Friday, 30 March 2012

Ten Things

Another meme doing the rounds amongst the blogging community and I have been tasked with revealing 10 things I say to myself every day by the ever generous slightlysuburbandad

So in a kind of Day in the Life style;-

06:25 “Oh shit, it’s time to get up, yaaaawwwwnnnn” slaps snooze button on alarm clock

06:34 “I really, really have to get up now” crawls out of bed, offers a halfhearted stretch and limps to bathroom.

06:43 “Looking good, you’ve still got it” refreshed, preening in front of mirror and pointing with one eyebrow raised.

07:18 “Where the f**k did all this traffic come from, I should have got up ten minutes earlier” stuck in traffic tailing back 1mile from my exit junction.

07:39 “Where did all these flaming e-mails come from” having closed everything out at 4.37pm the day before and arriving to another full inbox. Like the e-mail fairy has visited.

12:15 “Look at the legs on that, god I wish I was ten years younger” sitting in the work restaurant as the incredibly proportioned Laura from accounts walks passed with her cool young entourage. Closely followed by the realisation I have dribbled potato salad down my tie.

16:37 “Right, I’m leaving now, whether the boss is still around or not” contemplating that despite already being over the flexible hours limit, I don’t want to be seen leaving before everyone else. Closes final e-mail out.

19:27 “There is nothing on TV, why am I paying Sky sixty odd quid a month” having just surfed through 100 channels to find bugger all but repeats or Channel 4 news to watch.

20:38 “How can I stay on twitter without getting grief from the wife” sensing impending argument following the third heavy sigh and sideways glance since 20:36.

21:57 “If that kid doesn’t get off FaceTime I am going to explode” after telling daughter four times in the last half an hour to go to bed. I mean I am in my bed now and I had to get off Twitter at 20:38.

So, that’s pretty much how most days go, except for today because it’s Friday. Traffic is always better on Fridays. I got to say “sod the boss” I’m leaving at 14:55. There is usually something good on TV on a Friday night and Laura from accounts may just have smiled at me today (either that or the bloke behind me) The wife is working so I can tweet all I like until about 21.45. My daughter can stay on FaceTime until the cows come home because I’ll be staying up late and drinking wine.

So to more victims of the meme. Well I could nominate poshbird who writes viewfromtheloungewindow but she probably won’t ever get round to doing it. Ageing Matron likes a challenge, her recent makeover post proves that and itsadadslife might fancy a go.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Turf Wars

I’m exhausted today as a result of some extreme gardening. Yes, that’s correct, I used the words gardening (like for old people) and extreme (like for mad people) in the same sentence.

To cut a longer story short, I previously fenced off a section of the garden as a puppy run, but it has not really been used yet because there were some plants to move and a patch of soil to grass over where the children’s wooden playhouse used to be.

So, first task was to dig out a 6ft bamboo plant which proved to be surprisingly difficult due to it being fenced on two sides. Hence first bout of head scratching, sweating and the odd profanity. Especially when I walked into the rotary clothes drier while carrying the bush, and clouted myself on the head.

I persevered though and soon had a couple of other shrubs relocated to new homes.

At this point, I had the bright idea of widening a border and using the turf to cover the soil area in the run – thus saving seed bed preparation and giving instant greenery to puppy pen. However, by this time the dog had joined me in the garden as my wife had left for work.

Things started off okay, with me using a lawn edger to cut the new line and dog happily chewing on some branch. I then had to use a spade to try and just get under the grass to give myself thin enough sods of turf. This involved me using the wrong tool for the job and straining my back as I tried to use a spade at a horizontal angle. Further sweating and age related skeletal pain resulted.

Just as I get the hang of removing the turf, puppy decides it’s a fun game to grab the clumps and run off with them. Soil flying everywhere and turf falling to bits as I chase it round the garden trying to retrieve it. As I manage to grab the turf, it just runs back to my little pile and grabs another. It was kind of like a Benny Hill chase scene without the scantily clad nurses, just me pursuing a Labrador puppy running like a whippet, while I’m trying to avoid crashing into the kids’ slide, with some elaborate hurdling skills I didn’t know I had.
After three or four times, the penny finally dropped and I realised I was on a hiding to nothing. I grabbed the dog, put her in the pen and gathered up the now useless remains of grass and mud. I thought I had cracked it, and continued with my turf cutting exercise.

Puppy however, was delighted to be in the run and was so happy she started digging holes and nosing around in the soil. As I laboured away, unbeknown to me, she was getting filthier and muddier. When I eventually twigged what was happening, her lovely golden coat resembled a Turkish mud bath. Of course soon after I was covered too, my trainers (yes I know I should have had my wellies on) were caked in mud and I somehow had to get the puppy back in the house, without trailing debris everywhere.

As I took her out of the run she wriggled free and headed straight for my pile of turf again, cue more pointless chasing, amateur athletics and garden devastation. I even stood on the spade, with comic ingenuity for any neighbours who may have been watching.

By the time it all settled down and I managed to get the puppy and myself back in the house along with a trail of grass and earth, I was knackered.

So, as a pastime goes, gardening may seem sedentary and relaxing. However with the simple addition of a small puppy, a stupid adult and some children’s play equipment it can easily become extreme. Next time I may even wear a bike helmet and some knee pads – Radical!

Incidentally, I had also cut the border squint and the new area of turf looks like a dog’s dinner – literally.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Not So Happy Days

Ok, so I’ve had an incredibly busy week at work and felt I’d been doing a pretty good job trying to juggle two or three different contracts at the same time. This morning one of my senior managers who likes to drift in and out of these things and who doesn’t really have the full picture stopped by to have a word.

Have you done this, have you done that, have you spoken to projects, have you chased the design team. You know you’ll have to get a grip of these people otherwise it will come back to your door if things go pear shaped at the last minute, blah blah blah.

I’m not the kind of guy who just sits back and accepts these things particularly when I work very hard and have considerable management experience myself. Look, I said. We had a progress meeting yesterday afternoon, I can’t be hassling people every minute to see how they are doing, we have to accept they have responsibility to deliver and its not up to me to micro-manage them.

Yes, but it will come back to you if this doesn’t work out and you’ll be the one who ends up in the shit, blah, blah, blah.

After working particularly hard this week, I’m really pissed off about this. The guy means well, but I’m realising he’s at the end of his career and does things a certain way. The fact I’m in a new industry also means he thinks I need more guidance than I do. I wanted to scream at him that I have 24 years contract experience, 15 at Principal level and a Masters bloody degree in management. But I didn’t.

I knew this would be the type of thing that would irritate me when I chose to change career and took on a role below the level I was working before. That was my choice to be fair, but it doesn’t half annoy me sometimes.

So, my bright and cheery Friday mood turned into a bitter one and in truth spoiled my day. I carried that home with me and snapped at my wife over something trivial. In turn, she completely overreacted and a shouting, swearing argument started up.

Every argument in my house these days starts off with something minor and escalates to world war III within seconds. That’s what 19 years together does for your relationship apparently. The joys of parenthood and particular difficulties with bringing up an autistic child are laid bare for us to see at these moments.

No matter how pragmatic you are, there is tension, blame and stress bubbling under the surface. A little bit of every difficulty faced, every hurdle put in your way and every previously argued point of view remains there like a land mine waiting to be stood upon.

My wife is particularly good at harbouring grudges and berates me for things that happened years ago. I still get pelters for not getting up in the middle of the night as much as I could have with our sleepless daughter. I know that won’t court sympathy from many of the female readers of this blog, but hell if she can’t get over something that happened twelve years ago, there is no hope of matrimonial harmony returning to my life. I’m not even going to start offering the logical explanation that I had to get up at 6am to drive an hour to work etc etc, doesn’t mean anything form her perspective.

The constant battling with authorities and teachers during the abysmal three years our son attended a mainstream school also leaves deep-rooted scars in our life. While I acted professionally and tried to keep objective and communications open, my wife sometimes felt I wasn’t supporting her views. This wasn’t the case at all; I just had experience of dealing with public authority procedures, guidelines and knew how the systems worked.

So, I’m up against it. My flaming bad mood, caused by my boss has subsequently caused an “incident”. It’s still bubbling away some two hours later, you could cut the tension with a knife and I just know that after a glass of wine or two, it could all explode again.

Happy Days ?

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Ok, so nobody has tagged me but there is this meme thing going around where you have to investigate people who share your birthday, blah blah blah, etc etc etc

Anyway, for no other reason I’ve decided this was a good starting point for a blog post because my birth date has a few interesting connections along the way. I was actually quite amazed when I started investigating.

I have possibly mentioned before that Henry VIII and I share the honour of being born on the 28th June, however, apart from people with a passion for executing their wives, there are quite a few others worth mentioning. In fact, there is also a serial killer lurking around there too. A man called Carl Panzram who apparently murdered 22 people amongst other very bad naughtiness.

For some obscure reason, there is quite a thread of artistic type people born on this day. Various composers, poets, musicians, painters, writers and actor people of merit share my birthday. Kathy Bates of Misery fame is one, (actually she also liked chopping things off people, albeit as a character in the film)

John Cusak’s stature as an actor (and blogger) of note speaks for itself, and Aileen Quinn who played Annie in the 1982 film were also born on this fine day. Okay, so was Adam Woodyatt who plays Ian Beale in Eastenders, so perhaps the mark of quality is being over-egged by me at this moment, but there are many others. Look on wikipedia if you don’t believe me!

Of course, I also have other interesting people on the list like the director Mel Brooks, or the founder of Methodism John Wesley, there is even a Pope and a French prime minister in there, although Laval was a very bad egg who was subsequently executed for treason and shamefully involved with the deportation of jews to Germany.

I can even lay claim to being the astral twin of DJ Quicksilver of “Belissima” fame !

What I didn’t know and something that also surprised me was that the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on the 28th June in 1914, which actually led to the start of the First World War. Even more intriguingly, the Treaty of Versailles that ended the War was signed on the 28th June! (Twilight zone music kicking in)

I am now becoming quite obsessed with this and will probably spend the next three weeks going back through all of the people who were born on June 28th, even though as pointless exercises go – this is right up there with the best of them.

Monday, 12 March 2012

That's Weird

There is always some skeleton hidden in folk’s cupboards that you’d be shocked to find out. You know, by day mild mannered accountant, by night stiletto wearing transvestite – but enough about me.

Its ok, I’m only joking. I couldn’t walk in stilettos.
But seriously, for a second at least. Where do all the really weird people in the world stem from? I’m not talking about mild deviants – hey each to their own, but the ridiculous ones where you are left speechless or just shake your head at.

I am so tempted here to go off on a tangent relating to everything of sexual nature but that’s not in keeping with the style on this blog. Although I’m sure your own brain is now racing through some impure thoughts or bizarre fetishes of your own.
What I intended to highlight was the more mundane and literally unbelievable stuff that I’ve found recently on the web.

I’m sure you have read about the strange woman who falls in lust with inanimate objects, and is currently besotted with the Statue of Liberty. Actually that is a sexual one, objectus something or other. Sounds like a Harry Potter spell. Another woman “married” the Eiffel tower a few years ago.
What possesses someone to collect belly button fluff or toe nail clippings?

I know hoarding can be a huge problem for some people and can understand to an extent why they want to retain objects that could be of future use, but collecting and retaining your own waste in various receptacles just does not smell right to me.
Phobias are another one, hey if you’re scared of spiders fair enough – but who the heck is scared of basketballs or cutlery, or more so why are they? I mean has a ball ever randomly attacked someone to their detriment, or a plastic fork ever impaled itself in someone’s jugular of its own accord.

Don’t even get me started on beliefs. I know there are some branches of mainstream religion that are on the edge of reason in the first place, but scientology. No sorry, not for me. If you want to dance round a ring of fire naked and chant pagan spells in your spare time, then each to their own, but I won’t be holding the chicken at the altar.
In the quest of trying to find what ‘normality’ means, it’s perhaps clearer than ever that no one really fits the mean curve on a graph. This is as true for our family as it is for others, particularly with autistic disorder in the household. I cannot legitimately draw judgement on anybody when I have had to accept my son will not eat two foods just because they are touching each other, or can’t cope even being near the berries on a bush because they are poisonous. Rationality doesn’t come into it.

All of these traits are extremes of human behaviour, perhaps emphasised by a medical or psychological condition. There are reasons and explanations behind them, whether we can relate to them or not.
People are strange.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Empty Weekends

Friday again, when the highlight of my week is waiting to scoot off early at 3pm to escape the monotony of work and arrive at the monotony of home for the weekend.

My weekends are inevitably uninspiring. Nothing interesting ever really happens, apart from the usual disorganised chaos.

At work, the others always seem to be away off to some concert, a family event or a weekend away somewhere posh without the kids. We just don’t seem to get the opportunity, like many other parents who have a child with autistic disorder. It’s very difficult to leave your children with Grandparents even when help is offered, because in the back of your mind you remain worried about how they are all coping with the situation.

In some ways it makes me sad that we can’t even enjoy a ‘normal’ family trip out for lunch or to the cinema, without the potential of some major meltdown spoiling it for everyone. I know that seems selfish. We have to accept our son’s condition for what it is and try to accommodate it within our lives, but it can be frustrating.

As a father, it can also be very difficult to accept your son doesn’t want to kick a ball with you, has absolutely no interest in watching football or any other ‘normal’ father / son activity, fishing, motorsport, take your pick. In fact, my son quite regularly says he doesn’t even like me and prefers his mum. This doesn’t bother me on one hand because I know his comments are partly down to social difficulty but on the other bothers me intensely because ASD children will tell you exactly how they really do feel. Maybe this sense of dislike is because, conversely, he finds it difficult to relate to me.

I think women in general are far more patient, understanding and are pre-programmed with that caring response that continues to attach them to their child. Whereas men, in many cases need more tangible ways to gain a reciprocal bond and in the absence of that camaraderie, perhaps lose out.

At times we do share some great moments together. Sometimes I’ll have an early night and he will come through, lie down beside me and we will talk and make up stupid jokes or play the minister’s cat or some other A to Z game. For those fifteen minutes, we share, we laugh and my wife doesn’t ever see those moments.What she does see sometimes is me getting frustrated or shouting because he has been irritating me the whole evening to download a dozen apps or because he has gone and 'updated' his computer files and I’m left to sort out the mess for the fourth time that week.

In fact, most of my angrier moments come out of repetitive situations, where the same thing has happened over and over again. Once or twice I’m okay with, but any more than that and my own personal red beast starts to awaken. Of course this is particularly unhelpful when you have a child with a repetitive nature, one of the traits many autistic people have.

If I could enhance any of my own social traits it would be patience. I wish I were a laid back kind of guy, but I’m just not.

As for the weekends, well the weather is improving and that does provide us with more opportunities to get outside and away from the crowds, where we can hopefully enjoy some good times together. Forest walks and beach visits tend to be good because there is less pressure and expectation on our son. Of course, just when you think you have found a niche, your twelve year old daughter has reached a stage where everything is boring unless there are shops, boys and Starbucks. Cue further disharmony!

Still, at least it’s Friday. (Wine on standby)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pets R Us

My house is starting to feel like real life “Tom & Jerry”. Not that we have a cheeky little mouse stealing cheese and outwitting our dumb tomcat, more so because the Dog chases the cat like Spike the bulldog chases Tom. Oh and my wife always seem to have a mop or a brush in her hand.

I’ve been waiting for the cat to hiss, spit or claw the poor pup’s nose in order to gain some control of the situation, but alas poor old cat just doesn’t react at all. I actually think he’s more clever than we give him credit for though as he’s starting to deliberately psych the dog out.

He knows when we are there we will intervene and prevent him becoming Labrador lunch, so has taken to strolling around like he’s parading down an esplanade in search of some floozy. He struts his stuff, pauses, changes direction, gives his ear a quick scratch and lets his tail float ever so close to the pups mouth while we are hanging on to its collar and its poor feet are whizzing round on the wood floor, cartoon style.

The cat then jumps up on the table and leaves its tail dangling so the pup is being teased relentlessly, while he just gives him a smug look. One day he may regret this however as the dog is rapidly growing and will be able to reach that height very soon. Even in the garden, I know he has started annoying the dog by sitting high up in one of the shrubs while the pup tries desperately to reach him.

I’m sure it would be like some Cats V Dogs war if it were possible for him to set up booby-traps. I can just imagine the cat staging trip wires with those nets that bundle you up, or some exploding bomb disguised as a sausage. Hang on, its not “Tom & Jerry” in my house – it’s more like “Itchy & Scratchy”.

This can only mean that I must be Homer. Likes Beer, check. Hair thinning, check. Wants to throttle children, check. Few pounds heavier than he used to be, check.

The evidence is overwhelming. Doh!
…..Slinks off to get beer from fridge.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Leap of Faith

This is a 100 word challenge #32 hosted at Julia's Place based on the premise "Take A Leap of Faith" so I thought I would join in. Here goes;-

You must be joking, there’s no way I’m doing that.
It’s just too risky.

Go-on, you know you want to. What harm can it do?

Well, it could kill me.

Yeah, but you could be run over by a bus tomorrow.

Ok, point taken. I’m being silly, I know.

Come on man, pull yourself together. It’s the right thing to do.

But is it? Is it really? How can I be sure?

Look mate you can’t ever be 100% sure. Nothing is a certainty.

Ok, ok. You’ve talked me into it. What the hell, lets go for it.

Caption Day ASD

mammasaurus hosts a caption day on a Saturday.
I didn't choose a photo this week, but thought I would share this cartoon instead,
which anyone who has a child with ASD may relate to !