When reaching out goes wrong 

I recall it vividly. 


I’d been under the care of a psychologist for 18 months. This was in the formative days of my defined journey towards diagnosis. We hadn’t mentioned the word “Autism” yet but I had so many other issues whirling around in my head that I don’t really blame her. I was a mixed up individual fighting self loathing, self esteem issues, depression and a host of other psychological factors. 

But I’d formed a bond. I actually found her easy to talk to, a good listener and, of the many such that I’d seen before and seen since, definitely one of the better ones. 

Then my wife told me she was leaving me. 

She wanted out. Oh it wasn’t me, it wasn’t my fault but…well, she’d fallen out of love with me a year ago and now, enough was enough. 

I remember walking round the corner. My psychologist only practiced a road away and I sort of staggered up to her door in a bit of a daze, trying to work out where it had gone wrong. 

We sat down and, as per usual, our session began with the question. 

“How have things been this week ?” 

“Well”, I began, “My wife’s told me she’s leaving me”. 

I recall it vividly. He look on her face. The way she put her notebook down. The way she sighed. 

And I recall what she said next, 

“I see. Well, look, I don’t know how to say this but I can’t help you anymore. This is just one thing to many and I don’t think we can take an extra issue here and deal with it”

What did she mean ? 

Did I have a quota of problems I had somehow exceeded ?. Was three enough but four too many ?. 

I stared blankly at her. 

But that was that. 

Over 18 months and twenty odd sessions we’d talked and she’d been supportive; then, in an instant, she dropped me. I’d somehow become that “problem” patient, the bridge too far, the one too many. I barely coped with her help but now I had to cope alone. 

I stumbled home. Back to a house now empty of love, empty of family, empty of a future. 

I sat at the table and cried. 

To this day I still don’t know what happened. I don’t know how an extra issue made her just give up on me. How I somehow went from guy she was helping to guy she wanted nothing more to do with. I was bereft, abandoned in more ways than one. 

It’s easy to tell others to reach out,that support is there, that people want to help. I’m sure that, in many cases that’s true. 

But when you reach out and it all goes wrong it can be as devastating, if not more so, than the original issue. 

Take care of yourselves out there. 

My Top 10 TV shows (although I’m bound to forget some) 

So, following on from films and music, here, in no particular order, are my top 10 Tv shows…


I went through a real CSI phase. At times my favourite of the three franchises varied between Mami, New York and the original but of them all, it is the original to which I return most frequently.  The ensemble cast, the intriguing, sometimes out there storylines; all added up to a memorable and gripping 15 seasons. Gil Grissom, head of the Vegas Crime Lab, marvellously portrayed by William Petersen, is probably my favourite Tv character ever, quite possibly because of his little quirks and his almost, I say almost, Asperger like qualities. 


Now heading towards its thirteenth series, Supernatural has always relied upon the obvious chemistry between its two leads, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The entertaining mix of “Monster of the Week” shows entwined with an overarching mythology mixed with a sense of not taking itself too seriously has kept it continuously popular. Occasinally you have to suspend disbelief, the boys would be dead long before now as most episodes seem to end with one of them either tied up or unconscious at the hands of a vengeance swearing demon, but it’s Tv, its escapism and, at least for now, good conquers evil (well, mainly). 


I was mortified when the show was cancelled after three seasons. Just a brilliant show with Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancey outstanding in their roles and Mads more than stepping into Anthony Hopkins shoes as the genius cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Not for the faint of heart (when it’s gory it’s very very gory) but beautifully and cleverly crafted. A taut, bloody psychological thriller. Oh, and Gillian Anderson is in it. And she’s beautiful. 

Penny Dreadful

Another show cancelled (perhaps finished) after three seasons. A dark, gothic horror starring Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett and the extraordinary Eva Green. Her performances were simply spellbinding whether displaying aching loss, fear or mania. How she never won an award for her portrayal I will never know. Gory, sexually explicit and definitely for adults it’s an absolute masterpiece of twisted victoriana bringing together Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Grey and more in a tightly woven tale. My only criticism is the rushed ending. 

The X Files

From my youth it seems. Another show that successfully blended monster of the week shows with an overarching mythology and had the benefit of two attractive leads in David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Although it ran out of steam when Duchovny left the first four seasons in particular were masterful television. Oh, did I mention Gillian Anderson was in it ?. 

Stargate Atlantis 

I loved Stargate the original series. Loved the cast and some of the episodes were great but the spin off, was, to me, the superior show. The Wraith were such creepy adversaries and it seemed to be more tightly plotted than the original. Likeable cast, a dash of humour and slightly less hackneyed dialogue than usual all added up to five seasons of memorable stargate universe adventures. 

Father Ted

Whoever thought a tale about three priests on an island could be so hilarious ?. The wonderful performances of the late, great Dermot Morgan (taken from us far too soon) as Father Ted, Frank Kelly as Father Jack and Ardhal O’Hanlon as Father Dougal raise this from merely good up into the realms of the great. And who can forget Mrs Doyle ?. “Ah go on Father. Go on, go on, Go on, go on, go on”. Bizarre, strange, yet genuinely endearing it’s a comedy that I just love. 

One Foot in the Grave

Richard Wilsons performance as Victor Meldrew will go down in history as one of “the” great comedy performances. Genuinely funny mixed with a touch of pathos, his character does, I believe, speak for many of us with his genuine irritation at what’s happening in the world. Misunderstandings, lack of communication, treating the environment badly, press intrusion etc, are all dealt with when you look beneath the humour to the reality of what Victor experiences. Annette Crosbie is marvellous too as Victors long suffering wife. It’s a genuine classic. 

The Shield

Over 7 seasons I watch Detective Vince Mackey get deeper and deeper into the mire. His inability to cope with an Autistic child, his scheming, corrupt attempts to protect his families future by any and all means. His head butting with authority, anti social behaviour and brutality all wrapped up, somehow, with a likeable, cocky individual who you’d want on your side.  Michael Chiklis benefits from some find writing but still has to deliver his lines convincingly and he does just that. From murdering a colleague in the first episode to picking up his gun and walking out of his desk job to get back on his streets in the last, his performance is fabulous. Add in guest stars such as Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker and you have one of the best cop shows ever made. 

The West Wing

I never thought I’d enjoy this. I never thought I’d enjoy a political drama. I thought, given its accolades it would be over hyped. I was so wrong. The most wonderful cast, played to perfection, characters you cared about, gripping stories intermingled with humour and tragedy, this is some of the best television ever. Martyn Sheen, John Spencer, Rob Lowe, Richard Schiff, Alison Janney et al seem so real that you almost believe this is what happens behind the closed doors of the West Wing. The first four seasons in particular which cover topics as diverse as racism, terrorism, human rights, bigotry and the presidents illness, are virtually faultless. This is masterful television. 

Amongst many, honourable mentions must go to : Boardwalk Empire, 24, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, Into the Badlands, Person of Interest, Black Books, Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line, The Fast Show, Mr Bean, Bosch and Fringe. 
So there you are, my top ten (it might change tomorrow) shows. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. 

Perhaps you’ve seen these, perhaps you haven’t, perhaps you’ll check one or two out. 


Autism, depression and snapping out of it! 

Depression is annoying. 

It’s annoying me right now, it’s annoying me because I want to snap out of it. Yeah, I want to do what I’ve been told to do a thousand times. I want to click my fingers and be happy. 

My mood swings. It’s never ecstatic, It’s never happy happy. I don’t feel joy or exultation. If I’m in a “good” place then I’m calm and I just bumble along. If I’m in a bad place I cry, I get angry, I punch walls, meltdown and dark thoughts overwhelm me. 

Sure, I think about death. I think about suicide because Mum did it and two weeks before I was born her brother did it as well. It runs in the family, or so it seems. So I visit dark places and dwell on the darker side of life. 

People might think of me as a doom merchant. My blog isn’t a happy one and I apologise to anyone who finds my distress uncomfortable. I am who I am. 

Yeah, being depressed sucks. It sucks energy out of me. That’s not great when you have no energy to begin with and fibromyalgia, diabetes and the lingering stiffness and numbness of two strokes leave you drained before you start. Throw Anhedonia and dysthymia into the mix and reasons to be cheerful are few and far between. 

Works a pain. I’m working on leaving but it’s a slow process. Money being the root of all evil I do need it to survive. I can’t just give it up, as much as I’d like too, and live off the savings that are destined for our new house…if we ever find one. 

So there’s not a great deal to get happy about. 

But I’m still here. The wit hasn’t died. The one liners and puns are still lurking. Making sense out of a ridiculous world is still the goal. When those are gone you’ll know I’m in trouble. 

Being Autistic isn’t easy. It magnifies everything. What’s small and insignificant to you is huge and important to me. I live in a world where there’s a constant hum of background noise, a buzzing that’s irritating yet comforting at the same time. I feel oppressed by clutter. I feel hemmed in by people when they get too close. I get confused by behaviours that seem illogical to me. I don’t do small talk or gossip. 

And masking takes a huge toll on us. Fitting in, trying to mimic neurotypical behaviour. It’s another energy sapping exercise. Inside we are screaming whilst outside we are being “normal”. 

I don’t want to not be Autistic. I am who I am and, at my core, inherently, I am Autistic. I’m not unhappy about being on the spectrum. I’m not unhappy about not being neurotypical. It’s not a barrier, in itself, to being happy. 

But I’d love not to be depressed. I’d love to be interested again. I’d love to have hobbies. I’d love to feel I had some worth. I’d love to feel valued and of value. I’d love to smack Anhedonia down and punch dysthymia through a virtual wall. They’re hideous, debilitating things. 

I’d love to snap out of it. I’d love it to be so simple. 

But it’s not. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in my 51 years it’s that I’m a fighter. I may not look like one but I am. I may have zero self esteem or self worth but I carry on. I grit my teeth and push on. 

Everyday I fight depression and it’s associated conditions. Every day I’m exhausted and in physical and mental pain. And everyday I know tomorrow will bring the same. 

But I’m still here. 

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to when that tiniest sliver of hope remains. 

But it’s harder every day. 

I’m Autistic, I’m depressed. 

But the battles not over. 

The Light Beyond The Stars 

There’s a light beyond the stars tonight,

That only I can see,

It’s calling out, it beckons me,

It wants me to be free,

It knows the pain I feel inside,

It knows the hurt I feel,

It recognises all I’ve lost,

Desperation that’s so real,

It’s calling me to take me home,

It’s says enough enough,

Although I’ve battled bravely,

I’m really not so tough,

It knows that I’m misunderstood,

That I can’t find my way,

That people turn their backs on me,

Deny my right to say,

I want to speak and to be heard,

I want to help; I try,

But I’m not good enough for you,

Be better just to die,

Perhaps it’s done unwittingly,

This cruelty you display,

These words you use, that frighten me,

A heavy price I pay,

I feel bereft, and so alone,

I swim against the tide,

But now there’s nothing left of me,

No grace to share the ride,

I wanted to be part of you,

To help, yes to be heard,

I’m the lone voice in the wilderness,

You’ve ignored my every word,

You’ve blinded me with language,

Barred me with word and deed,

Treated me like an outcast,

Trampled like a weed,

There’s a light beyond the stars tonight,

That’s calling out to me,

Perhaps it’s time to travel there,

And from life, set me free.

Sex and Sexuality – Why does it matter ? 

Apologies to anyone who saw the title and thought that someone had discovered a sequel to the Jane Austen classic “Sense and Sensibility” ..

But I want to talk about sex. 

Not graphically but sex in the context of how some people seem to be getting over excited about other people and what they do in their private lives. 

I’m heterosexual. 

And you know what ?. That isn’t important. It doesn’t make me better than anyone else or mean I can take the moral high ground because I am part of the majority sexual group. 

It’s my choice and because I have freedom of choice I also respect other people’s choices in however they wish to describe their sexuality. People can be gay, bi, pansexual, asexual, not interested in sex or nymphomaniacs for all I care. It’s really none of my business. 

But the problem that arises goes something like this. 

A gay couple walk by. Cue comment from someone who sees them, “It’s disgusting isn’t it ?; what they get up to!”. 

What they get up to..

Now I don’t know about you (nor do I really want to) but Sex forms a small part of my life. And, surprise, surprise, it probably does for those of any other sexual persuasion as well. 

I’m quite sure, in amongst all this stuff they’re getting up to, that they go to work, watch Tv, walk the dog, do the shopping, cook some food, wash the dishes and do the 1001 other boring and normal things that fill our lives. 

So why is it sex that’s being highlighted ?.

“Oh it makes you sick doesn’t it. When you think about it..” 

Then why are you thinking about it ?. Why are you thinking about something that apparently disgusts you ?. 

I don’t think about my colleagues sex lives. I don’t watch people in the street and think about how much sex they do, or don’t have. Why is it my business ?. What does it matter to me what they do in their private lives ?. 

I don’t know if there is some curiosity at work here, some jealousy or some other reason but if I see a gay couple shopping in my local supermarket I can tell you I’m more interested in buying cat food than whether they’ve been romping amongst the courgettes!. (Actually I don’t like Courgettes so they can romp amongst them….but I draw the line at Spring Onions!)

It doesn’t affect you. It has no impact on your life and if you don’t want to think about it then stop thinking about it!. Nobody is forcing you to think about someone else’s sex life or their sexuality choice!!

Accept people for who they are and you’ll realise their lives are just the same as everyone else’s. They go to work, they watch Tv, we all do. 

So stop thinking about something that’s none of your business and get on with your own lives! 

Desert Island Discs – The Pharaoh Edition! 

This is not gong to end well. 

Think of every piece of music, every song you have heard in the course of your life and then try and pick eight of them that you would take to a desert island and live with for the rest of your life. 

Tough isn’t it ?. 

But, in the furtherance of science…or something like that, here are eight pieces of music I couldn’t live without! 

Beethoven -Symphony No 6 “Pastoral”

This was played at Mums funeral. It was also played at a friends funeral a few years ago and, when I’m in a pensive mood it’s one of those pieces that is, I think, best listened to alone where you can let the melodies wash over you and let the emotional response come forth. It’s extraordinarily beautiful and I can understand the attraction it holds for so many people. I adore it. 

Sky – Toccata

Anyone remember Sky ?. I do. Until they experimented with vocals instead of sticking to instrumentals they were one of my favourite groups and this version of the Bach classic was the highlight track that not only made it to No 2 in the charts (when the charts were big and meant something) but made them famous. The talents of John Williams (surely the most technically accomplished classical guitarist ever ?), Herbie Flowers, Tristan Fry, Francis Monkman and the late lamented Kevin Peek (how he ruined his life was an utter tragedy) combined in a sweeping, soaring, rocking tune of dazzling musicianship and a cracking tune!. 

Mozart – Piano Concerto No 27

In truth this is one of several Mozart concertos I could have chosen. I love them all but his last, this one, is especially fine and full of memorable tunes. As with most classical pieces there are many options to choose from but I always return to one by that most masterful of Russian pianists, Emil Gilels, so that is the one I would take. 

The Michael Schenker Group – Looking for Love

When I hit my early teens I discovered the world of heavy metal (dumbest term ever) and, although I do have a guitar (skill level…err…none ?) the guitar hero I had growing up was Michael Schenker. In truth he’s probably the unsung guitar hero of many. Gibson Flying V in black and white, the black leather jacket, blue jeans, blond hair; he just looked like a rock god was supposed to look. Immensely talented and with a keen ear for melody over showmanship he wrote some cracking rock tunes. This is one of them. 

Henselt- Piano Concerto

I’m very fond of piano music. I have great admiration for anyone who can play an instrument and we are fortunate to live in an age of so many wonderful pianists. The likes of Stephen Hough, Steven Osborne, Andreas Schiff, Maria Joao Pires and Martha Argerich are extraordinary in both their technical prowess but also the emotion they bring to pieces both old and new. But of them all, my “hero” is the Canadian Maestro, Marc-Andre Hamelin. He is perhaps less known for playing popular pieces but rather for bringing to the fore often technically fiendish repertoire which has faded from memory. Every challenge is met with bravado and colossal technique. The Henselt Concerto is full of life, wonderful tunes and playing of the highest order. 

Howard Shore/James Galway – The Grey Havens (Lord of the Rings) 

There are many evocative pieces in the soundtrack to this extraordinary trilogy. Many pieces that inspire, delight and move me. I suppose I could have cheated and had the entire soundtrack but the piece I’ve chosen is, I think, just lovely. It conjures up the scene perfectly, the end, the journey being over yet a new one beginning, a lament to a friendship that must end through circumstance but with notes that hint of a brighter future for all even if their paths are different. James Galways flute is simply achingly beautiful here. A wonderful piece. 

Saint-Saens- Violin Concerto No 3

We are also fortunate that we live in an age of extraordinary violinists. Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Gideon Kramer, Joshua Bell amongst many others. I recall watching on Tv, with enormous delight, masterclasses run by the genius Maxim Vengerov whose enthusiasm for his instrument and the music he was playing was utterly absorbing. But in my collection I have a live recording of Saint Saens 3, with the Israeli Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta accompanying another dazzling talent in Julian Rachlin. And it’s utterly amazing. The Concerto is bright and bubbly, it zips along and has a heart melting slow movement before the third brings us to a rousing conclusion. Rachlins performance is exquisite. He is a master of the instrument and the fact it’s live only adds to the excitement. 

Enya- Orinoco Flow

This one is for Mum. She introduced me to Enya after Terry Wogan had introduced mum. I wasn’t sure on first hearing but she just grew on me. I’m not sure this is a favourite as, again, I have many, but it’s where it all started. It’s mood music. It’s very carefully crafted and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Enya is really just the front person of a talented triumverate including Nicky and Roma Ryan who produce and write the lyrics. It’s music for all days, all moods. It’s beautiful, reflective, melodic; easy listening probably, ideal background music for revising or reading. Mum always bemoaned the fact it took so long between albums. Unfortunately she died two or three months before the last Enya album was released but I know how much she loved Enya so it’s only right that I include a piece here. This is for Mum. 

And that’s it. Eight pieces of music I love. There are thousands more of course and if you ask me tomorrow I’ll probably have thought of something new to add. 

There’s nothing by Rush, my favourite band for instance. Or Abba. I could have had eight Abba songs quite easily. Jean-Michel Jarre (another Mum favourite), Mike Oldfield “Portsmouth” isn’t there. There’s no Dream Theater, Fifth Angel, Disturbed (Their cover version of “Sound of Silence” is awesome) or Toto. There’s no Scarlatti, Haydn, Litolff, Medtner, Weber or Grieg. The list is endless. 

But today that’s my list. 

I’ll put my iPod on later and realise I’ve missed out another piece. That’s just the way it goes. 

Perhaps I’ve introduced you to something new here, perhaps I’ve picqued an interest ?. 

What would your choices be ??. 

Autism Friendly Work – it’s a real problem! 

In my life I’ve been fortunate to have two roles I really enjoyed. 

The first was as a Court Clerk in two big Crown Courts. Swearing in juries, taking verdicts, advising the judiciary and basically being in charge, was pretty good for someone on the spectrum. It required planning, organisation, thinking ahead; all qualities that those of us on spectrum might have. 

I handled some very big trials. One or two are quite famous. I enjoyed the interaction with the bar and the high ranking members of the judiciary I was able to clerk for. I even clerked for one member of today’s U.K. Supreme Court in, I think, their very first sitting in criminal work. 

I liked the sense of team I had with my ushers. I know that a few of my clerking colleagues looked down on the ushers as being some sort of skivvy as they did the boring stuff of delivering papers, arranging the courtroom, putting out the water etc. 

But I never saw it like that. I saw us as a team and Karen, Alan, Lorna, John and Fred, amongst many, remain firmly fixed in my mind as being more than ushers but friends, team mates and good people. 

I was popular with the judiciary. Even hard to please judges seemed to like me. Getting praise from a judge is quite hard as you are normally invisible to them until something goes wrong but my organisational abilities and somewhat cynical humour seemed to appeal to them. 

I’m sorry if this sounds like boasting but I’m not, I’m just pointing out an environment in which being on the spectrum was pretty useful. 

The secnd role was born out of the first. 

Part of my clerking duties involved assessing solicitors and barristers costs in criminal cases. So when I got married and had to move I was head hunted and offered a job doing that on a full time basis. It’s another Autism friendly job. 

I worked out of a local court but then half there and half at home. My work was portable so I could sit in my own environment and determine costs at my leisure. I enjoyed the application of rules, the detective work, the sniffing out of fraudulent claims, the back and forth argument as to whether I paid too little. I enjoyed writing reasons for the costs judges to assess and the fact that my interaction with the rest of my team only needed to consist of six team meetings a year and the occasional call to get a second opinion. 

It was pretty much ideal. 

Unfortunately redundancy put paid to that job. Easier to pay everyone the same rather than look at each case on its own merits. Why have qualified assessors when a machine can just issue a cheque ?. 

And now I’m a tax advisor. I work in a crowded, noisy office. The phone rings, people talk, filing cabinets bang, chairs scrape, noise from the garage behind us interrupts train of thought. Each call is unpredictable. Will it require shouting ? A different accent ? Somebody crying ? Or someone who wants to blame me for something I haven’t done ?. 

It’s an unhealthy, soul destroying atmosphere. Communication in an office of 21 people is appalling. We are under appreciated, under recognised, poorly paid and, often the atmosphere is tense and deeply upsetting. 

My colleagues are lovely. The four ladies I work with on my team are all warm, generous and humourous. I often feel sorry for them because I see the frustration they feel, I hear it and I get that sense of utter despondency they exude. 

And if I can see it then it must be obvious. And if they can feel it then, with my heightened senses, the effect on me is magnified tenfold. 

But what do you do when you need money to live on ?. When there are so few alternatives ?. When you don’t cope well within change and your biggest fear is that, no matter how bad it is now, what if the next jobs worse ?. 

It keeps me awake at night. It causes me deep anxiety and physical issues. My IBS flares up every Monday morning. I’m exhausted and collapsing every Thursday when my working week ends. It stresses me out so much. It’s unpredictable, chaotic, noisy and there are no prospects. None. Nada. Zero. 

No promotion. No advancement. Yet we have to be appraised on a yearly basis. Same old thing. I’ve done well. I’ve done a lot. I’ve been helpful. That’s not a criticism of my team leader with whom I get on really well (we often find ourselves singing the same line from a song or thinking of the same pun at the same time when opportunity presents and you just have to let the humour out before you go crazy ) but she gets as fed up as I do…we all do, when it’s all so meaningless. It’s utterly futile. Utterly pointless. 

I dream of other jobs. I dream of jobs in which I’d be happy. I dream of jobs in which my talents (I saw them the other day in a carrier bag. I can’t quite recall where I saw them though) could be used or I’d be happy. A job in which my interests were catered to, a job in which I found purpose, a job I wanted to get up for, that I looked forward to, a job in which I was happy. 

Autism friendly work. 

I think that finding it and keeping it is a real problem! 

One day…

Perhaps ???

A matter of perception : Theirs vs Mine (The Autistic One) 

I am always quite fascinated at how people in real life perceive me. When I hear how they feel about me I automatically assess whether I hold that same view. I internalise it and analyse it. So here are a few perceptions that others have of me ….and what I think. 

1. That I am Jolly

Yes that was the word used to describe me. It’s not a word you hear much unless you’re a Pirate aficionado and then it’s usually in connection with someone called Roger!. 

I associate being Jolly with laughter, belly laughs and being a jocular fun loving individual. That’s not how I see myself. I have a sense of humour that’s very dry, cynical, based on puns and snappy one liners. It’s more “Yes Prime Minister” than “Benny Hill” and it’s one perception that I just can’t see. Sure I can make people laugh but am I that funny and in that way ?. 

2. That I am helpful

This perception is, I believe, down to good masking. It’s down to me actively making myself available to help others. But I wouldn’t say it’s who I was. I wouldn’t list it amongst my qualities (if I knew what they were) but it’s how others see me. It’s more about taking responsibility and trying to make sense out of order. It’s The Autistic loathing of chaos bringing my helpful self to the fore. It’s having to get something sorted because I fear the consequences if it is not. So, if I am helpful, I’m not doing it altruistically but rather through a sense of self-preservation. 

3. That I’m a nice guy 

No, I’ve no idea what that means either. I’ve had it said to me and I’m not sure against what standard I’m being measured. Are there degrees of niceness ?. 

Is this linked to the Jolly, helpful person (or is that Jolly helpful) that I supposedly am ?. I certainly wasn’t the nice guy that got the girl growing up, although perhaps you have to be sexy for that and I am the least sexy thing in the universe. I’ve seen inanimate objects that ooze raw sexuality when placed next to me!. 

I’m still not sure what it means to be nice so my perception of that is dictated by my not being sure what it is I’m supposed to be. 

4. That I am intelligent

Excuse the laughter coming from the corner, it’s my IQ reading a joke book entitled “The 1000 funniest intelligence jokes” and realising there’s a picture of me on the very first page!. 

Intelligence is, again, hard to measure. Leave aside IQ tests which may well appeal to certain brain structures more than others and once more it can be hard to accurately measure intelligence. 

And what is it anyway ?. Is it knowing stuff ?. Is it knowing specific stuff ?. Is it measured by educational achievement ?. If I know lots about Tax but nothing about Biology does that still make me intelligent; but only in a certain field ?. Are we talking about general intelligence encompassing several fields or more of an expertise in a specific subject ?. 

The trouble is, I feel, that describing yourself as intelligent is just setting yourself up for a fall. The moment you tell someone becomes the moment you know everything. Or are supposed to. People look at you expectantly as they prepare for you to give forth your wisdom. And when you don’t know you crash and burn. 

I don’t see myself as intelligent. Yes I’m Autistic. Yes my diagnosis is Aspergers. Yes I’m supposed to be “high functioning” (an undesirable and divisive label if ever there was one) but that doesn’t mean I know stuff. Or useful stuff. 

Being described as intelligent makes me uncomfortable. Because I don’t know how I’m being measured. Is it against friends, colleagues, family, Einstein ??. I don’t see myself as intelligent because I think that involves a certain amount of ego and I’m not sure I have enough ego to protect me when describing myself as such brings me crashing back to earth!. I’m certainly not intelligent in educational terms, no degree, struggles with A and O levels and has never passed a Mathematical test in my life!. 

It’s a real conundrum. 

Do I know stuff ?. Yes, but so does everybody else. Is the stuff I know somehow more intellectual or highbrow that what other people know ?. Does it have more value ?. Is it worth more ?. 

In some ways I think I’m really quite stupid. I don’t know practical stuff and bits about Egyptology are rarely useful in the world of Tax or in washing the dishes. I can’t change a plug, change a tyre or cook a meal involving more than two ingredients. I don’t have practical intelligence. 

So there we are, four ways in which people’s perception of me widely differ from my own. 

Which is right is, of course, a matter of opinion and perhaps the truth, in all cases, lies somewhere in between. 

But it is interesting to know how people see ourselves and compare it with the view we hold ourselves. I wonder how many times we are actually in a perception harmony with others ?. 

Are you ?. 

Growing up different 

I can’t honestly say that I knew, even thought I was Autistic when I was growing up. 

Autism wasn’t a word I’d ever heard and nor had my parents. I was just me and given that each family member had their own set of idiosyncratic behaviours, being different just seemed pretty normal. Well, our kind of normal. 

We never gelled as a family. We were never close or “cuddly”. We got on with each other but each of us was distant and it seemed like it was only at meal times that we came together. 

I was never sociable. The concept of friendship was, still is, quite alien to me. I mean, what do you do with them ?. I never had a group to hang around with or had birthday parties to attend. I wasn’t one of the in crowd so invitations were thin on the ground. That was fine by me. Parties were noisy, crowded, I might not like the food, had to pick a suitable present and there was a horrible social convention of having to invite the person who had invited you to your own party. Yuck!. 

I had people I played with. I played football in the football season and cricket in the cricket season in the park a couple of streets away with a few boys I knew but my being a stickler for the rules and organising them was sometimes a step too far when you just want to kick a ball about. 

And there were bullies. There are always bullies. 

I got bullied for being different, for being organised, for, yes, having intelligence. But not having street smarts. 

I liked to play with things in a very structured manner. I built things in solid colours of Lego bricks and got frustrated if I ran out of that colour. I couldn’t handle dull toy cars, I needed the brightest yellows and purples. I liked to collect toy soldiers so I could group them into regiments for proper manoeuvres. I didn’t want four or five, I wanted whole armies of Crusaders and Saracens so I could fight the great battles of the crusades. 

I wasn’t. Okay, I am still not, spontaneous. I had to think everything through. 

And I talked. My mother used to bribe me to be quiet for just five minutes. I was garrulous and endlessly chattering. Most of it was, apparently, nonsense. To them maybe but not to me as I held forth on football (usually) or my views on the world in general. 

School was a huge struggle. This was before the days where statements and SEN were heard of. I struggled in an alien world where there were rules….but people wanted to break them. Where break times, unless I played football, were just an indescribable mess of noise and chaos usually spent trying to avoid the bully who wanted to kick you for having looked at him the wrong way and where teachers looked at you with contempt if you complained as if to say “Man up!”. 

People messed about in class. Teachers were scared of some and did nothing. I was jabbed with compasses, was partially strangled, had chairs taken just as I went to sit on them, was spat at, threatened, punched, thrown off a moving bus and finally, to top it all, had my clothes thrown in the school showers and urinated on. 

That’s what being different got me. For being socially awkward, clumsy, hopeless with girls, saying stupid stuff, being nerdy, not fitting in, not having any talents the bullies could use (like being a good sportsman in their team) and being a very tall, very skinny, pudding bowl haircut, acne riddled, bespectacled youth, a whole lot of abuse and bullying. 

Yes, I grew up different. 

And it wasn’t much fun. 

So the bullies win again

A while back I fell out with someone on Twitter. 

I blogged, they accused me of hypocrisy, I disagreed. 

I disagreed via private direct messages but they chose to take it onto their public feed. They invited their followers to make their views known. They encouraged bullying. 

They also threatened to post my direct messages to Twitter so I could be exposed by them. So Twitter could see my hypocrisy in action. 

I wanted those messages put out there. I had nothing to hide. I was not rude, nor nasty, I agreed to disagree and wished that person well. 

I hope they are happy. 

I also blocked them as I noted further arguments emanating from them with other users. I also noticed I was called a “White, cis misogynist cunt” by them in a tweet. I abhor the use of that word but that is what was said about me. 

They also blocked me. 

Today I was followed by someone who had noted a Twitter exchange I had been involved in. We exchanged direct messages and, shortly after the first, it was noted that the new person was a follower of the person with whom I had fallen out months ago. 

My new follower then told me they could no longer follow me. If they did they would be “attacked” for doing so. They wished to avoid conflict and wanted to stop following me in case they provoked a response. 

In my view this person has chosen to side with someone who viciously attacked me, resorted to the language used above and has had continued arguments with others. That, apparently, is avoiding conflict. 

I give up. 

I try very hard to be reasonable and fair. I avoid bad language and would rather block than get into meaningless conflicts. I don’t like confrontation or upsetting people. 

But this ?. 

Fear of being attacked. Fear of being bullied because you follow someone ?. Seriously ?. Following does not mean agreeing with. It means showing an interest in what they say and do whether it’s your cup of tea or not. It’s about getting a range of opinions. It’s about broadening horizons. 

Perhaps I am a hypocrite for saying follow me despite the risk when I’m leaving Twitter to avoid the hate. Yeah, perhaps, six months ago they were right. But I’m fed up of trying to be nice and fed up of the bullies winning. Perhaps I’m fearful. But I’m fearful of my sanity if I remain. 

So the bullies win again. Directly, indirectly, doesn’t matter. 

Because nobody actually cares.