Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category


I’m in the new flat. It’s so different to the old house, smaller, no gardens, just bricks. Outside it’s rows and rows of houses. Big, small, terraced, semis, detached. Houses of all shapes and sizes with equally different and diverse families in them. It’s all so different to what I’m used to, to what I know. It’s overwhelming my senses having to learn a new area, meet new people, start life all over again. It’s all I can do to just get out of bed. I’m finding it difficult to cope, don’t know what to do or who to turn to. I pull the duvet over my head and take comfort in the dark. I’m happy now.


It’s my first year at Tong and I’m doing well academically. I’m getting top grades in all my subjects and soon will be progressing to the top tier. I’m still living on Holmewood at this point and walking to Marks everyday to call for him and go to school with him. I’m enjoying life, enjoying school. Everything seems so easy, so much fun. Little do I know how life is going to take a turn that will forever alter my life and turn it upside down. Life won’t be as easy after this event. This is when life gets hard for me.


In the days before we had a party for every occasion we had just one, the Valentines Day disco and the one from 1978 at Holme Middle is one I will never forget for the wrong reasons. I was at the disco with Mark and everybody was dancing, drinking pop and pairing up. I went over to a girl, a really nice girl and asked her for a dance. She looked at me and said no, just like that. I felt gutted. Rejected at an early age and little did I know it would set a pattern for me and the fairer sex although I didn’t know it at the time. I think I just went and sat down somewhere and had some pop wondering why she was dancing with everybody else but said no to me. I don’t remember any other parties although I’m sure there was but this one I do remember for all the wrong reasons but that’s life and sometimes we learn lessons at an early age that only have meaning later on in life when we have gained experience and have time to reflect on what has happened to us and give us an understanding as to why things happened the way they did.


One experience I remember vividly from Holme Middle is taken an English test comprising of spelling, grammar and a story and getting over 90% on grammar and the story and failing miserably at spelling. I still achieved over 200 marks out of 300 despite getting no more than 10 marks for spelling and my English teacher praised me for my imaginative and well written story and said had I achieved a similar mark on my spelling as I did on the other 2 papers I would have achieved the highest mark ever. At Tong I wrote a story about a racing car that had a 6th gear, at the time a 5 speed gearbox was only just coming onto the market, and how it won the race because of this 6th gear. This story got me moved up into the top class for English and maths. It was evident from an early age I had a natural talent for English and for story telling but in the 70s going to school on a rough council estate there was no opportunities to take this further and see how far I could go with it. Nobody was there to offer to mentor me or advise me what I could do with my talent to see where I could go. Maybe my life would have turned out very differently, a best selling novelist and playwright perhaps, or maybe it would have been no different to how it has turned out. I’ll never know but it would have been interesting to have known. For me this was the first of many missed opportunities to do something I enjoy doing and had a natural gift for. Don’t waste any opportunities that come your way, they don’t come along very often.


Or more specifically why does the Upper Calder Valley which is the area around Luddenden, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, feel like the place of dreams and mystery to me? This is something I’ve been wondering about ever since I discovered the Upper Calder Valley a couple of years ago and now I’ll try and answer my question.

How did I discover this stunning place? It came by chance when I get into running a couple of years ago. I started out on the roads, pounding the tarmac 2 or 3 times a week, gradually building up my distance and venturing further afield. Soon though I started to feel limited by where I could go. The roads were stunting my development as a runner and person and I realised that I was running past places when I could be running through them.

I started out running round Ogden Water a local reservoir and quickly progressed to running to the Top Withens of Bronte fame high above Haworth. I still remember my first run up there on a calm April evening. It was hard work going up but on the down to the Bronte waterfalls it was as if I was flying. Running was effortless and I flowed from one footstep to the next. I was free at last. No one around to hinder my progress the only limit was my imagination and my bravery in where I went. Out here there are no limits apart from you.

I started to explore Haworth Moor and the surrounding area and soon I wanted somewhere new to go and I discovered the Upper Calder Valley.

I can’t remember my first run round there or even my first walk. I wish I could. I’d been to Hebden Bridge before but that was many years ago and it was a far away place to me. I began going back to Hebden Bridge when I went to a writing group there and maybe it was the drive over the moors that sparked my interest in running around there. Seeing the vast expanse of wild, untamed moorland, inviting me to explore its insides and spit me out the other side, made me went to do so. Me against nature at its best and worse. Nature doesn’t care if I don’t try because someone else will but try and nature will reward you with beauty and adventures beyond your imagination.

And so somewhere the area around Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden slowly drew me into it’s fabric, it’s heart and soul, constantly challenging me as a runner and a person to come in and experience a little bit more before sending me away to reflect and digest on what I have just seen and heard before I go back for more.

It’s not just the landscapes that seem to stretch for miles that inspire me and give me food for thought. Nor the fact that you can go 100 yards and you are in a different village, another 100 yards and it’s somewhere else, but it’s the history of the place that you can feel seeping through the ground under every footstep, the history of men, women and children who walked these footpaths and packhorse trails going to work in the mills, going to try and sell cloth and bread to feed their families in all weathers, hot, draining summer sunshine and knee deep snow with bitter, cold winds blowing in their faces. It is said a lot these days that people back then were made of sterner stuff, hardy souls who went about their business without complaining.

Maybe they did complain but it’s just not recorded and maybe they had no choice but to just get on with it and not worry about what may happen to them if they undertook these arduous journeys but worry about what would happen if they didn’t. But now when I walk or run around this area I can only imagine how it must have been for these hardy people who did these journeys day after day because they had to not because they wanted to. At times it must have been soul destroying, other times they must have felt as I do that they have entered the Garden of Eden.

And maybe it is this that keeps drawing me back, this feeling of history down every footpath and trail that I run up and down, a wonderment of how people survived in what at times will have been an incredibly harsh environment but survive they did and when the sun is shining through the clouds on the valley below I can only hope that at least some of those people experienced the same view I did and felt at peace with themselves and the world even if only for a few minutes, taking in the natural beauty that is the Upper Calder Valley.


This is a poem I wrote some time ago but it seems appropriate to post today because it’s my first week back at university and it’s also ‘Poetry Day’ too. Have a great day everybody 🙂

Approaching the building tall and imperious

In appearance it could house

Anything inside its vast system

Of caves, caverns and tunnels

But I know better because I have

Been to this place before

This is a place of words, pictures and images

Dreamt up by people far and wide

Names we know but many we don’t

Where theory and counter theory

Are discussed and debated at length

Long into a star lit night

Where reputations are forged from pages

And pages of volumes of thoughts

All arranged neatly in rows

Where questions can be answered

And further questions asked

Essay’s, assignments, thesis’s and more

Are all carefully crafted using the knowledge of others

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Of the past and taking their

Work to new undreamt of levels

Knowledge from the past is

Merged with knowledge from the present

To become the knowledge of the future

Row after row, aisle after aisle

Sits in this place waiting to be

Discovered by a new generation

Eager to absorb it all into their minds

And use it for the benefit of all

People on earth for all of mankind

To some this is just a building

To others it is a library to go and read in

But to me it is much, much more

Then any of this

To me this place and others like it

Are the Great Halls of Learning

Where thousands of years of knowledge

Is there for all to read and absorb

And pass on to generation after generation

For all of eternity and beyond

 

 


This is a three part interview I did in 2011 on how I live with Asperger’s. I hope you like it and welcome any comments you may have.

Thanks

Andy


He remembers that first day at school

On a cold September morn as his mother

Let go of his hand for the first time and let it

Drop to the floor, kissed him on the forehead,

Turned around and left him there alone for the

First time in a field of unfamiliar faces, a

Landscape of slow motion figures, revolving

Around him like a L.S. Lowry painting and then

They see him, a gaggle of kids looking for the

Vulnerable, those alone, easy meat to pick on,

Waiting to strike them, destroy them in the blink of an

Eye before anyone notices what is happening

And then they begin their attack, moving slowly,

Encircling their prey like a pack of wild chimps

Ready for the right moment to set about their

Victim, and he is alone in a wall of noise as

Figures past by not seeing him, avoiding him

Not wanting to be there when they tear into him,

And the first punch comes from nowhere and he

Falls to the cold, dark ocean of asphalt, his body

Sinking deep into it before rebounding ready for the

Next kick as faceless objects peer down at him

Laughing, mocking, enjoying seeing him in

Confusion and pain, asking why, why, why,

And the beating begins like a shower of meteor’s

Ripping into the earth from everywhere and

Then it stops as the clock strikes ten and this

Asphalt space is devoid of life,

No more noise, no more movement,

No more beating’s, and he lays on the skin

Of the earth the only sign of humanity in

This violent landscape


How she longs to feel his body next to

Hers once again, to be pulled so

Close to him that they become one

And she can feel his skin breathing

On hers, his heartbeat pulsing through

The tips of his fingers as they bathe in

Pools of morning dew created by a storm

Of passion, so intense, so ferocious, that

 

The very essence of the planet permeates

Their souls as their spirits entwine and become

One, creating seismic eruptions as universes are

Torn asunder creating a heavenly performance

Of dancing stars that follow the rhythmic beat of

Two hearts hammering out a message of

Longing to be near each other, to hear each other,

Smell each other, taste each other

 

Just one more time

 


From a world of overwhelment

Where every Sound

Every Movement

Every smell

Is a

Mindful distraction

Of a life that

Never stops

Never sleeps

Only ends

To the serenity

And solitude of

Nature and a

World created by

Forces unknown, unseen

Understanding

The needs of man and

Allowing him to

Live peacefully

Calmly

Restfully

At last