Look but don’t touch

It’s been a long time….

Back before 2020 Hawklad had made fantastic progress. Not a natural socialite, even School was endured rather than embraced. Apart from one or two really close friends, he avoided large groups. But he pushed on. He forced himself on to do a few things he wanted to do even though it meant being amongst the masses. Sports matches, normally to see my so called team lose. Thankfully the wise young one picked a team that didn’t play in black and white to support. He could relax and laugh at his Dad.

The other thing he wanted to do was go to Rock Concerts. He managed it. Hood pulled firmly over his head and he found a way that worked for him. But then a pandemic hit. Alter Bridge and Shinedown was his last concert back in December 2019.

Everything then stopped.

2022 finds his fears and anxieties ramped up even further. But HE WANTS TO GO TO CONCERTS AGAIN.

So here goes.

With much planning, we find ourselves on a car journey right across to the other side of the country. A walk through a strange new busy city. Public Transport strictly avoided so we walked for miles to a football stadium. We waited outside for the right moment. A lull in the queues. We dived in. On the pitch and standing, that way we can control how close people get to him.

And with luck on our side Hawklad gets to see Echo and The Bunnymen AND THE ROLLING STONES. Yes it was crowded but we maintained a clear zone at all times. Yes I did have to get the elbows out at times to enforce that…. but the zone held. Years of metal concerts fully prepared me for that job.

A few hours later we are heading back home on the motorway. From Car to STONES to Car without Hawklad once touching an alien surface. But he did it. Hawklad a chatterbox telling me just how fantastic the Stones had been.

Here’s the sting in the tail. Poor Mick Jagger then went down with COVID a couple of days later. He may well have caught it doing this concert or in the city we had visited. That has been duly noted by Hawklad. But it’s still a step forward.

Glove

We both love listening to the Rolling Stones. A news item came on the radio that they were playing three concerts here in the summer. Hawklad asked if the concerts would be busy and crowded. YES. He kind of resignedly shrugged his shoulders and sighed. Then the radio said that although the tickets aren’t on public sale yet, all three shows only had limited tickets left. Again Hawklad sighed and said “probably for the best, let’s go for a quiet walk”.

Always a treat going down this path. Very distracting. A cut through from the village road to one of the surrounding fields. Definitely a treat at this time of the year.

But let’s not forget that it’s Yorkshire. It might look like Spring but it’s still cold. That cold that the fences still have their gloves on…..

Rather classy gloves at that.

Shy cat

Yesterday the mad dog got a bit of blogging attention, well today his partner in crime is getting the spotlight. It’s big fat cat time.

Shame he’s a bit shy….

Or is it just sign that it’s such a hard life being a big fat cat.

Here’s the thing. I feel like copying the cat sometimes. Well not that thing he does when he’s bent double…. But definitely this covering the eyes truck. Definitely feeling tired and worn down. Parenting doesn’t really give you many breaks. Single parenting since 2016, no meaningful breaks really. No holidays. No letting what’s left of my hair down. Throw a pandemic in and each day seems to be very similar to last one. Spooky that it was Groundhog Day this week, apparently the little hog chap farted which means it’s another 6 weeks of eating Lasagna or something like that. You get the picture.

This feeling will pass. I’ve had these spells before. A better nights sleep will help. Maybe a shed load of caffeine and chocolate will do the trick. Mum would get me to play some sad music as a pick me up, so where is my Pink Floyd – Final Cut album (wow that’s a cheerful thing) or even darker, The Best of Alvin and the Chipmunks. But until I get my mojo back, maybe that soft, big pudding of a cat has a point, at least for one night.

Moving

Here’s the problem with school exams. Sitting in a deathly quiet hall. Surrounded by people who you probably don’t know and if you did know them, what’s the point as you can’t talk. Sat for hours, without moving, writing in silence. The only sounds, the occasional cough (that might be really off putting these days), the rustle of sweet papers being opened and the never ending clicks of the large clock at the front. Then the deafening booming voice – ‘and that’s time, put you pens down’…..

Today Hawklad had a History exam to sit at home. A slightly different exam environment. Sat on a sofa – sometimes. Then pacing around the house to think. A trip to the kitchen to get a piece of cake and soda. Then relocating to his bed to do the long question. All to the tune of music. Some Queen, some Bowie then some Journey. Not forgetting the 2 minute break to give his fingers a rest, best done by tickling the dog’s tummy and kicking a ball around the room.

That’s how Hawklad thinks, works and is most comfortable. Sitting still for more than 10 minutes is stressful, his body needs to be in constant motion. Quiet spooks him. Concentration is done in short bursts then a break. He thinks best when he’s relaxed and moving.

Looking at his completed paper. That free form exam approach works perfectly. Problem is that it isn’t going to be allowed in the final exams. The traditional exam environment is so alien to him. He just can’t perform in that setting. It’s bad for him.

What on earth do we do about that.

Unknown

A walk into the unknown……

As I’m typing this we should be in queue waiting to get into a rock concert in a busy northern city. As we are still 100 miles away, sat at home while Hawklad watches episodes of Parks & Recreation, I think we can call that a NO SHOW.

It was always more of a target for Hawklad to aim for, rather than a must see concert. A great band but The DARKNESS can wait for another year. Plus we have seen them twice already, in fact they were the last band we went to see before a certain pandemic hit. This concert was more about a potential marker to a return to a more normal, involved life. His return (and mine) into the real world. Six months to build bridges. In reality you can’t put a time on these processes, especially as yet another variant starts to surge through communities.

Hawklad isn’t ready yet. Those bridges are largely unbuilt. Certainly not ready to be packed in with a few thousand strangers.

The walk into the unknown continues…….

Much to ponder about life, the universe and homeschooling.

Time for a new target. Let’s call it a goal this time. A smaller step. Maybe not bridges built rather bridge building starting. Hawklad’s call is….

Go to the cinema to see a movie when it is really quiet. Almost empty cinema with no one sat near. More realistic as masks are enforced again.

Ok we can work towards that. May takes months (or longer) but it could happen eventually. Achieve that mini goal and then maybe THE DARKNESS might be more achievable.

The walk towards the known continues.

Music and Concerts

The sun sets on another day.

Back in summer Hawklad asked if he could have something to aim for this year. Something fun. Anything other than a potential return to the classroom. So we agreed to take a punt on some concert tickets for December. Back in July, December seemed a long term goal. Now with weeks to go, it’s unremittingly approaching with pace….

There is still time but that concert still seems like a mighty step too far. He is still struggling. Still struggles to touch alien surfaces. Close contact with people is wracked with anxieties. He still can’t venture into shops, even for just a few moments. Inside with a thousand other people, very hemmed in, doesn’t seem practical or achievable yet.

But we always live in hope.

Tomorrow is a new day, yes it is (sorry borrowed that line from WWE wrestling….)

But we are lucky. We still have the open spaces of the Yorkshire countryside. We still have a quiet garden. Today we took our mind of that fast approaching target by thinking about a musical challenge we have seen others do online. So here goes Hawklad’s take on the questions.

First Concert – Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry), The Darkness, The Dammed

Last Concert – The Darkness

Best Concert – Iron Maiden

Worst Concert – some bloke painting pictures on stage before Kiss…..

Loudest Concert – Kiss

Seen the most – Alice Cooper, The Darkness

Most surprising concert – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Next concert – The Darkness ???????

Wish I had seen them – David Bowie during the Ziggy Days

Top of wish list (can still see them) – Journey

Hawklad got two positive things from me. His eyelashes and his taste in music….. Ok time for his Gnarly Old Dad to have a go…..

First Concert – Whitesnake, Samson

Last Concert – The Darkness

Best Concert – can’t choose Tin Machine (David Bowie), Whitesnake (City Hall, Newcastle), Iron Maiden, Rory Gallagher, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Scorpions (supporting Deep Purple at Knebworth)

Worst Concert – Meatloaf with a broken leg, that bad he got bottled off stage. To be fair seen him twice more and he was really good.

Loudest Concert – Motörhead

Seen the most – Whitesnake

Most surprising concert – Tina Turner…. Ok that’s a big bad fib…. I took Hawklad’s Mum to see Ronan Keating (twice), whisper it, he was not bad at all.

Next Concert – The Darkness ???????

Wish I had seen them – Led Zeppelin or Leonard Cohen

Can still see them – AC/DC

Schools out for Summer

The school gates close for just under seven weeks and Hawklad wanted a celebratory car ride. To mark his freedom from school work, exams and having to get up before midday (😂😂) he came up with his own music playlist for the car ride.

So here’s Hawklads End of School playlist.

He had to sneak one song in just to wind up his old Dad….. But I will settle for 15 out of 16 good ones. So in the words of the Mr Alice Cooper

School’s out for Summer!!!

Music

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and sigh.

I was searching online for some new noise reduction earplugs for Hawklad. He needs these in settings with lots of background noise, like school classrooms and dinner halls. It’s not really about loud noise, just lots of competing sounds. His old ones are too small for him now. Problem is that he struggles with the feel of most of those you can get hold of.

So I did a search on if any particular brands of earplugs had been used successfully. See if any of the review sites had any tips. And here’s where I sighed.

The search brought up this little gem of a question on Quora.

“Why do people with Aspergers not like music……”

There are no words.

Well I bought a few earplugs which Hawklad can use when hopefully he sees the following bands in the next year or so.

The Darkness, Hollywood Vampires, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Ozzy….

And for no particular reason here are Hawklad’s favourite songs that he listens to virtually every day.

David Bowie – Space Oddity

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

ELO – Mr Blue Sky

Alice Cooper – Poison

Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness

Kiss – I was made for loving you

Europe – Final Countdown

Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For a Hero

AC/DC – TNT

Frozen – Let It Go

And his most favourite

Alter Bridge – Metalingus

Yes music. Lots of people love music.

Jim

On the 3rd July 1971 we lost Jim Morrison. The Doors frontman died 50 years ago in Paris. Such a talent taken way too soon.

Fast forward a few years and I’m sat in an A Level exam. Facing a dreaded French comprehension question. The exam wasn’t going well. I was failing. I was tempted to put my pen down and walk. But a quick glance at the French text changed my mind. The text was a French newspaper report. All about Jim Morrison, The Doors and the circumstances surrounding his death. Unbelievably I didn’t need to read the French text to answer the questions. Just a few minutes later the questions were answered perfectly. Unbelievably I passed. Passed because of Jim Morrison.

So today I’m going to listen to my L. A. Woman LP. Listening to Jim Morrison.

T minus

Hawklad has been looking for a marker in the sand. Something to aim for which is solid. To him all the attempts to build bridges back into the wider world has to lead to something.

Yes school could be that. A return to the classroom. But he’s still not convinced that it’s right for him. Is he better off learning outside the school system. Plus it’s not a definite marker. It can be delayed. If the bridges aren’t ready say at the start of September, then maybe October might work.

Well now we have a solid marker.

A concert.

One of his favourite bands, The Darkness are playing some gigs in December. So we have bought tickets to see them in quite a small standing only venue. A definite date which is far enough away to allow for steady progress. A true test of his progress. We can leave it to the last minute to decide if he’s ready. We can even get to the venue and Hawklad can see what it feels like. If he’s uncomfortable then we can just grab a pizza and come home. He’s seen them twice already so it won’t be a disaster if he doesn’t manage it this time.

T minus 6 months and counting