Time

TIME is a funny thing. Walked past here on Friday and hardly any of the white flowers had emerged. 72 hours later after a yucky cold, dark and damp weekend – any hey presto it’s a sea of white.

I remember someone very clever saying that TIME operates at different rates for different people. Thinking about it – that clever person might have been Dr Who. When I was a kid I loved Dr Who. I so wanted to be a Timelord. As a prize for winning a football tournament school arranged a trip to the last day of a Dr Who exhibition. I was super excited. On the way our bus broke down. It took them hours to fix it. Finally we arrived at the exhibition only to find it had closed 5 minutes earlier. How on earth can you miss an exhibition about a time travellerjust doesn’t seem right.

TIME definitely operates at different rates for some of our son’s school teachers. Quite a few of the online classes require the student to read an article or a section of a text book. The amount of reading has definitely increased over the last few school days. The number of follow up tasks has also increased. Strangely the TIME allowed has stayed the same. Exactly where does this approach leave the dyslexic student. I know teachers are super busy but maybe one of them might have asked son how he is coping with reading the course material. They seem much quicker to spot his spelling mistakes. Much better use of TIME.

TIME is also hard to define. School have now rolled out a national learning app primarily aimed at those students who struggle with English comprehension and grammar. Interestingly an app with a rating of 1 out 5 from users (lucky to get 1 by all accounts). Son has been set a weekly app study time of 50 minutes. The teacher will be checking that each student has achieved the weekly minimum study time. Punishments for underachieving. What they don’t mention is that the app uses a lot of videos and narratives. Unfortunately these do not count against the learning time but need to be completed before you can get to the student work areas. When it crashes (and it crashes more times than me on a diet) all learning time is lost and you need to start at the beginning of the section again. So far son has been on the app for just under 3 hours. He’s watched endless boring videos and robotic narratives. He’s still to learn anything new. AND he’s only clocked 20 minutes actual study time.

Dad what is the point of this. I’m bored out of my mind. As you would say, it’s a pile of pants. It’s a complete waste of my time, your time, the teachers time and a waste of bandwidth.”

I fed this back to school with a few of my own rather barbed comments. The school’s response was well we have sent a teacher to be trained in its use, that’s valuable school TIME so we need to keep using it.

Clearly I was wasting my TIME arguing.

Gnomeless

Maybe it’s my dear parents influence but I’ve always liked a garden gnome. But for years we had a problem. My partner hated them. Which is unusual as she was the kindest soul going. Never a bad word about anyone. All except gnomes. She had serious issues with them. When I suggested the garden would benefit from at least one of these sweet little chaps the response was razor sharp

If I find one in the garden then it’s getting smashed with a hammer….

Even when I suggested that a gnome would significantly raise the IQ in the garden when I was gardening alone, the response was similarly brutal

The garden gnome will get it then your next…..

What I will now tell you will probably get a really pissed off spirit coming my way. I might have ignored my partner just a tad. A few gnomes did get sneaked into the garden. To ensure their life expectancy was measured in days rather than seconds they needed to go into deep cover. Very deep cover. The compost heap, under bushes, hid behind plant pots. Unbelievably a few survived the inevitable apocalypse.

One such hardy soul is still with us. Now he is enjoying life in the open. He has long forgotten the long years buried under the hedge. He’s a gnome from my favourite footy team. He’s over 20 years old and is still to see his team win anything. What was I thinking of when as a toddler when I picked Newcastle United as my team. I could have picked a team which won things. No I picked the team which is in a permanent state of chaos, a never ending winless soap story. No wonder the poor gnome looks so washed out. I went through a stage of telling the gnome the teams results. Unfortunately as that usually entailed breaking the bad news of another defeat I changed to just letting him know of good team news. As a result I haven’t spoken to the gnome in years…….

Bee

Slightly unnerving BEEing (being) eyeballed by this woolly friend. Couldn’t work out if it was admiring my silky garden football skills or was waiting for a Rich Tea biscuit. I lived in footballing worship hope until a biscuit was handed over and the woolly one then walked off.

Not always but occasionally life balances itself out. This morning I finished my last bit of paid work before the company basically shuts down for a couple of months (maybe longer). So no money coming in. As I closed the work laptop the phone rang. It was the garage, they still can’t get the parts needed for my cars poorly braking system. They will keep trying but the repair work won’t happen much before May. That’s a bit of a result. Won’t BEE (be) using the car much at all and that’s one hefty bill kicked into the long grass.

Talking about long grass. Last year someone gave me a wild bee hotel. The poor souls are struggling here so I thought I would do my bit. A quiet corner in the garden has been allowed to go wild. To be factually correct that should have been described as – I have let a part of the badly overgrown garden to go even wilder than the rest of the mess…

Anyway in the wild corner I have carefully located the bee hotel. Still no little takers after many months. I remember my Dad telling me that the first bee you see in spring is probably looking for a new home. He was a stubborn Yorkshireman so I never dared to question his apicultural knowledge. So our first bee of the season arrived.

A bee clearly fixated on trying to squeeze under the back door and get into our house. I tried showing the bee the currently vacant and palatial hotel. As hard as I pointed at the hotel’s front door, the bee just ignored me. Even a little honey failed to entice the bee. UnBEElievable (Unbelievable)

My question to you. What is the bee phrase for ‘Sorry pal your not coming in here. This thing I’m pointing at is your free of charge new house. I will even feed you each day.”

Old

It’s been one of those days when I just feel old. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Fighting a cold which I just can’t shake certainly doesn’t help. The weather most certainly doesn’t help – a bitingly cold gale force wind. Work was a slog with everything going wrong and the computer just saying NO. School was definitely very vexing. Now even the school governors have given up responding. I guess I must be on the official naughty list. My run was hard work. Slow, cold and a real effort. At times it seemed like one step forward and two back. Even the view failed to lift my spirits. It just provided an excuse to stop for a minute. The post school garden football was an effort. Not so much Messi or Pele, more like a knackered three legged giraffe trudging about in a vat of thick treacle. So yes today I felt much older than my 339 years. I’ve used this body up can I have another one please.

For sons mathematics exam he did really well given the lack of dyslexia support. He came second in his class. Just over 70% in one paper and high 60s in the second paper. That’s not too shoddy for a kid who could only read some of the words on the question sheets.

As I couldn’t read some of the questions I wonder if I would have got a similar mark if I had sat the maths paper but it was in French. Wouldn’t it save time if you could just combine subject exams so you could sit two at the same time. French & Maths, Science & Art, History & Drama, English & PE, Geography & Cooking.”

I could sign up to that. I would combine my worst subjects and get them out of the way in one exam. So I could do Drama and Cooking in one sitting. Or maybe I combine a really good subject with a bad one – PE could drag up my French score. It’s definitely a winner.

Dad are you sending an email”

“Yes I am. I am emailing the Prime Minister”

“Oh. Your not telling him about my sitting two exam in one go idea!”

No Son. I’m emailing him a question about dyslexia support.”

Do you think he will answer it”

Well let’s see.”

You didn’t have a go at him.”

“No I was very polite”

Well you weren’t very polite playing football. You said some naughty words when you tried to run.”

“I am getting older. Sometimes running hurts. And I didn’t use naughty words. I used my special made up words. Those which might be naughty but no one will ever know. Scully. Jellycup, Fumf.”

SO YES I FEEL OLD TODAY. ITS SUCH A JELLYCUP SCULLY FUMF……

Earthquakes and The Scottish Play

Finally succumbed to the New Year ‘Sort myself out’ bug. So the Gluten, Soya, Caffeine, Dairy, Meat Free diet is back in force. Whats the old phrase – in for a Penny in for a Pound. So on top of that it is a fasting type regime as well. 10pm to 4pm no food. Allowed to eat in just 6 hours everyday. If I was sticking to the 8:16 diet then I could start eating at 2pm but as Son is not back from school until 4 then might as well wait. It’s funny the effect it has on me. Even a simple bowl of green salad takes on an out of body experience at 4pm. Almond Milk becomes pure nectar.

Anybody who experiences the pleasure of IBS will probably understand the length you will go to try and sort your innards out. You realise it’s unlikely ever to be that magic fix. You happily settle for work around that settles things down for a few months. As you get older more items are added to the banned list. Or at best the once a year I’ve got to have my fix and will take the consequences list. It never seems to be the boring or least favourite foods does it. This Christmas shockingly Marzipan has been added to the naughty list. Absolutely heartbreaking. It’s bizarre as Almond Milk is currently fine with my body and yet Marzipan…… So if you ever see me in the street looking like Mr Creosote then you know I’ve just succumbed to Marzipan with a large coffee.

Anyway the diet switch has been surprisingly easy this weekend. As soon as we have got up Son has wanted to play football in our mud patch and then take the dog for a walk. It’s helped pass the empty feeling hours. Frustratingly the football was set all day in a misty and rainy backdrop. Only as we started to pack up did the clouds finally part and we got to see the last embers of the setting sun. It will be a brief interlude as another Atlantic Storm is flying towards us. The Trampoline is hopefully well and truly sandbagged down.

So now we prepare for school. Last week was best described as a holding pattern. It didn’t get worse but certainly didn’t move forward. Currently we are trying to revise for a Science Test. For whatever reason Son suddenly gets areas of knowledge that he just can’t visualise. Being dyslexic visualisation is his memory method. I’ve previously talked about his struggles with decimal points and shapes. We can now add Waves to the list of struggles. Poor kid just can’t get his head round them.

Dad not sure Im going to do very well on this one. Can’t even spell Electromagnetic or Longitudinal. So even if I do fluke the right answer I still won’t be able to write it down correctly. Maybe as I’ve been practising for a Shakespeare spelling test I should just put down random bard words. At least they will be sort of spelt right.

That did make me smile. Imagine the look on the Science Teachers face when the response to the question. Which of the two types of wave produced by an earthquake is the first to arrive at a location. And will it be the P or S wave? Is as following

Macbeth and Stratford upon Avon.

Three

2020 currently is very three orientated. My football team got beat three nil at home. They had to use up all three substitutes before half time because of injuries. Then quickly found out that three substitutes was not enough as another player had to go off due to injury as well.

I got three bills in the post today.

I phoned up for a Doctors appointment and was told I had to wait three weeks for the first available slot.

Currently I am missing 3 running socks. Paddington Bear Stare towards Captain Chaos. So for my next run I can choose between a red running sock or a blue running sock or a white running sock. I think the red and blue combo with be best.

We have three gerbils. They are super friendly and also rather fascinating. If I could ask the three chaps (hope they are three of the same sex) one question it would be

Why when I put cardboard and wooden tunnels in your cage do you always put the smaller tube inside a larger one. Even when I put them on opposite ends of the cage why does one end up in the other within a few minutes.

As my gerbil vocabulary is so poor I guess I will never find out the answer to this first burning question of 2020. But I can’t leave this post on such a unresolvable cliffhanger. Apologies for the early contender for the most rubbish link of the year. As I’ve got over my initial New Years Blues and in the absence of an answer from the three rodents maybe it’s time for a few lists of three from 2019.

3 Biggest Fears that came true

  • School giving up on son
  • Boris Johnson becoming PM
  • Governments/The U.N. paying lip service and kicking into the long grass the momentum for change generated by the likes of Greta Thunberg

Best books read

  • Jean Lee – Nights Tooth
  • Stephen King – The Institute
  • Blake Crouch – Recursion

Best 3 movies of 2019

  • Avengers End Game
  • Horrible Histories – The Movie
  • Godzilla

Best 3 concerts

  • Alter Bridge/Shinedown
  • Kiss
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd

Best 3 albums

  • Alter Bridge – Walk the Sky
  • The Hu – The Gereg
  • Whitesnake – Flesh & Blood

Best 3 places visited

  • Kielder Water
  • Housesteads Roman Fort
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway

3 Most helpful bits of advice from 2019 – kind of

  • Maybe bring your dog back when he’s calmed down a wee bit – dog training school
  • Just needs to work a bit harder to improve his spelling and handwriting – teacher
  • Lager is better for your teeth than lemon water – Dentist

Best 3 things which helped our son

  • Setting a goal for the number of new places to be visited
  • Rock music and concerts
  • Catching balls while bouncing on a trampoline

Craziest 3 things the pets did

  • Muddy paw prints on the ceiling – how is that possible
  • Boy Cat getting the award for being the biggest and heaviest cat on the Vets books
  • Captain Chaos burying one of my running shoes in the garden. Took me weeks to find it.

Trudeau and the Bull

Our local Bull has decided that he hasn’t eyeballed me enough. Now he’s made his way through to the farmers field immediately behind our garden. Now he can eyeball me all day long.

Yesterday evening son was watching a history DVD. Something about the American Civil War. So I took the mad dog out in the garden for his late evening barking session. Village most love him. Anyway as he started barking at the Apple Tree when I noticed the football on the muddy lawn. A thought crossed my mind. I don’t often get the ball to myself. Time for some quality Dad football skills. Two minutes later the ball is in the farmers field. Ops. Not a problem I will just jump over the wooden fence and the small wire fence. Son will never know that I’m a muppet.

Then that sinking feeling. What is that large black lump stood next to the ball. A very large lump which is eyeballing me. The pigging ball has ended up next to Mr Bull. It’s our only ball since the dog chewed the last others. It is also our sons favourite ball which he’s had for years now.

Houston we have a problem.

What do I do.

Take the risk of son losing one of his favourite toys OR get flattened.

Having deeply assessed the problem and developed an in-depth strategy (thinking time lasted about 3 seconds) it was decision time. Seconds later I’ve climbed over the fences and I’m slowly edging towards The Beast. The well thought out plan could be described as ‘winging it’ or a ‘work in progress top level broad brush general overview’ thing. This was evidenced by the clever strategy to calm the beast. I was trying to soothly talk to him by saying ‘he’s a clever pretty polly’. I couldn’t think of a nice name for a bull but really pretty polly. The problem was compounded by the fact that on closer examination the ball was virtually under the bull.

So I continued to edge closer to my doom sticking to the Pretty Polly tactics. Eventually I’m within a couple of feet of The Beast. He’s a very big boy. And he’s seriously eyeballing me. Slowly I bend over and pick up the ball. My brilliant plan had not considered being actually face to face with him. Then the Beast made a strange noise. I’m about to die. Then a gushing water sound. He’s having a pee. I can breathe again. Then a potential mistake. A big mistake. I patted the bull on the head. He’s still eyeballing me but I’m sure the eyes have gone blood red and steam is coming out of the nose. Time to get out of here. Slowly I back away keeping my eyes on him. When the gap is about 6 yards I turned. Suddenly I’m sure I can hear the beast heading towards me. Fast. With a surprisingly rapid sprint for a man of my age I’m at the fences. No time to climb just jump. With one bound I just about clear both fences. SAFETY.

I would like to report that I landed like an Olympic Gymnast. No. I landed like a flying baboon. Face first into the muddy lawn and mole hills. But I’m alive and the ball is safe. Inside I looked in the mirror. A face caked in mud. At that very stage son walked into the bathroom. He took one look at the mud on my face and calmly said.

I’m not going to ask why but you do know having a painted brown face is so uncool and racist Dad.

Yes it is son. In my case it was an accident. Having said that I bet that’s exactly what Justin Trudeau said and it’s not a great defence. Best wash it off before I’m photographed.

Autism and football

The Blueberry Plant is anything other than blue now.

That looks too like a Liverpool and Manchester United shirt for my liking. But it’s still better than that black and white barcode which your team wears. Watching barcodes run about a pitch must give you headaches.

That Football team of mine just gives me headaches period.

Son has set his heart on playing football for a team. Over the last few months we’ve tried to kick as many footballs around as the weather has permitted. It hasn’t been easy for him. Difficulties with coordination makes playing any ball sport a tough ask. That’s the issues facing many kids with Autism and Dyspraxia.

But there is hope. For a start dyslexia is not a barrier to sport. So many positive examples.

  • Kenny Logan – 70 Caps for Scotland (Rugby Union)
  • Scott Quinell – multiple caps for Wales in both Rugby Union and League
  • Lewis Hamilton – 5 time F1 World Champion
  • Magic Johnson
  • The great Mohammad Ali

In terms of autism it allows you to see the world in different and imaginative ways. This can be such an advantage in sport. Psychologists believe that some of the greatest sporting talents may be on the spectrum. They can see opportunities that other teammates just can’t pick out. It’s speculated that one of the greatest footballers on the planet (maybe the best) is on the spectrum.

Our son is tall for his age and very slim. He seemed the perfect shape for a modern style goalkeeper. So that’s what we started with. This also made it easier as we could just focus on his hand to eye coordination. For years he couldn’t catch a ball. But for ages now he has been bouncing a bouncy ball on our pavement. With hard work he now has really good catching skills. Then he started trying to catch a tennis ball while bouncing on his trampoline. Again after a lot of hard work he now is great at diving and catching one handed. So the next stage was to change the bouncy ball and tennis ball for a football. Quite quickly he managed to start catching two handed.

A small goal was bought for the garden and I started hitting some soft shots at

him. With hard work he can now dive and make some great saves. He’s now better than I was at his age.

But now he wants to see if he can play as a midfielder.

That would be cool dad.

This is a harder challenge for him as he still struggles coordinating his feet to kick a ball properly. But let’s see what we can do about that. Any skills he learns with his feet will be useful if he goes back to goalkeeping as these days they need to be comfortable passing and dribbling.

This year he has started going to the football club at school. It’s a steep learning curve. Suddenly it’s not just his dad, the dog and the ball. It’s lots of moving bodies, so unpredictable and loads of shouting. The shouting really disoriented him on his first session. He played one short game in midfield.

Dad I didn’t touch the ball but wow did I look good…. (said with a smile)

He went in goal and made some good saves but

I took a goal kick but the defender didn’t see me pass to him and the striker got the ball and scored. The teacher shouted that it was my fault.

Unfortunately too much shouting and blame goes with kids football in our country. Kids should be encouraged to try things, make mistakes and learn from them. Unfortunately too many are scared of making errors. You don’t make dreams come true by shouting at kids. At least son could see the wider picture.

Typical the other team scores and everyone blames the keeper even when it’s not his fault. What did you do when they blamed you for letting a goal in. I bet you let too many goals in.

Oh I just smiled, clapped my hands and immediately forgot about the goal. You move on and think about the next shot. (That’s not the whole story. I was a bit of a hot head back then and I would threaten to stick the ball up the backside of anyone who blamed me. But I won’t tell him that.)

So fingers crossed for the next club session.

Beach Football – Swiss Style

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland

Spiez is like many Swiss towns and villages – nestled between beautiful lakes and imposing mountains. In summer the weather is often glorious with blue skies and hot weather. Although places like Spiez definitely have a seaside feel the word you don’t naturally associate with this great country is beaches.

So when we heard someone in the hotel mention the upcoming Beach Football Tournament we kinda of laughed. But how wrong we were.

Switzerland has a well stablished and successful beach soccer league. The finals weekend was being played 200 yards from the hotel. Within a couple of days a grass field had been transformed into a beech with stadium.

Beach soccer is a great sport to watch especially with a cold beer. Our son loved the experience. He loved watching the games, he loved kicking a ball on the sand, he loved the music, he loved the fanpark and he really loved his free hat. He still wears it today.

We didn’t get to see the league final as we had to leave on the Saturday. BUT…

On Friday night we got to see a beech soccer International. Switzerland v Germany. A brave soul paraglided off the local mountain and onto the pitch. Then it was the national anthems.

Then the teams showed amazing skills while kicking lumps out of each other. It really is a fabulous sport. Sadly I don’t think Yorkshire has the weather for it to catch on here. But if you get the chance do check out the sport.

But definitely if your looking for a seaside or beach holiday don’t automatically discount Switzerland. It really is an amazing country.

Coordination

Beauty in the sky masked evil intentions. Twenty seconds later a successful bombing run covered my car bonnet. Not so beautiful. The one hand giveth; the other hand taketh away.

Basically I have knackered my body up. Medical advice was to rest the right side for a couple of months. No running. If you play football in the garden – don’t use your right foot to kick. That’s a bit of a problem. During my sporting career the left leg has been a bit of a spectator. It is used for standing on and just getting in the way. Nothing else. So since a toddler I have been completely right footed.

So this garden football season was approached with trepidation. The first attempts confirmed the fears. Absolutely useless. Even the frequent cow audience clearly most unimpressed with my attempted kicks.

But a couple of months later and….

With one hand giveth.

The left leg is like a magicians wand. Better than the right foot ever was. Complete ball control, pinpoint passes, power, curling shots into the top corner of our small net. It just shows that with practice what you can achieve.

But with the other hand taketh.

Now the right side is a little less painful I’ve started using it again and just maybe I could be a natural two footed footballer. Guess what. The right foot is now completely useless. Can’t use it. All my hard work has basically switched me from being completely right footed to completely left footed.

Maybe my brain can only cope with one usable leg.

Son struggles to tie shoe laces. He also can’t use a knife and fork at the same time. He just can’t coordinate two limbs simultaneously. It’s a bit like riding a bike. Son can peddle but not at the same time as steering or braking. If he turns a corner he can’t peddle. He did manage to learn to swim but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s either using his legs or using his arms – not both at the same time.

He has been diagnosed with Dyspraxia which often goes hand in hand with Autism. The bottom line is coordination does not come naturally. We have been doing some exercises to work on this. Jumping on a trampoline and catching at the same time has been our single most fun exercise. We have seen some improvements for example he has developed good catching skills. But things like shoe laces are probably going to be life long issues. We realise this. The main reason we do coordination exercises is to help with his Dyslexia, other improvements are bonuses.

Maybe you just have to accept and work with how your body is setup uniquely for you. Make the best of it. We all can’t be brilliantly coordinated like birds. To fly, aim and poo at the same time. That’s beyond me.