France 1

Before we just focused our holidays on beautiful Switzerland we had trips to France. Some great times. Times before our son. Times before grief rode in. Times even before digital. So occasionally I’m going to do turn the clock back to the start of this century. Go down memory lane.

This was a long weekend trip. A car trip from Yorkshire to the Loire Valley. We pre booked the accommodation but didn’t quite expect to be staying in a mini chateau.

Even before brexit the English always received a warm welcome in France.

Inside was just staggering. I was under strict orders. ‘Don’t touch anything in case you knock it over’.

The chateau stood next to the Loire River.

It must have been hot. No jumper.

Why the long weekend. Why the 620 mile drive. To watch the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

Not the greatest of views but the budget had been blown on the accommodation and petrol. It was hot. Mid to high thirties. Wow it was noisy.

The race was won by the great Michael Schumacher.

Bubble burst

Dad why are you smiling.

I’m playing that mind training game. My brain age has been assessed as 28.

I take that it’s 28 months and not years then Dad.

Consider my brief basking bubble has been officially burst.

I was listening to a chap on the radio basking in the news that Brexit has moved a step closer. In his bubble this is wonderful. The new deal our great PM has negotiated is brilliant. Billions been taken away from Europe and will be given to our NHS and schools. Taxes will come down. Businesses will boom. Wages will rise on the back of all these wonderful new trade deals. For our country and our kids I really hope his bubble is not burst. I really do.

I wish I was in this Brexit bubble – but I’m sadly not. This brilliant deal is based on two dubious principles.

  • A Customs Union Border in the Irish Sea splitting the UK in two with Northern Ireland effectively staying under EU trade rules. Bizarrely our PM said last year that this idea would be a disaster and no Government could ever sign up to it. Equally bizarrely our Foreign Secretary has said the arrangement will be a great deal for Northern Ireland. Staying in the Customs Union is a special deal. Ok so why is this special deal not been given to Scotland, Wales and England. Oh yes I forgot that would mean staying in the EU.
  • All the important negotiations on trade and relations with the EU will be done after we officially leave. Basically we would have 14 months from leaving to sort this out. So basically we leave without known on what basis we are going. But here’s the rub. Here’s why many on the Right love this idea. It gives the Government the right to leave with no deal. Just have to wait 14 months then thy can blame the EU. That’s the crash and burn strategy many on the Right have always wanted.

The bottom line is this new Brexit Deal is a BAD DEAL which was rejected last year. Rejected even by the team pushing it now. It’s a Great Deal for the Rich and a BAD DEAL for the rest of us. Again I hope I’m wrong but deep down I do fear for the future. No I don’t think the Country will go bankrupt. Life will continue. But it will be worse. We are not in a strong bargaining position for the new trade deals. Any deal with Trump will mean opening up our NHS to his big business friends. To compete the Government wants Britain (now Northern Ireland remains effectively in the EU) to move to an economy which is based on low wages and zero regulations. Where the drive is for tax cuts and profits for the Rich. Our wages are going to fall and our worker rights are going to be eroded with no safety net of public sector support.

But apparently I’m missing the point of Brexit. One of the biggest supporters of Brexit has said ‘Brexit was never just about the money’. That’s easy for you to say when your not exactly short of a penny or two. But ok point taken. Let’s look at travel rights. Britain’s will lose the right to travel freely in 26 countries and will not benefit from free or discounted medical cover in those countries. That’s not so good. One of the first actions of Brexit will be to scrap EU regulations on Food Standards, Environment Protection, Freedom of Speech, Workers Rights, Maximum weekly working hours, Maternity and Paternity Rules. The rules designed to protect us. Thats not good either. But hang on let’s not forget we get a different coloured passport with no mention of Europe on the front. Unfortunately last time I heard the new passports will be largely produced in the EU. But let’s celebrate having a blue passport, so much nicer than that red one.

For my sons sake I really hope I’m wrong. I really do. But at the moment I’m clinging to the hope that this new deal is rejected. Yes in an ideal world I would like to stay in the EU. The EU is certainly not perfect but it’s a whole lot better than the current alternative. But if we do go then WE still have time to do Brexit right. Just agreeing to keep Freedom of Movement would make a huge difference. And yes in our little bubbles we can still have our Blue Passports.

Worth it

The rain clouds finally moved on and the sun shined briefly today.

If you open your eyes it’s amazing what gifts this beautiful world of ours will bestow on you.

The news in many countries is usually grim these days. In the U.K. we find our country run by the most extreme and dangerous government this country has seen in centuries. Your either completely agree with them or you are branded a traitor. An enemy of the people. We have become a country were a PM is hailed by his supporters like a conquering roman emperor after he was found guilty of breaking the law by our highest court in the land. A country where the PM is openly stoking the fires of intolerance and hatred. Where intimidation is commonplace. Brexit has broken the country. Was it really worth it.

So parents have to bring up their children in this toxic environment. A world made toxic by the adults. As a generation we have monumentally failed. We continue to find new ways of making things worse. Our leaders play a daily game of who can be the biggest cheating lying dork. Who can bring down their democracy first. Who can burn the planet fastest.

But hope has not been vanquished. The decent law abiding amongst us greatly outnumber the deluded. The next generation have not been blinded by the madness and greed. The educational system may try to clip their wings but it’s the job of parents to keep those dreams burning bright. The young like Greta are the future. The planet is still staggeringly beautiful. Just a short walk can yield such wonders.

So tomorrow Johnson will continue to try and push our country nearer the precipice. But take a quick walk and look at what is around you. Take a good look at the faces of the young. See their dreams. That’s the important stuff. That’s what should be guiding our direction. Not the poisonous Brexit agenda – whether we should leave or remain. Regardless of what happens we are going to have to get the country working again. Bringing the artificial divisions together again. A time to marginalise the extremists, build bridges (not walls) and reclaim our wonderful planet again. The kids deserve that.

Terrible Poetry

It’s Terrible Poetry time as ever thanks to the Grand Bard – Chelsea Owens. This week the rules are:

  1. It’s time for another Acrostic Poem. Let’s pick a Topic of Celebrities.
    An acrostic is simple; write a word (say, like the celebrity’s name or favorite habit) down the left side, and then do a haphazard job of filling in with your poem.
  2. Length should be dependent on the word you pick, and how verbose you feel at each letter.
  3. Rhyme if you wish. Don’t if you wish.
  4. Make it terrible!! Make our eyes beg our brain to stop reading, just stop. Please; they would rather read grocery tabloids than whatever you just churned out.
  5. Celebrities and their choices can get a bit racy, so we’ll up the Rating to PG-13.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (September 27) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

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Arrogant

liar

extremist

x-rated

a charlatan

New Yorker

deluded

egotistical

racist

Brexit will make him millions

ought to make his pals billions

remain was always his position

it changed to suit his self mission

self deluded craving celebrity privileged Eton boy

Destined to play as Nero with his new burning country toy

england should be for the English he proudly shouts

privately whispering he’s actually not from these whereabouts

Funding his lovers and friends with public money

easily avoiding the rules like some corrupt Easter Bunny

fibbing and lying is his way to con the masses

flippantly poking fun at those from the working classes

evading visits from the police to one of his shouting matches

lovers are kept quiet maybe with gifts paid for from our hard earned taxes

Jovial and bumbling are what the media laps up

only reporting the fake image and never about how he is so corrupt

he said he couldn’t live on his huge ministerial wage

no thought for us as he takes us back to the Victorian Age

so a man without principles or any human decency

only interested in one person and slayer of our democracy

not a man of the people just a wannabe celebrity member of the aristocracy

Magic Tree

And still it rains.

My phone is old but at least it’s just about waterproof.

Unlike my old battered raincoat which is anything but waterproof.

Our helpful government likes to point out to the great unwashed – there is no magic money tree. Well there is but it’s only available to the few. So like many households the number of items which are beyond their useful life is growing each day. Yet as we don’t have access to a money tree we just have to make do. Our list is not unusual.

  • Washing Machine – can’t select a cycle you get what the machine gives you. Plus it has a door which doesn’t shut properly so it needs to be kicked until it locks.
    Oven – has two settings no heat or nuclear fusion.
    Car – needs 4 new tyres which at least will triple the value of the car.
    Back Door – has so many leaks it’s been renamed WikiLeaks.
    Hairdryer – only blows cold.
    Shower – produces about as much water as the smallest water pistol.
    Dvd Player – only plays discs if they have been properly cleaned by Mary Poppins. Every disk seems to go into mad picture breakdown on the merest speck of dust.
    Boiler – was installed prior to the introduction of video recorders and home computers.
    Light switches -No lights in one room so it’s a great place to play hide and seek.
    Microwave Oven – has more rust than my first ever car (mk1 Ford Escort).
    Conservatory Door – doesn’t shut anymore unless you are called The Hulk.
    Laptop – in a permanent state of update and has as much processing power as a stick of rhubarb.
    Camera – has never been the same since it was accidentally dropped into a pan of boiling bake beans. Now everyone ends up looking like Donald Trump.
    Chimney – to narrow to safely light a fire. What were the builders thinking of. How the fiddle sticks did Santa get down that.
    Tumble Dryer – as much drying effect as one of my sneezes.
    Curtains – all shredded by cats.
    Furniture – all shredded by cats.
    House – all shredded by the cats.
    Freezer – the 3 plastic draws have disintegrated so all the food is just wedged in. When you open the door it’s an explosion of food items.
    Dish Washer – is no more, it is an ex dishwasher.

Every week the list of disrepair gets longer. But you just get on with it. Make the best of things. See the funny side to it. And above all remember that as bad as you think things are THERE are so many people out there with no home and no possessions. Which is appalling when you think of the wealth the few control. Just think what good that magic tree could do in the right hands.

Choices

Life is full of choices.

This morning it was pouring down but the forecast was for sun. What to wear on the run. I opted for full rain gear. 10 minutes into the run it’s blazing sunshine. Ended up more drenched than I would have been if I had started in just a T-shirt in the rain.

The Government could have saved Thomas Cook from going under. They decided not to. Apparently they were worried about not getting the £200m back. So 22000 people world wide have lost their jobs. Countless thousands are stranded. Holidays, honeymoons, once in a life time adventures have been ruined. Lots of hard up people are losing money on the bookings they have made.

Last night in the rain storm water came in through the back door. Do I find money to replace the old back door or find the money to replace the misfiring washing machine.

A few years back the Government didn’t win enough seats in the election. It had a choice to make. It decided to find over £1billion to bribe another party to back it so they could keep their jobs in government. Wonder when we will get that money back.

A few months ago I was faced with a decision. Keep son in school or homeschool. I opted for keeping him in school on the grounds that I couldn’t afford to home school (single working parent) and hope school will improve the support to our son. Few weeks into the term of any school support has in fact stopped. Probably a bad call.

The Government had a choice to make on Brexit. It’s decided to go for a no deal crash out. An approach which will make many in the cabinet and it’s friends significant money from hedge-fund investments. It’s also will have to spend over £6billion on Brexit planning. I wonder when we will see that money back.

So in life we all have choices to make. The big difference is that the vast majority of us may get decisions wrong but they will have been taken with the best of intentions. That doesn’t apply to Government. Ultimately they are looking after themselves….

Clueless

It’s been a clueless type of day.

The company I have been doing some work for asked me if I would phone up the Brexit Helpline to ask some technical questions. Apparently because I talk tosh they thought I might be better placed to understand the helplines answers. I won’t bore you with the whole conversation but basically this was the nub of it.

Can I ask you some technical questions relating to Brexit and my company?

Please do. That’s what we are here for.

If we have staff who need to work in the EU for a short period of time what are the new regulations we must observe?

Don’t know

If we undertake work in the EU but need to employ EU based subcontractors what are the tax implications?

The current tax and excise regime will change on the 31st October. You will need to start planning for the changes now.

Yes I realise that but what will be the new regime.

It’s still being formulated

If we have web based sales to the EU what will be the export tax position?

Don’t know.

And on and on. To all my questions I received three basic replies.

  • We leave the EU on the 31st October and things will change. You will need to plan.
    The Government is still working on the details.
    Don’t know.

Anyway it proves that Brexit is a typo. It should be Breshit….

Absolutely clueless

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I spoke to school again about our son. He’s had zero additional help so far this school year. It’s actually got worse. At least last year the teaching staff got to know him and some of teachers did try to help. We even had a couple of teachers who really got to understand him and they did try to modify the programme for him. For this school year his teaching staff and teaching assistants have all changed. So we are back to square one.

In terms of support for Aspergers the school provides no support. It has established a quiet room which kids can go to. But this is a small, cramped room which is frequently used for teacher meetings and storage. Even our gerbils would be able to design a more autism friendly space than the schools attempt. The only area the School has talked about was maybe giving our son more time to change when doing sports – but this in practice has never happened. That’s it – no other help. It’s not seen as a school problem it’s something the NHS deals with.

In terms of dyslexia school argues that it provide a Teaching Assistant in each lesson to provide support. This is not dedicated support. The TA has to try and support the whole class. Our son’s class also has a profoundly dyslexic child and the TA helps this child during any reading elements of the teaching. Again school argue that our son should put his hand up and ask for help. Unfortunately the TA is frequently already occupied. More fundamentally requiring a dyslexic child to put his or her hand up and ask for help completely misses the point. Most dyslexic kids won’t put their hand up because of the stigma still associated with not been able to read. Putting your hand up is seen as flagging up that you are different. Consequently son never puts his hand up anymore. So school argues that the lack of support is down to our son not requiring it. They can’t seem to get their head round being proactive.

Absolutely clueless

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It’s Autumn so it must be time for home made soup. So the chef places the ingredients in the slow cooker and lets them stew for a few hours. Then it was time for the chef to blend the ingredients in the smoothie maker (it’s a multitasker). Unfortunately the chef forgot to put the lid on . So now the kitchen has gone from a magnolia paint feel to one more a kin to a Ghostbuster ectoplasmic theme.

Absolutely clueless

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To try and calm down after my two earlier conversations I went for a run. Within minutes my running to the beat of Mongolian Heavy Metal came to a halt as the mp3 batteries died. Still it’s a pleasant day for a run. Halfway round I stopped to tie my shoelaces while a rather inquisitive cow peered over a gate. Thirty minutes later I arrived back at the house. Where’s the MP3 player? Pants I must have put it down when I tied my shoelaces. So I had to run back to that gate. Visions of a head banging cow thinking why she had never come across Mongolian music before.

Absolutely clueless

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So whether it’s been Government Officials, Teachers, Parents, Chefs or Runners. It’s been a day for the clueless.

Terrible Poetry

It’s that time again for hopefully some downright cheesy terrible Poetry thanks to Chelsea Owens. This week she has set the following challenge.

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Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. The Topic is free-versing about secondhand sales. Ever been to a yard sale? Garage sale? Flea market? Write about it; flow about it.
  2. Looking for a certain Length? Let’s go with fewer than 150 words. Final offer.
  3. Rhyming is not allowed. This is free verse poetry, people. Curb your instincts.
  4. Above all, make it terrible. e.e. cummings must feel such a shock from your literary efforts that he vows to capitalize his name just to make you stop.
  5. Let’s keep the rating PG or cleaner. What sort of flea market are you going to, anyway?

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (September 20) to submit a poem the good ladies blog.

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I got carried away and the first version was an epic unfortunately way beyond 150 words so this is the heavily butchered version 2.

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Wandering round the stalls and jammed full car boots

Sellers imploring you to hand over your hard earned loot

In one car boot an autobiography from Donald Trump

Read that, no way rather have a session with a stomach pump

Then a special offer on CDs from U2 and Bono

Give you money for that, you got more chance of seeing a flying Dodo

Then a car boot with a portrait of a politician, Jacob Rees Mogg

I’d rather have my leg humped by a rabid flee ridden Rottweiler Dog

Some numpty called Farage is selling knocked off cheap French red wine

He bought the bottles with loose change from his European Pension goldmine

Then finally a chance to buy the actual Boris Johnson our countries so called leader

I bought him for 10p he’s now planted pretending to be a Japanese ornamental Cedar.

Food purgatory

My diet is bad. Very bad. My Dad would call it minging. It’s been awful for years. Too much of the bad stuff. Too little of the good stuff. I drink that much coffee that the fluid in my body is no longer water, it’s pure caffeine. That’s probably why I don’t look like George Clooney. Oh hang on George does coffee – that doesn’t work does it. Anyway I’ve not looked like Clooney, suffered from IBS and had a nervous tummy since my college days. The last couple of years haven’t helped it at all.

I knew something had to be done but I kept putting it off. Then I read some great posts on healthy eating and food detox cleanses. This was one of them

Riddle from the Middle

Well finally the penny has dropped. This is Day 8 of my food purgatory. No junk food, no sweets, no chocolate, no crisps, no chips, no popcorn, no peanut butter, no spicy stuff, no dairy, no gluten, no soya, no artificial or processed rubbish. NO COFFEE….. It’s been steamed veg, boiled rice, organic protein, herbal tea and tanker loads of water with a slice of lemon. And as much exercise as time and the body will permit.

Food wise it’s not been too bad. Not been that hungry – although I have been found gnawing on chair legs a few times. But coffee that’s been tough. Especially on the morning. Badly needed an alternative to shift me out of the non functioning zombie state. Luckily I’ve stumbled across one. A squeezed lemon with a ton of fresh ground ginger. Granted it’s an acquired taste. But it doesn’t half shock the system. I understand a similar recipe was used by NASA as fuel for the Apollo Saturn V rocket.

So it’s been a self imposed purgatory. NOW Son has come out in support however his is not quite so self imposed. Last Week when he returned from school he had been eating us out of house and home. Well on Friday I checked his online school lunch account to see if it needed topping up. Bizarrely it had hardly been used that week.

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Son what have you been eating at school lunch. You have hardly spent any money this week.

Not much really Dad.

Why haven’t you been hungry?

No been starving. On Monday in the class before lunch the teacher kept us back because of the behaviour of some of the other kids. When we got to the kitchen they had sold out of flapjacks and sandwiches the other food wasn’t good for me. Tuesday was fine and got my usual. Wednesday and Thursday we where on the other side of the site. So when we got to the kitchen the queue was massive and it was taking ages so I grabbed a bottle of water as all the good food had gone. On Friday by the time we got to the end of the queue it was almost time for lessons to start so I grabbed a flapjack and went to class. Your not allowed to eat in class so I had that on the bus coming home.

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So school got another angry phone call and another formal complaint. The problem is that schools in the UK have been forced to cut back on school lunch expenditure. Plus the pressure to deliver the set national curriculum has forced many schools to drastically cut the school lunch breaktime. It’s the only way they can meet the demands of government. Feeding kids is not up there on the priorities. In all the surveys and questions we have had to complete for school inspections Lunch has never once been mentioned. It’s all about the national curriculum. How can a kid learn when he’s hungry. Let’s not beat about the bush most of the reasons for these problems is down to those in charge of our countries education. Basically the government picks numpties with Victorian values to run education. I’ve previously mentioned the Minister who viewed kids being off after a bereavement as AN EXTENDED HOLIDAY.

The school argues that they are following government policy, that the budgets have been slashed and that some food is always available. Problem is that when you are an Autistic kid the range of acceptable food can be limited. If it’s the wrong colour, wrong texture or mixed up with other food then it never going to be consumed.

A pack-up is not really easy most days as his big school bag is filled to busting with essential books, equipment and sports kit. Most days he’s already walking around school with a full bag on his shoulders and hands full with books he can’t fit into the bag. I have started filling up one side pocket with chocolate bars and snacks so at least he’s got something to snack on. A supersized school bag is on order which will hopefully be big enough to fit in a pack-up box.

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So this is a house of food purgatory for a variety of reasons. Hopefully it will make me healthier. Hopefully son’s purgatory has ended. It might even make both of us better prepared for the potential food shortages if our PM gets his way and we crash out of the EU in six weeks. As Monty Python say – always look on the bright side of life.

Brexit and Christmas

The parliamentary term is less than 3 days old and already the world has discovered what whose of us who have worked with Boris Johnson have always known: he is cowardly, weak, vindictive and without morals. Behold your Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen.

Going well for our so called Prime Minister – those are the words from an MP from his own party….

Now putting my cards on the table I voted against Brexit and still think it’s a bad idea which runs the risk of making things much worse for the weakest in our country. The only real winners will be the the millionaire hedge fund investors who helped fund the leave campaign. But if we are having Brexit then we need to do it properly and make the very best of it for all of our communities.

I had an appointment with the Dentist today. The Dentist said that I needed some treatment but she was full until October. But the work would be completed before the end of October just in case they start to struggle getting dental supplies due to Brexit.

One of my university friends is a civil servant who works within one of the Government Departments. He was saying that they are working on the basis of significant risks of fuel shortages, fresh food supply disruption, medical rationing, veterinary drug shortages within a month of Brexit. He reassuringly described the current Government approach as swinging between headless chickens and an ostrich burying its head in the sand. The current thinking seems to be if we are lucky it will be fine but there is more of a chance that it will be somewhere between bad and appalling but we can blame Europe for that.

So better keep all those fingers crossed then.

Another friend of mine works in the car production sector. His plant works on a Just in Time basis so needs a constant supply of parts. He was saying that the supply is likely to be severely disrupted as soon as Brexit starts. Apparently the Government has only just realised this and has added this to its risk plans – with just weeks to go. I remember hearing a Minister sound surprised that companies might be so dependent on the free movement of goods.

So this week our Prime Minister closed down parliament with the excuse that he wanted to develop some really radical policies. Maybe he should put down his fine claret glass and concentrate on a few other matters first. If it has to be a no deal Brexit why not give yourself some more time to do it properly rather than winging it.

The other week we went for a walk. Too engrossed in a chat about Monty Python we missed out path and ended up on the wrong side of the forest so we couldn’t get back to our village. The Forest was too dense to just walk through it. So we had two options. Walk the 20 minutes back down the path or take the only short cut through the forest. Only problem is that the short cut is a deep beck with unknown underfoot conditions either side (due to thick undergrowth). Yes we could wing it and rely on good fortune but in life that doesn’t often work out well. So we walked back down the path and 40 minutes later we were back home. Safe and dry. Yes the unplanned shortcut might have worked but it wasn’t worth the risk.

My old pop had a saying. Nowt worse than doin a job half cocked.

Dad I’ve started the planning process for Christmas.

Last year I put out son in charge of Christmas. What we do, what we eat, where we go, what decorations to have and when to do it. It was our my attempt to deal with the fallout from son hearing that chat about Santa. Him planning everything worked out quite well last year. The feeling of control alienated a lot of the Santa let down.

I’ve set myself until the end of September to have the Christmas timetable mapped out then I can sort out the details.

His first call looks like it is to move the traditional Christmas lunch to Boxing Day. Christmas Day lunch will now be pizza based – more time for fun less work. The traditional trip to the zoo on New Years Day will happen again. This year he wants some external lights on the house but wants to think about the environmental impact. He wants a couple of additional day visits. He’s deciding between Edinburgh, Northumberland, Lake District and Stonehenge.

The interesting point is that son is giving himself twice the length of planning time for Christmas than the PM is giving the country for his no deal Brexit. I know which one is going to be better organised.