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 Aspergerspoet@gmail.com for details.

Stay Safe X

Public Appearance

After my appearance at the “Ways With Words” literary festival, I’ve now got a date for another public event.

It is a poetry slam night on 4th October, at Gnash Comics in Ashburton, South Devon

Gnash Poetry Slam Link

If you’re free and in the area, you’re invited to come down and support me, and the other local poets that are performing.

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

Offensive? Moi?

I made a huge mistake a while back, which didn’t come to light for some time. In my defence, I didn’t realise it was a mistake at the time or I probably wouldn’t have done it. Ok, I might have done, but I probably would have checked with Mrs Bob first. She says she would have suggested I didn’t post it.

“What was this gargantuan mistake”, I hear you all ask? Well, I had decided to post a joke on a local NHS autism group’s social media site. Other jokes are posted on there, and this one was not rude, racist or sexist at all, just maybe a little ill -advised; in fact, here it is below – you can decide.

JOKE WARNING!

I Am Deleting The Following People in This group As They Do Not Contribute or post.

[inserted a long list of fictional names here… none of whom were people in the group]

If you went through this entire list looking for your name, I do apologize for completely wasting your time. I’m not even an admin and have no clue who these people are. I stole this from another page and thought it was funny.”

I had seen this on another group, and thought it was just a harmless bit of fun, so I posted it. Boy, was I wrong. It turns out that one person on the group, who is a new member, became extremely offended by this joke and left fifteen increasingly angry comments on my post. Then, he actually called the group’s administrator on the phone to complain and demand that I was removed from the group. I then found I couldn’t access the group. A bit harsh, I felt, but it’s their group after all.

I eventually established that I had not been booted from the group by the admin, but they did not understand why I was no longer a member, as I had not left. I received a kind email from the group admin, who made it clear that they realised it was a harmless joke, and I’m told that the offended person was spoken to and he issued a public apology to me on the group.

I know, as someone on the Autism Spectrum, that we may not get certain jokes from time-to-time, but was that an acceptable reaction to a genuine error of judgement, even if it did cause offence? I’m going to have to say no. If I had been approached and they had said they found it offensive, I would have removed it. I’m not into upsetting other people, even if I don’t understand what I said that offended them. I see things all the time online that I find highly offensive and it’s clear it was posted provocatively, but I am like many adults, and don’t give the person who posted it the satisfaction of showing any form of reaction. I just scroll on. It seems to me that nowadays people are either very sensitive to the slightest upset online, or that certain people go out of their way to find something to complain about, saying it’s offensive and that it upset them.

Honestly, there are bigger things to be offended by than a silly misplaced joke. I could run a huge list of REAL problems that we could and should be offended by, but it’s common sense to most people.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be upset or offended by things on social media or the internet in general. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t sweat the small stuff, yeah? There are bigger things to get angry over. Maybe one little joke isn’t it.

Stay Safe X

A Game of Two Halves

Note: this post was written some time ago.

Well this weekend has certainly been a very strange one, in some ways. As the week drew to a close, we’ve seen some great weather – well, truth be told it’s almost a heatwave, and a bank holiday weekend to boot, so I knew that work would be heaving all weekend.

Friday night we started food service early due to a concert at the local church. This meant that we were full for the first part of the shift – no free tables, no exceptions. We were also short-staffed, so we were going to be really tested and, boy, were we. It was a crazy night but thanks to a great team, including the owner and son, with me manning the bar, teamwork made the dreamwork and we really excelled ourselves.

Saturday was a somewhat quieter affair, but still ticking over nicely all day and then in the evening too… ethere are always those customers who try to push reasonable boundaries in time and expectation, but we are here to serve and that’s what we did.

Sunday was a definite game of two halves. Lunch service was exceptionally quiet… in fact it’s the quietest I’ve seen it since I started there. I guess it’s down to the hot weather and some car race or other in Monaco, but it was the calm before the storm. That night we were fully booked all night for our live music and pizza evening, ending the week with one hell of a bang. Having no tables or pizza bases left didn’t deter some customers from asking the owner, after I had explained the situation… as if he could magic some up, but he told them exactly the same.

This always annoys me but thankfully the owner sticks up for me like that. The night went without a hitch and time flew by, as we were pushed to our limits until, finally,an hour before closing it started to calm down and we could breathe again, and I could start restocking the bar and getting ready for a long weekend off work.

As I got in my car and watched the village fade away in my rear view mirror, I was looking forward to a well deserved rest with my Mrs Bob, as we have some great stuff planned…and some sun bathing? Nah, scrap the sunbathing, it’s too hot, and I’m not a big outdoorsy type.

Stay Safe X

Resting Bitch Farce

I recently experienced first hand the effect of something that Mrs Bob has told me about time and time again, regarding facial my expressions, or lack thereof.

The night started off at work as any normal evening would. It was fairly busy, and with a great vibe going on in the restaurant, which carried on throughout the evening, I was even doing the whole walking around talking to the guests and practising my smalltalk.

It was a busy night, and when one of the waiting staff went home, they gave me information about remaining diners. When the kitchen staff checked to see if they were needed further, I checked on what I’d been told was the only table who were considering dessert. They declined, so I informed the kitchen staff that they were finished for the evening.

A couple of minutes later, another table asked about dessert. I asked if they could give me a minute, and went to let the kitchen know not to leave, but this is where it all went wrong. As I returned to the table wanting dessert, one of the diners seemed very annoyed and snapped that I should forget it if I was going to be rude.

I was rather confused and said that I wasn’t being rude at all, but they were convinced that I was. I was unsure what I’d done, so I asked, and was told, “your facial expression.” This was something I hadn’t expected, so I was rather taken aback but when I tried to explain that I don’t really have facial expressions, they just laughed.

The owner went over to apologise to the table and I prepared the front of house for closing, as it was that time. However, when I went to leave as usual, the owner and customers were still there. I was brought into the conversation by the owner, which made my anxiety sky-rocket. It had been explained to the customer that I “see things differently”, and I apologised and assured them again that I genuinely hadn’t meant to seem rude. I explained that I’m autistic and that, as a result, my facial expressions don’t always match my emotional state. That means that I can look angry when I’m really not, and I can’t tell that my expression is giving that impression.

This is often culturally referred to as “resting bitch face”. One psychological term is “Flat Affect”, which describes a lack of emotional facial reactivity or incorrect facial reactivity; basically I get asked regularly why I’m in a bad or sad mood based on my facial expressions. I could be really calm, relaxed and minding my own business; I could be socially anxious, but no matter what my mood, I still get asked what’s wrong.

The fact is that, as an autistic adult, I have difficulty in processing emotions physically and emotionally. Therefore, I’m genuinely not aware of my facial expression and, as with many of us on the spectrum, what is showing on my face is, most of the time, certainly not how I feel inside. I realise that this can be misleading for other people, but I can’t change and suddenly know how to control my expression.

So please, just because we might look angry, try to remember that it’s possibly not how we feel inside. On top of that, there is the anxiety and stress from trying to process the situation we are in, so although we might not be smiling on the outside, inside we might be doing our happy dance. Below is an example of Resting Bitch Face taken when i was not angry at all.

Stay Safe X