How wrong I was

Not our garden, this is from a neighbours garden. Very jealous especially of the lawn which when cut always resembles a bowling green. So unlike our used rugby pitch.

Another stormy and very wet day. That’s the third weekend in a row for us. The weather is doing nothing for our souls. Nor is the imminent return to school. His anxieties levels are starting to peak now. Soon he’s back into that alien environment. The hope is that he will return and he’s been moved up in at least one subject. Just move him up in History and it would boost his confidence so much. I fear that’s a pipe dream. I would also be staggered if the support system has suddenly improved. How can it. It’s the same teaching team, with the same school education strategies and with schools struggling for resources. But on the bright side we have been told to celebrate as soon we will have a new blue UK passport. A passport made in France….

Maybe he will decide to abandon the failed school project. Can’t blame him and I would fully support that. It would be so worth it to lift this cloak of anxiety which often suffocates him. It’s not as if the school approach is delivering results. In most subjects he’s bored and starting to stagnate. I have asked school for the latest benchmark data on his reading, writing and performance. Again I’m not holding my breath. I’m still waiting for school to do any meaningful assessment work on his reading or writing. I suspect it will be spelling tests and nothing else. The Physiotherapist contacted school to say that he was clearly struggling with handwriting and asked what concerns the school had about his handwriting. The response back was that no teacher had raised any concerns. Really….

At his last school they worked with the heath service to monitor his reading age every quarter. He left that school with a reading age three years below the expected level for his age. His current school has so far refused to do another benchmarking assessment. The argument is that he’s doing so well and a benchmark would not change his teaching programme. Read that as they cost money and all kids get the same set teaching approach. Well if you don’t have benchmark information how can you say he’s doing so well. We don’t know if he’s catching up or if the age gap is widening.

It’s funny looking back at this parenting gig. I always realised it would be frustrating and tiring. But I always assumed the school system would largely take care of his education. How wrong I was.

When words fail

Tomorrow the next storm arrives with the threat of 36 hours of torrential rain with damaging winds. But on the bright side at least the ground is dry and not already saturated!!!!!!! Yes it just too wet.

The British are famed for talking about the weather. It’s always too cold, too hot, too wet, too windy, too foggy, too icy, too stormy…. Well at least you won’t find me always talking about the weather.

SORRY. But I’m British. I don’t have any problems talking about the weather.

School has now broken up for a week. It’s been a rough couple of months with incessant home work and exams. A week at home will do our Son the world of good. We have put the keys away and let’s see if we can do 10 days without using the car. Definitely good for the environment and a test of how well I am adjusting to this self contained lifestyle. It’s ironic that my partner really desired that isolated lifestyle yet I’m the one who is finally living it. She would love the peace and quiet reflection. That was founded in her religious beliefs. She came from a very strong Quaker family. Sadly I’ve been to far too many Quaker funerals over the last few years.

It’s strange I find it very difficult to talk or write about religion. I guess that partly comes from my Dad. He would drill into me the following words

Whatever you do there are three things you never talk about if you want to avoid an argument. Politics, Football and Religion….

Well before you ask – for me that is

Left of Centre (Labour), Newcastle United and Church of England.

On the first two we have a bit of a pattern. Labour has only won 3 out of the last 11 elections and Newcastle haven’t won a trophy since 1969. Picked the wrong side…..

So I can happily talk politics and footy but religion still makes me clam up. Sometimes rather embarrassingly. Several years ago I was invited by a fellow Newcastle Season Ticket holder to go to his daughters christening. It was happening a couple of hours before a match at a Roman Catholic Church. Perfect timing. It was a lovely service but then the congregation was asked to take Holy Communion. When I was asked I declined. I came out in a cold sweat and struggled to say I’m not catholic. In the end I blurted out ‘I’m the other side’. Understandable this produced a strange look. Poor chap probably thought I was a devil worshiper….

Even that brief last paragraph has unnerved me. So I tend to keep my religion and my views on it strictly to myself. Which is bizarre given my propensity to waffle – especially about the weather.

White elephant

The zero hours contract yielded 5 hours work today. Another 50000000 hours and I might just keep the bank manager from sending me snotty letters. Just enough time left for a quick run. The light was stunning. It’s the quiet before the next storm hits.

“Is it true that we are getting another storm.”

“Yes Son it’s due to hit at the weekend. But this time maybe just a little less wind but much more rain.”

Great. I bet they have given it a really silly name.”

“Storm Dennis.”

“Your joking aren’t you.”

No Son it’s officially called Dennis.”

Probably named after Dennis The Menice. Would have been better if they had called it Storm Menice.”

Given we seem to be getting them every 6 days now maybe they should call it ANOTHER STORM.”

Son gave the car radio a quizzical look when the news reporter mentioned that Boris Johnson is still committed to building a bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

How much is that going to cost”

“I think it was a minimum £20 billion but given our track record of overspends that probably means about £80 billion”

Dad what a stupid idea. How many operations, or school books or trees could that pay for. How many months will it be closed for high winds.”

It’s a staggering idea. A 45km bridge over a seriously mad and volatile sea area. Supported by a series of giant towers having to be spaced at least a kilometre apart to accommodate the busy shipping routes. It would also have to cross the location of the country’s largest military dump. In 1945 over a million tons of munitions and submarines were dumped in a 300m deep sea trench.

“Its ok Son it’s unlikely to be built. When he was Mayor of London Boris committed to another big bridge idea. He was going to build a pedestrian bridge over the Thames. It ended up as a shambles and nothing happened. So if he can’t build a bridge between London and London he’s going to struggle to build one from Scotland to Ireland”.

Talking about building Dad. When are you going to get round to putting my shelf back up in my bedroom.”

The project is currently in the planning stages.”

If you mean by planning that it’s been propped against the wardrobe them then planning stage has lasted almost two years.”

I will try to do it tomorrow.”

Yeh right. Two massive white elephants. The Irish Sea Bridge and my Lego Shelf.”

Challenge The Storm

We survived the storm…… The wind and rain finally eased late last night. The electricity was fully restored late afternoon. But has gone off a few times since. One outside light has been snapped off. Our old wind gauge was destroyed. A few items have gone missing. I guess currently being blown around the Jet Stream. We were very lucky in the end. A number of villages are still under water. Houses are still without power. That’s so tough. Many of the places flooded have only just recovered from the last flooding a few months ago.

Today was still windy, damp and cold. Although we did get a couple of hours of blue skies. The run was restricted to roads and lanes. The fields and tracks are either submerged or mud baths. Even sticking to the roads didn’t save the socks and shoes from getting drenched. Now the skies have darkened. The winds picking up again and it’s periodically chucking it down.

After a quick shower and change it was back to a couple of hours more work. Foolishly I left the radio on. Some folk really get up my nose these days. First was the person who was annoyed that people kept going on about a storm. “Well it was just a bit windy. I was fine. Wish people would stop calling it a storm.” Tell that to the people of Hebden Bridge who where 3 foot underwater.

Then we had the commentator talking about a certain world leader. ‘Look at his baffling and often obnoxious behaviour. Clearly he is very clever. You don’t get a bank account like his without being intelligent. Yet he is without any empathy, does not have a sense of humour and has no social awareness. To me the reason is clear, he has Aspergers. It’s the only explanation.’

F##@##g unbelievable.

I’ve noticed a real worrying trend recently. A growing number of self proclaimed experts who are making spurious associations with Aspergers. Every rouge action, every piece of evil behaviour, every unpleasant and mean individual is blamed on Aspergers.

F##@##g unbelievable.

This discriminatory rubbish is too often based on no evidence. It takes its basis from the narrow minded unfounded views of biased media groups, lazy stereotyping in movies and skewed urban myths. The worry is how many actually buy into this dross. Too many. Let’s not forget that only a couple of months ago Greta Thunberg was attacked by the right wing press for looking, acting and sounding demonic. It just shows how far we have to travel as a society. How hard society makes life for people on the spectrum.

That’s why we have to keep fighting. Why we have to keep telling our real life stories. Some storms you are best just battening down the hatches. But some man made storms need to be met head on and challenged. We owe it to so many.

Storm

Nothing like a power cut to disrupt the daily schedule. We are in the first part of a storm battering which is due to last for a few days. A small house on an exposed northern hill is wonderful except in a storm. We get an absolute belting. The back door is exposed to the full force of the elements. It floods during normal wind and rain so when a storm hits…… Time to dig out the ark. We are inside with about seven layers on. Living in the sticks when the power goes so does the heating. We do have a small chimney place but it needs serious repair work to make it safe to use. It’s on the when money appears list. So it’s cold without the central heating. As it’s an electric oven, hot food preparation is fraught with problems. So it’s Pot Noddles and Soup for lunch.

The power is back currently. It’s on and off like a Yorkshire Cricket match. Son is on the internet while he can. All the thermos flasks are filled. Every battery item is on charge. The floor behind the back door has been deflooded. Writing this while listening to the wind scream through. So far powers gone off twice in the time it’s taken to write these two paragraphs.

To someone with Aspergers all this can be an absolute nightmare. The break in routine, the uncertainty and the unpredictability. Sunday is such an important day as it’s the transition to the school week. A day which hopefully smooths the bumps from that unpleasant ride. For that to work then the safe and well tried Sunday ritual needs to be followed. On days like this all that goes out of the window and is currently being blasted towards Norway. Yes Son is on the internet but he’s severely on edge. Pacing the room. Senses on overdrive.

I’ve sent school an email to warn them but deep down I know it won’t be acted upon. That’s modern secondary schooling in this area. His last school (admittedly much smaller) would certainly have at the very least kept an eye on him. Even rescheduled the teaching plan. Not at his current school.

When the power is down it makes you realise who reliant we have become on technology. Yes it’s progress but it’s such a fragile progress. Pull the power and quickly it’s gone. For me I can fall back on my books as my safe option. Unfortunately for someone with dyslexia that safety net is not available. He needs technology to read them. His Dad can try but quickly my lingering cold kicks in and reading out loud becomes a cough fest. We can’t play ball sports outside due to the storm. The trampoline is filled to brimming with every heavy object I can find. Thankfully we still have other old school options. Card games. Top Trumps. Lego and one of the best cheap presents ever. A little battery operated air hockey game which cost less than a bag of chips. Endless fun until the batteries run out or the fingers finally break.

So hopefully the power will now stay on so we can try to have part of Sunday as normal as possible. Hopefully Son’s anxiety levels will recede a little. Sadly I think there is as much chance of that happing as there is of his Dads getting a Michelin Star. Don’t you just love a storm.