And so the wheel turns..

A strange 72 hours. 

Strange on Twitter. Real life has been, well, normal. 

More fighting. More arguing on social media. More side taking, trolling and general unpleasantness. 

I’ve had to bite my tongue and stop my twitchy fingers from tweeting stuff I’ll later regret. I’ve had to step back and just let the anxiety wash over me and through me. I’ve tried to remain detached but it’s been so damn hard. 

I can see where the fault lies. I’d love to say “But…” or “In my opinion…” but nobody would listen; they’re too far gone for that. I know I’d just be inviting trouble. 

So I’ve had to block people. I’ve had to block people I like, at least in the Twitter sense of the word. It’s not as though they’ve done anything wrong but they’ve opened me up to the possibility of harassment if I say anything and, having experienced that once, it’s not something I’m prepared to let happen again. 

I can’t tell them who to follow, to unfollow, mute or block. At times I wish I could because it would make my life a little less stressful but I’m not their keeper and it’s a free world so they can follow whomever they like. 

Perhaps they don’t know about the numerous name changes, the times that Twitter has had to remove accounts, the reporting, the trolling and the sheer nastiness that certain people have perpetuated on not just me but others as well. 

Or perhaps they don’t care. 

I’d hope it’s the former. 

I’ve taken myself out of the firing line, at least for now. At least until a new account surfaces and the cycle repeats itself. 

I’ve blocked people by association and I didn’t want to do that. 

But the risk is too severe. I don’t want another episode of anxiety, stress, meltdowns and outright panic at the thought these people might attack me again. I just can’t risk it. 

So, if I’ve blocked you then I am sorry. I truly am. You’ll never know but I do mean it. 

But, for my own safety, it’s necessary. 

Take care. 

“Is”, “Has” or “With” Autism ? 

How do we like to be addressed ? 

What language is it that appeals to us and that we recognise as relating to ourselves ?. 

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, it’s not that easy. Even the best of us get it wrong. 

I am Autistic. 

I don’t have Autism. It’s not the same as having a cold that will go; or a broken leg that will heal.  

I’m not someone with Autism. It’s not a side order. It’s not an attachment ; an add on. 

But even I get it wrong. 

At a meeting the other day I started off down the road of “with” and had to correct myself. I think it was because I was trying to explain to a third party; was trying to make them see how my Autism works so I slipped into “..for a person with…”. 

It happens. 

Sometimes I forget I am talking about myself. 

So for people with Autism. No. Scrap that. For Autistic people…

It’s quite easily done. 

I quite often hear the phrase “and those of you with ….have Autism”, when the comment is directed at me. I rarely correct it. I rarely say, “I think you mean Autistic people”. 

And I suppose I should have. 

The trouble is that quite often I’m so amazed they actually recognise Autism and even want to address it, that I let the language slide and then slip into it myself. 

But I’m Autistic. It’s genetic. It’s inherent. It’s not a part of me. It is me. It’s not my shadow or my faithful companion. There’s no with or has. There just is. 

I’m wary of too much policing. I know the hardliners will take a dim view of that. They’ll tell me I’m not helping the cause. That I’m being lax, that I’m perpetuating a myth. 

But if you police too much you risk alienating support. Even if the language used is incorrect isn’t it better for there to be an acknowledgement of existence rather than a lecture that reinforces how different we are. Do we want to spread awareness or immediately nip that in the bud by ridiculing anyone who gets the language wrong ?. 

Yes it’s about educating. It’s about explaining how we wish to be treated. It’s getting our preference out there but a snarling, biting response to a question such as “What’s it like living with Autism ?”, is more likely to make the questioner wish they hadn’t enquired. 

How much easier is to respond with “Thank you for asking. It’s not actually living with though, if I could just correct you there. It’s not something curable or that’s going to dissipate, it’s part of me, inherent, genetic …” rather than “Live with!!???. You don’t know anything do you ?. What a dumb question. I don’t live with Autism, I am Autistic!!!!..Learn something about Autism before you ask…rant..rant…rant…” 

Accept people will make mistakes. We do it yet seem, at times, very unforgiving of others who do. Educate gently, use persuasion and education not the big stick. Treat people nicely and they’re more likely to be supportive. Be rude and see how quickly the myths and stereotypes of Autism are spread. 

I’m not someone with Autism. I’m not someone who has Autism. 

I am Autistic. 

But even I get the language wrong. 

My Top 10 Places Worldwide (So Far) 

So, in no particular order, here are my ten favourite places …

The Taj Mahal 

There are a lot of words written about the Taj, about Shahjahans monument to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, the “teardrop on the face of time”, and rightly so. It’s a stunning building in a stunning setting and it’s mood changes throughout the day. From the pale pink of dawn, to the harsh whiteness at midday to the golden yellows of the setting sun, this study in marble and pietra dura, is rightly considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever created. And you get to share it with half of India when you visit!

The rose red city half as old as time is quieter now. Troubles over the border in Syria have led to a reduction in tourists visiting the amazing facades and tombs that line the wadi in which Petra exists. That first sight of the treasury is magical as you emerge from the narrow siq and get your first glimpse of the iconic building. Climb up to the high place of sacrifice or, better still, ascend the 800 steps to the colossal treasury and take in the views over Petra. It’s very exposed so take plenty of water with you as the temperature was touching the hundreds on my trip. Just a really special place.

Abu Simbel

There are a couple of Egyptian entries on my list. Abu Simbel is extraordinary and one of those places that gave me goosebumps. These days virtually the only way you’ll get to see the two templesis via an 8 hour round trip driving through the desert with an armed escort. Another sad example of how the worlds troubles affect our travelling.

But in happier times it was a short plane ride to the nearby airport. That was before, if the plane was offered, travel agents ripped you off to the sum of £250 per person. It’s not that Abu Simbel isn’t worth it because it is but knowing the plane actually costs about £30 shows how you’re getting taken, literally, for a ride!

The temples constructed by Ramesses 2nd “The Great” are monuments both to him and his beloved queen, Nefertari. Set in a spectacular setting on the shores of Lake Nasser it’s worth remembering that these extraordinary temples were only rescued from the waters by a colossal UNESCO effort in the 1960s. Without international cooperation and money they wouldn’t exist. A marvel of engineering saved by a marvel of engineering!.


Here I am in my younger days enjoying a cool spot in and on Philae. The lovely temple sits just below the town of Aswan and is reached only by boat. Moved, as with Abu Simbel, from one location to another; carefully deconstructed and reconstructed, Philae is definitely pretty.
A late period, mainly Ptolemaic construction, the temple is very picturesque on its island setting which gives it a sense of uniqueness. Even as someone who adores Egyptology I can appreciate the phenomenon known as temple fatigue but, even to the most jaded, there’s enough here to perk you up and reignite the interest.

See, I told you she was pretty.
It was here that our guide on the first of my three visits, enacted the ancient myth of Osiris, Isis, Horus and Set. I got the short straw, Osiris and was killed off in the first act. Typical of my luck.


The place where men became gods. Unfortunately many of my favourite places I visited before I had access to digital photography so I don’t have pictures to share on my blog and, to many who’ve seen the photos I have, Teotihuacan just gets a shrug of the shoulders and a “so what ?” expression.

I think you have to go there to really appreciate it.

It’s not beautiful. It’s not picturesque, or lovely, or cute. It’s imposing.

There’s a sense of huge about it. A sense of massiveness. Flanked at one end by the Pyramid of the Sun and, to one side, the Pyramid of the Moon, it has an epic sense of scale. The Avenue of the Dead is about 1.5 miles long and one of my fondest memory’s is leaving my tour group to drive to the other end and just taking a leisurely stroll from one end to the other, clambering up pyramids as I went to take in the views.

It might not be to everyone’s taste but to me it was totally thrilling.

The Kerala Backwaters

There have been few moments of sheer bliss in my life but my time spent drifting on the Kerakan backwaters were certainly some of them. The beautiful waterways that run up and down the west coast towards the southern tip of India are as idyllic as you can imagine and the night on the houseboat, waking up to the soft lapping of water and the breeze rustling through the palms is something I’ll never forget. If there is a heaven on Earth then I think this is it.
Angkor Wat

I’d long wanted to visit Angkor Wat. It was one of those places that was on my list but seemed elusive as costs seemed to spiral higher and higher and cheaper holidays took priority. But they say that good things come to those that wait and thus it was, in 2011, the opportunity arose.

The iconic spires. The all too familiar, it seems, tarpaulin and scaffolding that afflicts so many ancient sites. I remember it well.
In truth Angkor Wat is part of a bigger complex, the city of Angkor Thom which itself contains many highlights. It’s like an adventure playground for adults with any number of different “rides” to clamber over and explore. I’m still surprised that so few people have heard of Angkor but, in a way, I’m also relieved as it’s absolutely amazing and I’d go back again in an instant. Yes it’s that good. It’s an architectural masterpiece of Hindu design slowly metamorphosising into a Buddhist temple. It’s grand, it’s setting is spectacular and it’s in Cambodia, a country of warm and friendly people.

It’s just epic!

 See what I mean ?. Epic!


There are several sites in Iran that would make a top 20 list. I had to think long and hard about this but felt I really couldn’t leave Iran of my list because, let’s face it, it’s not thought of as a tourist place and, it’s an extraordinary country deserving of wider publicity.

Esfahan is the city that’s half the world. Within Iran itself it has something of a reputation for snobbery but, as a tourist in the mid 1990s I can only attest to the warmest of welcomes.

The highlight, amongst many, in Esfahan, must be the Naghsh-e-Jahan square. Constructed between the late 1500s and early 1600s it has, at one end, the Shah Mosque, an extraordinary and captivating vision in blue tile work (although on closer inspection the tiles are actually made up of seven colours). To one side stands the Sheikh Loft Allah Mosque, another Safavid masterpiece but this time designed for private, not public use and hence devoid of minarets. It’s tilework is exquisite and both the exterior and interior of its dome are utterly dazzling. There is so much beauty it’s just a shame that so few people will ever get to see it.

The Bayon 

For the ninth entry I return to Cambodia. I’m just realising what’s not making this list and wishing I could cram 50 places in but, if I did, I’d probably think a bit harder and add even more. I suppose that’s both the good and bad thing about travel. So many amazing places, such a short list to add them to!

Anyway, The Bayon.

Let’s face it, that’s pretty neat!
Another wonderful example of Khmer architecture in the city of Angkor Thom. The multitude of serene and smiling faces look down upon the modern traveller from this imposing temple in a jungle setting. Whereas Angkor Wat is more classical Khmer in style, the Bayon is more of a baroque construction. It’s not just the faces that draw you into the temple but the myriad of fine reliefs that adorn its walls. From a distance you might just see a jumble of stones but as the individual faces come into view, and no two are exactly the same, you appreciate how amazing it is.

And it is, amazing!

The Pyramids 

For the final entry I return to my first love, Egypt.

If there are iconic buildings then surely the Pyramids are up there with them. These colossal stone constructs still dominate the Cairo skyline although the encroachment upon the Giza Plateau has somewhat diminished them in terms of location.

I recall vividly my first sight of them. It was an early morning. A faint breeze threw a delicate sand wash across the plateau and the early morning mist was just being burnt away by the fierce Egyptian sun. I recall standing there in awe as they loomed out of the sun casting colossal shadows across the burning sands.

It was hard to take in. The magnitude of their construction, the Egyptian ability to construct, to move the huge stones into place, the planning, the organisation that we struggle to match in modern times with all of our technology.

Actually going inside the Great Pyramid was a sensational experience, clambering through the grand gallery, squeezing into the Kings Chamber and feeling the vast weight of millions of tonnes of stone above your head. Feeling so insignificant at the heart of the machine.

Utterly, quite brilliantly, brilliant!

So that’s it. My top ten. I’ve missed out so many, The Shwedagon Pagoda and Bagan in Burma, Persepolis in Iran, Palenque, Uxmal and Chichen Itza in Mexico; the list goes on and on.

That’s today’s list.

Tomorrow ?. Who knows ?.

Missing Mum

I’m 51 and I miss my mother. 

Next week will be the second anniversary of her suicide. It will be a hard day as every day has been since she left us. She’s probably shaking her head and telling me that I should move on with my life and that she’s fine, that I should forget about her, she’d probably tell you she’s not worth thinking about so much. 

But secretly I know she would be pleased. 

Occasionally I am asked how I feel about what she did. Does it matter ?. I can’t turn back the clock. I couldn’t have prevented it. Yes I might have postponed it but there was an air of inevitability about it, a sense that she would choose her own time, that she would know when enough was enough. 

I don’t blame her. Her brother committed suicide about two weeks before I was born. She didn’t blame him and telling the ones left behind that the suicide was selfish doesn’t make things better. It wasn’t selfish, it was freedom of choice. I respect freedom of choice. Sure I desperately wish it hadn’t happened but I’m not going to say anything bad about what happened. 

We used to chat every Sunday morning at 8.45. She’d have the phone with her as she lay in bed reading the papers and we’d go through the past week, talk about my work, her social life, my father when he was alive, the usual stuff; Tv, the weather, the conflicting views of the film reviews in the weekly and weekend editions. 

Then there were the DVDs. Checking prices, organising for Amazon to send them to her, discussing what she thought of them. 

She loved doing crosswords. I remember how pleased she was when she managed to do the big Saturday one by herself. How she used to ring me for answers and how we’d be perplexed at some of the strange clues and obtuse answers. “How was I expected to get that!?” She would say and I can still hear the disbelief in her voice. 

She was a very talented artist but never believed in herself. She could have been well known, I think. Talented with pen and ink and a huge imagination. A keen creative writer, clever wordsmith and a keen intelligence that, probably, never had the outlet it deserved. 

She could be sharp and fussy. She hated changes to her routine and surprises. A one time spontaneous visit resulted in me being kicked out early as she had “other things to do and was expecting someone else”. You just had to shrug your shoulders, smile and tell her you’d call her on Sunday as expected! 

She loved to garden. She had a real appreciation of nature and always showed a keen interest in my travels to the extent that she endured my holiday photos with a waspish, ‘..and how many more are there ?”. Probably too many! 

Passionate about film from the 1930s to 1980s, John Wayne fan, adored Charlton Heston and what she called “manly men” actors, loved “Avatar” for its colours and was an avid collector of Studio Ghibli animations. The very last film she watched was one of theirs, a present from me as she came out of hospital. 

There’s a message on my answerphone. It’s from her on the day she came out after five weeks of infections post a hip replacement. She’s sitting in her favourite chair looking out on her beloved garden as the sun goes down and she sounds so happy. I can’t bear to listen to it and I can’t bear to delete it because it’s all that’s left of her. It’s a moment caught, forever frozen in time. 

I miss her as a sounding board. I miss her counsel. I miss her objectivity. I miss her wisdom and her sense of humour, that dry chuckle at something she’d read or heard. Every Sunday I want to pick up the phone and hear her voice. 

I might be 51 but I miss my mum. 

The Follower Phenomenon 


Here’s the nub of it. 

I’m followed by some cool people but, amongst them, are two people who, it seems, absolutely refuse to interact with me. 

They’ll post a thread on Twitter. I’ll join in. I’ll answer their questions. I’ll say hi. 

All ignored. 

“Oh they probably just missed you” 

Really ? 

Missed me but managed to respond to those both before and after me in said thread. 

Is it my aftershave ? My deodorant ? Am I wearing the wrong colour shirt ? 

Sure, occasionally we do miss stuff or believe the interaction doesn’t want a response from us, but all the time ? Really ? 

Perhaps I’m not clever enough. Perhaps I don’t say what they want to hear or read. Perhaps I’m not witty enough or they just follow because they think they should rather than actually wanting to. A kind of obligation to follow a fellow Autistic rather than an interest in what I have to say. 

I simply don’t know. 

I just find it strange. 

I follow people because I’m interested in their views. That’s why I interact but if they aren’t interested in mine where is the value in the follow ?. Sure I’m used to followers coming and going as they seem to vanish or be bumped by an unseen force, on fairly regular occasions but it seems a little pointless. 

It’s also a little degrading. 

It’s as though I’m beneath them. My opinions aren’t sufficiently interesting or valued. I’m not adding anything to their lives. 

As I said I don’t know. 

Because they don’t tell me. 

Perhaps I’m invisible. But I’d hope that once in a while they’d acknowledge I exist. 

Seems not. 

Oh well. 

I’ll carry on following. 

One day they might say hi. 

But I’m not holding my breath….

What is “real” Autism ? 

There are big differences between Autism and Autism for dramatic effect. 

Some of you will have seen Rainman with its focus on the savant or the A-word with its focus on the child and now Netflix viewers are being “treated”to Atypical which focuses on relationship struggles, kind of. Later this year we will receive The Good Doctor, another dramatic programme focusing on a savant. 

All well and good you might think, it’s pushing Autism into the sphere of public awareness, it’s giving us publicity. 

But is it right ?. 

The reason most drama leaves me cold is because it seems so detached from reality. Of course if I watch science fiction I expect it to be futuristic and out there but I’m talking about dramas set, so called, in the “real” world. 

And that’s where Autism is. That’s where I am. 

And since most drama about Autism seems to be written by people not on the spectrum but, apparently, from “research”, I am a little dubious about the writing to begin with. 

Of course I accept that mainstream Autism does not good drama make. I understand that to get the all important viewers and ratings there has to be an appeal. I understand the appeal lies in focusing on the extremes, the genius savants and the socially inept; and then drawing out their talents, or lack of, to the nth degree. After all, it’s got to be dramatic or comedic to get those ratings. 

But that’s not “real” Autism. It’s not my Autism. 

Now I know some people actively dislike programmes like “The Undateables” but the people in that programme are ones I can more readily identify with. You can call it contrived and uncomfortable viewing if that’s your, err, view but I recall vividly my clumsy attempts at meeting the opposite sex (or same sex), the planning that went into my dates, how excited (and frankly amazed ) I was that anyone actually wanted to meet me, my not knowing how to talk, what to say, my headlong rushing into love with every female I met because she was the one and just wanting to gush about my special interest of the time or being tongue tied and wanting to be swallowed up by a giant hole. 

That feels far more real to me than a comedy or drama written about Autism but not with Autism at its core, it’s foundation. 

And, whilst talking about real Autism it would be rude of me not to mention Alan, our favourite gardener who has opened many people’s eyes to the talents we possess and the way we see the world without resorting to being labelled. Alan shows, better than most, how we work. It’s his vision of the world around him and how he brings the shapes and patterns he sees into his designs that bring Autism to life. That’s Autism at work. It’s a clear illustration of how the world is to us, the details, the noises, our eye for something different, our thinking outside the box (or the garden) and how, quite logically, that comes together. He’s a genius garden designer and that’s down to “real” Autism, not something scripted. 

Perhaps you disagree. That’s fine. I just know which I prefer and which I’d prefer to be out in the public domain. I’d rather be real than someone else’s vision of how I should be because they’ve done a bit of research but not actually lived life on the spectrum. 

I’m Autistic..

Let’s keep it real! 

The 10 places I most want to visit..

Okay, for this list I decided I could choose countries I’d visited before but wouldn’t repeat places  in those countries I’ve been to although there are many I’d like to go back to. 

1. Peru

I’ve never been to South America. Its usually cost issues that have prevented me from doing so although the prospect of a 17 hour flight via Madrid didn’t really enthuse me. Now that direct flights are available and the times reduced to 12 hours it’s a bit more manageable. 

It’s not just Machu Picchu that I’d like to see but places such as Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman with their amazing ruins. I’m not into crossing continents off an imaginary list but South America is deserving of a visit so Peru and its wonders make the list. 

2. Namibia

When I mention Namibia most people look blankly at me. It’s not a country that’s registered with many people although it’s neighbour, South Africa, is obviously widely known. 

It’s not my unusual sort of place. It’s not got ancient ruins and temples, it’s got vast empty places, sand dunes, the skeleton coast and wildlife. I’m not one for safaris or things like that but seeing wildlife in a non-contrived way, a natural way, does appeal. 

3. Syria 

Yeah this is a tricky one. Tricky because of the state it’s in. Tricky because the chances of it being safe to visit in my lifetime are probably zero to non-existent. 

I’ve almost been twice. I’ll regret those near misses till the end of my days. First time I was taken ill the day before I was due to fly and my doctor wouldn’t let me go and the second time civil war broke out and that’s not conducive to travel. 

I so wanted to see Palmyra, the amazing citadel of Aleppo, Damascus in all its glory and the mighty crusader era castle of Krak De Chevaliers. ISIS put paid to all that. The damage they perpetrated on Syria is monstrous. An archaeological disaster. 

4. Libya

This might come into the same category as Syria. Another country beset with problems and safety concerns not easily rectified. I almost booked several years ago and, again, regret not doing so. To see the glories of Sabratha and Leptis Magna would have been amazing. 

5. China 

China has been on and off this list many times. There are places I want to see in China but I wish they weren’t in China. I’m sure it’s lovely but there’s just something about it that makes me slightly uneasy. A friend signed up to teach in China for three years. She lasted three months and had nothing but horror stories about her time there. 

I’d love to see the Terracotta Army, the Summer Palace, Guilin, the Forbidden City, Black Dragon Lake; it’s such a vast country the lists rather long. I feel I should go there. I feel as though I’ll regret it if I don’t. So I’ll keep it on my list. 

6. Those parts of India I haven’t been to yet! 

Hard to be specific but three visits have really just scratched the surface. I want to see where Mum was born in Calcutta, I want to see the Ajanta and Ellora caves, the Temples of Khajuraho, see Mumbai and I’ve always had a fascination about Hampi so I’d love to go there. To the Rann of Kutch, to Gujarat, Varanasi and Gwalior. So much I’ve yet to do. 

7. Japan 

Wildly expensive unfortunately. I think it’s an exceptional country with an incredible history and a very modern outlook. A country of great contrasts, of great beauty and of order. And then there’s the cherry blossom. 

8. The UK

Hang about, you live there!. Well I do but the more I see the less I realise I actually know. I’ve been to Wales, enjoyed the delights of Scotland and travelled fairly widely, with my parents, through England. But I’ve not seen many of our great houses, spent much time in our national parks, walked along our great rivers or actually just sat and taken in many views of the country I live in. And it’s beautiful here. It deserves my attention. 

9. Italy

This is for my partner. It’s her favourite country. She’s been and I haven’t. I should take her there. 

10. Lebanon

We end this list back in the “probably will never get there” category. So closely associated with Syria yet with its own problems where fundamentalist activity is concerned. Both times I booked to visit Syria it was with Lebanon added on. I wanted to see Baalbek, Sidon and Tyre, so much history on such a small country but, alas, I was overtaken by circumstance. 

So that’s it, that’s my list. 

There are other places of course. Other places both old (Egypt, Cambodia) and new (Honduras, Laos) omitted from this list. 

It’s the one thing that keeps me going; the hopes and the dreams that I can get to these places, or some of them. 

I wonder what’s on your list ? 

Autistic reflections : Ripples in the Water

I feel like shit. 


But I do. I’m not down, well I am but not in a depressed way, not classic depression. 

I’m ….. exasperated. Fed up. Tired of nothing working. I don’t mean work because that’s a whole series of novels in its own right but I mean me, physically and mentally. 

Up early again. Sleep is weird, up and down, never restful. Too much on my mind. Too much in my bladder occasionally. And I rarely get up to pee but all of a sudden I need to. 

So, that’s disrupted. Annoying, never waking refreshed. Whatever that is. 

I’m in daily contact with the Samaritans. They’re an outlet. I’m on edge. I’m overwhelmed and underwhelmed by life. I’m close to snapping but still fighting. But with less energy. 

Medication working insofar as the physical fatigue in my leg muscles is about 60% better. But that’s it. I still ache. Spend too long in the same place and the stiffness and pain returns with a vengeance. Brain fog just as bad and there’s still no energy, no clarity. 

Still feel trapped. 

I just don’t get the world. Don’t get my place in it. At 51 I feel the end is much nearer than the beginning. In pure numbers I’m probably right but on days like these I feel death is just around the corner. I’m worn so thin, stretched to the maximum. 

The waters quite turbulent. It’s frothing and churning. Times passing and I don’t seem to be able to fashion an opening through which to escape. 

Vicious circle syndrome. 

Round and round we go. 

I’m part of a community I feel alienated from. I try and be supportive of others and, well, sometimes I don’t feel I get that in return. Should I expect it ?. No idea, but occasionally, more occasionally, it would be nice. 

I guess I don’t add anything. I’m not be of those clever people on the spectrum. I’m not artistic or know the latest research or the right words. I’m just an ordinary Autistic guy and well, that puts me at a disadvantage. You only fit in if you talk the talk or walk the walk. Or you know the right people. The right crowd. I note how supportive they are of each other. 

Perhaps I’m over thinking it. Over analysing. Yeah that’s very Autistic. Trying to work out the meanings, what’s really going on, breaking the surface to what lies beneath. 

I just know how old I feel. How…..detached. How out of time I am. 

I’m 51 going on 91. 

I’m so fed up with everything. I moan too much. Got it. Sorry. Try not to. Seriously I do try, I desperately don’t want to be this way. It annoys me so much. Part of it I can’t help, it’s innate, it’s my Autism giving vent to what upsets it, confuses it, bewilders it and wobbles the equilibrium. 

I’m sitting by the lake. The ripples are rippling faster, they’re agitated, frustrated and they want out, they want to surge over the edge and engulf me. 

I’m trying so hard not to let that happen..

Damn the labels! 

So tonight I feel small again. 

Because, apparently, how I describe myself is wrong. It’s not how people want to be described. It’s not their preference. It causes a divide. It’s bad. 

What about my preference ?

How about the way I want to describe myself ?

Nope. Doesn’t matter. Apparently it’s wrong! 

Calling myself an Aspie is wrong! 

I’m sorry but this is messed up. Fine if it’s not the description you want to use to describe yourself and your identity on the spectrum (another dirty word apparently) but don’t dictate to me what label I can use to describe me. 

There’s too much nit picking, too much reference to current research (which is mostly rubbish) and people getting their facts right. So, if 50.1% decide Aspie should no longer be used does that mean the other 49.9% are wrong ?. Of course not. 

Where’s the harm ?. It’s not divisive to describe yourself as something you identify as being.  Autism is not a simple spectrum. It is not a one size fits all spectrum. If you’ve met one of us then you’ve met one of us. We are individual. We are unique. 

My diagnosis is Aspergers Syndrome. 

I am an Aspie. 

I think it’s a fun term. But if you don’t like it then don’t use it. Nobody is forcing you to. 

But tonight, yet again, I feel an outsider in the “community”. 

They’re right 

I don’t belong with them. With their rules. With their self proclaimed leaders and label police. With their arrogance and smugness. With their references to “research” as a weapon to beat you with, to show you how superior they are to you. 

I’ve tried to involve myself. Tried to communicate. To interact. 


They don’t like how I refer to myself. 

I’m not part of their group. 

So be it. 

The day the work died 

I remember the day so well. 

I remember pushing open the dark brown door with the top half containing frosted glass. I remember how heavy it was, how it creaked when you pushed on it. 

I remember the voices, the busy office, that Monday feeling. 

And I remember how the talking stopped. 

The glances and then the embarrassed looks away. The refusal to meet my eyes. 

The instant sense of discomfort as I walked around to my desk and placed my coat over the back of my chair. I’d just spent two weeks in Burma but nobody was asking how I was, how it went. 

Strange. Strange even for them. 

Voices returned to normal but nobody looked at me. 

I began to sort the paperwork on my desk. Sorting it into piles, checking the weekly stats..

Then I saw it. 

It was buried beneath the pile. 

Two words caught my eye. 

Sexual Harassment

I pulled the document out. Shaking my head, no..whole body shaking as I read it, trying to take it in, trying to take in what I’d allegedly done. 

And then I knew. 

Everyone knew. Something that should have been handled discreetly had been made public. The accusations laid bare on my desk for everyone to read. 

I remember going to see the boss. Not my manager, hiding as usual, but The Boss!. 

I sat down with him as he went through the accusations. Had I told her she didn’t need to lose weight ?. I had, I said. She was fine as she was, at least in my eyes. Had I commented that I liked her new hairstyle ?. Yes I’d said that as well. Worse still, Had I said I’d never seen her legs ? Yes I’d said something though not exactly that. She always wore trousers but I’d actually said I’d never seen her in a skirt, not that I’d never seen her legs. 

He roughly turned over a page. 

Had I sent her a valentines card ?. Actually yes, I’d drawn in it front of her and given it to her as she said she never received any. It wasn’t a secret admirer. 

He picked it up by a corner as though it was infected and then casually tossed it towards me. I recall his mouth and how he sneered when he saw it. 

So she had kept it. There was the terrible proof. 

There were other accusations, that I’d mentioned her boobs (nope), that I’d made a suggestive remark to her (nope) and that I’d drawn a rude picture of her (nope, I had actually drawn cartoon pictures of my team and she was one of them) 

The document was slammed on to the desk. 

I was bewildered, upset, shocked, numb, everything, nothing….all at once. 

The sad truth was that I’d been set up. They’d waited till I’d gone on holiday and then hatched a plot to remove me. And that’s not paranoia. 

Underneath it all they objected to the standards I set, they didn’t like me running a tight ship, they objected to being asked to do a bit more, to work as a team. 

I don’t know if I sexually harassed her. I don’t know how wrong I was. I was just being me, trying to show support, trying to bolster confidence, trying to manage. 

I was a stupid idiot. 

They told me I was unfit to manage, unfit to work in the office, unfit to work in a predominantly female environment. 

Basically I was a pervert. 

A stupid Autistic (though this was before diagnosis), socially inept pervert. 

I remember I ran. I picked up all my stuff and my coat. I turned to my deputy and told her she was in charge. 

Then I ran. 

I ran to my doctors. 

I told her everything, every accusation, everything I’d said and done. 

She signed me off, first one month, then another two, then another three. 

I broke down. 

Oh they tried to get me back, they arranged “meetings”. It would be “okay” and “fine” to return there but in a different role. Away from women. Far away from women. 

I told them to stuff it. I told them it wouldn’t work. Told them I’d been blindsided without an opportunity to defend or rebut. 

I complained. The Boss handled it. He refused t contemplate it apart from a single acknowledgment that the details should not have been widely circulated throughout the office and that once the accusations had been laid no further internal discussion should have taken place between the accuser and any third party save her line manager. 

Six months later I was gone. 

I never went back. I felt totally betrayed, stabbed in the back, unsupported by management and a useless, stupid pervert. 

The day the work died. 

It’s as if it were yesterday. 

I remember it so well. 

I wish I could forget.