Sunday night Kissing

Kissing is something which died when the world changed. Well anyway for me. But Sunday Night Kissing is still just about possible.

Last night we went to see Kiss perform their last ever English concert.

It was loud. It was cartoon like. It was larger than life. It was ridiculously full of explosions. It was Rock and Entertainment at its best.

Unbelievably I noticed a young chap stand up without prompting, start dancing, shouting, singing and clapping. That’s a first. Thankfully he has more rhythm than his Dad.

I have to say music has been a lifesaver. It’s always been the one constant. It wasn’t embarrassed when I struggled with depression. It didn’t turn its back on me when death came calling in 2016. And it didn’t batter an eyelid when Autism came a calling.

Yes Kissing is a memory. No more Kiss concerts for us. But we have precious memories.

Music is an unwavering friend who has embraced our son. Thank you Kiss. Thank you Rock. Thank you Music.

The squirrel needs to wait

Today I was planning to write about a squirrel. But at the last minute I’ve changed my mind. Maybe tomorrow…

The Guardian (one of the UK’s better newspapers) ran an article today about autism.

It’s upsetting’: the autistic music fans being shut out of gigs

Its a really interesting read and covers some really important issues facing those on the spectrum. If you have a spare couple of moments I encourage you to read it.

One thing the article is spot on about is that as you get older the support systems fall away and you seem to be left to sort yourself out. It’s so frustrating. You spend years fighting to get your kid diagnosed. If you succeed then you again fight to gain access to services. Hopefully you do get access and then suddenly your kids are getting to an age when the system decides to cut them adrift. It is just wrong.

The article got me thinking about our circumstances. Why does our son enjoy rock concerts yet often struggles in other crowded events. Having talked it though with our son I think we can almost answer that now

  • We only go to venues he knows and feels comfortable with. If we have to go to a new venue we go to see it in the daylight. If you speak really nice to the venue admin they will often accommodate a pre visit to allow you to acquaint yourself with its layout
  • He loves the drama, the noise, the lights. It’s a short fix of sensory overload on the same level as a scary rollercoaster ride. He controls it. If he’s not happy he knows that we can just get up and leave.
  • He loves the way you can wear whatever you want, do whatever you want to your hair, dance, sit, stand, sing, shout, drink, eat – yet no one seems to care. No pointing fingers. No funny looks. No questions. He feels like he can fit in there.
  • It’s so noisy. Too noisy to talk much. He is relaxed as he knows no stranger will talk to him. He still has an element of isolation.
  • He likes the thought that he is doing something which many of the other kids at school don’t do. It’s his hobby.
  • And finally let’s not forget that he just loves listening to Rock Music

Another point the article raised is whether you consider autism as a disability. Because of his diagnosis he is listed in the UK as disabled. Son hates that. He is clear – Autism is his personality not his disability. He does talk about dyslexia being his disability. His invisible disability. One which people see when they want to and ignore when he needs help.

Whether you want to call it a disability or not for me that’s up to personal circumstances. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. Everybody is different. It’s unlikely you will find two specific diagnoses which are the same. The article is right about access. It’s at best patchy and yes some simple changes can open up opportunities for more people on the spectrum. But it is difficult. We went to a Autism friendly hour which our local Toy-r-Us ran a few years ago. It was much more inviting and yet our son did point out that

If they want to make this completely Autism friendly they should allow us to book slots so we get the shop to ourselves without anybody else here”

One final point. The article talked about earplugs. They are essential but please manufacturers, given my unfortunate incident with one, can we make them edible….

By itself

“Dad just seen on YouTube that when we see Kiss the support act is a Professional Performance Painter. Bet you haven’t seen many of those.”

No not something Yorkshire is really blessed with.

I bet he will paint the band. Bit of a missed opportunity really. In 45 minutes he could finish off my bedroom.”

Ok it potentially wasn’t the greatest painting job ever. Yes a little rough round the edges and the wrong colour. But apart from that it was alright. As my Dad would say – a man on a galloping horse couldn’t tell it was a bad job.

If the Performance Painter can’t do the show maybe you could step in. You could become a Professional Performance Baker. I use the Professional name very loosely. They would need a team of firefighters on stage just in case.”

Maybe I could be a Professional Performance Hairdresser and I could get stuck into your hair. Today it resembles a hay bale.

I walk by that hail bale in the photograph virtually every day. One side of the path has two lines of bales neatly lined up. On the other side of the path just this one rather lonely bale. I would like to know its story – why is it apart from the others. Maybe one day I will bump into the farmer. Anyway it’s a fine bale and I give it a friendly pat on every pass.

A few yards further along the path I bumped into a woman coming the other way. Apart from my son it was the first friendly face to face conversation I have had in a long while. Unusually I wasn’t lost for words or tongue tied. It was nice to chat and have a smile. It’s been a long time. Just like the bale. Been isolated for months. Bit frayed round the edges. Soggy in the middle.

Maybe that’s it. I could become a Professional Performance Hay Bale. Certainly a niche.

Fingers crossed

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s because we are tired. Maybe it’s just life. We are both fighting bouts of self doubt and are feeling really low at present.

Our son is getting some mixed end of year school results. Top mark in his class in some subjects like Science. He’s feeling very different to the other kids in his class. Yet getting lower marks in subjects he should be flying in like Maths. This is really perplexing for him. Plus the school has a house tie system. You need to get a set number of house points to qualify for a house tie. This tie gives you certain privileges at times like school lunch. He was getting close to hitting his target but has now found a new obstacle. Apparently in addition to the house points you also need to join in with two school clubs. That means extra time at school, doing things he has little interest in and mixing with kids he does not know. That is a nightmare for someone with Aspergers. So now he is doubting himself and trying to face up to some of his demons again. As a result he is very low and struggling to sleep. So basically not happy.

I’m really tired. That tired feeling when you are sat in the evening and you suddenly get that snapping neck feel as you have suddenly nodded off for a second. Worrying about son. Deeply missing people I love. Worrying over schooling. Doubts over my parenting. Worrying about what happens if something happens to me. Worrying about money. Worrying about life. Losing any social skills I once had. Not sleeping. It doesn’t help that I’m still banned from running and exercise. Don’t tell the Doctor but I’ve dug out a very old exercise bike. A bike which have two resistance settings – free wheel and wheel locked solid. A bike which must be made of Lead as it clearly weighs more than two elephants. Anyway I’m trying to use it a bit but it’s bloody painful. So basically not happy

At least we have a distraction today. Straight after school we are on the motorway heading 100 miles (car permitting) to see Lynyrd Skynyrd and Status Quo. As son said

Not often you can get to see older dinosaurs than you Dad – JUST. Plus I’m interested to see how good these legends are. I suspect very good”

We will have to see if the Yorkshire Lancashire border crossing is open. Fingers crossed.

Need a direction pointer

My old laptop is happily grinding away on a job which modern kit will do seemingly in an instant. However my laptop as it’s powered by several knackered small pixies is much less efficient. So time to do a post. But which thread to go down, quite a few to pick.

Then an idea.

Last night talking to son about chance and the story of the person who lived life by the toss of a coin. As son said “a poor copy of Two Faced Harvey from Batman”. So why don’t I let chance decide. But too many options for a coin. What else can I find which is random. Alexa.

Asking the ever helpful Alexa straight up to choose for me failed. Then another idea. When I ask her to select a track from from music library ….. that’s random. So the idea firmed up. I will ask Alexa to play a song and I can use song lyrics to guide today’s post. If it’s an instrumental than I will just post a photo no words. If it’s a French or German or Italian or Spanish language lesson then I will have to post in that language.

On the surface it’s a brilliant idea. Even if I don’t have an idea some of the artists will send floods of creativity coming my way. Imagine the possibilities opened by some of the lyrics by artists like Pink Floyd, The Who, Leonard Cohen, Rush, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Kate Bush…

But in life you need balance. So for every Robert Plant or Green Day you need a Ted Nugent to bring balance. Then my thoughts cascades to some of the less favourable lines I might be presented with.

“Only time will tell if we will stand the test of time” – Van Halen

“This sex is on fire” – The Killers

“Let me put my love into you Babe” – AC/DC

“You pull the trigger of my love gun” – Kiss

“Pink ’cause your so very” – Aerosmith

“Love is like a bomb, baby, c’mon get it on” – Def Leppard

“Bang you head against the stage like you never have before” – Metallica

“All right. It’s Zee Wango, Zee Tango” – Ted Nugent

“Kiss my ass” – Ted Nugent

“I let my dog hump on my shin” – Ted Nugent

“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” – Ted again….

“Awwwww yup” – him again

“That tofu might just kill you” – and again him….

I have to admit even the greats have some odd moments with songs. See AC/DC. But also see the likes of Zeppelin with the Lemon Song. So with trepidation I ask Alexa to select.

But I’ve taken this long waffling my laptop has finished its task so need to get back to earning some money. So the

Next post will be based on this song ……

Silence….

5 Days 14 Hours xx Seconds

No my blog has not been sponsored by Jack Bauer and the 24 TV Production Team. It’s the time I’ve gone without speaking to anyone (excluding our son). I’m not sure if I should be proud or a tad worried. Maybe both.

So almost a week without a phone call, chance meeting or random conversation. Even on two long runs – didn’t bump into a single person. Its one of the prices you pay for living in a small village.

It’s an odd feeling. Have I been secretly ostracised. Has my liking for Nickelback finally caught up with me…….

I had assumed my streak would have ended today as today was the food shopping trip. However I managed to get round the aisles without uttering a word. I did smile a few times at random folk. Surely a conversation will be struck with the assistant on the cash till. But no. All the tills were full so I opted for the self service lane. No scanning problems encountered so the streak continued.

Tomorrow I have to go to the work unit but that is in a largely deserted industrial estate and I will be the only person in our building. So the streak may continue into Thursday. Hang on a minute Thursday is Valentines Day. Wow am I going to be seriously cranky by the 14th…

Anyway we have started a little wager, who will break my streak. I’ve gone for a random cold caller with my first words being “will you just bugger off”. Son is going for the postman or randomly a lost Donald Trump.

I will keep you posted…..

The healing properties of Thunder

Attending a rock concert is always guaranteed to lift our spirits. Last night due to a bit of rubbish ticket booking from Dad we were due to see Ozzy in Newcastle and Thunder in York. An unfortunate case of OzzyFlu sorted out the clash. So off we went on a wet cold night to see Thunder and Dan Reed. We bravely faced the infamous York car parks and the massed hordes of relentless parking enforcement officers.

We both needed a lift and yet again rock delivered. It was different. Rather than crashing guitars we had an unplugged acoustic night. The wonderful Dan Reed and the epic legends, Thunder. Both brilliant. York Barbican is one of the few rock venues where they still come round offering mini ice cream tubs. Something rather decadent about sitting at a rock concert eating strawberry ice cream.

You are always learning and last night was no exception. Dan Reed played a tribute to Ronnie James Doo. He played Dio’s old classic, Holy Diver. I had always thought Holy Diver referred to a fictional decent into Hell. But Dan came up with another narrative. His take was that a Holy Diver is someone who goes on a quest around the world. The quest takes so long and takes on so many different pathways that on their return they have forgotten the original defining purpose of the quest. Sadly this seems to happen to often…….

150 miles apart

Son just looked at me with that knowing smile.

Well played Dad”

He is accustomed to the occasional mess up. I like to think that it’s all part of his educational journey. You can learn from the best but wow you can learn from the worst….

Our son really loves rock music. One of the few public gatherings he actually looks forward to is a rock concert. He has seen Iron Maiden, Hollywood Vampires, The Darkness and The Damned. This year is promising to to be a good one with a number of concerts already booked. Bank Manager not best pleased. The bookings is today’s educational cockup learning event.

Somehow Dad has managed to book for us to see Thunder in York and on the same night Ozzy Osbourne 150 miles away. That might cause a few logistical issues.

So what to do.

Our son has not seen either acts. His Dad has seen Oswald but never Thunder. I have really wanted to see Thunder for about 25 years. Only thing to do is let our son decide.

A decision I would have agonised over for days was dealt with in seconds by the logical Aspergers mind.

I would like to see both bands Dad. One is a legend the other is a favourite of my Dads. Both are great live. Thunder will hopefully be going for years. However Ozzy is Ozzy. It’s unbelievable that he’s lasted this long. Probably last time we will be able to see him. Let’s see Ozzy and hope we see Thunder maybe next year.”

Decision made. I can give my tickets to my brother in law.

“But Dad since we are talking Ozzy and anything can happen with him. Can we hold onto the Thunder tickets until the last minute – just in case.”

Changes is good just not that early

Today started off in the usual manner. Early morning exercise session listening to rock on the radio. Things going fine apart from the usual creaking body. Put me down for the a full body transplant, I’ve used this one up.

Then things started to change.

I hate doing the plank but apparently it’s good for me. This morning it became even more a form of modern day torture. Two cats decided to sit on my arched back while a dog attempted to lick my face off. Apparently this was one of the Spanish Inquisitions favourite tortures. But I survived.

Then almost immediately the radio signal disappeared. The sound of silence. So I quickly grabbed the first cd I could find. Black Sabbath Vol 4 and tried to complete the session.

Vol 4 is a fine album and features a rarity for Sabbath, a slow reflective song. CHANGES. This song finished off my exercises for the day. Normally at the end of a routine it’s an immediate mad sprint for the warmth of the shower. But not today. I just sat on the cold floor. Lost in thoughts.

A line from Changes had shaken me.

And I can still hear her last goodbyes

I can’t. As hard as I try I can’t remember hearing my partners last goodbye to me – blank. I can vividly remember her peacefully sleeping at the hospice as if it was yesterday. I can remember talking to her gently and holding her hand but as hard as I try I can’t remember her last goodbye. I can remember driving her to the hospital with our son but the conversations are gone. Why would I remember them at the time as she was only going in for a couple of tests and would be out by the weekend. I just can’t remember that last goodbye. That haunts me. Probably will always haunt me.

Keith Moon

At the start of summer I took our son to his first ever concert. It was something he was desperate to do but it was a bit of a leap of faith. Quite a lot of the rock concert experience involves stuff which can really unsettle him.

  • The noise
  • The flashing lights
  • The crowd
  • The unpredictable nature

That leap of faith was taken. Quickly he found a way of dealing with the crowd and the unpredictability. He would go to his seat, cover his head with his hood and concentrate fully on playing some games on my phone. He was so pleased that no one seemed to focus on this. But as soon as the lights went out the hood came down and he just soaked up the noise, the lights, the experience. He loved it.

So far he has seen the Hollywood Vampires, the Darkness, the Damned, Killswitch Engage and Iron Maiden.

The bank manager is getting really annoyed at me as next year (so far) it will be Thunder, Ozzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Status Quo and Kiss.

The Hollywood Vampires focused on celebrating the rock stars who we have died. Our son really appreciated this as it showed him that it was ok to celebrate people who we have sadly lost. One of the lost was Keith Moon. Fast forward several months and we were watching a video of the Who playing live. At the end of the concert our son mentioned that he was convinced that the drummer Keith Moon was in the team. That’s his way of saying that someone is autistic. It had never crossed my mind. When we did a google search we came across Roger Daltrey talking about Keith.

“I think he was possibly autistic maybe even with a touch of aspergers”

Again this just reinforces the importance of rock to him. He said it shows that members of the team can do something (rock) brilliantly.