the art of negotiating, more on autism

Elizabeth Pepys, wife of Samuel

The diary of Samuel Pepys of 1 May 1664

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed. Went not to church, but staid at home to examine my last night’s accounts, which I find right, and that I am 908l. creditor in the world, the same I was last month.

Nice to know that these now famous people have a day off, relatively speaking. Interestingly, Pepys did not see himself as famous. He just liked keeping a diary and only stopped when he was fearful for his eyesight. The fame came because in retrospect people now see the keeping of the diary as a unique record of the time, most commonly associated with the record of the Fire of London.

the fire of London at its height

Anyway about today’s entry,  Pepys took his wife on the Thames and met some friends at a Halfway House, 3 miles from London Bridge at which they dined and conversed. No telephones in those days. You had to sit down and actually talk to someone my goodness whatever next.

Today I feel a need to move forward in my dealings with the hospital. Last week I made a proposal to them about a certain matter which must be private for the moment. In any large organisation there is the immediate reaction of the people present at the meeting to be considered,and then as a totally different matter their obligation to fit in with the terms and conditions of the management of the institution concerned whatever it is.

Any new scheme needs to be scrutinised and although a pessimistic view should not be taken, investigations have to be made to ensure that the integrity of the scheme is whiter than white. It is a good idea never to have to rely on one person. No one is indispensable.

Any proposal for anything needs to have not only an idea, but relevant experience i.e. a track record and an understanding of the particular section of society to which they are addressing themselves. I have tried to put myself in the position of the receiver of the idea to see what problems they could spot down the line. This is partly because I tend to be a victim of my own enthusiasm, or fail to see, or want to see, the potential flaws and weaknesses (not quite the same meanings by the way).

I did a revised piece over the weekend, as a follow-up to the meeting I have put in a proposal as a consequence of
1.  what was said by the other parties at the meeting
2.  how it was said
3.  what was not said
4. No own thoughts since the meeting

That is why time should elapse, preferably overnight, before we decide how to respond to anything. The phrase “make haste slowly” comes to mind otherwise known as festina lente or “more haste less speed’. The Emperor Augustus used this as his motto.

I’m enjoying reading the book that I mentioned previously “The Reason I Jump” dictated by an autistic young man. It should be compulsory reading for everybody with a child with such a condition. It is very easy read with each chapter consisting of about two pages if that. One of these chapters I like very much so here is a quote therefrom.

Q – Why do you enjoy going out for walks so much?
A – “…The reason is that when we look at nature, we receive a sort of permission to be alive in the world, and our entire bodies get recharged. However often were ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts…. Green is life, and that’s the reason we love to go out for walks.”

So, the image of these people being stupid is completely erroneous. They just can’t get the thoughts out into the outside world like the rest of us do.

So, I have sent my magic letter off to the NHS and compressed the points down to one side of A4 and now all I can do is sit and wait.

And now for a complete change of subject or as John Cleese used to say in Monty Python

“and now for something completely different”

I have a friend who shall be nameless who is in a lot of financial and job difficulty. She knows all this but her pride prevents her from accepting help never mind sympathy. it’s difficult to ring up and say brightly, “well how are you then” when I will probably be snapped at  for my troubles. I think sometimes people have to be left to sort themselves out on their own.

They know what they have done and they know the consequences of it and it is very corny to say “well, I’m here if you need me” but that’s what I want to say. Maybe I send a card or an e-mail or even a text. I’m reluctant to do any of those and I think all I can do is to just bear them in mind and hope that I have the sort of vibe that will encourage them to call if they have such a need.  A helpful thing that I have just thought of is that I’m not the only friend or contact of the person and if they don’t feel comfortable talking to me then maybe there is someone else who has far more experience and rapport than I do who can help them just fine.

A cartoon of Maxine which is hung in the main bar

To lunch at the Old Down Inn. As ever, the one and only Maxine, the owner, looks after us all in her own way. I recall a Pub in Cape Town, South Africa, which was run by a person of great character who looked after individuals like he’s known them for ages. The time came to sell and he sold to someone who looked at the figures and found them good but what were not contained in the figures was the fact that the original owners’ popularity was what kept the place going. Without him, trade eventually disappeared and the new buyer sold at a loss. People do not come to pubs just to drink but for the atmosphere and the friendly nature of the landlord. I think someone with the right personality could resurrect a pub from the dead but it’s not something you learn, it’s either something you have got or you haven’t. You either like people or you don’t.

Maxine has it, by the spade full.


Radio Five Live and the hard avocado


Never let it be said that I am the late riser. Today as I look out of my study window at 6.09 AM the sun’s power is slowly increasing, the sky is blue without a cloud and the odd bird is fluttering around.

Louise Cooper and Sean Farrington – hmm – looks like a photoshop interposition

‘Wake Up With Money’ is part of Radio Five’s weekday morning routine. Sean and Louise are up there bright as buttons. How they manage to combine family lives with getting up at some ungodly hour in the morning beats me.  What normal person would do this type of thing?  Mind you, normal people bore me to death so maybe it doesn’t matter if they are as mad as Hatters. The pair, not to mention the producers and support staff, must be up at the latest at 3:30 AM and probably before. I hope they don’t live too far from the studio in Manchester. I recall the song ‘Sixteen Tons’ sung by Johnny Cash including the words ” I sold my soul to the company store” and I suppose you have to do this with such punishing hours.

So where does the avocado come into this? This morning’s topic was on the price and availability of food and they were lamenting the shortages of this and that including avocados. I was listening in bed via my earpiece while my other half remained in the arms of Morpheus. I do not mean Morpheus as in the film The Matrix because that would mean something far more sinister and existential. I mean Morpheus as in morphine. Sean, one of the presenters, was talking about avocados. I noticed during a recent trip to Bristol that they were being sold at for £1.50 for two, but they were inevitably as hard at bullets and need to be rested for a week or so before you can eat them. They almost need a “Best eaten after” date label.

no, surely the squeeze test is from end to end?

I felt I had to make some contribution to the program so, bleary eyed, I crawled or should I say crept out of bed into the living room, turned on my device and texted the following comment to 85058 “what is the point in buying an avocado that is as hard as a bullet irrespective of price. Brian”.  I took off my glasses and crept back into bed and put my earpiece on again. Lo and behold, I heard my own words being repeated back to me by the presenter. We have a text from Brian……..   If I may say so, that is blistering efficiency.

Radio Five Live have won a number of awards and they deserve them. They keep the standards high, bright and witty. It is the station to respond quickest to any developing news item and seems to be oblivious whether it is night or day. This contrasts with the increasingly widespread use of that dreadful “breaking” appellation so beloved of certain channels particularly in the USA where the most trivial news items are “breaking”. Nothing is too trivial to be used as a diversion from getting people to actually think. I regard the audiences at some TV shows as members of a ” performing animal circus” where the audience is lit up in blue and red for some reason and have obviously been prepared by some manic producer to whoop and hoot at the slightest display of individuality or eccentricity. This shows what a curmudgeonly being I am for which I take full responsibility and frankly at my age I can say anything I like because no one will take any notice.

For some reason, this type of dreadful dumbing down trend does not apply to Radio Five Live. I listen to it more during the night than during the day and you will be amazed how many people want to give their opinions at 2:30 AM in the morning. They are not nerds, just people with brains who want to find an outlet for their views and expressions. I’m not saying I’m delirious about every aspect of this channel. On the Wake Up programme referred to above, Rico from Singapore gets on my nerves a little bit by prefacing every other sentence with “Sean Louise”. Credit to him, though, he is always full of beans, completely positive, and the biggest gossip about the financial world and stock market trends that I know of.

“if you get it wrong again I will kill you” – Louise having a controlled mental crisis (I’m only joking)

Other irritating things on R5Live are a wall blast compilation of sports achievements where the final moments of winning a football game, a Formula 1 motor race, or some other act of sporting prowess are related at hysterical breakneck speed. It is then when I take my earpiece out of my ear. But they are forgiven. I suppose you got to wake the dead somehow.

However, for sheer consistency in being on the ball, editorially brave, and bantering in a happy journalistic way, R5Live takes a lot of beating.  I was going to say they “take the biscuit” but that expression can have a pejorative meaning. This phrase is either the equivalent of ‘taking the cake’, meaning to take the first prize, or that behaviour ‘takes the biscuit’, or even worse ‘that just about takes the biscuit’  because of its shocking nature.

Such a wonderful language is English. Take the word ‘live’. How does a naive student of English know how to pronounce the same word with two meanings.  Is it ‘i’ as in idiot or ‘i’ as in eye. However, learning English is nothing compared with Hungarian and Finnish (the Finno Ugrian group of languages including Estonian) not to mention Icelandic. if I wanted to say “Hungarian is difficult to learn” it would be “A magyar nyelv nehéz tanulni”. or with Icelandic “Íslenska er erfitt að læra”.  Aren’t we so lucky we were born in an English-speaking country, or are we?

We could have a poll to decide which language is easiest to learn. I would say Spanish. Anyway, it is now 7.13 AM and time for another coffee. The day has not even started for most people. I feel a tiny bit smug about that but not so much as I would tell anyone.