It all started when Mrs Crox, who edits an online magazine for a charity, started her annual trawl round the political conferences. Usually she goes to just one, maybe two, but this year is the last before a general election, so she felt she needed to do all three major parties. The lot. The works. So, on Sunday 20 September, she hoofed it down to Bournemouth where the Liberal Democrats, a party with its feet firmly planted in mid-air, and yet staunchly - perhaps, desperately - convinced of its own relevance - held its shindig.
Mrs Crox returned on Wednesday 23 September, and a matter of mere hours later, I stepped into Caroline, my eVolvo 850CD (1996 model, 122,000 miles on the clock, two owners, one less careful than the other) who cruised the 260 miles to Bristol with her usual effortless ease, transporting me as if on a pink fluffy cloud to the 69th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. It's too late to blog about this now - I tweeted it instead - and was fair tickled, though, to be co-presenter of a poster.
On Saturday 26 September I cruised back home again. Sunday was hardly restful, being filled with preparations by Mrs Crox for the infinite portent that is the Labour Party Conference in Brighton - the annual bash of what is, remarkably, still the party of government, though, it is to be hoped, not for much longer. Given that this party prides itself on being 'progressive', everyone addresses everyone else as 'comrade', and you have to be a trade union member just to be able to cover it - as if the past twenty years never happened. Mrs Crox found this not to her taste, although, she says, the fringe events were very interesting.
On Saturday 3 October Caroline transported me and the younger Croxii to a family wedding in Hampshire, wher we hooked up with Mrs Crox. We returned next day, whence Mrs Crox prepared herself for the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, a city that does not begin with 'B', though the star turn definitely does. Mrs Crox is there as I write, and finds it more to her taste than Labour. The delegates do, at least, seem to be having more fun. Mrs Crox gets back to Cromer on Thursday.
Now then - where does that leave me? For most of this period I have been constrained to work entirely from home. Which is fine. I like working entirely from home. However, I do have the sense that if I did it for weeks on end without making footfall at the London orifice of Your Favourite Journal Of Record Beginning With N, I'd go completely barmy. Or barmier than I am already, at any rate. What makes it all much harder is that I am, in effect, a single parent - and that's a whole different ballgame. This experience makes me wonder how real single parents cope. Perhaps they don't.
Thereby hangs a tale. Doing a full-time job while simultaneously managing the relentless parade of school runs, lunchboxes, the unstoppable rain of directives from two different schools, feeding and cleaning out pets, keeping up with the laundry and household chores, requires an iron-hard determination and a formidable degree of focus. And so I am up at 6 and rarely get to bed before midnight, and when one is an Age of Middle-and-a-Bit, the fatigue hits you with all the effect of a rotten watermelon struck by a seven pound hammer. And at this time of year, it's dark, yea, even at both ends. Tiredness and darkness piques my inherent depression, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, brings out the
And so, the other day, while chained to the kitchen sink, I was listening to a radio emission on undiagnosed autism spectroscopic disorder in adults. It's not a matter of some people having it and some not. Like sexuality, it's a spectrum - and also highly heritable. Crox Minor has a diagnosis of Asperger's, and as Mrs Crox frequently tells me with that indulgent clucking of spouses inured to the habitus of marriage, I have many aspergic traits. I get obsessed with certain things to the exclusion of all else. I rarely allow others to say their piece without butting in. I loathe loud parties and crowds of people, wondering - well, wondering what the point of such brouhaha really is. And it's possibly not unconected that I am arguably the most senior and longest serving member of the staff of aforesaid Journal of Record who has no managerial responsibility whatsoever. Aspergic tendencies go with tact and diplomacy as handily as the Tour De France can be won by a halibut.
But I digress.
The aformentioned radiometric emission noted that Simon Baron Cohen, the well-known neuropsychologist, had devised a questionnaire, available online, to assess one's own aspergic tendencies. I found the test and took it. Given that I have some experience of Asperger's, and so knew where some of the questions were leading, I did my best to be ruthlessly honest, while at the same time answering the questions as quickly as possible. My score was 36.
Only after I had completed the test did I discover the rubric, which says, in part
In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher.So, there you are. I also know that people with Asperger's are prone to depression: so it could be that the depression against which I have struggled for much of my adult life is really a side-effect of this underlying mental tropism. The rubric goes on to say ...
The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.And given my current single-parent estate, this must count as an encouraging thought.