Sad Playlist

It’s been yet another wet, muddy and stormy day. This photo was taken during one of the slightly drier spells.

Grim dog walk.

Exceedingly grim run.

I wasn’t planning on running today but I just needed to get out of the house. I felt the house walls closing in on me. For times like this I often find a run is the most reliable way of clearing my head. It certainly worked. Not sure it worked for the skin. Came back looking like a Prune.

When I say running works I should add And listening to music on my MP3 player as well. I have a playlist for this type run. The music is either quite deep or somber. I blame my mum for this. If she was feeling down she would always listen to music. Always sad songs. As soon as you went through the front door you could tell if mum was trying to cheer herself up. Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Runrig, Sinatra, Roger Whittaker or Andy Williams would be blasting out. She always said that sad songs cheered her up. I always thought it was very bizarre yet all these years later and I’m doing the same. So here goes. Here are some of the songs which have made the list. And no Roger Whittaker and Durham Town is not included.

Alter Bridge – Godspeed

Disturbed – Sound of Silence

Shinedown – Get Up

Five Finger Death Punch – Gone Away

Runrig – Somewhere

Avenged Sevenfold – So far away

Johnny Cash – Hurt

Anathema – One Last Goodbye

Leonard Cohen – You want it darker

Queen – Who wants to live forever

Neal Morse – He died at home

Pink Floyd – Coming Back to Life

Just in case Mum is expecting it, here’s one just for mum. This is certainly not on the playlist.

Roger Whittaker – Durham Town

And here’s one for my partner. This could make the playlist.

Madness – It must be love

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.

Music at Christmas

Christmas and Music go together. For some it’s carol singing. For some it’s festive number 1 pop hits. For some it’s relaxing classical music. For others it’s LOUD rock music.

The last week has seen not one but two concerts.

The first required a trip over England highest motorway to the other side of the country. To Manchester. This was to see Sons favourite band Alter Bridge. On this night they were supported by the wonderful Shinedown.

Lots of people but thankfully son coped well but it did require the full hood for the entire night.

Dad did his normal trick of keeping the ticket costs manageable by buying discounted restricted view tickets. It’s interesting that in our restricted view section it was mainly families. All probably dealing with the same financial concerns.

Son really really enjoyed himself.

Then 2 days later we had another concert this time in our local city. We don’t often get decent bands but it nice when we do. This time it was The Darkness.

Such a good night. Very loud and they are so entertaining. Very loud and very funny. They even did a Christmas song. The band wouldn’t start the song until they could see everyone holding hands with the persons next to them. Son was ok as he had me and his uncle. Meanwhile Dad had a liberating few minutes holding an enormous bear sized hairy bikers hand.

I often talk about how tough Dyslexia is. The problems it can cause. But occasionally having a young son with dyslexia is a much needed parenting help….

Halloween 4

**** sorry WP is fighting back – trying to fix it *******

Time for our top 5 Halloween playlist’s.

First our son

Alter Bridge – Metalingus

A song just too cool it would be wrong not to play at any time of year.

Press here to play the Metalingus song

Scooby Doo Intro

Press here for time travel to your childhood

Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein

Press here for a bit of Alice

Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper

Press here for that song from Halloween

Alvin and the Chipmunks – Gangnam Style

This is shocking and scares the pants of my Dad.

Alviiiiiinnnnn Video

Now it’s his Dad’s turn

Metallica – Enter Sandman

Press here for Enter Sandman

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Had to include the band named after a Boris Karloff horror movie

Press here for a bit of Birmingham’s finest.

Monster Mash

Press here for a blast from the past

Rocky Horror Time Warp

Press here for and you will be dancing in seconds

Ghost – Cirice

Press here for a seriously spooky band

Ducks

It’s been several years since we fed the ducks. It’s back to a time before our world changed. A family of 3. Every Sunday we would go to the lake armed with food left overs from the week. Often our son would be surrounded by hundreds of ducks and swans. He would carefully try to ensure all those impatiently waiting received a share of the food parcel. Then we would go to the local cafe for a freshly baked cheese scone. So many great moments sadly stopped one August three years ago.

Maybe this weekend will be a good time to rectify our absence. It wasn’t the birds fault that the bad stuff happened. Maybe we can rekindle some of those feelings. Maybe we will create new feelings. We won’t know until we try. I suspect the ducks won’t mind us trying.

So I’ve started filling a large bucket with out of date oats, some cheap tinned sweet corn, seed and of course a little bit of bread. Even ducks need a balanced diet.

While trying to find the old duck feed bucket I came across a couple of old concert T-shirt’s and ticket stubs. Days of hair, tight trousers and Thunderbird Cider. Looking at the names on the shirts it was very sobering. Many of those I went to see are sadly not with us anymore. So while I worked this afternoon I listened to a music from these fallen heroes. I tried to recall seeing that person on stage – in their prime. How they should be remembered. The roll call included

Cozy Powell

Richard Wright

Lemmy

Rory Gallagher

Ronnie James Dio

John Lord

Gary Moore

Lou Reed

Kirsty MacColl

David Bowie

The more I think about it the more heroes I can add to the list. That’s really sobering. As you get older more and more of your heroes depart. But they have left so many lasting memories for us to enjoy. They left a positive mark on this world. That’s a life well lived. I will leave the last words to Lemmy.

Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good

Alice in Wonderland

We have talked about how important Rock music is to our son. He has a number of music related bucket list entries which he is keen to tick off. So for his birthday I saved up the coins in my trouser pockets. Routed underneath the sofa for lost money. Worked my butt off. All to afford a few concert tickets. We saw Kiss a few months back. In a couple of months we are off to see his favourite band – Alter Bridge. And a few days back we went to Leeds to see ….

First bank of the night was MC5. That band who did Kick out the Jams in 1969.

Then it was The Stranglers.

Then it was

Time for Alice Cooper.

Son had seen Alice in the Hollywood Vampires but was desperate to see one of his epic rock opera shows. He wasn’t disappointed. I remember seeing Alice back in 1991. That night I never dreamt that 28 years later I would be watching him again with my son. That’s so cool.

Think son has his first crush. Nita Strauss. She is Alice Coopers guitarist. Dad does as well but it’s not my first….

Happy son can now tick off one of his top bucket list items but has added a new item on the list. See Alice again.

Sunday night Kissing

Kissing is something which died when the world changed. Well anyway for me. But Sunday Night Kissing is still just about possible.

Last night we went to see Kiss perform their last ever English concert.

It was loud. It was cartoon like. It was larger than life. It was ridiculously full of explosions. It was Rock and Entertainment at its best.

Unbelievably I noticed a young chap stand up without prompting, start dancing, shouting, singing and clapping. That’s a first. Thankfully he has more rhythm than his Dad.

I have to say music has been a lifesaver. It’s always been the one constant. It wasn’t embarrassed when I struggled with depression. It didn’t turn its back on me when death came calling in 2016. And it didn’t batter an eyelid when Autism came a calling.

Yes Kissing is a memory. No more Kiss concerts for us. But we have precious memories.

Music is an unwavering friend who has embraced our son. Thank you Kiss. Thank you Rock. Thank you Music.

The squirrel needs to wait

Today I was planning to write about a squirrel. But at the last minute I’ve changed my mind. Maybe tomorrow…

The Guardian (one of the UK’s better newspapers) ran an article today about autism.

It’s upsetting’: the autistic music fans being shut out of gigs

Its a really interesting read and covers some really important issues facing those on the spectrum. If you have a spare couple of moments I encourage you to read it.

One thing the article is spot on about is that as you get older the support systems fall away and you seem to be left to sort yourself out. It’s so frustrating. You spend years fighting to get your kid diagnosed. If you succeed then you again fight to gain access to services. Hopefully you do get access and then suddenly your kids are getting to an age when the system decides to cut them adrift. It is just wrong.

The article got me thinking about our circumstances. Why does our son enjoy rock concerts yet often struggles in other crowded events. Having talked it though with our son I think we can almost answer that now

  • We only go to venues he knows and feels comfortable with. If we have to go to a new venue we go to see it in the daylight. If you speak really nice to the venue admin they will often accommodate a pre visit to allow you to acquaint yourself with its layout
  • He loves the drama, the noise, the lights. It’s a short fix of sensory overload on the same level as a scary rollercoaster ride. He controls it. If he’s not happy he knows that we can just get up and leave.
  • He loves the way you can wear whatever you want, do whatever you want to your hair, dance, sit, stand, sing, shout, drink, eat – yet no one seems to care. No pointing fingers. No funny looks. No questions. He feels like he can fit in there.
  • It’s so noisy. Too noisy to talk much. He is relaxed as he knows no stranger will talk to him. He still has an element of isolation.
  • He likes the thought that he is doing something which many of the other kids at school don’t do. It’s his hobby.
  • And finally let’s not forget that he just loves listening to Rock Music

Another point the article raised is whether you consider autism as a disability. Because of his diagnosis he is listed in the UK as disabled. Son hates that. He is clear – Autism is his personality not his disability. He does talk about dyslexia being his disability. His invisible disability. One which people see when they want to and ignore when he needs help.

Whether you want to call it a disability or not for me that’s up to personal circumstances. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. Everybody is different. It’s unlikely you will find two specific diagnoses which are the same. The article is right about access. It’s at best patchy and yes some simple changes can open up opportunities for more people on the spectrum. But it is difficult. We went to a Autism friendly hour which our local Toy-r-Us ran a few years ago. It was much more inviting and yet our son did point out that

If they want to make this completely Autism friendly they should allow us to book slots so we get the shop to ourselves without anybody else here”

One final point. The article talked about earplugs. They are essential but please manufacturers, given my unfortunate incident with one, can we make them edible….

Need a new mobile

Had a great time at the Manchester Arena last night. Son loved seeing Massive Wagons, Status Quo and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Only took a couple of photos as my old iPhone has the same low light photographic capabilities as my toothbrush.

Car managed the four hour round trip including the mechanical ordeal of driving over England’s highest motorway. However I’m not convinced all of the car pieces which set off attached to the car actually made it back home. Son was happy as we didn’t get back home until after 1am.

Son wants to hear more of that hungry young rock band how opened. Enjoyed bouncing about to the Quo. He was transfixed with Skynyrd. The fact that the band beautifully mixed in footage of their lost band mates just added to the show for him. At one point they did a song with old videos playing showing some of the mums linked with the band. I was worried for our son but he just smiled which was really nice. At the end of the concert he just whispered “Legends”.

He had a good excuse for poor school performance today as his ears were still ringing. Bad Dad forgot his ear safety plugs. At least I didn’t get to eat one this time.

Fingers crossed

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s because we are tired. Maybe it’s just life. We are both fighting bouts of self doubt and are feeling really low at present.

Our son is getting some mixed end of year school results. Top mark in his class in some subjects like Science. He’s feeling very different to the other kids in his class. Yet getting lower marks in subjects he should be flying in like Maths. This is really perplexing for him. Plus the school has a house tie system. You need to get a set number of house points to qualify for a house tie. This tie gives you certain privileges at times like school lunch. He was getting close to hitting his target but has now found a new obstacle. Apparently in addition to the house points you also need to join in with two school clubs. That means extra time at school, doing things he has little interest in and mixing with kids he does not know. That is a nightmare for someone with Aspergers. So now he is doubting himself and trying to face up to some of his demons again. As a result he is very low and struggling to sleep. So basically not happy.

I’m really tired. That tired feeling when you are sat in the evening and you suddenly get that snapping neck feel as you have suddenly nodded off for a second. Worrying about son. Deeply missing people I love. Worrying over schooling. Doubts over my parenting. Worrying about what happens if something happens to me. Worrying about money. Worrying about life. Losing any social skills I once had. Not sleeping. It doesn’t help that I’m still banned from running and exercise. Don’t tell the Doctor but I’ve dug out a very old exercise bike. A bike which have two resistance settings – free wheel and wheel locked solid. A bike which must be made of Lead as it clearly weighs more than two elephants. Anyway I’m trying to use it a bit but it’s bloody painful. So basically not happy

At least we have a distraction today. Straight after school we are on the motorway heading 100 miles (car permitting) to see Lynyrd Skynyrd and Status Quo. As son said

Not often you can get to see older dinosaurs than you Dad – JUST. Plus I’m interested to see how good these legends are. I suspect very good”

We will have to see if the Yorkshire Lancashire border crossing is open. Fingers crossed.