I am autistic myself, and also branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. This entry is a very appropriate starting point because it was my diagnosis and the role I then had running a support group for Asperger East Anglia that led me to create this blog.
B IS FOR BOOKS
I have always loved books, and am a very voracious reader. In addition to my own collection I am a regular user of several of Norfolk’s libraries, and yes I do use them to borrow books.
C IS FOR CRICKET
I have been an enthusiastic follower of cricket for over 3o years (my attempts at playing the game foundered on a chronic lack of talent). The fact that my employers had an auction yesterday and have another on Saturday means that I am off work today, and therefore able to listen both installments of the Women’s T20 double header. Here is the feature image from Saturday’s upcoming auction:
D IS FOR DETECTIVE STORIES
This is an extension of my love of books as a whole. I regularly borrow large quantities of detective ficition from thbe libraries. Among my very favourites are Edward Marston’s Railway Detective stories.
E IS FOR EAST RUDHAM
The village in West Norfolk where I began to rebuild my life after mental health issues had nearly destroyed me. I lived there for just over five years and was a regular visitor until my parents recently moved to Cornwall.
F IS FOR FERRY
I have travelled on many ferries in my lifetime, but the one I particularly think of nowadays is the Lynn Ferry which has been running for over 800 years.
G IS FOR GREECE
I first visited Greece for a family holiday about 35 years ago and have been back mnay times. It remains a favourite holiday location. I have produced a number of posts about my most recent visit.
H IS FOR HISTORY
One of the many subjects I enjoy reading about. One of the reasons I enjoy going to Greece so much is the presence of so many historic sites.
I IS FOR IRRELIGIOUS
I have been a staunch atheist for my entire adult life. For those who take the approach that the Northern Ireland census form used to I am a “catholic atheist” – that being the specific religion that I rejected. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins most people are as atheist as me about almost every god who has ever been believed in – I just go one god further than they do.
J IS FOR JOURNEYS
I love travelling, and being a lifelong non-driver am able to make good use of almost all my journeys – if the route is not familiar to me I will be observing the scenery and taking photographs, and if it is it represents reading time.
K IS FOR KERNOW
Kernow is the Cornish name for Cornwall (this is the only entry in my A-Z that overlaps with The Cornish Maid’s), and although unlike the person who inspired this post I do not live there I have been there a number of times over the years and my parents have recently moved to that part of the world. It is a Cornish picture that appears on the reverse of my personal cards:
L IS FOR LONDON
I grew up in London, and still visit the place on occasion. Also, I run a London Transport themed website, www.londontu.be. I will be back in London during the latter part of next week, for Marxism 2018 which runs from Thursday to Sunday.
M IS FOR MATHEMATICS
Another lifelong interest, and something that I am very good at. Here is a frecnet problem from brilliant.orgthat took my fancy:
N IS FOR NATURE
Nature has always been very important to me, and I love being out and about in nature with my camera for company. My name is often to be found among those supporting campaigns to protect nature, and as a thoroughgoing internationalist I take pride in having been the first non-Swede to sign the online petition to save Trosa nature.
O IS FOR OVAL
Because of their shape many cricket grounds have Oval in their name. The two with which I am most familiar are The Oval, in South London not very far from where I grew up, and served by two stations, Oval and Vauxhall; and the Adelaide Oval, which owes its name to a transplanted Surreyite who suggested it because he wanted to be reminded of home. Of the innings I have seen live at the ground the most memorable at either of these two venues was played by David Gower in 1990. England could do no better than draw the game, which as it happened was enough to give them the series. Gower made 157 in that innings, and by the time he was out the draw had long since been secured.
P IS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
This is a hobby of mine, and also something I do at work. Here are some recent pictures:
Q IS FOR QUIZ
With my eclectic interests and retentive memory I am pretty good at quizzes (unless they are overloaded with questions about pop music), and generally enjoy taking part.
R IS FOR RAILWAYS
Railways are one of my special interests. I have travelled on railways in many different countries and have also built up a decent collection of railwayana. I may add to my collection on Saturday.
S IS FOR SCOTLAND AND SWEDEN
These are two of my favourite countries to visit, both very scenic. I could find no way to split them so I have decided to honour both places.I have produced a number of posts about both Sweden and Scotland. Here are a couple of pics: A view from Strome Castle, Scotland
This river is in Northern Sweden.
T IS FOR T20
Yes – another cricket related entry. T20 (where each side bats for 20 overs) has been a great success since its introductiuon in 2003. However the new 100-balls per side competition is being too clever by half (and consigning the County Championship to the start and end of the season when conditions are least suitable for long form cricket).
U IS FOR UNIVERSE
I find it fascination reading theories about our universe, its possible origins and its possible place in a wider cosmos. I also find the history of how we moved from considering our planet to be at the centre of a fixed universe to recognising it as pale blue dot (hat tip to Carl Sagan who wrote a book of that title) in the immensity of the cosmos to be fascinating.
V IS FOR VARIETY
One of the things I enjoy about my current job is that there is plenty of variety there. I am firmly in the camp of those who say that variety is the spice of life.
WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE
Jerry Coyne’s 2009 book with that title remains a firm favourite (along with his more recent Faith versus Fact), and it is also the title of a blogrun by Professor Coyne that I follow.
X IS FOR EXHORT
As I near the end of this post I exhort you to produce your own version – it is time consuming but fun. You have seen my version, and if you followed the opening link you have seen the version that inspired me to take on this challenge – now go and do likewise!
Y IS FOR YARBOROUGH
This is a bit of a cheat – it is my way of mentioning the game of Bridge which is a firm favourite of mine. A yarborough is a hand with no card higher than a nine and 4-3-3-3 distribution, and is named in honour of Lord Yarborough who had all bridge players at his house contribute a guinea to a kitty, while if someone had the misfortune to be dealt the hand that now bears his name they got 1,000 guineas (he was on to a winner – the actual odds against the hand coming up are 1827 to 1). I do not get to play very often but I am a pretty good player of the game.
Z IS FOR ZOOM
A zoom lens can be a real boon for a photographer (my current camera has a zoom capacity of up to 60X) – a little tip from experience is to not stretch the zoom lens right to its limits – leave a bit of space around whatever you are photographing (you can always crop it out during the editing process). This post was inspired by a Cornish blogger, so I end with a Cornish picture.
The second post in my personal series about #autisticspecialinterests.
Welcome to my second ‘special interests’ post for the month of May. The first, which set the scene can be seen here. The first post dealt exclusively with London, where I grew up. This post looks wider, although it still deals with events from before I was diagnosed. NB – undiagnosed means just that, not diagnosed – it DOES NOT mean “not autistic”.
This overlaps with the first post, because I visited St Petersburg in 1991. The two week visit I made to that city in 1991 was significant in many ways – it was there that I learned to eat a more varied diet, because I was just mature enough to appreciate that it was a choice between eating what was served or not eating at all and make the best of things. Also, because the family I was staying with were living very close to one of its stations I gained a considerable acquaintanceship withe the St Petersburg Metro, and also experienced the trolleybuses and trams that were a feature of daily life there.
Other than being horrendously overcrowded the St Petersburg Metro was a significant improvement on the London equivalent – a far more frequent service, and no delays. Also the underground portions were much deeper than in London, with often two colossally long escalators (far longer than any London equivalent) between the platform and the surface. This was my first major experience of public transport anywhere other than London.
GOING SOLO 1: SCOTLAND 1993
My first solo holiday took place in the summer of 1993, when I travelled to Scotland for two weeks. I travelled all around Scotland in those two weeks. As well as some seriously scenic journeys on mainline railways (I experienced both the lines the head towards Skye among others) I also made the acquaintance of the Glasgow undeground system (a single, circular route).
This holiday was a splendid experience overall, but a mere curtain raiser for…
A SCANDINAVIAN HOLIDAY
This happened in the following summer., Equipped with a rucksack and a two week rail pass for Norway, Sweden and Finland I started by taking a plane to Gothenburg. From there I travelled north, pausing in Stockholm. From Sundsvall I temporarily abandoned trains to take a boat across to Vaasa in Finland. From Vaasa I headed for Helsinki, and then the longest single journey of the trip, to Narvik, the most northerly railway station in the world. I continued my northerly exploration by bus as far as Tromso, before switching to boat for a journey along the coast to Hammerfest, the northenmost town in Norway. I varied my route back by taking a bus from Hammerfest to Alta (a mistake, this place is the Nordic equivalent of Brandon, only with even less appeal). Back in Narvik I selected a bus to Bodo, Norway’s other northern rail outpost. This decision cost me a night spent on the sgtatiopon platform at Bodo before I could head south to Oslo. From Oslo I headed east to Stockholm, and my last journey of the holiday (other than the flight home) was from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Not having previously explored any foreign public transort systems in this kind of detail I was highly impressed. Although there are many ways in which Nordic public transport is a vast improvement on British I note a few things in particular:
Comprehensiveness – although the terrain in these countries is much more difficult than anything in Britain pretty much anywhere of any size has some sort of public transport connection.
Integration – there is not much duplication between bus and train routes. The buses tend to cover the routes that the trains do not. The only small flaw I noted in that first visit to these countries was that en route from Helsinki to Narvik we had to disembark at Haparanda on the Finnish side of the Finland/ Sweden border to transfer to Boden on the Swedish side for the last leg of the journey to Narvik, and even that was handled efficiently.
Reliability – never once in these two weeks, nor in my more recent trip to Sweden, did I encounter a service not running precisely when it was supposed to, and there has never been a two week period in my lifetime when one could be in Britain, travelling by public transoort most days, and get that kind of service.
FUTURE POSTS AND PICTURES
My next post in this series will look at public transport in various cities that I have experience of. Here to end are some public transport themed pictures…
The first in a series of posts about #Autisticspecialinterests that will be appearing here during May.
Here as promised is the first of a series of posts I shall be doing about my special interests. I am starting with public transport, and in this post I shall be referring to events that took place long before I was diagnosed as autistic.
GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL AND THE BIRTH OF A SPECIAL INTEREST
I was a patient in a child psychiatric unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital for over a year in the early 1980s. The trigger for the illness that put me there appears to have been a bout of chickenpox. For the first half of my time there I was an in-patient, at the hospital 24/7, and then when they deemed it safe for me to sent home at nights I was a day patient. Although I cannot remember a time when trains did not interest me, it was during this period that I would say that my special interest in public transport was formed.
My family moved to London in 1979, when I was four, and I have a London Underground map from that time:
Now, here is an edited version, highlighting the two key stations:
Tooting Bec was our local station, just about a mile from our house, while Russell Squareis the station for Great Ormond Street Hospital. My father would take me there in the mornings and pick me up in the afternoons, using London Underground. We took some very bizarre routes, as my fascination grew, which sometimes led to my father getting awkward questions from ticket inspectors (yes folks, in those days London Underground had on-train ticket inspectors).
TEENAGE YEARS – GOING SOLO
In later years I was able to explore on my own, and when I was in my early teens the child rate for a one-day travelcard was only 90p, so I would often go out on a Saturday and explore London transport in detail (I used various local railway lines as well as the Underground, though in those days I did not make much use of buses). It was also in this period that I discovered the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
A big moment for me was the opening of The Docklands Light Railway (I travelled on it on its first day of operation way back in 1987, and it was a huge buzz to be there at the start of a new development in public transport). In particular I first developed the method of visiting Greenwich described in this post on www.londontu.be as a teenager, and since the DLR was then pretty much brand spanking new I claim to be the pioneer of that method.
Like most who have been regular users of it I came to despise the Northern Line, and later in my teenage years it was a thing with me to make my excursions without using the Northern line (this meant starting and finishing at one of various railway stations which were walkable from home – Tooting, Streatham Common, Streatham, or Streatham Hill). A frequent finish to my excursions was to take the Hammersmith & City line to Hammersmith, get an eastbound District line train to Earl’s Court and then cross the platform to get a Wimbledon train, finally changing to railway train to Tooting.
At the same time as I was exploring public transport in London to the full I was also learning more about its history and development.
Very late in my teens I became a regular commuter, because after finishing at my local comprehensive I decided to resit my Chemistry ‘A’ Level and do the first year of Maths and Physics ‘A’ Levels at Richmond Upon Thames College of Further Education, whose local station was Twickenham, two stops west of Richmond. I had two regular routes there, either travelling in my mother’s car as far as Baron’s Court (the nearest station to the school she was teaching at in that period), District to Richmond, train to Twickenham, or from home, walk to Balham (about a half-hour walk, perfectly manageable for an 18 year old), get a train to Clapham Junction and change for another train to Twickenham. The fastest trains over the Clapham Junction – Twickenham section were those going to Reading, which did it non-stop. Those trains were also the only ones that still had manually opened and closed doors (two choices folks, either slam the thing, making a monstrous crash, which most people did, or learn, as I did, how the catches worked so that one could shut the door quietly).
When I revisit this series, probably at the weekend, the story will move away from London, as I did, and will indeed go international. To finish for today, here are some old pictures of Tooting Bec Station, taken from the book Bright Underground Spaces:
Setting out my stall for May, including a forthcoming series of posts about my #Autisticspecialinterests
April is behind us, so I am going use this post to set out my stall for May. As a lead up, here is a screenshot of a tweet by Autism Mom:
A NEW SERIES SPECIFICALLY FOR MAY
Eve Reiland of internationalbadassactivistssuggested a theme for #actuallyautistic people for May:#AutisticSpecialInterest – a theme I am more than happy to run with, so, starting tomorrow I will be producing posts dealing with my special interests through the month.
THE EFFECT THAT THE NEW BUSES HAVE ON MY WORK
Those who have read my blog recently will be aware that today was my first day travelling to work on the Lynxnumber 49, which has replaced the Stagecoach X29 route. It runs considerably less frequently, but the buses are comfortable, the staff are friendly, and at the moment it has a score of 1/1 for punctuality, which after Stagecoach feels near miraculous.
AN UPCOMING HOLIDAY
I will be off for a week in Greece, leaving King’s Lynn on Friday May 11th, late in the evening so as to get to Gatwick for the flight to Kalamata, which takes off at 5:40AM. Therefore I will accept that sleep ain’t happening that night, and spend a few hours waiting at the airport. I will arrive back in the early afternoon of Saturday May 19th. I will endeavour to keep up to date with everyone during that period, but there will almost certainly be days on which I do not manage to access the internet.
IMAGING FOR MAY’S AUCTIONS
In May we are having a one-day cigarette card auction, followed by two days of military badges (and these will be on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after I return from holiday). Here to finish things off are some images…
A brief account of my session at Musical Keys yesterday.
Yesterday was a Musical Keys session, and Oliver who runs Musical Keys put in an appearance. Also, some of our stuff was recorded – we will hear it in a fortnight’s time.
THE JOURNEY TO THE SCOUT HUT
Immediatedly after a light lunch of salami and salad I set off on my journey (I was starting early because I needed to check in on my aunt’s house en route and also intended to take advantage of heading towards that part of the world to visit Gaywood Library). After the few minutes it took to make sure all was OK at my aunt’s house I headed for the parkland and thence the footpath between the two academies, before a diversion to Gaywood Library and a walk along the bank of the Gaywood River to finish. Here are some pictures covering the period between leaving my flat and exiting the parkland at Tennyson Road:
The cricket season is underway in most parts of the country, but Yorkshire and Essex have had no play on any of the first three days of their match due to a sodden outfield. Norfolk has not been battered as much as the north, but this picture from The Walks shows the problem – saturated soil means that there is nowhere for water to go.
The second part of the walk to the Scout Hut provided a few photos as well:
Once it was time for the session to begin I did not take long to decide what I was going to do…
After I had been recorded I spent what was left of the session creating musical words (e.g playing the notes F, A, C and E for face or, C, A, F and E for cafe). For the bit was a recording I used a double pattern – each four note chord I used comprised two pairs of notes separated by two, and with an octave between each pair.
The entirety of my homeward journey took place not only in daylight but under a bright sun (yes, we sometimes forget about it, especially during long winters like the one we are just emerging from, but even here in Blighty we do get to see the sun). I only added one solitary picture to my collection during this journey – a pair of drakes swimming in formation in the Gaywood River…
An introduction to Autism Acceptance Month/ Autism Appreciation Month and a few photographs.
Officially April is designated Autism Awareness Month. In this post I will give my view as to why this designation should be rejected and what the alternative, as articulated by autistic people should be.
Firstly the notion of ‘Autism Awareness’ is tainted by the mere fact of who the main organisation pushing it are, who I will not name here. Suffice to say that their many misdeeds include being responsible for the video nasty “I Am Autism”, and that they are associated with the colour blue and with the puzzle piece symbol. I am glad that I am separated from them by the width of an ocean!
Secondly, even if the first point above did not apply, ‘awareness’ is simply not sufficient as a bannerline aim. Awareness does not equate to understanding, and that latter is the barest minimum that is required…
UNDERSTANDING, ACCEPTANCE, APPRECIATION, RESPECT
Understanding of autism is merely a good starting point (and there are ton of places where you can find autistic people writing about autism, some which I shall list later). It needs to lead to acceptance of us for who we are, appreciation of our good points and respect for us as human beings.
PLACES TO LEARN ABOUT AUTISM
This list is not (never in the proverbial million years) exhaustive, but it gives you some good pointers.
#REDINSTEAD, #LIGHTITUPGOLD & THE RAINBOW INFINITY SYMBOL
The organization I refuse to name tells people to #lightitupblue, for which reason that colour is off-limits (except when it appears in photos) to this site at least for the month of April. The first two elements of the title of this section refer to alternatives. This blog is following #RedInstead simply because gold letters don’t really stand out against a white background. The Rainbow Infinity Symbol, a customized version of which heads this blog, while another appears on my personal cards, is an excellent alternative to the discredited puzzle piece for the role of autism symbol. Here courtesy of stimtheline is the Autistic Bill of Rights:
A cricketing post, in which I set out my stall for World Autism Awareness Week and then the month of April.
While this post is a cricket post, it is also my first post in World Autism Awareness Week. Thus to set the stage for this week and for the whole of April you will notice a couple of changes:
All of my own text will in #RedInstead
Save in photographs where it is unavoidable the colour blue will not appear in this blog before the start of May
The main theme of this post is what happened in Auckland, but before that…
A QUICK UPDATE ON THE
AUSTRALIAN CHEATING SAGA
For full details please visit my previous post. The official ICC ‘punishments’ – a one-match ban and a meaningless fine for skipper Steve Smith and just the meaningless fine for Bancroft are a complete joke. However, it seems that Cricket Australia will be taking tough action against Smith and vice-captain Warner(this latter has to rank as one of the stupidest appointments in cricket history given his reputation) and less tough action against Bancroft. The latter annoys me on the following counts:
Yes, Bancroft was a junior player acting under the influence of his seniors, but “I was only obeying orders” has certainly been utterly debunked as a defence since at least 1945.
Bancroft is both older and more experienced than was Mohammad Amir at the time of his fall from grace and yet the latter (quite correctly) spent five years banned from the game (the other two offenders in that case, Mohammad Asifand skipper Salman Buttwere both drummed out of the game permanently, again correctly.
Incidentally, the match in which this scandal broke finished yesterday, a day early, as Australia collapsed in their second innings, losing all 10 of their wickets for the addition of 50 runs (57-0 to 107 all out, thereby outdoing England’s collapse of a few days ago).
CRICKETING JUSTICE IN THE END
England made a decent fist of things on the final day in Auckland, taking the match into its final session, but in the end cricketing justice prevailed, with New Zealand winning by an innings and 49 runs. The truth is that this match was a three-cornered affair, with New Zealand coming out just ahead of the weather and England way back in a distant and dismal third.
There were two things that stood out about the England second innings:
Nearly every batsman got going, but none managed to produce a really major innings, Ben Stokes‘ 66 being the top score.
The ends of sessions were calamitous for England, with Root falling just before the close of day 4, Moeen Ali on the stroke of tea on day 5 and Stokes on the stroke of the dinner break on day 5.
New Zealand bowled very well again, although there is no way that Neil Wagner’smedium paced bouncers should have caused the havoc they did. Leg spinner Todd Astlecollected 3-39. Trent Boult was deservedly named Man of the Match for his nine wickets in the course of the game – it was his magnificent bowling on day 1 assisted by English ineptitude that gave New Zealand an ascendancy that only the weather seriously threatened to take away from them.
England need to learn from this – the only publishable word to describe their ‘preparation’ for the test match section of this tour would be”shambolic”, and their batting in the first innings reflected this.
A win in Christchurch would give them a 1-1 draw in the series, though I reckon that another defeat and resultant 0-2 reverse might just administer the kick up the collective backside that they need. Further information about this match and the players involved can be found here.
I end this section by emphasizing once more where the credit belongs: my heartiest congratulations to New Zealand on a splendid performance.