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The Genesis of Artistic Creativity by Michael Fitzgerald

In Autism Research Unit, Book Review on June 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Subtitled Asperger’s Syndrome and the Arts, Michael Fitzgerald’s book broaches one of the last taboos as regards creative artists. For some time it has been acknowledged by most unbiased observers that highly regarded scientists, mathematicians and engineers may be autistic. Anthony Storr in his collection of essays, Churchill’s Black Dog, discussed Isaac Newton, for example, as being autistic. It is thought of as being acceptable that what students of the humanities, literature and the arts consider to be the mechanistic mindset of the sciences may be bolstered or at least uninhibited by an autistic temperament. The arts, on the other hand, are a looser, more free-flowing kind of creativity and our arts graduate commentators like to insulate themselves from the unaesthetic notion that artists might themselves be on the autistic spectrum by the notion that, though autistic savants may be able to draw buildings they have seen for only a handful of seconds or reconstitute note-perfect versions of songs they have heard, the resultant art is somehow soulless. The exceptions, such as Erik Satie, prove the rule by the idiosyncracies of their art, which are unique but flawed in the human sense. All manner of reasonings are given for behaviour remarkable for its eccentricity, yes, comfortingly vague word that it is, but also for its need for routine, for solitude, for its incompetence with regards to human relationships and empathy. The weight of more conventionally respectable artistic ailments, from the “black blood” of mood disorders with its history of poetic treatment, to Porphyria, perhaps, that old chestnut of syphilus, or, more implausible denial of all, simply an attraction to the perverse and unconventional.

Somebody had to take apart some of these assumptions, point out the conclusions that can be drawn from the biographies of artists, and state the various ways in which both the negative and positive symptoms of autism could in fact benefit a life dedicated to art no less (or, perhaps, little less, or alternatively, no less, but less probably; all possible conclusions that may be drawn once the subject is further researched) than a life dedicated to science.

Some of these potential benefits ought to be evident to anybody who has worked with individuals on the autistic spectrum. Autism confers an obsessive tenacity. It can remove the distractions of social interaction which might prevent other artists reaching what they might think of as their potential. It provides a different take on the world, the alienation from it that can benefit a creative artist. Similarly, the very social difficulties that autism invariably provokes, as well as the difficulties of finding a place for oneself in the world, the comforts of a job and loving relationship, provokes exactly the kind of life crises that come up again and again in biographies as being the progenitors of a creative breakthrough. And then there is the fact that people with autism do not know how to compromise; their work is all there is.

Michael Fitzgerald discusses many of these factors. The book is divided into sections on writers, philosophers, muscians and painters each with as many as eight and as few as four examples of creative artists. Each artist is discussed in short more or less uniformly headlined sections of as little as five or six pages. Indications of Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism are evinced and briefly discussed.

Fitzgerald in his introduction makes the obligatory defence of posthumous diagnosis, which has been controversial since the success of previous such works by the likes of Kay Refield Jamison, whose work Fitzgerald indeed draws on. Since far more evidence can be drawn from the various biographies of long-dead individuals of note than in the interviews and from the school reports etc. demanded by a contemporary diagnostic consultation, since indeed far more social contexts are discussed in such a biography than the two (home and school for example) required in certain diagnostic criteria, and since the development of a given disorder over a lifetime may be evident from such biographies, there is surely an argument that, face to face contact or no, if such a diagnosis is not justified, then no diagnosis based upon contemporary consultation may be either. Were this not the case, the discussion of historical figures and their behaviours to shed light on the disorders they appear to exemplify would nevertheless be of interest to many who work with such disorders or are affected by them. If such defences must continue to be made, however, it might be preferred that they were made rather better than is the case with Fitzgerald here who, though he makes his case, somewhat tramples on it with a discussion of posthumous ratings of IQ in figures thought to be on the autistic spectrum. Following a discussion of the failings of IQ as an objective measure of intelligence, this makes such an exercise as the posthumous rating of IQ seem even more silly an exercise than it would appear in and of itself, and it is unfortunate that Fitzgerald traduces the essaying of posthumous diagnoses with such a practice.

Nevertheless, Fitzgerald’s diagnoses themselves appear to be sound. (More so than many given by psychiatrists in the flesh in the cases of students I worked with at a college of special education were I to be drawn into a comparison, but sound in and of themselves.) In each case, I would be very interested in following up some of the biographical sources he draws on. Unfortunately, his discussion of each case is so concise, giving only those anecdotes and discrete items of evidence germane to diagnosis, that I do not feel I am, from this book alone, much informed as to the nature of each individual’s character and eccentricities.

On the other hand, if Fitzgerald does not go into a great deal of depth on each individual, he does provide sufficient examples of autistic individuals in each field to advance his thesis. If he had covered fewer it could easily be said by the usual commentators that these individuals, like Mozart, are exceptions that prove the rule. Also, such breadth as this ensures that each reader will learn something about figures he thought he knew, such as, perhaps, George Orwell and William Butler Yeats, as well as discovering new characters, such as Glenn Gould and Jack B. Yeats.

A look at those names may bring up another objection. From his selection of 21 historical figures, only one, Simone Weil, is female. This may reflect a number of things. Autism, of course, is disproportionately a male phenomenon. Historically, too, women, and even neurotypical women of high social standing, had far fewer opportunities to express themselves creatively. It leaves one question. Where the eccentricities of autistic men more tolerated, enabling them – with the usual life crises, ridicule, and difficulties, of course – to doggedly pursue their interests in the time they made for themselves, while women, failing to fulfil their more stringent social roles, were further disadvantaged, or are there many examples of female artistic genius out there waiting to be discovered and is this another indication of the autistic literature being slow to pick up on the experiences of autistic women.

Whatever the shortfalls, this is a fine book with which to begin to get to grips with this last taboo and, though it will be seen as a specialist interest topic, the viewing of the history of creativity through the filter of autism is as useful as any other more or less arbitary cross section of what would otherwise be an intimidatingly vast area, for throwing up interesting leads. For me these may be Glenn Gould, Bela Bartok and Jack B. Yeats, but each reader will have different names to follow up. Fitzgerald has written an engaging, well laid out book, and Jessica Kingsley has furthered its impressive reputation.

Candida Die Off

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Food diary, Unforgiving Minutes on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

A few lost days recently, and mainly to Candida Die Off. Probably I have mentioned this before, and certainly I will mention it again. It may be that the mechanism for it is not yet quite fully understood and that it will not in future be described as Candida Die Off, but since the self-styled hard-nosed scientists who ridicule such ideas provide no better hypothesis for how and why I come to feel so shite before I come to feel better following the imposition of a strict dietary regime after a lax spell or the ingestion of probiotics, and since they get many details wrong when they swagger into the fray, since indeed those who talk of Candida die off, off-puttingly flaky though they may be, describe perfectly how I feel and give the only plausible reason why I should feel it, Candida die off it remains.

So, the hypothesis goes something like this:

Because of the increasing prevalence of highly refined carbohydrates and sugars in our diet, because of the high-yeast fast bake process, because of the shift towards milling of flours which removes all nutritional value, because of the over prescription of anti biotics by doctors and the use of prophylactic anti biotics in animal feed, the gut flora (the balance of “good” bacteria to bad and other strains), there is increasingly a problem of Candidiasis in Western populations.

Candida albicans is a common yeast-like microorganism which, given the right environment, and in a dearth of more desireable “gut flora”, can flourish, literally threading itself through the gut lining of suffers.

In itself it can cause a problem, releasing toxins. But this threading through the gut too can cause “leaky gut syndrome”, where particles that ought not to pass through the selectively-permeable membranes of the gut, can pass thorugh. Once they have done so they can in some cases interfere with the function of the central nervous system. In others, they can trigger food allergies which then further inflame the gut lining, decreasing absorption and leading to yet further problems.

To defeat this an anti-Candida diet has to be employed. I have benefitted from this myself, though I have never found myself able to persist in its strictures which involve the exclusion of all refined carbs (I couldn’t give up exercise, for one thing, which makes me crave carbs, I often say that if I had the organisational capacity to carry out the diet, I wouldn’t need it, and I have poor/non-existent impulse control besides). In addition, pro-biotics are important, to build up the immune system against the invasive organism.

While these necessary measures are being taken, though, something called Candida Die off occurs in which, depending on which theory you go for (to me the results are the same and so it makes little odds) either A> dying Candida releases the toxins that would otherwise be left inside or B> the Candida, now that the environment is more challenging, becomes more aggressive in order to bed itself into body tissues. In the process, you experience something called Herxheimer reaction (which also may or may not be the correct nomenclature). Essentially, this is toxic overload. You feel like hell, have all the symptoms of flu, including tingling skin (check), lethargy (check), sleepiness (check), and feeling cold.

Mine came on first a few days ago when I began eating home-made probiotic sauerkraut and took a probiotic capsule or two. I wasn’t quite getting it right. These measures should be rolled in slowly after the strict following of an anti-Candida diet. I hadn’t quite done this. My priorities and obsessions shift so much that I tend to be all or nothing most of the time, and I had come on too strong with the probiotics after too loose an interpretation of the Candida diet. (Another reason I have for believing this hypothesis incidentally, is the severity of the symptoms and the way they corrolate with how lax I have been in applying the diet, how quickly I move from eating badly to eating well – with or without probiotics – and how aggressively I introduce probiotics.)

In addition, I woke up this morning after sleeping badly last night, feeling like I had a cold. Though I had been shaky all day yesterday and knew I was coming down with Herheimer/Die off, I went for a fell run race starting at 19:15 and ran 4 miles with an 1100 feet climb. I came down and felt better than I had all day, but by the time it came to go to bed, I felt alert. My head was spinning. I couldn’t sleep until late, another symptom, now I look back, of Herxheimer. Exercise too helps to kill the Candida and I had ran pretty hard.

And so I have been achy all day, had loose stool (sorry), and felt too crabby for company.

Still, good and bad news. The good: I’ve still got a long way to go. The bad: I’ve found something that works, Sauerkraut and the fermented foods Natasha Campbell McBride believes to be so effective against such problems and the mental difficulties they can cause.

The only lingering bad in all of it, perhaps, is that tomorrow I’m off to do some Dry Stone Walling again and had hoped to chat to the Chainsaw Girl I met last time and who I have been daydreaming about since, but then, since I’m still profoundly ambivalent about relationships and siding, most times, with Gibbon (as Anthony Storr described him in Solitude) who said he often dreamed of being coupled, but was invariably glad to wake up from the reverie and find himself untethered, maybe that itself is no bad thing. All I’ve got to ensure is that I manage to cook something tomorrow morning!

Night Gav-watchers

Gav Belcher

What it means…

In A Walter Mitty Character, Autism Research Unit, Meta Gav, The Uglier House Gavzette, Uncategorized, Unforgiving Minutes, UoG Newsletter, Work Diary, Writing Diary on May 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm

…to be diagnosed.

In short I don’t know. Peace of mind it isn’t. Not in itself. Not by a long way.

Regret and self-hatred haven’t been strangers the last few days. Those fifteen to twenty years that needn’t have happened as they did. Those relationships that needn’t have foundered. Those mistakes that might perhaps not have been made. Those mistakes that keep on being made now. The complexities that have gone on in those long days, months, and years building up into my personality. The fact that the direct difficulties of the disorders I have had to face unknown and unrecognised have become outweighed much of the time by second-order difficulties of social functioning, of past hurts. None of these things are easy to ignore, or to simply acknowledge as passing thoughts in the mind.

Still your face doesn’t fit. Still you don’t know what to say. Still you speak and make no sense.

Still the handful of people who make an effort to understand are few and far between, and the necessity of seeing on a daily basis the people who don’t get it, don’t want to get it, don’t need to care, goes on, making life some days like the necessity of walking those last drudging miles home with failing light, aching bones and muscles and blisters rubbing on every step.

Still people take a kind of unfamiliar pride in traducing you in any way possible, feeling better for it, feeling morally superior for it. Because people like you don’t understand the social niceties everyone has hard wired into them, and so you need to be put down for it until you learn.

Every day you trust less.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry

It’s the end of the beginning, with a long fight yet. A long walk ‘home’.

– Clatterbach

Vacuum Head

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Psychology on February 11, 2010 at 11:34 pm

This is a different kind of horrible. My head’s not exploding. I’m not feeling like I’m barely living unless I’m doing five things at once. I’m not angry. I’m not depressed. I don’t feel like there’s no hope in anything. I don’t particularly feel like I’m the worst kind of human being. I don’t feel lonely. I don’t even feel sad. This is vacuum head. I can’t explain it. It’s like Blaenau Ffestiniog to Snowdonia. It’s been there for years unexplored. Perhaps its the least worst of the mind states I experience. I’ve noticed it more recently, but I feel like I’ve never really thought about it or attempted to get to grips with it, and I feel like I need to address that. Now vacuum head doesn’t much lend itself to writing, and one thing I am certain of is that if I force to write in this condition I won’t sleep afterwards, but I know that nothing will remain of it afterwards. I have come through it and to the other side enough times to know that.

Context

As often with vacuum head, as I tweeted a few days back (yesterday?), I got it on returning from work. This lends me to suspect that vacuum head is a kind of mental over-exertion, and, in particular, a function of aspergic artificial emotional intelligence (AAEI) (which is as felicitous a spontaneous coinage as I’m likely to stumble upon mid Vacuum Head), that is, more intelligibly, the result in part of the mental exertions required by those who lack an intuitive grasp of social interaction. Power down your Normalcy Emulation Engine (sorry, on a roll with this shit), and the power drain leaves your mind this way like your muscles feel after a bout of anaerobic exercise.

Two things then. One. I was working with a Reciprocal Reactionary (RR) today (this one is an intentionally, that is, ironically awful coinage based upon R S Thomas’s notion of “reciprocal reactions” from people who pick up on his own social awkwardness). She is rather closed. My boss said he doesn’t think she is somebody you can ever get to know. (And god was I glad when I started hearing people saying negative things about her, because these RRs are the cause of a lot of tortured thoughts and negative automatic thoughts.) The two of us together are pretty stilted, and there we were working together for seven and a half hours with nothing to do for the most of it. The constant throwing of conversational dice in my mind is plenty enough to drain anyone’s mind, but there was, as ever, more than this, and I will try to summon some of it now.

Manafan – jingle, on dead air, from The Man Who Went Into The West by Byron Rogers, which I’m currently reading

Plans. To write back of the envelope flow diagrams of mind states and the way they move from one to the next, eg. social anxiety developing from a RR.

Various imagined scenarios in Capel Curig with moving there to live with two guys I don’t know and do a job I know scant information about etc. Writing in car, coming clean about ADHD, coming out as a writer, ADHD etc. etc. and then my food etc. Scenarios too surrounding the Welsh/English divide. Read the rest of this entry »

Modules for 2010

In Autism Research Unit, Creative Writing Department, Department of Czech and Slavic Studies, Department of Literature, Department of Nutrition, Department of Politics, Department of Psychology on January 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

Department of Creative Writing – short pieces

Show somebody something: 20

Finish A Guest for January – draft: 10

Write up/dictate Scars and Tattoos – work on in timetabled sessions to end March 2010: 20

Finish stragglers

viz The Most Random Shag Yet, Equation, [Eurovision story], The Enthusiast, [Alton Towers story], [Farming story], alternating with new stories: 20 credits per stalled first draft completion, 10 per new story

Practical:

Find and make notes on settings, social contexts etc. etc. eg. a Bookies; Interview a person/group of people about their job/hobby etc.

Department of Literature – poetry notebook

One entry per week: 20. One entry per fortnight: 10. One entry per month: 0 credits.

Department of Literature – exercises

Exercises in Style after the above authors based on 1 – 3 : 15 credits per piece.

Flash Fiction: 5 a piece

Department of Creative Writing – Ongoing research

Liquid Loves, Call Them Soldiers:

Zygmunt Bauman – Liquid Love: 25

John Gray – Black Mass: 20

John Gray – Straw Dogs: 30 (with notes)

Department of Creative Writing – Ways of Escape

Develop and nurture a routine that may become second nature. Describe it. Practice it. Live it. : 65

The Man Who Went into the West: the life of R S Thomas – Byron Rogers: 20

Rimbaud – Graham Robb: 40

George Orwell – D J Taylor: 35

Anton Chekhov – Henri Troyat: 25

Read the rest of this entry »

Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride

In Autism Research Unit, Book Review, Department of Nutrition, Department of Psychology on December 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I had not used the local library for about two years on account of having ran up a debt on a number of books on rape and the criminal justice system, research for a book that swelled to the size of an Anna Karenina or a Bleak House and helped to take me to the edge and which, needless to say, hasn’t be written. I had also falen out of the habit of considering libraries as one of the ways of getting my hands on a book. If I needed a book I would think E-Bay or Amazon, or, more recently, the Book Depository, and that would set me to thinking about compulsive buying and set in motion all of the strategies I have in place to stop me impulse buying Marshall stack amplifiers with power breaks for playing in my bedroom, Le Creusset casseroles, expensive language packs for Croatian, expsensive vintage typewriters and all the rest of it, but which also stops me, time after time, buying the needful things, the things which might make such strategies a little less necessary. Gut and Psychology Syndrome was one such book, indefinitely postponed by my own complex analytical filters. I had come across Natasha Campbell-McBride well over a year ago – perhaps as much as two, three years back – and it was evident to me that she came from a solid scientific background and that she had a valuable contribution to make in the field of nutritional therapy for neurodevelopmental disorders. Nonetheless, it took me a long time to get to reading her book. Anybody who suffers from the conditions she describes may understand the various shifts of priorities and the miscellaneous mishaps and the various exigencies of a life lived in a far from orderly way all of which militate against the chance of finding a window to focus on the very things which may lend order, but I can only stress that there will always be some things which are well worthy of being shoved to the front of the queue, whatever else seems imperitive, and this is one of them.

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride is a qualified medical doctor who has worked as a neurosurgeon and also trained in nutrition. The fact that she has a child who was originally diagnosed with asperger’s syndrome also led her to look into the causes of this condition, and to question the orthodoxy that asperger’s is incurable (her son is now a fully-functional adolescent). As a consequence, Dr Campbell-McBride came into contact with the late Bernard Rimland, director of the Autism Research Institute. From him she learned that many individuals with autism recover following the implementation of a gluten and casein free diet.

Campbell-McBride, however, went deeper than this. She discovered that gluten and casein were merely two of many proteins which metabolise into potent neurotoxins in an improperly functioning gut. She discovered that all of the patients she saw who had autism, but also ADHD, dyslexia, schizophrenia, dyspraxia, and other such conditions, have abnormalities of gut flora, the bacteria and microorganisms in the gut.

Campbell-McBride developed a protocol to heal this kind of problem. For her it is the malfunction of the gut that causes the malfunction in the brain. It does not add to it. It does not exacerbate it. It causes it.

In the book, Campbell-McBride lays out her protocol, which she says she successfully used to treat her son. In so doing she takes a look at other popular forms of nutritional intervention. In this section one or two minor factual errors may creep in. She summarises the anti-Candida diet, for example, as one which permits a great deal of pastries and starch. This may be true of certain books which are written in a broadly anti-candida vein, and indeed I know people who claim to be on an anti-Candida diet who bake with non-gluten flours and with sugars all the time, and who eat a great deal of starch, and who, incidentally, are not getting well or any the less irritable by doing so. Many people who have little background in nutrition have taken up the Candida bandwaggon. Alas, what has occurred with Candida is what has occurred elsewhere where the medical establishment fails to acknowledge a problem, that is, the market has produced a glut of nonsense in what is, ironically, a parallel of the pathogenic bacteria that take up residence and start proactively squatting when the goodies move out: these people thrive in the same environment and feed on the same fuel as could sustain knowledgeable men and women with a scientific background, if only they would take up the challenge, but as they hubristically scoff and walk away the quacks move in along with the more principled alternative practitioners and genuine nutritionists. Whatever, Erica White’s more considered approach to Candida is not what is demolished here. But no matter, the fact is that most alternatives to the tough but effective protocol laid out by Dr Campbell-McBride, essentially the too-often overlooked specific carbohydrate diet coupled with the supplementation of therapeutic doses of probiotics, are ineffectual or incomplete.

This I found out a year or two too late, as is often the case, since after years of struggling to apply the more rigorous anti-Candida diet of Erica White and yahoo groups’ ‘Bee’, I cut out all grains for a while and used home-made ghee, clarified butter, instead of the normal stuff, and boosted my level of probiotics, and the changes were rapidly apparent.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this one eats very well thank you very much. Try it.

Gav B

Gluten free rolls

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Every Good Boy Deserves Football, Food diary, Progress Review, Work Diary, Writing Diary on September 29, 2009 at 10:43 am
Thawed roll

Thawed roll

Bread doesn’t always much agree with me, whether it’s gluten and yeast free or not. It’s nothing but carbs, I tend to eat it with butter, and I’m not sure about the bicarbonate of soda and the xantham gum in particular. I have found over and over that I have the problems of flatulance and a congested head with bread. But then, sometimes, it tastes good, and it’s not too difficult. Sometimes too you do need to treat yourself. And so I tried to get around this a little when I made my last batch, putting together an Irish soda bread from Special Diet Solutions by Carol Fenster, a book my dad bought from E-bay having read about it on doing some research for me, the kind of book that seems to have nothing but baking recipes, and then by freezing a number of roll-sized pieces of dough. Read the rest of this entry »

Insomnia

In Autism Research Unit, Department of Nutrition, Food diary on September 29, 2009 at 12:31 am

Something that’s happened too many times now for it to be coincidence is that I have felt spiked, uncomfortably alert and yet utterly tired, when I go to bed after drinking camomile and/or valerian tea.  I dismissed this link for a while, just as I dismissed the whole idea of candida for perhaps years. It was only when I started to build up a picture of how I felt following the ingestion of powerful known anti-fungals like pau d’arco, capryllic acid and garlic, that I began to take it all seriously, and only then by association that I began to ask questions about camomile which gave me a similar kind of insomnia to these others. (There are many kinds of insomnia, as I was describing to my doctor last night in great detail in the imagined conversations that went round and around in my overactive mind.) Read the rest of this entry »

A doctor who listens!

In A Walter Mitty Character, Autism Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Unforgiving Minutes on September 28, 2009 at 6:56 pm

There’s a parcel waiting at the door to be posted to some woman who’s bought A Kestrel for a Knave through my Amazon seller account that peaked a week or two back in some bizarre saving-the-world-through-bookmarks-about-colony-collapse-disorder fantasy. I get up late after a late night last night trying to work til I drop by doing a translation of The theatre of Jara Cimrman because until ten I had been writing for this blog rather than Call Them Soldiers (I will have to watch out that I don’t slip into doing that more often) and then I was too awake to sleep. I had a valerian tea, which often doesn’t put me to sleep at all – not the brand I have been able to track down of late anyway – and I think that often makes me irritable and jittery the next morning. I got up late, at around twenty past eight, with the post office opening at half past and the doctor’s switchboard too – you have to make appointments on the day and it is a nightmare of ringing and redialling over and over.

I have a shower. Finally. I was beginning to stink again. I realised my lack of personal hygiene is becoming a problem at times when I got a call from a mate to meet up at the driving range with him and a friend. (He phrased it, as he always does, that I don’t have to turn up if I don’t want to, understanding perfectly that I don’t do well with other people.) My mum told me not to wear those jeans as I headed out, with the tear in them. But it was when I got there I realised that I stank. And telling the guy I don’t work at the moment, this guy who looks so straight-laced. The kind of guy who comes over as older than his years, though handsome. As the hot water hit me I tried to remember the last time I showered. We’re not talking weeks by any stretch, but it had been a while. I do tend to be irritated by the ‘waste’ of time unless I have been out on my bike or done some exercise that I can wind down with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Reasons to be Cheerful

In Autism Research Unit, Commentary, Department of Psychology, Unforgiving Minutes on September 27, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I read, and the paper moves down the page. The words go into my head, somewhere, like when people are talking to me and I hear them but.. don’t process it.

A couple of hours on and my mood has picked up enormously. I paced. Figuratively and perhaps as good as literally, in that longer-time-frame way I have of walking up the stairs, failing to take to a room and walking down again, over and over. I decided to get out on the bike. The super duper bike this time. And so I pick it up and try and pump up the tyres. No go. One wheel, meant for trials riding and so much thicker and heavier than I need, extends over the valve so that I can’t put my stupid Decathlon pump over it. That gets thrown around. A few grunts (these ugly, loud, gutteral grunts I make, and am making with increasing frequency, which are something like Clint Eastwood’s ludicrous snarl cum grunt in Gran Tourino raised to the power of stupid), a few Fuck off!s and For fuck’s sake!s, and yet, when it comes down to it, and despite my day-long downer and restless agitation, I do well to not get angry and to use three different pumps, none of them much use for the purpose, to pump up the bike and get out.

<< Rewind. Up to seven, eight years ago, and soon after the conclusion of the whole frame and forks bought, bike assembled, badly, piecemeal, bike fixed up at great expense, forks recalled and part replaced drama that was a lot more traumatic than it sounds, and I’m desperate to get out of the house to quell some of the restlessness I didn’t then understand at all. I don’t find a pump or there is some problem. But I have to get out. I can’t not. I’m desperate. I pace, literally for sure. I curse, grunt, no doubt, have a tantrum, get into a state of near-hysteria, and then have to go for a run instead. I remember few of the details. I can picture the bike, leaning up against the two step retaining wall (is that a retaining wall? Is it a wall. Whatever it is it is the height of two decorative steps.) of the lawn. I can remember people making mollifying remarks that would not have mollified me at all. I remember, I think, the shoes I would have been wearing, Hi Tecs I had for much of university. And I remember the state I was in. Back then, I didn’t have a clue how my mind or my body worked. >> Read the rest of this entry »