Burns

It’s hot. That’s Yorkshire hot. Which probably means mild in other parts of the world. My Dad would have called it mafting. It’s that mafting that even the Yorkshire Farm Machinery can’t cope. The photo shows the smouldering wreck of an unfortunate tractor with a badly burnt field. That’s a first on the dog walk.

Our Son does suffer from stress and overpowering fears. When he took one look at the burnt carnage he immediately panicked that our house would soon be engulfed in flames. It’s understandable as the field is less than a mile from us. I tried to calm his fears with words but with no luck. So actions are required. A mad Dad sat down in the blackened field. Look son my bum is getting a little warm but my shorts are not ablaze. Although it did demonstrate a point I should have thought the plan through a bit. Light grey shorts are maybe not that fetching when they have two buttock shaped black marks on the rear.

Although our son’s wild fire fear has been dampened down a little. Sometimes silliness works better than rational argument. It is still there and will be until normal Yorkshire weather returns.

When you have a child who suffers from these inhibiting fears it is vital that you try and keep on top of them. Working in partnership with school and health services is vital. At his last school they were usually on the ball. The teacher would catch me at the end of day or send a quick email to let me know if something had happened. If it was particularly significant school would phone immediately.

Unfortunately at his new school this has completely stopped. I fully understand that it’s a much bigger school and he has different teachers for each subject. But surely they still have a duty of care. I know speaking with the health professionals they say unfortunately most schools in they area are the same now. The close partnership working which was in place a few years ago has dried up. Again and again it comes back to the same reason. Government. As one Doctor said

Under the last Labour Government it was about the patient. Now the patient is a secondary consideration to income generation, competition and profit. Money is now king.

So increasingly it’s just left to parents, families and friends. The days of government for the greater good are over. Its all about self help and what the individual can afford. Must deliver tax cuts. It’s back to Victorian ethics. Days when democracy could be overridden by the powerful and the rich. A time when it was ok to send poor kids up chimneys. When hatred and discrimination was the norm.

Maybe it’s just me and I’m in the minority. Just my irrational fear. But increasingly my country is becoming alien to me. I hate what is becoming. Too many kids do not get the support they badly need. As a generation we have really messed up our priorities. Our leaders happily play fiddles while Rome burns. Or maybe we should now change that to our leaders go to comedy clubs while the Amazon burns.

Eevee

Happily having a morning constitutional when the bathroom door exploded open.

Sorry Dad you have company. Need a photograph of the Shiny Eevee.

Another thing not in the glossy adverts about parenting. But the same applies to Dog owning. Our bungalow has a design issue.

For some reason the architect who designed the building thought it would be funny to put the toilet basically in full sight of the front door. The bathroom door takes on the same importance as the Wall in a Game of Thrones. It is the only defence against chaos. It doesn’t help that for some reason the bathroom door has decided to expand just enough that it doesn’t fully shut.

So when you are happily sat on the throne it’s not perfect timing for the postman to arrive at the very same time as the dog barges open the bathroom door. The postman’s horror would make a great Stephen King novel. At least a short novel. It could be the short version of IT.

S*IT. Which is probably the words the postman issued. Definitely the words I said.

It’s also the perfect description of my current mood. I won’t bore you with the long story yet again. But over the last 3 years the period from July 23 to early September is when we lost my mum, my partners mum and my partner. It should be a great time. The period exactly covers the long school break. Before the world changed it rivalled Christmas for the best part of the year. Now it’s an ordeal. But holiday periods are often like that. Even after 3 years it’s still an ordeal. Maybe it will get better over time. Maybe it never will.

Grief is such a difficult feeling to describe. I’m still trying to capture it on this blog. I’m still not that close I suspect but I will keep plugging away. Have a look at the blog Party of One, or Life after Death. Malia writes about losing her husband so beautifully. Look at The Grief Reality. Another beautifully written blog about coping with the loss of a beloved mum at a far too early age in life. These show what can be achieved.

In those three years since the world changed I often fall back on silliness to release the pressure. I strongly suspect that it’s really a ploy to just to stop the grieving process for a few moments. Maybe if I laugh the problems will just go away. Sadly they don’t.

Son often copes by trying to fill his head with information. Today it’s been Egyptian Football, Agrippina and Pokemon Go. Thankfully the distraction seems to be working for him.

Tonight we will both forget about life by watching Red Dwarf. So very funny. Hopefully we will have more luck than the previous night. We watched an episode which featured unusually for the show a sad segment where the shipmates talked about not having a mum. The Kryten line everyone should have a mum really did hit home. You are so right Kryten. It’s not easy at my age but at son’s age….

So hopefully after a lot of laughs tonight we go again tomorrow. Let’s see how many Pokemon I can traumatise in the bathroom. No wonder it went shiny.

The phone

A couple of miles from our village a large TV event has been taking place. Something like 20000 people have been attending. But we haven’t seen a soul. The dog walk felt like we had the land to ourselves. Isolation.

This summer is probably going to be my most isolated ever (so far). Outside our gang I would be amazed if I have spoken more than 30 words to the outside world. Probably had more conversations with the plants (weeds) in our garden. It really is starting to show. Even something as simple as buying a couple of entry tickets leaves me a gibbering wreck.

Not had a single conversation with anyone in the village in months, Suspect the village are celebrating that. Even the postman has gone into stealth mode. Absolutely no sign of the neighbours.

A few years back I remember a clinician telling us that we should probably get used to the idea of becoming isolated. Get used to your own company. She had seen a lot of parents in our position get cut off from friends and the outside world. That seemed fine as I had my soul partner with me. Didn’t realise how applicable own company would become.

This afternoon I checked if our phone was still working. It’s not rung once during the entire school holidays. In fact my mobile has only had two brief work calls. As the months go on my isolation from the world gathers pace. I’m not sure if that scares me or delights me. It’s got to the stage that I’m not sure if anyone would notice if I replaced the phone with a large bust of Boris Johnson. Probably not.

I would hope that the Boris bust would become a favourite cock a leg spot for the dog. Suppose I would need to move it outside. Wonder if Boris would tell the migrating birds to bugger off back to their own country. Sorry should really give Boris his full name

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Ironically Boris wasn’t born in this country. Given his position on immigration maybe he should send himself back to America. Anyway I bet his phone rings more times than mine. A man who currently wants the UK to be isolated Internationally probably doesn’t understand what isolation really means.

Maybe I should offer my services. I could be the Governments expert on isolation. I did think about being the Government expert on talking gibberish but they have already got that position well and truly covered.

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.

Zord

Zero sleep last night. Not even looking at old photos from a trip to the Peak District helped at 5am. And as all you biologists will know – zero sleep equates to zombieism. So I’ve been a full on zombie today. All zombies need a cool name, just ask Rob Zombie or Shaun of the Dead. A particularly awesome zombie was Skipper in a brilliant episode of The Penguins of Madagascar. If you want a laugh look up that one.

My first name might be fine in front of a famous Western Actors surname or in front of a great English Strikers surname or as the name of a pet in a certain underwater burger eating cartoon. But as a Zombie it is pretty lame. So we need a rebranding. Hopefully for just one day only I am Zord. Yes I watched PowerRangers.

Unfortunately Zord is a bit cranky. Zord has decided he doesn’t like August. Too many memories. Bad memories. Sad memories. The slightest thing can bring a tear. Yes zombies have an emotional dimension to them. Yet again movies like World War Z are so quick to stereotype.

Zord is a bit accident prone. Smashed a cup and broken the scissors. He’s burnt toast, crumpets and baked beans today. He even managed to set fire to a dish cloth. Zombies clearly don’t get to use an oven much. Must admit the microwave is beyond Zord as well. He initially just took the lid of the tin of beans then put the tin straight into the microwave. I think Zord fancied being the Lord of Lightening just once.

Zord has a tendency to fall asleep. That sleep where the eyes shut, the head then falls backwards and you are immediately woken by that awful head snapping sensation. So far Zord has tried that while watching TV, while trying to type up a report, while trying to sign a cheque and while on the toilet. Silly Zord.

Zord can also be a bit snappy. Unforgivably Zord has snapped a couple of times at our son. Bad Zord. But he does realise that being snappy is not a good trait so he is trying to control the snappiness. Zord finds coffee and chocolate helps. I’ve not had the heart to tell Zord that he is one of the few vegan zombies.

Let’s see what lasts longer with Zord – zombieism or veganism. Trying to be a vegan is bloody expensive. Sorry bloody and vegan shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Forgive me I am a tired parent zombie.

Brief

For just a few minutes the clouds parted and summer made a brief appearance. Back to rain now. It was nice while it lasted.

I woke up this morning and like most mornings – half asleep. Few minutes later I’m peddling away on the exercise bike. Starting to feel more awake now. 28kph – come on lazy pants bit quicker.

Dad your squeaking.

And with that his bedroom door shuts. (Most unusual) I most be squeaky. So my morning mini Tour De France is interrupted. Why is it that when you need something from the toolbox it somehow develops cloaking technology. The oil was in the box. Search abandoned and cooking oil is smeared over the noisy bike. I wonder if this is common practice in professional cycling circles.

So we start the cycling again.

Dad can you hear the strange noises outside.

The resulting investigation seems to indicate the side gate banging in the wind. Quickly fixed with a brick. It’s tough for our son. So easily unsettled.

Can you move the bike into my room.

Tell you what why don’t you bring your blanket and try to sleep on the sofa next to the bike. The dog will happily join you. Few minutes later he is settled in with his four legged hot water bottle. So I try to start cycling again.

For a few brief moments I get into the zone. Good speed. Then the mind starts to wander. The biggest problem with indoor cycling. It was an August Sunday three years ago at about this time when the phone rang. It was the Doctor saying sorry but the last treatment option had failed and it was now time to move partner into end of life care. Shiver down the spine. Feel completely sick. Tears starting. Then anger. Why. Tell me why.

Anger fuelled peddling. Speed is now becoming breakneck.

Dad your squeaking again.

And with that it’s time to get off the bike. Squeaking wins the day. Come on son let’s have an unhealthy breakfast.

Can I have waffles.

You can have anything you want son. So like the sunshine. Today’s exercise was brief and my healthy eating regime is broken. Too brief to make a difference.

Me Me Me

Blue skies have been a rarity over the last couple of weeks. Strangely this photo is a few weeks old. Can’t remember the last time I had to water the tomato plants. If anything it’s more about trying to stop them drowning in the rain water. The mad dog is currently sat looking out through the back door. Yet when I open it for him he just continues to sit and seems to shrug – if you think I’m going out in that you have another thing coming. Other areas of the county have seen bridges swept away and a Dam almost breached. Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago I was talking about Yorkshire and temperatures in the 90s. Strange old summer.

We have largely been cut off from the outside world this holiday. The occasional and extremely brief trip to the shop but son has stayed in the car. Trip to a castle but at a time (and with the poor weather) that it would be largely empty. We are thinking about a trip to another castle, a zoo and hill walk – but these will be scheduled at the quietest times possible. This is how our son likes it.

But it does have a downside. Next month son will return to school. Small site with over 800 kids and adults. Its just not a natural environment for someone with Aspergers. It doesn’t help that within a few days of school opening it’s the anniversary of his mums death. It not easy for anyone but no kid should have to go through that.

Soon we will need to start the process of getting him as ready as possible for that dreaded return. We will have a few visits to the school. A word with the caretaker will allow a walk round the empty corridors. But that just won’t prepare him for so much noise, so many faces. So we are going to have to visit a few busy places. A couple of trips to a Supermarket. Maybe a visit to a popular museum – York’s Train Museum. It’s a balancing act trying to acclimatise yet not trying to unnecessarily spook him.

The other part to this is ME. It’s about trying to get ME used to people again. It really doesn’t come naturally to ME. Just look at that it’s all ME ME ME with me. I blame it on the rain.

Current mood – Dampish….

Dashboard

This post has been sat around my draft section for a while. Messed around with it but couldn’t get it right. So gone back to the first version (without fancy spreadsheet graphs and using the original rubbish hand drawn ones) and let’s get it out there.

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

Reading between the lines from the occasional comment and the offline emails – my mood is sometimes misinterpreted. That’s not a criticism of anyone. It’s a reflection of my dodgy writing style or the mixed messages I can send out.

Then a thought crossed my mind. Maybe I should start each blog with a disclaimer clearly stating that my current mindset might be very dark even though I might include a little bit of silliness. No confusion there.

But why don’t we take it a stage further. An emotional dashboard. Each post with a current state of mind forecast. These might need to be worked on but how about the following

Or if that is too confusing why not just have a photo which sums of how I feel.

Tired

Very Tired

Zombie

Happy

Distinctly Average

Sad

Like Sh*t

Confused

Pissed Off

Ok

Ok is just one of those words. As a kid our headteacher would give you an automatic detention for saying it. It was a banned word along with Punk, Booze, Ciggy, Damm, T**t, F*** ………. I think it was not seen as proper English. Strange as it was a school in Yorkshire and we could say words like Wazak, Jiggered and Chuffin Heck.

Now I have a problem with ok. It’s a twofold issue

  • It’s too easy when someone asks how you are to just say “OK”. It almost becomes automatic. What does it mean really.
  • When I ask after somebody’s wellbeing I often say “Are you Ok” or “Hope your Ok”.

Hope your ok…..

The more I think about it the worse that sounds. First of all are you ok. It sounds like I’m hoping someone is basically average, somewhere between wonderful and sh**e. It’s hardly the same as saying are you great, spectacular or wonderful. Basically setting a pretty low expectations bar. Don’t get me wrong we all feel just average somedays. It’s not as good as being happy but way better than being like sh*t. It would be nice if we were all happy some of the time.

Are you ok…..

You are often talking with people who have suffered or are suffering so much pain. Depression, Grief, Loneliness, Despair, Hardship, Physical Pain. Are you ok sounds such a trite way of asking after someone’s wellbeing. Well of course they are not OK.

It’s just a personal thing but I am going to try and find more suitable alternatives to Ok. Maybe they don’t always exist but it’s worth a try. Recently when people have asked how I am I’ve started trying to say Distinctly Average rather than ok. It’s actually feels like a good summary of my usual mood. It certainly feels a more meaningful response than OK. But I will definitely promise that when someone does take the time to ask how I feel I will be honest. Hopefully no more bland OKs.

Asking after someone’s wellbeing is proving more difficult. It’s definitely still a work in progress. Maybe How are you doing is the way to go. What about How are you feeling. Actually it’s probably the follow up question which is the key. We shall see. I’m going to have a good ponder about this. I hope that’s ok with you.