Madness of King Boris

Here’s a thought for you. A view of another part of Yorkshire. Still green. Still beautiful. Unfortunately still covered by the madness of King Boris. Now imagine. Insert a group of 7 people. Two famines with children. They come from two different households. They have been carefully observing all the rules. They meet for a picnic just beside the lake. Currently they are braking the law and will be fined £10000.

Now change the image. Same location but this time the two loving and careful families are replaced. This time by 30 strangers. Possible drinking. 30 strangers dressed in green. They sit together. Eat and drink together. Ignore all social distancing rules. Each has a shotgun and are called Grouse Shooters. Now this is completely legal. Exempt from any Covid Rules. Even specifically encouraged by our Government.

That’s the madness of King Boris.

Line them up

Well the nurse counsellor did arrive. At the height of the storm. Due to working restrictions she was not allowed in the house. So it was plan b. Move my car next to the counsellor’s car. Windows down and you have a mobile meeting facility. The session went well. The counsellor seems really good. It’s a start. Start of a long road. But a start it is.

He will now get appointments every two weeks now. Let’s hope progress can be made. The counsellor is also going to write to the school to confirm that he is under health care at present and is not medically cleared to return. Hawklad has come to the conclusion that he just can’t go back to school at present. Even with professional help now, this could take many months before school might become a possibility for him. Until he can feel be reasonably comfortable being around people and ok to touch surfaces then school is but a pipe dream. Will he ever go back – just don’t know.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer yesterday said that schools were perfectly safe. Apparently children are more at risk from road accidents than from catching the virus. I can’t think of many more insensitive ways of making a point – that’s going to really hurt those families who have lost loved ones on the road. I’m also not entirely reassured by her words. I remember a few other of her words over the last few months

  • The Government response to the pandemic has been exemplary……
  • The UK pandemic approach had been very successful……
  • Large Public Gatherings and Sporting events are perfectly safe, no need to stop attending them. That was at a time Europe had banned those and a few days later we did the same. She even encouraged people to attend the countries largest horse racing event just a couple of days before the country went into lockdown – the infection spread from that event has been scary.
  • People should be more adult when they discussed PPE shortages. It wasn’t such a big issue for healthcare and care workers…..
  • The UK didn’t need to test, test, test for the virus as we were a First World Country.

We all want to get schools open. But it has to be done correctly. Just grouping kids into giant year group bubbles then squeezing them back into cramped classrooms with at least 30 other people isn’t good enough. Asking kids to wear masks on buses, sometimes in corridors and not in classrooms is just a mess. Not exploiting online education to ease some of the space issues is a massive mistake. Only offering testing after the virus has been encountered just repeats the mistakes we have repeatedly made as a country. We’ve had months to get this school return right.

I really feel for those parents and children who are returning to schools. For some it is a easy decision and the return can’t come quick enough. For others it is not easy. For those with underlying health conditions it is a calculated risk. For us that decision has probably been kicked into touch for a while longer.

Don’t you just love 2020.

The Irony

The old Apple Tree. Definitely enjoying the sun and the rare windless conditions. A good day for a garden meeting.

Well today didn’t go as planned.

Son was primed for his garden meet-up with his new nurse counsellor. These things don’t come easy to him. Often it’s about trying to build a bond. A bridge. Only when that link is formed can any meaningful work be commenced. He had that link with his last person, we can only hope a similar one is formed again.

So yes he was as ready as he could be. The garden was setup…..

Then the call from Nurse Reception. Unfortunately the counsellor had taken ill in the car and had turned back. Headed home. Really sorry and they will rebook the session when the counsellor is back at work.

So hope that she is alright. These things happen. But the irony.

A session to work on Hawklads Health and Pandemic related fears cancelled due to illness.

The irony has not been lost on him. Oh sorry forget, HES not supposed to get things like irony….. A Doctor once said that to him during a consultation. Hawklad fixed him with a Paddington Bear Stare and said “Are you a proper Doctor?”. The Doctor looking a bit flustered and talked about his qualifications. Hawklad them calmly said “ok a Doctor but clearly not a very good one…..”.

So we just have to wait for another appointment. Absolutely no idea when that will be. Probably after schools go back in September? That’s another potential return complication. It’s certainly added a little to his fears, now. When the meeting does happen I’m betting on Hawklad asking for the garden chairs to be further spaced apart. Thats something which won’t happen at school.

We dust ourselves off and we just have to go again. The cancellation may be for the best. Stops anything unpleasant coming into our safe area. Plus it forces me to do something rather than rely on others. Just got to up my game.

Yes another odd Monday.

Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.

Snappy

Lockdown did have some advantages. One being – No Aeroplanes. Something about seeing a sky without any evidence of man made birds which are polluting the atmosphere. Now the number of vapour trails are slowly rising but clearly not back to the crowded skies of pre pandemic times. Which is still a bit of a win for the planet. Got to be pleased about that.

I did something that I’m not pleased about. Not at all. I snapped at Hawklad. Not a massive snap, but still a snap. Some post arrived and I quickly put the offending letters into the designated quarantine area. I quickly washed my hands then headed out to cut the grass.

Dad have you washed your hands.”

Which towel did you use.”

Which soap did you use.”

Then…

I don’t think you washed your hands for long enough. Can you wash them again.”

Maybe I was tired. Maybe it’s because I had gone 16 hours without food. Maybe I just wanted to get the grass cut before it rained. Maybe I was annoyed at myself for not washing my hands for long enough in the first place. Maybe it’s being seemingly stuck in Groundhog Day. For whatever reason, I snapped. Slammed the front door shut, did that teenage sigh, let out a little mild expletive, stomped to the bathroom and purposely washed in the noisiest fashion possible. Not massive stuff but unusual for me. We’ve all been there. Even Super Hero Parents are human…….

I quickly apologised and went outside to cool down. Easily done in today’s Yorkshire weather. All I could think about was school. What happens if he does decide to go back on the 11th September. His hyper hygiene mode will meet a school system which is basically winging it. Maybe they could make Hawklad into the Hygiene Monitor. Wow he would sort out the teachers and pupils. Definitely the iron fist of authority. But in all seriousness, the teachers and other kids will just not have the time or inclination to get anywhere near the hygiene levels that he’s got used to at home. The levels he needs for his own well-being. I can see some of the less patient teachers issuing so many negatives to him. But that was me just a few moments ago.

So more food for thought. As is the fact that in the broken cloudy skies, I can see three vapour trails. That’s the most in months…..

Life snapshot

The Aspergers life can be racked with anxieties and obsessive behaviours. Additionally Aspergers can frequently coexist with OCD. Add the death of a mum and both grannies. Then on top of that you add a pandemic. Something has to give with that kind of pressure building up. That’s what our son is dealing with and it is so very tough for him. What does that mean in practice. Well here is a snapshot of life and the impact it has on him.

Every ache, every sneeze, every spot, every pain is seen as a potential sign of a serious disease or the C word. Anxieties bring on indigestion and constipation. These are then seen by him as more potential warnings of serious, life threatening health conditions. The natural response was to frequently wash his hands. It was both to cleanse his hands but also an attempt to pour water on the raging anxiety wildfire. Washing to the point of red raw skin. These issues have existed for years but slowly during 2019 slow progress started to happen. The hand washing was just about brought under control. Then the pandemic hit. The progress was instantly lost. Suddenly the months of reassuring talk a out avoiding serious illnesses, the bodies capacity to fight back and the advances in medical science are basically blown out of the water. The problems started to mount up again and escalate to new heights.

  • Hand washing every few minutes. From 15 second washing now to washing for minutes at a time.
  • A reluctance to dry washed hands as towels might be a source of germs.
  • Harmful germs are seen to exist everywhere. Suddenly it’s difficult for him to touch taps, toilet handles and door knobs. Sheets of paper have to be left next to these so he can avoid touching them directly. Even pulling on a shirt may result in the potentially unclean sleeves coming into contact with his hands. Shoes have to be put on without using his hands.
  • iPads and joysticks have to be washed frequently and definitely before he touches them. It’s the same for things like pens.
  • When he strokes his pets he will immediately run to wash his hands.
  • He needs to see evidence that I wash my hands before I touch any of his items.
  • Clothes have to be frequently washed often multiple times a day.
  • Outside he is constantly looking out for flies and flying bugs. If they come too close then he will need to go inside to wash.
  • He has to have his own seat and no one is allowed to touch it. If they do then the seat has to be cleaned.
  • When he goes out the the front door then he consciously tries to avoid walking over any areas that the postman or others might have walked across. When he comes back in them his shoes will need to be completely cleaned. If he ventures through the front gate and into the outside world then on his return he will completely strip, shower and change to new clothes. Those rules apply to me as well.
  • Mouth-washing and gargling is frequently repeated during the day.
  • Any item which hits the ground (inside or out) will need to be deep cleaned.
  • Any new food items have to go into the garage and complete a quarantine period if at least three days.

This is daily life in our little home. I do my best to reassure, reason and modify behaviours. But it feels nothing more than trying to plug a leaking dam at present. One hole maybe plugged but in the meantime another two new holes have appeared. Counselling was there but government cutbacks have taken their toll on services. The pandemic has temporarily suspended specialist help. The result is massive backlogs and no access to help. These are tough times. For him and yes me as well. As a parent you feel helpless, definitely so underprepared for these challenges. But we keep going. We pick ourselves up and go again. Yes we will get there. We will. But it will take time. Realistically maybe well into 2021. In practice timescales don’t matter, we take each day as it comes, fortified by the love of friends.

Schools out for now

Today we received an email from the Headteacher setting out the plans for the coming school year. Clearly he is being hamstrung by both government rules and the lack of any clarity on those rules. But currently this is the plan.

  • Each year group will be largely kept apart from other year groups.
  • Each year group will return to school on a different day. For our sons new year group that will be September 11th.
  • School buses will run but each child will have a named seat and the bus will be split into year groups. That will mean son will have to sit with 3 girls and separate from the boys he would normally sit with. All pupils will need to wear a mask on the bus and use hand sanitizers when they board the bus.
  • Masks will not be worn at any other time during the day.
  • Corridors will operate as normal but pupils will be encouraged to maintain as much social distancing as possible.
  • Social distancing will not be enforced within the classroom, so room layouts will remain unchanged.
  • No catering facilities will be available at break times.
  • Access to the canteen will be restricted at lunchtime. Pupils will only be allowed to have lunch within narrow timeframes.
  • More hand sanitizers will be available but it will be up to the pupils when they use them.
  • Toilets will be restricted to only 3 people at a time.
  • Year groups will be kept where possible in there own area of the school. Sons area would mean that he does not have access to the quiet room which is set aside for children with autism.
  • Parents will be given details of mental health services available to those children struggling.
  • No onsite temperature checking will take place, that is the responsibility of the parent.
  • If any child is showing a Covid symptom then they should be kept off school. They are also encouraged to undertake a virus test.
  • Class sizes may have to be increased to take account of increased teacher sickness.
  • Pupils will be encouraged to avoid meeting with friends who are not in their year group.
  • School will not be closed if virus cases are recorded.
  • Online tuition will have to be abandoned with the government dictating a full return to normal schooling.

So that’s the plan. I’m so hoping son decides to opt for homeschooling. Frankly opening up large schools during a pandemic with only the minimum of additional safeguards, appears reckless. So many unanswered questions, which the headteacher openly refers to. Why would you shutdown online tuition in schools which are actually up for awards on the quality of that online service. What do families do when they have several children in different year groups. Most people with the virus show no symptoms yet testing is being restricted. Why masks for buses yet no masks for classrooms. How do kids with autism access the autism services which are in a restricted parts of the school. It’s ok giving out mental health service details but those services are already overrun with significant service backlogs (waiting lists of up to 12 months) – kids need help now….. And on and on.

It’s all a bit of a mess really.

Cramming

This was a year ago. It must have been taken on one of my really long running routes. As it was the last week of term, I would be trying to cram in as many long runs as possible before the 6 week school holidays started. If only I had crammed in a few super long runs before the pandemic kicked in during March this year. Actually thinking about it, I wish I had crammed in a few other things as well those long 4 months ago

  • Real ice cream
  • Slush puppies
  • Hill walking
  • Climbing
  • Trips to the beach
  • Trips to Switzerland
  • Trips to see my football team play – on seconds thoughts, who wants to see them get beat again….
  • Trips to Castles and Roman sites
  • Rock concerts
  • Visits to my sisters and brother
  • Trips to see some special friends
  • A few mountain biking sessions
  • A trip to the running shoe shop
  • A trip to a coffee and cake shop
  • A trip to the hot donut shop
  • A trip to the paper shop to stock up on paper, pens, PENCILS, paint, crayons and other school stationary cupboard requirements
  • Trip to the garage, my car has been broken since March now
  • A trip to the chip shop
  • Clothes shopping for the next year of Hawklad’s growth
  • Bathroom paper (toilet roll), face mask and soap shopping
  • A trip to the toy shop for Christmas gifts
  • Garden furniture shopping – the Yorkshire winters are not kind on outside chairs
  • Second hand book store

Thinking about books, the one place I am so glad I never crammed in was a trip to the Library. My books would now be 4 months overdue – that would be some hefty fine.

Really

There was a time when you could put some faith in the UK Government doing the right thing and providing a modicum of truth…….

So the Government are instructing parents to send their kids back to school after the summer holidays. The clear message is that it is perfectly safe. No need to worry. In fact no need for schools to observe most of the current pandemic and social distancing regulations. Those things just complicate the return process. Parents who fail to comply will be fined.

On the other hand….

A number of areas are reporting spikes in Corona Virus cases particularly amongst the younger age groups. The Director of Public Health from Liverpool issued the following warning – “this is a really dangerous moment for case numbers and we need people not to let their guard down.”

When the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor broke lockdown rules he was defended by our so called leader. Johnson said the following “he behaved responsibly and with integrity and followed the instincts of every father.”

I will happily see you in court Boris….

Flaming summer

A beautiful rose is a timely reminder that its flaming summer. Strange that it’s so very grey, wet and the heating is on full blast. At least there is no need for the air conditioning in the car. My car AC is savage. It has basically two settings OFF and REFRIGERATION. However due to a electrical fault I cannot now switch it off. It’s a cold car. There is a downside to the refrigeration setting. When I took the facial temperature check I registered as a fault on the digital thermometer. Too Low. I had to quickly try to warm up to record a reading. Thinking about it maybe that’s a common problem in a Yorkshire. Can I find a way of turning up the heating any further.