People don’t read this anymore¬†

Before the referendum and when life was simpler (it seems), people read my blogs. 

But now they don’t. 

Or if they do they don’t comment. 

And why should they ?. One of the perils of blogging is knowing what audience you are likely to capture. Or miss. Who do you want to attract. Hope to attract ?. 

And do you want praise (everyone does really) or criticism (have had some, it’s great, so long as it’s constructive and not a rant lol) or insights into how the writing affects people ?. 

I’m not a good writer. I leave that to those whose knowledge of their subject far outweighs mine especially on Autism where there are many superb and learned blogs using all the highbrow and clinical terms I would expect. 

I just write drivel. 

People who liked my travel stuff probably don’t care for the deeper stuff and vice versa. Trying to look after a varied audience can be tricky especially when you aren’t always in the mood to write about a desired topic. 

And amongst millions of blog posts it’s impossible to stand out. 

I lack the wit, the charm, the depth of insight and the language skills to do anything justice. It’s just a ramble. One or two kind people used to promote my stuff on Twitter and try and build me an audience. But not anymore. And why should they ?. 

I was going to write a book. I had an idea. Had even sketched some of it out, written the prologue in the toughest terms. Had an idea what I wanted to do with it. 

But nobody would read it. 

It wouldn’t appeal. 

It would just be another poor book (not that it would ever be published) in a sea of poor books. 

For a time I hoped writing would help me. That it would prove cathartic. Would prove to be an outlet. 

But I’m not good enough to help myself. 

If someone writes a blog post but it’s never read is the blog post still written ?. Something to do with trees in a forest I think. 

So that is it. 

The end. 

No more. 

Finished what I had to finish. 

Enough. 

Farewell. 

If I came back I couldn’t say it was by popular demand. I’m not popular. There wouldn’t be a demand. 

A good place to end I think. Back where I started. Writing shit. 

Bye. 

Hate

It’s easy to hate. 

Hate myself. 

To loathe, to detest. 

To feel shame. 

I blame. 

Me. 

For everything. Things I did. Things I didn’t do. Things I should have done. Or could have done. Or would have done. 

The path of self destruction, inward facing, tearing myself apart. 

Like bread, ripped asunder, crumbs, but not of comfort, cascade through my fingers. 

No longer eating away at me. 

It is me. 

Nothing good. Nothing ever good. Nothing achieved. Nothing done. 

No fun. In that. 

Failure. Pure and simple. Useless creature. Useless, useless creature. 

Knows nothing, does nothing, creates nothing. 

Is nothing. Just a void. 

A void. Avoid perhaps. Or an obstacle. 

In the way. Taking the place of someone better. An achiever. A creator. 

Accepting I hate myself is easy. It’s all I know and have known. 

Learn to love ?. 

Why ?. Purpose ?. 

What good would it do ?

To love. 

Me ?. 

Undermined by my mind! 

My mind has a mind of its own. 

Seriously. No matter what I want it to do or think, it sticks two fingers up at me and does the opposite. 

I would like to be happy. I really would love to be less stressed and anxious, to be able to relax, to chill, to be creative. But my mind has other ideas. 

Forcing my mind doesn’t work. Telling it to do something only leads to stubbornness and refusal. Even sending it to sit on the naughty step has no effect because it just sits there taunting me until I let it come back. 

And it’s exhausting. Fighting it, wrestling it, trying to subdue it, trying to get it to do something for me, for a change, instead of adding to the stresses and strains of life. 

So, for example, I say to my mind, ” Can you please be happy today and think positive thoughts ?”, my mind will think about it for a millisecond then shrug it’s shoulders and go “nah” and start bringing up all the bad stuff that happens, the mistakes I’ve made, the bad places I’ve been in. I’m sure it gets some sort of sadistic pleasure out of it. 

And I want to study. I’m aware of the passing of years. I’m getting older but my mind seems older before its (my) time. It’s atrophying, decaying, misting over and it sits in a place where it’s either bad or not constructive. It’s like living in a fog. 

I am sure that somewhere in there I could find a core of light. Not a happy place per se but somewhere that the fog could be pushed away from, a place of peace and quiet amongst the nasty hubbub of rebellion and discontent, a retreat from the anxiety and stress. I don’t need a massive part, I just need enough. I need a starting point, something to grasp on to, something hat I can use as a door into my mind. A door I could open into a passageway, then perhaps a bigger passage, perhaps with other doors on either side, doors behind which I could put good stuff. I need an opening. I need hope. I don’t want or expect all, but if I could just get a foothold on the mountain of despair and black thoughts, it would be a start. 

But my mind has a mind of its own. It’s immune to drugs. It rejected mindfulness. It laughs at therapists. And it sneers at my efforts to gain control. 

And it’s bloody annoying. 

And it’s so tiring. It’s exhausting, this constant struggle, this daily war with myself. 

It takes its toll. 

People say I should snap out of it. People tell me it’s a phase. People tell me it will be alright in the morning. 

I can’t. It’s not. It won’t. 

I’d like to punch it. I’d like to hurt it. I want to shake it and yell at it. I want to scream at it “Do as your told!!!” but my mind would just sit there and smile smugly and carry on regardless. 

I want “my” mind back. 

But it’s got a mind of its own! 

Bipolar ?. No, just the changing moods of Autism. 

My therapist fixed me with a stern gaze, 

“How would you feel about being bi ?” she asked. Cue puzzled expression, lots of looking at the ceiling and a rather hesitant answer..

“Err, is that an invitation ?. Is it something you’d recommend trying ?. Where do you start ?. Is it compulsory ?. ” 

I sensed we had reached a rather difficult topic of conversation. I’d gone in about work issues and somehow my sexual orientation was up for discussion. I was a bit confused. I pressed on..

“Err, I like girls…” 

My therapist sat bolt upright in her chair. 

“No, not that sort of bi. Sorry, very badly phrased. I meant, what do you think of the concept of bipolar disorder as being part of your Autism ?” 

I hadn’t considered it. To be honest I wasn’t someone who had given much thought to other conditions and how they might interact with the overriding Aspergers diagnosis apart from the obvious dysthymia and depression diagnoses. 

I shy away from too much self diagnosis because I’m not a very good judge of myself. I have  Aspergers but because it’s who I am and what I am and how I am, I don’t try to add labels where none might exist and think it’s for others, based on my experiences or their interactions with me, to decide if I have a or b. 

I’m no expert on bipolar but I am aware that several well known individuals such as Stephen Fry and James Wade, the darts player, have been diagnosed as such. I don’t know what the symptoms are per se or how the condition is diagnosed but I believe that it involves extreme highs and lows where the highs last for a good length of time. 

So that rules me out. 

My highs are very short lived. If I get manic moments (my partner calls them the too many E numbers moments) then they probably last 20 minutes tops. I get high, I get euphoric, I get silly and a mania overtakes me, I say and do silly things. But it doesn’t last. I crash and burn so quickly and return to my more usual state of a chronic underlying depression punctuated by suicidal (or not wanting to live) episodes, self harm of varying severity and moments of terrifying, inward looking rage. 

But there are three aspects, for want of a better word, to my Autism. My middle ground is the majority area of depression, confusion, sensory issues and strict desire for routine. I guess that covers about 60% of my time. Then there’s the low end where I want to die, I look longingly at the pills in my cupboard and wish I had the strength to take them all, I fall into the well of self loathing, of self disgust and hatred and want to tear myself to pieces. That’s another 35% of me. 

And then that final 5% is perhaps, not so much a high high but a feeling that things are slightly better than average punctuated by the wahey moments, the drug free euphoria. 

I wish I knew how to increase the 5% but worry that even if I did I may pull myself further apart and by changing the 5% to 10%, I would also add 5% to the low end and simply eat into the middle ground. 

My mood is rarely settled. Outwardly perhaps but that’s the game isn’t it ?. The great acting job we or I do to present a “normal” face to the world. I have to display the middle ground as much as possible in terms of mood. People don’t want me talking about my doom or swinging from the light fittings. 

And perhaps that’s part of the problem. I’ve lived for 50 years. I act normal. I have no outlets for the real me so a frustration builds that can only manifest itself in the bad stuff and the good stuff finds itself cornered. 

Mood, changing mood, changing mood 

I know the real me. 

But what do I do with it ? 

In the Realm of the Senses : Touch

I don’t like being touched. 

I’ve never been a hug person unless it’s been on my terms. I’ve always shied away from them unless I’ve known the person well or been in need of a hug for comfort or support. I didn’t come from a touchy feely family so I suppose that helped bit being touched just makes me, well, uncomfortable. 

I find being touched awkward. It’s not just the physical sensation that gets my Aspie skin crawling and my internal mechanisms twitching away but it’s also “How do I respond ?. What do I do now ?”. 

To some people touch comes naturally. The handshake, the hug, the kiss, all very natural movements and responses but none of those come naturally to me because I don’t know if I want to respond and I don’t know if my response is what others expect. Does it seem distant ?. Is it over familiar ?. 

I shake hands at interviews or when meeting people. I understand the courtesy aspect to it. But I do wonder where their hands have been ?. Have they washed them ?. Have I washed mine ?. Hugging can be awkward. My sister and I hug (a social convention apparently) but we do it in a stilted, stiff fashion because we don’t want too much body contact. Of course hugging my partner is much easier because I love her and we have that emotional connection but even so, there are times I find it more irritating than enjoyable. 

Kissing is a nightmare (apparently). I don’t know what to do when I get kissed. The cheek brush is fine but when it comes to (proper) kissing I get very tense so, apparently (again) it’s like being kissed by a woodpecker!. Maybe I find it hard to properly let go, so to speak but I find I go overboard or am too restrained. It’s so hard to get right. And I find kissing, unless I’m in the mood, again, slightly weird. 

By now anyone reading this will be pitying my other half. She knows that. It cheers her up and she thanks you for your support. No, she’s not quite sure why she’s with me either…

But touch, as in the physical side of touching another person, is only half the issue. 

It’s being touched by fabrics or types of shoe as well. I can’t abide wearing Wellington boots. I hate that rubbery, plasticky sensation on my feet, the heaviness, the sound they make. Yuck. I used to hate wearing a suit. It itched, it was uncomfortable, too tight, too hot and it never felt “right”. I was always conscious of sweating and scratching and feeling constrained. Again that’s a yuck. 

I don’t like heavy clothes. I like layers I can peel rather than being submerged beneath a mountainous coat. I don’t want to be suffocated, I want to breathe. I find hats annoying because my head overheats. I used to have to wear a wig when I sat in court (don’t get me started on heavy robes) and the scratchy and itchy feeling lasted long after I removed it like a type of phantom pain. 

Wearing a wedding ring was something I only got used to by the time I got divorced!. It felt completely alien and the skin beneath it always felt irritated and sore. I wear an engagement ring now and am used to that but, again, that took several years to settle down and even now I have days when my skin can’t seem to tolerate the touch of a thin band of metal. 

I know instantly the moment I try something whether I will tolerate it or not. The second I put it on and it rests on me, I know. There’s no “you’ll get used to it in time” with me. I know. I can tell if it will be too tight, too loose, too short, the wrong fabric, rubbing in the wrong place etc. There are no maybes. It’s a yes or a no. If it’s not instantly comfortable then it’s out. I can’t abide the thought of having to wear things in, to see if I get used to the sensation of them. The very thought makes me anxious and brings on the dreaded skin crawl, the itching, the sweating, that sensation of wrongness. No, not for me. 

My partner thinks I am over sensitive. I am not. I am Aspie sensitive. My senses are more greatly attuned to slight differences in sensation brought on by different materials and fabrics, different cuts and styles. I know what I like and what makes me comfortable. I wear what I know I will like. That might be a narrow range but it works. For me. 

And if it works then why change it ?. 

After all, I’m never out of touch….

The Evil that Men do

Cambodia Part 7 – From the light to the darkness

Phnom Penh dazzles in the sunshine. It’s a spacious city, tree lined boulevards meeting large parks. It’s also surprisingly empty!. Has news of my arrival spread so quickly ?. Outside the Royal Palace complex the roads are devoid of traffic but no, it’s not me driving people away but the visit of the Panamanian Ambassador to the King!. 


The palace complex is lovely. Spacious, beautifully maintained and, despite his majesty being in residence, they’ve still let the riff raff in!. It’s a very Khmer place, wonderfully decorated and stylish buildings, quite gaudy, designed to draw attention to themselves. The complex began construction in the mid 19th century when Cambodia moved its capital to Phnom Penh from Udong. Of its many fine buildings, Wat Prea Keo, the Silver Pagoda, is particularly grand. The pagoda was built in 1892 by King Norodom and was renovated extensively in 1962. It houses two priceless Buddha statues, one emerald and one solid gold  which weighs in at a hefty 98kg. The pagodas floor is covered in silver tiles which are mainly hidden by carpet but a small section has been cut away to reveal what lies beneath. If you were expecting gleaming silver plates then prepare to be disappointed. If I hadn’t known it was silver I’d never have guessed from the accumulated grime of decades. 


I note the Cambodian love of topiary as there are several carved bushes and shrubs to admire and there are also many fine murals to investigate in the complex. Once more I am struck by how wonderful Cambodia is, how peaceful. 

Alas, for every light side there is a dark and we now turn to a particularly grim and harrowing time in Cambodia’s past. 


Almost everyone has, I am sure, heard of the Killing Fields. So far there have been 340 such discovered containing over 20’000 graves. Pol Pots great ambition was to turn the country into a giant agricultural farm and to that end he decided, simply, to eradicate all the intellectuals whose skills he no longer required. I won’t bore you with the history of the conflict that followed his coup but the results were, on a human scale, outrageous and a stain on the history of the world. 

Today, the Tuol Sleng genocide museum stands as a grim and silent testimony to those who perished. It is one of the most depressing and moving places I have ever visited and it leaves one haunted by the horror of what happened within its walls. To think that it was once a school only makes what happened here all the more shocking. 

18’000 people including foreigners, were incarcerated and tortured here before being taken to the killing fields to be executed. The rooms contains the bed frames on which they were shackled, the ammunition boxes that doubled as latrines and images showing prisoners burnt alive and shot by the Khmer Rouge when they fled before the Vietnamese invasion. It is a horribly disturbing place. 

There are a list of instructions that prisoners had to adhere to. A code of conduct to follow even when being tortured. It’s evil. Read them here and wonder how man can be so inhumane to man. 


Block B was covered in barbed wire so as to prevent prisoners committing suicide. The KR wanted them to die but when they chose, not the prisoner. It really was a horrific regime that these words and images can do no justice to. 

Inside another block rows and rows of photographs bear witness to the terrible loss of life. Vacant expressions gaze down on the visitor, nameless faces now lost in the passage of time. How many were truly intellectual ?. When, in a country where something so insignificant as wearing glasses got you marked out as such, what hood did anyone have ?. 


I have rarely seen a group so devoid of energy and smiles. My travel companions just shook their heads. Dark clouds had descended on each of us and for some, just entering a building was too much. It was hard to grasp the enormity of what we had seen. I can only hope and pray we do not see it’s like again. 

And that was Cambodia. Free from the weight of Tuol Sleng we went to a local market where I picked up a t-shirt, almost purchased a baby, marvelled at the worldwide phenomenon that was Angry Birds and then enjoyed a fine meal at the Foreign Correspondents Club on the riverside. 


The next morning we traversed by boat down the calm wide waters of the Mekong to the customs station at the Vietnamese border. We were stamped out of Cambodia and into Vietnam, a more advanced and less relaxed country. Our time in Cambodia was over but it had left its mark. From mighty Angkor to the Killing Fields, from temples to torture, a truly memorable and wonderful country. 


Thank you Cambodia, You were simply wonderful. 

On the road to somewhere

Cambodia -Part 6(?) – a capital idea

Leaving Siem Reap is hard. It’s a lovely place and, even ignoring Angkor and its treasures, it’s my kind of place. Just the right size, friendly and a big KFC!. 

We come to a bridge dating from the Angkor period. It’s in a picturesque setting in a small town but the river that runs beneath it is a dodgy browny -green colour. I don’t know if there are any fish in there because I simply can’t see in its murky depths. 


The bridge seems to be in good shape but I don’t know how heavily restored it is. What I do know is that, at one end there is a multi headed Naja statue under which a little Chinese lad is being forced to pose by his inanely grinning parents. The lad is of a sensitive disposition and they insist on seating him beside a tray upon which reposes a severed pigs head!. Everytime he sits down he accidentally bumps the tray and the pigs head slides towards him whereupon he gives a bleat of terror and tries to leave the scene only to be dragged back again!. 

The village is very much of the crafty type with some very fine furniture on display but it looks incredibly heavy and I wonder who buys it and how it’s transported to its destination. I certainly wouldn’t want to be carrying it about and trying to move it if I’d set it down in the wrong place. 


Cambodia passes by in a blur of rice fields and greenery. It’s wonderfully pleasant. A green and pleasant land if you will. It’s very peaceful and people move with a purpose as if they’ve got somewhere to go and something to do. It’s all rather lovely. 

Lunch is taken in the middle of nowhere. Seriously I have no idea where am I bar that it seems to be a hotel miles from anywhere. It’s called the Sambor Village and, again, sorry, it’s really rather lovely!. It has a shallow inviting pool and a number of small chalets dotted around flower enriched gardens. It’s all a bit idyllic. 


Lunch is very good. Pumpkin soup (and I dislike pumpkin) of passable quality followed by meat, two veg and mashed potato!. Yes, mash. Makes a change from the obligatory rice. Dessert is fruit. Melon I think, of various varieties and some pineapple. 

As we are talking about food we should mention the fried spiders of Skuon!. Tarantulas are widely eaten in Cambodia and we make a roadside stop to take a closer look at the delicacies on offer. Our guide warns us against eating anything because some of the offerings look somewhat the worse for wear and we don’t know how fresh they are. To be honest the spiders look a bit inoffensive, not the huge hairy beasts of myth. There are also a variety of insects and bugs of differing sizes and calorific content but I pass as my guide suggests. I do note however, that he munches happily on a bug or two. If he’s sick  tomorrow then we all know why!. 


We arrive in Phnom Penh to find our hotel is situated right opposite the US Embassy. I could have strung up a zip line and been across in a few seconds. From our vantage point we are able to watch people coming and going and moped crashes with alarming regularity as we seem to be right on top of one of Phnom Penhs accident hotspots. They don’t crash into each other, they just slide around the corner and then tip over throwing driver and passenger into the road. Nobody stops to help, they just get up, brush themselves down and set off again. 


And it’s back to food again. Descending to dinner we find juicy rib eye steaks, garlic mash, broccoli, sticky, gooey spare ribs and a barrel load of chocolate Italian ice cream!!. And it’s all mine. God that meal was so good it makes me salivate just thinking about it. 

Our day ends with drinks in the bar (make mind a coke), a good chill session with convivial travelling companions and the embarrassing sight of our English tour leader walking out of the bar and refusing to settle his bill because the Cambodian waitress whose English is absolutely fine, is belittled in a “I can’t understand what you’re saying” way. A deeply shameful act which we can only partially redeem by settling the bill with a generous tip. 

Some people eh ?. 

In the wilderness

Perhaps I deserve this. 

Actually there’s no perhaps about it. 

Let’s say it’s a definite. A certainty. 

I feel very alone right now. Quite scared. Quite frightened. Nowhere to turn. Friends, although I use the term loosely, have abandoned me. Or, at the very least, are unable or unwilling to defend me. 

And so I am here. Alone. In my wilderness. 

Convicted without trial. 

But yes, I probably deserve it. 

You see, I voted leave. 

I voted leave because I didn’t want closer integration with Europe, a European army, a European police force. I didn’t want decisions about defence being taken out of our hands. And I knew some people whose business ideas had been strangled by European directives. So I voted to leave. 

And now I’m a racist. Now I’m a bigot. 

It doesn’t matter that I’ve travelled in the Muslim world. It doesn’t matter I’ve travelled amongst Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists. It doesn’t matter that I worked in a Jewish community in London. 

No. I’m a racist. 

The rise in attacks in immigrants that have occurred since the referendum are despicable, unwarranted and vile. Offenders should be locked up or sent to foreign countries for re-educating or a taste of their prisons. I condemn those attacks without hesitation. They are a stain on our society. 

But when I get called a racist and call upon my friends to condemn those attacks on me ?. 

No. No word I my defence. No willingness to condemn. Nothing. Avoidance. Complicity by silence. 

So. Because I made a choice. Because I voted. Or, because I voted in a way, in a democracy, so many find unpalatable and cannot see beyond blind racism. 

No friends. 

Might as well be dead. 

Here. In my wilderness. 

So let the grass grow over my weary body, let me lie here. 

Just let me die.