I have not been very active on my blogs or twitter this week..the cause of this? There has been a bright yellow ball in the sky that is giving out heat...from past memories I think it is what you call the sun. When living in the UK, this does not happen very often, so please excuse us Brits for our online absence..Don't worry, we will be back soon when our normal grey , wet weather returns.
C enjoying his ice cream
Believe it or not , it WAS very hot on the day above photo was taken, but he insisted on wearing his black jacket the whole time we were out!
If you haven't already read part 1, you can find it HERE
The next morning, when C had awoke, or rather when I awoke ( despite going to bed at 2am he was still up by 6.30am),I decided to unpack his case before the harder task of trying to find out what happened on this holiday. I was so happy to see worn boxers, socks, t shirts etc as this showed that he had listened and changed his clothes every day..all that worrying for nothing!! I was confused somewhat though when I saw his pyjamas were still neatly folded and obviously never been worn..was that why he had looked so tired, had he not slept??. Also noticed a distinct lack of a rain jacket I had bought him for going away with.
So off I went to tackle him, not the best thing to do when he is in the middle of a computer game, you are liable to get your head bitten off before he storms out the door as you pull the plug. Not today however, I managed to catch him on one of his journeys traveling from PC to kitchen. First I tackled the matter of the unworn pyjamas. "C, why did you not wear the new pyjamas?" Answer" Why would I want to wear them, they are like a suit and who wears a suit to bed?" C usually has pyjamas where both parts are made of material similar to t shirts, but this new pair, that he had approved of remember, had cotton bottoms, like dress shirt cotton. I never thought that with his sensory issues they would "feel" wrong..note to one self,do not repeat mistake. Then the missing coat. "C where is the new coat I got you?" Answer"How am I meant to know, if it is not in my bag it must be on the ferry or the coach, where else would it be?" Silly me!. If anyone happens to be on a SeaFrance Ferry in the forseeable future and see a rain jacket that folds into its own pocket so you can conveniently fasten it round your waist when not using, could you please forward it on...you have no idea how long it took to find one that felt and looked right!!!
Serious stuff over, I , with the help of his older sister , moved onto what he had done on his holiday and if he had enjoyed it. We started with Disneyland, asking what rides he had gone on. Answer" You know, stuff" "What stuff exactly, did you go on rollercoasters?" "Duh, course I went on rollercoasters, I am hardly going to go on the teacups am I?" He found it very amusing when me and his sister said we would..well?, they look like fun. I then asked if he went on Space Mountain, the only ride I could think of considering I have never been. I struck lucky! "Yes, but I banged my head and hurt my neck..do you know they had a sign up saying not to go on if you had neck and back problems..whats the point of that if it GIVES you neck and back problems?" Not a lot you can say to that one is there?
Now time to move onto his day in Paris, the school said they would be sightseeing, going on a boat, shopping and having a tour of Paris at night. Q "Did you go up the Eiffel Tower?" A "No, but we went up a big building with 56 floors and they made us get the lift when there were stairs" I dont know about you, but I would take the lift any day if it was 59 flights! He couldnt remember the name but from photos off the net we think it was the Tour Montparnasse.
When asked if they went shopping he said, yes, so we asked what kind of shops did they see. A" A strange Chinese shop selling noodles and a protein shop" When questioned further the protein shop sold great big boxes of protein and tubs of the stuff too..and yes, there were lots of clothes shops but they were boring.
Shopping Paris Style.
Was the boat trip any better? No, " It was boring as you just sat while it went up the river and you had to look at buildings that are the same everywhere" Again, he could have a point, if you have seen a building you have seen them all.
What did you have to eat? " Breakfast at hotel was good as there was cake, but in Paris I had a yoghurt that tasted like it had been out the fridge for 2 weeks." When asked if he was sure it wasnt a tub of sour cream he had picked up he was disgusted we could think he would make a mistake like that saying it was pink..again, I guess he has a point.(Note to one self, if in France go to same hotel, cake for breakfast sounds good.)
Finally, we asked about the Tour of Paris by Night..A "Driving about in a bus round Paris is not what I would call a tour..borrriinggg" Personally I would love to see it all lit up at night.
From all the above you might be excused from thinking that C did not have a very good time at all, but despite all this he says he enjoyed it and didn't miss us, except for maybe a tiny little bit.
Watch out next week for the photos of his trip, I gave him a disposable camera and so far from what he has said he took some photos of the hotel bedroom..and maybe one of Paris.
Seriously though C, we are very proud of how well you coped on your first trip away and the fact you enjoyed yourself is even better xxx
Today I got a lovely surprise, when I logged on I had a comment from Giggle, Laugh, Cry saying she had awarded me "The Versatile Blogger" award. I have not been writing my blog for very long and never expected this, so would like to say a very big thank you to Giggle, Laugh, Cry.
Please go over and say hello to her :)
Please left click to get full size image and then save normal way
These are the rules..
1. Winners grab the image above and put it in your blog.
2.Link back to the person who gave you it.
3.Tell 10 things about yourself
4.Award 15 recently discovered bloggers.
5.Contact the bloggers you have awarded to let them know they have won. Here are my nominations for the award, please click on the links and go say hello.
1. Was born in Edinburgh and moved all over Scotland as a child as my dad was a prison officer. Now live in England.
2.My favourite food is chocolate...ok, not the healthiest but deffinatley tastes good!!
3. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers, life was never quiet in our house!
4. I am a hopeless romantic, and always cry at sad films.
5. My favourite band is Runrig, who play Scottish folk/rock music..amazing!!
6.People say I jump that high while watching horror films that I nearly hit the ceiling...I dont believe this for a minute!
7.When I was 5 I got into big trouble for cutting off the hair of a doll my mum had had for years..and then attempting to cut its head open...no, I was not a scary child...my dad had made me hospital beds for my dolls and I was saving its life by performing brain surgery.
8.Seven years ago I completed the Rob Roy Way, a walk accross Scotland..and loved it...96 miles in 6 days, carrying my rucksack and tent..dont think my knees would cope now.
9.I LOVE my jeans...and near enough live in them..my mum used to make me wear skirts a lot so bought jeans with my first ever pay packet.
10.I was in love with Donny Osmond when I was about 11..but shhhhh, please dont tell anyone, thats a secret.
This last few days I have been one of those dreaded "paranoid" mothers, not something I enjoy being but on occasion I can be seen biting my nails, checking my phone every few minutes (under the pretext of checking Twitter of course) and just generally being anxious. The cause of this? C was away on his first ever school trip to France for a few days. All sorts of thoughts were going through my head..was he eating ok? (only about 10 foods he will eat), was he washing? (something I still have to nag him to do), was he changing his clothes?(he would live and sleep in same outfit for days if I let him) etc etc and most of all, of course, was he having a good time?
Well last night arrived, he was due home at 10pm and I had made sure he took his mobile, with strict instructions to text or ring me and let me know if the coach was running on time, so that I would be there to meet him at correct time. I had sent him a text every day he was away ( no reply of course) and it had been delivered...but oh no..NOT yesterday!! The one day I needed him to have it on, it was turned off! As a result, I turned from a paranoid mother into a total nervous wreck, stressed out and losing it kind of mother. This is no lie, just ask the poor people on Twitter who had the misfortune to be talking to me at the time...you know who you are and you have my utmost apologies, you will be glad to know that normal service has since been resumed! I texted the mobile number that I had been given by the school for when they were away, explaining about his phone being off and asking them to let me know if coach would still be arriving at 10pm. This was at 6.30pm, and was told it would be late and they would text me later. No mention of why it was late, how late etc. Well time went on and by 11pm with still no text I was all set to go to the school to see if any other parents were there..I rang the phone (ok, maybe the paranoia was getting a bit extreme) and no answer..so now had the thoughts of "What if they forget to text and he is waiting on me?", "What if there has been an accident and they didnt want me to worry?"...you get the gist..so coat on, dragging his step dad out the door behind me, with him saying "what on earth are you worrying about, they said they would ring?" (please note OH, this does not help when I am ready to have a nervous breakdown!), got to the car and there was a strange buzzing noise from my bag..yep, you guessed it, the school had just texted to say they would be back at 12.30am. So back into the house we went with OH telling me "I told you so, you never listen" (please note OH, this did not help either and if I hadn't been relying on you to take me to the school you would have made a fast exit out the front door with a heavy boot up your backside!)
At 12.30am, we arrived at the school, to find it eerily quiet, we were the only car there, so had a feeling the other parents knew something we didnt..guess their little darlings all had their mobile phones switched on and had told them they would be even later..lucky them! It wasn't till just after 1am that other cars started to arrive..and at last at 1.30am we saw the coach coming down the road.
Us parents gathered round, waiting for the doors to open, looking out for our little angels to welcome them home (actually, it was more like so they could grab them, and rush home so they could finally go to bed). The doors opened and some very tired, slightly stressed teachers appeared,closely followed by the 40 kids. C got off the bus and I went up to say great to see you, but got cut short by "Cant talk, need to get my case", this obtained we got in the car and as we drove home I enquired why they were late and if he had had a good time.
He said the coach broke down and they missed the ferry, so had to get a later one. He seemed to have coped better than I thought with this but from what he said he was not overly impressed with the teachers suggestion of playing bingo while they sat for 2 hours waiting on the coach being repaired. He also told us "Do you know the driver had to pay £750 of his own money to fix the coach?" When I said I couldnt see the coach company expecting their drivers to pay for repairs out of their own money he was very insistant saying the driver told them they were lucky he had savings or they would not have got home. Think it was another case of someone making a joke and C taking it literally..but you never know I could be wrong.
We arrived home, and made him some toast, he said he hadnt had anything since lunchtime. I asked him if they had not stopped at a service station on way home and got told "Yes, but you should have seen the queue ..no way was I waiting in that so put my food on the floor and walked out". If anyone from the above service station is reading this, I do apologise on his behalf, he does not do "waiting" very well, but will advise him to put food back on shelf next time.
I asked him a few things about what he had done when he was away to get asked "Why do you want to freak me out?"..so decided to leave it for the morning.
Lets just say I am so proud of how he coped with the trip and especially the late return. Glad you had a good time C xxx
Watch out for part 2. Paris and Disneyland through the eyes of C.
When I get any "me" time, I love researching my family tree and have decided that this part of my life needs a blog of it's own. Hoping to add useful links, family names etc. If anyone would like to take a look you will find it at Stories from Many Moons Ago.
Today I waved my son off on his school trip to France, might not sound like much but this is a great achievement for a 14 year old with autism who has never been away from home in that situation before, never mind abroad. He has had chances to go before but has always turned the offer down,but this time he has taken another step on his journey into adulthood.
I had to go into the school to get them to reassure him that he would not be made to eat anything he didn't like and that they would always make sure he had something to eat even if it was just a cheese sandwich (he only eats about 10 different meals, part of the sensory issues stemming from his autism). They also reassured him that they would be up early every day so the fact he is up early in the mornings is a good thing, they turned it into a positive.
Well last night it was time to pack his case, you may have heard me screaming from where ever you are reading this! He is very very fussy about what clothes he will wear, textures, colours, styles etc etc and even though he had been with me when we went shopping it still wasn't plain sailing.
In his words I was fussing.." why are you putting my clothes in so neat when I will just be shoving the case under my bed?".
I bought him a baseball cap." Why did you get one with stripes on front? I will have to wear it inside out!" (I could not find a plain black one anywhere, shop keepers please note!!)
When sent to his room to choose one more t shirt to go in case, all me and his sister could hear was " That one is too green, that is yellow, that one has pink on it, that one has writing, that one is too plain etc etc" you get the drift.
I got out the plain socks I had bought and when I showed him them, got " They are ok, at least you didn't get ones saying "I am gay" on them" (where did that one come from??)
I couldn't find his comb so told him to get one at the service station when they stopped there, to be told " If the hotel rooms have hairdryers I am sure they have combs" in a tone of voice implying I was stupid.
" Do you have my euros mum?" "Yes C, I have showed you them and told you I have them several times"
When asked to get his rucksack to use as hand luggage, he told me he was just using a carrier bag as they said use a bag, not a rucksack. It took quite a bit of persuasion to convince him that they did not mean a carrier.
He uses his rucksack for school and when he brought it downstairs he said it was full of crumbs so he couldn't use it. I was baffled by this but went for a look and couldn't believe what was in the bottom. At school they have a running track that leaves bits of grit and sand on their trainers, well there must have been about 2 inches of this in the bottom of his bag (he has a separate bag for his trainers so the mind boggles as to how it got there).After the holidays I am going to the school to check that they still have a running track and it isn't all in my house!
Finally he was in bed and I could start to breathe slowly again, till this morning. He had to be at the school for 6.30am and the coach was leaving at 7am. He must have said " Remember we have to be there for 6.30am" about 10 times , closely followed by " Mum, have you got my euros?" We made it to the school on time and the other children were arriving along with the teachers who were going with them. Well, the coach was late!! When I say late, I only mean 10 minutes..but coach drivers please note, if you are taking my son anywhere and you say you will be there for 6.30am..BE THERE for 6.30am and NOT 6.40am! You have no idea the headache I got for your lateness!
Cases were loaded, I gave his euros to his teacher (and made sure he saw me do it) and they all got onto the coach. Children were looking out the windows, waving to their parents and friends with excited looks on their faces..and C? Well he was sitting playing on his DS oblivious to the fact that I was standing waving...he did glance up at one point and gave a slight gesture with his hand that you could say was an attempt at a wave( well thats what I'm telling myself)
Now I am sitting here, feeling like I have lost something and doing enough worrying for the whole coach load of kids parents..but I am also very proud of him and looking forward to hearing all about when he gets home.But no doubt when I ask him about his holiday will get the one word answer "Fine".
This is their itinerary and C's comments on them.
SUNDAY and MONDAY Full days spent at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Me:"Wish I was going there, you must be looking forward to going" C: "It's Disneyland mum, no big deal"
Day spent in Paris, boat on the river Siene, trip up Eiffel Tower, shopping and tour of Paris at night.
C:" Whats so special about the Eiffel Tower, its just a tower"
Time to travel home, stopping at a chocolate factory on the way to the ferry.
Me: " What are you looking forward to most?"
C:" The chocolate factory of course" A boy after my own heart lol.
Java from Never Growing Old hosts a blog hop on a Monday where she posts 5 questions so that we can get to know each other better. Thought I would give it a go, so this is my first Meet me on a Monday post.
1. If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
2. Do you write your blog posts in advance or the day you post them?
3. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
4. What is your favorite candle scent?
5. Coffee or tea?
If you have been following my blog, you will be aware that my 14 year old son was diagnosed with high functioning autism when he was 3 years old.
Like many people, I was not fully aware of all the ranges of autism, to me an autistic child was one that was non verbal, would spin things in circles, have no communication with the world in any form etc etc..looking back I now know how ignorant I was. I do not feel ashamed about the view I had, I had never been told any different, nobody had made me AWARE.
To me, that is what Autism Awareness day is all about...making people aware of all the differing degrees and aware that just like 2 non austic people are never the same, neither are autistc people. They all have their own personalties, different sensory issues, and different interests.
I knew that my son was "different" from a young age. As a baby he had been very sociable, laughing, loving attention,good eater, a joy to be around. However he was always ill, ear infections, chest infections, skin infections, virus's, chicken pox, suspected meningitis...all before he was 12 months! It was after his 1st birthday that things changed..was like somebody had come and taken my child away and swapped him with another one (close friends said the same)
He stopped saying the few words he had, he screamed if anyone he didnt know spoke to him, he screamed if music was on, he screamed if one of his siblings sat next to him, he lost all eye contact, stopped sleeping and would hardly eat. There were also all the screaming fits where I had no idea at all what had upset him. Cars got lined up, infact everything got lined up. But he was amazing with jigsaws and could finish one he had never seen before in minutes.
Luckily I had a great health visitor and gp, they knew me and his sisters well , so when I voiced my concerns they were not brushed under the carpet. When he 2 he was given a place in a childrens centre 2 days a week where he had 1 to 1 from a wonderful key worker he got very close to, and was referred to the childrens hospital to see a leading consultant in autism..I was so scared when the word autism was first mentioned, like I said, I didnt know much about it.
Over his time at the childrens centre things gradually improved..he began to talk, ok not much at first, but was a start, his key worker got him toilet trained during the day (something i had had no luck with) and I began to learn the things that triggered the screaming, so life began to get that little bit easier.
Just before his 3rd birthday, he was formally diagnosed with "high functioning autism".In one way I was relieved, it was now official it was not "my fault" (something a lot of parents feel when no one can explain why thier child is behaving in a certain way), but on the same hand it hit me like a ton bricks and I went about in a daze for many days to come. We got a social worker who arranged respite one Saturday a month so I could go for days out and spend time with my daughters without having to worry about C wanting to go home. An organisation called Spectrum came for home visits to give me advice, and went in to the nursery attached to the local school to show them how to make C's time their easier, and he got an auxiliary for his time there, so he had 1 to 1 attention.
He came on leaps and bounds and was statemented in readiness for starting school , the auxiliary to remain with him..then we moved to England...but thats another story, lets just say the help and support vanished over night.
C is now at high school, coping way better than I ever hoped, doing great in class and loved by all who know him. Ok, he still only eats about 10 foods, he still hates baths, washing his hair and getting it cut. He still has problems understanding why us non autistic people act like we do , still takes a lifetime to choose when given a choice and still hates the feeling of new clothes on his skin...BUT he HAS grown up, has ambitions of being a computer game developer, makes us laugh, has developed a dry sense of humour..and yes, like other teenagers his age knows exactly how to wind me up! lol.
So if is there were two things I would like to see come about from Autism Awareness Day, would be that the next time you see a child screaming at their parents in the supermarket, a mother having to drag her child along the street while dodging the kicks and punches, a child who says what they think appearing to be rude..that you just stop and think for a second that that child may not be acting that way because they are spoilt, badly behaved etc , they may have autism.
Second, if you are reading this as one of those parents who "knows something is not right" and nobody will listen to you..NEVER give up, you know your child better than any doctor or professional.
This is an update to last post. Went to the school this morning for C's review and to argue his case for not being made to change his subjects and think we have things sorted out..fingers crossed!
The review came first, where they discuss how he is doing in class, his grades and how he is getting on at school in general. Surprise surprise, he is doing excellent in Maths, Sciences, ICT, Media and Graphics..and struggling in English, Religious Education and Citizenship. Found myself having to explain AGAIN why this is (we do this every year), about how he struggles with hand writing and any subject that is related to "how and why people think and act the way they do" and that the reason he is so good at maths, science etc is that it is facts and figures.
At every review in the past there has always been an instance of where C does his "saying it as it is" thing, and I find myself either trying not to laugh or looking for a hole in the floor to climb under. Today it seemed we were going to avoid that one, till his learning mentor asked him " Why do you think you do not do very well in Citizenship C?" I had a feeling that his answer would not just be "because I dont understand it"..and was right. Answer was " Cos the teacher doesn't teach us anything, how are we meant to learn anything when she only says 2 sentences?"
Mentor " I am sure that isnt right C, are you sure?"
C's answer " I am not stupid, I know what I hear, she says 2 sentences and then lets us just talk to eachother. What is the point of that?"
His mentor looked horrified and starting scribbling in her notes about having to check that Mrs X is teaching etc etc. I did try to explain that if she was asking the class to discuss something, this would not count as teaching to C as she was not teaching them facts and figures..but not sure she listened..so now got visions of poor Mrs X being interogated about her teaching methods and not having a clue what is going on!!
Now moving onto the subject of C having to drop something he is good at for something he will struggle with...the learning mentor backed out of that one and handed me over to the deputy head...lucky guy! He started off with the " this is the best thing for C etc etc and that the colleges will be making it hard for children without the EBacc to get on courses.", but it didn't wash with me. Sat and explained all the reasons it was not best for C, and told him I had already rung the college and they told me they cannot see them ever refusing a child places on software design, games devolpment and computer courses because they dont have the new EBacc. He wasnt expecting that one! So he told me that if I could get a letter in writing from the college saying that, he would make C an exception.
He then went onto to say he cannot make it easy for C to not do the EBacc as it would open the flood gates for other parents to argue the case for their children. I said that I didnt go along with that, as due to C having been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, the school should be making "reasonable adjustments" if it was in his best interests and not put him at a disadvantage because of it.
So now this is the stage we are at..if I get a letter from college they will let him stick to his current subjects..if the college wont write one they will let him keep his current subjects due to it being in his best interests due to his autism. Is it just me, or is it daft that we have to get the letter if they are going to make an exception even if we dont? Or is he hoping I will go away and forget about it if the letter can't be got?
If its the latter, he is out of luck, just rang the college again and their school liason officer sounded surprised at them asking me for proof. He said he wont write a letter but has told me to get the head to email him and he will tell him what he told me..so now waiting on the school ringing me back again...oh what fun.
Want to jump and down for joy at winning...but dont think I will be able to do that until I have it in black and white from the school.
Thanks everbody for their support and advice this last few days..its great to know you are not on your own xx
I have already done a blog post today but right now I am livid, with steam nearly coming out my ears, and figured writing it down might just help me to calm down a little bit.
C is 14 and has High Functioning Autism and is coping really well with mainstream high school. He is doing great in the science's, maths etc and got to choose his options (the subjects he will take for exams) a year early as he is doing so well. He has already sat some of his biology and got an A and A* earlier this year.
Well today he comes bursting in the door from school, talking constantly about how the school are "arseholes", "idiots" etc etc (all words he uses when he is stressed) and took me a good 10 minutes to calm him down so I could get any sense out of him...bearing in mind he normally comes in door and when asked how school has been just says "fine", we never get told anything!
He hands me a letter informing me that they are now changing his options (after studying them for a year!). This year the government, in their usual wisdom , decided that schools would be ranked in their league tables, not just by how well the children did in their final exams, but only using the children who did well AND took history or geography. My daughter last year got 6 A's and 4 B's but as she didnt do either of these subjects she didnt count, so their place in the league table went right down.
So now, the school have told me that C must drop one of the subjects he is doing well in, and take either History or Geography. C struggles a great deal with handwriting and essay type questions, he has no interest in either subject..is just managing in English and we are hoping he manages to struggle through that and get a half decent grade to go along with his others. He wants to go into game development at university (he is very serious about that) and at the moment is doing Graphics and Media, both subjects that are very relevant to his aims and ambitions...now the letter says he has to drop one of them!
Now my question is this, are the school doing this for my son's benefit, or to make their place in the league tables look better?? I think you can guess what my answer is.
Have just rang the school asking to get an appointment to go in and see them but have been told I will have to ring in the morning. Apart from the difficulties C has with his hand writing, he like most children on the autistic spectrum, struggles with change..esp one that is just thrust upon him with no warning. He is now constantly going in and out of the room, saying he is leaving the school and if I dont let him he is leaving the country if we dont move house.
Ok, rant over for the moment, thanks for listening, just when you think things are going well something else comes along and slaps you in the face. I am not going to take this lying down, they have a fight on their hands!! xx
Oh, and by the way, he has till Thursday to decide which one he is dropping!
One of my great passions, when I get the time, is researching my family tree. So this post is a tribute to my Grandfather, or Grandad as I called him. He died when I was 7, so dont have many memories of him and had to rely on what other people told me, including my amazing Gran who I spoke about here Memories of a Special Lady.
My Grandfather, Thomas Flucker (Tommy to his friends), was born in 1904 in a fishing village called Newhaven, which is now part of Edinburgh. This was a very close knit community and they rarely married outside of their own. I have traced the Flucker's (yes , it is a real name :))back to the 1600's and they were mainly fishermen. My grandfather left this trade and worked as a joiner in the shipyards right up till his death in 1971.
I remember him as a very quiet man and can still picture him sitting in his chair, wearing one of the many jumpers my gran used to knit for him. My gran loved him dearly and said he was the first and last love of her life, I know she missed him terribly after his death.
While doing my research a man got in contact with me, asking if I was Tommy's grandaughter, turns out he worked in the shipyards with him and he sent me a lovely email with his memories of him..it brought him to life for me. He describes him as eccentric and now wonder if he could possibly have had the same form of autism as my son, I guess in those days it wasn't recognised like it is today. Here is part of the email he sent me, let me know what you think.
Thanks for your prompt reply, I'm delighted to hear that you are indeed the grandaughter of Tommy, and you've confirmed and awakened many youthful memories. As I said, I worked as an apprentice joiner in Robb's from 1948 to 1955, then, like everyone else was called up for National Service in the army. I returned to Robb's for a short while after serving three years with the Royal Engineers, then my life took a different turn, and I moved on. I was a rather " Favoured" apprentice, and worked on the top floor of the joiner's shop, I was on the bench next to Tommy. His job at that time was to "Break out" all the wooden mouldings for the ships under construction, and prepare them for the French polishers. Tommy was very precise in everything he did, and was always on top of his job. He was much respected as a tradesman in a shop of over 200 joiners, who, in my opinion, were the best tradesmen in the country. He was known as a man of great general knowledge, and I suspect, thought of as slightly eccentric. He had a very fiery temper, and could be "Wound up," if people voiced opinions contrary to his firmly held views on everything, particularly on the subject of his beloved Hearts. I was on of the "Infidels," being a Hibs supporter, but Tommy obviously made allowances for this aberration, and took me under his wing. At lunch times, having our "pieces" together, and our drum (old jam tins) of Tea, Tommy would teach me many things beyond the everyday world of a daft young laddie. As I've said he taught me Chess, which I've enjoyed ever since. He could, you know, "Talk" a game of Chess, and did so with his brother in law, (I think) without a board or pieces,, and they'd both continue the game entirely in their heads ! He knew all about steam locomotives, politics, and a wide range of subjects, that filled out my then empty head. Cycling was of course one of his great loves, touring mainly, not racing, and it was very popular at that time, everyone had bikes and enjoyed it. He was so kind to me, that once he offered to cycle with me to Ibrox in Glasgow to see Hibs play Rangers in a League decider, we went on his Tandem, I had to bring my own saddle he said, otherwise I'd have a sore bum ! I can remember that day vividly, Hibs won !
As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Tommy would work mainly on time transits of the stars, at the old Royal Observatory on the Calton hill. I remember him making a "Black box" to measure these transits, and claiming that the time accuracy was six hundredths of a second. Tommy was very proud of his "Bow Tow," heritage, claiming that the Fluckers came over with the Huguenots to escape persecution, and was very well versed in history generally. He was a good man, very handsome in a clean cut way, and proud and protective of his daughters. I lived then in Newhaven Road, but my cousins the Jeffrey's, lived in 10 Hawthornvale, my uncle Peter Jeffrey was a riveter in Robbs, so as a lad I was down the Vale regularly. In those days (the 50's) the workers in the Yard were very highly politicised, rationing was still in force, but we'd made advancements in obtaining a free health service, we then got a weeks holiday in the Summer, with pay, the working week was to be reduced from 48 hours, and it looked to Socialists as if the workers were going to influence politics for the good. We were all Socialists (at least) many of us Communists, and we sympathised with the experiments in Socialism started in Russia and China. Tommy actually taught me the words of "The Red Flag," the old Old Independent Labour Party anthem, including the bawdy parody ! Relations with the shipyard management were never good, indeed constantly fraught with tension, and fear of losing jobs, they all remembered the Depression years vividly. We weren't even allowed teabreaks, (but we had them illegally!) you could be dismissed for drinking tea, other than at dinner time, the tea urns were kept padlocked until the hooter sounded. Even going to the toilet was under surveillance, you had to drop your works check at a turnstile at the entrance to a very smelly and basic lavatory, and if you were over 7 minutes there, you were docked a quarter of an hour of pay. As an apprentice, your time record was kept for the five years, and any late time or absences were made up at the end of the five years, at apprentice's pay, not Tradesman's pay. Something else has just come to mind, I think Tommy was one of the First of the Fluckers NOT to have gone to sea and the fishing, that must have been a big decision in Newhaven in those days.
I still remember the "log" books of my grandfather's cycle rides that my gran had kept, he wrote down EVERY cycle ride he ever did, and when I sent this email to my aunty, she told me she still had them and sent me the page of the cycle ride mentioned above!
Page out my grandfather book logging his cycle ride
Am still in awe of how he could play a game of chess in his head!!
Thank you for taking the time to read, and still miss and love you lots grandad xx
A mum to 4 wonderful kids( well not so much kids these days), the youngest of whom has aspergers syndrome. From Scotland but been living in England for past 10 years, still get homesick a lot. I have a gorgeous 2 year old grandson but still feel way too young to be a gran though lol. I am addicted to genealogy, or as my family call it "collecting dead people".