Day 22

A bit of a curate’s egg. The roadworks (replacement of gas mains) which have been creeping down the road for weeks reached our place today – ear splitting volume on what must have been one of the hottest days I have ever experienced in London (so keeping the windows closed was not an option). So I took refuge at the back of the garden and started reading JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy. I bought it when it first came out but could never quite bring myself to add a hardback book to the stuff I had to carry on the train. It was also extremely frustrating to arrive at Dashi’s new school for his first transition visit and discover that pretty much everything we were told when we toured the school a few weeks ago was incorrect. This school was not our choice – not even on our list – but, on the basis of what we were told, we decided not to take up our option to appeal against the decision. When we toured the school, we were shown around by a very impressive, dynamic woman called Jane, who introduced herself as ‘the assistant head’, which I foolishly took to be another term for ‘deputy head’. Unfortunately it turns out that ‘assistant head’ is a similar job title to ‘trainee manager’ in the sense that Supervalue used to use it as the job title for their newest and lowliest shop assistants. During the tour, Jane told us that the school has a very sophisticated transition process, honed over the years and including a short residential camp over the summer holidays before new pupils start in September. Today I discovered that there will in fact be no transition process at all – beyond the visit today – and the Head seemed totally confused when I asked about it. Jane also told us that the school’s new premises would be ready for the start of the new school year in September – now it’s Easter 2015 and slipping. They also have a very bizarre approach to permissions, requiring parents to opt out of things that one would expect to have to opt in to. Amidst a welter of form-signing, there was this conversation

Receptionist: ‘and if any photos or video are taken of your child then you agree that they will be legally owned by the Miss World Organisation.’
Me: ‘No, I don’t agree.’
Receptionist: ‘in that case, can you please sign this form?’
Me: ‘No, I don’t want to sign the form, I DON’T want photos of Dash used that way.’
Receptionist: ‘That’s what the form is for – to say you DON’T want the Miss World Organisation to own images of your son.’

I’m pretty sure that this approach would be frowned upon, if not actually illegal, under data protection regs.

Finally, given that at autism conferences, or in situations where there is only one source of provision, bright, successful people tend to be over-represented amongst the parents, it is a bit worrying to turn up and discover that all the other parents look like they are on the bones of their arse. Then the receptionist asks three times – ‘Are you sure you’re not eligible for free school meals?’ and you start to wonder what it is that all the other middle class mummies have worked out that you’ve somehow missed…

On the plus side, Dash seemed to quite like the school – though this was because they had iPads and let him eat chips and white bread for lunch, so not all that reassuring.

After I picked him up, we went to a cafe for him to have his favourite mango smoothie and then had a wander around the Turkish deli and the fruit and veg market. Later, after taking Katie to music, we had a swim and then I made a salad of tomatoes, red onions, rocket and watercress, dressed with the basil infused olive oil I got at the famous Mr Christians on my last trip to Notting Hill, and served it with Turkish bread and grilled haloumi and feta. Perfect food to eat outdoors on a summer evening. While we were eating, we were startled to see this little fellow approaching with no sign of fear. We never seen any sign of mice in the garden before (or in the house thankfully), so it’s hard to escape the idea that he was attracted by the smell of grilled cheese.20140704 Mouse near the patio

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