Branching Out

The other night I decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone and out of character for me.

It started with an email from the secretary of an organisation that I belong to, with an invitation. The branch in my home town was having a meeting, part of which was a talk on the branch’s longest-serving secretary, who had been in the role for 43 years. This 25-minute talk was fascinating, and it was really nice to see how things were done there, compared to my normal group. I don’t attend the one in my home town, because at the time I joined they met on an evening when I was routinely at work, so I had to go further afield.

The one thing I forgot about was the fact that, as a visitor, you are expected to stand up and say a few words to introduce yourself to the group. This was where, I must admit, I surprised myself. I was a little deer in the headlights to start with if I’m honest, but I didn’t do too badly.

Afterwards, I realised that I had managed to do something that I wouldn’t have normally thought possible. Visiting a strange, unfamiliar place, without anyone else there to support me, and not knowing anyone there either. At the end of the night, I had made a few new friends and, as a result, I’m now looking at other branches to visit and maybe make some more friends. I know – steady on, Bob, you could end up with a social life!

The main thing I’ve learnt is that if I push myself outside of my comfort zone, the results can be surprising. So it may seem scary at the time, but the results may be spectacular, though I know that’s not always the case.

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Home Strait

I can hardly contain my excitement at the moment as I’ve finished all my hard work and contributions to my latest project. It’s now all in the hands of my wonderful and long-suffering wife.

This is my third anthology to date, and possibly my last (but who knows). It’s called Alexithymia and I’m very excited. I can’t wait to share it with the world, but I have decided to wait until 2019 to officially release it.

In the meantime Mrs Bob is now doing all the hard work: editing, proofing, formatting, organising and generally polishing it so that it’s accepted by Amazon Publishing – and fit for human consumption. This is the hardest part with any literary project, as it’s all well and good having ideas but it takes the hard work and professionalism of those behind the scenes to make it shine.

So while things are on the home strait for us now, this is truly where the real graft begins. Stay tuned for further updates, and a huge thank you in advance to Mrs Bob for all her hard work.

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Four Stars

I have finally had my first ever peer review of my second anthology Scribblology.

What can I say other than I’m blown away by this detailed review of my work by Realistic Poetry International. This has also helped me feel better about what I do, what I mean is it’s given me the validation I needed to believe in myself and feel that maybe I am a poet.

I thought I would share the review with you.

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Scribblology by Author Bob Christian Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International

Right off the back, it’s easy to sense Author Bob Christian’s bold personality through his outspoken, candid introduction, briefly providing us with a snapshot of his life’s journey, from his youth to present day, paying much esteem to his family, especially his wife and children. In fact, in the first poem of this book he says,

“…when I’m on top of the world – Thoughts racing at a million miles per hour, like the beautiful day my angels came into this world.” Comparing the apples of his eye to heavenly, divine beings.

And with life and its adversities confronting him on a daily basis, at times, even challenging his mental capacity (Cerebral Overclock, pg. 10), an ethereal aura of love, family, and support is the perfect antidote!

Firstly, we commend Author Bob Christian for sharing his truth and experience in living with autism, a complex neurobehavioral condition that primarily impacts a person’s social life, communication skills, and speech/behavior, covering a broad range of symptoms, skills, and impairment.

Unashamed of his identity and all of what it encompasses, the Author immediately addresses how regardless of his diagnosis and its effects, autism makes him no less than the next man, and we are completely in awe of his nonchalant, positive spirit towards this reality!

In the poem, “Cerebral Overclock,” he writes

“You think just because you have a few pieces of paper from an adult education center you’re smarter than me? Because I’m on the autism spectrum? Disorder? Not a bit.”

Though his words may come off a bit strong to some, his strength, as he explains in his poetry, is nearly a necessity and assists him in conquering challenging goals that he must overcome in his life in order to adapt to unfamiliar situations.

Yet and still, Bob tells us how there are most certainly attitudes AND certain phrases, like when people say to him, “you don’t look autistic (One Little Phrase, pg. 9),” that easily spark the fuse to his anger – and he doesn’t hold back in expressing his frustration with these types of attitudes and outlooks.

Bob Christian suggests in response to this that people, at least, try to think first BEFORE verbally judging someone based on their external circumstances or appearance. His underlying point, we’re sure, resonates with many who have also encountered a similar situation.

Focusing back in on his personal life, Author Bob Christian stands tall for love in the poem, “Invisible Enemy,” and is prepared to protect the queen of his kingdom at all costs! Flowing with a passion as vibrant as rubies, he extols his wife’s very existence and vows to never betray his partner, ever again, openly confessing to past mistakes he’s made that nearly stole their entire beautiful, happy life.

There is no doubt that the sincerity and honesty in his words reflects his experience with adversity, conflict, and tribulation. In many poems, conveying his tempestuous disposition, verbally bashing people, ideas, and practices he believes are truly ineffective, vain, and provoke bad rather than good, especially when it comes to helping and comforting humanity.

A pivotal example of this perspective is visible in the poem, “Cheer Up.” In the format of a list numbered 1-7, Christian explains the details behind his thoughts when someone tells him to, “cheer up,” in response to his “neurological state of depression and anxiety.”

Without apology, he tells his targeted audience that the “great anti-depressant” phrase, “CHEER UP,” doesn’t work when the issue at hand is a part of one’s everyday life; inevitable and unavoidable, no matter how many positive words one may conjure.

While we understand and admire his honesty, we cannot deny the flagrant and fierce approach in how the Author conveys his words and feelings. Poems such as “Estate of Mind” go on to explain how Bob Christian views the world we live in, as a ‘depressing reality’ that ultimately takes a huge toll on all human beings. This poem addresses other important societal issues such as financial problems, poverty, stature, and the cost of living.

We love the poem, “Angels,” a tribute and dedication to his blossoming seeds that delivers an eternal promise no child can ever forget, securing his children’s heart with a dad’s safety, guidance, and wisdom, and signing off on his promise with his life.

And he doesn’t forget to pay homage to those he calls his friend as in the poem, “Goodbye Old Friend,” which ironically, is a poetic dedication to all of the furry companions who have passed on from our earthly world. Its message is compassionately thoughtful and is a great example of the emotion, empathy.

In addition to this, other poems such as “Internal Universe,” and “Fairytale,” also reveal a softer side of the Author compared to other poems in the collection, as he travels down memory lane and reminisces on some of the most sentimental moments he can recall, like when he first met the love of his life, or how he admires and sees the internal universe within her virtuous soul. The love and adoration he has is truly remarkable and shines brightly.

In sum, we believe this collection cries tears of pain, weariness, and sorrow, even though it is clear Bob Christian is a fighter and will not relent. Death, love, mental health, family, friendship, adversity, and the battle of life are amongst the many topics discussed throughout the book, providing a variety of topics to ponder, from personal to social.

We rate this book with 4-stars and believe it is an honest poetic testimonial written from the soul and heart.

Education is the Key

I decided to pop onto Twitter this afternoon while laid up with a viral infection, to catch up on all the latest goings-on, on social media.

I was bombarded with a number of stories regarding Richard Madeley’s appearance on the TV show Good Morning Britain. An autistic guest from the TV show The Undateables, Daniel Wakeford, was there with his mother, to promote his music.

During this interview, Richard asked his mother, “Has Daniel always been autistic?” His mother was somewhat taken aback by this, but answered this question. After watching this, I was quite angry as (it seems) most autistic people were. I took to Twitter to express my anger at such an idiotic question. I saw some great comebacks and quips at first, but then came the wave of Autism mums, demanding that Richard be sacked, demanding their pound of flesh p, amounting to wanting his head on a spike. All this vitriol bubbles up, but I’m sorry ladies, I’m going to respectfully disagree with your views on how this should be handled.

I’m speaking from first-hand life experience of Autism, not through my children or a group on Facebook. In my humble opinion, it’s all very well grabbing your virtual pitchforks and torches and demanding the latest celebrity be publicly flogged, but what does that really solve or achieve? The answer is: nothing. It won’t correct the mistake. It won’t break the laws of physics and take us back in time to stop it from happening. It will just create more anger and bitterness.

The best way to go forward with this kind of event, where a misguided question or comment like this is made without any malice or negativity intended, is to educate the individual concerned. That way, people can learn from their mistakes, and move forward instead being punished. We need to educate and raise awareness of Autism and the impact it has on people’s everyday lives, then more people can learn and move forward with better information about Autism.

If you want to know anything about autism, ask someone who’s on the spectrum.

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