After weeks and weeks of hard graft, this evening I finally finished the fifth draft of the book; 220 pages, 120,394 words and 100+ bars of chocolate. I’ve now entered that scary zone where I’ve just pressed “send” and the document is winging its way to a potential publisher.
Here are some teasers:
Wednesday 6th January:
Women in Tesco: “Oh, what’s those things called? Those green things?
Friend: “Cucumbers? Runner Beans?”
Woman: “No. You don’t eat them”.
Sunday 21st February:
Set out in the car to the Mencap Pool but had to turn round as Steven started to get very agitated. It seemed to be set off by seeing one of his old classroom assistants at the traffic lights.
When we got back home we did a cassette tape, featuring dead pop stars. We’ve had to add David Bowie and Maurice White to the list since we last did a deceased compilation.
Steven’s understanding of death is pretty rudimentary. He wants to know what part of the body has “gone bad” and what the person “bashed it on” to make it go bad. Once that’s cleared up, he can get on with the business of living.
Thursday 17th March:
We’re well into the final stage of the medication reduction now and it seems to be having no effect on Steven whatsoever. I shouldn’t be surprised. Steven had meltdowns pre medication. He had meltdowns when he was on 4mg of heavy duty anti psychotics. He’s had a meltdown since he’s been on .5mg. He’ll have meltdowns when he’s off the tablets completely. That’s autism.
Friday April 1st
This is the second time I have done this gig. The first time, I booked a cab as I hadn’t got a clue where I was going. The driver was one of Steven’s regulars and said, “You know where this is Mark. I’ve taken Steven there many times”. We actually drove past the venue and turned a corner into the car park of the day centre Steven used to go to. It is run by the Positive Behaviour team who were also responsible for the ATU that Steven was held in. Steven didn’t really enjoy going there and I must admit that it was quite a relief when he stopped going. I always felt that our lives were still under the microscope every time he went there. As we pulled up, the manager of the ATU and his boss came out of the front door. I slid down in my seat and hissed at the driver to drive off, smartish. I started to imagine the conversation if they spotted me:
“Hello Mark. What are you doing in these parts?”
“Well actually, I’ve come to tell the story of how you both tried your level best to fuck up my son’s life”.
Foot on the accelerator, we were off before they noticed.
Wednesday 4th May:
“Dad – Les Dennis has got a bit of pepperoni pizza stuck on his toenail”.
Friday 13th May:
There’s one question HMRC always ask whenever I have to phone them about the Personal Budget tax. “What is the nature of your business?”. I want to answer, ” Interminable shit is the nature of my business”.
Friday 17th June:
In a disturbing echo to yesterday, I got the bus to the café by West Drayton station for a cooked breakfast this morning. As I was leaving, there were two lads in their late teens, standing outside the Polish food store making the wanker gesture at the bloke serving.
A woman came out to remonstrate but was just laughed at and one of the guys said; “This time next week, we’ll be able to take this shop”.
Saturday 16th July:
Took a tearful phone call from Muriel, Duchess of Cowley (widow) who had been door stepped by a Cowley Herald reporter. The journalist had got wind of Muriel’s dalliance with Hector “The Triumphant Trumpeter” Houseman during their variety days when they shared equal billing at Morecombe. Muriel told me that she had been wooed by Hector’s signature tune: “I can’t get over a girl like you. You’ll have to get up and swill out your own dentures”.
Monday 28th November:
The conference went okayish. I was given a 25 minute slot to tell the whole Get Steven Home story. It felt very rushed because it was. There was a classic ironic moment in the opening address. All the delegates were social care professionals and the host tried to whip up a positive vibe by saying that she didn’t want to hear any talk about money today. Or the lack of money and how it hinders them all in their work. She then announced that today’s lunch would be homemade soup, prepared by members of Unison for free. The austerity conference.