About pharaoh66

Autistic. Aspergers, Anhedonia, Dysthymia, Alexithymia. Depression, Anxiety. Diabetic. Fibromyalgia. Loves to travel, fascinated by Snakes.

The bizarre world of disability and employment.

Do you want to work?

That is a simple question, isn’t it?

Until you try and answer it.

Saying yes to it can lead to all sorts of issues because the answer can hide all sorts of caveats.

So, do I want to work? The short answer is yes…with those caveats. I’ve worked for 33 years of my adult life so I am not ‘work shy’ and I appreciate the life-enhancing aspects of work. But there is a big but in the way of that.

I’m Autistic. I need a job with routine, where change is discussed ahead of time, and where reasonable adjustments can be made. I also have ADHD so have to factor that in, as well as fibromyalgia which adds a physical aspect to my overall well-being.

So, I couldn’t, as an example, work in a factory, or stock shelves, or spend long hours working on my feet, or do a lot of walking. Just working will wear me out so I need to monitor how much physical activity I have to do in the course of the day.

And I don’t want a job that is endlessly repetitive. As much as routine is good for me, the lack of mental stimulation can be a major drawback and harmful as it leads to boredom and a desire to leave that particular post.

So I need a job that suits my needs and my ability to cope with it. I am not a square peg to be hammered into a round hole just to keep the government’s statistics looking good. And finding the right job, when you’re disabled or differently abled, is bloody hard. I don’t want, having had a breakdown, to have another one. I don’t want to let a prospective employer down, and I don’t want them to feel pressurised into offering me a job.

In an ideal world, I would work in travel. It’s my passion, my interest, but a role I am totally unqualified to do. I don’t have a degree, the customary request of almost all employers for all jobs these days, or so it seems. But I do have experience of travel, I enjoy research, I enjoy planning holidays and I believe it would be a good fit for me.

But my chances of achieving that aim are almost zero. I’m 57, I’m Autistic, so who is going to take a chance on me for the next 10 years?

It’s all very well that the government want the disabled to work, and many of us do, but some of us can’t just work for the sake of working. It just doesn’t work, excuse the pun, like that.

I’ve had a work capability assessment. I’m ruled unfit for work. That assessment concentrated wholly on my fibro without looking at why I had left my previous employment or my breakdown so I don’t even know if that’s been factored in. And that’s one medical assessment.

I was also assessed for PiP and the government has failed to realise that a WCA is not the same as a PiP assessment. PiP and being assessed for work are two very different things, looking at different aspects of life. PiP is to support a person with living costs, it is not assessing whether I can work in a supermarket or become the head of ICI. Saying that one assessment will deal with all aspects of life, unless it is dramatically changed, is nonsense.

Does this mean that only if you get PiP you will be exempt from work? But if you don’t then, no matter your illness or disability, you won’t get any help unless you strive to get a job…which is a job in itself. And what about sanctions? Disabled people are more likely to miss appointments due to changes in their health or access to the facilities required. How is that going to work? Are work coaches, with whom I have some sympathy, going to be given greater freedom in judging which excuse is genuine and which is not?

I have grave concerns about the current plans and must hope, as I am sure many disabled people do, that they never see the light of day. They are designed to fill us with dread because not once has this government demonstrated the slightest empathy with our situation.

So yes, I would like to think I would work again, in some capacity, but I’m not going to die in the process.

All a matter of opinion!

Photo by Sathesh D on Pexels.com

Quite recently I posted an opinion on a thread on another site. A tv series had finished and I had found it dull, and unimaginative and found that the cast lacked chemistry. Of the 300 plus postings, only mine and a few others, were less than whole-heartedly complimentary towards the series.

I was giving my opinion.

But the backlash was incredible.

“Don’t watch it then,” screamed one. “There’s an off button!” yelled another. I got told that I was ‘sad’ and ‘pathetic’ and that why was I watching it if I hated it so much?

I pointed out a number of things in response. I said that I had once really enjoyed the series and had been hopeful of a return to its former glories. I asked how I could give an opinion without watching it? Surely I had to watch it to be able to comment on it?

At no point did I deride others for enjoying it. At no point did I laugh at them and tell them they must be daft or sad or pathetic for enjoying it so much. They enjoyed it and I didn’t…and that was the problem they had.

Aren’t I allowed an opinion? I asked. Not when it’s dumb, I was told. Not when its obvious bait. But that was missing the point of my inquiry.

Life is about opinions. We have them on films, books, politics, religion,- you name it, we have an opinion on it, so being told that just because mine was contrary to theirs was very frustrating. Being told my opinion was wrong was frustrating, especially when it was MY opinion and nobody else’s. The keyboard warriors were out in full force, attacking me and berating me for daring to have an alternative viewpoint.

And that made me sad. I never poked fun at them for liking it. Never said they shouldn’t like it. Never tried to impose MY opinion on them. I felt censored, I felt that I was being told to conform, that no opinion other than an agreed-upon positive spin would be tolerated. And that made me mad.

Life is about opinions. Opinions allow us to have a discourse about any number of matters. Yes, it can be about persuading someone that your view is correct but its also about celebrating difference and appreciating that we aren’t all sheep, just baaa-ing along with the same theme.

I get it that people don’t like contrary viewpoints but either accept them, politely disagree or move on. Don’t bully people and gang up on them. If their opinion doesn’t harm you or any group that is subject to harassment and discrimination, then just get on with your lives, don’t start a fight just because you like A and I don’t.

It’s all a matter of opinion, so why can’t I have mine?

The Great Travel Bucket List!

Not a bucket in sight!

When I win the lottery tonight, which is highly unlikely, I will start work on my bucket list.

I don’t intend to collect buckets because that seems a bit pointless but, although I might be wrong, I’m assuming there are bucket collectors out there somewhere. This is an altogether more interesting bucket list because it’s a travel list…in a bucket!

So, where do I begin?

India. Yes, I’ve been before, yes, I’ve been both North and South, but a visit to my Mothers birthplace of Kolkata seems to be fitting and I still have a great enthusiasm to see both Gujarat and Hampi, as well as visiting the Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Then there’s Egypt. Egypt is my spiritual home in so many ways and a cruise on the Nile is always thrilling.

I’d like to visit Peru, provided the country is quiet and Machu Picchu is open for business. I can’t imagine how galling it must have been for so many when it was closed recently due to public unrest. If that could be combined with Bolivia, that would be splendid.

Laos is on my list. I’ve been to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam but never quite managed to make my way to Luang Prabang and by all accounts, it’s a very nice place.

I’m warming to Indonesia. Years ago I recall a company offering a pretty good tour there, and it came a close second to whatever holiday I chose at that time. I’d really like to see Borobudur and pet a Komodo dragon.

Part of me wants to visit China whilst the other part thinks not. It’s a vast country and I think the Great Wall and Terracotta pots…I mean soldiers, would be pretty spectacular to see. I guess it is on my list, just not that far up it.

Japan is pretty near the top. It’s a dream destination, but not a cheap one so that lottery win is more and more vital if I’m going to make it there. I must stop watching tv programmes that enthuse about it and make me want to go even more.

Then there’s Namibia. I get strange looks when I say that, possibly because nobody knows where it is on a map. I’m very much one for ruins and history but on this occasion I’d swap them for wildlife and vast sand dunes.

Other countries like Syria and Libya appear on the dream list rather than bucket. Safety being an issue in both and having been so for a while, it’s hard to say when either country might be safe enough to travel in.

And that’s about it. No Europe, as you will have noticed, just because whilst I’m sure it’s beautiful, and Italy has some appeal, I feel it’s too close to home and not exotic enough for me.

So yeah, a few countries, a few parts of a few countries and a lot of expense.

Time for my ‘lucky’ dip to be truly lucky, I think!

Flights of Fancy

Head in the clouds

Have you ever flown First or Business Class?

I was toying today, messing about on websites, trying to find cheap…or expensive airfares, and dreaming of sunnier climes and holidays.

I’ve always flown economy class. Fine for 5 hours or 12 if you get the emergency row seats and can stretch out a bit, not so great when you’re cramped in the middle seat because your wife wants the window seat and the person in the aisle seat overlaps yours by a number of inches.

I’m over 6ft tall and I hate that feeling of being closed in, crushed by somebody reclining in the seat in front of me, trying to sort my legs out from around my neck whilst threatening to spill red hot coffee into my lap and give my genitals third degree burns! It is no fun!

So I look at Business and First, and I watch videos of vloggers travelling in style, telling me how wonderful it all is. Then I look at the cost, have a mild heart attack, tell myself that no matter where you sit, the plane gets you there, and spend the money on other things.

But I always come back to it. Is it worth it? Does paying an extra £2000 get you something to the value of £2000? Better food for sure, perhaps a flat bed, better Tv…and the all important amenity kit! And that’s just in Business. In First you might get a suite and, I dunno, a better quality pair of slippers to stick your feet into.

And different airlines offer different services. Better seats, different configurations, newer planes, a better champagne perhaps, or even a better quality comb in your amenity kit!

I want to try it but the cost is prohibitive. I have to remind myself that Business or cramped and crushed class, the plane is going to the same place and we will all make it in one piece…except one will disembark in a happy manner, manicured, well-fed and well rested, whilst I will crawl off the plane, legs throbbing, arms contorted, wondering what the hell I ate and reminding myself never to fly like that again!

Until it’s time to come home!

Let’s talk about work!

Most people know that I’m Autistic, have ADHD and Fibromyalgia. I’ve also had two strokes and in four short weeks I will reach the dizzying heights of 57, still ten years short of getting my state pension.

My last job ended in a mutual agreement that I should leave for the date of my sanity. It caused my meltdown and left me scared and scarred of entering the workplace again.

But that is not to say I don’t want to work. Money is useful and there is something to be said, according to my better half, for some limited human interaction. And certainly for using the brain cells.

I’ve spent 23 years in the civil service. I’ve done administration work for the Parachute Regiment and Royal Green Jackets, I’ve been involved in clerking some very high profile criminal trials such as that of a certain Liverpool goalie, I’ve been trusted to train others and I’ve been head hunted for a specific role in determining costs. I’ve been the guy to make the big court openings go smoothly by reading the letters patent and generally speaking, in roles I’ve enjoyed, I’ve thrived.

Then I’ve spent 9 years sorting out tax problems for vulnerable people. Dealing with HMRC, organising appeals, getting debts cancelled, saving people money and in many cases, their sanity.

And yes, if I enjoy a job then great but the truth is, enjoyment is not love. I have been good at things I really don’t enjoy and the things that really interest me, eg Travel, are beyond me due to the lack of qualifications.

I have spent years training to be a counsellor only then to have my course funding ripped away and given to Afro-Caribbean hairdressing, I kid you not, and now find myself miles from any study centre anyway, even if I could get back into my training.

So, when it comes to work, I’m not qualified or can’t become qualified and people, whilst well meaning, talk about my skills without appreciating that I don’t have any. I’m not an IT whizz, I don’t do courses, I don’t go to meetings, I can’t do Excel, I know nothing about HR or project management or…and the list goes on.

I don’t have the stamina for long shifts or shop work and I can’t stand up for hours on end. And all that means is that every time employment is mentioned, it is assumed I can only do, or should only do, office workers and be a grunt.

And I’ve done that. I don’t want to do that again. I’d love to have a paying self employed career. I’d love to be a photographer or a successful writer, or work from home as a travel agent but one, I don’t have a decent camera, two, my books don’t sell and three, companies want anything between £8-10K to set you up as a home working travel agent. And I’ve not got the sort of money to waste if it all goes wrong.

So I’m not saying no to work. I’m saying no to the wrong work. If I work again then it has to be the right thing and this time it has to be for me. I need to feel valued and fulfilled, not treated like shit and my conditions ignored or brushed aside. I want something, even if it’s 6 hours a week, that makes me smile, that leaves me with the ‘That was good’ feeling. I don’t want to be a pen-pusher in a dead end job. Trust me, that will kill me.

And I’d rather be living.


There’s a lot going on at the moment.

Only there isn’t. It seems to be, but perhaps only in my mind which, it must be said, is struggling.

I feel overwhelmed but don’t know why, or rather I do, but don’t want to say because I’ve said it all before and nothing has changed, so there’s little point rehashing old stuff yet again. It doesn’t change things, not really.

The future looks bleak. Not mega bleak, as though it could all end horribly tomorrow, but that bleak, nothing is gonna change bleakness where you question if you have the stamina for it and can bear merely to exist without any light at the end of the dark tunnel.

I’m so confused about so much. My mind churns constantly with the practicality, or impracticality, of things. What do I do about work? Should I work? Can I work? Can I find the right job for me given my age and medical issues? I don’t want to do too much and feel overwhelmed but, on the other hand, I don’t want to do too little or too much in the wrong job and find boredom has set in or I’m not getting any job satisfaction and resenting it. I’m Autistic and the wrong job could destroy me, plus I’m almost 57, and we know how hard it is for people my age to find work.

My writings failing. No, not to the point where I’m going to give up, but to the extent that I’m not quite there with it. I hoped for a little more interaction but I don’t know my target audience…unless it’s just me…and I can’t buy my own books. I don’t seem to get the reviews I need to give it a boost and I’m pretty certain it’s not reaching the right people despite my best and expensive efforts.

I’m churning away. Churning in my head, churning in my writing, churning in my sleep. Feeling anxious, fed up, exasperated and at a loss to know what to do for the best. Story of my life.

But what else can I do? The world keeps on turning, and I must keep on churning.

Bruised and sullen stormclouds…

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

Life is shit.

I say that not because something terrible has befallen me but because, in general, life is shit.

The news depresses me, grinding me down with its repetitive themes of the rich getting richer, dictators starting dumb wars, police officers murdering civilians, mass shootings because America won’t do anything about its ‘rights’ and a general wealth of bad news stories.

And my own life is shit. I seem to sink further into the mire and can barely keep my head afloat these days. Then I wonder why I am bothering and why I don’t simply take all my pills and have done with it. It’s not as though anyone gives a shit about me. Yes, my partner does but I’m so tired of seeing no light at the end of the tunnel and feeling helpless to get her to help herself, and, by doing that, give me some hope.

Yes, we can dream. There are things we could do but her lack of willingness to help herself is destroying me. I’m not asking for the moon but just that she looks after herself and gives me hope that she will be fit enough and well enough to do some of the things she says she wants to do.

We aren’t getting younger and with each passing year, those dreams diminish further. I hate the feeling of hopelessness and anguish that I have to live with. It makes me feel so fucking useless and that everything is my fault. Stuck in this shit hole? My fault. Not working? My fault. Money worries? My fault. Getting nowhere with my writing? My fault. Always something wrong? My fucking fault.

I feel so trapped in my own mind and all the while the storm clouds are gathering, circling overhead, waiting to unleash the storm on me. I know it’s coming because there’s no escape from it. And when it does come, I don’t know if I will have the energy to see it through the other side.

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This…


I rarely dream about travelling. It’s not something that occupies my sleeping mind and yet, when I’m awake, I day dream about it, and think about it almost constantly.

The moment the sun casts its golden glow over the rooftops, my mind is racing to recapture that magic moment when I was in India or Sri Lanka or somewhere where the sun shines and it’s hot and I can put aside, even for a fortnight, the dullness of home.

It’s holiday brochure time. The time when I feast on images of exotic lands and then hear my wallet complaining at how much everything has gone up. And it has. The cost of living crisis has impacted heavily on fuel costs and now that’s an additional % you need to add into the equation. And, whilst prices go up, you can guarantee that they won’t be coming down.

As I feast my eyes I find myself pondering on the thought processes that these large travel companies go through when deciding how long their tours should be or what sights they should include. I find myself wondering why they didn’t go to A or B or how they expect you to see everything in 11 days.

And why 11? Why not 12 or 14? Why has 7 days become 6 or 8? I recall the ‘good old days’ of 14 day tours (and longer) but now you are expected to pay more for less and I read through itineraries wondering why they feel the need to squeeze that in but not that, or go there but not there.

I suppose that I dream that I could do better. Perhaps I fool myself there, but it would be fun to try. It frustrates me when I see a holiday I’m enthusiastic about, only to find it’s truncated or they don’t go to that one place I had my heart set on visiting, despite it only being ten minutes down the road.

Still, I have brochures. I have brochures and I will peruse them and dream a little. I will dream there’s still a chance to travel again, to put these last few years behind us and see something of the world, before age and health rule it out completely.

Holidays, travel, airports, sunshine. Sweet dreams are made of those.

Invisibly speaking

I’m really not bitter,

About changes to Twitter,

Although I can see,

What has happened to me,

At least I can see me,

Though no one else can,

I’m no longer visible,

‘Twas Elon Musks plan.

My timelines all wobbly,

Tweets gone astray,

People I followed,

Are not there the next day,

They just seem to vanish,

Depart in the night,

Then when morning comes,

They’re nowhere in sight.

I talk to the void now,

My tweets swallowed up whole,

Was that really the idea?

Was that really the goal?

Perhaps I’m not interesting,

Not controversial enough,

To maintain the interest,

Oh boy, it’s got tough!

I’m kinda invisible,

People see right through me,

But just sometimes,

Not how I want it to be.

So if Mr Musk or his cronies see this,

Can we please return,

To that sweet state of bliss,

Where tweets do get noticed!

Where tweets do get seen!

And I promise, this time..

I’ll keep my tweets clean!

New Years Reso…somethings!

Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

Happy New Year!

That’s how it begins, isn’t it? A traditional greeting and resolutions that are will intentioned but usually die a death by the third month?

I am not making a resolution this year. Not specific ones. Of course, I will go along with the standard ‘get fitter, eat more healthy food, lose a bit of weight’ type fare, but I can’t be bothered with specifics.

The world is in such a bad place that it seems almost impossible to plan for anything specific when there is a pandemic that refuses to go away, flu is everywhere, people are depressed and fed up and the future seems a little dark and foreboding rather than bright and sunny. And this weather hasn’t helped.

I think, bar one day, we’ve had nine days of rain, at times torrential, accompanied by gusty winds. I know it’s winter but it’s darned depressing having to keep the lights on all day because it is so dark whilst worrying about the energy cost at the same time.

The country is in a mess. Strikes everywhere, cost of living crisis, unnecessary deaths due to hospitals overflowing, families not seeing one another because the trains aren’t running and politicians conspicuous by their absence. No wonder people are so fed up with everything when nothing is working and the poor are getting poorer whilst the rich, inevitably, get much richer. I don’t mind rich people being rich but when they take advantage of so much corruption and cronyism to make themselves so much better off, it does stick in the craw somewhat.

So here is to 2023. Here is to another year that, like 2022, I hope will be better than the year before. I hope it is good for you and your families and friends and that, at the end of it, you can look back on it with a fondness and thnk ‘Yeah, something good DID happen’.

So, to you all, Happy New Year!