Gnomeless

Maybe it’s my dear parents influence but I’ve always liked a garden gnome. But for years we had a problem. My partner hated them. Which is unusual as she was the kindest soul going. Never a bad word about anyone. All except gnomes. She had serious issues with them. When I suggested the garden would benefit from at least one of these sweet little chaps the response was razor sharp

If I find one in the garden then it’s getting smashed with a hammer….

Even when I suggested that a gnome would significantly raise the IQ in the garden when I was gardening alone, the response was similarly brutal

The garden gnome will get it then your next…..

What I will now tell you will probably get a really pissed off spirit coming my way. I might have ignored my partner just a tad. A few gnomes did get sneaked into the garden. To ensure their life expectancy was measured in days rather than seconds they needed to go into deep cover. Very deep cover. The compost heap, under bushes, hid behind plant pots. Unbelievably a few survived the inevitable apocalypse.

One such hardy soul is still with us. Now he is enjoying life in the open. He has long forgotten the long years buried under the hedge. He’s a gnome from my favourite footy team. He’s over 20 years old and is still to see his team win anything. What was I thinking of when as a toddler when I picked Newcastle United as my team. I could have picked a team which won things. No I picked the team which is in a permanent state of chaos, a never ending winless soap story. No wonder the poor gnome looks so washed out. I went through a stage of telling the gnome the teams results. Unfortunately as that usually entailed breaking the bad news of another defeat I changed to just letting him know of good team news. As a result I haven’t spoken to the gnome in years…….

Bee

Slightly unnerving BEEing (being) eyeballed by this woolly friend. Couldn’t work out if it was admiring my silky garden football skills or was waiting for a Rich Tea biscuit. I lived in footballing worship hope until a biscuit was handed over and the woolly one then walked off.

Not always but occasionally life balances itself out. This morning I finished my last bit of paid work before the company basically shuts down for a couple of months (maybe longer). So no money coming in. As I closed the work laptop the phone rang. It was the garage, they still can’t get the parts needed for my cars poorly braking system. They will keep trying but the repair work won’t happen much before May. That’s a bit of a result. Won’t BEE (be) using the car much at all and that’s one hefty bill kicked into the long grass.

Talking about long grass. Last year someone gave me a wild bee hotel. The poor souls are struggling here so I thought I would do my bit. A quiet corner in the garden has been allowed to go wild. To be factually correct that should have been described as – I have let a part of the badly overgrown garden to go even wilder than the rest of the mess…

Anyway in the wild corner I have carefully located the bee hotel. Still no little takers after many months. I remember my Dad telling me that the first bee you see in spring is probably looking for a new home. He was a stubborn Yorkshireman so I never dared to question his apicultural knowledge. So our first bee of the season arrived.

A bee clearly fixated on trying to squeeze under the back door and get into our house. I tried showing the bee the currently vacant and palatial hotel. As hard as I pointed at the hotel’s front door, the bee just ignored me. Even a little honey failed to entice the bee. UnBEElievable (Unbelievable)

My question to you. What is the bee phrase for ‘Sorry pal your not coming in here. This thing I’m pointing at is your free of charge new house. I will even feed you each day.”

Earthquakes and The Scottish Play

Finally succumbed to the New Year ‘Sort myself out’ bug. So the Gluten, Soya, Caffeine, Dairy, Meat Free diet is back in force. Whats the old phrase – in for a Penny in for a Pound. So on top of that it is a fasting type regime as well. 10pm to 4pm no food. Allowed to eat in just 6 hours everyday. If I was sticking to the 8:16 diet then I could start eating at 2pm but as Son is not back from school until 4 then might as well wait. It’s funny the effect it has on me. Even a simple bowl of green salad takes on an out of body experience at 4pm. Almond Milk becomes pure nectar.

Anybody who experiences the pleasure of IBS will probably understand the length you will go to try and sort your innards out. You realise it’s unlikely ever to be that magic fix. You happily settle for work around that settles things down for a few months. As you get older more items are added to the banned list. Or at best the once a year I’ve got to have my fix and will take the consequences list. It never seems to be the boring or least favourite foods does it. This Christmas shockingly Marzipan has been added to the naughty list. Absolutely heartbreaking. It’s bizarre as Almond Milk is currently fine with my body and yet Marzipan…… So if you ever see me in the street looking like Mr Creosote then you know I’ve just succumbed to Marzipan with a large coffee.

Anyway the diet switch has been surprisingly easy this weekend. As soon as we have got up Son has wanted to play football in our mud patch and then take the dog for a walk. It’s helped pass the empty feeling hours. Frustratingly the football was set all day in a misty and rainy backdrop. Only as we started to pack up did the clouds finally part and we got to see the last embers of the setting sun. It will be a brief interlude as another Atlantic Storm is flying towards us. The Trampoline is hopefully well and truly sandbagged down.

So now we prepare for school. Last week was best described as a holding pattern. It didn’t get worse but certainly didn’t move forward. Currently we are trying to revise for a Science Test. For whatever reason Son suddenly gets areas of knowledge that he just can’t visualise. Being dyslexic visualisation is his memory method. I’ve previously talked about his struggles with decimal points and shapes. We can now add Waves to the list of struggles. Poor kid just can’t get his head round them.

Dad not sure Im going to do very well on this one. Can’t even spell Electromagnetic or Longitudinal. So even if I do fluke the right answer I still won’t be able to write it down correctly. Maybe as I’ve been practising for a Shakespeare spelling test I should just put down random bard words. At least they will be sort of spelt right.

That did make me smile. Imagine the look on the Science Teachers face when the response to the question. Which of the two types of wave produced by an earthquake is the first to arrive at a location. And will it be the P or S wave? Is as following

Macbeth and Stratford upon Avon.

Trudeau and the Bull

Our local Bull has decided that he hasn’t eyeballed me enough. Now he’s made his way through to the farmers field immediately behind our garden. Now he can eyeball me all day long.

Yesterday evening son was watching a history DVD. Something about the American Civil War. So I took the mad dog out in the garden for his late evening barking session. Village most love him. Anyway as he started barking at the Apple Tree when I noticed the football on the muddy lawn. A thought crossed my mind. I don’t often get the ball to myself. Time for some quality Dad football skills. Two minutes later the ball is in the farmers field. Ops. Not a problem I will just jump over the wooden fence and the small wire fence. Son will never know that I’m a muppet.

Then that sinking feeling. What is that large black lump stood next to the ball. A very large lump which is eyeballing me. The pigging ball has ended up next to Mr Bull. It’s our only ball since the dog chewed the last others. It is also our sons favourite ball which he’s had for years now.

Houston we have a problem.

What do I do.

Take the risk of son losing one of his favourite toys OR get flattened.

Having deeply assessed the problem and developed an in-depth strategy (thinking time lasted about 3 seconds) it was decision time. Seconds later I’ve climbed over the fences and I’m slowly edging towards The Beast. The well thought out plan could be described as ‘winging it’ or a ‘work in progress top level broad brush general overview’ thing. This was evidenced by the clever strategy to calm the beast. I was trying to soothly talk to him by saying ‘he’s a clever pretty polly’. I couldn’t think of a nice name for a bull but really pretty polly. The problem was compounded by the fact that on closer examination the ball was virtually under the bull.

So I continued to edge closer to my doom sticking to the Pretty Polly tactics. Eventually I’m within a couple of feet of The Beast. He’s a very big boy. And he’s seriously eyeballing me. Slowly I bend over and pick up the ball. My brilliant plan had not considered being actually face to face with him. Then the Beast made a strange noise. I’m about to die. Then a gushing water sound. He’s having a pee. I can breathe again. Then a potential mistake. A big mistake. I patted the bull on the head. He’s still eyeballing me but I’m sure the eyes have gone blood red and steam is coming out of the nose. Time to get out of here. Slowly I back away keeping my eyes on him. When the gap is about 6 yards I turned. Suddenly I’m sure I can hear the beast heading towards me. Fast. With a surprisingly rapid sprint for a man of my age I’m at the fences. No time to climb just jump. With one bound I just about clear both fences. SAFETY.

I would like to report that I landed like an Olympic Gymnast. No. I landed like a flying baboon. Face first into the muddy lawn and mole hills. But I’m alive and the ball is safe. Inside I looked in the mirror. A face caked in mud. At that very stage son walked into the bathroom. He took one look at the mud on my face and calmly said.

I’m not going to ask why but you do know having a painted brown face is so uncool and racist Dad.

Yes it is son. In my case it was an accident. Having said that I bet that’s exactly what Justin Trudeau said and it’s not a great defence. Best wash it off before I’m photographed.

Autism and football

The Blueberry Plant is anything other than blue now.

That looks too like a Liverpool and Manchester United shirt for my liking. But it’s still better than that black and white barcode which your team wears. Watching barcodes run about a pitch must give you headaches.

That Football team of mine just gives me headaches period.

Son has set his heart on playing football for a team. Over the last few months we’ve tried to kick as many footballs around as the weather has permitted. It hasn’t been easy for him. Difficulties with coordination makes playing any ball sport a tough ask. That’s the issues facing many kids with Autism and Dyspraxia.

But there is hope. For a start dyslexia is not a barrier to sport. So many positive examples.

  • Kenny Logan – 70 Caps for Scotland (Rugby Union)
  • Scott Quinell – multiple caps for Wales in both Rugby Union and League
  • Lewis Hamilton – 5 time F1 World Champion
  • Magic Johnson
  • The great Mohammad Ali

In terms of autism it allows you to see the world in different and imaginative ways. This can be such an advantage in sport. Psychologists believe that some of the greatest sporting talents may be on the spectrum. They can see opportunities that other teammates just can’t pick out. It’s speculated that one of the greatest footballers on the planet (maybe the best) is on the spectrum.

Our son is tall for his age and very slim. He seemed the perfect shape for a modern style goalkeeper. So that’s what we started with. This also made it easier as we could just focus on his hand to eye coordination. For years he couldn’t catch a ball. But for ages now he has been bouncing a bouncy ball on our pavement. With hard work he now has really good catching skills. Then he started trying to catch a tennis ball while bouncing on his trampoline. Again after a lot of hard work he now is great at diving and catching one handed. So the next stage was to change the bouncy ball and tennis ball for a football. Quite quickly he managed to start catching two handed.

A small goal was bought for the garden and I started hitting some soft shots at

him. With hard work he can now dive and make some great saves. He’s now better than I was at his age.

But now he wants to see if he can play as a midfielder.

That would be cool dad.

This is a harder challenge for him as he still struggles coordinating his feet to kick a ball properly. But let’s see what we can do about that. Any skills he learns with his feet will be useful if he goes back to goalkeeping as these days they need to be comfortable passing and dribbling.

This year he has started going to the football club at school. It’s a steep learning curve. Suddenly it’s not just his dad, the dog and the ball. It’s lots of moving bodies, so unpredictable and loads of shouting. The shouting really disoriented him on his first session. He played one short game in midfield.

Dad I didn’t touch the ball but wow did I look good…. (said with a smile)

He went in goal and made some good saves but

I took a goal kick but the defender didn’t see me pass to him and the striker got the ball and scored. The teacher shouted that it was my fault.

Unfortunately too much shouting and blame goes with kids football in our country. Kids should be encouraged to try things, make mistakes and learn from them. Unfortunately too many are scared of making errors. You don’t make dreams come true by shouting at kids. At least son could see the wider picture.

Typical the other team scores and everyone blames the keeper even when it’s not his fault. What did you do when they blamed you for letting a goal in. I bet you let too many goals in.

Oh I just smiled, clapped my hands and immediately forgot about the goal. You move on and think about the next shot. (That’s not the whole story. I was a bit of a hot head back then and I would threaten to stick the ball up the backside of anyone who blamed me. But I won’t tell him that.)

So fingers crossed for the next club session.

Football

You try and show off your Messi like ball skills (in my dreams)… Then something gets in the way. The dog loves football. He’s very keen however he still is struggling to pick up even the most rudimentary basic game rules.

“Dad now its the end of the season it’s time to check our team predictions.” Each of us tries to guess where each team will finish in the English Premier League. That’s 20 teams.

Ok I’ll go and find the lists we wrote down.

No need Dad I can remember where we put each team”. That’s two lists we did back in August. When I later checked – he remembered both lists perfectly. I can’t even remember our telephone number..

Guess who lost….

Dad you said Fulham would finish 7th. They got relegated.”

“You said Huddersfield would be mid table and they all got 16pts coming last”

“Funniest one is you said Newcastle (my club) would finish bottom. They somehow got to to 13th”.

He didn’t even have to check the final league table. This was memorised perfectly as well.

As you came second I need to decide your forfeit. You have to listen to YouTube Alvin and The Chipmunks song videos for three hours solid.”

Deep joy. Still could be worse. Could have been U2….

Are you awake?

I vaguely noticed a face over the bed.

Hi Son.

Did you know that Arsenal has a goal difference of 23 and Man Utd have a goal difference of 13

And with that he returned to his bedroom. I almost expect these late night visits now. The other night it was:

Dad did you know that the Emperor Penguin can dive to a depth of 530m and stay underwater for 15 minutes”

I know it’s late but I love these little visits. It’s such a nice feeling that he wants to share these facts with me. Plus its a nice bit of brain candy. It prepares my rather limited central processor for the upcoming Mental challenges. I have learned that at some stage soon after being fed the little bit of brain candy that an in-depth discussion will be started around that subject.

So a few days ago the Penguin fact foreshadowed a discussion about the most amazing animal feats. So the question is – what will be today’s football discussion?

AND equally as important is the fact that while our Son is thinking about these facts, he is not worrying about other stuff. I’d much rather hear early morning football team goal differences than nightmares about ghost Vikings…..

Football

I wrote this just before the world turned again on Saturday. Trying to help get him back to this mindset again. Thankyou for all your support, it really has helped. I know some people will say it was just a pet, but given what went before it….. it really has hit him hard. Feels like he has regressed back to the days when his mum died.

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

“Dad I’m going to tell you the winners of the main football leagues since 2009.”

I grabbed my iPad to check the dates and help with the blanks, shouldn’t have bothered

Ours is easy it’s 2018 Man City, 2017 Chelsea, 2016 Leicester, 2015 Chelsea, 2014 Man City, 2013 Man Utd, 2012 Man City, 2011 Man Utd, 2010 Chelsea and 2009 was Man Utd.

Scotland is easy it’s Rangers for the first three years then Celtic since 2012.

In France it’s easy as it’s PSG except in 2009 when it was Bordeaux, 2010 Marseille, 2011 Lille, 2012 was a team starting with M but I can’t say it and 2017 Monaco.

For La Liga it’s Barcelona in 09,10,11,13,15,16,18. Real in 12,17 and Athletico in 2014.

In Italy Juventus have won it since 2012, 09 and 10 was Inter, 2011 was AC Milan.

In Germany 2009 it was Wolfsburg, 11 and 12 was Dortmund, boringly Bayern have won the rest.”

A slightly stunned Dad was list for words. He didn’t like football this time last year. Struggling for something to say all I could manage was – who won the Dutch league in 2010?

“Trying to trick me, that was Twente.”

Ok who won the Turkish league this year?

Galatasaray”

How can anyone remember all these facts. It is beyond me. It’s also beyond me why our society is so quick to write off so much talent in our autistic stars.

“Dad when did your team last win the league?”

Not that many years ago son….

“Dad you will find it was 1927.”

Bugger…..

Putting this off for a while

Before the world changed we had quite good balance in our relationship. We both managed to maintain reasonable careers while making sure we always had one of us there for our son. Our trips out as a family curtailed when the Aspergers started to kick in more. However we realised it was important that we had time outs to recharge the batteries. My recharge times largely centred on climbing and going to see my football team.

The world has changed now.

Climbing has gone. Replaced by the very occasional trip with our son to do a bit of walking on some remote hill top.

Trips to see my Football team has kinda stayed in place. They feel like a connection with a much different world. Maybe three or four times a year our son will go to visit my sister for a few hours to allow a trip to see my team. Occasionally I can get a spare ticket so I can take our son to a match. More often than not my ticket is taking up by a friend.

Unfortunately a decision needs to be made. Something I have been putting off for a while. Football really doesn’t fit in with our new life. It’s very expensive. My son struggles with different environments – that even includes my lovely sisters place. My son will go to the stadium but the crowds don’t sit easily with him. It’s becoming very difficult to justify. It doesn’t help that my team is now owned by a really unsavoury and deeply unpleasant characterbut that’s by the by.

It’s difficult. I have been going for 32 years. It’s the only time I get to meet some of my friends these days.

But now it’s time to close a particular chapter in my life. Things change, life moves on, you adapt. So after one final match then it’s goodbye Newcastle United….

Balls

Our son has just recently found the delights of football. It started with the rapid development of an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things football. The other night we did a quiz on World Cup finals. The question was can you name the venue, finalist and winner of each of the World Cup finals since 1930. I got about 50% correct. Unbelievably our son got 100%. Added to that he managed to name most of the top goal scorers, losing semi finalists and England’s performance.

I just can’t comprehend that level of memory recall. His brain encyclopaedia is not just in the form of a football edition. He has a mini library of encyclopaedias stored.

  • British Kings and Queens edition: He can name the key details and order of reign of each British Monarch since King Harold (1066),
  • Roman Emperors edition: Recently he managed to name 30 Emperors, the approximate reign date, key conquests and which had been murdered,
  • Egyptian Pharaohs edition: Again he can name a frightening number of Pharaohs and key notoriety’s,
  • Birds of Prey’s and Animals edition: Astonishing detailed knowledge of many living creatures. At his last school the teacher would ask our Son to help with the facts for lessons involving animals,
  • Dinosaurs edition: Can visually identify a large range of dinosaurs. Can list things like which time period a dinosaur existed in, size and things like hunting/feeding style.
  • Pokémon edition: Can identity virtually all the Pokemon, which region they exist in, battle styles and evolution family.

I can just about remember my car registration number….

Anyway back to football.

Unusually his interest in football has progressed to actually wanting to play the game. It would be oh so much easier for him if football was a game you could play by yourself. His dream is to become a football goalkeeper. He has started practicing in the garden. Unfortunately he is really self conscious and is always double checking to make sure nobody is watching him. As a result he prefers to practice when it is dark. We don’t have any floodlights and the garden is really dark. This makes the practice very difficult.

But a solution has been found. A football the lights up – it runs on batteries. It was really cheap but it is fantastic. It feels like a normal ball but just glows. Now we can practice all night long. It’s one of the best things we have ever bought. Just can’t remember where I bought it from…..