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.

Football

You try and show off your Messi like ball skills (in my dreams)… Then something gets in the way. The dog loves football. He’s very keen however he still is struggling to pick up even the most rudimentary basic game rules.

“Dad now its the end of the season it’s time to check our team predictions.” Each of us tries to guess where each team will finish in the English Premier League. That’s 20 teams.

Ok I’ll go and find the lists we wrote down.

No need Dad I can remember where we put each team”. That’s two lists we did back in August. When I later checked – he remembered both lists perfectly. I can’t even remember our telephone number..

Guess who lost….

Dad you said Fulham would finish 7th. They got relegated.”

“You said Huddersfield would be mid table and they all got 16pts coming last”

“Funniest one is you said Newcastle (my club) would finish bottom. They somehow got to to 13th”.

He didn’t even have to check the final league table. This was memorised perfectly as well.

As you came second I need to decide your forfeit. You have to listen to YouTube Alvin and The Chipmunks song videos for three hours solid.”

Deep joy. Still could be worse. Could have been U2….

Are you awake?

I vaguely noticed a face over the bed.

Hi Son.

Did you know that Arsenal has a goal difference of 23 and Man Utd have a goal difference of 13

And with that he returned to his bedroom. I almost expect these late night visits now. The other night it was:

Dad did you know that the Emperor Penguin can dive to a depth of 530m and stay underwater for 15 minutes”

I know it’s late but I love these little visits. It’s such a nice feeling that he wants to share these facts with me. Plus its a nice bit of brain candy. It prepares my rather limited central processor for the upcoming Mental challenges. I have learned that at some stage soon after being fed the little bit of brain candy that an in-depth discussion will be started around that subject.

So a few days ago the Penguin fact foreshadowed a discussion about the most amazing animal feats. So the question is – what will be today’s football discussion?

AND equally as important is the fact that while our Son is thinking about these facts, he is not worrying about other stuff. I’d much rather hear early morning football team goal differences than nightmares about ghost Vikings…..

Counselling

Somedays get off to a good start, some don’t….

Once the day starts off on a funny note it tends to continue in a similar vein.

I forgot to put our ‘busting at the seems’ bin out for collection. How much more can I squeeze in before it explodes. Next delivery is in 2 weeks.

We had a parcel due. The postman always comes in the afternoon. So it was safe to take the dog for a walk in the morning. Wrong. Postman came early and now we have to go into the city to pick up the parcel.

Son’s football hit the only rosebush in the garden and burst on a thorn.

I started baking some cakes but found out that I had run out of flour. So off to the shop we went and stocked up. Attempt 2 went well for another 20 seconds as I added the flour to the bowl then….

No eggs.

So off we went again to the shop again to buy eggs.

Attempt 3 went well until I remembered that I had run out of vanilla essence. Bugger the shop.

Attempt 4 was vanilla-less. Replaced with several overripe bananas.

Unbelievably it worked out ok. It actually looked ok. The pets were definitely interested. So to protect it I put the cake in the grill part of the oven. Bad idea. For lunch I did some some fish fingers – under the grill. Unfortunately I forgot the cake at the back of the grill. Perfectly cooked fish fingers and extremely well burnt cake.

My digital radio which I’ve had for 18 years died.

My calculator which I’ve had since university died.

A shelf in our son’s bedroom decided to fall off the wall.

The slide door on the psychotic IKEA wardrobe wedged itself shut and is refusing to open. Given its from IKEA it is now refusing to grant access to any of my clothes and is secure as Fort Knox.

So what happened at the start of the day to cause this.

Remember we live in a bungalow. So we are never too far away from the front door. I woke up and went to open the curtains. As I opened the front door blind a rather unfortunate villager was delivering a note about an Easter event. As the blinds opened the poor lady was exposed to the site of me in just a pair of boxer shorts. She is going to need years of counselling.

The day finished on a poignant note. Before the world changed we bought a miniature apple tree. Today it has blossom for the first time. My partner would have been so excited.

Football

I wrote this just before the world turned again on Saturday. Trying to help get him back to this mindset again. Thankyou for all your support, it really has helped. I know some people will say it was just a pet, but given what went before it….. it really has hit him hard. Feels like he has regressed back to the days when his mum died.

***********************************

“Dad I’m going to tell you the winners of the main football leagues since 2009.”

I grabbed my iPad to check the dates and help with the blanks, shouldn’t have bothered

Ours is easy it’s 2018 Man City, 2017 Chelsea, 2016 Leicester, 2015 Chelsea, 2014 Man City, 2013 Man Utd, 2012 Man City, 2011 Man Utd, 2010 Chelsea and 2009 was Man Utd.

Scotland is easy it’s Rangers for the first three years then Celtic since 2012.

In France it’s easy as it’s PSG except in 2009 when it was Bordeaux, 2010 Marseille, 2011 Lille, 2012 was a team starting with M but I can’t say it and 2017 Monaco.

For La Liga it’s Barcelona in 09,10,11,13,15,16,18. Real in 12,17 and Athletico in 2014.

In Italy Juventus have won it since 2012, 09 and 10 was Inter, 2011 was AC Milan.

In Germany 2009 it was Wolfsburg, 11 and 12 was Dortmund, boringly Bayern have won the rest.”

A slightly stunned Dad was list for words. He didn’t like football this time last year. Struggling for something to say all I could manage was – who won the Dutch league in 2010?

“Trying to trick me, that was Twente.”

Ok who won the Turkish league this year?

Galatasaray”

How can anyone remember all these facts. It is beyond me. It’s also beyond me why our society is so quick to write off so much talent in our autistic stars.

“Dad when did your team last win the league?”

Not that many years ago son….

“Dad you will find it was 1927.”

Bugger…..