Monday, 29 June 2009

Death of a flawed genius

Michael Jackson's death has featured heavily in the media since last Thursday. He was a very talented singer, entertainer and dancer. There is no question about that, and a void has appeared in the entertainment world. I can remember seeing Billie Jean on Top of the Pops. I recall it clearly being announced that the song was number one, and the video was amazing, certainly for the time. I looked it up in 1998 to see when Billie Jean was number one, and the date was 5th March 1983. TOP's was always broadcast on a Thursday evening. So the date will have been Thursday 3rd March 1983.

I also can remember Down Under by Men at Work being number one on Top of the Pops. I can remember watching the Thriller video at my late Grandfathers house, also in 1983. My Grandad wasn't into Jackson, but my uncle was, and he showed my parents the video. We didn't have a video recorder until two years later. I thought the effects were amazing when I saw it, and still believe they were, by 1983 standards.

I also can remember when Jackson's hair set on fire, his "Bad" album and "Black or White" song from early 1990's. I don't remember the "Off the wall" album, though from 1979. Nor do I remember his "One day in your life" from 1981.

However, for all his great talents, Jackson seemed to be a flawed and psychologically damaged individual. I am not going to comment on what he may or may not have done, with the child abuse allegations, but I feel it is important when looking at the full picture when reviewing his life. He also seemed to lose it from the mid-1990's onwards careerwise.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Memory and Truth

When it comes to the past, I prefer to investigate and research facts, rather than make sweeping statements or rely on the human memory, which is fallible, no matter how good someones powers of recall are.

How many times have you heard someone say, "When I was at school, every summer, we would get 14 hours of blazing sunshine every day, there was a drought and it would be in the 80's and 90's. Then, in the Winter, we would have two to three feet of snow from Christmas to the end of February, and it snowed everyday".

There factually is some truth in this. We haven't had severe winters in the last 20 years or so (Only 1990/1991, 1995/1996, 2000/2001 and 2008/2009 would be classed as cold, but none were severe). It is true that we haven't had winters like those of 1946/1947, 1962/1963, 1978/1979 and 1981/1982 for some time. Other cold and snowy winters have been 1916/1917, 1928/1929, 1939/1940, 1940/1941, 1941/1942, 1954/1955, 1955/1956, and 1984/1985.

So on this evidence, it is true there is a trend for mild and rainy winters. I think this represents a trend, perhaps exacerbated by global warming. As a weather observer, I believe there is some truth in that theory, and it must be halted, but it is also correct that there were many very mild and dry, or very mild and wet winters in the past. 1920/1921, 1934/1935, 1942/1943, 1948/1949, 1949/1950, 1974/1975, 1988/1989, 1989/1990 and 1997/1998 come into that category. No-one talked about global warming in, say, January 1921 or December 1934, or February 1943, did they?

Outstanding summers in the 20th Century have been in 1911, 1921, 1933, 1947, 1949, 1955, 1959, 1975, 1976, 1983, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1995 and 2006. What I would term good summers occurred in 1900, 1906, 1914, 1934, 1940, 1961, 1964, 1991, 1994, 1996 and 2003. There have, however, also been some poor summers, notably in 1903, 1909, 1912, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1946, 1954, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1987, 2007 and 2008 but people persist with the "Brilliant summers, snowy winters" theme. This is further proof...

So the claims of people that in their childhood in every winter there was two to three feet of snow on the ground from Christmas to the end of February is nonsense, as is the assertion that every summer had a drought with endless sunshine and temperatures into the 80's and 90's. When people say to me that "We have never had a summer so warm" or "This is the hottest day we've ever had", I simply tell them that in fact, it isn't.

I know someone whose daughter tragically contracted Meningitis when she was six months, and it left her with learning, speech and co-ordination disabilities. A very sad story. She is now a woman in her 40's. Her mother however, claimed to me that the Education Psychologist informed her that her daughter would have been a "High-flier" if she hadn't contracted Meningitis. Unless she meant that her daughter would have been into flying kites or would have been a pilot, I took it that she was inferring her daughter would have been successful academically or career wise. I replied that it was very possible her daughter could have been a high-flier, but it was equally as possible that she could have been an Heroin addict, or homeless, or an alcoholic.

If you give an opinion or present an argument, you should always back it up with facts. You can't just rely on memory or how you think things were. I don't look back on the past with rose-tinted glasses. I remember both the good and bad times that I have had. I think you should also be objective with statistics, and not selective or subjective, as you can make statistics read what you want them to read.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Who lacks an imagination?

At times, people who have won millions of pounds on the UK or Euro-lottery have said that it won't change their lives. If I were to win such an amount of money, I know it would change mine! I think it would change most peoples. I would go on holidays to, or visit places that I can't afford to, at the moment. I would be able to go where I want, and buy what I want, when I want.

It has been asserted that people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome don't have an imagination, and this is still part of the Triad of Impairments, along with Communication and Interaction. However, even though attempts have being made in more recent years to correct or clarify this position, it still remains in some literature and books. I personally find it extremely dogmatic and highly offensive. There are authors, musicians, poets and artists with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. So who lacks an imagination? I think it is people who make damaging statements, without fully researching or understanding Autism and AS.

If I won ten million pounds on the lottery, my life would change, yet some people who have won the lottery, haven't had the imagination to give up their job, and travel or indulge in what their hobbies or interests. You may argue that they live for their job or live for work, but they could do an unpaid voluntary job for maybe two or three days a week. They hardly need the money, do they? Who lacks the imagination there? and not only the imagination, but the consideration. Someone else needs that money.

In 1989, I remember being asked at school to finish the song "Sit and wait". I was asked, "All we can do, is sit and...". I replied, as a joke, "Smoke". The person who asked me said "Sit and smoke?, where do you get that from?". I accept, the only thing I can draw is a pair of curtains, and can't sing. This doesn't mean that I don't have an imagination.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Facebook and changes to the Internet.

To get by in society, I try to be an Actor. This is not because I want to be an NT or have any overwhelming desire to be an actor, but out of survival instincts. Us Aspies are outnumbered in a society that is generally hostile to us and our ways. There are more of them than there are of us, and therefore, some conformity is needed in order to make progress. I don't like it, but there is no alternative.

I have noticed since 2006, networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become highly successful. Social and support groups for any subject, from A-Z, have been formed on Facebook, so this takes a great deal of attention away from individual websites.

Things evolve. Others wane or die. "Friends Reunited", was a pioneer in the networking sites, though again, I would imagine it has been eclipsed by Facebook and Twitter. I have never joined Twitter. I am happy with Facebook. I am not bothered about joining too many social networking sites either.

You Tube, Blogs and journals have become hugely popular and fashionable, also in the last three, four years, so you can argue that a website is not needed when you can create a blog. They were unheard of in 2000/01. Politicians, celebrities and rock stars even have their own blogs now.

Facebook, like the net, it has provided opportunities for people with illnesses, differences, and disabilities to meet and communicate, as never before, but if you aren't careful, you can find that you are addicted to it in the very same way as the Internet.

How I see myself as being an Actor

To get by in society, I try to be an Actor. This is not because I want to be an NT or have any overwhelming desire to be an actor, but out of survival instincts. Us Aspies are outnumbered in a society that is generally hostile to us and our ways. There are more of them than there are of us, and therefore, some conformity is needed in order to make progress. I don't like it, but there is no alternative.

The only times I have ever been on stage was at the age of four-and-a-half, in Infants School for a Christmas play in 1980 (See my Psychological and Behavioural History), in Junior school when I played one of the Soldiers at the Christmas 1914 Truce when gifts were exchanged and soccer was played between British and German troops, and also at a Christmas 1986 play in Junior school, when I played the Lord Chamberlain in Cinderella.

I have to watch myself every second when interacting. I have to ensure that I make eye contact, show interest in what the speaker is saying even when I am bored stupid, let people finish their sentences when they are rambling, or when I am bored with what they are saying, adopt some NT illogical thinking, continue to make relevant remarks, and keep track of the conversation. However, my pretence does not extend to laughing at jokes or quips which I don't get, or find funny. If something is funny, it's funny. If it isn't, it isn't, regardless of the joke or who has told it.

By behaving in this manner, I find I become acceptable to others, and get by better, but I am also mentally and emotionally drained. I do however, secretly hate myself for being false, and feel that I am "selling out". I ask myself, "Will the real me please stand up?". He does, when he is alone.

Apart from mental overload, thinking single-channelled, finding it difficult to read body language of other people, my hypersensitivity to touch, sound and taste, and feeling "Hemmed in" when in crowds, is why I am a natural loner. When I spend time alone, which I do a lot of the time, it is less mentally overloading, and I can be myself, to myself.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Honesty asked for, honesty given

Four years ago this evening, I saw my former Secondary School Form Teacher between September 1989 and May 1992, for the first time since I left. I deliberately and openly ignored her. At some point between September and December 1989 (I can't remember the exact date and to be honest, I don't care), she told everyone in her class that all she wanted from us was honesty and the truth. Four years ago this evening she got it, and deserved it.

Here is an account of the incident...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

It all depends on where you live...

It is often claimed that it depends on where you live in the UK for Autism and Asperger diagnosis and services. Observant Teachers and professionals can recognise an Asperger or Autistic child in one area, so a result, that person receives the support and understanding they so need and deserve. Yet if that same person lived elsewhere, there could be a very strong chance that they wouldn't be diagnosed until much later. Services are provided with regards to drop-ins, socialisation and support in one region, and yet not in another. This must change, and it must change now. With regards to services and support, there has to be all or nothing in every area of the UK. NOTHING BUT.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Manipulating the speed of time

In the past, I worked at a couple or so jobs that I absolutely hated. What I would do when that happened, was stop in the night before, and watch absolutely boring and crap TV programmes, or just do nothing. You may ask why I did this. The reason was that time goes slower when you are bored, so therefore, it would seem longer before I went back to work!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Have you also noticed that the term "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder", is, overused? For example, in World War I, soldiers who'd been in the trenches weren't given counselling or support, or psychotherapy. Instead, they were shot. In World War II soldiers in the battle field, or participated in operations such as Dunkirk in 1940, El Alamein in 1942, or Anzio and Normandy in 1944, or people who'd been bombed weren't diagnosed with this or any other mental illness. I know PSTD wasn't a defined condition in the 1940's, but the symptoms must have been present. Back then, individuals, understandably traumatised by WWII, were just told to get on with life.

In marked contrast, someone could be slightly injured nowadays in a car crash, or cut themselves shaving, and then be off work for months with PTSD or "Stress". I believe in some ways, society has got too soft.

The Police thought that a loner, (According to the media, loners tend to be violent, psychopathic murderers although there is nothing to substantiate this claim) named Colin Stagg, murdered a 23-year-old woman named Rachel Nickell in Wimbledon, South London, in July 1992. This is the story

The Police tried to set Stagg up with a "Honey Trap" operation with a sexually attractive female Police Officer, who had the pseudonym 'Lizzie James'. The ploy was, more or less, 'If you confess to killing Rachel, you can have sex with me'. Stagg sent letters to 'Lizzie' , and approved her responses. This continued until July 1993 but, although Stagg's language was filthy, he did not confess to, nor reveal the whereabouts of the murder weapon. This didn't deter the Police, but the case against Stagg collapsed in September 1994. However, suspicions against him remained until 2008, when Robert Napper was arrested and convicted.

"Lizzie" also received a £125,000 pay-out for 'stress'. Also, because of what happened, she apparently developed PTSD. Whilst it is true her career was damaged, Stagg 's name was blackened. She was granted anonymity and we shall never know her identity. Along with obtaining the pay-out, she pensioned out of the Police force. I suppose the £125,000 and pension will have eased Lizzie's 'PTSD'.

Whilst all this occurred, I thought to myself, "What about Stagg, who had his life destroyed by smears and innuendo for years, and had to go on trial for something he didn't do. Yes, he got £700,000 compensation, but what about his PTSD?".

Saturday, 6 June 2009

What is actually good for you?

There was an article in the newspaper on Thursday saying that curries may slow down Alzheimers.
I love curries so therefore, theoretically, I will be ok. I have never smoked either, and we all know that tobacco is one of the primary causes of Cancer, so in theory I could be ok, but who knows? My paternal Grandmother never smoked or drank and yet died of Esophageal cancer at the age of 56. Her husband drank heavily, smoked for over fifty years, and died of an heart attack at the age of 71. So maybe diet is a further cause. Alternatively, my maternal Grandmother has never smoked or drank, and on the 25th August 2009 she will celebrate her 92nd birthday, and mentally, she is sharper than myself. I think genes must play a part as well in Cancer development.

Years ago, I remember reading that tobacco could prevent Alzheimers, but some time later, the exponents of this theory changed their minds, and said it couldn't. So, according to the experts at one time, if you wanted to prevent Alzheimers but wanted to get Cancer, smoke cigarettes or a pipe!

Something will be good for you one day, and months later it isn't. They will also state that one habit could prevent an illness, but cause another, so you don't know what to do, or where you are! I think that with diet and alcohol consumption, you are best off being sensible, and not listening too much to the so-called experts, because if they don't know what's good for you, or keep changing their minds, why should you listen?

Next they will be insisting that we are all in bed by 10pm. I better be quiet, because they might just be listening!

Friday, 5 June 2009

It makes you cynical about what they learn

On Tuesday, I got talking to this woman I have know since about 2000. She is three years older than myself. I haven't seen for a while, and she told me that her daughter is studing A-level English Language. I replied to that, "Oh that's good" and then questioned, "Is she enjoying it?". Seconds later, the person I was talking to received a text from her daughter, who could be one year away from going to University, wanting to know what the word cynical means. I knew what cynical meant from about the ages of 13 or 14 or so, so I found it bizarre and worrying that her daughter has proceeded to a relatively advanced stage in education without understanding the semantics of a comparatively simple word.

I know they give people one mark for putting their name on a exam paper. I seem to remember, and my mind doesn't play tricks on me, us getting points deducted for mispellings, along with punctuation and grammar errors. They don't do that now.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Learning Styles

My preferred method of learning style is one of being self-taught, as opposed to other people teaching me. This can arise because they can go at a rate that is too fast for me to process information at their rate. Alternatively, in other ways, my mind and learning can be ahead of theirs. I am an experiential learner. I learn best by doing something. I am also a visual learner, in that I prefer to read about something with pictures of the subject or skill I am learning..... rather than realms of rambling text. I use three modes of thinking primarily - pictures, sounds and numbers. I don't think in words.

I get irritated if I am ever described as either mentally deficient or a genius. I am NEITHER, and make no claims to be. Instead, I am different, as my brain is not wired exactly the same as NT's. Again, that is neither positive or negative, but different.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Phenomenal Memory or Painting a Picture?

On Thursday night I watched Peter Kay's live at Manchester Arena, on DVD. I have also seen his Live at the Bolton Albert Halls DVD, as well as his Phoenix Nights and That Peter Kay Thing. In the latter, my favourite characters were the Ice Cream Salesman, Marc Park, the singer, and Leonard, the elderly man who delivered the local newspaper.

A woman who knew Leonard well remarked that....

"He's everybody's friend, but he's got no friends".

That, for me, was quite a touching line. Whether it was meant to be or not, I don't know.

I identified with Leonard to some extent, such as being misunderstood by the NT masses, and could, with his eccentric manner, inappropriate behaviour and jokes, and interaction, discern some Aspie traits in him.

This portrayal was based on a person who Kay actually knew. The real-life Leonard died in 1991. When he was alive, Leonard was forever telling Kay about all the friends that he had, yet when he died, only four people went to his funeral.

I will always be a natural loner. That is part of me, and who I am. That said, I hope I don't die at home alone, and am there for weeks before being found. In October 1991, this elderly woman who lived near me, Sadie Jackson, died at home. She was there for two weeks before her family bothered to call, and found her.

I find it a pity that Kay hasn't done more send-ups and portrayals like "That Peter Kay Thing", of other people he has met, because he could have developed it further and invented further characters.

I also liked Peter Kay's "Amarillo" and the "I would roll 500 miles" video he did with the Proclaimers.

The only fault I have with Peter Kay is his fondness for talking about what life was like in the 1970's and early 1980's. He seems to love that era for some reason. You can go on about what life was like then and compare it to now, but you can do that with the 1960's, or 1950's or 1940's, or even, the early 1990's, as time progresses and moves on. In 20 or 30 years time, comedians, and perhaps Kay himself, will be on stage going on about life in 2009 and comparing it to how life will be then. He has appeared on nostalgic programmes such as "I remember 1978" or "I remember 1980", describing events from a chosen year in full detail, though he also went on "I remember 1985". I was curious to see how old he is, so I looked at Wikipedia to see when he was born, and it said Monday 2nd July 1973.

Kay is obviously a very observant man. His stand-up work bears this out, but being observant and having a prodigious memory are two seperate entities. To remember life and events from the 1970's and early 1980's, he either has a prodigious memory, or is trying to paint a picture, by going on what he has read and heard from his parents or other family members. I accept his claims to remember things from the mid 1980's in full detail, but I have my doubts about Peter Kay remembering the '70's and early '80's with 100% recall.

When I watched Peter Kay's live at the Bolton Albert Halls in 2003 jokes which stuck in my mind were him remarking that he didn't bother with "Friends Reunited" (This was in the pre-Facebook days) to keep in touch with people from school, but he watched Crimewatch instead, as it saved money! I also liked his poking fun at the illogical things people say, such as asking you "Guess who's died?" when you don't know. It could be anyone. He passed comment on mindless cliches such as "Happy as Larry". Kay asked, in the 2003 stand-up show, that he wanted to know who this "Larry" was and why he was so happy!