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.

Shopping

I ventured into a Supermarket today. What was I thinking about. Son wisely stayed in the car and watched Red Dwarf episodes. When I went shopping with my partner it seemed to insulate me from the madness occurring around us. Now as a single shopper I seem to absorb everything. It’s a truly bizarre experience.

First of all why do some supermarkets insist that they will only permit you to use one of the trolleys only if you first feed it a one pound coin. Could I find a one pound coin. Could I buggery. After 10 fruitless minutes ransacking the car I had to go into the supermarket to see if they would change a £10 note. “I’m sorry we are not allowed to give change”. So I bought the cheapest packet of sweets I could find. I fed the trolley it’s coin and off we went – in circles. Why is it of the 100 trolleys available I picked the one with the jammed wheel. So I tried again. This time the trolley went in a reasonably straight line but as I entered the shop the little blighter started squeaking. When I say squeaking I mean SQUEAKING. We are talking a 10000 opera singing mice squeaking through the Motorhead sound system. Too late to change as my first items are loaded.

I was going to get a melon but I watched as a chap proceeded to pick up every melon, squeeze them and then appear to smell them. Eventually he found one which he could love. Unfortunately I suddenly did not fancy a previously sniffed melon.

A little kid picking his nose ferociously within inches of the deli counter rather changed my view on lunch options.

Unbelievably I then watched as a woman started checking out every single cucumber. She was seriously squeezing each one. Some even got tapped on the counter. Strangely I crossed off Cucumber from the shopping list as I have a strict no purchase policy for all previously violated vegetables.

As I was trying to find just one tin of soup which was dairy free I heard a chap ask a Shop Assistant where the teabags could be found. The helpful advice the chap got was – well it’s not in this aisle it will be next to the coffee. When the chap asked where the coffee was he was told. It used to be in aisle 3 but they moved it. I’m sure you will find it if you keep going round the shop.

Then an old lady asked if I could pass her a tin of peaches down. I’m one 1/2 inch above average height. Why in God’s name do shops insist on having shelves where even an average height person has to go on tip toes to reach the stuff we are trying to buy. The poor woman who can’t be 5ft has got no chance shopping. Maybe the shop could hire stilts along with the trolley.

The aisle with the tomato ketchup and other sauces was cordoned off. Clearly a jar of something red had been dropped. However it must have been dropped with some force as most of the aisle resembled a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That’s going to take some cleaning.

I then went past the discounted section. Not sure what produce was discounted as what appeared to be a team bus of local holligans where at least 3 deep around the area. That is going to be stripped bare.

The pet section had a deal on cat food. Everything seemed to be buy one get one free. Yet nothing for the dogs. Isn’t that discrimination. Plus how can gerbil bedding be so bloody expensive. It would be cheaper to buy them a proper duvet with matching cover. Or maybe just buy them a tree and let the Gerbils do the rest.

You make it through the pet section then you find the way blocked at the cereal aisle. An impromptu meeting of what appeared to be the bridge club had helpfully completely filled the walkway. Oh for a Battering Ram.

Special mention to the poor mum who had successfully navigated the supermarket carefully packing her trolley with the weekly essentials. Only to find out her toddler had been having a great game of putting any item in his reach back onto the shelves – definitely not in the correct position.

Then we come to the dress sense. Ok on the sartorial scale I’m near the bottom. But come on. One chap in a fine pinstripe suit with bright yellow training shoes. The lady in what can be best described as a ballerina costume. The young kid (maybe 8) with the f**k you T-shirt. Or maybe the chap walking around in what appeared to be a string vest which was probably last washed 10 years ago. Or perhaps the big chap walking around in Tour de France Lycra which was clearly on the point of exploding under the extreme pressure it was subject to. Wow what an old fart I’m becoming. To balance things out I was looking spectacular in my luminous green running shoes set against a blue and green relaxed fit T-shirt. My exploding lycra issue was tastefully hidden under matching black and white running shorts. I think the term your trying to think of is numpty.

The freezer section lives up to its name. The freezers are working that well that the surrounding air has been chilled to somewhere close to East Antarctic Plateau temperatures. You could see the colour literally being sucked out of the shoppers trying to reach the ice lolly section. To my cost I discovered how little insulation running shorts and Lycra provide. I will never look at frozen Brussels Sprouts in the same way again.

Then it’s time to pay. When I say time I mean that in the loosest sense. A long queue at every open till. Then they start to open another till. The start to the Monaco Grand Prix has nothing on the ensuing trolley carnage. I was expecting Kirk Douglas and Chariot to make an appearance. And then when we do get to a cash till. Of the 16 available why do I always pick the one where the poor cashier has the plague. 5 minutes of coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose. Deep Joy.

That’s why I am hermit….

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.

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….

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.

Alviiiiiin!

I wonder if the cow is even aware of that strange thing in the sky. Should I warn the cow. Probably not – would just think I’m full of hot air.

I think saying stupid or silly things is a release for me. It’s a way of relieving pressure. Diffusing the dark thoughts that can crowd my mind. However that Monty Python in me is often misinterpreted.

He’s a happy soul.

Not a care in the world.

OR

He’s got over things now.

He’s moved on.

That is so far from the truth. Everyday is a struggle. You just have to learn to coexist with Depression and Grief.

I would love to release my inner demons through beautiful paintings or dark soulful poetry. Unfortunately that’s just not me. It doesn’t work for me and the end result is a pile of pants. All it does is bring out my inner Alvin and The Chipmunks. Not sure that would be a box office winner – Alvin and The Grief Trip.

Sorry there I go again.

The point I’m trying to make if Alvin would just let me is that how you appear on the surface is often very different to how you actually feel inside. It doesn’t help that often people don’t want to hear how you really are feeling. They will ask – how are you? They desperately want you to say – fine. And guess what – when you get asked that question your almost preprogrammed to say – I’m ok.

Maybe we should have a deal. From now on let’s all REALLY ask how someone is. When they say fine or ok how about we follow up with – are you really sure. Or I’m here for you I know how tough it can be.

The other part of the deal is when someone takes the time to really ask how you are then be honest. Instead of saying just dandy it is ok to say like shit or not good or I’m struggling. Or if your feeling really brave just say I could really do with a hug.

We all struggle sometimes. Wouldn’t it be a better world if we could all just be a bit more open about that. What do you say Alvin.

Prom

It was a bit wet in Yorkshire last night. Landslides, floods, bridges swept away. That’s more like proper summer weather. So this photo was taken a few days ago – now the path down to here is flooded.

The local stately home has a Classical Proms on this weekend. Given the amount of rain coming down at present I suspect they could dispense with the services of the Orchestra – unless they can play underwater. A more appropriate option would be Spongebob and Patrick.

It’s strange how the mention of the Proms brings back memories.

  • Sat at that venue watching a summer concert featuring Tom Jones. It was cold, it was wet it was grim. My partner had 3 jumpers on. Scarily I knew every single song Tom sung. The couple behind us where a bit disappointed as they thought they had bought tickets for Tom Waits
    When we first moved here we decided to have a Proms party. Sit in our garden with wine and listen to the music. This being Yorkshire the summer Prom featured a gale force wind. We couldn’t hear a damm thing.
    The year after we tried again but still couldn’t hear a thing. So I stayed sober and we sneaked into the car park and listened from their.
    The year after that we actually bought tickets but completely forgot. We didn’t realise until we heard the fireworks going off.

So this weekend I will go outside with a cup of coffee and see if I can hear the music. If I can then I will sit next to my Partners Yorkshire Rose and reflect on life. Maybe I will just go outside and play some Elgar and Samuel Barber on the iPad. Reflecting while holding a brolly.