DEAR TIM MINCHIN

It's not complicated.

I love you Tim, but not as much as I love my girlfriend, my soon to be ex-husband and our daughter.

  • SuzanneG

(7) Mickle Mockle

Updated: Apr 10


Suzanne, Shairen and Michael

Better get back to Tim before I get carried away too soon with the angry people. I amended the cartoon that was Chris Madden's cartoon even further, adding four appellations to the surgery door. Dodgy Mac......; Butter Wouldn't Melt; Wife Of Wang.....; Unhinged Jack....... It would be too easy to see through these thinly-disguised aliases and, as I said, it is a tiny community.


I should also make it clear that this is my story and there are many people who don't want to appear in it, with or without a disguise. I have not asked them, but I know they would not.


I did once write a reaction to something once said about me by someone who I absolutely wanted to prove wrong, in song. It was, I think, a great song, but it did more damage than good, some possibly irreparable. He really did not like the song...... And the bit he disliked the most was a bit that I didn't even mean the same way as he took it to mean. I said sorry and I am. Be careful with your words. Once out, they are no longer yours. I have learned this. People can take them and turn them and write you essays of arguments pointing out what in fact you actually meant.


It has always been a bit of a problem of mine. I want to prove the way of things when people say something is the case about someone, when it is not. I can't watch films where the apparent hero is actually the villain and nobody in the film knows, without willing the characters to just GET IT. LISTEN!!!! I shout at Peter Mullen's Son, he LOVES YOU and doesn't blame you in On A Clear Day. LOOK HARDER I urge Lizzie Bennet's mother as she accepts the enormous settlement and wedding fees and the debts paid off and yet she is so rude to Mr Darcy. And Atonement - Robbie goes to prison and then is made to join the army and die because somebody thought the wrong thing.


I want to shout and shout and shout about what actually went on leading up to me leaving, but I was and still am professionally gagged. I spilled all to my GP, this whole journey as it unfolded, and she seemed to agree with everything I said about Butter Wouldn't Melt and Dodgy Mac. She is a remarkable GP, but I think it was her job to agree with me and at the same time, it was probably her job to agree with them both too. I also told someone, stupidly, who gave me a lift to somewhere, perhaps the local Zumba class, two minutes of my side of the story, when she asked about it all. She shouldn't have asked because I already was flailing near rock bottom. But she did ask, under the guise of sympathy, and I said very little in fact, through tears (I was at that stage having almost constant anxiety attacks). She went straight to Butter Wouldn't Melt. Anyway, I won't write about him or his family.


Instead I'll write a little more about Mr Minchin. One of the things I like about him very much is his irreverence, his sense of naughtiness. I think he expresses his naughtiness before he even opens his mouth, with those big kohl-lined eyes and long, unruly hair. I always like the naughty ones. Impishly naughty, respectfully irreverent, not out-and-out bad. In classes, I have a soft spot for the naughty ones. I feel we have some sort of understanding. I can't help it. I feel I see some of my brother in some of the naughty ones. Actually, I wouldn't have wanted to teach my brother. Nor did many of his teachers. There was one, though, who stopped me on a visit to Helensburgh to ask, 'How is Michael, how did things turn out for him?' and I said, 'Well, he drives lorries and he's not happy in his job, but you need to know he turned out one of the best ones - he is the person I know I could ask to drive 350 miles for me, if I were in need of that sort of help and it was an urgent situation. He would drive for a stranger who was desperate. He is the person I know most likely to help someone in need of help. He is a really good person.' Anyway, she cried, the teacher, and put her hand on my arm and said, 'I knew it. I always knew it. Please tell him I was asking for him.'


I see this is more about Mike, than Tim. We were both known at school, my sister and I, for being Michael's sisters. Michael did not like school. And school did not like him. He did not react to any sort of authority the way we were expected to react. He was a troubled 5 year old, a troubled 10 year old and an even more troubled 15 year old. He suffered depression, he wished himself dead, he took drugs, he sold drugs and he was expelled from Secondary School. Looking back, and I do a lot, he was on a fast track to self destruct and try to destroy whatever else was in his life.


It was very hard to watch as we willed him not to do whatever 'bad' thing he was about to do. When told DON'T, it was a magnet for him. We would both (Shairen and I) watch this disaster of a situation with a kind of panic, knowing that the DO would result in us ceremonially burying our hairbrushes, or whatever else had been used to teach him not to again.


After such punishments, we would vow never to speak to our dad again, and I remember reading to him in his bedroom. Michael Bond. Enid Blyton. He was 7 ish when I remember substituting The Mickle Mockle for The Smickle Smockle, whilst reading, and then told him as he asked what about the 's's, that 's's which were followed by 'm's were silent. Michael was always very quick with answers. 'So mum mokes?' still leaves us laughing and searching for more silent 's' words.


Throughout his teenage years there were drugs, theft, cutting, suicide attempts. For four years, he slept with a full sized scythe narrowly fixed above his bed. The large, Victorian dressing table mirror which also hung out, top heavy from the wall above his pillow came crashing down when he was not in it. He sought and found more trouble. We brought him an Enid Blyton book, among others, when he was put into a local police cell for the night (That book was just to remind him that we loved him - at 16, he had long out-grown Enid Blyton). During these times, instead of reading to him, I would play the piano until 3am. Our house was a house you could do that in, parents not really being physically present for long spells, months at a time. Mike still asks me to play my jazzed-up angry version of the Death March every now and again. I love to.


He was misdiagnosed with manic depression and was given drugs which flattened him, and which made him long for the lows just so that he could experience some of the highs. It was unbearable for him a lot of the time. The misdiagnosis continued until he was 35. It was his lovely wife, Elsa, who actually put her finger on the label Autistic Spectrum Disorder, when she was completing training to become a Mental Health Nurse. It did not take long to have a diagnosis, backed up with a second opinion, because this was a big thing. Some people have argued no, you don't want a label now, why go down that route. I was recently reminded by Mike that I wrote him a message that really upset him, saying that he didn't need a label.


I feel very differently now about that. The Asperger's label has come into our lives and has helped us understand Mike better. Not the Mike he is now, so much. Now, we see him as a man who has his routines; he laughs sometimes at his own need to stick to them. He has some odd and potentially annoying habits; he can laugh at some of those too, such as repeating what someone says slightly differently back to them. 'That's a big vase' says Elsa. 'You're a big vase' says Mike. He is clever and quick at puns, likes patterns and has interesting, unusual ideas - I put up my video of me doing Sevens not long ago on social media, I had learned it for my class (Sevens is a series of rhythmic clapping movements which is great for primary three upwards) and he had wondered would it be possible to learn this just by mentally doing it, visualising his hands doing the first move over and over, and the next move, and putting them together until he had the complete round of Sevens in his head, ready to perform perfectly with his hands. It turns out that no, it did not work, but it was an interesting theory. He is still naughty, in that best way. It is not 43 year old Mike who needs understanding. It is Michael, my 5 year old brother, my 10 year old brother, my 15 year old brother who needs to be understood. I have had a little something explained to me with regard to someone else in my family, about how her brain works differently to others' brains. It is not that she is not empathetic, she can have ENORMOUS empathy. It is the case, though, that to get to the understanding, she goes through quite a complicated process... If this... if that.... and so.... and then..... but..... and when..... And we arrive at the same result. We are moved by empathy. I described this explanation to Mike and he recognised it. I had thought, when I had told him he did not require a label, that because he was kind and compassionate, that he could not at the same time have Asperger's. How little about it did I know. He has to think and think things out, a series of steps to get what I get people mean instantly.


Mike has had a sense of calm since his diagnosis. A sense of understanding himself - he wasn't a rotten egg, he wasn't some devil child. (We knew that all along, Shairen and I, and Mrs Gilbert, the teacher). When he was first diagnosed with depression at 13, the depression was a side effect of having no fucking idea why he was so angry, out of control, and just not getting it.


I want to go back in time and shout about ASPERGERS to the people who didn't know. I want to go back in time and have them treat him differently.


I also want to go back in time and explain some things to Judging Christian Lady, Wife of Wang and Butter Wouldn't Melt.



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