31 March 2006

Coming Up For Breath

The workings of an ill-educated, 11 year old Aspie mind with dyslexic tendencies, motor skills issues and an aversion to most schoolwork (like learning to spell 'leave') :

Son still wants to harness and understand black holes and be able to recreate small ones so you could step in in England and step out in China. Its not an obsession, just one pet project that he occasionally returns to, usually only when his mind goes blank, such as in those times when all young men's minds go blank, for example in the middle of tying up their shoelaces before school.

Son: So, mum, what's the only stuff that light can't pass through?
Me: Erm, your head?
Son: Doh, no silly it's dark matter.
Me: ??
Son: Dark matter, the stuff in the middle of black holes.
Me: I was going to say mirrors. It bounces off mirrors.
Son: Well everything just flies in to the dark matter in black holes and never comes out.
Me: So light passes through to go in then? Its just getting out is the problem?
Son: What, oh yes, like a giant hoover, only then maybe there's no dark matter at all maybe its just a hoover sucking and sucking and,..... and,....... I think I'm going to want to split the electron, oh and I think I need to learn quantum physics. Do I have time for a cup of tea before school?

So off he goes, to find the other shoe, and I know that come school time he will have other little brainstorms during the day, usually when the wrong teacher with the wrong droning voice is working her soporific magic against his power to pay attention, and then he will decide he needs a pencil, or to look at the sky while he thinks, and he will get up and wander off for whichever, in the middle of her soliloquy, and end up in detention.

He hates being called bad, but he doesn't really mind detention - especially if the headmaster presides, because then its quiet and the other kids shut up and he can think.

That was part one of today's post written with Abby in mind. Abby has an AS-gifted son, too and is a new blogger and fresh to the frustrations of having an able, caring, intelligent child with a label. Please pop over and say hi.

Today has been another one of those SEN days, specifically:

8.45 am (or possibly earlier) I got a call from the assistant of the caseworker who is doing up Son's special needs statement. The LEA is refusing to name my requested school on the statement (even though they keep telling me what excellent, valid reasons I had for requesting over others) until or unless the school agrees to take him first. Just a bit 'cart before the horse'.

The call was to tell me that 1st choice school refused him on the grounds of being oversubscribed, 2nd choice school (big gap between 1st and 2nd and I ended up scratching any alternatives from the request at the point of receiving the proposed statement) said, very interestingly, that they had concerns about accepting him, as they felt he would need a full time individual needs assistant. Funny, that's just what I said too. Just what his current junior school has being saying, also.

Annoyingly however, the local dumping ground, the one school we are trying to avoid but are stuck in the catchment area, said 'sure, fine, chuck him over here'. Well no, not in so many words, they just accepted him. The annoying thing is that I never once requested that school at all, it has only ever come up in conversation as an example of the sort of school he would fail in faster than the speed of light without an INA in place, and yet for some reason the caseworker decided to ask them if they'd have him.

Fuming is not the word.

I was on the phone to my contact at the NAS (National Autistic Society) before nine. Its all gone wrong, its all got to go to appeal and/or tribunal and that can't happen until the statement is issued, so back to plan A, which is to get the LEA to issue the statement worded however they damn well please, because none of that can begin until the final paperwork is issued.

Off the phone at 9.20, in and out of the bath and out to a good meeting about another SEN issue at 10am - this time a group meeting about planned changes to the way that education planning is recorded.

One rather awful brick did drop, however, our DARLING Labour Government (you know, the one that instigated DNA profiling for all arrested persons, even minors, and is not helping the innocent children - the ones that didn't really smash the phone box after all etc) to have their DNA profiles removed from the records, uhuh, Nazi Blair et al; they have decided to also allow a local (possibly national) pupil profiling database called CAF (Common Assessment Framework). This is ostensibly to save other children from the fate suffered by Damilola Taylor. Apparently it has all come about so that when 'professionals' have concerns about a child's welfare or education or anything, they can access the database and add their comment. They can access all the comments and information made by all other involved professionals, including the schools.

I can understand this kind of crossmatching and sharing of information IF either the Police or the Social Services have ever been involved - but the schools? Worse, there will be more than simple address details on there if your child is anywhere on the SEN framework, apparently, and is doubling as a kind of online individual education plan. Technically the police should be able to see if your sixteen year old once wet his pants in assembly in junior school.

Its only just started, its being trialled all over the country, the County is trialling it in my town and as far as I am aware I have never had one request for permission, one notification, one jot of information on what to do about it, how to find out if an entry is unfair or wrong, or how to appeal. Why do we have to write letters left and right, allowing for example an NHS psychologist access to an NHS GP's records for an individual, if that civil liberty is being undermined in this way without so much as a 'May I'? Not just for children at known risk, but for, eventually, every single child across the country?

Anyone got any good ideas on where to emigrate?

Anyway - home by 12, I had to drop that train of thought and started to email the SEN caseworker to say that my last email (ie please issue the damn statement) still stands.

Stopped to consider I ought to copy in the Head of Childrens Services who has now absorbed the duties of the previous head of the Education Department (who 'left', quote), and is the guy to whom I hand delivered a letter asking for his personal intervention, back on Monday.

Rang his PA who said that every single piece of paperwork that reaches his (or her) attention is added to a database for tracking purposes and that my letter hadn't got that far! Then she said not to worry, that my letter had probably been forwarded to the head of the SEN department. I pointed out that it was the SEN department that I was asking for help with, and her excuse was that her boss would in any case have to liaise with the SEN people to understand what was going on.

Me: So you are saying he would have sent it over to them asking for their thoughts
Her: Yes
Me: But you are saying that its not on the database so he hasn't actually seen it in order to send it over to anybody
Her: Yes
Me: So you are telling me that I can hand deliver a letter addressed to an individual by name and a.n.other can redirect it to someone else entirely without even informing the addressee or his p.a.?
Her: Erm, let me speak to the secretary downstairs, oh dear she's at lunch, can I ring you back?

I sent the email. I kept a blind copy so I can forward it to this lady's boss, IF they ever find my original letter and/or decide they are going to receive a request for help or want the follow up information.

One good bit of news, I copied it to the Parentlink team and they rang me back straight away. Sooner than wait for the caseworker to get back to the office (she's off sick today) they will send me information on how to appeal the school placement, so I should get that on Monday.

It's a start.

And now a story. Its only a silly story and I am making it up as I go along. I think it might be a cautionary tale, but we shall see.

Once upon a time there was a rat in a maze. Somewhere was the end of the maze and some apple/rat pellets/sustenance. He trusted it was there because he had seen other rats well fed. He had been told that food was his right by law, and that it was there, as long as he could find it.

The thing is that the men in white coats who had told him there was any food at all, were also the ones putting up little 'Exit This Way' signs all around the maze. Some only led to dead ends and some just led to a new hub of routes to choose.

The men in white coats kept telling him that the signs were there to help, that he must be the wrong size/colour for the last exit, or sadly got to it just too late.

There are two endings to this. In one he never finds the food, dies of starvation and is whisked away quietly before the other rats see what happened and cotton on. The cycle goes on and nobody ever gets fed except the trophy rats, there to convince the others that there is an end in sight.

In the other he is super rat, he breaks out of the maze by going over the top, and bites all the men in white coats and gives them bubonic plague. I am undecided whether the bastards still win in this scenario - I mean he might get his revenge, but will he ever get his rights? Probably if this were Hollywood and/or a fair analogy of the special needs process, he would win, and get presented with all the right food as the end credits roll, just as he's about too weak and miserable to even try and eat it anymore.


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30 March 2006

Poor Princess

This is the culmination of 48 hours of stress. It was worth it, and as it turns out the poor embarrassed teacher who had offered us a mob cap as the dregs of the dressing up cupboard had, rather sweetly, worried about whether Daughter, of all his class, would be the one without an outfit. When he asked her on Tuesday whether we had found anything, my good little girl did as we discussed and simply said, truthfully, "Yes thank you, a curtain and two pillowcases."

He was effusive in his praise, which was lovely and awkward, all at once.

There is much more to sewing that being able to picture a shape, and I failed to realise that the good curtain fabric which made the bustle/bum roll holding her skirt out would, after half an hour or so of wear, warm up and stretch. By the time she went into class her poor little mock backside was heading towards her knees.

Still, in honour of Mr Leigh, the kind teacher who had the headmaster in tow and was muttering things about the press having been invited, but still looked so genuinely pleased for daughter that she wasn't odd-one-out, here he is with the teaching assistants. It looks like its going to be a fun day!

29 March 2006

Did I Mention The Rats?

Monday we got the Tudor skirt done. Yesterday day was spent unpicking the seams on what was left of the curtain, washing some bits to get fold lines out, ironing. gluing fabric on a cardboard shape for a headdress. Once the kids were home, I planned making the bodice to fit, but using a recycled zip that doesn't open at the base - that part had to be wide enough to slip over Daughter's hips without being undone. Thank heavens she's a bit of a string bean.

Thats when Big Daughter phoned to moan, but Fisherman Son also called. His tenancy runs out at the end of this month and he and his girlfriend have agreed to part company, so instead of taking up the new flat they'd found he's going back to sleeping on the boat and saving some of his money. So could I please look after his two pet rats.

Ben and Jerry, they're called. They arrived last night complete with huge tall cage with two tiers to the inside and plenty of wire casing for climbing.

Guess who was up all night listening to scurrying claws and paws on hard plastic climbing frames.


Some time today I will introduce them to the cat, establish whether there might be any death wishes floating around between the animal members of this household, and then hopefully install our new visitors in the living room, as far from my bedroom as possible.

Still son brought lots of food and bedding for them and forced £20 on me also. Woolworth is selling little tabletop electric sewing machines for £15 and had two left on Monday night when I bought the elastic - so do me a favour and pray they're still there!

28 March 2006


A little side effect of the impending eclipse that some might have noticed is that everything's going as far bloody wrong as is possible. Astro-Friend says people are hyped up on nervous energy, like headaches when there's an electrical storm on the way, but somehow I get the impression that things and situations are going doolally in a way that no mere human could predict or prearrange.

In my own little world I don't appear to have the graphics software or the savvy to start off with a 200dpi badge template from cafe press, and a few colours and a bit of text, and still have the damn thing be 200 dpi when I'm done. It won't have it, so anyone who's hot at graphics and could rescue me is very welcome to do so! In fact you would be my hero and linked mercilessly with or without public and gushing thanks (as you wish, depending on whether or not you fear a stampede of sundry bloggers with similar requests.)

Meanwhile I am letting down a very lovely lady who runs things over at Aspire.com and is waiting to see the final design to give approval for their URL to be used. Aspire is the site that organised International Aspergers Year and I am incredibly honoured that they are talking to me because if you look, they tend to deal with people at the cutting edge - you know the types - half a dozen doctorates and on the shortlist for a Nobel prize. And I've gone quiet on them because its all gone bonkers since Friday. How do you send a little thank you email asking people like that to bear with you while you sort out cats, rats (uhuh), guinea pigs and kids in meltdown? I mean it all sounds a little domestic and disappointing, almost like I would be confirming myself as the unreliable flash in the pan that in this silence they can only suspect me to be. I'm not; and this is eating at me. When I requested a hero, I was not being over effusive in my choice of words.

Still, husband left on Monday, for the second part of his current training course and won't be back until Friday night. This is a mixed blessing, purely because he tried to educate me on the difference (or lack of difference) between dpi and pixels, but my brain won't have it. Anyone trying to educate me on anything other than UK Special Needs Law, especially if they become aeriated in the attempt, is meeting a very blank stare, a brow that threatens instant migraine (shared if possible; I mean, give me a gift, I'll always offer to share, it's manners) and the occasional nervous twitch. I'm not in a corner, vacantly rocking,..... yet.

Big daughter did her best to help that along today. Further to her arrival at 5am on Saturday morning, she claims that someone called her to say her handbag had been found across the road from the club, with only half the money taken. Something rings off key there. I failed to notice the warning signs because she has two very similar states - one is when she is totally in control of her life and really ought to be managing something somewhere and getting paid by the bucketload for it - the other is when she is edgy, tetchy, needing a break and therefore faking it.

I made her snap. She decided to explain how Bozo Boyfriend had £100 of hers that he owed her and that this meant she wasn't as broke as all that. This is a guy who lives with his mum (okay he pays rent, but it doesn't equate to a mortgage) and who has a full time job and has just bought himself a huge TV for his bedroom. I happened to mention (as she has moaned abouthimn often enough recently) that I think its wrong of a man with any self respect to even ask to borrow from a woman on benefits.

I stand by that - whether it was him or another, her or another, whether he'd run up the debt wining and dining her or on something else - these are his books to balance, his decisions, his problem. Plus in this particular instance the guy is living at home with a whole house full of wage earners.

As I write, according to my darling Big Daughter, I always do this - I always hear half the story and make the rest up and how dare I impugn her boyfriend in any way shape or form and I am always assuming that just because she's called him the dumbest most useless lump on the face of God's earth that I can go assuming things about him.

Alright dear.

I'm fine with that, its the high horse she gets on to say it. I'm really not in the mood to be talked down to, this week. I told her that if she didn't run me down behind my back then she had my permission to start, she could think anything she wanted of me, but not to lay into me like that, because I can't cope with her hyperactive slanging matches.

The answer?

A deep breath. Not a good sign, it means about ten sentences are going to come out before the next one.

"Well mum, how am I supposed to fucking behave when you keep being so fucking pathetic...... yah yah, rhubarb, rhubarb, etc etc. At least I assume there was an etc. To my eternal shame I put the phone down on her, but not before I'd slipped to her level with an 'Oh fuck you'. I am not proud. Resigned, tense and headachey and (ahem) jolly peeved, but not proud.

Quite apart from these 'little inconveniences', since Monday morning I have:

  • Taken a long phone call from my (rather wonderful) contact at the National Autistic Society.
  • Had my legalese email writing skills praised.
  • Been advised to copy what I sent to the SEN caseworker to the LEA's Director of Education, as (in NAS' lady's opinion) there were such clear and multiple breaches of SEN law and code of practice detailed in my post-meeting email that I ought to give the Dir of Ed the opportunity to have a heart attack correct the situation before we move on to totally showing the whole County up at Tribunal.
  • Raced around for the rest of Monday morning trying to find leads, crawl under computers and get one of the printers to work so that I could comply, instead of seeing to my soon-to-be-absent husband.
  • 12.30pm caught the same first train as him to deliver my letter to the County by hand, as the alternative was to spend just as much as the fares would cost on recorded delivery, which would have got the papers to County Hall today, which is a day of strike action for unknown numbers of Council employees across the country.
  • Raced from County Hall up to my daughter's flat to say hello as she lives in the same town and was then supposedly trapped indoors through the loss of her second set of doorkeys, only to find that a acquaintance of hers had come round for the afternoon, so she had left him there guarding the house while she went back to work!
  • Raced back up two hills and just missed my train home and had to wait half an hour on the platform for the 2pm.
  • Rushed home, changed bags, knocked back a cup of tea and legged it all the way to school for 3.10pm because the letters announcing the first ever Year 5 'dressing up as a Tudor' day came out a week ago, but school had told all the parents not to worry, there were a lot of costumes available to borrow, except children can't choose on their own, the parents have to physically come in to school.
  • Waited politely whilst an increasingly red faced teacher searched two classrooms and discovered that all that was left was one outsized white mob cap and a curtain-cloak for a boy.
  • Smiled politely while he tried to convince my daughter that dressing up as a Tudor male would be fun; then suddenly remembered an important meeting and rushed off leaving the 'choice' to us.
  • Walked two kids all the way to town to the second hand shops. Three things we have in abundance here are pubs, solicitors and second hand shops, all in a single block known as 'town', all about three miles from school and two miles from home.
  • Walked two kids back home clutching one floral curtain, a roll of elastic and two pillowcases; total cost £6.25.
  • Began chopping fabric, planning and sewing hacking bits together until the kids pointed out it was nearly an hour past their bedtime and asked if there was any chance of dinner.
I'll admit that I do have a sewing machine - very handy when you need to do long straight lines of stitching or put a zip in. The thing is it's my grandmother's Singer treadle, at least 100 years old, on its last legs (a lot of the tiny metal nails in the wooden casing need replacing so it wobbles) and the leather belt has snapped, so the treadle works a treat, it just doesn't communicate with the sewing machine itself. I still used it, turning the upper wheel by hand, one stitch per rotation, so ended up with a finger stuffed through the (the what, spokes?) the wheel itself to pick up a little speed.

Right now however, still ion the same thread and halfway through a bobbin, it has decided that the previously perfect tension is all wrong and is producing darling little lines of knots and loops. I haven't got the time nor the brain capacity to sit and experiment with tensions on the bobbin and the reel feed, so the sleeved will have to go on by hand. Bugger.

Still (wish me luck) it all has to be fit to wear to school by Thursday so I have 24 hours left. This is a good thing because on Friday I am off to be part of a committee of SEN parents, to look at plans this LEA has to do away with Individual Education Plans in preference for something that means less paperwork. Allegedly.

Photos tomorrow if I get ahead of myself (haha) and/or come up for breath.

So, after that long but very therapeutic little assessment of where I am, I remember this was all about this week being arse about face, upside down and back to front and some sort of cosmic, karmic game of cat and mouse; theoretically for many of us. So the polite question which I acknowledge I should have asked in the first place, is;

'How's it going with you?'

Eclipse Week

Remember the total solar eclipse last year?

Tomorrow there's another one and various tour companies have been selling holidays to Africa and Egypt for those that want to witness it.

According to my astrologically minded friend (and I have to say, I can see it), the interim has been a period of massive opportunity and upheaval. She's not online and I forget when the last period like this was (86? 96?) - I'll find out eventually but she did say that in retrospect it will look like a double-double shake up. The autumn and winter we have just gone through threw all the cards in the air, uncovered deceits (whether deceit of others or where we were fooling ourselves) politically, internationally and on a very individual and personal level. Things ended. With a longer term view it will seem that what crashed to the ground were the houses of cards we and others built and came to rely on over the longer period. In some ways a return to who we really are and in some ways a massive move forward. In short, one huge celestial spring clean.

What I meant by a soft landing is this: whether this chaotic period simply taxed you or also shamed you, we should be coming out of this, to different personal degrees, with more strength, more awareness, more honesty. In short, slightly better tabs on the truth. Any changes you have made or that have been made to you, should all work to the good of those with sufficient humility to accept and absorb them. New eyes.

Match 29th - the solar eclipse is the end of this - not with a bang, shutters down, as it will have a gently softening effect for a few days - the soft landing. IF this is true (or true for you) you will look back beyond the past six months and feel better for having gone through them, you might even also feel that way about the past decade.

The day, as an eclipse day, is also supposedly the best one for starting or announcing new projects, although most of us, I guess, will still be too busy absorbing the enforced insight into who we really are.

Fingers crossed.

27 March 2006

Pixie Propaganda?

Yesterday the kids and I snuggled into the sofa to watch the traditional Sunday Afternoon family film.

This week it was The Magical Legend of The Leprechauns, a feature cram packed with famous faces (including a young (voice of) Darth Maul as the piggish brother of the love interest).

How can I put this? It truly is a magical move, IF you're nine years old. Daughter loved it.

For myself it was worth the numb backside and twisted spine from being hugged through the 'exciting bits', for a single quote, made by Phyllida Law playing Lady Margaret (the fairy's princess' lady in waiting), on the subject of love and why it was a wonderful thing.

It can make a man think almost as much of a woman as he does of himself.


Except that at one point we discussed whether the opposing Leprechaun and Fairy kings really meant their offers of peace.

"Oh no" says Daughter, 9, "I don't trust them, I only trust the women."

26 March 2006

UK Happy Mothers' Day!

Especially to all my friends that I know to be amazing mothers but whose offspring are in that unappreciative stage sometimes known as the first twenty years, but more particularly to my own mum.

Off to see her in two weeks time and what with school, finances, pets and all, its been too long.

I can't wait!

Happy Mothers Day!

25 March 2006

Blogging Bleary

It's 6am. Not an unusual time for me to be awake, except in unusual circumstances, which these are. For one thing, it's Saturday. For another, for various reasons this puts my total night's rest at three and a half hours.

I am in that netherworld of shuddery-armed, glue-eared and shiver-spined shock, blinking and bleary eyed - insides complaining that they are still asleep and intend to remain that way, whilst the rest of me cries out for some noise to break the silence; company; coffee. The sort of stage where silence feels unnaturally complete and you long for the sound of even a car in the street to break through the cotton wool that is your brain. The kind of state where you automatically tiptoe, whether there's anyone around to hear you, or not.

Congratulations, you have won a prize - one hangover - no alcohol necessary.

Yeah, that one.

I imagine that in about twenty minutes the lining of my mouth will begin to taste and feel like the bottom of a birdcage, or at least the way a mouth could expect to feel after a night dining on cardboard. Thats metaphorical, but just now I am too insensible to feel much of my mouth, nor to know whether I am making much sense, here.

Yesterday, although I thought I'd forgotten how, I switched back into Superwoman mode. Thank God my son has a SEN caseworker with a wit, who can talk at 100 miles an hour same as me if the opponent permits. Too many nurse and social worker types lean toward that sort of work, and with the background comes a long, heavily embedded training in speaking slowly and softly, in waiting for the other person to stop and go silent before drawing breath to respond. Many call it listening skills - it's not, it's 'showing slow minded people that I am listening' skills. Subtle difference.

She and I however, we were in the zone, and found ourselves using tiny flicks of sign language to keep the speed - palm up for I'll have an answer to that, fingers forward for 'I'm just going to slice in, here'. We were like drivers in the fast lane, constantly cutting each other up but without a single prang - it was wonderful. We covered so much ground in a single hour. I love it when people can dance with their words. Even if you are there to disagree with each other, its an honour and a compliment to take on the silent agreement, to know you are really being heard and matched for speed.

By the end of it I even said that my brain was fried. It wasn't exactly, more that I had absorbed all of the information yet it was still this swirling maelstrom, whizzing round on shifting currents. I knew that as the heavier learning settled and began to form a working pattern, a map of itself; some, like dust, would be lost to the winds. Still, sometimes dust is gold-dust; not the sort you want to lose in order to hang on to the boulders.

For the rest of the day then, my subconscious was working at full pelt, trying to sift and grade the contents of an information tornado. By three I had written and sent my summary email - my 'thank you for our meeting, which covered these main points' letter, the one that, without a reply, means it stands as a gospel, as minutes.

After that I just closed down.

Slam. Like a prison on lock-up.

Walking to get the kids from school made my legs ache - gave me splints, and as soon as we were back indoors, I started to feel increasingly cold. Whilst my body took on all the effects, my mind decided it was still working in overdrive, had processed all that information and wanted more, and more. Paying attention to the kids jabbering, running wordplay games with them, it was so easy. Once they'd gone to bed however, with Husband in a Friday night slump, the silence started to grate. My brain began to feel like a water boiler running on dry, grinding away searching for input, desperate to be fed with news excitement, an argument, anything. It was doing it's little lawyer-on-speed routine and Husband started to look like a rabbit in my headlights.

So guess what we did, then. Yup, we argued, or more precisely he spoke once and I sliced like a maniac. It was like pitting a samurai against a toddler; no fun at all. My body rallied, however; came back on full alert, so I sat for two hours like a runner at the off, blood pressure constantly increasing in line with my indignation. What made it worse was that Husband took the silence to mean that all was back to normal - didn't have the wit to see that there was steam coming from my ears in increasing amounts for every second of his blindness.

Sideways slants, like me furiously playing a computer game that I know annoys him (he can't think round the sound effects), then stating 'This is your wife in "what the hell am I doing here' mode" didn't get me the attention I hoped for, but rather a blank stare and a response of "Er, don;t know, what are you doing there?" before he instantly went back to doing his own thing. We got our 'here's mixed up, he missed the intonation that CLEARLY labelled my 'here' as referring to in this house/in this marriage/on this planet. How dare he, huh.

A single friend came online to chat, and that was enough. After a brief flurry of force feeding her too much information, I let her get a word in edgeways, and she made me feel noticed, even worried for. Maybe all I'd needed all night was someone to say 'poor you' and mean it, but that was it, I began yawning and just couldn't stop.

There is one thing that never happens in this household; I never go to bed before Husband. Sometimes with; usually after, but never before. Still it was Friday night and he normally stays up until about 1am, so at ten I felt safe to slope off to bed and have a chance to actually be fast asleep before the object of my pointless fury joined me.

I slept. I dreamed. For all of half an hour, and then there he was, bumbling and stumbling into the room. The very second his head hit the pillow, my blood pressure flew up the scale and stayed there. Try lying still when what you really need is ten laps round the block. It hurt, and it made damn sure I was wide, wide awake again.

He fell asleep quickly and easily - too quickly and easily; unaware and unaffected, which at the time, I took to be THE ultimate bloody insult. I took my pillows and the spare duvet to the living room, sat on the sofa and watched three inane romcoms on the movie channel, bam, bam, bam, in a row, before finally getting to sleep somewhere between 2 and 3am, with the light still on.

So, you poor, dear, faithful reader, you who have striven through the cloying muds of this post - why did I begin typing this blog at 6am?

Because at just gone 5, my single-parent daughter and her (not particularly welcome) boyfriend turned up on our doorstep. They'd come to town for the one nightclub it possesses, where her handbag had been stolen, including £90, every penny to her name. By the time they'd searched the venue, made the allegation, walked to the police station, sat through one of those deliberately slow sessions performed especially for the young and the brash who wander in smelling of the good party they've just had and sound a little too emphatic and look like they need calming down, well by then there was no option but to walk up here and beg to crash. No trains, insufficient remaining funds for a night taxi home.

Daughter, on weepy auto-pilot, went to her sister's room, dragged the single visitor mattress from there to the living room floor, and there they both are now, asleep inside thirty seconds, on my pillows, under my spare duvet. He's rolled to the middle, she's rolled off the edge. About 6 foot away from me, just around a corner. And now he's snoring.

But hey, I guess I did say I wanted noise.

Off to make toast now. Loudly.

24 March 2006

Bit Busy

Today I am off to an official meeting to petition for additions and alterations to a seven page legal document. This with no formal training.

To that end I have spent the week locating and absorbing the pertintent sections of a 200+ page code of practice, noting every instance where it refers to other more binding documents, ie where practice is law and not optional.

I have also had a couple or six lovely long chats with various specialists, one of whom, bless her, sent me a long help document which never showed up and who therefore spoke with me by phone, for free, for over an hour late last night. I owe her big time.

Once that is done I am back to finish a badge design for a subject which means an awful lot to me (no, I'm not that hot with graphics - this is taking time!) plus clean up this little pit we call home, shove things in cupboards and be ready to pick my children up at three, along with a playmate who is coming to tea for the very first time.

Sod changing the guinea pig bedding today - they'll just have to wait and I'll just have to get creative with the neutradol.

Wish me luck!

P.S. The document is a legally binding statement of provision for son's Aspergers that will stay with him, barring minor tweaks at annual intervals, for the next five, hopefully seven or ten years. The badge is to advertise that this year is International Aspergers Year (did you know that? I only just found out!) and to advertise it to us mere mortals and encourage more people to understand - especially if they happen to be doctors or teachers or youth group workers or the disdainful woman up the road. I WILL be ramming this badge in peoples faces and constantly begging you all to buy 1/10/100 for the next nine months until the year is up. Please. Sorry, it seems the soapbox is now firmly glued to my feet and I am on autopilot with this, so if it annoys you, then see you next January, I hope!

22 March 2006

Aspergers Is:

Found a brilliant page listing real and fictional characters that display strong Aspergers traits.

So, If you've ever wondered what a person with Aspergers is actually like, think:

Basil Fawlty, Bert (Bert & Ernie), Bill Gates, Sherlock Holmes, Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady), Einstein, Catweazle, Beethoven, Pippi Longstocking, Edward Scissorhands, Gerald McBoing-Boing, Phileas Fogg, Alex Keaton (Family Ties), Doctors Craig and Ehrlich (St Elsewhere), Thomas Newton (The Man Who Fell To Earth), Carl Jung and Dilbert.

Yup, I think that about says it.

So now, all you 'never heard of it' types,
now you know the sort,
how many have you actually come across already and just never knew it?

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P.S. See an even more comprehensive list (sadly with some broken links) HERE.

Sorry For The Delay!

Two items have been added to my blog since it started going slow and messing about.

The first is the pig post, below, and the second is was the blogflux link code. I thought I'd give it a shot, as I have never managed to get the links thingy-dooda to work in the blogger script.

Its gone again now, pretty obviously, and things should be back up to speed - please let me know if not and I'll start stripping the blog back to pre-muck-up condition.

HUGE thanks to caring, wonderful Badaunt who tipped me off. BA - no idea how to pay you back, but I owe you, again.

When are your Tales of the Japanese Riverbank* coming out as a huge, glossy, coffee table book? I'd pay £20 for one - I'd pay £40 for a signed copy!

Love your photo stories :-)

*Forgive me for coining a working title without consultation!

20 March 2006

Piggin' 'Eck

I stole this link from Miss Cellania. It claims to test your personality (and a little more than that, it seems) based on your sketch of a pig.

Here are my results:
(Click on the picture to enlarge.)

I only drew the face, but I thought it was rather cute. I'm just grateful there were no connotations also attached to having a pig with no torso!

Your pig has no body: you are a hopeless daydreamer with no grasp of, or appreciation for reality.

You think?

19 March 2006

Search Terms and Sewing Tips

It amazes me the number of people who don't realise that to get an exact match to their search term, they need to put speech marks around it.

You can even use then around part of a search, say if you were looking for Carey Hunt doing the splits and you wanted Carey Hunt, not Carey Hock who went on a hunt and split something, you would type in:

"Carey Hunt" doing the splits.

It's that easy.

Otherwise (particularly with blogs) you may be directed to an Archive Page, ie a page holding thirty or more posts from over a whole month, simply because many of the words you typed in do actually turn up, even if they were originally written days apart from each other and are not written in relation to each other at all.

Anyway, the slow uptake on this little tidbit of information is the reason people landed on my blog today (for all of nil seconds each, obviously), in search of some of the following terms. Needless to say, in certain cases, no speech marks were used.

  1. Equipment and clothing list for climbing stromboli - right, someone wants to climb a volcano.
  2. Ley line england - thats a reasonable one actually, I did a good piece on plotting them, if you read past the stoned spiders
  3. When you come to the end of your lollipop - that was a whole string for a change, hurray
  4. Girl gets her bumhole fingered video - I think 'fingered' is possibly the word that was left out in the results, but otherwise I can see myself using the other words, although not strung together like that!
Still I am cheered up. I am smiling. This is because of my absolute favourite:

"I am 54, male, how can I increase my pinnies size".

Well let me tell you dear, its easy. Take a yard of cloth and add a large band of fabric wherever it pulls, or else at the hemline. Don't forget to save some to extend the straps. If you have one similar to the picture, you may need to re-work the frills.

Gosh, I used to love yellow. I still do really, but not for hankies. In fact I think I'll stick to Kleenex from now on. Let's see what a search engine makes of that.

Gloria Swanson In A Loin Cloth?

Great! A reason to give up on the moisturiser and start wondering where I left my penis.

(Stolen from Purple Dragon, who is a people-loving Macedonian Dwarf.)

On the other hand, an alternate quiz on the same page (which presents near identical questions and which I answered the same as the first) says:

Wow, I mean who knew. I never would have pegged Ghandi as a fame hag.

Or maybe this is all bollocks, which would be really good as it'd mean one less thing to hunt for.

Shirley Turpentine.

Not quite Shirley Valentine, but almost.

This, if you hadn't realised, is my e-version of talking to the walls of the kitchen.

Hello blog. How you doing, blogosphere? Whats that you say, sidebar? Yes it is very mild weather for the time of year.

And the dust gathers at the back of my hard drive as it hums pervasively. The little brown web above it dances gently against the backdrop of the ceiling cornice. The cold afternoon sun glints off the condensation where the double glazing has lost it's seal, but the fog in my head is thick and settled, smelling old but feeling sleepy and I know I will not escape my little world today.

I wouldnt mind so much. As little worlds go, its liveable; except in the fog. In the fog I can't see a damn thing. I look inside my head and all is one huge grey swirling vista of nothingness. I could start walking, I know. But knowing my luck I'd fall over something.

Don't get me wrong; I've attended to the children and the laundry, nodded attentively at the husband whenever thought escaped his head and verbalised itself; I've even engaged in conversation (face to face, like, in the real world) that involved at least faking half an interest and a modicum of intellect, yet physically I feel as though I have wandered vacantly in ever decreasing circles.

Potter into the kitchen.
"What did I come in here for?"
"No idea at all."
Potter out again.

I'd like to say I've been just as bad in my internal workings, in my subconscious; that I have at least umm-ed and ahh-ed and attempted to form coherent thought and translate it into a plan. Somehow, however, my head just isn't playing along. My ego says that it would like to stumble into a metaphorical kitchen and forget why, except that it really can't be bothered.

Even my ego isn't speaking to me. Nor is my inner child, nor even my mental list keeper, the one that keeps me in the loop about what needs to be done; nag, nag, tick, tick, ("don't forget, remember you have to" etc etc). Theyre all having a day off.

So I figured, what the heck, I'll talk to my blog instead.

Whats that, little profile box? You say I'm chicken? You're probably right. See when Shirley Valentine got fed up being ignored, she ran off to Greece and ended up restoring her feeling of being loved. Its the name, see, Valentine. Gives the game away.

So, question is, what would Shirley Turpentine do? And do I dare?

The Will of The People, My Arse!

Who let Charles Clarke think for a moment that we all want ID cards?

What with the powers they are after to hold a suspect terrorist much longer, I can just imagine what this country is going to be like:

Uncle Fred will pop out for his baccy in the wrong jacket and dissappear for three weeks because he left his ID card indoors. Or are they going to triple the number of policemen, so theres enough to run an old man home (in pairs of course) to produce his card?

The Will of the People, my sad and sorry backside. Article here. Official plans for the cards' use, here.

My advice? Buy shares in Wella and L'Oreal. If this ID card lunacy goes through, theres probably going to be a massive upsurge in the number of bottle blondes on the streets - just to be on the safe side.

Free Association 163

Triggers set by Luna Nina

I think I may be feeling a little caustic this week.

  1. Sugar rush:: White sugar and cane syrup are drugs and in excess they do you real harm. Macdonalds and stupid parents who sit with stupid smiles on their faces watching junior go apeshit on six cans of coke a day etc should be locked up for pushing drugs to kids. Just my opinion.
  2. Chemical:: additives
  3. Suspension:: calpol liquid
  4. Defending:: protecting
  5. Conference:: to confer is to reach understanding, get back up to speed, asses the next steps. Most 'conferences' spend too little time getting to the point.
  6. Dance:: freedom
  7. Weather:: stuff that happens
  8. Fuel:: oxygen
  9. Heartbreak:: life
  10. Insult:: wound, crush

18 March 2006

Dear Malcolm Ward From Woking

I really appreciate that you visit my blog, at least I think you do and if I'm correct then that's great, thanks.

The thing is, my statcounter monitors the pages that people land on, and when it says:
Temp/Index432.html , it freaks me out.

How does it read an address thats obviously on your personal computer, anyway?

Would you like to rail against the machine / politely ask the Statcounter people if their software is throwing a new and unusual sort of hissy fit, or shall I?

Have A Butchers At This

Once in a while breeding overtakes any natural style and grace and I slip, usually in moments of high enthusiasm, into the vernacular of my youth.

This screws the Americans up good and proper and they lose the plot, or assume I did.

Put another way, when I get a bit lairy, you'll clock me opening me gob to spout, (if not total bollocks), some perfectly reasonable but local terms such as chuffed, knackered, gobsmacked or even doobry.

Here is David Brent explaining one or two terms, although I am disappointed that he didn't even know that the phrase divv kid stems from someone being divvy. I mean, everyone knows divvy means daft, don't they?

Otherwise a more comprehensive and alphabetical list is HERE. I like this. I've surfed through the lot now, looking for a turn of phrase I had never heard, but sadly only found one or two relating to buggery, which I tend not to discuss that often and so will probably forget. The rest just seemed like common sense to me. At any rate, in honour of the previous paragraph, I have directed you to the Ds.

Sorry, Doris.

A Small Round Of Applause

We Brits had All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve before America was colonised, but one was a date on the Church Calendar. For the other one maybe you'd secretly peel an apple in a single strip to see the first letter of your true love's name, or look into a mirror at midnight to see his face. It was a 'thing' mostly for teenage girls, I guess, and made of dark stuff, with an element of being nearer to the other worlds, and naughty.

We had Harvest Festival, a good day for celebrating the concept of surviving another year, for having food safely harvested and stored, and again revolving around the Church.

We had a Saint for every Country in the Kingdom - St David for Wales (01 Mar), St Patrick for Ireland (17 Mar), St George for England (23 Apr) and St Andrew for Scotland (30 Nov). They were and are days for wearing something extra (like a daffodil if you're Welsh!) to signify allegiance. Maybe an extra pint down the pub would come in to it, but that's pretty much all.

What can I say, then, but God Bless America? You took our relatively quiet observance days and supersized them, even doubling Harvest (as far as the root intention behind it goes) with Thanksgiving, the one big knees up that hasn't crossed the pond and returned to us 'American style'.

You guys - you sure know how to party.

16 March 2006

I Haven't Really Been Here

You might not have noticed.

Its been me posting, but like the rest of us I've not quite been in 'the zone'. I've not surfed and although I've read all the blogs I stay faithful to, mostly I've read the RSS feed instead of landing on the page. I've more often than not been completely stuck for a comment and really only found my voice (which sounds increadingly like my mother's) when responding to others who are also in the bleughs.

SheWeevil has better 'bleugh radar' even than me and so I have been on the receiving end of her kindness, because she saw. Badaunt, with a little time off work has spent it going above and beyond the call of, well, whatever calls. Both of these ladies have made me feel noticed and appreciated, and thats worth more than gold.

Writermom has bigged me up, bless her, so has Fineartist, and even Sassy whose life is still in freefall and ought by rights to be totally self involved and looking after number one, stopped by and said something lovely. For no good reason except she wanted to.

The list goes on, but if I become definitive about this instead of stopping at examples, then those who have been as preoccupied and vague and uncreative and otherwise stunned, in short those who have behaved exactly like me, might misunderstand.

See it strikes me that we've all had the script wrenched from our hands, one way or another. Some have shown it by blogging less frequently as they tend to whatever disaster or lack of direction has befallen them, some by pouring their frustration or confusion into words, and some, like me, by blogging as if nothing is wrong, yet feeling somehow not up to the challenge; a bit blank, a bit dumb. No sparkle.

We have entered the last phase of months of astrological upheaval - did you know that? we are between the last full moon and eclipse, of two or three. It began with the full eclipse back in October - if you were blogging then, go back to your posts of the time. We came out of that total shake up at the end of November, I think, and had a few days peace before facing a Grand Cross or somesuch over Christmas.

I remember a friend who is good at all this as explaining it as chaos shit for a few weeks, then a break, then a different sort of darker shit through Christmas to the end of March. Apparently if you are into all this stuff, this was a huge and rare shake up, and massive life lessons were learned through this period.

29th March people - the day for new starts. I think that a week after that I will look back further, to July or August of last year, and maybe you could too, because I have a feeling we will everyone of us be marvelling at the hidden truths that have come out since, and the way the world has changed. Liars and cheats discovered, people who thought they were helpless and hopeless finally learning different.

It may feel like you've been cursed since last October, but that will depend on who and what you are. I have a feeling that for most of the people on my links list, the curse will turn out to be a blessing after all.


And all that because I wanted to post an apology to the super-creative types like Milt and ME Strauss and Bart, because I have read their blogs with relish, but just been too darned stupid recently to think of a witty comment to say I'd been by.

I've been by, guys, honestly. Deep breath, the ground is moving up to meet us at last, but it IS going to be a soft landing.

15 March 2006


Husband, my love; be afraid. Be very afraid......

Your Hair Should Be Pink

Hyper, insane, and a boatload of fun.
You're a traveling party that everyone loves to follow.

14 March 2006

Mucked It Up

I mucked up Marmoset's meme! I missed making my muddled replies to the first two questions (yup I gave up on the Ms there; brain ache), so ;

Sorry Marmoset, here they are!

What were you doing ten years ago?

We were moving from West London (Southall) to Sussex, on a severe budget. Lets just say the furniture got transport laid on. So, almost to the day, this time ten years ago, I was heavily pregnant with youngest daughter, had youngest son in a pushchair. Older daughter and son had just begun their teenage years (you can just imagine), and they, I, husband, my cousin (who is more like a sister and God alone knows how I would have coped without her), pushchair, belly, two cats in two cat boxes, six overnight bags, nappies (diapers) and such, and a litter tray, cat litter, tinned cat food, tin opener and cat bowls all in carrier bags because we'd used up all the good ones, were making our way down here by public transport.
The worst bit was the London Underground, which we managed to hit at almost rush hour. Getting on was ok - it was getting back off again that was the lark and I ended up standing over the bags and puschair by the doors, even after being offered a seat, for fear that I wouldnt be able to battle my way off again. Standing on a rush hour train is a real balancing feat when you are up the duff.
We got here about eight oclock at night because of the late time that we had to set off. Everything was closed, the village style buses had stopped running and taxis were nowhere to be seen. Installed cats (and tray and litter and food etc) in the kitchen of our new home (which terrified them) having walked to reach it up a few hills that didnt show on the map, walked back downhill to town and settled in to the B&B to wait for the furniture the following day. We went to bed hungry.

What were you doing one year ago?

Pretty much the same as now, two kids grown and left, two at home, me at home arguing the toss with East Sussex County Council over Son's Aspergers. At least that time we were trying to negotiate an upgrade from Note in Lieu to Statement - this time we have the Statement, just not the wording or the school. According to an NAS questionnaire, I seem to remember, it takes on average about five or six years in this country to win a statement for a child with Aspergers, or on the autistic spectrum, so we're on track by current standards.

See? I enjoyed that. Sorry if you didn't but half a meme just isn't good enough, is it. Sorry Marmoset. At least those that have played so far actually visited Marmoset and got it right first time.

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13 March 2006

Kenneth Williams

Just watched a brilliant programme on BBC4, Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa.

Aspie, aspie, aspie, aspie, aspie.


Dear God save my brother and my little boy from a life of that much tortured loneliness.

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Five Things And A Lurker!

I am feeling decidedly verbose flattered, as it seems that I have a lurker. Rather, I had a lurker, one who has just come out of the closet and admitted he sometimes reads my blog.

Poor, silly soul; that's his street-cred straight out of the top floor window.

Please pop over to see Marmoset at SimianExist, who has been blogging in a quiet corner for only the last twelve weeks and would appreciate support and encouragement - don't we all. After that, if you get a second, you could also pop over to see Brummie at Brummieblogs.

There, That was my 'good deed that grates', for the day, simply because Brummie seems to be a really brilliant and humorous woman, plus her blog has a fantastic, professional layout, plus her profile is out of this world and makes me want to really really like her (which, whilst I'm in the throes of indignant jealousy and giving off a luminous green light is a hard thing to admit) PLUS she's sh*t hot at spotting lovely souls and writing talent and ushering them onto the blogosphere.

Well, she managed to talk Marmoset into it, and that's a coup in itself.

Damn, two more on my links list, I'm going to grow roots into this darned swivel chair soon.

Anyhow, Marmoset tagged me for a meme!

Here we go:

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Walkers new Lamb & Mint crisps
2. Cheese on toast with lashings of hot horseradish sauce under the cheese, or a ton of dried chilli seeds on top
3. Lemony pistachio nuts (a habit I picked up in Southall because they were dirt cheap)
4. Bombay Mix (ditto) but not the stuff with the bright green, bullet hard, dried & dyed peas and the whiff of dodgy egg - the other one
5. Olives of all sorts - black ones, green ones, stuffed ones, super-huge ones steeped in garlic & stuff - just olives.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
1. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (including the often neglected intro - so shoot me!)
2. Don't Come The Cowboy With Me (Kirsty MacColl)
3. Supper's Ready (Genesis) - and I'll have you know that once upon a time if you ran with teenage musicians and geeks, knowing your Genesis was an essential badge of supposed semi intelligence. De Rigeur, even. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
4. Christoper Robin Is Saying His Prayers (Cheryl Hall)
5. When You Come To The End Of Your Lollipop (Flanagen & Allen)

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. Buy a large family home with room to swing a cat in every room and room for a flat in the attic - thats half the cash gone in one swoop
2. Set myself up in some sort of charitable business, like life coaching for single mums
3. Travel. I don't know where to or how or how far, because I've never got round to anything more exotic than can be reached by British Rail.
4. Go out and dance, a whole lot more often.
5. Play Secret Santa all year

Five things you like doing:
1. Dancing (badly)
2. Singing (ditto)
3. Cuddling my kids
4. Pontificating
5. Playing devil's advocate just for fun

Five things you would never wear again:
1. Leg warmers
2. Seventies frocks with frills and stuff (gag, graaa puke)
3. Home made Bay City Roller trousers
4. Leggings!!!!!!
5. Cheap costume jewellery (anything not gold makes my skin green and lumpy. I think I might secretly be the Hulk)

Five favourite toys:
1. My computer
2. My steam wallpaper stripper. Not used often enough, but great fun
3. My kettle. "Coffeeeeeeeeeeee"
4. Not telling. I got it for Xmas once.
5. Power tools. I don't look like Barbie (thank you, God), nor like to bend over with my legs straight, nor strut around dressed in a hard hat and dental floss, yet for all that, somehow when I casually swing a hammer drill, it makes men suddenly pay very close and respectful attention. Its even better to see the look on their faces when I use the damn thing properly, like their sweet little worlds and perceptions are just melting away....

So who to tag? Anyone and everyone who visits, and who has never done this one before (or did it, but ages ago).
Just say in the comments so I can come see?

Harry The Hamster Bites The Dust

Farewell to my little sidebar pet, Harry the Hamster, as once provided by bunnyhero labs. Heres hoping he goes to a good home.

He was cute, he was chubby, but lets be honest, he flickered worse than Data with a system error and he was a bit of a tart; he'd climb on that wheel and perform for anyone who tickled his tummy.

In his place is a rather lovely thingumajig I swiped from SheWeevil. Its a gizmo from CoComment.com that tracks comments I leave at other peoples blogs and adds to them when someone replies.

Because I like a reply, and when I get one I shall rush off to that person's blog yet again, just to see said reply 'in situ'. Because I'm weird like that.

Plus I tend to forget which new blogs I commented on, which can be frustrating.

I do still need someone to show me how to add comments made on blogger.com blogs that don't have the code. Apparently Blogger supports this, but theres a knack.

Still 'in Beta' this rather flash thingie used to be available by invitation only, but no longer. They are still asking for feedback but its obviously stable enough now to eliminate the need to watch user numbers.

I love a good gizmo, don't you?

Free Association 162

Aargh! Its been a few weeks.

Trigger list by LunaNina

1. Displacement:: exclusion,rejection, homelessness. Outside the comfort zone.
2. Grease monkey:: Car mechanic up a pole?
3. Vacancy:: vacuum, unnatural space, atmosphere in waiting
4. Conquer:: Achieve, gain, control, include in comfort zone
5. Payroll:: clones, drones and nine to five, hand to mouth.
6. Personal:: endowed with ones auric field, of oneself, that which is precious and requires defending. Comfort zone elements at risk of invasion.
7. Housewife:: Manager, enabler, life coach, goddess.
8. Lateral:: sideways
9. Tissue:: paper. Fancy gifts and keepsakes, beautiful boxes full of history in tissue paper.
10. Multiplication:: cloning. Not always good, increases strength of the one, decreases diversity. What if every single animal in your country was a rabbit, or every single bush the same?


I found a site a while back which claimed that Bush is the antichrist, but one of the handy things about it was it listed the various old established numerology systems.

OK so it did this just to point out whichever system you use, Bush's names, place of birth, date of birth plus all the dates when he stepped up and took more power, each have an individual value of six. Allegedly.

Still, whenever I go playing with numerology, I always land on a site that promotes only one of the available systems, so I wanted to find that page again to copy down all the options.

Easy, thought I. Toddle off to Google and enter the search term Bush is the antichrist, reasoned I.

ROFL. I should have known better.

There are currently, it says, precisely 1,100,000 possible results for that phrase and near the top of the list I see that Seattle Weekly has done an article on it and the US Catholics are split on the subject.


12 March 2006

I'll give you flippin' Barbie

This is all SheWeevil's fault.

I mean SHE did the quiz first, so blame her.

Its a quiz called 'Which Moira Stewart are you?' and for those who have never come across the name, Moira Stewart is a formidable professional and established UK newsreader, who happens to be black.

I did everything I could to get a different answer to the one I got (SheWeevil's fate, also) which mockingly announced: "WTF?! You're not a Moira at all! Barbie"

OK so the doll is pictured naked but for panties and knee high boots, cavorting in a graveyard (no, you don't get a picture, go see SheWeevil for that, its not getting posted here!)

Still, I have to wonder, does every possible answer add up to the Barbie result? Is this some social commentary that unless you are in fact the true and magnificent Moira, then, as a different newsreader, you must be blonde, busty, and wear the pleasant and slightly vacant features of either a plastic doll or a woman with too much botox?

Either way, it categorised me as that false woman, that creature of the plastic proportions, that demon advocate for all things Stepford.

I mean, if I had to be labelled blonde and fit, ok, but couldn't I have been someone with a sharp sense of humour and a brain? Like, say, Pink?

Speaking of her, heres her newest video. It's effing brilliant and it takes my anti-Barbie point to a whole new level. I love this girl.

Click on the picture. Enjoy!

10 March 2006

The Kitchen Sink

I am in negotiations with Ealing Council.

Yes, the London Borough of Ealing has its tendrils reaching as far as Sussex-By-The-Sea, and one such example is the property I currently rent and inhabit.

Its a long sad story of how my ex ran away having run up several thousand pounds of debt in our joint names, which, as I was traceable and he was not, reverted to me, just when I found myself as a single mother on Income Support.

Its another sorry tale of how my Husband's ex kept their flat when they split, while he continued to pay the mortgage. She took it off the market thinking it had been 'on sale' for too long and was scaring buyers (she did this without consulting him, of course) only to find it had gone into negative equity and she was forbidden to put it back on the market. He ended up signing it all across to her and walking away empty handed.

Current sorry tale (cheer up, I collect 'em, its a hobby) is that Ealing Council has local contractors to do repairs.

The Council says they issue a job number for the bare minimum repair work, trusting the contractors to advise if more needs doing.

The contractors say thats hogwash, they only come out and do what they're told.

I am therefore proud to report that the leak under my kitchen sink has been repaired. However there appears to be nobody on God's earth prepared to take responsibility for what could politely be termed either associated repairs or making good, ie this:
Okay, okay. My own defence is that I hadn't heard the leak and hadn't looked in there for about a week.

I mean, there was nothing in there but cleaners........

R-O-F-L; yeah, right.

What kind of artwork are you?

You are the light in the garden!

You are that one ray of light that brightens people's day. Your great personality always shines through, and you warm those you love with it.

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

For My Brother

(And for 1 guy I just clashed horns with on a forum)

Do you need to be in control?
Do you find most people frustrating?
Do you feel they change the rules half way through?
Do you feel they are illogical, irrational?
Do you find many people offensive, or bullying?
Do they often unfairly accuse you of being the abrasive one?
Do you find most people unable to follow your train of thought?
Are you often frustrated by other people's inability to keep up, when a line of thought seems obvious to you?
Do you wish people could just for a minute understand you and stop making life so damned difficult?
Do you find people unfairly accusing you of being odd, until you are now hyper sensitive to any such suggestion?
Is life with the weirdos pretty bloody depressing, so that you prefer your own company when at all possible?

If you said yes to many of those, then relax.
You probably are special.
You probably do see way more clearly than others on matters of logic.
And you are probably streets ahead of anyone you could name, as far as your latest pet subject goes.

Its a gift. OK its probably a gift called Aspergers syndrome, but don't you already subscribe to the concept that being called 'normal' is an insult?

The medical term for being 'normal' (in the depressing majority) is 'neuro typical'.
Admit it - you already knew you were neuro-special.

The great news is, that there are more people like you than you thought. Some have even made a study of the upside down way that the neuro-typicals view life and have mapped the habits and thinking of these changeable creatures.

Think of it as a leadership course, a method of understanding NT language and habits.

Wouldn't life be a whole lot easier, even less painful, if you could just get through to these NT people when you need to? If you knew how they ticked? After all - that's 90% of the inconvenience and frustration - not understanding what on earth is going on in their heads. Tiring.

Start HERE.

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09 March 2006

Secret Ingredient?

Below (click the picture) is a little movie claiming to show how to refresh stale filter coffee.

WHAT is she adding to the cup?

Monosodium glutamate?
Laundry powder?

Can anyone translate, please?

Fools Seldom Differ?

I got the following in an email yesterday.

The odd thing about me - I susbscribe to a few email newsletters from 'highly rated' motivational speakers, but rarely read the emails and even less frequently follow the links. You'll see in a minute, why I like to keep an eye on what they say without jumping to absorb all of it as gospel, or (heaven forbid), buy something and bump up their coffers.

In this case, for a split second, after the mind games I made up and blogged the other day, I thought it was a case of 'great minds thinking alike':

The Secrets of the Most Successful People in the World
are About to be Revealed to You!

  • Imagine if the dream you have could actually come true.
  • Imagine if you could transform your attitude and maintain optimism all of the time.
  • Imagine if you could escape the life that you currently live and instead live the life of your dreams.
  • Imagine having the respect and admiration you desire from others.
  • Imagine if you could accomplish the things you desire.
  • Imagine if you could make the kind of money you want.
  • Imagine if you could develop successful relationships.
  • Imagine yourself at the top of your profession or field.
  • Imagine what it would be like to have no goal go unfulfilled.
  • Imagine what it would be like to know how to stay motivated all the time!
  • Imagine making a difference in the world around you and leaving a lasting legacy.

The Secrets of Influence: 12 Characteristics of Dynamic Leaders, Sales People and Top Performers

This new program is based on the Keynote address that Chris Widener gives to organizations all over the world, produced solely to help you learn what the successful already know - how to earn wealth, power, recognition and influence that will change your life forever and allow you to live the life of your dreams!

Like I said, only for a split second. I even briefly thought - "huh typical, this guy is making a living out of selling common sense and I'm not", but then I got to the second heading; to the bottom line.

Bottom line? As usual with these guys, its all about the money. Worse, its not enough to realise your potential, to realise the power you have (no that's not a magical power to influence, just the fact that you are already in the driving seat of your own life, that you can actually choose the speed and direction).

The whole selling point, the bit he deemed worthy of bold print, is not the sense of control this gives you, nor the way this changes your attitude, nor even the way that others will find you strangely magnetic if you have found this freedom and they have not. Its certainly not about helping them to the same state.


Its about the possibility that, appearing more dynamic, appearing to be more in charge of your life, when others then find themselves attracted to you, you can take that opportunity and sell them something. No gift of attitude, nor even exchange, nor sale of outlook (which is the thing that they actually want), but sale of whichever 'product' you happen to sell for a living, on the unspoken basis that these people will assume your wares are part of your lifestyle and therefore part responsible for it.

In short, they will buy a water filter from you, in their search for self-confidence. How do you 'be a leader'? You attract followers. That's it. I'd sooner have friends than sycophants.

I mean, how sick is that?

In reality, the joke is on the poor fools that sign up for these seminars and tapes, because if you set out to learn self management with side effects as your main focus, you just never get the point. True self responsibility is never about how you look to others, its quite the opposite.

Enter one vicious circle - you never quite manage to do what you are told to do, because its never taught for the right reasons. Sure a few points in your life will look up, but the system is designed to make you his follower, to leave you in a state where you are good, just not 'as good'. Never fear, these guys who took all your money so they could explain it, these guys who are so obviously 'rich and successful' will be standing there ready to take any cash you have left in order to explain it all over again.

Yeah, right. Companies fall for this?

N.B. Its by a guy called Chris Widener, although it could just as easily have been by Jim Rohn or any of the others; and no, I'm not going to link to his site, but if you look for it, you'll find its an obvious testimonial to corporate wealth, to what some (too many) might call success.

08 March 2006

One Of Those Days

Today I started on daughter's room.

At nine years old she does her best and there is generally a clean patch in the middle of the room around her bed, okay bits and bobs and craft things and the like do live in well separated but mismatched boxes and containers that somehow end up stacked badly, all askew. Little things like necklace beads, hama beads, sequins and odd dolls shoes end up on the floor a lot of the time, mostly lost in corners, so moving something large is always cause for surprise.

Part of the problem is the space taken by a dolls pram, a rocking dolls crib and a huge pile of soft toys - too much sentiment attached for her to allow them to go, too juvenile for her to play with them much anymore. She gets occasional enthusiasm for the cot or the pram (mostly that guilt complex about being in a nice warm bed when her best dolls are sitting up and giving her accusatory glances). When this happens, two, perhaps three dolls are installed in the cot or pram and the multitude of more usually resident teddies are piled in a corner.

Today I found some energy, or some energy found me. We have been given a portable TV for her room. Whilst theres no aerial at that end of the house, it would play videos well enough, but there hasn't been a corner to stand it, so today I started to reorganise her life - moving guinea pigs, desk, drawers, bookshelves, a complete re-sort. I even went into the garage and reclaimed the old TV floor unit that we'd been using to house wallpaper ends and old paint tins, to go where the soft toys had been. That took some cleaning.

The bulk of the job is done. I've sorted her books, thrown old colouring books etc and made a pile of childhood favourites for longer term storage at the top of her wardrobe, freeing up shelf space. The nick-nacks are no longer on the tilt.

12 0'clock lunchtime I climbed over the bin bags, hoover, piles of teddies etc that are all now in the hallway, and went to the kitchen, thinking along the lines of coffee and toast.

I got neither, and as you can tell, I got no further with her room.

There, in my kitchen, was a puddle. There, beneath my mains sink tap was a leak. A nice, fat, blobby, drippy leak that had obviously already spent all morning trickling down the pipe and getting the cheap and perfunctory 100% chipboard sink unit to a state of super saturation. The shelf inside is bowed and the plastic coating has curled back off the main strut, its that bad.

I know the stopcock is in the huge airing cupboard which is situated off the bedroom hallway, but so is a whole lot more than things being aired - all the towels, all the bedding, vacuum packed summer gear, boxes of coat hangers, you name it. I think my wedding dress is in there somewhere. If the shelves werent in there you could walk right in, even the old and defunct immersion heater is installed to one side of the door. It needs a light fitting.

Oh, and even if I knew which tap was which and where to start hunting for it in there, I can't actually reach the door that well, for teddies and stuff, which are taking up all the floorspace I would have used to fling down towels etc.

Meanwhile I don't have time to move these items as I am bailing out the kitchen unit, swapping baking trays in the gap every five minutes and filling a mop bucket with their contents.

Husband is on his way home. Two pairs of hands would be really useful and I look forward.

This post was brought to you in fits and starts!

07 March 2006

I don't want to go to hell

America is an Empire, and I would guess that everybody outside of the US knows it.

During World War II they stayed out of the conflict until the last minute and made a mint selling armaments to the rest of us. I don't blame anyone - we were all rushing to kill each other over here and wanted or needed the resources; delivered through war torn waters. It just seems that necessity is the mother of inflation and the price was, apparently, hiked up considerably. If the US wears any sort of crown, the rest of us gave it. Mea culpa, so don't go saying I am throwing stones at anyone, I'm just stating how it is.

If anyone feels attacked by that statement, you are wrong. I am in no way comparing the US in general to say, the President's Granddaddy (George Snr's poppa) who had his business halted by the US Government, for perpetually selling to Hitler even after America had chosen a side. After American men were out there fighting against the Germans, granddaddy Bush just went right on arming the people who were shooting his countrymen. Apparently.

From the little I can find on the subject there was no jail sentence, no punishment for treason and not a penny of his rather handsome profits was impounded. He even allegedly managed to sell his shares in one company after the war as for some bizarre reason it was never closed. Still, according to this two year old news article, that's likely where the Bush family fortune came from. Arranging for Brits and Americans, Australians and Jews and all the others to die, for a profit. Even the company holdings and the railway and slave camp that provided it's workforce (Auschwitz) escaped being bombed, altogether.

Lets not even start on the nuclear arms race and where all the scientists came from, picked up as war trophies from the opposition. Again, mea culpa. Britain's hands are no cleaner, just smaller.

So, where are we? That's just background. The US came out of the 1930s depression and made an amazing financial recovery and that's really all I meant to say.

Since then, however, as the world police, as the defenders/upholders/enforcers of democracy, the US has stationed its army all over the world. Permanent bases everywhere. Here in Britain, as an ally, we have not just your soldiers but also your nuclear missiles. I guess, as we are living it, there are two ways to absorb the phrase 'occupying force'. We are lapdogs, we pretty much send our own soldiers wherever America wants extras. Who is worse, the man that leads or the man that follows?

Nobody says, out loud 'This or that country now belongs to the US'. They might say that this or that country belongs to democracy, but that would be US democracy with US forces there to ensure it. Oh. Sorry. I meant 'to keep the peace' (or to 'cement a friendship', depending on which country we are on about.) Preparation for political or military insurgence is labelled 'promoting regime change'.

See? You got all aeriated, when all I said was that Superpower = Empire. Its funny, those that proudly declare their country to be a superpower on the world stage, don't seem to like the word Empire or the concept that the two are the same thing. Undertones of tyranny in the name, I guess.

The next bit condemns me and nobody else, in case you are still here and still angry.

I've been looking around at all the stuff on the web about 9-11 having been more of an inside job than first seemed. Feelings for and against Mr Bush and his Government certainly seem to be stronger and more obviously polarised, than those about any other prior American Government. Previous Presidents, it seems, came across those that were 'for' them and those that were 'against'. This one seems to be coming across those that worship him, and those that condemn him an antichrist. A rather wider swing between the two ends of the spectrum wouldn't you say?

For the first time the loudest voices are not declaring him to be either a good man or a bad man, but rather either an angel of light sent and directed by God, or the son of the devil posing as an angel of light, aka the Antichrist.

So I'm sitting there coming to my own conclusion (which is a hard thing to avoid) and I'm beginning to think this guy is a chip off the old block with no loyalties except to money and power. I'm beginning to think that 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour' (even if thy neighbour is a Samaritan, or a lying, murderous little man himself) certainly seems to be a pertinent consideration given the WMDs that never were and all the other little fibs that keep cropping up. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife/ass/home/oil reserves, either.

Then I'm looking at the sale of the US ports to a Dubai company, which certainly seems to be a dangerous move motivated by profits rather than moral principles or the safety of the American people, and by this time I can feel myself building up a spirit of condemnation against the US Government, .....

and then I find this:
By comparison with the French, the British are pretty laid-back about who buys the national assets. “The UK authorities waived through the acquisition of P&O ports by the Dubai-based DP World,” Grenfell says, “and yet in America the bid faces mounting political opposition.
I mean, WHAT?

Thank the Lord God Almighty that in America at least, if you take time to look, you stand a chance of seeing whats going on. Apparently thats not so likely if you live here. Or maybe this is a lesson for me about specks and beams, that I should be looking to what I could change or effect in my own corner of the world and not so much at news where I can sit back and feel like an innocent (if slightly smug) spectator.

This has to stop. Love of money has to stop being the driving force, on an individual, national and worldwide basis. Covetousness has to stop causing us to feel ill will and resentment to those with more of what we want. Greed has to stop. Its a loop. The question is, will we all, Muslim, Christian, atheist et al, actually get round a table and agree to stop, before we have nearly wiped each other out completely?

If you are religious, then every time you kill a man or sanction or condone his death, even the death of an enemy, then you are party to taking away his life, his time, to removing any God given chance he had of coming to see things your way, or at least reaching a compromise and peace. I'm not saying that killing is never necessary, but it should be mourned, not celebrated.

Killing is playing God, and everyone who claims to follow God yet takes away from a man what God alone has given him without any sense of remorse or of having no other choice; he belies the title he claims, he takes God's name in vain.

I guess that means we're all on the road to hell, huh?

Off to rummage down the back of my airing cupboard now, going to go rooting around for sackcloth and ashes.


06 March 2006

Silly Searches

Everyone, it seems, has at one time or another written a post on the kind of search terms that people used to arrive at their blog. Not me, so far.

I have to admit that most of the ones that send people to me are pretty darned crude.

Why is it that people will search for a specific phrase, yet never bother to put speech marks around it? Without speech marks, search engines simply find any page that contains all the words you typed, even if that page is a monthly archive containing 30 to 40 posts and theres an hours reading to be done between each of your search terms.

Today I have had my favourite search terms so far. Not too grubby and I love the pictures they conjure up, so for once, I am going to share.

They are:

Tuxedo made out of hemp


Nuns breaking wind.

So now you know.

Mind Games

I want you to play two games with me.

Game 1

I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you had a letter, and it said that everything you ever wanted in life is going to turn up by the truckload, tomorrow morning at 10am.


The knowledge, the job, the home, the possessions, the respect, the amazing skills, they're all showing up, prepackaged, and they're all going to be irreversibly installed, in front of your eyes, tomorrow at ten. Other people's attitudes; your kids are going to have their heads screwed on and be completely successful. So is your partner. So are you. Everyone is going to look up to you. Tomorrow morning you get a complete head, heart, home, life, responsibility and outlook revamp. Its ALL coming.

Tomorrow you start to live 'it', whether you are ready or not; whether you want to or not.

How does that make you feel?

Me? My first reaction was "Oh SHIT!" The house is a mess, I havent shaved my legs, my fingernails are all uneven, I'd better wash my hair.

Then it went deeper.

There are things that I habitually do that do not fit in my dreams. I smoke. That's not something I condemn, but when I look at my dream list, a lifetime supply of tobacco and rizlas isn't on the list. When I look at my dream job, my dream lifestyle, It doesn't involve slouching out of the house sort of brushed and washed at school time and coming back home to finish the process. Instead it involves being on the ball; looking 'respectable' in the true sense of the word; looking like I've got it all together and I'm fit to receive all this, this stuff.

Suddenly theres a reason to face these little issues, suddenly there is a point to sorting them out, to changing what needs to be changed, learning what needs to be learned and wrapping my head around the concept that, even though its all in transit, I OWN everything I want, and tomorrow I'll be wearing it, feeling it, living it.


This time tomorrow, fifty articulated lorries, a fleet of helicopters and a couple of very professional fairy godmothers are going to be on your doorstep, not asking what goes where; just taking control and sweeping past you, around you, through you. By 10.30 am you will be expected to be the person that you always wanted to be.

Maybe you don't entirely know who that is, on a conscious level, so its pointless setting up a meme. Just take a while to dream.

Game 2

Think of someone you know. Someone likeable. A little depressed maybe, a little dowdy; not a superstar, just someone nice, and normal.

Imagine they are the one who got the letter. Their stuff comes tomorrow, but you happen to bump into them today.

Can you see the difference in that person? Can you see the hope, the energy, the attitude of being down to business, the mental process of saying farewell to a few slouchy attitudes? Can you see them beginning to take on the mantle of greatness, beginning to shine, even before the things have turned up? Can you see them, for the first time, looking like they deserve and can cope with all these wonderful things?

That's that game over.

Its entire purpose, if you think about it, is to explain exactly why you should go straight back to game 1, and stay there.

Fun, huh?