What the Critics are Saying

Alexithymia by Author Bob Christian Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International

Author Bob Christian’s book, “Alexithymia,” the second published work of poetry we have had the opportunity of reading and reviewing, is a collection that represents the Author’s reflective state of mind surrounding a plethora of themes, concerns, and topics such as planet earth and our environment (18 Minutes), humanity and the remarkable power of words (Sticks & Stones), dreams and ambition (Visions; Impossible Dream), and helpful, constructive advice to assist others through life’s inevitable ups and downs (Stop).

A brief yet thorough collection, Author Bob Christian’s genuinely empathetic, bold, and harmonizing aura is nearly impossible to escape while reading the poems in this book, as he demonstrates a sincere and compassionate heart for humanity in addition to admitting the truth of all our differences, focusing greatly on who we are on the inside rather than our mortal external shell.

To amplify this thought, in one poem, “Grand Leveller,” Christian says;

“It’s not rich or poor, black or white. It’s the universal constant that binds us. The sooner we

realise this truth, the sooner we become true human beings.”

Views such as this are enlightening, and in a certain sense, tear down many barriers and walls that naturally cause division, separation, and in some cases, inequality, amongst us occupants of earth such as vices like racism, sexism, and/or other forms and types of discrimination.

A humble mind aged with experience and wisdom, we absolutely appreciate and respect this Author’s courage to be honest and imperfect throughout the poems in this edition, freely capable of admitting personal truth’s such as his blurry recollection of his time and days spent as a student in class saying,

“I had learnt nothing useful like how to file taxes, or fill in application forms, or balance finances, or buy a home (Eyes Down).”

Regardless of whether one personally agrees or not, the Author’s testimony is compelling and speaks for a multitude of individuals who may feel similar about their own experience in the school setting.

With the mention of student loans, college seems to be the Author’s center focus in this particular poem – essentially challenging the popular ideology of school being useful or beneficial to one’s future to the point where he says;

“Looking back at my time spent Sat up straight, with eyes down. The lessons I was taught back then, In all honesty, I’ve forgotten.”

Aware and discerning, Christian also takes time to focus on the importance of friendship in his poem entitled, “Friendship,” reminding us to understand and consider the value of a friend just as much as you do the unseen or ‘unfound’ value in a total stranger, supporting his view with the explanation that:

“a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. There’s more to life than where you are now.”

By this one line, alone, it is easy to see with our own eyes Author Bob Christian’s open and unbiased perspective, slightly atypical from some of the more reserved and traditional points of views of our world where judgement has no limits.

In addition to this, the poem offers advice from a realistic angle, respectfully cautioning us to beware of those who only call themselves a friend yet continuously hinder or attempt to weigh you down, which many can probably relate to in many different circumstances!

We enjoy reflective poems that convey wistful and sentimental accounts of past memories such as “Same Old Story” and “Tempera-Mental,” which use his own personal testimonies and experiences to compare an innocent child’s thoughts to a mature and experienced man (himself), who, since childhood, has come to understand the darkness of life saying,

“The darkness that resides inside

My soul; that long list of times… (Tempera-Mental)”

And, the inevitability of disappointment saying;

“When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be just like you.

Then I saw the truth, and gave up.

With this collection of poems including a steady mixture of emotionally-based poems focusing on self-esteem, confidence, choices, and mentality, plus other poems such as, “Wage Slave” and “Log Off,” which address social and political issues/trends, readers will have a great assortment of poems to transition between while reading, making it a diverse and well-rounded collection!

Bold, honest, and real, Author Bob Christian is one to tell it like it is and this book mirrors his brave heart, perfectly! And though some of his words may come off as a bit rigorous or severe, it is evident through his words and poetry just how much he truly cares about life, family, love, and people.

With this, we are glad to present this book with a 4-star rating and truly believe it is an expressively personal account to inform, inspire, and elevate.

Recharge the Soul

This weekend has been a very relaxing one in the Bob household. It was desperately needed after doing eight (very long) days straight at work. I literally had no plans as I just needed to unwind big time. This is mainly because with my job I have to “people” quite intensely for up to eleven hours a day. This can cause me to become really physically and mentally exhausted at points, due to the amount of effort it takes to work and socialise with customers, while staying focused on the job at hand.

So, I decided after a late night at work on Friday to have a lie in on Saturday morning. Well, that was the plan – it’s just a shame that Dog (our cat) didn’t get the memo and decided to wake us up at 2.15am and again at 5am, to announce that he had proudly brought us a gift. So I got up and did the usual small animal corpse removal, told him he’s a good boy through tired gritted teeth and tried to get back to sleep. I managed to sleep till about half eight, which is better than nothing I guess.

After our morning coffee, I decided I wanted to head up to Newton to trade in some computer games that I’d either completed or got bored with. This gave Mrs Bob and me a chance to do our own things in the town. She’s not a fan of game shops (long story) and I’m not a fan of looking around market food stalls, so we both win. We came home with a small haul, and decided to have a relaxing afternoon with a film. Mrs Bob chose, as I chose last time, with Clerks 2, so we watched Peggy Sue Got Married. It’s not my type of film, but I said I’d give it a go as Mrs Bob loves it, and it wasn’t actually that bad. After that, I caught up on some writing for my new project and played some computer games. The evening was spent watching The Goldbergs (we are on Season 3) and catching up on my podcast-listening while enjoying a nice hot bath.

On Sunday, Dog decided repeat his Fierce Hunter thing, except this time, it was a small piece of cloth he’d obviously “killed” outside and Mrs Bob found it when she got up to see what he was miaowing about. We had a relaxing morning in bed watching a new Ghost Adventures, a favourite show of ours, before getting up and going to our favourite beach, Broadsands, for a walk along the front. Even though the weather was very blowy and cold it didn’t matter as I was with my wife, and when we’re there, the rest of the world could cease to exist and I wouldn’t notice. If your phone was flat you’d find a plug socket to recharge it. When I’m drained I just need the sea or a river and Mrs Bob to totally recharge my soul.

After a great day together and a wonderful Sunday roast, we did what we do every Sunday evening, and video-called my eldest daughter, Mini Bob, and my granddaughter to catch up with her and see what’s new in their lives. Every time we talk to her, I’m reminded of how grown-up she’s become. She’s got her own place and is back at college working hard, all while raising a very cute (in my opinion) little baby on her own. We are so proud of her.

After this weekend, I feel refreshed, recharged and ready to face what the next week has to throw at me. So come on world, bring it ooooooonnnnnnn…………..

Stay Safe X

Rewind and Remix

As it’s world poetry day I decided to share a little something with you. This is from an idea I’ve had to rework some of my poetry. I was going to call the book the Remix Tapes. This is the remix of a piece called Cheer Up.
Cheer Up (2019)
I hear people every day saying 
Stupid shit, making no sense.
That makes me angry. Blood
Starts boiling when you say 
Cheer Up.
Why don’t you do this world 
A massive favour? Please don’t
Reproduce and clog the filter
On the fucking gene pool.
If I had a pound for the times
I’ve heard that ridiculous phrase
I’d be Bruce-Wayne-wealthy.
Could afford a therapist to fix me.
Hey! Why not use the same 
Messed up logic to tell a 
Paraplegic to just get off
His lazy ass and walk it off?
Thing is, you don’t know my
Story – what I’ve been through.
Those words can’t fix everything 
In my life or the lives of others.
If those words don’t work, what’s 
Next? A whispered word to a deity 
To raise me from this neurochemical
State of despair with magic words?
Maybe the answer is to go out – make
Friends. Hold aloft my shot glass.
Become my alter ego – that great
Social superhero Party Man.
The solution to this situation being
A cocktail of medication, instead of
Conversation about our situation…
Ultimately leading to devastation.  

Teenage Soundtrack

This week news broke of the death of Keith Flint – a musician whose group’s innovative mix of hardcore dance and punk angst filled my teenage years. The thing that hit me hardest was not the fact he had passed away, but the the fact he had taken his own life.

As a result of this, I want to talk about anxiety, depression and suicide, as it’s a very important subject. Crucial and still taboo. It’s something we need to take time and courage to talk about. I know that, as a man, I’m supposed to just suck it up, “man up” and whatever other ridiculous phrase people want to use. This attitude is one of the reasons that so many men are tragically feeling that their only option is suicide.

This is a very dark subject and one that we really need to start discussing, rather than brushing it under the carpet and pretending it doesn’t happen. The fact is that suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged between 20-49.  This is all males, not just autistic males, but in newly diagnosed autistic adults, over 60% reporting contemplating taking their own life.

There are many reasons why people get to this stage in their lives. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been to that place. I’m a suicide survivor and, as such, I know what it’s like to get to the point where it seems like death is the only option. This was many years before I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and, long story short, I was about to lose the roof over my head. I’m sure that no one really needs to know the ins and outs, but the fact is that, as a bloke, I felt that I couldn’t talk to my mates about it. I thought that people would think me weak, strange, or that they’d just walk away from me. I did attempt, but thankfully survived. Just.

Below are some of the issues (not all) that can lead to suicide.

Depression
It’s estimated that 20% of people will experience some form of depression at one point or another. Often, people who suffer from depression have difficulty in sharing their thoughts and feelings. This can be even harder for people like me, on the autism spectrum, as we can have difficulty in labelling, understanding and communicating our feelings.

Anxiety disorders
This is a particularly common theme among people on the autism spectrum.  It’s believed that 40% of autistic people suffer or have suffered from at least one form of anxiety disorder or another.

For me, things that a neurotypical person might take for granted can be a problem: answering a phone-call, or going to places like the supermarket and doctors, etc, can fill a person with autism with an almost crippling feeling of anxiety.

Here are some warning signs that a person may be at risk of suicide:

  • Excessive sadness or moodiness: Long-lasting sadness and mood swings can be symptoms of depression, a major risk factor for suicide.
  • Sudden calmness: Suddenly becoming calm after a period of depression or moodiness can be a sign that the person has made a decision to end his or her life.
  • Withdrawal: Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance: A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.
  • Dangerous or self-harming behavior: Potentially dangerous behavior, such as reckless driving, engaging in unsafe sex, and increased use of drugs and/or alcohol might indicate that the person no longer values their life.
  • Recent trauma or life crisis: A major life crisis might trigger a suicide attempt. Crises include the death of a loved one or pet, divorce or break-up of a relationship, diagnosis of a major illness, chronic pain, loss of a job, or serious financial problems.
  • Making preparations: Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide.
  • Threatening suicide: Not everyone who is considering suicide will say so, and not everyone who threatens suicide will follow through with it. However, every threat of suicide should be taken seriously.

 If you are feeling like you’re out of options please talk to someone. If you feel unable to talk to a friend, or your doctor, the Samaritans can help. If you don’t want to talk out loud, they will text you instead.

Samaritans UK

Call: 116 123

E mail: Jo@samaritans.org

 

The End is Nigh

I’m pleased to announce that the third instalment in the Asperger’s Poet collection finally hit the shelves last month, more than six weeks ahead of schedule. This is no mean feat, and this near-miracle has been achieved through lots of hard work, involving late nights, long hours and a little stress. Not for me, but my wonderful partner in mischief, Mrs Bob. For those of you who don’t know, Mrs Bob is a professional proofreader and has the unenviable task of trying to decipher my scribbles and turn them into something that makes sense. She deserves a lot of credit for all her hard work.

“So why the dramatic blog title?” I hear you ask. Well, I didn’t hear you ask, but I guess at least one of you is wondering what it has to do with this post. Allow me to retort, this is my third book of original poetry and I’m not planning on putting out a new poetry book now for the foreseeable future. I am, however, going to remix and improve some of my best-loved scribbles into a “greatest hits” remix at some point in the future.

I am now working on a ‘serious’ factual book on a subject very dear to me. This is a very different direction for me, and it’s going to take up a lot of my time for a while. Rest assured, I will still write the odd scribble, but they will take a back seat while I work on this exciting new project.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being a part of this crazy ride whether behind the scenes, or by showing me love, right down to the banter I have with you guys. Hopefully, some of you will like my new factual book, once it’s complete.

Stay Safe X

The (not so) Mighty

I recently came across an article saying that The Mighty has apparently partnered up with the group controversial group Autism Speaks (AS).

I have been an occasional contributor to The Mighty, and I have also shared a number of articles from them on my various social media platforms, which might have, in turn sent people to their website.

I’m hoping that people who read this article will do some research, and come to their own conclusions. But I also feel that I need to have a discussion of some kind with the founders of The Mighty about my concerns about this partnership.

I’m aware just how much site traffic The Mighty gets from parents looking for answers to day-to-day issues regarding their children with autism. However, as I am someone who is on the autism spectrum (or neurodivergent), and someone who has contributed to their site, I cannot hide my disappointment, or that I find the partnership with AS both disgusting and unsettling.

AS has referred to autistic children as a burden! Their approach has consistently been one of ‘fixing’ the autistic individual, thus helping the patent of a disabled child relieve their ‘burden’. Instead of seeing that autism is not a burden, and helping autistic individuals to grow, learn and develop. AS may not be hell-bent on a ‘curing’ Autism anymore, but they aren’t exactly encouraging parents to nurture their children and celebrate their differences, as parents should.

AS also refuses to do much of anything to help autistic young adults and adults.

I’m hoping that people will take note of this particular partnership between The Mighty and Autism Speaks and spread the word. I have many of my blog posts and poems that I would share but I can longer in good conscience share my work with The Mighty when they partner with an organisation that preaches a eugenics policy. I cannot support that.

I’m sure The Mighty has suffered from, and will continue to suffer from this kind of PR nightmare, and will undoubtedly bounce back. I’m hopeful that if enough contributors and members of the autism community take a stand and raise their voices, that The Mighty might take note of us and end this disastrous partnership and support the autistic community properly.

Stay Safe X

Coming Soon!

The proof copy of my next anthology is finally here. All that remains is to get Mrs Bob to make sure it’s as it should be then it’ll be on sale.

#poetsofinstagram #poetryslam #poetrycommunity #poet #poetrybooks #actuallyautistic #neurodiversity #autismawareness #aspergerssyndrome #aspergerspoet #igers #i #spreadtheword

Face and Family Time

This weekend, Mrs Bob and I have been treated to a rarity. A WHOLE weekend off without having to use holiday time. So, I did the chores first. I went to the barbers on Saturday afternoon to catch up with the only guy I trust to style and sculpt my beard. The fact I’ve followed him from hairdressers is a sign of how good he is. Mrs Bob stayed home doing some cooking, and later we played Lego Harry Potter together and just had a lovely, chilled out night.

On Sunday, we decided to get up earlyish, and pop to the local farmers food market event in town, as it’s usually got some goodies that even both of us, with our various dietary requirements, can eat. This was a nice trip out – not too peoply and busy, and I got to chat about comic books and TV shows with the local bookshop owner.

After we’d had our fill of gluten-free, organic, vegan-friendly food and coffee, etc, we came home to relax with a movie, Split, which Mrs Bob really wanted to see, and some more gaming. Then, after a home cooked meal, we settled down with an evening drink and some more us time … and a lovely surprise! A FaceTime video chat with my eldest daughter. She’s just got her own apartment for her and my granddaughter, and she’s also at college, so it’s not often that we get a chance to catch up with her. It was fantastic to see her new flat, how well she’s doing and how grown-up she’s become. We’re both so proud of her. This was a beautiful way to end a really perfect weekend and made this old man very happy. I even suggested that, as I’m now going to have weekends off like most people, we could do it next Sunday. I’m starting to think about the future and maybe having my granddaughter down to stay for a holiday when she’s older. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old(er) age; maybe I’m starting to see the bigger picture and what holiday visits to my grandparents (on my mums side) meant to me and want the same happy memories for my granddaughter. Whatever the reason, I feel I’m maturing as a human being. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it.

Stay Safe X

Plain Sailing

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since I left my last place of employment. Let’s start at the beginning.

I raised a grievance regarding a colleague, whose behaviour has been negatively affecting the premises, and other staff, for some months. This behaviour had been occasionally witnessed by the owners but various members of staff raising verbal concerns had fallen on deaf ears. This culminated in me having to work on a major calendar date that was my day off, (leaving my wife at home alone), because said person could not work it, due to illness. On the day, said person turned up to party the night away. Nothing was done. So, I raised a formal written complaint, because I was at the end of my tether.

Shortly afterwards, I was called into a discussion about my complaint. During this, I was told that while they agreed with some parts of the complaint and disagreed with others, they had taken my comments on board and said that they had some bad news.

They explained that due to financial constraints they could no longer afford to employ me. They said that maybe I’d find a better fit in an establishment with more rigid guidelines, due to my autism, rather than an establishment like theirs with a more relaxed vibe. (This upset me somewhat, as my autism should have nothing to do with it). They said that should business pick up and they were in a position to re-hire me, they’d be in touch. This made me feel better about the whole situation, alongside the fact that I wasn’t the only staff member to be let go at that time. So I picked myself up and got a much better job with more hours and a decent (salaried) pay increase and thought nothing more about it.

Until one of my old regular guests came in and mentioned that an old member of staff had returned full-time into my role. I thought this was nonsense, until another person told me the same. As I know the person they said was in my old job, I asked them if they had returned and was told, “Yes I have your old job haha”. While this upset me a little, as I had not been told the truth as to why I was let go, I’m in a much better place of employment now. There are lots of great staff who all pull together instead of pulling in separate directions, and it feels very professionally run. I’m given free reign in my role, and I’m told by other staff that I will be backed to the hilt by the owner if there are any issues.

I guess the moral of this story is if you are different, don’t rock the boat as you may fall out.

Stay Safe X

Season Three

After some nineteen months two Christmases, many happy hours behind the bar and in front of the roaring wood fire, even being snowed out of the village during the bad weather we had earlier in 2018, I’ve had to call time on this chapter of my working life.

This was a not a decision of my own making, or of the owners of the establishment, but more of circumstances outside of my control. While I’m sad to be moving on from there, the job helped me to escape from a previous job where I was desperately unhappy and treated poorly. I shall, however, take with me some very fond memories and some great new friendships.

Where am I going from here? Surprisingly I’m going to a venue that I applied to 19 months ago and was unsuccessful. The owner remembers me from my interview and contacted me. He wanted someone with my particular skill set, so I went down to speak to him and after agreeing terms and a start date, I’m all set to move to pastures new.

To all my friends, colleagues & regulars at my last place. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the village. It’s now time to close this chapter in my story and invite you to join me as season three begins and the journey continues. Hopefully, I’ll see some of you in the future. If not, then thanks for some great memories.

Stay Safe X