Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

On an interesting trip to Parliament then off to the nearest Macdonalds we went

Colin (the participation officer) who runs the young people’s forum asked me if I would like to come with him on a trip to parliament on Thursday. At first I had to consider the possibility that I couldn’t go because I was going to work at the supermarket between 4pm and midnight that day, however fortunately the schedule for the trip planned to arrive at the AFK building before 2:30pm this allowed me plenty of time to get to my other job so yes for me the trip was on.

On that Thursday morning I had to be at the A.F.K building at 9 o’clock in the morning (half an hour earlier then when I usually have to be there) this wasn’t easy considering the previous day Wednesday I had my usual over 12 hour working day routine of which consisted of me getting out of bed at 8:30am to arrive at A.F.K at 9:30am to do 4 and a half hours of continuous raffle inputting but to be fair during this I am allowed to go out for fresh air briefly in order to stop myself falling asleep. Then at 2pm I get on my Bike and ride home which takes luckily only 5-10 min as I don’t live far from A.F.K eat my Lunch and make my way to the supermarket which takes at least 40min as it is over 2 miles further away than A.F.K but since I get the freedom pass so travel is free and I get the inner London premium so it’s ok. I arrive there at 4pm to stand at a self scan checkout to state the obvious to some idiots and make sure the customers transactions go though smoothly around 7pm-7:30pm I get a half hour break where I grab something to eat then it’s another 4 or more hours on a normal till mostly in the second half of my shift when the real loony tunes tend to make an appearance this can be entertaining when thinking back about it but usually less funny at the time. Then at midnight I finally get to go home and get one of the last tubes. Then when I arrive home I have my dinner and finally get to sleep at well past 1am. So I’m used to a lie-in on a Thursday rather than getting up half an hour earlier than the day before but despite all that I was quite excited.

Our local station

I managed to get there around 9:05am I saw there was only one minibus in the driveway at first I thought the minibus might have gone without me however when I went inside the A.F.K building Colin was there and so was carol chuck (the work related Learning supervisor) and Hisba (a present student) and Faisal (another present student). Colin asked me if I knew where I was going so I replied “houses of parliament “so he asked if I knew how to get there and I said vaguely as I remembered it from before he then handed me a print out from (a website for planning your public transport routes around London) and told me to lead the way. The journey started with a walk to Hornsey BR train.

At the station I saw the train coming in the opposite direction on the other platform before 9:30 and said that I thought my aspie Work colleague Ben would be arriving on this train and just as I predicted me and Colin both saw him but he couldn’t see us as he was facing away from us walking towards the exit to get to the A.F.K building.

On the underground

Next came our train but despite it being past rush hour it was rather crowded and we were standing all way squeezed in the train like sardines. We got off at Highbury and Islington station to get the Victoria line and had the same conditions there. We swapped at Green Park for the jubilee line where we all actually got seats but it was only for one stop. Once we arrived at houses of parliament I saw a load of bikes parked there so I said “I wonder how many M.P’s cycle to work” so Colin said he didn’t think any M.P’s would have got to work yet as it was before 10. We went to meet and had a group photo with a couple of people from Burson Marsteller (a P.R company) who kindly arranged this trip for us using their connections from doing the P.R for the Labour party.

When we started to enter the building we had to get through security. There we had to be searched and put through an airport style x-ray machine with a load of police officers to walk us through it. Once we all got past that, a second group photo was taken and the first part of the houses of parliament we waited in was Westminster Abby, this room that looked like a big church with stain glass windows. I remember one of us pronouncing Hisba’s name as whisper and Colin said to one of the Burson marsteller people “Hisba usually has only one volume level a lot loader then that.” I found that funny only Hisba laughed but seemed to object at the same time.

Our tour guide then arrived to begin walking us though the tour. He was an old Man called Kevin though he was quite humorous this made the tour quite amusing. He showed us the route the queen takes when opening parliament and also showed us queen Victoria’s old throne with a cushion under it for her feet as she was too short for her feet to reach the ground. he asked where in north London we were from as he said he remembered taking a group of school kids from Tottenham around on this tour recently where one of the girls commented on the gold the queen wears to open parliament by saying that it was one serious piece of bling. He showed us to the House of Lords first where there were red seats that you had to be rich to sit in I.E buy a peerage off the current M.P’s or make a few million pound donation to the political party who are in power. When we first entered the House of Lords Hisba said “This is a court” I laughed a little and said “No its not it’s The house of Lords” the guide said “well you’re both Right actually as this used to be the Highest court in the land” he showed us where the dock used to be for the defendant to stand, I asked him if they had cells there for the defendants he said yes they do. I think they now probably use them for anyone caught with anything incriminating by the many police officers who searched us on the way in.

We were then through the corridor where there are statues of ex prime ministers including Margret Thatcher and no statue of tony Blaire but the guide told us that some people say he should have one because he was the longest ever serving prime Minister. He then took us through a corridor leading to the house of commons where the guide talked about King Charles once hearing about one of the M.P’s 350 odd years ago saying that he shouldn’t have as many powers as he does and 4 others agreed with him and he burst in with his army demanding to know who said this and they all refused to tell him and it led to a civil war where he was beheaded and due to those previous actions the queen was not allowed in the house of commons. One of those people to lead the parliamentary coup against the King was Oliver Cromwell who was probably one the biggest party poopers in history who banned Christmas, theatres and pie (and would most likely have banned chart music, T.V and computer games if they had of been invented back then) was to be the one that took over from the king. After hearing that I thought well then he can’t have been a good king if people preferred someone like Cromwell in power to the likes of him.

The guide then took us into the House of Commons full of green seats that you had to be popular to sit in meaning you had to have a 100,000 odd people in your area like you enough to want to vote for you. The guide told us about how M.P’s had a corridor to walk down on one side for yes and one on the other side for no when they were voting on a new law and whichever corridor had the most M.P’s standing in it decided whether that new law got passed or not. He told me there was a bell that rang for when this happened and the bell also rang at 2 local pubs as well as the building in case the M.P’s where out drinking at the time. He also talked about how the black rods would bang on the door to the House of Commons when the queen was there and how she even got the door slammed in her face. I can’t imagine anywhere else where her majesty would receive this kind of welcome.

The guide showed us to a room where there was pictures of napoleon getting defeated by the English army many years ago and how this room was used for the hospitality of important foreign guests and how the pictures had to be covered when the room was being used for this as one time a French president was offended by this picture.

After showing us pictures of King Henry the 8th and his several wives and how he founded the Church of England because the Catholic Church refused to let him marry a 3rd or 4th time. As well as telling the story of Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up houses of parliament with king James in it and he recited a few rhymes like remember remember the 5th of November saying he was a member of the bonfire society so he knew them word for word.

We then went to a gift shop at the end of our tour where there were parliament themed foods and stationery, the most memorable item was gunpowder mustard.

We then went into the cafe and decided it was too expensive a couple of people had decided to bring their own lunch and it was cold outside at the time so the debate was where can we go indoors and eat where they would not object to some of us eating our own food inside. the first place I could think of was a shopping centre inside with a Marks & Spencer or something for those who didn’t bring any food like myself to buy something however near the London eye we found a MacDonald’s. the one thing unique about that MacDonald’s was the fact that it labelled the calorie content of all their products. I was surprised the Big Mac was only 400 and something however I did enjoy my big tasty burger with bacon even though it was 980 nearly 1000 calories we decided there was plenty of time to do something else.

I suggested we went back on the 91 bus got the top front seats as it included us seeing parliament, downing street and we also would have got a tour of prisons on the way back as we would have passed both Holloway and Pentonville on that route and it would have taken us to the doorstep of the A.F.K building, the only thing was that due to diversions we couldn’t find it. however we did get to walk past horse guards parade where Hisba had her photo taken next to a guard on horse, Colin made a comment about how it would be embarrassing if the guard fell off the horse.

then we went to see downing street then we walked to Piccadilly got the tube then the train back to Hornsey where I saw Hisba with an apple so I told her she should have given the horse some earlier she seemed to laugh but also object at the same time. We arrived at the A.F.K building at 2pm just as if it were a normal working Wednesday.


Beach volleyball all over again only this time with a lot more rain

It was this time of year again, the annual beach volleyball tournament. This was held at the usual place the Broadgate arena, between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.

This was a fundraising event where a load of different organisations including Action For Kids as well as our corporate sponsors all form teams to play beach volleyball until they have a winning team at the end of the day.

I was not particularly happy about having to get up over an hour earlier than I usually do to go to Action For Kids on the day. I usually get a lie in after working for the supermarket at midnight the night before and I also wasn’t sure that I could raise quite the same bucket loads as last year and live up to expectations but apart from all that i was looking forward to the event.

I got up and went my usual way to near the AFK headquarters but instead I went into Hornsey station to make my train journey to the Broadgate arena.  After a stop or 2 I happened to see Jo Read (Work related learning director) on the train on her way to the marks and Spencer’s nearby. she wasn’t due to be at Broadgate as soon as I was so i was  running a little late but I did get there.

My first job when I got there was to help lay out the pitch and carry some flags for the sitting volleyball.

This was proving a difficult task for us all. With my work colleague Ben and my line manager Edward we were not finding it easy, however me and Ben were left to it as Edward’s help was needed at the main volleyball game. I had to bring back my childhood-developed skills in completing jigsaw puzzles and when it was done we ended up with the London Underground sign. As Ben as a fellow aspie (person with asperger syndrome) had an obsession with trains and liked to bombard people at  work with e-mails about trains, so he was pleased when the underground sign was completed I took his photo of him in front of the giant underground sign on his phone and my phone so we could show people. As I myself thought it was a big achievement for him as he multi-tasked by doing man well (due to his Hungarian accent he pronounces manual as “man well”) and bombarding at the same time and he managed to make it both about trains and work related.

Ben surveys their handiwork

It was past 10 o’clock when we completed the task so me and Ben reported to Carolyn who was running the event to ask what we had to do next. I was hoping I could do some collecting and get some money as the weather was alright and a few people were beginning to gather round and watch the games, only it turned out the collection licences were on the minibus with Sam Holloway (work related learning manager) and the work related learning students, and were not due to arrive till about half past eleven. This meant I had a break for a bit however some valuable collection opportunities were lost.

However later on the minibus arrived and the collection licences were found.

But once I managed to start collecting it started to rain, luckily this meant that people all went under the sheltered part of the arena where the shops were. So it was ideal for me to go round everybody so I was able to capitalise on this being the nearest place that was sheltered from the rain for the passing public. The bucket started to fill up with change. By the time I made the first bucket too heavy to carry the rain had stopped and the sun had came out and as it was lunch hour more people started to come out and watch the game

Many city folks in suits kept on adding to the loot.  Handfuls of pound coins kept pouring in as I continued with my bucket constantly collecting.

There was a group of rich women who as I kept complimenting they pulled out £5 notes and kept putting them in. After more collecting someone one even put a £10 note in.

Ready to hit the crowds!

I later had a break for lunch, I then had a rest to watch the game myself, which i enjoyed as afk’s team seemed to be winning but i was told that we were yet to play the team that won last year which i think was a hedge fund company. That would make sense as they could afford better players.

All to play for

Afterwards just as I was about to start collecting again it then started to rain. Carolyn who was in charge of the event gave me a clear plastic hoodie which made me look like I was some kind of forensic scientist so I had to go round collecting looking like I was from CSI Broadgate.

All-weather collection Rich

But it did protect me from the rain and as I continued to collect it was beginning to quieten down but it did get better when the sun came out again. More pound coins and someone even put a £20 note in my bucket.

There was a couple of funny incidents which would have been good as comic sketches on the credit crunch, one of which was the banker picking up a penny in the street, another was when I went collecting and there was a banker about to get on one of those bikes for hire to the general public with the Barclay’s bank logo on them that Boris the mayor of London provides. When he said he didn’t have any money I said “So it’s that bad is it? The banks are giving out company bikes rather than company cars, I didn’t know your job had got that bad”. He laughed and a couple of £2 coins came out of his pocket and into my bucket.

As i continued things got funnier and better, there was a team playing who wore red and white stripey tops just like in the old childrens  book “Where’s Wally” so i made the joke that it was becoming more like wallyball. After about 7 something pm I was told that work was over, so Paul the finance director was taking us to a Moorgate pub nearby for drinks so all in all a good day!

A long beer after a long day

The Christmas party at the cricket club in 2010 Gave us A WICKET Time Again

On December the 16th on a Thursday It was this time of year again of the student Christmas party/Reunion. Where present WRL students and former WRL students danced, had a drink, enjoyed food and had fun together. Only it was a change of venue this time. The venue was different as it was not the pump house in new river village this time it was the cricket club only down the road from me where my mum used to take me for a Haringey mothers event when I was little for bouncy castle during the day and a firework display in the evening 

The most fortunate Thing was that despite this event falling on a Thursday, Which is a day I normally spend my evenings working in a supermarket, I happened to have a day of annual leave left spare at that job. So I was able to go to this party after all despite the worry of not being able to the only bad thing was I hadn’t planned or committed myself to anything such as a stand up routine because of this.

I went to the party I found I was one of the first people there as I only had to walk down the road. I found Edward (my line manager) and Tracy (another manager in fundraising) both with father Christmas hat on door duty I was hoping for a pay  rise in my stocking no such luck.

There were still tables that needed moving to make it easier for the wheel chair user guests who were on their way. So Jo Read and a few other members of staff including myself helped to move the tables aside where they would cause less of an obstruction to the above guest’s enjoyment.

It wasn’t long before the party started to get underway Ben (my aspie work colleague) was there and I made a joke with him about having both father Christmas and mother Christmas for bosses so he said “Vell how lucky can we get”

The students started to arrive Lucy (a WRL staff member) used to do something in beauty therapy and had done a good job on the female students.

Everyone gets into the Christmas spirit

The music was playing and Leon (an ex student in a wheel chair) was dancing so much I thought he was going to jump out of his chair.

Elif (a present student with a physical disability) managed to dance without a walking frame or a chair that night, I was hoping no one from the DSS fraud department was at that party that night.

Leon shows off his moves!

Then later on into the party the actor who played the local Asian shop keeper Dev in corrie decided to join the party. It was fun getting him to say a quote from his girlfriends dad when he found out about him and his daughter so he had said something along the lines of “disassociate from the business association”. I think the Highgate cricket club is a far better place than what ever business association he was excluded from in corrie as I’m sure the Highgate cricket club is much more of an elite organisation and AFK is a much better charity to be associated with.

When Richard Met Jimmi

Later on all the staff stated to partake in some line dancing. The last time I’d seen any of that was when there was a mad member of care staff on my house unit at boarding school 14 years ago who liked line dancing, cowboy music and shouting the place down. but they had all come prepared with the cowboy boots and the red cowboy hats. They had obviously rehearsed this before.  I had to keep a low profile and hope nobody would remember I was a staff member just in case I got given a red cowboy hat and a matching pair of boots and be made to join in as on camera that would be embarrassing considering id started drinking by then.

Action For Kids staff put on a show for the students!

Then father Christmas, started to hand out presents to all the students Ben tried to get a present from her and she said “ go away you’re staff”  I wonder if father Christmas paid Ben a visit this year.

Later towards the end of the party as it was so cold I felt I was lucky as I only had to walk a few 100 yards home this was fortunate as I had been drinking however some people were not so lucky including a member of WRL staff who found she could not open the door of her car which was quite a nice newish jaguar. I told her it was a nice car but it turn out it was her husband’s, if she hadn’t I’d of probably looked into moving departments. And thought they paid their staff much better in the WRL department considering they give them far better computers then fundraising.

I tried pulling the door and suggested going inside to get some hot water from a kettle to melt it but another member of staff was worried it might rust. So a few of us attempted to pull the door open I made a joke about how id use something from my house to get it open if I could get some rap CD’s from my house and take it for a joyride. But unfortunately I was too drunk to drive, when it came to my turn I pulled as hard as I could and got it open. The owner was pleased that she could have a nice warm and comfy drive home.

I got home myself very soon after an enjoyable evening after having revisited somewhere so close to home that I hadn’t been to for over 20 years.


A few months’ ago I was told that Beryl (the WRL supervisor) was going to be retiring a in a few weeks a lady called Carol was going to be replacing her .This would be confusing as she was going to be working at a desk on the other side of me from my line manager carol before she went on maternity leave, but as they where in different departments being surrounded by carols before Christmas was alright.

Jolene (the WRL minibus chaperone) told me she was putting together a video for beryl, to give her on her last day to remember us all by, as she knew her since her school days when she worked with her in her school as member of support staff, she gave me 2 weeks notice so I was able to think of something decent to say on it.

When it got to my time, the noise levels in the whole building where way too much so Jolene took me onto a mini bus to say my part.

I decide to make a joke about getting one of experiences that I missed out on as a student but later experienced as a staff member because I came to AFK as an independent traveller, was getting chaperoned onto a mini bus by Jolene. I also talked about my memory of Jolene showing me around the place and first introducing me to beryl.  As well as listening to at work what I would call “Beryl’s lunch time blues” which consisted of her talking to the parents/guardians of naughty students about there behaviour and about the things she did not feel was in her job description such as washing up and cleaning up after them and how I hoped her husband didn’t think she was going to be there to do that for him at home now she was going to be there more.

I can’t remember but I might of mentioned as well that because she said she was thinking of trying to get a job as a school bus Escort I wouldn’t have minded her as one back in the day when I was a small boy being picked up by a mini bus provided by my local authority to take me to special school half an hours drive away, also how she would be sadly missed.

A few days before the planned surprise party: Aaron (an autistic student) let the cat out of the bag when he asked Beryl if she was coming to her own surprise party.

But that did not ruin it too much.

On the day I was able to stop work at about 4 because the barbecue was about to start I had left room in my tummy for this.

Salad at Beryl's leaving party

Non-vegetarian option also available

There was a few interesting salads and some capital gold music playing outside the Afk building. I wondered if the burger van lady was happy about us giving them away for free that day.

There was one type of sausage I was very happy to try and that was a sausage that was curled up like a snake. Siobhain made a comment about it looking like dog pooh. I later found her and Troy on the bus drinking im not sure if  Jo Read ( the WRL director) caught them or not after id told her I enjoyed a few drinks myself once I  found what fridge the beer was in.

I also saw a few blast’s from the past this included Catharine (the WRL Manager) at the time of my first joining AFK as a student and she was thin again as it was good to see after she had left on maternity leave as well as finding her son could walk.

Another blast from the past was Sean French (the communication manager when I was there as a student) I first as a joke bragged to him about the fact I was now paid to be there and now sat at the same desk as he did back then and how could I manage to take a communications managers desk when I was diagnosed as having a communication impairment twice in my life. I then admitted my job title was different but only the desk was the same, he laughed.

I went and talked to some more people with more food and drink I had the misfortune of finding a live wasp in my drink luckily I saw it before I downed my drink as it could have been legal but if I had downed that drink id of really been buzzing.

After the chief executive made a few speeches as well as various other people including Siobhain got hers from the Borat movie when she said the comment  “now that you are retarded”  this made everyone gasp and those who had watched that movie including me laugh.* All in all Beryl’s party was definitely something to remember her by.

Sliced retirement cake

A sweet sendoff for Beryl

* For those who haven’t seen the Borat movie this was a comedy film where Sacha Baron Cohen (comedian best know for a Alie G show) played a journalist from Kazakhstan (Borat) was on a trip to The USA doing research for a documentary on American life. This gag was made from a seen where Borat was at a dinner party and when Borat asked a gentleman his occupation and he replied he was retired and Borat  thought he was saying retarded because the word sounded similar .
Blogged by Richard

Kyaking in Dorset

A couple of years ago, I went to Dorset with some friends . We were camping in Perbeck, Dorset in 2006. On the Sunday, we went down to the beach with our kyaks. The sea was very rough…..we still went in! Me and  Darren went the furthest in (Craig was too scared!). It was the biggest mistake I have made. I capcized in fantastic style! I caught a wave and went flying about 20 foot  out of my kyak. I then fell very hard back into the sea…..SPLASH! Luckily, Darren was nearby and I could swim!  The HMS Lifeguard had been called by the group leader. We were then taken to shore. What a drama……. and all for a bit of fun!


 Blogged by Toby