Category Archives: Front of House

Patchwork Weather – a poem by Fraser


 (Click on the images to see Fraser’s handwritten original)

Patchwork Weather

It’s a strange mixture
It’s all stitched together
Patchwork like spectrums
Of opposite weather

It’s rainy one moment
It’s sunny the next
(Hexagonal sunbursts
on a lonely, dark bed)

It’s foggy, it’s breezy
Its wadding is dull
Then, hemmed at the edges,
Bright blocks of the quilt!

This rushes over
The yellowing sky
Spikes of new daybreak
As the new layers tied

Then, it changes.

It goes crazy
It goes like crazy patchwork
It’s like this….








(not Amish…)

It’s sleety, it’s hailing
It’s blizzards, it’s bad
A cyclone of colour
The deadliest patch

It’s sunny one moment
It’s rainy the next
(The cyclone drifts over
a lonely, lost thread)

Yes, it’s a mixture
All forming together
Patchwork constellations
Of opposite weather

With no real pattern
Of wet and dry
I think I’d rather
Stay inside.



Culture Shift

Sunday was a sunny day. On bright days, we sometimes struggle for visitors. Our galleries are fun, but inside. It’s a tussle for public attention – bright history, culture and education, against the pull of bright sunshine. Still, we’re always open, giving you our option.

It was strange returning to work. I’m back off holiday. The last week I’ve been helping at a scout camp in the Lake District. Camps are a unique blend of fun, friendship, activities, play fights and dossing around. Museums appeal to completely the other side of my personality. Work today is a culture shift.

‘If someone gives me grief today I mustn’t chase them with a stick or give them a wedgie,’ I remind myself. 

Our prestigious year at the peak of the family friendly tree has ended, but there’s no need for scout camp tactics. Fortunately, I quickly switch back to customer service mode. It’s a mainly uneventful day. But, for me, it’s strange.

Me trying to water ski on camp whilst wearing unconvincing James Bond lycra.

Changes at the museum mean that the weekend Front of House team has a lot of new faces. I’ve been at the Herbert for almost three years; I’m the experienced head. However, I have customer service commitments at public events, so I’ve hardly worked with the new team. In the weeks I’ve been away, they’ve intermingled. They know each other. Therefore, despite my Herbert knowledge, it feels like a different place.

Still, we get on fine. There’s no need for wedgies, anyway.

Secret Lives

We have a new contributor to the blog! Please welcome Fraser, one of our gallery assistants.  

I have a secret life. I’m a professional gallery assistant and I’m a professional mascot. Being a mascot is like being a superhero: I cannot reveal my secret identity. True, my super power is unlikely to save the world, as it’s waving at children. My training for the job was simple…

Fraser dressed as a cinema

I cannot reveal my mascot identity, but here I am dressed as a cinema....

‘Don’t talk, and don’t take your head off.’ they say ‘Else the kids’ll freak.’

Awhile back, I had the chance to combine my gallery work and my mascoting.
‘Will you be my Mummy?’ my friend in marketing asked. ‘Well, yes,’ I say. Secret lives; secret Egypt. Who da Mummy?

Not me, as it happens. Maybe I’m overqualified. The chosen Mummy did a great job, but I’d have laid down more comedy curses.
‘I curse your hat! Oh no…I actually I quite like it. Better than what they’re wearing in the afterlife. I bless your hat.’
Pause. Comedy pause.
‘Your socks, though, NAH!’ 

Our real mummy is Perenbast the Chantress. We know her through her artefacts, but how well can we ever know her? How well can we ever know anyone? How well do we even know our colleagues? 

During launch day, I went for a sandwich with someone I’ve worked with for over a year. We get on well, but our conversation stutters. It just dive-bombs into silence.

‘Hey,’ she says ‘let’s talk about work!’ She’s joking, but it’s true. Outside the work bubble, we don’t say much. Having a communal pint after the launch, we joke about it. ‘We need to work on our friendship,’ she says. ‘I’ll text you,’ I say ‘…about work.’

Maybe it’s because we’re tired. Maybe it’s because I’m more reactive in conversations. I rarely drive them. I like to listen, just listen. If you really listen, you’ll see how often people cut across each other or finish each other’s sentences. Good listeners rarely interrupt. To be one, just don’t talk. Oh, and don’t take your head off. 

Fraser and Postman Pat

....and here I am with Postman Pat.

It’s easy to talk about work. Naturally, friendships blossom behind desks and in galleries, but when people move on, rapports can dwindle. I returned to TKMaxx, where I worked for two years. The connections had gone. I don’t know what to say. But you can hardly dive into deep conversation. I once joked about this while serving TKMaxx customers.

‘Would you like small talk,’ I said ‘or …a deep, psychologically demanding, conversation?’ They ponder. ‘We’ll take the deep conversation.’ ‘So,’ I said. ‘When was the last time you cried?’ They laugh. I continue. ‘And when was the last time you broke the law?’ Maybe not that deep, but the customers loved it.

Some customers want rapport, like people meeting mascots. Others customers want approachable reverence, like seeing Museum Assistants. I adjust myself to both. Rarely customers want deep conversations or colleagues. 

How well do my colleagues really know me? Even those I socialise with.

I think I’ll take five minutes to chat more, and maybe not about work.

Like I say, I have a secret life.

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