Tuesday, December 08, 2015

My Life With A Man Who Has Aspergers (Updated from 2013)

Had two sleepless night due to my husband being awake turning the house upside down, clearing out stuff, it's driving me mad. I wrote about him annoying me and got some stick from people, saying I should be more understanding. Well read this thing i wrote in 2013.

"Who washed the dishes?" my husband asked last week.  
I put up my hand and said wearily "I did, what did I do wrong?" he sighed, rolled his eyes and brought me through by the hand to show me that I had stacked the plates facing the right instead of his preferred left. I promptly fixed them as he stared at them closely to check they were done right. He gave me a lecture that I was putting 'the plates wrong, they could fall and break and the knives and forks need to be facing down" He still reminds me of this daily.

No, am not married to the bloke from Sleeping With The Enemy, though I do say that onstage. I am married to a man who has Aspergers and now has been recently told he may have low spectrum Autism.

I watched him as he stood in the kitchen with me, 33 years of marriage down the line, I recall the sixteen year old boy who put a diamond ring on my finger one month and pretty soon after that, he tried to commit suicide as he 'felt out of his skin'. Not something the doctors of Glasgow Royal Infirmary understood in 1980. Not something his hard -nosed gangster father who had six other sons could make sense of either -which is understandable.

I try hard not to think of the sleepless nights of the 80s where he ranted, raved and would develop violent rages that left me exhausted and terrified. I try hard to recall the young man who tenderly held his baby daughter moments after she was born and asked a bewildered midwife if he could 'now take the baby home and I could follow when am ready' (he was convinced Ashley would hate the feel of the hospital sheets).

The memories of the social awkwardness when he would ask the strangest questions of people like "Do you like boiled beef?" in the middle of a normal business conversation as that thought had just popped into his head, still make me shudder. Or the times when he would deliver a monologue on his favourite Roman Emperors as I am trying to tell him I have a lump in my breast. And then me laughing as he gave me space to explain the breast lump and the minute my mouth shut he explained Claudius in depth and ignored my concern, still make me giggle.

Loud sudden noises, velvet, courgettes, aubergines, lemon flavoured cakes, people being factually incorrect, Princess Diana, public displays of grief for celebrities, reality shows about talentless people, people who don't pick up litter, pets in small apartments, large cutlery, square plates, comedy oversized glasses, clowns, Michael Jackson, speaking to people, comedy where people have to join in and clap or stand up etc, people who cycle through traffic lights, audio libraries that release part 5 of a series of ten and not the previous four books are just some of the THINGS he HATES.

Black pens, lists, opera, poetry, buying five pairs of his favourite shoes, Roman history, audio books, history books, collections of elastic bands, soft fabrics, warm coffee cakes, mint tea, babies, doing anything with numbers, driving, photography, small cutlery, china cups- are just some of the things he loves.

His Aspergers can control his basic emotions, for example when my beloved step mum was dying in a hospital bed, he sat with her for hours and when she finally passed he was distraught as he couldn't feel the same sadness as everyone. We were deep in grief and he announced to the gathered family "I dont feel anything, what is wrong with me?" I ushered him away from the sad group to explain "that's not nice to say to people who do feel stricken" he nodded and walked away bewildered.

His need to walk to the right shop and buy the milk that is cheapest, the exhausting way he associates words I am saying into the line of a song he remembers, his compelling drive to wake up and move everything about in the cupboards as it has 'been bothering him all night' can be so frustrating to live with.

Imagine living with a man who had done so many hurtful things that are seared into your memory, yet you can't recriminate as the majority of them are due to a syndrome he lives with? There is no marriage guidance for a man who doesn't understand  what he did wrong and his only answer is "leave me then, am damaged".

This is the man in 1996, who demanded we all sit in a darkened hotel room at Disney Land Orlando and not turn the TV on as he wanted to sleep and me and his ten year old daughter weren't to move. I can still recall the tantrum he took when we walked into the sunshine and left him behind. I still recall the tears of confusion as he tried to explain why he behaved like that when we returned. Our daughter will have her own tale to tell and I can't speak for her here. She loves her dad.

I love this man and yet when I see other women sit round dinner tables at events I attend to do comedy or go to a night out, I feel a deep pang of jealousy. My husband will never dress in a dinner suit and pour me wine and chat idly to the guy on his left, neither did he see me collect any of the comedy awards that I won, as he can't cope with those events.

He sat in the car near a beach in Troon on the day his daughter graduated university as he was worried he would embarrass her in front of her peers. He listened to his favourite Roman book as she walked off the stage. I watched other proud parents hug each other and I felt alone, yet relieved he wasn't in a situation that would stress him.

My husband in his younger days was very sociable, he ran a bar and used to regularly take customers on European bus runs and host events in the pub. Having spoken to his psychologist it turns out he was 'role playing' the part. Is he 'role playing' being my husband? Is he 'pretending' to be a father?


I don't believe he is. I believe that his role playing was his 'coping mechanism'.
He faked to the world that he was regular member of society and inside waited for the world to catch him being the fake he always felt.
It is no surprise his mental health suffered, and explains his few suicide attempts and his struggle to make sense of a world where he doesn't feel he can fit in.

The upside's are he is completely accepting of every race, creed, colour and sexuality. He doesn't think lateral he thinks literal, and doesn't understand why anyone would discriminate against people for no good reason.

He was a feminist back in the early 80s when men in the East End of Glasgow were worse than radio sport commentators of today. He takes people as he finds them and doesn't have a single Daily Mail bone in his body, as that attitude doesn't make any sense to him.

He is also great when I need someone to run my comedy past, as he can immediately tell me if he doesn't understand the joke or what am trying to say, and makes me reword stories so they make more sense.

When asked to describe his Aspergers he said "Every day I fight with emotions and feelings I can't control, I suppose it's like being homosexual and trying to pretend am straight to the world, or I feel like my skin doesn't feel right and my brain wants to take me into a place I can't get out of. Sometimes there are so many things to cover up in one day, my dyslexia, my depression, my inability to make eye contact, my disdain of other people, my obvious disinterest when someone talks to me and I don't want them near me anymore...it's hard to hide all that inside....and the knowledge of all the things I did to you".

He just sounds like a grumpy old man, but he isn't he can be hilarious and loves that I joke about his syndrome on stage. He can be funny with people he trusts and they are very few, he can be a constant font of information as he retains screeds of facts and figures. His advice on relationships to my girlfriends is utterly genius "he doesn't call you because he doesn't like you enough, get over him now and find a man that isn't indifferent to your needs". (they prefer his advice over mine every time).

The array of nieces and nephews love their uncle and as they got older understood he was 'a bit different' but always found him loving and helpful.

Last year we had booked a Disney on Ice for our wee niece Abigail, I got ill and couldn't take her. Husband stepped in and sat through a giant arena of screaming kids and Disney caterwauling. She was over the moon and explained later "Uncle loved it and sung along with every song" he told us later it was utter hell, the seats were velvet and he faked the whole evening to keep her happy. That's one of the many reasons I love him.

Our daughter is very proud of her dad and her mates come to him for support and advice and even stay over when we are both out of the country on tour, as they enjoy his company and like to hang out with him.

If you are ever in need of someone to face a dilemma with my husband is the most practical, helpful and rational person you could find. He cuts through all emotion and sorts the problems.
When asked what he is happiest about, he often says "that my daughter can read, write and is educated"


I once asked him if he was relieved that Ashley doesn't have Aspergers and he replied "That's a stupid thing to say, she doesn't have it, why would you ask that stupid question, as if you would consider your kid being any other way than the way she is" and that is a brilliant Aspergers answer. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

MY VERSION OF BRIEF ENCOUNTER

Watched 'Brief Encounter', that old Lovely Black and white film by David Lean and written by Noel Coward.

Starring Celia Johnston and Trevor Howard.
It really is a fantastic film and so well shot.

Although I cannot stop laughing at the whole thing, poor Celia plays a well kept middle class woman who lives in Bromley (Somewhere like that), her husband is a banker who wears a full three-piece suit at home (including waistcoat) and looks around 67 although he is probably only 26! 

He likes to stand near the open fire dressed in an axminster suit sweating buckets and puffing on a pipe.

They have two kids, a boy and a girl, both have cut glass English accents that I swear to God -Prince Charles would have struggled to maintain, I have never heard such upper class pronunciation!!

Celia also has a cook and house keeper. It seems her only duty is to go shopping for some vegetables and wander round Boots in a tight constricted wool coat with big buttons. 

Sweating lots is a feature in this family.


Can she do this locally? 
NO fucking chance she has to get a train into the nearest town.

In the station there is a proper tea room with a slovenly older woman who flirts with that bloke who played the working class dad in My Fair Lady...him that sang "I'm getting married in the morning" there is a coal fire (there is an open fire in almost every scene).

 The very common people in the train tea room are the only believable characters in the film.

This woman takes a train and picks up some shopping, a few books from 'Boots'?? Then she goes to the 'pictures'. 

The 'pictures' being the movies...this lazy bastard picks carrots, books and a movie...then stares at some local statues round town, then wanders home to eat the cook’s dinner.


Anyway one day it all goes very different.

She meets a doctor by chance at the well frequented train station and gets his attention as she gets a 'bit of dust in her eye'. 

He pokes the corner of a hankie into her eyeball....all being a metaphor for his cock and they are suddenly .....staring at each other.

Before long they are meeting up every week as she goes shopping and then off to the 'pictures' with her new friend.

I have never seen so many smokers in my life as in that picture house, (Jesus the smoke is so thick I am surprised that people can see the screen). It was like a smoking competition.

They start to get excited about meeting up despite both of them being married; Trevor explains that his wife is very small, dark and very frail. 
Which suggests he cannot have sex with her in case she breaks, but he never explains her illness, which is weird as he is a doctor. He could have told us the secretive bastard.

This is in the social era when if a woman 'looked' at another man in any sexual way she gets sent to a mental health sanctuary to get 'electric shock treatment ' Yet despite the social taboos they continue to keep each other company.

They meet up and they go into the country for a walk, have a wee boat ride, in which he falls into the water-then they both go to the boatyard to dry off and of course MAKE TEA (as if to go a whole day without tea would have been insufferable). 

She dries his sodden smelly socks over the hot stove (yet another coal fire) in the boat house as the poor boat house attendant sits in a bad mood as posh people have hogged his heat. 

They fall in love over the steam of wet woollen socks.

He tells her that their affair has driven him to leave England and live abroad as they can never be together. 

He suggests going to his friend's apartment for some quiet time and a last goodbye-(yeah right mate!) and leaves her to think about it when she refuses to come along. Celia strolls around the station debating whether or not to go with Trevor; it was a big dilemma for her.

Her head was saying “Go home bake cakes"

But her pussy was shouting “Eat Me!!”

Eventually she ends up in the flat (which was very swish and YUPPIE-ish for mid- 1940's) and sitting there with her doctor friend, the sexual tension was palpable...Just when you think they may actually touch knees- they are interrupted by the doc's mate (Who incidentally is the gayest man I have EVER seen in my life).

Celia flees the apartment by the back door in a running hysteria (how awful when one has to leave by the service entrance) and goes running through the streets hysterical, dishevelled and ends up sitting in the park smoking and crying pulling Kirby grips from her hair (this appears to be such unruly behaviour in Bromley that even a policeman stops to comment and check on her!)

She eventually phones her husband at home and lies easily about being out so late without an escort, (She should have fucked her doctor, she was a competent liar and could have carried it off).

She then walks to the railway station soaking wet and sad and meets Trevor in the tea room (he had been looking for her all over the statues and benches of Bromley frantically) and now is saying his final goodbye as he is going to emigrate to South Africa (Hopefully not to buy a farm coz that will surely end in tears, posh English farmers don’t fit in well, especially with a weak sick wife).

They are interrupted by a 'beastly but kindly? Woman friend (who talked too much-that would be my role in that movie!) 

Therefore, they don’t get to say goodbye properly! (they drink four cups of tea; I am convinced it's all the fucking caffeine that's making them so highly strung).

Trevor simply squeezes her shoulder as he leaves the tea room to catch his train home to his frail skinny wife with a nameless wasting disease.

Celia gets so upset she dashes onto the platform. The express train comes hurtling through and she contemplates suicide! 

But she can't do it as she is too posh and English also she knows there are dishes to arrange for summer picnics and socks to mend by a roaring fire.

(seriously lady -go home and touch yourself woman, get a grip)

Finally she goes home to her husband who is still wearing a three piece Wooster thick tweed suit sitting trying to do a crossword in a house with a roaring coal fire...(fuck he must be sweating & dying to strip off and sit in his vest like a Northern unemployed man that he has read about in the newspaper).

Celia sits and darns socks as she looks kindly at her fat woolly husband and thinks to herself...."I am just an ordinary housewife in an ordinary house...how did this happen to me?".

I will tell you why, you fancied another man, the thought of sleeping in twin satin covered beds with a man who is clad in wool and smokes a pipe who cannot fucking finish a cross word without interrupting your private thoughts was KILLING you. 

You wanted a blonde skinny dashing doctor who loves the movies, smokes fags and seems to work a three day week for the NHS and had time to hang out on boating lakes, and took you for champagne lunches, he even had a fancy Pied- a -Terre and a snappy gay friend....it's OK to admit it!


I think I will watch "To kill a Mocking bird " next and give my version of that?