Too Much Information? Butt out!

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and more... / Autism / Dirty, Naked

Please note this post was prepared way ahead of the awful event at Westminster last week, there’s no attempt to play off any increased searching or traffic around terms related to the Houses of Parliament.  I thought about not publishing this but on reflection, I hope the majority of people will not be offended.  If you disagree, I am sorry.

– – – – – – – – – –

This is a very deep, moving and personal story that it’s taken me a lot of courage to share.  I feel that it’s time.  It’s a sorry tale but I hope that it will make a difference to someone out there who’s experienced something similar and help them feel less alone.

As a result of writing “that poem” I Stand Quietly and raising some money for the National Autistic Society (NAS), I got an invite to a reception at the House of Commons for the launch of their “Too Much Information” campaign (you should take a look, it’s great).

It was an honour and a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I am not the sort of girl who goes to receptions at the House of Commons.  I was a bit nervous.  This is the story of my trip.

As always, I got ready in a bit of a rush at the last minute.  I was hanging all my hopes on a rather expensive beautifully embroidered kimono-style jacket that I had bought online literally the day before and that had only been delivered a couple of hours earlier.

When I looked in the mirror, I realised I looked completely ridiculous, farcical, like one of those terrible “I can feel a B… Was his name Bob, Burt, Brian, Brendan? No? Butcher? Baker? Didn’t he have a budgie? A border collie? Badger? Bronchitis? No? A bad back?” charlatan mediums.

It was such a horror show of a misjudged outfit, one of the dogs started to bark at me, maybe because she didn’t recognise me, maybe because I looked so damn bad.

Definitely not the kickass blogging babe that I pretend to be.  My mojo completely shrivelled.

Cussing like a bandit, with very little time left until the train I needed to get otherwise I would be late, I desperately ransacked my wardrobe searching for anything even a little bit edgier than just drab and Mumsy and remembered a cheeky impulse purchase that I’d not had a chance to wear… oh yeah, swishy black dress with asymmetric frilled hem, on trend, on point, on ME.

Get. In.

Five minutes later, I am redressed with lovely bright tights to add a bit of a ‘pop’ with a matching bright bauble necklace, I felt TONS better.  Hah!  Nothing could stop me now.

I spun around 360 in front of the mirror and realised that as the dress came to rest over my bum, it beautifully enhanced every little dimple and bulge of fat and cellulite, it was like a pair of giant cauliflowers trembling in a bin bag.

I had to take a few seconds simply marvelling at what I had become.  It wasn’t like the fabric was thin… I had a meteor-struck moon butt.

There was no other option, no more time, so it was tights off, Spanx-style support knickers on, tights back on.  Support knickers having been purchased when I was last working, 5+ years ago…

…since when I had gained nearly 2 stone.  It would be fine, FINE, I told myself.

I could compromise on oxygen intake.  No matter.  A price worth paying.  And at least I wouldn’t be able to fart.

Finally rocking it.

– – – – – – – – – –

I only made it halfway from the station car park to the station building, approximately forty paces, when my tights started falling down.

Hah again!  Nothing, like nothing is going to stop me!  I paused and yanked them back up.

I made it another 20 steps before I had to yank them again.

Then 10 steps…

After languishing in my drawer for a number of years, the tights were weirdly perished – more chewing gum stretchy than lycra stretchy – they’d lost all the ‘snap back’ and were just growing and growing and growing.

The waistband was still around my waist but the crotch was half-way down my thighs and there were rolls and rolls of wrinkles around my ankles.

The train was imminent and there was no time to think.

I checked out the position and angle of the security cameras, and crouched down in between two parked cars, yanked my dress right up around my arm pits, gave the tights a grand old hoik back up and tucked the excess into my bra.  Boom.

I didn’t even care if anyone had seen me.  I just made it onto the train and sat down, slightly heady and euphoric.  As South London shot past the window, I composed myself and started looking forward to things… It was going to be great.

Plus I could pull my tights up by simply reaching into my cleavage.

We arrived at London Victoria station, I stepped down onto the platform and trotted merrily to the ticket gate, beaming at the guards, sashaying through the ticket barrier…

…and then my tights twanged out of my bra and started rapidly slithering back down my legs.


I quickly grabbed a handful through my dress each side of my hips, held my head high and tried to style it out that I was just walking with a bit of a swagger, hands on hips, like the world’s shortest and widest catwalk model.

Now, for those of you who are thinking that I could just pop into a shop at the station and buy a replacement pair, I have one thing to say: piss off skinny biatches, F.Y.I. the amply-covered amongst us can’t just do that.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I suddenly realised that I could put my support knickers OVER my errant tights…

– – – – – – – – – –

I came out of the station toilet cubicle to the queueing ladies looked horrified and disgusted.

Those several minutes of sweating and straining as I performed the switcheroo, bumping against the sides of the cubicle to keep my balance as I tried to keep my super loose tights, super tight knickers, bare feet, and everything else off the filthy floor, must have been a lot louder than I had realised.

Was I mortified?  Was I fuck.  I was late.  They had no idea what stress I’d been through, as if a few sneers would faze me.

Fast forward 15 minutes and I was jumping out of a taxi at the House of Commons, feeling gorgeous, flashing my bestest smile and brandishing my invitation.  Yay!

I joined a surprisingly long queue waiting to go through the security at Portcullis House, it was a sunny evening and everyone was friendly and chatting.  An attractive gentleman was passing the time and making me laugh.

As I flicked back my hair attempting to laugh in a way that looked more intelligent and attractive than I actually am, the strangest sensation started moving down my tummy…

It was weirdly nice yet unnerving, like someone was trying to squeeze me like a toothpaste tube.

My knickers were starting to leisurely but purposefully roll themselves downwards.

I pressed my hands to my sides again to stop them, squeezing hard.  Blinking arse holes.

Worried I might look like I was suffering digestive discomfort, I dropped one hip, stuck a leg out and turned three-quarters on, sort-of attempting that ‘celebrity on the red carpet’ pose that everyone under the age of 50, however plebeian, has mastered.

Not me.

In the reflection in the window, I could see a short fat woman, looking somewhat like she was pretending to be a horsey.  Hands on hips, a foot weirdly scraping the ground like a hoof, head nodding up and down, teeth bared in what might have once been a smile but now looked like she was chomping on a bit.

The nice man politely retreated, shrugging and apologising, as he answered a (probably fake) phone call.

The queue really wasn’t moving.  I had no idea how long I would be stood there.  I had no idea how long it would be before I could get to a toilet once I got through security, however long that took… should I jump out of the queue and look for somewhere discreet to rearrange myself?  Discreet?  In a crowd?  I decided to stay put and wait it out.

You know, people don’t really keep their hands on their hips for extended periods of time.  It looks really odd.  I needed to alter my grip to something more subtle.

I stretched up my shoulders and fake-yawned a few times, then rolled my head from side to side, feigning some kind of back pain…

I repeated this a few times then leaned way over to one side…

Quickly, I let go of my hip ,shoved my hand into my jacket pocket then regrabbed a handful of dress and knickers and tights and, as I slowly stood up straight again, I carefully let my dress move through my fingers so that it didn’t pull up but hung desperately onto the knickers and tights, giving them a tug upwards at the same time.

It was epic finger gymnastics.  Whilst making sure I wasn’t doing some kind of strain face.

OK.  One side stabilised.  I silently congratulated myself for picking a dress with an intentionally lopsided frilly hem.  I could do this.

A few more shoulder shrugs and head rolls and I bent over the other way and repeated the manoeuvre.  Like. A. Pro.

Another glance in the window confirmed that I was now standing almost nonchalantly with my hands in my pockets, looking fine, as long as you didn’t notice that my handbag strap had fallen off my shoulder and my bag was dragging along the pavement…

Please don’t let anyone point out that my bag is dragging along the pavement, I silently begged.

The queue moved forwards and horror crawled up my back as I watched the security procedure: I was going to have to take off my jacket, walk through a metal detector, and possibly raise my arms up to shoulder height for a pat down.  It was going to go badly.

As I stepped through the metal detector, the knickers and tights slowly rolled down until they reached a narrower point under my belly and just above my bum crack, and paused.

It could have gone worse.  I quickly retrieved my bag and jacket and grabbed hold of the roll on either side again.

This was OK, more like handles to hold on to… although the walk had evolved to more of a horse-sore cowboy swagger than the strut of a sexy catwalk model.

– – – – – – – – – –

At the Speaker’s reception, I quickly dived into the toilets and slowly unrolled everything back into place.  I also pulled my tights up back into my bra as an extra measure.

I was hot, flustered, possibly a little tearful, but I was there!  Carrie and David Grant were there and I was there!  It was going to be OK!

I celebrated with a glass of wine.

I spoke to a few people and realised how posh and clever and important most of the guests appeared to be.  I felt a bit intimidated that I was just a cauliflower-bummed Mum trying too hard to look trendy with very little of value to say.

Had a good chat with the equally incorrigible Alan Gardner (the very lovely pink haired Autistic Gardener off channel 4), and we got told off for talking when The Speaker of The House of Commons was giving his address; further confirming that I wasn’t the sort of girl who should attempt this sort of thing.

I had another glass of wine and felt awkward.  I decided to stroll around casually looking pensive and informed.

As I did a nonchalant little sidestep to move out of the way of one of the waiters, my tights twanged back out of my bra and the force started my knickers on their downwards roll again but this time with the determined speed and force of a tsunami.

Before I could swallow my mouthful of wine and ditch my glass to free up my hand, the whole lot shot past my bottom, giving me a thick immovable roll of elasticated fabric hovering just a few inches above the hem of my dress.

My bum was completely liberated.  I looked down and my ankles were draped in swathes of tights.  I realised I could not part my thighs.

Right then, the very dashingly lovely Campaigns bloke from the National Autistic Society came over and introduced me to the (ruggedly handsome and rather talented, successful, well connected, confident, charming) Peter Bowker, author and TV bloke, who wrote The A Word.

Someone who I’d normally be quite thrilled to meet and talk to, I don’t remember what I said or what he said, I was mentally and physically frozen, like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights, trapped, awaiting an impending unavoidable doom.  I just remember sweating and thinking “You have no idea that I have a bare bum right now”.

After he moved on – fortunately quite fast, I must’ve been such a total distracted dullard – I made a very slow, very very slow, careful shuffle to the toilets, disguising my erratic progress as rapt interest in the exquisite decoration of the rooms, particularly the ceilings and carpet to avoid any eye contact.

Back in the loos, I screamed silently for a few minutes and sorted myself out again.

And so the evening progressed.

I stood still a lot, drank the free drinks a lot.

Felt the rollercoaster stomach churn as my knickers rolled down again a lot.

Did the “such nice drapes” slow shuffle off to the toilet a lot.

A combination of maniacal laughter and the song “Walk like an Egyptian” was now on repeat play in my head and I was becoming increasingly paranoid that the staff member by the toilet door thought I was stealing things.

I was in a surreal otherworldly place, chatting to Lords and Ladies about autism knowing I had my big bare butt out under my flimsy floaty dress, listening to the increasingly maniacal laughing in my head and a shrieking inner voice now repeating “You have no idea that I have a bare bum right now” over and over and over.

Never in my wildest dreams.  My heart was racing: if anyone opened another window and the breeze changed, if anyone brushed past me too vigorously… exposing yourself, however unintentionally, in the House of Commons has to be a serious criminal offence?

As I write this, and reflect on it, I have no idea why I didn’t just leave.  I was contributing nothing to the event and in danger of temporarily losing my sanity.

I suppose at first I just didn’t know HOW I would leave and then some twisted logic compelled me to stay: if I stuck it out it would make it all OK, cancel out the shameful secret, how could that lady be standing there conversing so gaily with her pants down?

I even went for a post-event drink at a pub with the team from the National Autistic Society… guys – I am so so sorry that you have to read this – I am so so so weird, I know…

Unbelievable but true.

And so that’s it really.  By home time, I was tipsy enough not to care about desperately gripping my pants through my dress.  I left the pub looking like a mad woman who had just robbed a slot machine and was making a slow, conspicuous getaway attempt holding onto her pockets full of coins.

Fell into a cab, pretty much duck walked to the train, fell into another cab at the other end; and as I finally put my keys in the front door, the evil knicker-tights combo finally shot all the way down to my ankles and I literally fell into my hall.

I lay there, legs pinned together, mooning at the moon, thinking that whenever I try to be something more serious than I naturally am, it always goes wrong or gets awkward.  I don’t know why comedy things regularly happen to me but they do.

– – – – – – – – – –

Why am I sharing this now?

It’s World Autism Awareness Week 2017.  I’m attempting to fundraise without lifting my arse from my bed again… but I’m also attempting to not write about autism.  I’m just as passionate as ever but I think writing about autism is best left to the experts (autistic people).

So, this is my unique equivalent of the shaved head, raffle or sponsored slim.  If you laughed at all during this post, please click here to make a donation to the National Autistic Society.

In a world where we pay a fiver for a posh coffee, and even more for beer: laugh, giggle, snort, chuckle, smile or even a slight wheeze = donate for the pleasure you got.

It really doesn’t have to be a lot…

The saddest thing about ‘I Stand Quietly‘ is that if everyone who read it had just taken the time to donate £1, a negligible amount for most, I would nearly be at £1 million raised.

If you didn’t laugh then perhaps read  ‘I Stand Quietly‘ or better still, read my gorgeous daughter Beatrix’s take on Too Much Information and then donate when you understand why this is so important.

Thank you xxxx

Photo Credit: Rob Bertholf Flickr via Compfight cc


Forgive us (me) this day our daily bread

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Dirty, Naked

Due to a combination of severe technical and emotional issues, I have reverted to blogging here at Dirty, Naked and Happy.  WELL it’s not a true midlife crisis without some completely contradictory and fickle behaviour IS IT?

Tried to go high heels and realised I’m better off in my old trackies, eh?

What. Evuh.

Let’s all pretend the “new me” moment didn’t happen.

In fact, let’s be honest, whilst pondering on all this nonsense I took a proper look at my blog stats.  The reality is that most of you bastards who I *think* I’m talking to when I write aren’t actually reading any of this crap anyway.

That’s quite liberating.  I don’t know why I waste so much time justifying myself.

Stealing a paragraph from the new blog, now deceased, (confusing I know):

If there was an appropriate metaphor, it would be fat ol’ me, sweating in a too small too hot changing room, trying to get my hulking carcass out of a too small too hot dress, whimpering quietly at the strain, the zip lacerating my trembling back fat.  Crying as I near the point of desperation where I have to ask the stick insect shop assistant to help me, her “professional” face as she baulks at my unshaven armpits, ill-fitting mum pants with rogue pubes trying to escape the sides and my voluminous milky pale marshmallow belly… oh my god.

The blog is not the issue, the me is the issue.  I’m trying to huff and hump and haul my fat ass out of me:

I *am* actually having a mid-life crisis.

Whilst being a bit fey and drama and blogging that I’m having a mid-life crisis, but only in an ironic comedy way, I *am* actually having a mid-life crisis.

Also, I have been cheating.

Not on my husband, on my eating.  Several weeks of severe abdominal pain and many, many, many hours on the toilet later, I am realising that I cannot keep ignoring that bread (wheat) not only means shitting my pants but shitty thinking.

As with newborn babies, you can look longingly at the soft doughy-ness of it all but you must never, never, never bite it.

So yes, I have been massively overthinking.  Bouts of self doubt, criticism, loathing.  Embarrassing attempts at new blogs that were just a little too near the mark…

I don’t know if it’s medically provable but as the IBS flares up, the mood definitely plummets down for me.

The “Happy” is not untrue but we’re all fallible…

Brought home by daughter’s repeated watching of The Dumping Ground on cBBC – I think she was getting prepared for moving to a children’s home, I was so absent on the loo – I have made a renewed promise to reduce my bread interactions to sniffing and fondling, à la the amazing Breadface Woman.

I am now back to wheat-free and the fog is clearing…

In summary:

Got feeling a bit meh, lost, wistful, ate bad bread, went proper mad, slowly realised.

Probably going to do it again several times.

Will try to write less introspective funny stuff in between the mad moments.

…I suppose living all of this freakiness out loud and proud on my blog is the whole point of what I was intending to do anyway… wasn’t it?

Wiping off my bottom

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and more...

It’s rare now for me to start the weekend rolling around on the bed, squealing and gasping in complete ecstatic abandon, but today [swipes back of hand across wet mouth] started out just like that.

Since the first series of The Great Pottery Throwdown reenergised and supercharged my lifelong love of ceramics last year, I have also been tending another fire outside the kiln…

Three words: Keith Brymer Jones

A new addition to my elite roster of secret man-crushes.  Some people say I have a type…

[For the uninitiated: James, Robert, Keith, Jo (Husband)… ]

I love a man of contrast and contradiction.  Hard looking with piercing eyes, tough yet tender, creative and a little crazed around the edges… sort of council-estate-got-culture.

I don’t do philistine.  I like a gentle god, a thinker and maker, semi-hidden tenderness, emotions that overspill and definitely, definitely, a difficult creative type.

Most of all, I love a man built like a proper man – weathered, preferably hirsute (but stopping pre-gorilla), and with a big Dad bod.

None of those hipster beards on baby faces for me.  Skinny jeans on chicken legs and pre-pubescent coat hanger shoulders?  Yuck.  Shudder.

I want grunt and I want gut.  Fat neck, furrowed brow = ravish me now.

Turning a slight blind-eye to the hairdo, as well as being on type, Keith ticks even more boxes for me.  Lives in Whitstable, one of my favourite places; makes and loves ceramics, one of my favourite pastimes and passions… dreamy.

Don’t go channelling those sloppy bullshit scenes from Ghost though, that’s not the vibe; watch him slap a fresh lump of clay into shape and imagine it’s your arse.  Now you get me?

So my head, heart and loins exploded when, whilst languishing on Twitter, I came across a link to Keith Brymer Jones’ YouTube channel.

Three more words: spoof music videos.  Insanely amazing.  I proper squawked with joy.

My fervour possibly means that I am a little biased but I think they should have more views.  Watch them, starting here:

Happy and out…

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and more... / Dirty, Naked / Happy

It seems to be a ‘thing’ in the blogging community to do a “Year In Review” post and so as 2016 draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about this blog and what I’ve achieved, enjoyed, learned, yadda, blah, yadda… and there’s no escaping that, for me, it has run its course.

Once upon a time I used to blog and tweet anonymously. It was awfully good fun. I had inadvertently inspired a congregation of US Christians to pray for me and I was followed by some wonderfully dubious and alternative people.

Then I wrote ‘that poem’. I don’t know what I thought would happen but I didn’t expect it to go viral the way it did; with some angst and many reservations I let it drag me out of my faceless snark-filled and irreverent comfort zone.

I can’t really explain why.

I am thankful for the subsequent adventures that would otherwise never have been open to me. On the whole, that has been exciting, stimulating and fun. I have met some wonderful people; I have made friends with people who have influenced and inspired me more than they will ever know.  I have encountered some atrocious human beings too.

The benefit of hindsight…

For over a year I’ve had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that in the aftermath of the poem, I’ve somehow taken myself down a road blog-wise that is unnatural and uncomfortable for me.  You see, the woman who wrote that poem, she sort of isn’t me…

My prior blog was fiction.  It was based somewhat on my life events but then embellished and twisted to suit my whim.  It was a creative outlet.  I stole mercilessly and greedily from others’ experiences and made them my own.  It was wicked, vicious, vicarious and very valuable to me.

I miss my other self terribly.

But lots of people said they really liked this “new” me.  My relatively small but sometimes very needy ego got addicted.  There’s thousands of people signed up to get emails from this blog, followers on Facebook and Twitter, warm feels…

I have received so many emails, I’ve not replied to them all and I’m not sure I ever will be able to…

And all the lovely people who comment… especially those who pop up regularly – a bit like someone you see often in a coffee shop and exchange a few words or a joke – it feels so nice, the precious and treasured stuff that keeps my small and sometimes stifling world turning.

How could I just walk away from all of that?

I’ve experimented with a small amount of hyperbole and story telling on here but whilst it generates a lot of interest and comment, it’s difficult to handle because it freaks real-life people out due to the incongruity between the words and the woman they know.

It causes dissonance and worry. Reassurance doesn’t work.

Another reality check is how much better I’ve been feeling since I gave up Facebook. Can’t deny it.  That’s really got me thinking about a lot of things I do in my life simply for fear of not doing them…

I have given up Facebook in the way that I wish wish wish I could permanently give up fags.  Easily.  Zero cravings.  I don’t even think about it from one day to the next.  Cigarettes, I daydream about at least once a week.  I never watch people using Facebook and think hmmmm, baby, that looks gooood…

Anyway, I digress.  Filthy fag smoking is the ‘other’ me.  The unreal real bad one.

I’m more of a Jekyll and Hyde character than I like people to know.  More than I’ve ever shown on this blog.  I am a not-completely-nice person trying to be nice as much as I can and it’s quite hard work.

I am hugely conflicted, like the bastard offspring that would be produced if Janet Street Porter got rohypnol’d by Frankie Boyle.  Minus 90% of either of their talent.

Yes: I believe in equality and equity, I am becoming more of a feminist than ever before and I am always kind to animals but yet I have a bleakly inappropriate and puerile sense of humour and I hate a lot of people.

Blogging anonymously allows the hideous Madame Hyde side of me to say the highly inappropriate things that could otherwise become distracting and preoccupying.  I need to offload that crap somewhere if I’m going to consistently be as nice as I aspire to be in my real life…

…for example, my whimsical desire to enthusiastically lick the face of the 20-something year old man-boy who lives over the road and looks a lot like the young man I lost my virginity to… NO ONE in my real life needs, wants or deserves to hear about shit like that.

And even if they say they don’t mind, I do… I worry.  Lots.

Lastly, there are young and vulnerable people who know about this blog and read it and so even if you tried to convince me that you love me just the way I are, that concern will always inadvertently and subconsciously censor me.

Plus, there are hugely significant aspects and events from my real-life that don’t feature here because it is not anonymous. The highest of emotional highs and the most painful times, scars carved so deeply in my heart, all have to be denied for the sake of others and so this whole shebang is ironically a lie anyway..

So I’m off to start again in obscurity… I’ll leave everything where it is in case I decide to pop back, or anyone wants to pop in whilst I’m away.

Thank you to everyone who has laughed and cried along with this nonsense.  Thanks for reading at all!

I was saving this quote for a future “What about socialisation?” home ed blog post but I found it quite apt as a sign off here…

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.


Photo Challenge: Relax

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Sometimes days are just perfect for no reason other than you are 100% living them.

Warm soft sand, warm soft breeze, warm soft family, warm soft arms, warm soft words…


Bonus shot: Penny for Those Thoughts…

…rather belatedly via Photo Challenge: Relax

PS – the original high-resolution files for these images are lost, it serves as a reminder to relax, live today and create new memories, as well as reflecting on the past…

How to Start a Revolution, erm, maybe…

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Autism / Dirty, Naked

On Saturday I went to the AGM of the National Autistic Society. Our family are members and have done a number of things to support the charity over the past couple of years from being featured in their donor mailings to busting a gut doing the Tough Mudder…

It was thrilling to hear how their ‘Too Much Information’ campaign, to which my autistic daughter directly contributed, has broken records in both reach and response, touching millions of people: members of the public and members of parliament alike, and I believe it has seeded long-term change for the better.

The main thing that struck me at the AGM was that (even at a London venue) I thought attendance would be higher.  I am not underestimating the efforts involved for parents or autistic adults, in leaving the house for several hours, travelling to London, being in a large group… it was my first AGM so I’m not sure what I should have expected.

I definitely expected to see more young independent autistic adults.  Any, in fact.

I am conscious that some autistic adults are critical of the NAS and that its support of parents and families of autistic people is sometimes perceived as to the detriment of the autistic person themselves.

The society was originally formed by parents and they do continue to have a strong voice but I think it must also be acknowledged how far the NAS has come in recent years to ensure that the ‘actually autistic’ voice is heard loud and clear.

This is a small charity, what they achieve is far greater than the sum of the parts, and having met many of their staff and key supporters (autistic and not), I am awed by the passion, commitment and tenacity they all invariably demonstrate.  Chief executive Mark Lever acknowledged that they get it wrong sometimes but, for me, their openness to listen and learn is applaudable.

On the train home, it got me thinking about when I was in the sixth form at school.  We went on a visit to the Houses of Parliament and the MP who volunteered to speak to us and take questions was Ken Livingstone (don’t groan, bear with me).

Politics to one side, one particular thing that he said has always stayed with me.

He explained that his personal beliefs were not the same as those of the Labour Party; but of the large political parties who had any real significant chance of making a difference, it was the best fit for him, the closest to his beliefs.  Easier to try and influence change within the party to better suit his ideologies than stand alone.

He took the responsibility of being a member of the Labour Party and an elected representative very seriously.  He clearly understood the difference between his personal values and beliefs and his duty to deliver upon the mandate set by those who elected him, under the banner and promised policies of his party, the Labour Party. That did not mean, however, that he ever stopped trying to convince his colleagues within the party to move further towards his own personal philosophy and beliefs when they formed the policies of the future.

He understood the democratic process, within and outside the party.  He understood the importance of idealism and also the need for pragmatism, cooperation and even simple participation if anything significant is to be achieved at all.

There is nothing wrong with freedom of speech nor outright disagreement with the status quo, but to catalyse change, it’s not always what you say but how you say it, when and to whom.  The system may be broken, but it’s often easier to change it from within than simply reject it wholesale.  That is often the boring, bureaucratic way to start a revolution that sticks.

I don’t like where we’re at generally in the world.  The divisive politics either side of the Atlantic, unpleasant and even violent behaviours from vindicated winners and disenfranchised losers alike.  Democratic process seems to be losing its way.

Sometimes I feel that in our modern social media enabled world, there’s a growing expectation that you can start a revolution via your iPad from your sofa.  There’s also this sharp change in behaviour and etiquette online where it appears that the ‘normal rules'(?) of respectful debate and discourse tend not to always apply.  I count myself sometimes guilty in that.

We watch refugee kids dying on beaches and we join Facebook groups and tweet and hashtag and petition but our governments’ stances are not changing one bit.  It’s too easy to click a button, sometimes you have to engage more deeply, enter a discourse and hold onto it tenaciously for as long as it takes.

I’m well aware that blogging isn’t discourse.  It’s more akin to muttering under one’s breath at a bus stop.  Twitter is no more successful (yet) at securing societal change than Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park.

I think it’s important for everyone who seeks to quickly and decisively further the awareness, acceptance, understanding (argh, those words) of autism and who wants to campaign for autistic rights to note that National Autistic Society works to an agenda set by its members and membership is open to all.

You then get your voice heard by, and as part of, the leading autism charity in the UK and one of the most forward-thinking and respected autism charities in the world.  You get support to form a local group, receive training, provide peer support to others.  You can campaign under a recognised and trusted brand (sorry, but there’s no denying it helps), change the conversation, educate, dispel the myths and break the stereotypes…

Most importantly, you can vote for your preferred local representative on the NAS National Forum, elected individuals from the membership who represent member views directly to the board and trustees (and staff).

So, you could start a revolution the traditional way from the ground up or you could join an organisation that already has a clear and respected line of communication with government, policymakers, major employers and cultural influencers.

I think I’m correct in saying that there are currently about 20,000 members. If a significant number of motivated autistic adults joined the National Autistic Society, the membership would easily be in the majority autistic, as then could be the National Forum. It could be “nothing about us without us”.

As I have said, there’s no other agenda, just the one set by the members.  It will be bureaucratic and there’s process involved but that’s because there’s also transparency and accountability.  I am one of those “autism parents” and until my daughter reaches majority I expect to have an influence on society’s promise to her, sorry, I do.

I would however be thrilled to be the wind beneath the wings of intelligent, articulate, autistic women who are the role models I seek for my daughter; I have no real agenda of my own other than that everyone’s voice is heard and recognised via a managed democratic process so we move forward together in consensus.

Working with a national organisation, it might take a longish while to feel that your views and priorities are reflected as you would hope them to be but (with no disrespect to anyone) it would probably happen a lot quicker than us tweeting and retweeting each other and agreeing amongst ourselves almost in a vacuum on Twitter whilst the Joe Public majority are sitting on Instagram looking at a Kardashian butt.

Just a thought… There are loads of ways to start a revolution, I’m not saying this is the best… back off to the bus stop to sprinkle cake crumbs and chat to the pigeons again.

Photo Credit: wonderferret Flickr via Compfight cc

Scorched: parenting and learning

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Words can inflame situations and words can burn and scar.

So often I hear parents ruining an amazing learning moment with thoughtless words, leaving the child scorched, smarting in pain and with nothing salvageable left from their experience.

Mum!  I made a boat that floated all the way across the puddle and… 

Junior, why are your cuffs so wet?  Bad boy. I’ve told you enough times…

End of day conversation overheard at daughter’s previous school

I try to support my daughter’s learning and self-development by looking at myself and others around me with mindful honesty.

Sometimes, you need to play with fire, to take risks and push your limits.  Sometimes you need to indulge your urges, other times resist them.

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