I’m a middle-aged guy with Asperger’s Syndrome and I’ve started to realise something about my diagnosis. Autism presents in many forms, some of which make life very difficult indeed. It’s irrelevant how impressive my memory is or how ‘high functioning’ I’m considered to be, because my brain doesn’t work in ways that other people take for granted. On the surface, people like me – with Asperger’s – simply don’t ‘look autistic’, which leads others to assume I’m not badly affected and I’m then expect me to be able to fit in.

But my world is black and white, right or wrong.

To the outside world, I might not seem to have any problems when compared to others on the spectrum. I’m able to verbally articulate and communicate with the world, unlike some Autistic people. I have a somewhat socially acceptable NFF (narrow field of focus) in my love of comic books and the related movies and collectibles. So, to all intents and purposes, to the man in the street, I’m just a geeky comic nerd. I have a job that comes with a little responsibility as a front of house manager and I have always managed to sustain employment, unlike many on the spectrum who would kill to have a job of any kind. I’m also happily married to my wife, Mrs Bob. Again, this is something that lots of people on the Autism Spectrum struggle to do. I have a small group of friends, who treat me as a neurotypical person. So, to the outside world, I’m not autistic – I’m just maybe a little different. Eccentric, even.

Yet in reality, I have never felt more alone. I’m not considered ‘autistic looking’ enough for the world to actually give me a break and understand that, despite my appearance, I am really struggling to make sense of lots of things. I often feel very lost and alone in a world that most of you take for granted.

So, what I’m trying to say is: please spare a thought for people like me. Too normal-looking to be accepted by the autistic community, yet too weird to be accepted by the neurotypical world.

Please try to remember that not all disabilities are visible.

Stay Safe X

Back to the Future

I’ve been looking back at the last twelve months of my life and it’s amazing the difference a year makes.

This time last year I was struggling with my mental health. I was a very angry person, trying to get my head around things. I was trying to put a second book together while also working on a very emotionally draining autobiography that covered my younger years. This was probably not the best of ideas, in retrospect, as it covered some very traumatic events in my younger life and the resulting suicidal ideas that dogged me for my 20s.

Going over those memories in detail brought up a lot of bad stuff, and while I tried to focus the anger and hatred into my scribbles, I don’t think I managed my emotional state very well. To top it off, I was putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to get my next book published and Mrs Bob had some physical health problems too. As a result, my physical health suffered, and my mental health declined. It was a recipe for disaster, and the time from November to February was a truly dreadful time for me.

Fast forward to the present, and things have really changed, I’m healthier than ever, and less stressed than I can remember. I’ve learned to relax this time while I put my next book together, and alongside this I’ve achieved so much. I got to perform at the poetry breakfast at the Ways With Words Literary festival, and got some nice feedback. In a week’s time, I’m doing my very first personal appearance where people are paying to see me and two other poets perform.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter where you are in your story, or the world, and however you are feeling, time does make a difference. So even if your life doesn’t seem to be going the way you want it, step back give it some time.

Tomorrow may be just the day you’re looking for.

Stay Safe X

Memento Mori (posted in May)

There are moments in everyone’s life that you will look back on and realise they were some epiphany or another. This weekend, I had a massive one, but before I tell you that, let’s start at the beginning.

For a few days now, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. I have been having sharp, stabbing chest pains near my heart, but being a typical bloke and apparently quite stubborn, I refused to call the doctor and make an appointment. Finally, on Friday, I listened to my wife and decided that I really needed to see my doctor about it, so I made the appointment and thought nothing more about it.

The following day while I was at work, I began to feel very lethargic and my left arm and leg didn’t quite feel right, they felt weaker, and I was feeling slightly out of breath. However, I had a job to do so I said nothing, and decided to push on with the first part of my Saturday split shift. I left work and met Mrs Bob (who picks me up when I’m on a split) I said to her I didn’t feel too well and I tried to relax and not worry.

When I got home I decided to try and cool off by jumping in the shower, while Mrs Bob got my lunch ready. It was during this time that I became worse and started to find my breathing a struggle, so Mrs Bob called 111 for some advice.

They decided that my symptoms indicated that they should send an ambulance out to give me the once over. Unfortunately for me, after the paramedics had wired me up, they said I needed to be taken in to hospital for further tests. This meant a trip to A&E on a Saturday afternoon.

Once there, I had a couple of cannulas placed in my arm and it was bandaged up. I was wired up to machines, having bloods taken and finally an X-ray of my chest was taken before the results came back. It was thankfully not a heart attack or angina, but more likely it was pericarditis, which came as a relief to be honest. That means the sac surrounding my heart had got infected and possibly fluid had accumulated around it, putting my heart under pressure.

I was very happy to be released from the hospital and a very worried Mrs Bob drove me home. I was happy to be home with my family (Mrs Bob & Dog) as it meant I could sit in my recliner, do nothing and relax as instructed by the doctors. T’was while I was relaxing at home that I had this epiphany.

Even though I’m sure I was in no real physical danger, it’s events like this that make you realise a number of things. I am not getting any younger, despite my efforts to the contrary, and life is too short to hold grudges and hatred. The only person that gets hurt by that stuff is me. I want to look forward, not back, and not ruminate on things that have happened before. It’s also made me really appreciate what I have and not take it for granted. I want to live my wonderful life Mrs Bob and Dog, and enjoy every minute with them. I want to forgive and forget anyone who has hurt or wronged me and leave that in the past.

We all think that we are going to last forever, which is again, sadly, not true. Finally, when that final bell does toll, and we are reunited with loved ones that have gone before, I wondered how I will be remembered by those I hold dear. Have I done the best in life I can with the gifts and talents I have been given? How about you?

Stay Safe X

Big Fish, Little Fish (no cardboard box)

As it was my day off yesterday, I decided to go back to my local comic book store and see if there were any decent bargains on hand, after the last trip turned up a fantastic gem of a graphic novel for less than the price of a caramel latte.

I was greeted by the owner who happily chatted with me about comic books TV, etc. Then the subject of the conversation turned to the poetry evening that I’ve been asked to appear at, and that I’ve mentioned in one of my previous blog posts. At this point, the owner said that she had managed to secure two more people to appear at the evening, and showed me their books. They are comic book artists who are using their comic books to promote their poetry, and are on the indie published section of the store. It was at this point that I began to feel a big wave of anxiety, as I began to feel that I might be a little out of my depth, These people have obviously published their poetry in a comic book as crossovers through publishers, and I’m now feeling very much like a very small fish in a big pond regarding this event.

I’m not sure why, but I now feel that maybe I’m not good enough to take on this event. I mean, these people are real professionals and I’m just a person who just happens to throw a few words on the page and hopes that some of it makes sense. I guess, though, that all of us start at some point on a journey as just a novice or a noob, and gradually grow. I’m sure that at some point, Shakespeare and Picasso were told that they needed to work on this… that they had some skill, but they need tuning or honing. Before you think I’m being arrogant, I wouldn’t ever dare compare my scribbles to the skills of those creative geniuses.

I’m just beginning to realise what a mammoth task I’ve decided to undertake. What seemed like a nice little informal poetry night and a chance to share my thoughts and works and to work on my social skills, is now a very scary undertaking that will either make or break me.

Let’s hope I can hang with the big boys and girls. In exactly one month, we shall see.

If you’re interested in coming down and supporting your local Aspie, please feel free to email me for details.

Stay Safe X

New Idea

Over the last few days I’ve been revisiting an idea I had at the start of this year regarding some of my scribbles.

This idea was to take my words and put them to music, this could be a guitar, backbeat or a flute even I’ve no set idea as to what would work with it best, deep down I’d like to try turning them into some type of rap, I’m sure that most of you are thinking hmmmm middle aged white guy rapping did you learn nothing from Robert (Vanilla Ice ) Van Winkle I guess not lol.

So I’d like to offer an open invite to any budding musicians computer whizzes etc that would like to take on this project, I can’t guarantee fame and fortune, I’m just looking for like minded curious types to help take things in another creative direction.

If your interested in looking over the scribbles I’m referencing then hit me up via e mail.

Stay Safe X

Sci-Fi, Archery & Magic

I’ve just had a long-awaited holiday… well a holiday of sorts. I booked a couple of days off work, which then coincided with my usual two days off, thus giving me four straight days away from the pub and all that responsibility.

Time to relax and have some quality time with Mrs Bob and my friends! (Yes, I do have friends). I had plans for my time off. On Saturday, I had been given a pair of press passes for Exeter Film & Comic Con as a result of my running of SDGS (South Devon Geek Squad) with Mrs Bob. This is, as the name suggest, a gathering of Film, TV, Games & Comic books, which takes place every September. As I don’t currently have my car (a long and different story for another day) Mrs Bob drove us up there to see what this year’s event had in store for us.

It was a lot smaller than previous years, and the majority of the stands were selling collectables, second-hand comics and figurines. The guests were not as good as expected. Previous years had some heavy hitters in the TV and Movie world, including two Dr Who actors, Red Dwarf leads & Bobba Fett, comic book legends, etc, but this year it was almost a case of the guy who controlled a robot on an obscure TV show and the stuntman from some movie. There was one thing I did see, and was very impressed with… an exact replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future Two. I’m a fan of the BTTF franchise and particularly loved the second film from the trilogy. Imagine my joy when I found out that you could try to get in it and have your picture taken. This was the highlight of the convention for me. It was a bit of a squash, given my height (6’5″) and long legs, but still.

We didn’t stay long for that reason, and were home before midday.

I spent the rest of the day doing things around the house with Mrs Bob, watching some TV and relaxing. I also wrote a quick scribble after someone upset me online, and I decided to use my skills to express how I felt about them. Later that evening, I paid a visit to a pub in a nearby village that some of my friends visit on a Saturday evening. It was great to catch up with them and hear what’s been going on with them, catch up on some gossip and fill them in on what’s been going on with my life since I last saw them.

Early on Sunday morning, I took the opportunity to visit my old archery club and one of my closest friends while he’s down from university. This was exceptionally special, as I don’t get to catch up with Tom very often in person, plus I haven’t been since I had to stop shooting with the club due to work commitments. It was great to get my bow out and shake off the dus, to see if I can still shoot straight. If you’re wondering, I hit all gold (bullseyes) every time, so I’ve apparently still got it.

I had a great time but it was lovely to get back home and spend a relaxing afternoon with Mrs Bob watching a silly animated film “The Secret Life of Pets” and just chilling out with no particular thing to do. It’s so nice to spend a weekend with my wife, cat and very close friends before the week began. But I still had two days off!

Monday began with an early trip to Newton Abbot to drop off my rental car, then wait for Mrs Bob to pick me up and take me home, but she had other ideas! It’s time for a 175 mile round road-trip to one of her favourite places – Glastonbury – the town not the festival. It’s a very wonderful town full of magical shops selling potions, herbs, candles and spell books, etc. There is one shop that is quite literally straight outta Hogwarts! The only downside is that as you walk in, there is a cacophony of strong incense smells that can be too much for people on the spectrum, like me. Other than that, it’s wonderful and very much worth the visit. We grabbed a bite to eat at place that holds special memories for Mrs Bob; her very favourite eatery is a quirky vegetarian joint called The Blue Note, that sums up the whole vibe of the town.

When we got home, we decided to relax with a classic movie that we both missed first time round, and came with a great geek recommendation from a mate. Avengers Infinity Wars was the perfect end to the perfect day with a very special person. It makes me realise that I don’t get too many weekends with my lovely family and friends, so I must make the most of them, and my downtime.

Stay Safe X

For the Trolls

“911 what’s your emergency?”

“Somebody has just used an

Incorrect term online and I’m

Hurt and offended! Call the PC

Police, lock his ass up for life.”

What? Wait, you’re crying ‘cause I

Accidentally used the wrong

Term? Jesus, son, don’t you

Think there are much bigger

Issues facing us as humans?

Why not pop down your local

Hardware store to “take a fence”

Rather than calling in the entire

101st Chairbourne division. All

You keyboard warriors need a life.

Why not stop for just a minute?

Step back. Take a breath or two.

Look at the context that my words

Were used in. That’s right – it’s

Just a simple misunderstanding.

If, after all that, you’re still offended

Then maybe the internet ain’t the

Place for yo’ ass.  Unlike you, I’m not

Bothered by some random words

Put there by some drama seekers.

It’s all about the context I’m using.

If I wanted to hurt and offend, trust me,

You’d know about it. I don’t do

Subtle. Remember “Battle Cry”?

I’m ready for another round, fuckers.

Hot off the press!

I’m sure you all remember Daisy Burton, the guest poet who I teamed up with in Scribblology. Well, she’s back in a whole new direction with her new novel Sensible. Get your copy here! (On Kindle or paperback)

I’ve dived between the covers of her new project and all I can say is……… wow, this is a fantastic read and one I think you’ll really love. I won’t spoil it too much for you but you certainly wont be disappointed, unless you were hoping for lasers and spaceships – then you might.

Please show my good friend some love, and if you do pick up a copy, please leave her a review. It makes so much difference.

Stay Safe X

Sensible Kindle edition