised that the blog should suddenly become such a bone of contention as he and the then Area Manager both were aware of it way back then (2003). So why was it okay then but suddenly a firing offence in December a year later?

And again if the company was taking such exception to it, why not take me aside and talk to me about it? Understandably this meant that the folk conducting the appeal were unable to give us a decision since they will obviously need to look into this and discuss it, so at the moment the union and I are waiting to see what develops. It would be nice to think that the company will be reasonable since no-one wants to go down the route of an industrial tribunal, but we’ll just have to wait and see.