Downton

The village went all Downton Abbey like last weekend. Can’t think why 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

Bizarrely we watched Downton the other night. Hawklad is rather taken by the whole thing. It’s fictionally set somewhere round here but filmed mostly outside of Yorkshire. Just like the cool start to an American Werewolf in London, that spooky Yorkshire Pub and foggy Moor was randomly filmed in Wales – clearly real Yorkshire is even TOO scary for a Horror Movie. The Earl, his family and servants keep visiting places right around us. It is most unsettling when they look nothing like the real place. They went riding just a few miles from us and I had a thought, I hope I remembered to pick up the mad dog’s morning constitutional poo. Would hate for the good noble family horse shoes to step in that.

It’s been one of those few days. Actually it’s been one of those few weeks. Not enough sleep, school issues, work issues, life issues, just ISSUES. Never stopping, running around in ever decreasing circles and actually achieving absolutely nothing. Where do those 24 hours go…..

So I walked through the village looking at the bunting while thinking, odds on that our mad dog will at some stage try to pull all that lot down and then bury it in our front lawn. Out of nowhere a villager stuck his head out of the village hall and shouted, “When are you bringing the cucumbers for the sandwiches”. This villager could have well been a head butler in a past life. A head butler with remarkably bad eyesight as his next words demonstrated. “Oh I’m sorry, you are not Margaret…”. Never been mistaken for a Margaret before. Never even mistaken for a woman. Even when I dressed in a full on and very well ventilated French Can Can costume and ended up walking through a town centre searching for the Uni Party, I was DEFINITELY NOT ladylike MOST DEFINITELY not mistaken for a woman.

Fantastic

The daffodils are still hanging on through the cold weather. It might look like the sun is beating down but it’s still most definitely THREE jumper weather.

The Easter School Break started this afternoon. Two weeks off for Hawklad and he is definitely ready for it. As he pointed out

Who would have thought Homeschooling would be such hard work 🤣🤣🤣🤣

Who would have also thought that a million years after leaving school (or was I kicked out, I can’t remember) I would be trying to explain COS, SIN and TAN functions even though a million years ago they made no sense to me at all.

Dad do they make any sense to you. You seem as confident with them as you are with LEFT and RIGHT.”

That’s no vote of confidence. After a million years I still can’t figure those two words out. It’s that bad that when I’m driving and someone is navigating LEFT and RIGHT are banned words. Instead I have two soft toys. A Bagpuss and a Mutley. Bagpuss goes on one side of the car dashboard, Mutley goes on the other side. Then the directions are turn to Mutley or turn to Bagpuss. It’s FOOL proof, well it works with this FOOL.

Now how can I use soft toys to explain trigonometry. But as it’s now the holidays that little conundrum can wait for two weeks. Two weeks without school being mentioned sounds fantastic.

Pokemon

Parenting is usually long spells of embarrassment interspersed with the occasional chance for the parent to shine. In my case very very occasional shines. But when they come, it’s such a sweet smell of awesomeness.

Now in an ideal world the awesomeness is when mum or dad breaks a sporting record, climbs Everest or manages to discover a new chemical element or wins The Great British Bake Off.

But in my case I will gratefully take any win.

Hawklad was doing a Pokemon Quiz on TV and getting every answer correct. Doing better than the contestants on TV. I sat there quietly. Then it was my moment.

A question the contestants were struggling with. A question Hawklad had clearly got wrong. Muppet Dad stepped in….

I think you will find that is in fact a Poliwhirl as you will notice the direction of the swirl on its tummy. It is reversed in it’s pretty evolution state…..”

Staggeringly Dad was right. Where did that come from. Clearly too many Pokemon shows playing in the background have secretly seeped into my brain through subconscious learning. But for a few glorious moments I basked in the rays of success. All too short lived as in the next minute I had managed to miss my mouth while drinking tomato soup. Basking in manga success doesn’t work so well in a soup covered white T-shirt.

But I will take that….

Safe list

The 6 week summer school break is only a month away now. Not long. 30 days. Lots to do in that time. Even more after today.

Hawklad has decided that he wants a stress free as possible summer. Summer is difficult as he can remember the summer of 2016. First day of the summer holidays his granny died and then as the school returned he lost his mum. So summer can be tough even without his current anxieties levels.

Stress free means reducing exposure to those triggers that can escalate his worries. And what is one of the most common triggers. Movies and TV shows. I’ve frequently talked about how often story lines involve death, illness, broken families……

So I have a task. Compile a list of movies and shows that Hawklad can watch which are SAFE. No sadness, no illness, no bereavements. 6 weeks is a long time, so it’s going to have to be some list.

Here’s my list so far

Pokemon

Scooby Doo

Smurfs

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Paddington

Yonderland

Madagascar

Ice Age

Banana Splits

Wallace & Gromit

Kicking and Screaming

Herbie

Willie Wonker

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Shrek

Space Jam

Frozen

The Incredibles

Home Alone

Night at the Museum

The Lego Movie

Fantastic Mr Fox

Big Mommas House

Cool Running

Red Dwarf

The Office (US) but avoiding a couple of episodes

Inspector Gadget

Pink Panther

Three Amigos

Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Remember no triggers. For example The Guardians of the Galaxy – top movie but just NO to the start…. For example Mary Poppins Returns – great movie but mum dies…. For example the Disney movie I’ve forgotten the name of at the weekend , really good apart from the one line about a serious illness.

Thought for the day….

Why do so many movies have to feature serious illnesses and sad deaths. I know it’s art replicating real life BUT it’s a pain in the backside when you have a son who is fighting fears and phobias about health. A son who has lost his mum to illness.

Even in children’s movies and cartoons….

Even in comedy shows like The Office.

Here’s an idea. Keep the movies as they are but have a separate movie channel. The SAFE CHANNEL. On this channel only safe movies. No illness, no death, no drugs, no broken families. No need to constantly be on edge at the slightest on screen sneeze or pale look.

And more work emails

So a few more hours of work. More work emails. More searching for the work stuff amongst the never ending personal reviews of restaurant meals, pub visits and nights out. Month after month of lockdown has sent a few too many at work into email padding frenzy.

Well this afternoon I was sitting with the computer on the lap and wading through the work crud. I was listening to the Ghostbusters movie blast out on the TV. I was good, I didn’t watch the movie but I did listen. But it was tempting, too tempting to look at the TV. It was a real struggle at times. Trying to force my eye focus to stay on the emails and not onto the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Too hard. Too many potential distractions.

Movies without the picture is the way to go…..movies on cds…..

Why didn’t they ever do proper soundtrack cds for movies. Not just the music, but the dialogue, the sound effects – the whole movie. I’d happily listen to movies while working and trust my imagination to fill in the visual stuff. That would definitely ease the work pain.

Night time bedtime visitor

My poor bed duvet. Caught outside TWICE in the pouring rain. But finally after hours propped over a full on radiator, it was dry. With my adopted manly themed duvet cover back on – Hawklads old Peppa Pig one – the bed was made up. All neat and tidy.

A couple of hours later I head for bed to find.

Some hooligan had decided to move my clean duvet onto the floor and create his own perfect bed.

Look at that face. He wins. That’s another night in the sleeping bag for me…

Man of action

That’s as good as the weather has been in days. Apparently there is still blue sky up there.

I like to still see myself as a MAN OF ACTION. Unbounded reserves of energy. Chiselled, carved out of granite, built like Thor. I do try lots of exercise. Increasingly heavy weights and kettlebells. More and more sit-ups, press-ups and planks.

Sadly the reality is some what different.

Permanently feeling tired, trying not to nod off. A constant battle with my weight. A body more Homer Simpson’s than Superhero. AND I strongly suspect that any self respecting MAN OF ACTION won’t have Pirate George on his duvet cover.

The secrets out now…

Fake news

I couldn’t sleep last night so I did that dreaded late night hobby. TV Channel Hoping. Normally a channel has about 20 seconds to catch my attention before I’ve moved on to the next televisual experience. Well one channel caught my attention for all the wrong reasons.

An American news channel which happened to be talking about Autism. Basically a so called expert was talking about curing people on the spectrum. The magic bullet was a combination of new drugs and intensive psychotherapy. That way apparently individuals can fit better into society by being cured.

Read that as Reprogramming and squeezing individuals into socially acceptable moulds.

I’m not going to get into the details of this crap but one thing did strike me about the expert. The expert kept talking about those on the spectrum having no empathy and no sense of humour.

Ok…..

Randomly I would like to list some of Hawklads favourite movies and shows. Ones which make him laugh and giggle.

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Monty Python and The Life of Brian

Fawlty Towers

Red Dwarf

Deadpool 2

Airplane

Ghostbusters 1 and 2

All the Men in Black movies

ScoobyDoo

Penguins of Madagascar

Ice Age

Ant Man

Guardians of the Galaxy

Groundhog Day

Scrooged

Bill and Ted

Any Pink Panther movie

Dumb and Dumber

The Naked Gun

Horrible Histories

Black Adder

Gravity Falls

The Simpsons

Sponge Bob

Johnny English

Any Will Ferrell movie

Ace Ventura

Wayne’s World

The new Jumanji movies

Twins

Kindergarten Cop

Mall Cop

Bill

Yonderland

So many more…. Anyway apparently no sense of humour…..

Spectrum

Sometimes it’s tough watching TV and Film with its frequent ill informed stereotyping. It’s not often you see Autism depicted as routine ‘normal’ life. It’s the full on Rainman, the brilliant genius or ….

Dad how many people will think I’m a Psychopath or Sociopath when they find out I have Aspergers.

That’s another question I can’t remember seeing in the really helpful ‘A to Z of Parenting Books’.

Those very assumptions have appeared in a few movies and shows we have watched recently. Some quite indirect references and some completely full on. We love Sherlock. In the series it’s made quite clear that Holmes has Aspergers. Further Holmes frequently says ‘I’m not a psychopath I am a highly functioning sociopath”. In another movie the person with Aspergers is a loner, has no empathy and shows no remorse for his actions. Here Aspergers means you are a Psychopath.

The two are not the same.

Our son has developed a good understanding of the important differences between the two diagnoses. He is also aware that unfortunately not everyone understands this equally as well. That’s where inappropriate stereotypes in TV and film can have such a negative impact. Whatever the reason for this. Laziness, widespread misconceptions, Creative Blindspots, or a deliberate attempt to avoid reality. Autism is such a broad spectrum its time this was reflected more accurately in mainstream culture. Yes it could be the brilliant detective, but equally it could be the loving person next door, or someone who is socially awkward, or the loner, or the comic, or the gentle animal lover, or the person who is physically challenging, or the person who focuses on one topic, or the person who has intellectual disabilities or the average person who just blends in.

Just as damaging as the inappropriate stereotyping is the air brushing of reality. Autism is relatively widespread. Yet often it is invisible in modern culture. It’s as if it doesn’t happen. Depending on the research the instance of autistic diagnosis is approximately 1 in every 50 or 60 child. That doesn’t include the majority who go undiagnosed. Yet autism is grossly unrepresented in TV and Movies.

Let’s start properly promoting awareness. Let’s start to be open about it. Let’s start to see it done right more times in TV and Film. That would make such a big impact for so many of us.