A mad dog Englishman….

And guess what all mad dogs and Englishmen do? Go out in the midday sun. Yet another roasting day in the big city today, temperatures hitting 90F or so. The only down side of the heat for me is the puffy eyes, streaming nose and endless sneezing. But you can’t win em all.

Off out to a meeting today. A meeting revolving around the cafe that I volunteer at. What’s the future going to be? Will I end up serving in a burger van on the A12 in Essex? Nothing like setting the bar high! 

Seriously though, the meeting will discuss how long we’ll be able to stay open, amongst other things. The staff within the hospital must like us and the affordable prices, otherwise we wouldn’t do so well. Hopefully this time, the stays of execution that the cafe seems to get might be a thing of the past and that something more permanent is in the offing. May be longer opening hours and more days of the week. We shall see, nothing lasts forever. The drivers on the A12 may be spared my wit and repartee for a few months longer….but I digress.

On a train, no air conditioning. 21st century technology haven’t reached some of London’s trains. So the passengers have to sit in a sweat box. It’s lucky that it’s midday rather than morning or evening, where it’s standing room only, and the whiff of smelly armpits pervades the carriage. Not mine, I hasten to add. My personal hygiene is reasonable, before anyone asks.

That’s enough for now. 

Allen Brooks xx

Wise counselling….

Afternoon. Today saw a return to seeing my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) counsellor. I felt a need to offload a lot of stuff that has been troubling me the last 3 or so weeks.

The place I went today was the place where I was born, back in 1972. It looks vastly different today, with a hotch potch of buildings dotted everywhere. The main local mental health team are based here. Today, as I stood outside in the blistering June heat, I couldn’t help but notice that the whole site is being redeveloped. The building works look unsightly and doesn’t pay tribute to the hospital’s former life as a maternity unit. 

I went into the room and was down, unsettled and not feeling 100%. By the end of the hour, I felt a bit better, having offloaded a lot of troubling information to the counsellor. As always, she was insightful and sympathetic. The summing up of what has been going on recently is namely this:- I am going through a depressive episode, of a mild to moderate nature.

To qualify that, I must say that I have had no dark or suicidal thoughts. Not in the least. But I have stopped enjoying, for the most part, some of the activities that I usually enjoy, such as cricket and going out in the nice weather, something that I haven’t done. 

There’s been a whole mixture of tiredness, fatigue, subconscious thoughts, lack of enjoyment, anxiety and a mild to moderate depression. There’s also been a feeling of loss and grief thrown in. I feel ready to burst into tears at any moment. My mind is like a food blender. Throw in all the ingredients and you don’t have a good result. 

This will take time to resolve. I go through these spells. Autism is the underlying cause. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger, other times it’s not so obvious. It’s all fairly inexplicable. But I feel slightly easier in offloading to someone I know will listen and offer sympathy and some good ways to move forward.

I’ll try not to isolate myself completely, but at times, it’s the only answer. Not facing up to people is the only way to deal with the problem. But even just going to the shop, escaping from the self imposed exile just for a while, helps a little. I can have a walk and try and forget things.

But it isn’t easy. None of this is. I’m stuck with autism now for the rest of my life. Coping on a daily basis is a big battle. One I’ve fought before, and one I’ll fight again. 

Allen Brooks xx

A proud servant….

This is my late father, resplendent in his military uniform and medals. He was proud to serve his country over 70 years ago, and I am proud to reproduce his picture here. He may have passed on 26 years ago this July, but on Father’s Day in the UK, I will always remember him with love, devotion and affection. 

Allen Brooks xx

Fanning the flames….

The other day in London, a tower block in the west side of the city caught fire, trapping several people inside, and even more regrettably, leading to the deaths of several others.

Tower blocks were built in the 1960s in the UK, mainly for families on low incomes, in other words, social housing. This was the way forward, it was claimed. I’m not taking any political sides here, as governments of all persuasions have failed in their duty to build safe social housing.

Yes, let’s be like America, we said back in the 1960s. Let’s build 20 storey blocks and herd people in there. Let the social deprivation spread. Let the dangers of fire spread. Death traps.

I can quote some examples. I used to live in a tower block for the first six months of my life. Of course, I didn’t realise how dangerous they could be. I’ve seen some shocking tower blocks in my local area, thankfully, demolished and other builds, such as prefab or bungalows built instead. Tower blocks are an example of the deprivation that exists in all parts of the UK. People deserve better to live in proper social housing, with the appropriate safety checks and balances in place.

Tower blocks were built with asbestos. Asbestos was a fire retardant. Then the authorities realised that asbestos was a danger to people’s health. So they did away with asbestos. Very little fire retardant materials exist in modern day tower blocks. It’s a catch 22 situation. The terrible events of the other day in Kensington bring home to those who rule, that safety should never, ever be compromised.

The aftermath? Lots of anger, fear and disillusionment, especially over the failures of the local council on safety checks, and of the national government’s inaction. 50 odd years we’ve had, 50 odd years of problems with social housing. “They have to live somewhere” goes the refrain, they presumably meaning the less well off. But that doesn’t stop them being treated appallingly badly and herded into a high rise death trap that, inevitably, will turn into an inferno.

What now? Public inquiry. But that is not going to placate the anger of the residents of Grenfell Tower and it’s surrounds. The people who perished cannot be brought back. But answers need to be provided. The provision of safety and the provision of decent social housing is surely worth more than penny pinching and profiteering, or am I missing something. Tower blocks are a shameful indictment of how the poor are treated in the UK. Unless something is done, that indictment will stand for a very long time.

Allen Brooks xx

There is something going on….

Hello. A good indicator if I’m feeling ok is the fact that I go out and enjoy some activities, like cricket umpiring, or enjoying this very fine and hot weather that is here.

Well, my enthusiasm for cricket umpiring, or just cricket in general, has ebbed away for the time being. This has been the case for the last few years, and I’m unable to think of a good reason why. For the first two months of the season, April and May, I was throwing myself into the cricket and largely enjoying it. Now that has ended abruptly. Last week saw myself pull out of scoring duties within an hour of the scheduled start. Anxiety was the main cause. This weekend, numbness and shock seem to be the overriding emotions. Again, at a loss to explain why. 

Why aren’t I going out and enjoying the hot weather? Why aren’t I indeed? I don’t want to. Whereas I usually leap at the chance to go to the beach and relax, I’m sitting in the flat, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, uninterested. My brain is operating on a reduced level. I’ve gone backwards, again. 

I don’t know how I managed to go out to do volunteering or the peer support group the other day. Maybe there was a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hopefulness that this may be a blip, and I will return to normal soon. In fact, it’s a pattern that reflects the last few years. Enthusiasm and enjoyment to start, overtaken by loss and bewilderment. Perhaps my counsellor will shed some light on Monday afternoon. Perhaps.

Sorry that I can’t be more optimistic or positive. That’s how I feel today.

Allen Brooks xx

El Scorchio….!!

It’s been extremely, some might say, dangerously hot in parts of Southern Europe, with temperatures topping out at 100 Fahrenheit or more. Unbearable heat.

Some of that is wafting it’s way to the UK. The weekend could see temperatures in the 90s. The trouble is, it’s coinciding with the hay fever season and the rise in pollution. I’m not complaining mind you. After being totally windswept and soaked by a ghastly Tuesday last week, this is all very welcome.  Could be beach and factor 30 time again. Now where is a lovely lady to rub sun tan cream on my back? Nowhere to be seen…story of my life!

Enjoy it!

Allen Brooks xx