It’s strange what thoughts come to mind, when you disengage the brain, knock it out of gear and leave ticking over for a while. I was standing by this river, listening and watching the tumbling water, contemplating you might say; when the topic of algebra leapt into my mind, it wasn’t a welcome thought.

When I was at school we had (to my mind at least) a truly terrifying maths teacher, I lived in fear of coming to his attention for you would be marked out, there would be no escape from his shouting or his scathing sarcasm his manner rendered me like a rabbit caught in the glare of car head lights, I would simply freeze in his presence, hardly conducive to learning anything let alone algebra. This teacher had a good stock of standard phrases and put downs, (as well as a keen eye for throwing board rubbers and chalk, kids today don’t know they are born……etc etc) one of his stock lines was that if you got your ‘signs wrong’ in algebra you would be ‘doomed’ and that you would  ‘end your days standing on the Thames embankment contemplating throwing yourself into the cold grey waters.’

At school I never did get the hang of algebra and when I went ‘back to school’ a few years ago the subject  of algebra reared it’s ugly head, at least this time I was able to explain that as a dyslexic, algebra simply ‘does my head in.’ I explained to my tutor.

  • Algebra has the added disadvantage, in that incorporates letters and numerals (a bit like mixing your drinks gives you the worst hangover!) but certain letters combinations cause more confusion than others.
  • mxn, looks like a flock of migrating birds.
  • XxX, a chain link fence!
  • bxd, mirror images are a challenge, so that rules out pxq as well

Second time round, I still didn’t fall for the charms of algebra, but it didn’t matter because by then I’d discovered psychology, sociology and creative writing; so now  I stand on the embankment contemplating the cold grey waters, but not for the reasons predicted by my maths teacher circa 1973

Dotting and Crossing

I have spent the morning in an exam, don’t ask what on, I won’t tell you (sorry, it’s half a story, I know)

It’s the first time I have ever sat down at a proper, grown up exam, that starts at the top of the page and goes on and on, until, you either run out of time, things to compare and contrast, apply theory to, or just waffle about.

Readers who have been calling here for a while, will know, that I don’t like writing without the comfort blanket of Microsoft Office and the F7 button, I’ll stand up and talk to and for England; but ask me to put pen to paper, it brings up all sorts of demons. So you can imagine I wasn’t looking forward to the exam; now that my dyslexia has a piece of paper to prove it’s existence (and we could debate that topic ’till the cows come home, but please not now) I have an entitlement to some extra time in exams, to check my work. I must admit I was glad of it and used every second.

I wasn’t alone, another candidate was in the same situation and we placed ourselves at the front of the examination room as far away as possible from the door, so that when everyone else left, it would be less distracting for us. So when the time came and the invigilator said ‘ Everyone, put down your pens, except the two candidates with additional time.’ And everyone else filed quietly out of the room, before bursting into relieved and excited chatter as they dispersed down the corridor, I was transported back to being a child again, its a beautiful summers day, I am still inside the classroom redoing my work, my classmates are out in the sunshine, playing.

I hate my hand writing, its not good at the best of times, but under pressure, like this morning I like it even less, and whilst I’ve got used to writing essays, assignments and reports over the last few years, and goodness, I’ve even been known to enjoy it, but it’s only because I can ‘cut and paste’, edit and generally tidy things up; but no matter how hard I try, I remain convinced my messy writing and poor spelling, will have antagonized the examiner and the outcome will come back to not what I have written but how I’ve written it.

Rereading my work at the end of the exam, I discovered that my writing of the word ‘that’ looked like ‘t*at’ (for * insert ‘w’) and you can see this makes the word takes on an entirely different meaning (overseas readers, on a need to know basis, can read a definition of t*at here.) So it was not just the ‘I’s’ that needed dotting and the ‘T’s’ that need crossing, the ‘W’s needed a bit of remedial work too.

So back home, and not one, but two fried egg butties and two mugs of steaming hot tea later, I am both replete and exhausted, but I am still going out to play.

Turning over a new leaf

Out with the old and in with the new.


The party is over, the guest have all gone and a good time was had by all.  Mr Uhdd is back at work and the boys, having become nocturnal, (staying up much later than they would in term time) are now being re-programmed, before they go back to school next week. It’s all rather dismal, just like the weather.

I rarely make it to the 12th night before  taking down the Christmas tree and decorations, this goes back to my retail days, by now I am just sick of the sight of the cards and glitter. At the shop we were always desperate to clear away the Christmas decorations and get a fresh, bright white, lime and lemon display in the window: before we were hit  at the end of January, with the orgy of red that is the lead into valentines day; it was a bit like craving a nice fresh salad after the excesses of Christmas feasting, a de-tox for the eyes.

I shall continue my ‘cleansing’ efforts with the house as well, I’ve made a start on our rapidly expanding book collection; I’ve had a bit of an issue with  books, in that I find it hard to get rid of the ones I have read and enjoyed, always thinking that I would like to read them again, but when? I ask myself; I all ready have a back log of books I ‘want’ to read and  text books I ‘have’ to read. I am not a fast reader, when I first had my dyslexia assessed in 2004 my reading speed came out in the ‘average range of a young adult’ 16yr and 6m, to be precise, oh that other ‘bits’ of me could still be assessed as being ‘young adult’! I also have problems remembering what I have read because of my short term memory weakness. I have ‘worked’ on my reading since then and I think if it were re-assessed now,the situation will have improved, because I have learnt a few strategies, and in addition by ‘turning up at the book’ and  just reading more, things are easier. But dense text of unfamiliar words is still an uphill thing.

So when every book is a bit of a conquest, it’s no wonder I got a bit possessive about them, but that was then and this is now, so surplus books will be moving on to new homes; because there is simply no more room at the inn,


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Mind Your Ps and Qs

Words don’t always come easy, not if you are dyslexic

I know its the weekend and everything is a bit of an effort, but you are, (if this post is to make any sense at all; and it will, trust me, I’m a dyslexic) just going to have to stretch your index finger and click on this file about my Dyslexia

I hope that was visual enough for you!

Now that you are back out of the forest, let me see if you read me right, a rough translation.

From the outset I have intended to blog about my dyslexia, but now having turned up at the keyboard to do just that, I will admit to feeling a bit daunted by the task.This has surprised me a little, I think it might be an indicator of how strong my emotions are on the subject.

The last thing I want to do is to give the impression I feel sorry for my self about my dyslexia, I don’t. I am very aware that bits of my ‘dyslexic brain’ give me skills and attributes I would not wish to be with out, but it has also caused me much embarrassment, anxiety, frustration and blood boiling, bile flavoured anger.

I have only known I am dyslexic for about four years, before that I just felt as though I didn’t ‘stack up’ ‘hang together’ a misfit in many ways; I knew bits of mind could fly, and yet I could be felled by simple things that other people took for granted.

I am moderately dyslexic, with a profile of differences between my abilities that is ‘statistically significant, and a discrepancy of this size is not often found among adults of her age’ My family will put it more bluntly, “Bloody typical of you, when have you ever done anything the easy way” and that about sums dyslexia up, it would be nice to take the ‘motorway’ and get to whatever you want to learn, do, achieve quickly but as we all know motorways can be pretty boring, dyslexics have to take a different route, taking the ‘B roads’, ‘green lanes’ and maybe even a bit of ‘off roading’. It might be slower but it’s far more interesting, stop by another day and I’ll take you for a drive round.