My review of Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind. I urge you to all to buy copies of this fabulous little book.
You may remember that a couple of posts ago on here I mentioned a new book about Autism titled “Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind”. Well the copy of that book that I ordered arrived yesterday, and now it is time for a quick review.
A LITTLE GEM OF A BOOK
The book, written by Faye Flint, who was diagnosed as autistic only at the age of 27 (regular readers of this blog will recall that I was 31 when I got my own diagnosis, so this is a situation that is more than a little familiar to me). It is 108 pages long, with the text very generously spaced. Each page is a separate event, recording a particular thought or train of thought, and each is beautifully clear, and for obvious reasons many are instantly recognizable to me. If you are autistic yourself, or know/ are related to someone autistic, or even just have an interest in autism this book, written as it is by someone who is actually autistic is an absolute must read. I am going to share some of my personal favourites (I have selected six out of 108 pages to quote – and the quotes will be indented and italicised to set them apart from my own writing:
First, page 31:
I was a child with Asperger’s.
I will remain an adult with Asperger’s.
No, I won’t ‘grow out’ of my Asperger’s.
Asperger’s is who I am.
But I have lived with myself for 30 years.
I have learned how to manage myself.
To be able to fit into society more appropriately.
Page 49 (I am bolding as well as italicising this one for reasons that should become obvious):
“But you don;t seem like my friend’s son who is autistic?”
Ahh, well maybe that’s because…
I am a grown autistic woman,
Not a 7 year old autistic child.
Yes, there really is a difference.
No, my Asperger’s cannot be cured.
Nor would I want it to be.
This took me a long time after such a late diagnosis.
It has made me, me.
And I kind of like me.
Many people say my ‘differences’ are what they love most!
Page 69 (another one that I chosen to bold as well as italicise)
If you want to know about the spectrum,
Ask someone who is on it!
We aren’t offended.
It makes us happy that you care enough to want to learn.
There is nobody better to ask,
Than someone who goes through it,
Finally, page 81:
I promise I am listening to you.
But my brain has 2,644 other tabs open right now.
It is very distracting.
An account of two staging posts on my journey back to health and fitness, plus a few links and plenty of photographs.
This post details a couple of staging posts on my recovery from the cancer that almost killed me at the back end of last year that occurred on Thursday and yesterday respectively. I end this introduction with a mini-challenge – below is a photograph of mine with all the colour removed – can you identify the butterfly in it? (answer located in the photographs at the end of this piece).
THURSDAY: THE SIGNATURE DISH
Due to my illness and the fact that this requires over an hour of cooking time I had not done it in about a year, but, emboldened by my all-clear on Monday and generally improving state of health I had resolved to try it. I obtained most of the necessary ingredients by way of an online Sainsbury’s shop, delivery arranged for 3-4PM on Thursday. However, I realized that I had forgotten to order lemons and went across the road to the local shop to buy them (annoyingly they came packaged in plastic – ugh!!). I could simply refer you to my first ever blog post and leave it at that, but I am going to describe the process as it occurred.
Just after 5PM I squeezed the lemons (four of them), assembled my extra flavourings (two teaspoons ground cumin, one tea spoon ground coriander, one and a half teaspoons salt), and measured out 150mls of water. Then I prepared the ginger paste by chopping half a ginger root into chunks, adding a little water and whizzing them in my mini-blender until the mixture was paste-like. After that I started cooking the chicken thigh fillets in the pot I would be assembling everything in for the final stage (a minor irritation – there were five of them, when six what have been a much better number). While the chicken was cooking I chopped the stalks off the fresh coriander (a 100g bunch) and then chopped half a head of garlic as small as I could manage. Once the chicken was golden on both sides I placed it in a bowl and covered that bowl with a plate. Then I put the garlic in the pot and stirred it while it cooked for a minute, before adding the ginger paste and stirring the mixture together. Then I added the fresh coriander and extra flavourings to the mix, stirring it all together for about another minute before adding the chicken and associated liquid from the bowl. Then I added the lemon juice and water, and stirred again. At this point I turned the heat up for long enough to get the mixture bubbling, turned it down again and put the lid on the pot. I then left it for 15 minutes to pick up flavour (my evening carer arrived at this point and was impressed by my efforts). A quick taste of the mixture confirmed that I had not lost my touch, and I then started the water boiling for the pasta accompaniment (the original recipe from which I created my version stipulates rice as the accompaniment, but it works at least as well with pasta and the latter is easier to cook). Once the pasta was cooked it was ready to eat, and I served myself two of the thigh fillets, and spooned a decent quantity of the juices over my pasta. It was an excellent supper, and I shall eat the rest of it tonight.
SATURDAY – TO TOWN AND
BACK UNDER MY OWN STEAM
I had arranged to have lunch in town with my aunt, and had decided to use the occasion to test out my improved health by walking there (and, I hoped, back). We had arranged to meet up at 1PM outside the Lynn Restaurant. My music session (at the Discovery Centre, which from the point of view of the walk to town is effectively the same as starting from my bungalow) ended at 12:15PM, which left me 45 minutes to reach my destination, and I had some library books with me – my plan was to take a view at the train station as to whether to divert to the library to return them or take the more direct route to my destination. When I checked the time at the station there were 20 minutes remaining, which was enough for a quick call at the library to return the books. I duly arrived outside the Lynn restaurant dead on 1PM. My aunt suggested a new restaurant which had opened up where Top Shop used to be, but when we got there it turned out that we would have a long wait for our food, so we reverted to the Lynn Restaurant. The meal was excellent, and at the end of it I felt strong enough to make the return journey on foot, and again went by way of the library to take some more books out.
I was very tired by the time I arrived home, but for the first time since becoming ill I had walked to and from the Town centre unassisted.
CODA: THIS MORNING
This morning once my carer had called I went out for a walk, and emboldened by yesterday, I went to The Walks, heading as far as the Vancouver Garden, where the bandstand is located, before returning by a different route – taking the path the St John’s Walk, and then heading along Tennyson Avenue, crossing the main road at the lights and taking a cut through to Columbia Way that I have known for some time although not used in a while – it involves several short sections of firm but unsurfaced road which can be traversed in one by a pedestrian but not by a motorist.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
I have a few links to share before we get to my usual sign off:
A detailed account of my third admission to Addenbrookes.
As promised in my previous post I am now going to give a full account of my most recent admission to Addenbrookes.
THE BUILD UP
Although I was admitted on a Sunday this story begins with the Friday (January 25th) before. That day I felt very tired and not really able to do anything, but hoped that a quiet day would see things improve because I was not feeling ill as such. I only managed to eat half of my sausage and chips supper that evening, and was still very tired and downbeat the following day. That Saturday evening I had supper at my aunt’s house but got very tired indeed, and by the following morning I was effectively not functioning at all.
On Sunday afternoon my aunt drove me down to Addenbrooke’s for an emergency readmission. Two possible causes of the problem emerged as front runners very quickly – a lung infection or a delayed reaction to the Bleomycin. My breathing was at a dangerously low level, and I was on a high dose of extra oxygen for a whole week, before it was halved, and then, on my eighth day as an in-patient removed altogether.
I was moved up to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9, having been allocated bed 13 (a sensible choice, as it is in a small room with just three other beds and the arrangements are such as to provide a measure of privacy.
OCCUPYING MYSELF AS A PATIENT
My father made several trips to Cambridge Central Library to get me books to read in my hospital bed (focussing on science – my brain is functioning pretty well at the moment, and low oxygen levels not withstanding I was overall feeling not too bad). I had also been equipped with puzzle books, and I devoted some time to planning future writing in between these activities.
This developed into a plan for a series of cricket posts in the course which I plan to write about 100 cricketers who mean a lot to me. I have divided my cricketers into nine XIs and one player to round out the 100 at the end. Within that division I have subdivided each 11 into parts to be covered in individual posts. The plan is for the 1st and 100th cricketers to get individual posts to themselves (and #cricketer 1 in the list habitually bats at no 1 in the order, being a choice that suits my purpose in several ways).
I also received a postcard from family in Sweden while I was in hospital, which came with a nice little extra:
A Sweden 2019 stamp – I love that fish.
From Monday morning (three days ago) onwards I was basically waiting to be discharged. I had fully accepted, especially given that this was my second emergency readmission in quite a short space of time, that I could not be discharged until a care package was in place for me. Nevertheless, it was difficult to retain patience when eager to be back home and when particularly wanting to be out in time to attend a certificate presentation. For a while at least I will be needing regular professional attention because my autism causes me not to realise how seriously things can be going wrong (e.g a general feeling of fatigue that turns out to be a lung infection making itself felt), and frankly I am no keener than anyone else on the notion of further readmissions to Addenbrookes, though I will of course be visiting as an outpatient for a considerable time to come.
At last, just after 7PM yesterday, I arrived home and was able to start settling myself back into home life. I am on antibiotics for the lung infection, anabolic steroids and various other medications. Also, I am wearing compression stockings on my legs as a safety device (the swelling in the left leg has now definitely gone, and with it the pain I was experiencing in that area, but I will retain the stockings until told otherwise).
A review of “The Mitford Murders” by Jessica Fellowes.
I was in King’s Lynn Library on Friday when I saw a copy of this book, by Jessica Fellowes, on the shelves and decided to take a punt. The fact that today is the following Monday and I am posting this review gives a clue as to what I made of the book.
THE SETUP OF THE BOOK
This book is based on a real life murder, that of Florence Nightingale Shore, god-daughter of “The lady with the lamp” and like her famous godmother a war-time nurse. At the heart of the story is a fictionalised account of goings on in the aristocratic Mitford Family. The heroine is Louisa, who takes a job in the household helping to look after the children. Crucial to the development of the story is the friendship she forms with Nancy, the eldest of the Mitford children (16 when the story opens to Louisa’s 18).
Spanning just over two years, and taking in two countries the story is developed with expert touch, and the revelation of the true murderer is a gobsmacker.
This is a splendid story, combining its other merits with giving a panoramic view of immediate post WW1 life, covering the full range of society.
I understand that a second book in the series is due soon, and I say “Bring it on”. I follow that by saying that if you see a book with Jessica Fellowes’ name on the cover you should definitely pick it up. Rating *****.
An account of James and Sons’ April auction – very successful overall, and to my immense relief free of any technical issues.
This week saw James and Sons’ April auction, a three day affair on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Overall it was very successful, with a couple of disappointments, but lots of sales.
DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, BOOKS AND EPHEMERA
In order to avoid being rushed during the preliminaries I caught the first bus of the morning, and got to the shop at 7:10AM. I attended to an urgent query first thing, and then it was time to complete the IT setup. To my great relief there were no hitches at all, and everything was in working order. During this period the auctioneer also briefed me about the May auction, and what was required in terms of imaging a very large quantity of military badges. In view of this I decided that I would have to leave some of the railway photographs unimaged, although it was a necessity from an ethics point of view to image lots 1203-12 as I was intending to buy a couple from that range, and it would not do for there to be any suggestion of influencing things in my favour by not making images available to the public.
We got underway bang on schedule at 10AM, and while there were no headline making prices a decent quantity of the sporting memorabilia did sell. Then came some books, and a few big sales. Lot 260 had an estimate of £50-75 but vigorous internet bidding pushed the final price up to £220.
Willie Hoppe’s “Thirty Years of Billiards”, lot 279, was in with an estimate of £20-30, but caught the eyes of online bidders to such an extent that the final hammer price was £180!
Less dramatically, lot 282, Levi Riso’s “Billiards in a Lighter Vein” had an estimate of £15-20 and actually fetched £30.
Lot 302 had an estimate of £10-20 and went for £30.
Near the end of the first day lot 340, a curious little item, attracted no interest from anyone other than me:
After lunch I started work on the badges for the May auction.
DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA
Another early arrival, and another hitch-free preliminary before going live at 10AM. We had three coin buyers in the room, and some internet interest, so the coins sold well. Lots 475, 501 and 695 all went signifiantly above estimate, and most of of the other coin lots also found buyers.
We had a 15 minute break between the coins and the militaria, which kicked off in style with lot 700. Lots 704, 705, 711, 719, 727, 761, 802, 823, 824, 828, 830, 831, 832, 837, 838, 844, 846 and 847 all also went significantly over estimate, and almost none of it remained unsold.
DAY THREE: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY POSTCARDS
I arrived early once again, did some badge imaging and then paid a visit to Tony’s Deli (Thursday is market day in Fakenham, and this food stall is excellent value for money). For the third straight day there were no hitches in the preliminary stage – although I was not especially happy about doing the official sound check at 9:57, not least because I already knew it was working. A couple of early postcard lots (856 and 857) achieved big prices, and most of the postcards found buyers.
The other notewaorthy postcard lot was 1047, which became my second purchase of the auction. I will at some stage be giving this lot a whole post to itself, but here are some pictures for the present:
The Railway Photographs did not attract any interest, although this was not helped by the fact that the auctioneer was hurrying through them. The only three to sell were all bought by me – lot 1071 (locomotive at Haworth), 1208 and 1209 (respectively arriving at and leaving Mallaig – for more on this journey go here):
A few more badges imaged for the May auction, and I was able to make my last ever journey on a Stagecoach X29 (on Tuesday, when I return to work it will be on a Lynx Bus number 49, since squillionaire bus company Stagecoach have deemed their Norfolk services insufficiently profitable and bailed out on them),.
A review of Douglas preston and Lincoln Child’s “Beyond The Ice Limit” – an example of the best kind of science fiction.
Welcome to my review of this recent book by the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. As so often with books reviewed here I found it courtesy of a library (in this case Fakenham library, which is a couple of minutes walk from where I work).
PUTTING THE BOOK IN CONTEXT
Beyond The Ice Limit is a sequel to the The Ice Limit, and also an addition to the Gideon Crew series, but has also been carefully crafted by its authors to work as a stand alone novel.
The phrase ‘ice limit’ refers to those latitudes in which there is sea ice all year round (at least until climate change renders it meaningless).
As this story starts, an alien life form has been slowly developing on the floor of the Southern Ocean for a period of five years, and Eli Glinn, who was inadvertently resonsible for the alien life form taking root, is now leading a mission to kill it before it can destroy the world. One of those who he ropes in is Gideon Crew, who has only a few months left to live.
Glinn and his team head south on a huge research vessel with a two-part plan – first find out whatever they can about the alien life form, and then use that knowledge to destroy it. The reason for this approach is because the ‘seed’ from which this alien emerged was actually a huge meteorite, weighing 25,000 tons, and there is only one such ‘seeds’ could be dispersed into space – by the destruction of the host planet (yes, this alien is the ultimate parasite).
Among their equipment are the components for a nuclear weapon (the explanation for how they have acquired such is that in certain former satellite states anything is for sale if you have sufficient money).
Since the creature is living two miles below the surface of the sea they also have four DSVs (Deep Sea Vehicles – more sophisticated versions of the bathyscaphe) for carrying out research. These for DSVs are painted yellow on the outside, and hence have been named George, Paul, John and Ringo.
Eventually they discover that the alien, dubbed The Baobab, has no brain of its own, but instead commandeers the brains of others (the first clue comes when they decode messages put out in the form of blue whale calls, which translate as “kill me” – a message that the current brain being used by the Baobab manages to put out). They also discover that deep below the sea floor are six egg-like structures which at their centers appear to have human brains. Five of these they can account for, because three headless bodies were discovered in the wreck of the Rolvaag, the ship that was carrying the meteorite when it broke open, and two of their own people have been taken by the Baobab, and an autopsy of one revealed that her brain had been extracted.
Gideon Crew gets launched on what he fully expects to be a suicide mission, to trigger the nuclear device directly above the Rolvaag in order to cause enough of an explosion to destroy the Baobab in its entirety, just before infected crew members (the Baobab sends out parasitic worms which take up residence in the brains of those they infect, causing them work for the Baobab) seize control of the ship.
Unfortunately another infected crew member is in the only intact DSV other than the one Gideon is piloting, and so Gideon prevented from carrying out his intended plan, but the nuclear device ends up on the Rolvaag, and the explosion is (apparently) sufficient to kill the Baobab.
With the Baobab dead, the parasitic worms also die, and the brain of the alien that it had commandeered is finally released, and sends a thank you message to the people of who have released it before it too dies.
While the manner of its arrival and emergence makes it clear that the Baobab is a product of a process that has destroyed at least one planet already (by breaking it up so the ‘seeds’ can be dispersed) there is a question of whether this parasitic system has accounted for even more planets (either because the planet from one of whose inhabitants the Baobab commandeered a brain was not the first to have been subjected to this process, or because some of other ‘seeds’ from that occasion did hatch and destroy their new host planets). The second part of the question is clearly unanswerable, but I would incline to the Baobab being a ‘second generation’ of its type because there are a couple of things that would have made it even better at what it seeks to do than it is:
Although it is somehow able to commandeer brains to make up for its own lack of such it is not able to completely subdue said brains to its requirements – remember the message that the alien brain manages to get to the team.
Although the worms work perfectly in terms of getting everyone they infect to act on behalf of the Baobab they have no capacity for identifying the significance of those they infect – had their first victims been Eli Glinn and Gideon Crew then the mission would almost certainly have been doomed to failure.
This book represents the very best of science fiction: there is nothing that definitely flouts any laws of science, and none of the events are impossible to believe. The story is never less than compelling (I have actually read it twice in the space of a week, and the second reading was at least as satisfying as the first, and with a memory like mine there could have been nothing new in that second reading), and the actual scientific theories that come for discussion are well and interestingly presented. I believe that given its component parts this book could not have been improved on, and hence were I permitted to review in the place where reviews carry a star rating (I am not because the copy I read was not purchased through them) I would unquestionably give it the full five stars.
A heads up about James and Sons’ April auction – a monster three-day affair.
James and Sons’ April Auction will be spread over three days – the 24th, 25th and 26th. I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week so that we could get the catalogue to the printers and had enough images done to upload it to the-saleroom as well. Then, after some negotiation at the end of Wednesday I also went in yesterday to do another day’s imaging. In the rest of this post I will take you through some of the highlights of this monster sale.
DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, EPHEMERA AND BOOKS
Lots 1-250 consists of sporting memorabilia of various types, including speedway, football, tennis and cricket. Here are a few highlights from that section:
Most of the books and other ephemera are fairly unremarkable, but here are a couple of highlights from that section:
DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA
Both these categories are already attracting attention. A few coin highlights:
Highlights from the militaria section:
DAY 3: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY PHOTOGRAPHS (PART 1 OF THE W A SHARMAN ARCHIVE)
I have imaged all of the postcards, but I am only about one-third of the way through the Railway photographs which will end this auction. Here are some highlights from the postcard section:
I have been imaging the railway photographs by using the scanner, at 400dpi. I image the photograph itself, the typed label on the reverse, and combine those to form the master image, and when I have a decent number of such images I watermark them so that unscrupulous operators cannot cheat us by printing out the images on photo quality paper. Here are some of the highlights from the watermarked images:
I finish with a couple of pictures which have extra features of interest: