The phone (2)

If we ask LB to get the phone, he usually shouts at it “Whatdoyouwant???” until it stops ringing. Tonight was progress. With a big fat P.

“LB! Get the phone!”
“Who me Mum?”
“Yes, quick!”
“Do I have to Mum?”
“Yes, quick before it stops ringing.”
“BLOODY PHONE. I hate it.”
“Just do it.”
“Who is it?”
“Who was it LB?”
“Recorded message Mum.”

Making puttanesca sauce

“OK LB. I’m going to make some puttanesca sauce. You like that, don’t you? Very posh n’ Nigella.”
“Who looks after buses Mum?”
“Mechanics Mum?”
“And London buses Mum?”
“Yep, mechanics look after London buses.”
“Why Mum?”
“Because they have to stay roadworthy. Keep the passengers safe.”
“Yes Mum.”
“Now I need to find some olives…”
“Who looks after lorries Mum?”
“Mechanics Mum?”
“Mum? Who looks after coaches Mum?”
“Mechanics… Crap the olives have gone mouldy…”
“Who looks after settattas Mum?”
“Settattas Mum. Who looks after settattas?”
“I can’t understand you LB. Say it clearly.”
“I don’t understand. Say it clearly. Mouldy.bloody.olives.”
“Septic tanks???”
“Yes Mum. Who looks after settictanks?”
“Yes LB?”
“I wish I was a Londoner Mum.”

LB’s support plan

So the dreaded visit from LB’s Care Manager passed off painlessly today.

LB sat very patiently while she gave information, apologised for using jargon and went through his support plan. Then she got to the big question:

“What three things are most important to you in your life?” [these can relate to any aspect of your life – aspirations, outcomes you wish to achieve or things you are keen to maintain or be able to do again.]
“LB what things are important to you? …”
“What is important to you? It can be anything at all… Have a think…Is it your mum and dad? Or your family?”
“Can you think of one thing to start off with?”
“Bus spotting.”
“Ah. That’s good. Can you think of anything else that’s important to you?”
“Lorry spotting.”
“Brilliant. One more thing…”
“Coach spotting.”

Scrap metal

This week, LB shifted his attention to scrap metal. A break from Irish lorries but with worse sound effects on youtube. He also came back from his dad’s with a toolkit containing a hammer and screwdriver.

Last night, there was a terrible crashing noise upstairs. He’d put his die cast models (some limited edition) in a pile and was hammering the screwdriver into them.

Whoa! Stoppit LB! What are you doing?????”
“Making scrap metal Mum.”
“Well you gotta stoppit matey. Now!”
“Why Mum?”
“Because I said so! You’ll ruin them!”

“Blimey,” I said to Rich, sitting back downstairs, “Model enthusiasts would be weeping if they saw that…”

Then I started wondering why he should stop bashing them.

LB and the coffee morning

“Hey, you going to the coffee morning again tomorrow LB?”
“Yes Mum.”
“Where’s it held?”
“In the church Mum.”
“Wow. Do you meet people there?”
“Yes Mum.”
“Who do you meet there?”
“Old people Mum.”
“Oh. Do you know any of their names?”
“Barbara Mum. And the other old people.”
“That’s nice. Do you talk to them?”
“Yes Mum.”
“What do you talk about?”
“Old people stuff Mum.”
“What’s old people stuff? Tell me something you talk about?”
“Getting older Mum.”

LB and the school bully

“LB, what happened at school today?”
“Nothing Mum. Nothing.”



The foyer

I randomly decided to pick LB up an hour and a half early from after school club yesterday. And found him sitting patiently on a chair in the foyer. Alone.

“Waiting Mum.”
“Dunno Mum.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“You Mum.”

I rang the kids club staff on the internal phone (you have to ring and speak to staff).

“Er, I have LB here. In the foyer on his own.”
“Ah, is he there? We’ll come down and get him.”
“GET HIM? I’ve got him! What’s he doing in the foyer on his own?!!!”
“We’ve been waiting for him to come from football. Usually he’s brought up to the hall after football by school staff…”

After this exchange on the phone (???) we left and the service provider running the kids club texted me disclaiming any responsibility ending with “..we are not at fault”. It was the school’s responsibility. Lovely.

This morning, the school liaison officer (SLO) rang, hugely apologetic. It will never happen again. LB had told a staff member that he wasn’t going to kids club that afternoon, I was picking him up. He had to wait in the foyer. Whoa. Cheeky monkey or what? (He doesn’t  like after school club and was pretty fixated on getting Eddie Stobart Series 3 in the post).

Or, as the SLO suggested, was the dude a bit psychic?

I asked LB what he thought about what had happened, at bedtime last night.

“I hate the foyer Mum.”

The why? question

LB has become adept at answering most questions “Yes“, “No“, “Don’t know” or “All of them” in typical teenager fashion. We’ve been pushing him on this recently (not least because it’s pretty boring).

This morning (as with so, so many mornings);

“Mum? I love lorries Mum.”
“I know.”
“Mum? I love lorries Mum…”

Usually at this point I say “I know LB. Do you know how I know?
And he answers “Because I’ve told you 25,000 times, Mum.

This morning I mixed it up a bit;

“Mum? I love lorries Mum.”
“I know.”
“Mum? I love lorries Mum…”

“Why do you love them?”
“Dunno Mum.”
“No, think of why you love them.”
“Dunno Mum.”
“C’mon LB. Try to explain to me why you love lorries.”
“Because. Because…… Because of me, Mum.”

Love him.

Beyond shunned, trust and what?

LB’s now been back from his five day PGL adventure for three days. And all we know is that he was ‘shunned’ by the boy he shared a room with, he went abseiling and ate chips. He says he had a good time. He says his room mate scared him. He says he had to sleep with the light off, which also scares him. He says he doesn’t want to go again. But then he didn’t want to go in the first place.

Oh, and I also know there was a ‘staff change’ on the Saturday in the middle of the trip.

This was LB’s first ‘adult’ holiday. It was organised by a care provider company who seem to have a good reputation. As I wrote earlier, there was no choice involved. We haven’t been shown any evidence of the ‘quality’ of this company (or any other company for that matter). The local authority obviously use this company but that don’t mean diddly squat. The company has glossy brochures. A bouncy, cheerful worker does home visits and gets the forms signed. A cheerful woman picked him up and dropped him off. There is a cracking performance of bright, breezy and cheerful. But what do we really know? There’s that screaming question; Why should we trust you?

Maybe I’m being overly protective. Maybe LB went off, had a great time and loved every minute. I hope so, but that’s not the point. It just ain’t good enough. I know, historically, learning disabled people have had a crap deal, but the current context of Winterbourne, the crapheap that is the CQC, the increase in hate crime against disabled people, and so on, is hugely concerning. LB, like many other dudes like him, is vulnerable. He doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body, is loyal, loving and great company. But he doesn’t have any resources to defend himself.

I don’t like this discourse of ‘care providers’ when profit is often be the motivating factor in their operation. What ‘care’ are they providing? Are they ‘caring’ or is it more about containment? I have no personal issue with the particular company that was involved in this holiday. I have a broader issue with the way in which LB has already taken his first step into adult (almost) services and already the foundation of lack of information, choice and control is laid.

Oh, and a ‘staff change’ during a five day holiday with a group of young people like LB, in my book, is a complete fucking no no.


“Who did you share a room with LB?”
“Ah. Did you get on with him?”
“No Mum.”
“Why not?”
“He was very loud Mum. He scared me.”
“What do you mean? How did he scare you?”
“He told me to stop talking Mum.”
“Ah. Was this at night time?”
“Yes Mum.”
“Well you know you can’t chatter on all night when you’re sharing a room, don’t you?”
“He shoved me Mum.”
“Shoved you? Whaddaya mean?!”
“Wow. Why’d he do that?”
“Dunno Mum.”
“Did you talk to him?”
“Yes Mum.”
“What did you say to him?”
“‘Do you like lorries?’ Mum.”
“Ah. What did he say?”
“No Mum.”