My ADHD Brain, Episode Three: Late to the Party

This is about how I just don’t pick up on things if they’re not immediately in my sight. Or in fact they might blatantly, obviously in my line of sight but I just haven’t seen them because my brain is tuned to a different frequency. 

The biggest one of these I can think of from recent years is the Arctic Monkeys. Apparently they hit the big time in 2006, when their first album came out. When did I become a fan? In May 2020 when I saw their set from Glastonbury 2013 on iplayer. I knew nothing about them except that I had vaguely heard the name. I watched that set and was like “OH MY GOD, they are brilliant, how did I miss them?”

What the hell was I doing in 2006 (and in fact in every year since) that so distracted me? I do remember mid-00s thinking that music wasn’t really very good anymore. The 90s were so brilliant, but things had really dipped. I mostly contented myself with listening to REM, Nirvana, classical music, and waiting for the next Radiohead album to come out. In 2006 I was living, working and studying in Sheffield and moaning about how shit most music in the charts was. How did I miss that there was a Sheffield band making exactly the kind of music I like and doing well in the charts? 

I have even since discovered they played at the Olympics Opening ceremony in 2012. I watched that. I can picture us sitting in the living room, watching the ceremony. I remember Kenneth Branagh, and the clever bit where the Olympic rings were raised, and I can picture the big torch thingy. And I remember feeling sick again, and getting a positive pregnancy test later that night. But I do not remember the Arctic Monkeys. At all. 

Anyway… I have thankfully now caught up after 15 years, and can say I am blown away by their brilliance. I am in love with the Sheffield-ness of them. Seriously, ‘summat in your teeth’, ‘You’ve got the face on’, and, my favourite ‘mardy bum’. My favourite album is still “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not”, every song conjures a vivid image in my mind, and I am transported back to my teens, my childhood even. According to family legend when I was about six I called my sister a mardy bum before dumping a box of lego over her head. 

What is the purpose of this post? I am aware I have strayed off on a bit of a tangent (I do this a lot)! I guess what I’m trying to demonstrate is my inability to pick up on things unless they find a particular way in. Whilst my radar can sometimes pick up on things nobody else notices, and ask the questions nobody else thinks of, I frequently miss what’s right in front of me (sometimes literally, you should see me when I lose my car keys…).

It’s weird really, as I crave variety and new stuff. The thrill of discovering a new band, artist, writer for the first time is one of life’s great pleasures so you’d think I’d be constantly on the lookout. I am also pretty good at horizon scanning and seeing the bigger picture. I would count these amongst the positive traits I attribute to my ADHD. But maybe sometimes I am too busy scanning the horizon that I miss whatever’s right under my nose.

Seth Lakeman -Kitty Jay

For this week’s Music Monday, as promised, a Seth Lakeman double bill.

Licensed to YouTube by

Believe Music, UMG (on behalf of India Records); Sony ATV Publishing, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., SOLAR Music Rights Management, and 1 Music Rights Societies

Kitty Jay

Seth Lakeman

Poor Kitty Jay
Such a beauty cast away
This silent prayer
It should paint some peace
On her grave
Something broke her sleep

Poor Kitty Jay
Such a beauty thrown away
So young and fair
Now she’s turned to dust
And clay
Terror broke her sleep

Never guessed unto her cold end
Called the Devil her only friend
Never guessed it with his bare hands
Called the Devil the mark of man

Songwriters: Seth Lakeman

For non-commercial use only. Data from: Musixmatch

Seth Lakeman & Wildwood Kin -Willow Tree

Licensed to YouTube by

The Orchard Music (on behalf of Cooking Vinyl); CMRRA, LatinAutor – SonyATV, SOLAR Music Rights Management, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutorPerf, Sony ATV Publishing, and 5 Music Rights Societies.

One long year ago today,
I stopped to hear a story told,
Of how an old man was taken down to the roots below.

She took my arm, we walked alone,
We climbed across this open field,
She didn’t pause for breathe until this cross drew near.

She sat down by this little mound,
Softly she did weep and sigh,
Come to me my father for I am lost inside.

But since that time how things have changed,
For this sweet girl who was my bride,
She is laid down under close by her fathers side.

I planted there upon her grave,
The sacred seed of a willow tree,
I pray it’s long hard roots forever shelter me.

One long year ago today,
I stopped to hear a story told,
Of how an old man was taken down to the roots below.

From songlyrics.com

Lockdown Blues or ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til it’s Gone’

Two things I have been doing off and on since March 2020 are: one, watching gigs on YouTube and cursing my past self for missing them and two, watching walking programmes on TV. I love a good walk through the British countryside, and whilst the kids and I do go out everyday for a local walk, and are blessed with nearby countryside, what I miss are moors, having grown up near the Peak District. Where I live now is very nice, and it has some good woodland and grassy hills, but there are definitely days when I miss the bleakness of a windswept moor.

It’s for this reason that I was attracted to the BBC’s Winter Walks around Yorkshire and Cumbria, and itv’s Cornwall and Devon Walks with Julia Bradbury, now that I can’t travel to either.

I have watched most of the Winter Walks now (can’t bring myself to watch Baroness Warsi -petty, I know, but I can’t stand the woman) and can particularly recommend the episodes with Lemn Sissay and Simon Armitage. Watching Armitage reminded me of his excellent book Walking Home, which I thoroughly recommend, and also the poem he wrote last year called Lockdown.

Having decided to find the poem again to make it February’s Poem of the Month, I discovered there is a version set to music and, wow, it’s absolutely stunning. To read the poem and watch the musical version go to February’s Poem of the Month.

In the Devon Walks programme I got a pleasant surprise when suddenly up popped Seth Lakeman playing some of Kitty Jay and talking about the myths and legends of Devon. I am a big fan of Seth’s music, and it’s about time he got a Music Monday outing so you’re in for a treat tomorrow!

“Lockdown”. By Simon Armitage.

I really love this poem, the way it weaves in the haunting, tragic story of Eyam, and of being exiled, distant from loved ones.

For a little background info about the poem check out this article from The Guardian: Florence Pugh and Simon Armitage record lockdown poem together | Music | The Guardian.

The full text of the poem is below, with a link to the music video below that. Enjoy!

Lockdown by Simon Armitage

And I couldn’t escape the waking dream
of infected fleas

in the warp and weft of soggy cloth
by the tailor’s hearth

in ye olde Eyam.
Then couldn’t un-see

the Boundary Stone,
that cock-eyed dice with its six dark holes,

thimbles brimming with vinegar wine
purging the plagued coins.

Which brought to mind the sorry story
of Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre,

star-crossed lovers on either side
of the quarantine line

whose wordless courtship spanned the river
till she came no longer.

But slept again,
and dreamt this time

of the exiled yaksha sending word
to his lost wife on a passing cloud,

a cloud that followed an earthly map
of camel trails and cattle tracks,

streams like necklaces,
fan-tailed peacocks, painted elephants,

embroidered bedspreads
of meadows and hedges,

bamboo forests and snow-hatted peaks,
waterfalls, creeks,

the hieroglyphs of wide-winged cranes
and the glistening lotus flower after rain,

the air
hypnotically see-through, rare,

the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow
but necessarily so.

Graham Coxon -In My Room

Music Monday is a weekly meme by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek 

Although I am pulling away from watching TV series, there is one I am glad I saw. If you haven’t seen The End of the F***ing World, make sure you do. It is quite simply one of the best things I have ever seen on TV. The first couple of episodes have some bumpy moments (I can’t bear seeing animal cruelty or uncalled for rudeness to service staff… you’ll see what I mean) that can be stressful to watch but stick with it, as these bits are key to demonstrating the mental state of the main characters and they contrast with later behaviour.

The ending of the first series actually made me cry, and I swore I would never watch TV again, I was THAT heartbroken. I also had a feeling I would never see anything so perfect again. How thrilled I was to discover a second series, which meant that not only had one of the main characters actually survived but also that there was more of it. I also discovered that there is something out there even more brilliant than The End of the F***ing World, series 1, and that’s The End of the F***ing World series 2. I do hope they stop at 2 though, as the ending was pitch perfect.

Everything about it is good. The storyline, the acting, the script, the visuals, and the frankly magnificent soundtrack. I now have the soundtrack and have been listening to it regularly for some months now. Most of it comprised of original songs by Blur’s Graham Coxon, it really is wonderful. This is just one of the songs but there are plenty of gems on there. 

Graham Coxon In My Room – The End of the F***ing World (Original Songs and Score)

Lyrics:

Outside the windows, they’re singing Inside the doorway, there’s me Endlessly thinking, working. In my room. I can’t share the joy, sharing. Can’t share the wine that they drink. I stand by the window, just watching. From my room Outside the window, they laughing. Inside the doorway, Constantly thinking, but working In my room In my room

The End of the F***ing World (Original Songs and Score) Support the artist and buy the album: iTunes: http://bit.ly/teotfw-itns​ Vinyl: http://bit.ly/teotfw-lp​ Download: http://bit.ly/teotfw-digitald​ Watch TEOTFW on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80175722

Licensed to YouTube by

WMG (on behalf of Graham Coxon); CMRRA, UMPG Publishing, Sony ATV Publishing, PEDL, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutorPerf, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, and 7 Music Rights Societies

My ADHD Brain, Episode Two: Weird obsessive bubbles

OK, so you will not be surprised to learn that ‘weird obsessive bubbles’ is not an actual technical term. However, it is the only way I can think of describing one of the odd things that happens in my head. Whilst other aspects of ADHD definitely impact me I think that for me personally this is the strongest.

I will discover something, be it a band or a TV series or even a character or particular storyline, or a specific song, or a place (I used to have an obsession with Finland -I’m still waiting for my moment of glory in a quiz) or a project (planning my vegetable garden, spending hours every night making a photobook as a gift)… and this thing will take over my mind and my life. It will become an itch I absolutely must keep scratching until it’s raw.

Then, suddenly, ‘pop’, the bubble has burst. I will immediately swing the other way and be unable to palate it at all, and then after a while it will sneak back again but in a more healthy, balanced way.

If i could control the interest, if I could harness it, then it would be a great asset. However, I can’t. My brain will pick what it’s going to obsess about and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do to change it. Sometimes these obsessions are useful, but often they’re pointless, and they can arrive in my brain in such roundabout ways.

Here’s a particular example that happened to me a few months ago.

One night, just as I was going to go to bed, I realised that my alarm was still set. I wanted a lie in, so I went onto my phone to cancel my alarms, and when I had done so it said ‘no alarms’. My brain immediately went “no alarms and no surprises” and that became my earworm for the next few days. 

I have been a Radiohead fan for many years. I have all their albums, I have seen them live, but for whatever reason I haven’t listened to them at all for about three years. Yet this one random incident triggered a complete Radiohead obsession. For about three weeks they were literally the only music I listened to.

I kept myself up late one night trying to work out which one was their best album and, in fact, how I would rank them in order. I knew I would not be able to sleep until I had done it. And all the while I knew it was a pointless thing to try to do, I didn’t even want to do it, but it had to be done. (In Rainbows came top, in case you want to know). Then, once completed, I lost the list, but that didn’t matter. The Radiohead bubble had burst and I was back to just listening to them from time to time, in a healthy way.

As a footnote: there is another side to this. A friend once commented that she likes to have me on her quiz team, because if I get a round on something I know about I will really know about it, but also that it blows her mind how I don’t know “some really obvious things”. This is because if it has never grabbed me, and has never piqued my interest, then it probably doesn’t really exist for me. There are many well known celebrities, events, sports, that even someone without an interest would know a bit about, as they can absorb it from the world around them. Not me. If the brain doesn’t want to know, then it won’t. More about this in Episode Three.

My ADHD Brain, Episode One: RSD

My intention with the blog was to document the processes that take place inside my brain, weird goings on I have had all my life, but which I now understand are due to my ADHD. Below is a particular incident that illustrates Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, or RSD which you can read about here.

So, last week when dropping my older son at school (he has a place as his neurodiversity classes him as vulnerable), my younger (supposedly neurotypical) son, who is an unstoppable chatterbox with no inhibitions (wonder where he gets that from…) starts telling the Headteacher at some length about how we are reading Harry Potter together. The Head very primly responds “Oh my goodness, really? Harry Potter is too scary for our house”.

Her kids and my kids are the same age and she knows I know this. So, in one instant she shot down his enthusiasm and reprimanded me. She shouldn’t have said it, but my reaction was totally over the top. I didn’t say anything to her (as she’s my kids’ headteacher, had it been another parent at a social group I would, probably wrongly, have verbally ripped them to shreds) but the comment festered and it poisoned the rest of the morning. I still think about it from time to time and probably will for the next couple of years. As soon as I got home I set my younger one up with his home learning and spent a furious 40 minutes researching all the other primary schools in the area and looking into the process for transferring kids to a different school. 

Thankfully, it abated somewhat and I was actually able to see my RSD for what it was. I was able to step back and get some perspective. In case you’re wondering why it’s worth getting a diagnosis -this is why! In the olden times pre-diagnosis, it would have torpedoed an entire week and I would have developed a lasting hatred for the Head that would never have gone away, no matter how nice she might have been on subsequent occasions. 

My life is peppered with such incidents: slights and judgey comments that have the power to enrage and destroy when you have a sensitive soul and an RSD infested brain. 

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig

SPOILER ALERT: Most of my reviews discuss the ending of a book so if you don’t want to know the result look away now 😉

This was so compelling and readable, I devoured it in only two sittings, which happens when I get stuck into something. My sleep suffers but my dopamine benefits. 

I really liked Nora and Mrs Elm and I loved the idea of it. I definitely need to check out Henry David Thoreau. References to him always seem to turn up in things I like! 

It was a nicely observed account of a woman lingering between life and death and exploring the different paths she could have taken, and unravelling her regrets to learn that every possible life has its ups and downs and that her choices have different outcomes for different people in her life as well as for herself.

Possibly the only bum note for me was this: Is it supposed to all be in her imagination, in which case I can see that she could be an Olympic swimmer, a Cambridge lecturer, a rock star etc. However, if, as it hinted, these are actual parallel lives, then I don’t buy it. She couldn’t be all of those things just on the basis of her making different choices.

Seriously, I played tennis through most of my childhood but I quit in my teens. If I went back and undid that decision would I go on to become a professional tennis player and play at Wimbledon? No, I wouldn’t. Because choices are not the only factor, it’s also about talent. The book seemed to be saying we can be whatever we want, it’s just a matter of different choices, and I don’t agree with that. The other messages, however, were all spot on. 

The concept resonated with me because I am usually living a parallel life too. I don’t know whether it’s an ADHD thing, I suspect it probably is, but I am always imagining a parallel life that I’m in, and it’s with me alongside my current one. I have a vivid imagination so I can imagine it in detail, and whilst it is most definitely not real it is like a film playing in my mind. So I could identify with Nora’s library, though mine isn’t so much about regrets or not wanting my current life, mine is about my mind having its little adventures to keep itself entertained. 

I enjoyed the ending very much, and I loved that it was not clear what path she was going to take, but she had more self knowledge with which to navigate it. 

WWW Wednesdays! -3rd February 2021

#WWWWednesdays!

Hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and introduced to me via Secret Library Book Blog

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am about halfway through ‘The Mirror and the Light’. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I love Mantel’s historical novels as she so beautifully captures that world. I find myself absorbed in it. It is a big book though so I may be a while!

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What have you finished reading?

Heartburn by Nora Ephron and Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir.

What will you read next?

I have these four on my bedside table and they look great. I am very much looking forward to them. Not sure which one I will start with though…

Heartburn

By Nora Ephron

“Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel, a cookery writer, discovers that her husband is in love with another woman”.

I found this book very readable with some good observations and wit but I did find most of the characters annoying at some point. I think it’s all the therapists these rich Americans have. “My therapist”, “his therapist”, “her therapist”, because everyone has one. And they all rattle about these nice apartments eating expensive food, bitching about each other and cheating on one another. In the end she sells her diamond ring for $15,000.

It did also seem quite dated, with talk of how women like to be married and stay married and need to turn a blind eye to men, who are innately and unavoidably restless and crap, two assumptions that did not sit right with me. Thankfully Rachel is able to overcome those voices and part of the joy of the novel is in seeing that happen. 

It made me ponder love and marriage though, and the nature of infidelity. I have never been unfaithful or (to the best of my knowledge) been cheated on but it seems like it is generally a very common thing, and not just in fiction. Are we asking too much of one another when we seek to keep people monogamous? Is it the best or most natural way to be? How do we know? Who decides? I loathed the husband in this, but for me whilst the infidelity would be hard (though not impossible) to forgive, it was his arrogance and contemptuous treatment of Rachel that angered me so much and which I would find unforgivable. 

There is a superb bit about the impact of children on marriages, (“A child is like a grenade… all the power struggles of the marriage now have a new playing field”) and some other sharp observations that hit home.

The final chapter of the book is actually my favourite. It starts with the lines:

“If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma.”

I think this would be an excellent opening to any novel, not just a chapter. I didn’t love the book enough for it to be one I re-read (or maybe I did, but I didn’t love the characters enough for it to be a favourite), but I may open it again for the recipes, particularly the key lime pie.