Doing Social

Last week’s Monday Club blog was a two-pronged self-indulgent whinge detailing my  concerns for my themondayclub autistic son as he makes the transition from school to college, and my wider anxiety about my own social withdrawal. This week’s blog echoes those themes, but in a more positive light. It’s likely to be a bit of a bumpy ride as I have all sorts of random stuff I want to squeeze in, but bear with me. My regular readers will know I usually bring everyone back safely despite any wrong turns and cul-de-sacs, and that however much of a mystery tour there’s usually some interesting scenery. Those who have found me more recently through Monday Club will hopefully enjoy the ride too…

It’s been a busy weekend by our standards… 

Friday night Ben and I met up with a friend to watch a trio of live bands at the Forum, a great local venue that is often sadly neglected by the good burghers of Tunbridge Wells unless there happens to be a ‘name’ band playing. Friday night’s turnout was actually pretty good – not packed to capacity, but certainly enough to give the guys on stage thefamily rain 1 feedback they deserved. We enjoyed excellent sets from local boys House on Fire and Stray Dogs, which were followed by an equally enjoyable and energetic performance from a trio of brothers from Bath called The Family Rain.

My favourite part of the evening, however, had nothing to do with the music but with watching Ben enjoy the music, because he chose to leave us hovering near the bar and disappeared on his own up the front to get a better view. My delight at this was doubled when I noticed a young lady bopping about beside him trying with increasing desperation to catch his eye. Sadly, even when she tried blatant bumping and full-on frottage he remained serenely oblivious to her attention, assuming the physical contact was accidental and moving aside to give her more room.

I was tempted to give him a heads up but decided against it – he gets tongue tied with strangers in any situation and a noisy, busy music venue seemed the least likely place for him to successfully negotiate his first attempt at chatting up – but it was very reassuring for me all the same. He got a bit flappy occasionally and his sense of rhythm let him down a bit with the dancing, but for the most part he did brilliantly, and though it technically counts for nowt when it’s a dad saying it about his son I’ve got to say there was a bit of the old Jarvis Cocker geek chic about him.

All in all it left me feeling much more confident about his social opportunities in the future,

which just goes to show what a difference a week can make.

Saturday was quiet – just shopping and stuff – but I found myself in the evening having two very strange conversations with Ben about S. E. X. The first conversation came up because I was advised by the mum of one of his friends that the friend has recently come out as gay. She asked me to let Ben know. I know that Ben has no hang-ups or issues with gay people whatsoever – he has gay friends at school and several cousins, both male and female, who are openly gay – but I was concerned that he might say something inappropriate purely and simply because Doing Social is difficult for him and he’s always saying inappropriate things! So I prefaced telling him with a dire warning that he should NEVER tell other people (as it’s up to his friend how open he is about his sexuality and with whom) or tease his friend. When I got round to telling him Ben said ‘Yes I know.’


‘Yes I know he’s gay’


‘He told me. Ages ago’

‘Well why didn’t you tell me?’

‘Why? What’s it to you…’

Good point. I arks ya!

The second S. E. X conversation was slightly more uncomfortable. A while back I was given (well, had forced upon me) a copy of E. L. Wisty’s (sic) Fifty Shades of Crap Grey, by someone who was admonishing me for calling it rubbish without actually having read it. I think the term she might have used was ‘snitty’, but basically I was accused of being a literary snob.

Let’s be clear on one thing; the lady foisting this tome on me wasn’t defending 50 shades in any way – she acknowledges that it is crap – she was just telling me off for making value judgements and assumptions based on second-hand information. Anyhow, I read it and it is crap, but the book is still floating about the house and Ben said ‘why were you reading that crap?’ I then had a conversation with him about snittiness and literary snobbery, which prompted his next question: ‘well what is it about then…’

Never one to shy away from tricky questions I explained that it’s about a couple who like ‘unusual’ sex – tying each other up and stuff (okay, I kind of only scratched the surface there, but I didn’t want to frighten the metaphorical ponies at this stage in his development). He said he thought it sounded ‘creepy.’

Cutting to the chase, I think I made a pretty good job of explaining that there are all kinds of sexualities, and that if both/all parties in a relationship are happy and enjoy what they do to one another and they are all consenting adults then, providing they don’t hurt each other or anyone else, it’s all good. Phew!it's all good

Sunday: A bit of a rush around, but via a last minute tweet I learned that my lovely friend Sarah (yes that Sarah; matriarch of the Monday Club) was Running for Life at a local park. I remembered she’d signed up for this, but thought I’d read in one of her blogs that she’d pulled out due to a bad back. And laziness. Anyhoo, I got my bum in gear and made it to the park in time to wave her, her daughter and the rest of her team off and spent the next fifty-five minutes hanging around trying to find a decent photo opportunity point to catch them in action, with the intention of using the pictures in this blog.

The resulting images have convinced me that I need to allocate some money for a decent camera. I don’t take many pictures these days (used to be quite keen with my Pentax ME Super and a goodly collection of lenses and filters, but gave it all up for ‘snap photography’ when single parenting made lugging all that stuff around more trouble that it was worth), but have, recently, found myself getting more and more frustrated when I do and the results are poxy.

To add insult to injury, I was initially told I must absolutely not upload anySarah Running photographs to the internet. Then, when she saw that they were less unflattering than she feared she nabbed all the good ones for her own blog…

I have been given permission to use one of my  pictures myself. Big of her, wasn’t it! Bossy cow – don’t let that sweetness-and-light with a hint of naughty-but-nice avatar of hers fool you…

She’s doing a 10k run next month. And looking for sponsors. Well, it’s for a good cause, ennit 😉


7 thoughts on “Doing Social”

  1. Aw, how sweet to read what you write about Sarah! 😉
    I like the story of your telling your son about one of his friends being gay. Apparently the friend’s mum didn’t expect either that the secret could have been told first to friends! How unknowing and assuming we can be about our children sometimes…!

    1. Yes they’re always always managing to wrong-foot us, ennit! Said something nice about Sarah? How on earth did that slip in – must have had more to drink last night than I remember 😉 Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂

  2. All very interesting stuff. I guess the moral of the story here is: once our kids are teenagers, they actually know way more than we do! How great that you got to wave Sarah off…..will you be joining her on the 10k?!

    1. Certainly not in RUNNING it, but if the date and time doesn’t clash with anything else I might use it as an excuse to try out the new bridge camera I’ve just ordered. I probably sound a much more supportive friend than I actually am… basically I had nothing else to do on Sunday and the park is almost on my doorstep!

      Teenagers: They certainly THINK they know more than we know, but then didn’t we think that when we were teenagers ourselves?! With Ben it’s swings and roundabouts, because while he’s more ‘grown up’ in some ways than many of his peers there are huge gaps in his social understanding that make him very vulnerable. It can be tough, but he’s getting there.

      Thanks for commenting


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