Springingtiger's Blog

The World Is Too Much With Us

Society of St. Francis Friary, Alnmouth

Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of this world. Within the space of a week we have seen a homo0phobic mass shooting in a Gay nightclub in Orlando and an English Member of Parliament murdered, it would seem for her support for refugees, but as yet we can’t be entirely sure of the killer’s motivation except that he is a supporter of Britain First. We have seen English football fans attacking people on the streets of France, but to be fair, thuggery seems to be the distinguishing feature of football fans of several nations. I must admit my mood is not improved by this being the season of Orange Walks and the inconvenience and disruption they cause, even when orderly. The media and social media are full of people spouting xenophobia and hatred to try and secure Britain’s departure from the European Union while many who spouted the same hatred a little while ago are now are arguing with similar language to keep Britain in the EU. What is astonishing and depressing is the sheer amount of vitriol from both sides and the incessant negativity. No one is making any sort of case for why a vote in either direction will make the world better or even, Britain. The inescapable conclusion looking at both camps is, that in the words of Private Fraser “We’re a’ doomed, Doomed I tell ye!”

Regardless of the violence of the last few days there is little to celebrate elsewhere in the news. The Chancellor can say what he likes, but I can see the empty shops and closed businesses in our streets. Sometimes the government seems to forget there is a Britain outside London.

It is impossible to escape the information onslaught. Every pub and every bank and office seems to have television screens either feeding us football or news. Nearly every shop and restaurant insists on playing music, often of dubious merit. On social media I find friends being unpleasant to each other merely because they express divergent opinions. It seems that the inevitable consequence of free speech is hatred and ruptured relationships

Sometimes this world is just too demanding, the amount of information too overwhelming, the lack of clarity and validated fact too confusing, and the incessant sensory stimuli too omnipresent. It is time to escape. Turn off the television, stop reading newspapers, ignore Facebook and Twitter except perhaps the Steampunk and Cosplay sites where participants are interested in more important things than politics…okay fluffy kittens are fairly safe too.

Sometimes it is necessary just to shut down. It is a couple of years since I last made a silent retreat, but I feel the urge to escape building. A break in the country with no phone signal nor wifi would be very acceptable too, just a pile of books and my wife to keep me company, that would be good.

I had a friend who used to swear by flotation tanks. I am too suspicious of shared water, although I don’t suppose it’s any worse than a swimming pool, indeed given recent articles about ‘floaters’ (another reason to avoid newspapers), probably cleaner than a swimming pool. Even a walk by the river, or digging the garden can help. We all need sometimes to stop and let go. To pause. To relax and just breathe.

At the moment Britain is awash with emotion, with anger and hatred, xenophobia and sectarianism. We need to cool ourselves and release the pressure now. If we do not something will have to give, and an uncontrolled explosion of violence in the streets of our cities is something none of us need. I almost said ‘none of us want’, but unfortunately the death of Jo Cox shows that is not so. There is a very real danger of hatred and resentment leading to violence and the levels we have reached, I believe, make that imminent. I hope our television screens are not going to be filled with images of violence, I think perhaps I shall leave mine turned off a little longer.

Children Teach Your Parents Well…

Time and tiredness precludes edits today, all spelling mistakes may be blamed on the auto-correct.

There used to be a sign in a shop in Dumbarton Road that said, “Employ a teenager now while they still know everything!” Reading that back in my forties I chuckled because, of course, it rang a bell. Hadn’t we all thought we knew it all in our teens and hadn’t a couple of decades down how wrong we were.

That was then. Now another couple of decades down the road I am less smug than I was at forty and a lot less smug than in my teens because I’m learning from young people. As regular readers will be aware I am going to see Steampowered Giraffe at Asylum in August, I wouldn’t have known who they were had out not been for a kid who won the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society competition at Rai Con. Thanks to the same person today I discovered live streaming on Facebook and I am quite excited by it’s possibilities.

The world has moved rapidly since I was young and like most people my age I was formed in a very different world from the one in which I now live. I have brought a lot of value with me. However I would be stupid to think I knew more than the kids off today brought up in the information age. I don’t know more, nor less, I know different. My generation can inform this world’s history, philosophy and values, but only by sharing what we have with the kids do that they can apply their knowledge to it and make of it something they can use. I don’t know how my knowledge and experience can help my granddaughters’ generation and I don’t have the right to tell them how to use it. I can only hand it over and let them use it as they will and trust them to do the best they can with what they have available. In exchange I’m learning lots of cool stuff from them.

The music was generally better in my youth though, apart from previously mentioned exceptions, which brings me to this post’s title which comes from a line out of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song. It’s not just the cool stuff we need to learn and share, we also have to understand the bad stuff, the fears and anxieties we all have and stand together to help each other through it.

My wife says, “it is the job of grandparents to create happy memories for their grandchildren.” Those memories are built on what we share both good and bad. Learning and teaching and being there for each other, young and old. Whenever I look at politics and worry about the future of the world, I look at the young people and from them I learn hope.

Family Time
March 27, 2016, 23:42
Filed under: food, Health, Parenting | Tags: , ,

This will be a short blog because I have today allocated my blogging time to family. I am glad that Facebook makes it easy to keep in touch with family around the world. However nothing can compare with the experience of actually spending time with them.

The staff of the Ask Restaurant were very good and allowed us to sit beyond closing time and obligingly took group photos of us. We talked for a long time and it was good to refresh our contacts.  We met a three year old niece for the first time, what a sweety! She was incredibly well behaved considering that she was the only child there and totally uninterested in the conversation of adults.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and so this is another ‘gratitude blog’. I think I am very lucky in the family I have my only regret is that as so many of them are in India or Canada we see too little of them. Still perhaps it’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. All I know is that it was good to see them.

All The Lonely People. Where Do They All Come From?

One of the complaints often heard from Autistic people is that Neurotypicals speak for them without having any experience of what it is like to be on the Spectrum. My experiences over the last couple of days make me wonder whether the truth is not that they don’t have experience, but that they are not conscious of it.

I remarked a couple of days ago how much I enjoyed the lunch at which we celebrated my younger brother’s birthday. One of the primary reasons was that we all interacted with each other rather than with our mobile phones.

Today I travelled into my pub quiz by bus. Very few people on the bus were talking to each other. Very few looked out of the window at Glasgow in the evening sun. Very few read a book or newspaper. Most of the people on the bus were focussed on their phones to the exclusion of all around them. No one is supposed to use a phone during the quiz, but I often see people in bars and restaurants focused primarily on their phones.

It is a trait of many autistic people  ̶  often remarked upon ̶  that we can focus on one thing and when we do so we become oblivious to the world around us. It occurs to me that many ordinary people’s interaction with their mobile phones is not so dissimilar from autistic behaviour. Okay, some of us use our phones to avoid interacting with others face to face. However that narrowing of focus to the exclusion of extraneous stimuli looks like an autistic trait to me. I like it when I am in circumstances where I feel comfortable to interact with others round about me, these occasions are rare enough to be truly precious. I think it a little surprising that people with the facility to interact freely with others don’t. I find it strange that anyone not prone to sensory processing problems would choose to close down their ability to experience. There is a time when it is appropriate to ignore ones surroundings,  some people have little choice in the matter,  but I can’t help but feel that a lot of people are in danger of losing something of their ability to enjoy the world around them. People may think and say they cannot ever understand autists and yet seem intent on imitating us.

Other people are precious and like all things in creation, ephemeral. If you don’t appreciate them now you may log out of Facebook and find them no longer here to be appreciated.

And I Bid You Goodnight
August 15, 2014, 16:48
Filed under: social media, Writing | Tags: , , , ,


I like, when I can, to post a goodnight poem on Twitter. Needless to say, having only one hundred and forty characters enforces conciseness. Today’s blog is a selection of goodnight verses, but I shall preface them with Twitterverses about Twitterverses.

1. Sometimes I feel that I should put
    My poems into Google +
    I prefer to write in Twitter, but
   140 characters constricts me thus

2. Social media differs
     In the way one works upon it
     Twitter can bear but a quatrain
     Whereas Facebook can take a sonnet                        

3. Twitter used well
     As some people do
     Comes as close as I can tell
     To an internet Haiku

The following goodnight Twitterverses are punctuated and their abbreviations converted, they are in no particular chronological order.

So much I’d like to do and say,
but I’m too tired, here ends today.
However tomorrow I’ll be revived and bright,
I’ll say more tomorrow night.


Shattered, looking into the abyss;
There must, surely, be more to life than this.
The abyss is awfy deep,
It is time I went to sleep!


Please excuse me if I do not post
I’ve had four lovely days of the most
Enjoyable fun with my grandweans
Now I must rest, I’m all aches and pains


Today I have studiously rested,
Although my patience has been tested
In not doing all the things I need,
So that I can recover with speed.


I walked by the masts of Morrigan
Into the land of dreams.
Death may seem inevitable,
But nought is as it seems.

I go to bed, tears in my eyes,
My thoughts where Robin Williams lies.
Would that he could have carried on,
The night is darker now he’s gone.


Grandweans can run one ragged,
But I’ve had three days of fun
And now my nerves are jagged;
In, I am well and truly done!


With soft mattress and bouncy pillows
I set sail on nights dark billows,
Certain when I close my eyes,
I shall, into dreams, capsize.


As I lay me down to sleep
For Gaza’s children I shall weep,
And for the Israelis too
And the evil that they do.


In my ears the music rings
Elvis sings inside my head.
Rock and Roll has but one King
And Elvis is not dead.
Me, I’m away to bed!


Now I bid you goodnight,
And a very goodnight;
If today you felt sorrow,
May you feel joy tomorrow
In the new day’s light.

I’ve had a happy day,
Joyful thoughts fill my head
From a weekend of play,
And now it’s time for bed.


The best weekends
Are full of friends
Both old and new
With lots to do
Sharing fun
In the sun
My world’s alright
And so goodnight.


It’s hard to find, Mon Dieu,
A rhyme for Andre Rieu,
But now that’s out of my head
I can, at last, go to bed.


Today we did some walking
And quite a lot of talking.
It was a good day for us
We went sightseeing by bus.


Today was a day for the flicks
I saw an interesting mix,
Films and TV from all the world,
But best of all, The Glasgow Girls.


At last my day is done,
A day without the Sun;
There’s no cause for sorrow
Tomorrow will be fun,
A great day tomorrow.


I may, today,
Not have done
All I desired.
What can I say?
I did some,
And now I’m tired!


TV and politics,
Brit Nats and dirty tricks;
Enough to make one weep,
I’m better off asleep!


My body aches
So too my head;
I think that makes
It time for bed!


Today I have studiously rested
Although my patience has been tested
In not doing the things I need,
So I can recover with speed.

And in conclusion:
Pithiness is the order of the day
When you have only 140 characters
With which to play.
Distill well what you would say
And make every syllable pay.
(Needs editing to fit a tweet
Else it were complete)


Early Hours
September 23, 2013, 04:05
Filed under: autism, disability, NLP | Tags: , , , ,


And so, once again, as so often, I am awake at half past three when I should be sleep. I actually woke a couple of hours ago, but I’ve been lying in my bed going desperately that sleep might return, As so often it has not. I suppose I might find it easier to sleep if being awake were of less concern, but I worry I will not get the sleep I need. Eventually I find myself lying in the dark desperately struggling to nod off. I play soothing music, self hypnosis CDs, “I Can Make You Sleep” oh no you bloody can’t! I have grandparenting duties in a few hours and then a break until my nightshift, and so I am desperate to sleep, and the desperation keeps me awake. I understand the mechanism, but it’s not helping.

So now I am in a “break state”. I am up, sitting downstairs with a glass of “Gold Top” – bad for my waistline, good for my soul. As yet my cat’s soothing presence has not induced sleep, but sitting here beside him, as he gently purrs is quite relaxing, now that he’s given up head butting my arm to make me fuss him. Oops, I spoke, l or rather wrote, too soon, still he’s very pleasant company. I almost said, “in the silence”, but his purring is but one of many sounds in this long night. I shall shortly return to my bed , perhaps to sleep. Ok as I’m up I’ll just have a quick look at Facebook, hopefully that may provide an antidote to insomnia.


I Can Choose My Own Friends

As I look at all the notifications from the various social networks with which I have an account, I feel increasingly as though I am trapped in some sort of cyber holiday camp where red coats, or blue coats, are determined to make me have fun whether I like it or not.
When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s they said to me that they would send me details of social groups for people with Asperger’s, to which my wife responded, “I thought that was Facebook.”  To some extent she has a point, I do prefer to interact online. If there is one thing that annoys me, as it did when I was a child, is someone telling me with whom to play. I am perfectly capable of deciding the people with whom I want to interact without someone making suggestions. I am also more than a little fed up with the stream of suggestions for pages I should like.

Yesterday I had to report a page that presented itself into my timeline without any agreement on my part. I don’t mind country music stars pages, or pages connected to some television shows, but this was an appallingly racist site purporting to be a political party. I don’t mind some advertising on Facebook in order to pay for the service, but I do resent being forced to read racist filth presented as humour by an extremist right wing group. I am not even saying these people should not be allowed to be on Facebook, but they should not be allowed onto my timeline without my being asked and agreeing.


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