Monday, 23 March 2009

Monday 23rd March 09

Got up in time to take our youngest to school, and came back and tried to find some info on my computer about a balloon modelling workshop I'm wanting to go to on Wednesday. One of the UK's top balloonologists is doing a performance and workshop, and I want to go and learn some more... or at least get inspiration! But I found it difficult to find the info as other things kept on happening which were more immediate.

One of those was a dear friend Diane from Norwich ringing me and asking if I could do a favour. Our mutual friend G., who has some quite severe disabilities, has found himself in a tight spot financially and has no food in the house. He is expecting to receive a fuel payment on Thursday, which will mean he can go shopping, but until then, he's no food. Diane asked me if I could go to Alligator, and she'd put £20 on an account, and could I buy him some provisions and cycle them up to him? I said I could do something like that, but would ring him and ask what he wanted, and get back to her about the arrangements.

G. was surprised and very grateful and eventually got me a shopping list organised, some of which I can get at Thomas the Baker with the Yesterbake deal, some at the Co-op, some at Country Fresh, and a few bits at Alligator. I rang Diane and said that she didn't need to send Alligator any money, I'd cover the cost.

I also got a phone call from a family member who feels strongly I shouldn't ever mention about when things get difficult with family life, with bringing up children. I have already agreed to not put too many details, but I feel like I'm being blackmailed. Although this blog is ostensibly about low carbon living, I happen to be a parent, and that sometimes means I mention good times and bad times as a parent. Not everything in this diary relates to carbon emissions... there's all sorts of ethical dilemmas, and other things going on in my life which I personally feel happy to share with any reader. So I now have another dilemma... do I kow tow to someone who wishes to control what I do, someone I'd like to please and make happy... but therefore not feeling free to do as I want, or do I continue writing this blog as I want to, with occasional references to some of the difficulties which families sometimes have to face, and risk losing some of the small benefits that remaining in contact with this person might give? Do I get stressed and unhappy trying to ensure that my writing is acceptable to them, or do I keep the freedom to be myself and do what I want to do and have the knowledge that they are critical of me and don't accept me as I am, and are threatening no contact with anyone in my family because of this?

I wish they could have contact with the rest of the family and just leave me alone to do what I want to do, and accept my aspergery ways and accept me as I am. But from experience, that is unlikely. I will try to keep the blog appropriate and not put lots of details of what the children get up to but I cannot promise to 'never mention the children in a negative way' as this would give a totally unrealistic view of family life!

I did eventually find the balloon workshop info, and got train times to Featherstone which is where it's being held. I then went and did some shopping, for us as well as G.

Gill and I had lunch together and at 3.30 went to a meeting at school, which was good. Our youngest went home with a friend and eldest let himself in, and when we got in at 4.30, I collected the shopping I'd done for G. and shot off to get some fresh veg he's requested from Country Fresh and something else from Alligator. I then cycled all the way to the other side of York to deliver this to G.... but when I got there, I discovered I'd left the bread and hummus behind, doh! So I promised G that I'd come back and deliver these later.

When I got back home, there had been some interesting times. Our youngest had been out cycling around the University with the friend, but the friend cycled faster than he did and left him behind. Our little boy was then slightly lost and came over all miserable, as he didn't know how to get back to the friend's house. A lady stopped and asked him if everything was alright, and suggested to him that he find his way to a friend's house he DID know how to get to. Which is exactly what he did... and ended up at another friend's house just up the road from us. He knew that we had planned to be out, and the second friend's Mum wasn't in, so they just played. When that Mum came back, she rang and said that our boy had turned up at her place. In the meantime, friend number one was very unhappy he's lost his buddy, and his Mum was going spare trying to find our son, and was on the verge of ringing the police. So a bit of a fright, but everything turned out fine in the end.

I heard all this when I got back... and all seemed very peaceful and calm!

I did a second round-trip at about half ten, taking my trailer off to speed things up. I collected our youngest's school bag from where it had been left at the friend's house, and then cycled over the Millennium Bridge and over to G's house, delivering bread and hummus, and back over Hob Moor and home, an hours cycling exactly. Came back drenched with sweat and feeling very healthy. Whilst I'm cycling I mull over the things which have happened recently, it's good therapy, thinking time. I realised that I cannot have my life revolving around trying to please everybody, some of whom are very difficult to please! I do plenty of good things, live an ethical life - although not to everyone's liking, and I am happy with 99% of what I do. I cannot help if a few folks out there are unhappy with me. I see it as their loss and I'll live with the consequences; I will have to as I am unable to be anybody else!

Bed after 2am, as usual.


Anonymous said...

That last para is also very pertinent to myself, John. It's taken me 40 and 1/2 years and a period away from a career to come to a similar conclusion!

As the song went on CBBC the other morning - "It's OK being me"!

I, for one, accept you as you are, John.

(However, you would never catch me riding a bike with wellies on!! ;-)


Compost John said...

Thank you Robin for your acceptance and friendship. I'm glad you appear to understand my dilemma.
I will continue to be myself whether I (or anyone else!) likes it or not... and it's not always easy being me!
Wellies whilst cycling are the least of my concerns, fashion never was high on my agenda. But conversely, you'd never catch me in charge of something with an internal combustion engine, whatever it's burning!
Yours, John

Compost John said...

My friend C has written an email to me about this issue, and has given me permission to reproduce it here:
Hi John

I am sorry to see that you have a disapproving relative.

As the saying goes you can choose your friends but not your family.

If it is any help the measure I always use, which is admittedly a bit drastic is how would I feel if said disapproving person died? Would you have wished that you had still been talking to them or would you feel unbothered or even relieved that they had become compostable material?

Also is there anyone else that they are connected with who you wouldn't be able to see/talk to if you continue to be yourself. Just in case I am not making myself clear, for example, cousin disapproves so you can't talk to cousin's wife.

Or maybe they should just not read your blog if they disapprove, which would be less painful for the person concerned……or maybe they just like having something to disapprove of, some people do you know.

I am sure your blog is a great help to many, I certainly find it gives me much to think about and a very different perspective on the world.

Take care

PS One last thought, please ignore/dismiss the "after all I have done for you, you should do as I say" school of blackmail.

PPS I don't know if you should put this in the comments if your relative is still reading your blog who knows how they will feel about someone so supportive but blunt?

Well, C, that's given me something to think about, and I am being careful to not reveal who the disapproving person is as I don't wish them embarrassment. My main desire here is to be accepted 'as I am', even though I accept that I am, for some, easy to dislike and criticise, despite my good qualities.

What I want is to be able to continue to have occasional communication with this person, and for them to feel comfortable with, and see my wife and children. I accept that they will never approve of me or understand why I'm like I am (hey, like Robin, it's taken me quite a few years to get to this partial understanding!). I have asked them to stop reading my diary. I've suggested that this matter is between my wife and children and me, but they have a desire to control me. However, this will never happen. I have to want to change from within AND be mentally/physically/psychologically able to do so, and when those co-incide, change happens. I have done my best to please them and failed. I have changed the content of my blog to accommodate their wishes and apparently failed. This change has been difficult for me, and the pressure has reduced my quality of life and made me unhappy.

John, saddened by my relative's continuing attitude of judgement and disapproval.

Anonymous said...

Your relative is probably right in saying you shouldnt really mention negative stuff about your kids on an open blog. You are quite well known in your neck of the woods so people know who your kids are and I bet my life your blog gets mentioned to them at school etc.

you can say what you like about yourself, but these are kids and should have some protection, the stuff you write about them is on the internet permanently, so a certain amount of circumspection is definitely required.

however, i think there isnt a lot of point you changing things now, the stuff is already out there, its a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

Compost John said...

Thanks 'anonymous' for this, and I do try not to put 'negative' comments about my children. I think my difficulty lies in knowing what kind of comments are acceptable diary entries regarding the difficulties of parenting, and where the line in the sand is between those and the 'negative comment' type of thing.

And, so far, no-one has mentioned this blog to either of the children, and when they've read it at home, they've been ok about the content.

But I accept that once something is posted, it is archived and may be found by anyone.

I'd like to re-iterate that I love both my boys and am doing my best to be a good parent, despite my own condition and any other difficulties that are currently happening. But I also need to continue writing this blog, and will do my best to be appropriate and aware of consequences (both areas of deficit in me).
Cheers, John

Anonymous said...

Hey John!

I wasn't questioning your fashion sense!

('Cos, with the exception of your multi-coloured ganzis, I know you don't have any!! Ha ha!)

Cycling is hard enough at our age without wearing restrictive footwear!!!!

Was hoping to bump into you at the Rotters do tonight but the internal combustion engine in my missus's car conked out near Birmingham and is having to be transported home on an AA flatbed truck. I'm stuck babysitting the kids. Ho hum!

You're well shot of the blooming things - looking forward to the day I can give mine up.

(Cars that is, not kids!!)

Hope, by the time you've read this, that you've had a good time, mate!

Your friend,


PS Got my first hot heap going yesterday - well chuffed!!!!!