I was given one task: obtain equipment to make a poster. My last first year submission is an A1 conference poster on a research article. 'Yes I am doing a real degree' I reiterate, with glee, in answer to your scepticism. Educational Studies is important. Education with English, I hasten to add. Seizing this opportunity to wander the gorgeous streets of York on, this, the Queen's Jubilee Tuesday, I took the challenge, donned my boots and readied my purse for the adventure.
I knew I needed to get an A1 card backing and then thought I'd treat myself to getting some colourful sheets of A5 and A4 to emphasise key areas of the poster (blah blah slightly boring creative mind overflow) and maybe even save some as spare to make little origami experiments. So, tasked with this, I headed for Paperchase. I managed to get the right colours and a few more, £4-odd, not too expensive in the grand scheme of things. Chuffed. Until I came to pay, and casually asked if they had a cardboard tube for me to transport it in. Little did I know I would be repeating this noun phrase for the next half an hour repeatedly. They were selling them for £11.50. "Woah there" went my student, thrifty, Durham-born and raised, brain. I am not paying for a tube. I am my father's daughter. I will FIND one. I will BARGAIN for one. I will SCROUNGE one. I settled for the long, Paperchase bag with handles and battled with the wind, carefully carrying my card. This was not the end of the story, oh no.
I proceeded to dot about and around certain shops, such as WHSmiths, who were also selling them. Urgh. And that one was far too small. I popped into the Disney shop, which was adorable because the woman was lovely and said to go to HMV. So I did. No luck there either. "OOH, the Card Factory! They'll have things like that!" thought little ol' me. Suffice to say I was snubbed by one of the rudest employees I have ever met. She was stocking the shelves in a barren wasteland of a shop and noone else was disturbing her, so I asked, "Excuse me, I don't suppose you have any cardboard poster tubes do you?" (yes I did actually preface each asking with 'I don't suppose', I am English) and she didn't even look me in the eye as she shook her head, bowed it and mumbled "No, *cough* no we DON'T." and continued to slot the 'Happy 90th Birthday' cards into the podium.
At this point, I admit, I was loosing faith. Where else would stock cardboard poster tubes? As I fervently looked up and down the street, there were a number of phone shops, clothes shops and... PERFUME SHOPS. YES! That's the place to go! As previously mentioned, I am my father's daughter. This is probably news to you, but as a technology teacher, my Dad has a vested interest in design and used to collect perfume bottles from kind vendors for his displays at school. Sadly, things have changed and collections/ the importance of design inspiration has diminished at said-school, but I have retained in my head that 'The Perfume Shop' and the 'Fragrance Shop' are places with mild-mannered, pleasant smelling people who are willing to be sweet talked into giving people old bottles and bits and bobs to you if you ask them nicely. Some might say I have been trained well...
I went into both of these shops and my expectations were fully met, but I left with the new nugget of information that both shops had just got rid of all of their cardboard tubes and such yesterday. I was beginning to panic. What would I transport my finished poster in? I don't want to tie it with string and hand it in all battered now, do I?
I must have looked like a very windswept and baffled bean, fringe clipped back and eyebrows feverishly knitting together as I stood in the middle of the street with my cardigan sleeves slowly rolling back down my forearms.
There must be somewhere I can go! my little head-voice chirped at me.
Yes. Where book enthusiasts and well-rounded people work. I walked in and was immediately greeted with a good sensation. This was the place. The man in the queue before me was buying a Scott Pilgrim book and I giggled to myself as I thought about my bright pink hair. Walking up to the counter, I brought out the well-rehearsed phrase and the man immediately blurted out "YES! I'll have a look in the ba..." and then he turned to his colleague, The second man began to shake his head. Oh no, I thought, this isn't it. I'm going home tube-less.
"If you request one we can hold some back for you if you like? Wait, how many do you want? All of them?"
"Ha, oh goodness no, just the one please! That would be ace!" I stuttered back to him. His colleague was rather jovial but brought the tone down when he said "We might just have thrown them out..." Nonetheless, the first attendee decided to physically skip through the shop, into the back, and I told the second employee about how I needed it to submit my poster on Thursday and he was really rather lovely to chat to. The joyful man came back with two, cardboard tubes and my face lit up, as did his. "Here you go! Is this alright?"
I held up the Paperchase bag to measure the tube length and it was PERFECT.
"Thank you so much! You're a star!" I automatically blurted out to him and he gave me the A1 sized poster tube. I was so glad.
It was as I walked out of Waterstones, beaming like an absolute buffoon that I began to feel utterly filled by a joyful spirit. My face just spread out into the widest smile, I was so thankful that the kind man had given me a chance and checked the store room, just on the off-chance that there might be something to fit my description. I was feeling a little bit down-trodden after my experience in the Card Factory, but this man restored my faith in simple deeds and genuine human compassion. It was in that moment that I realised where I'd been going wrong in my head over these past few weeks. A lot of my thoughts have been focusing on where I feel the Holy Spirit in my life. Amidst all of the 'first year submissions stress' I've been thinking a lot about spiritual gifts. It all made sense in that moment: the spirit anoints me with joy. Absolute, perfect, pure joy. All the time. I am constantly filled with the spirit, we all are. But it's in moments like the one I shared with the exuberantly joyful and helpful man in Waterstones that re-ignited my confidence in trusting that the spirit does in fact make me joyful. Happy to be alive, happy to receive gifts of kindness and compassion, happy to go that little bit out of my way to make my life an interesting story to tell aspects of to others.
Sorry I haven't written for a while. It's not like I haven't been doing things; I've been unfathomably busy! I thought it might be nice to just share a recent little story with you, whilst reminding myself that I do have a blog which I used to write with a vibrant passion for. That's a little bit sad but I'm finding more and more things are coming into and out of my life with every opportunity I take, so for that I am sorry, blog, that I have abandoned you. Never fear, I aim to have updated you at least once again before the end of the year.