Spectrum

Sometimes it’s tough watching TV and Film with its frequent ill informed stereotyping. It’s not often you see Autism depicted as routine ‘normal’ life. It’s the full on Rainman, the brilliant genius or ….

Dad how many people will think I’m a Psychopath or Sociopath when they find out I have Aspergers.

That’s another question I can’t remember seeing in the really helpful ‘A to Z of Parenting Books’.

Those very assumptions have appeared in a few movies and shows we have watched recently. Some quite indirect references and some completely full on. We love Sherlock. In the series it’s made quite clear that Holmes has Aspergers. Further Holmes frequently says ‘I’m not a psychopath I am a highly functioning sociopath”. In another movie the person with Aspergers is a loner, has no empathy and shows no remorse for his actions. Here Aspergers means you are a Psychopath.

The two are not the same.

Our son has developed a good understanding of the important differences between the two diagnoses. He is also aware that unfortunately not everyone understands this equally as well. That’s where inappropriate stereotypes in TV and film can have such a negative impact. Whatever the reason for this. Laziness, widespread misconceptions, Creative Blindspots, or a deliberate attempt to avoid reality. Autism is such a broad spectrum its time this was reflected more accurately in mainstream culture. Yes it could be the brilliant detective, but equally it could be the loving person next door, or someone who is socially awkward, or the loner, or the comic, or the gentle animal lover, or the person who is physically challenging, or the person who focuses on one topic, or the person who has intellectual disabilities or the average person who just blends in.

Just as damaging as the inappropriate stereotyping is the air brushing of reality. Autism is relatively widespread. Yet often it is invisible in modern culture. It’s as if it doesn’t happen. Depending on the research the instance of autistic diagnosis is approximately 1 in every 50 or 60 child. That doesn’t include the majority who go undiagnosed. Yet autism is grossly unrepresented in TV and Movies.

Let’s start properly promoting awareness. Let’s start to be open about it. Let’s start to see it done right more times in TV and Film. That would make such a big impact for so many of us.

That play

We had set our hearts on a trip out. Son wanted to go for a walk round a quiet lake. I wanted sea air to cleanse my soul. I was born near the sea and it has great healing properties. But the weather was grim. Too grim. So a change of plan.

Plan B. We needed a few smiles this morning so off we set to the cinema to see the new Horrible Histories movie. Maybe not quite as funny as Bill but it was a really good film. Yes it brought many smiles.

As the rain lashed down on the drive back home it was decided to just have an afternoon of movie watching.

Dad let’s watch Bill when we get home.

So it was a TV lunch. Jacket Potatoes and a super funny take on Shakespeare. It’s amazing how a couple of funny films can lift the spirits. Makes you forget your own reality. It’s a most odd feeling these days. That feeling of laughing. So as Bill finished I wondered what comedy classic our son would pick next. Monty Python? Paddington? Ice Age? Spongebob?

I’ve decided Dad. Can you check if you can find XXXXXXXX for free. Always fancied watching it.

So 20 minutes later we are watching another movie. MacBeth staring Michael Fassbender. Yes not the happiest movie. A bit short on laughs. One of those films which is just so bleak that it forces you to put on the thickest jumper you can find. Even the steaming hot coffees fail to warm my bones. It’s gory, it’s dark, the music is brooding, the imagery is stunning. Not quite the family movie I had set my heart on but I suspect William Shakespeare would have loved what his words had become.

It’s strange how something so bleak can help you forget your reality as well. My mum would always say she would play sad songs to cheer herself up. I understand that now.

Real

There is a scene at the end of the third Hobbit movie where Tauriel pleads after the death of her love

Why does it hurt so much?

With the telling response from Thranduil

Because it was real.

This is a bit of movie padding as it’s not from the book. Tauriel is not even in the book. So it’s not canon. But frankly I don’t care. It’s a rather fine movie and the sentiment can’t be faulted. It is hauntingly true.

Before 2016 I never noticed this movie exchange. Now it never fails to get to me. How often do you experience real love and yet it passes you by. You seem to miss living in the moment. Take things for granted. Assume you have time. Plenty of time to get round to the important stuff after you have ticked off the mundane tasks. The tasks expected of you. In reality you may have little time. Putting love off proves to be little more than a foolish role of the dice. A gamble where the debt can never be paid off. Suddenly when it’s ripped away from your grasp love becomes so vivid, so obvious ,so painful. Yes it’s real but now it’s not just a memory. Your moment has gone.

It’s a stabbing pain. A pain etched in memories. I have a few particular memories which are like the most vivid photographs ever. All real and all so painful. Yes painful but they are about love. Real love. One is from a Swiss trip before our son was born. We were on a boat on Lake Thun. I had gone outside to take a photo. The image is me looking through the window and seeing my partner smiling back at me. Every time I see that memory a bit more of my soul dies.

Why does it hurt so much.

Because it was real.

Terrible Poetry

It’s time for a bit of the weekly Terrible Poetry indulgence run by Chelsea Owen. This week the guidelines are

  1. Topic: Plot twists. Lament about how often stories have them, include a few in your poem, or pull a fast one on us and keep the poem going exactly where we expect.
  2. Length: Since this is Bruce’s first time, let’s be nice to him and keep the word count under 200.
  3. Rhyme? Your call. Have fun with it!
  4. As the #1 rule listed at #4, make it terrible. I want Bruce himself, master of the macabre story twist, to shake his head in disbelief and secretly envy the part of the twisting Roman gutters in which your mind lies.
  5. Rating? For general audiences, keep things PG-13 or cleaner. Bleep it out if you really need to release a torrent.

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

Yoda was the all seeing Jedi Knight

Yet was fooled with a hood and a dodgie light

While Luke was being the Star Wars Galahad

Who honestly thought that Vader was his dad

Bruce Willis seemed the perfect host

But ended up being a sodding Ghost

Poor Liberty Valence ended up getting shot

By John Wayne that’s a strange train of thought

The Sting was a shock when Paul and Robert copped it

But it just ended up being a gigantic counterfeit

The Village tried to fool us with a bit of double play

But it ended up being set in the Present Day

Anthony Perkins seemed such a nice chap

Yet as Mum and a psycho he got me into a flap

Seven tried so hard to subvert

By having a Box in the desert

Vertigo was Very very bleak

Judy being Madeleine was a bit of a cheek

Who in the Murder on the Orient Express would be first to admit

But what a sneaky trick to have them all do seem do it

The Wizard of Oz seemed strangely certain

Yet the wizard was a sad bloke behind a curtain

Reservoir Dogs was as cool as a soda pop

Yet sneaked in that Mr Orange was in fact a cop

Wow Scream tried smoke and mirrors

All to hide we didn’t have one but two killers

Jacobs Ladder tried to hide the thread

Hang on a moment another one who is dead

Even poor Harry Potter tried to be as shifty as a Manx Cat

I never saw Peter Pettigrew was Scabbers the Rat

Sherlock’s Yorkshire Canon

Last night we sat down to watch a couple of episodes from the wonderful Sherlock TV series. One of which was the Hound of The Baskervilles. Or as my helpful word checker wants to autocorrect to – the Hound of the Basketballs – that would be a slam dunker of a book. It is the episode where Holmes and Aspergers are specifically referenced. When Lestrade talks about the great detectives awful people skills Watson specifically mentions Aspergers. I could see no apparent reaction from our son.

However later the following was said

I know it helps explain Sherlock’s character and his abruptness with others. And it’s kinda nice that the we get a hero with autism. But people will start to think that we are all brilliant, unfeeling and very very odd. Definitely psychotic. One day we will get a character who is just in the middle.”

He is so right. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. Labels just don’t fit. The media focus on the extreme ends but hardly ever look at the middle. But that’s the media and entertainment for you. It’s like when we crashed into the world of single parenting, single father parenting. I remember having a similar conversation

Why do so many movies and TV shows depict the single dad as a suicidal drinker obsessed with dating sites and clearly unable to cope with at least one wild child who has gone bad and needs saving.

Currently sat here with a herbal tea and listening to classical music. That’s not going to make for an interesting movie. Anyway back to Sherlock. We sat enjoying the episode when two thoughts struck me.

ONE: Sherlock was one of my partners favourite TV shows. We are watching her DVDs. She should be sat next to our son enjoying the experience. Life is not fair.

TWO: Looking round at the room. It’s a mess. She would kill me.

So this morning before the dog walk into the strangely blue skied Yorkshire countryside I had a major cleanup. Even put the Sherlock DVDs neatly back in the box. Then on the walk I almost could here her voice saying ‘stop taking so many photos’ so I only took the one this morning. Rather than snap away I looked at the view, imagined a demon hound stalking Dartmoor and I wondered what a Yorkshire themed Sherlock would sound like.

Ferret of the Baskervilles

A study in rhubarb

A scandal in Barnsley

The adventure of the missing Yorkshire Pudding

The adventures of the crooked Lancashire man

The adventures of the Yorkshire Terriers Main.

As much as I love Yorkshire thank god Sherlock was based in London.

Eiger Sanction

Now that is a serious location for a hotel. One day hopefully we will stay there. Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland. It means minor watershed and stands at 2060m. You get the deepest blue skies here. But when the weather closes in it is magnificent and moody – almost sinister. So many climbers have been taken from us here. You can only get here via the cog railway or by foot. The Hotel is where the Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction was filmed. Can you believe the movie is now 44 years old. 1975….

1975 that’s the year

  • Home Video tape systems are developed
  • Vietnam War ends
  • Iron Maiden was formed
  • The first portable mobile phone was patented
  • Microsoft was founded
  • First disposable razor was launched

And Britain had been in the European Union for just two years. How times change.

What is reassuring is that in all those years of change this Swiss View will not have changed in the slightest. Hopefully it never will.

Monster Movies

I’ve just pitched this blockbuster monster movie to Marvel. I think it’s a winner. Works on so many levels especially emotional.

My deepest apologies – clearly I have now lost the plot. Officially cracked now. To such an extent that we are going to build our own movie franchise up over the coming months.

Captain Dumbo

Friday was a teacher training day so it’s a long weekend.

“Can you check if the cinema is empty. If it is can we go to see Captain Marvel”

For some reason the 12.15 showing only had 3 seats occupied. So off we went. Unusually for us we arrived early. Plenty of time to buy popcorn and a coffee for me. We took our seats in Screen 1. We sat on the front row – Son finds that less stressful.

We sat and waited. The adverts didn’t come on. Eventually 20 minutes late the pointless adverts about BMWs and Breakfast Cereals commenced. Then the movie trailers, Bizarrely nothing about the upcoming Avengers movie. Finally the lights go out – it’s show time. Bring on some Stan Lee magic.

Hang on a minute why is the film in double vision…

Hang on a minute why is that a Disney logo not Marvel…

The blurred film starts..

Dad this is Dumbo”.

It was. Wrong film. We would have sat and watched the film but it was the 3D version. Looking round the other people in the cinema had glasses on. That’s forward planning….

We quickly did the walk of shame out of the screen. Passing those smirking faces – ‘look at those twits – you can’t watch 3D without special specs”. The cinema has about 12 Screens. All the screens have double doors. One to take you to the right side and one to take you to the left side of the seating area. All except Screens 1 and 2. They only have one door. I saw the sign for Screen 1 and just assumed the right door took us to our side of the screen. Wrong that was the door for Screen 2.

Is it just me. Can’t we just have a routine day. Am I just completely incompetent. Good job that you don’t need to pass a test to become a parent.

So new tickets bought for the next showing in 1 hour. A quick Burger King. New pop corn purchased – didn’t have the heart to go and retrieve the ones we left with Dumbo. And finally we sit in the right screen and watched Captain Marvel.

I suspect I’ve blown my chances of making the Avengers Team although I could make a case for taking the lead role in Dumbo 2.

Sequel

When you need a smile here comes our own member of the Avengers. Captain Chaos.

As we surveyed the second attempt at a fudge cake.

Well Dad the first one was burnt to a crisp. However the sequel has completely collapsed in the middle and smells of curry….”

This brought on a discussion about sequel (sort of) films.

Son thought the Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was warmer and did not feature Charlie breaking rules. In his opinion Mike TV should have won the first movie.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy beating the sequel. Son believing the second was too sad at times.

The second Paddington movie just edging out the first one. Son thought the first one had a better story but the second was funnier.

The first Home Alone winning over its sequel. Son thought Kevin was just too annoying in the second and that the poor criminals were just unnecessarily tortured.

The second Jumanji edging the first one. Son found the second one just a bit more funny.

Any thoughts. Now onto the third fudge cake attempt.