HP Gripelets


I like Harry Potter. I have watched all the films – all but the last one twice – and I’m working my way through the books. They are entertaining, escapist and the movies are brilliantly made and have great acting and humour. But there are some things that niggle me…

Many things happen which there is little or no explanation for or are otherwise not explained. This is one of the main reasons I have decided to read the books, which explain things better (so far, at 2/3 of the way through ‘Goblet of Fire’), but…

( *** Warning! Spoilers ahead! *** )

The Deathly Hallows – why? Where did they come from? Etc.
How, exactly, did Voldemort put the pieces of his soul into the horcruxes?
Why is it so easy to kill people and yet more people are not dead? (swish – “Avada Kedavra!”)
How have more people not died playing Quidditch?
How did HP not fall off Buckbeak?
How did Hagrid not realise Aragog’s children would want to eat Harry & Ron?
How has Slytherin house not been disbanded, since everyone therein is blatantly evil?
Since spells are basically just a swish and a word or two, how does it take so long to learn them?
How have the muggles not cottoned on?
Re the above, more specifically, how haven’t they ever noticed and made a thing of people walking through a wall to Platform 9 3/4?
Yes, he was an orphan, but other than that, how did Tom Riddle turn out to be the most evil and arguably the most powerful wizard who ever lived?
Why did Snape have to be so mean to HP?
How did Snape get away with regular physical abuse of students?
What was the cave all about, where was it, why did Dumbledore have to drink the poisoned water and who/what were the creatures that dragged HP under the water?
Why did Sirius Black seem so evil, until it turned out that he was not?
Considering everything that had gone before, why did Ron have to be so stupid and jealous and disbelieving about HP being entered, clearly illegally and against his will, into the Triwizard Tournament?
Couldn’t the ‘Triwizard Tournament’ have a better name?
Given that HP was clearly entered illegally for the Triwizard Tournament, shouldn’t that have invalidated the ‘binding magical contract’ of the Goblet of Fire?
Why do great and powerful wizards (except Moody), and important places like the Ministry of Magic, not seem to have any means of detecting an Invisibility Cloak or someone under the effect of a Polyjuice Potion?
Since you get 150 points for catching the Golden Snitch, why don’t all the other players just help the Seeker to do this, rather than trying to score goals and such?
Do wizards play any sports other than Quidditch?
How do you stay on a broomstick?
Why learn all the different ‘duelling’ spells, when it seems you can just fire a bolt of ‘magical energy’ (or whatever) with a simple swish (or flick)?
Given Hermione’s concern for the plight of house elves, why didn’t she, or anyone else for that matter, seem bothered by how many creatures had to die to make potions?
Where exactly, in muggle terms, is Hogwarts?
What is a wizard/witch without his/her wand? What exactly do wands do? Wouldn’t it be useful to know wandless magic?
Why is it Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? What’s the diff (apart from gender)?
Why, exactly, is HP special?

And many more.

All of the above…

(a) might be explained in a book I haven’t read yet.

(b) might be explainable in some way I have forgotten or not thought of.

(c) could probably fall under the category of, “Because magic!”

But still!

HP Gripelets over…


Matrix 4!

To quote my Facebook status…

Like…. totally! Woah! OMG! And such things! 😎😲🥰🤪🤓

And here are three links to validate its veracity…

The Guardian
The Independent

As you might have gathered, I am very excited about this! But so many questions! Such as…

What about the fact that Keanu Reaves is now in his mid-fifties?
Why is only one Wachowski involved in its making?
As production is set to start next year, how long will we have to wait to see the movie?
Since the original trilogy was groundbreaking in terms of the technology and effects used, how can a new film live up to, even surpass, this?
And what about the plot?
Will it basically be a recycling of the old story or something completely different?
Will they bring back Agent Smith?
Will there even be agents?
What about the fact that Neo basically defeated/arrived at a truce with the machines?

As the original was undoubtedly my all-time favourite movie (and of course its sequels), the forthcoming sequel has a lot to live up to. Much hope, but also apprehension. Don’t let me down, Lana!

Winter Came and Went


Don’t read on if you haven’t seen the final episode of Game of Thrones…!

But if you have…

The more I think about it, the more I realise I am not disappointed with the overall story of Game of Thrones, but rather how quickly it was all wrapped up.

People asked… what was the point of Jon Snow being resurrected, to discovery his birthright, then to be exiled back to The Wall? What was his great destiny, which seemed to just fizzle, like the flame of an asthmatic dragon, to nothing? To assassinate Daenerys Targaryen! Who else was close enough to her? Who else was in a position to be able to curtail her reign of fiery terror before it had even begun? And who else could be the instrument of such an act of poetic justice as severing the entire Targaryen lineage (as his adopted sister, Arya, did with the Frey), whilst, we may presume, taking his own claim to kinghood to the grave?

People asked… what was the point of Bran? Why, in the name of the Seven, was it he, who seemed to spend most of his time sleeping or randomly flitting around in the bodies of various animals, who became ruler of the six kingdoms? Because he was most unlike any other ruler there had ever been! Daenerys spoke of ‘breaking the wheel’ – but it turned out she was just going to build a new wheel. Perhaps Bran was the only one who could break all wheels, on account of the fact that he could see the past and the future and was therefore best prepared to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

People asked… why did Sansa go through everything she went through? That one’s easy. To become Queen in the North.

Then there’s the final surviving Stark, Arya, who barely survived the Battle of Kings Landing, to be then presented with a bright white horse, which seemed to be prescient of some great destiny, but which also, like the aforementioned asthmatic dragon, fizzled away to nothing. Although… are we forgetting that she singlehandedly dispensed with the Night King, thus ridding the world of the greatest menace it had ever known?

And herein lies the rub… while there are many threads that make up the tapestry of The Song of Ice and Fire, the central weaves (if the metaphor still holds out) are Ice (the white walkers and all that) and Fire (Daenerys’s rise to queenhood). In a story (or ‘song’) which has two main, um, weaves, how do you give enough weight to each, whilst not confusing the viewer as to which is the most ‘important’ (if either)? The icy weave (yes, I’m going to stick with the metaphor) was unequivocally concluded in the Battle of Winterfell, specifically with Arya assassinating the Night King. This was a Big Final Battle, which, I would say, was concluded pretty satisfyingly. In an end-of-season kind of a way. But then there was the other stuff to sort out: the fiery stuff…

Daenerys played a significant part in vanquishing the white walkers… but this was not her ultimate destiny. The final playing out of her ultimate destiny felt, however, somewhat like an epilogue. There was a bit of a quiet build up to the Battle of Kings Landing, Dany then went mad and burnt everything, she was Queen for ten minutes, Jon assassinated her, Bran was made King, the end… and, um, a couple of other bits. All of the stuff that happened in the final three episodes was significant, important stuff, and yes, admittedly it all happened in the space of about four hours, but considering how many hours things had been building up for prior to this, it seemed a pretty short four hours. We know that the writers of the show had been given ten, rather than eight seasons, to tell The Song of Ice and Fire, and it seems to me that, while the main concluding events of the story were appropriate and suitably significant, they would have been more satisfying if indeed they had played out over the course of another season or so. I would have liked to have seen something like…

Season 8 being the lead up to the Battle of Winterfell. Since the entire series, or at least the ‘icy’ part, has been building up to this, would not this have been appropriate?

Season 9 being the lead up to the Battle of Kings Landing… thus concluding the ‘fiery’ part of the Song of Ice and Fire.

Season 10 completing the circle. The Stark circle. Since GRRM’s original intention was that it was always all about the Starks. Queen Daenerys ruling for a bit, over several episodes; everyone who supported her (perhaps even, ultimately, Grey Worm…?) realising she was not all they had hoped she would be, figuring out what to do about it, culminating in a final showdown between Arya and Dany/Drogon… or all the Starks and Dany/Drogon… or something of that nature.

Then Bran the Broken becoming King, Sansa becoming Queen in the North, Arya venturing off ‘West of Westeros’… and Jon?

I’m not sure of my preferred fate for Jon. Although in some ways where he ended up was appropriate. He wasn’t a Stark, he was in fact of the blood that ultimately the Starks came up against, so perhaps, in being exiled to The Wall, or perhaps, alternatively, in taking himself there, he was serving some noble, sacrificial purpose, in singlehandedly extinguishing the Targaryen lineage…?

Also, part of me doesn’t like how Dany turned out to be ‘just like the rest of her family,’ thus leading to the idea that the Targaryen lineage was in need of extinguishing.

And I think I would have liked to have seen the white walkers get as far as the Westerosi capital.

Well you can’t please everyone all of the time.

❄️ 🔥 🐉 🧟‍♂️ 👑 ⚔️


I have recently discovered… Spoon Theory!

🥄 🥄 🥄 🥄 🥄 

I want to start by providing a link to the Soundgarden song, Spoonman. Nothing to do with Spoon Theory, but it’s a great song and it’s got ‘Spoon’ in the title!


So Spoon Theory.

It originated here:

‘The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino’

… and while it originally was intended as an analogy for describing the amount of energy needed to get through each day, for someone with a physical illness*, such as Lupus, it has also been appropriated and can be used by people with various mental health conditions: e.g. autism, social anxiety, depression… or even perhaps someone who would be considered ‘neurotypical,’ but is ‘going through some stuff.’

For those who prefer not to click on links until they have finished reading the main article, here is a summary of what it’s all about:

Imagine your energy quotient for the day is represented by an arbitrary unit. Let’s say ‘spoons.’ You start the day with a certain amount of spoons (say twelve). Depending on your ‘condition’ (or state of mental or physical health), different activities cost different quantities of spoons. Just getting up in the morning might be costly, especially if you didn’t sleep well. For me, as someone with Social Anxiety, sitting on a busy train, on the way to work, might cost me one or two spoons (depending on how ‘mindful’ I am feeling) – whereas for an NT (neurotypical) person, such an activity might be ‘free.’ My work day might then cost a varied amount of spoons – depending on the interactions that have taken place, changes to my routine, etc… then there’s the train journey home (including the Walking Dead-like exiting of the carriage, to a slavering crowd of high school students)… and whatever interactions might take place at home… etc.

I mentioned an arbitrary starting Spoon Quotient (‘SQ’!) of twelve, but this can vary, depending on sleep, whatever else I might be going through at the time, state of physical health, etc – and these things can also affect the spoon cost of a particular activity or event, which may vary from day to day.

So that’s the simple explanation.

I might talk more about this in future blog posts, but at least now you’ll have an idea what I’m on about!

🥄 🥄 🥄 🥄 🥄 


* Although we mustn’t forget that ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ illnesses (or conditions or whatever) are intrinsically linked, such that there is often a very blurry defining line between them.

A couple more links:

‘Spoon Theory & Autism’

‘Spoon theory’ on Wikipedia

A couple of extra bits:

I just wanted to add a couple more points, following some comments I received upon sharing this on Facebook. Firstly, I think it is important to mention that people who appropriate the spoons analogy have a finite amount of spoons to get them through each day. Once the daily spoons are gone, they’re gone! This might lead to meltdown or depression or whatever… unless one can borrow from tomorrow’s spoons!

Following the above comment, someone asked if it is possible to add extra spoons. Can a particularly rewarding interaction, relationship, etc, give you an extra spoon? I admitted I hadn’t thought of that, then suggested that more positive experiences can be less spoon costly – but I asked if anything other than sleep can actually ‘regenerate’ spoons. Someone else further suggested that something uplifting, like a piece of music or spending time in nature, may regenerate spoons. To which I responded that they had a point, but said that perhaps, since the spoons analogy was originally intended for people with more directly physical illnesses, this is where it falls down with respect of mental conditions.

I then said I would put the above to the neurodiversity group I am a member of!

Tolerate or Celebrate…?

I’ve been thinking lately about our use of the word ‘tolerate,’ in relation to different genders, sexual orientations, races, nationalities, mental health issues, etc. And how to me, in using that word, it sounds like we are implying there is something we don’t like, but we are putting up with it. Do you think instead we could say ‘celebrate’? Because, you know, variety is the spice of life… 🌈🙂

Chaos & Control

It has occurred to me that one of the things that gets me the most stressed is when things don’t go according to plan. Control freak? OCD? Maybe. I don’t mind being busy, having a list of jobs to work through and working through them; but when there are deviations from that list or random things come up that need attending to… 😡. To some extent, OK, because that is, you know, life, but too much randomness and unplanned-for stuff creates whirlpools of tension in my soul.

Kind of ironic, because I’ve read quite a bit of stuff lately on accepting the chaos and unpredictability of life. Or maybe not so ironic, because why else would I be drawn to reading this stuff if it wasn’t an issue I need to deal with? But how to deal with it? How to actually accept the chaos and unpredictability of life?

It’s hard. I spoke above of busyness. I said I don’t mind it, but I do prefer not to be busy. I am not one of those people who has to be busy all the time – but when I am busy, I prefer to be in control of that busyness. I tend to be ‘in control’ most of the time at work – less so at home. In an ideal world, I control my own space, my workload, when I relax and play and when I don’t, when I spend time with family, when I talk to people, when I am left alone… This ideal world doesn’t exist, it can’t exist – well maybe partially, but then that wouldn’t be ‘ideal,’ would it? I know, logically, that I cannot control everything in my life, but it is my default to try.

Maybe I need to find a way of changing my default. To reprogram.

Time for a little googling: ‘how to accept the chaos in your life’ – or something.

I’ll report back if/when I find some answers.

Song Lyrics I Find Annoying


Grumpy old man time.


From FRIENDS by Marshmello & Anne-Marie:

Don’t go look at me with that look in your eyes.

This was annoying enough when I thought it was Don’t go looking at me, but upon discovering, through the enlightenment of Google, that it is Don’t go look at me, I find it even more annoying! I know, youth-speak and all that, but it seems, Marshmello & Anne-Marie, like you have just chopped off the ‘ing’ to make it rhythmically scan. Which is annoying. But the original reason I found this lyric annoying was the words ‘looking’ and ‘look’ in the same sentence. Gaaaaaaaahh!

I’m also slightly (although not too much) annoyed by the spelling of ‘Marshmello.’


From Rise by Jonas Blue:

They say we’re too savage.

Firstly I will confess I thought Jonas Blue was a ‘they’ rather than a ‘he.’ Thank you, Google, for helping me to not look like an uncool person – or whatever the modern parlance is for such. Although by confessing the above, I fear I may have inadvertently categorised myself as ‘uncool.’ Bugger. Anyway…

This is not a savage song! There is nothing about this song that is savage! And I may be under a misapprehension here, but Jonas Blue does not, in any way, seem savage. Let’s find a pic…


Does he look savage? Can you honestly, in any way, say that he seems savage? Perhaps the Sex Pistols were savage. Nirvana. At a push, the Manic Street Preachers. Not Jonas Blue. Presuming the ‘they’ to whom Jonas Blue refers are the older generations or authority figures or something, I can’t imagine anyone saying that Jonas Blue is too savage. Unless he spends his weekends mugging old ladies, cage fighting or hunting wild boar (further googling required).

(Re my initial confession, in my defence, Mr Blue, in the above lyric, does say They say we’re too savage. Why does he say ‘we’re’ and not ‘I’m’? Just saying…)

From You’re So Vain by Carly Simon:

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

Okay I’m not the first person to examine this lyrical paradox:


But in my defence, while I concede the possibility that the author of the above may have been troubled by this lyric for the same amount of time or perhaps even longer than I have, I was certainly troubled by this lyric before reading the above author’s analysis. If you see what I mean. To whit… the song obviously is about the ‘you’ to whom Carly refers, on account of her frequent references to ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ and ‘yourself’! So quit having a go at ‘you’ for being vain!


Well I’m glad I’ve got all that out of my system…


PS. Links to songs below:


FRIENDS lyrics

Rise song

Rise lyrics

You’re So Vain song

You’re So Vain lyrics

And the book from which the page about ‘quantum vanity’ is taken:

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by James Ball


‘Social Paranoia’

From a little light googling, it would appear that ‘Social Paranoia’ is not a thing. Although social anxiety has been linked with paranoia. It is, however, certainly a thing for me, and I expect also for others with social anxiety and other types of anxiety and paranoia.

Social anxiety and paranoia are friends. They support each other, bolster each other, give each other energy – which is lovely for them, but not so much for me. In social situations, I am aware (or feel like I am) of every nuance of speech and action. By ‘aware,’ I don’t mean ‘able to correctly interpret,’ but my socially anxious/paranoid mind goes ahead and interprets them anyway.

Why did that person just look at me (in that way)? Do they hate me? Did I do something weird or socially inappropriate? Did I just say something weird or socially inappropriate? Am I talking too much/not enough? Have I inadvertently looked at them in a weird way, which has made them think I hate them?

And then, of course, through being social anxious and paranoid (‘socially paranoid’), and probably a little spectrum-y in respect of social appropriateness, I am more likely to do weird or socially inappropriate things. Which creates a vicious circle.

People say to me things like…

You shouldn’t think about things so much.


You shouldn’t care what people think.

But social paranoia is my default. Overthinking and caring what people think is my default.

But I’m working on it.

All of this, of course, translates into the social media sphere. I find myself engaging in this kind of thing:

Why has no one ‘liked’ my post? Why has no one commented on my post? If someone has ‘liked’ what I have said, do they really mean it or are they merely acknowledging they have read it but have no particular opinion about it? Why has that person not responded to my private message, or why have they only responded in a certain way?

I can tell myself there are reasonable, logical reasons for all of the above. Likely reasons. But the paranoid person deals in possibilities, not likelihoods. If there’s a chance, even a small one, that my socially paranoid mind can interpret someone’s response or lack of in a negative way, then by golly, it will do so!

But I’m working on it.

On the flip side of this coin is my need for self-validation. Like me! Love me! Accept me! Approve of me! – all that kind of stuff. The problem being that, while I need to be validated, my social paranoia precludes this from happening. People may say they like/love/accept/approve of me, but since no one knows what anyone else really thinks or feels, they can be lying; at best, to save my feelings; at worst, to make fun of me. Best, then, to avoid seeking validation altogether.


I am working on all of the above.

Writing helps. Analysing, creatively expressing… and I hope that anyone reading what I write, who may feel similar things, can positively self-reflect.

Mindfulness also helps at keeping me grounded and going some way towards keeping those intrusive thoughts at bay.

And sharing is good. Also learning, clarifying, getting positive feedback (and believing it!), training myself to be positive or at least realistic, and pouring the vast wealth of knowledge that is the Internet into my mind. Or at least some of it.

I’ll leave you with some of that knowledge:

Some stuff on paranoia and (social) anxiety:

‘How Not to Worry About What Others Think of You’:

An interesting and amusing article about autism and ‘appropriateness’:

Telling the Class

To follow is an almost verbatim re-telling of my recent Facebook status update, lightly edited and names removed, due to the more public nature of this blog:


Another Social Anxiety milestone today! During a lesson in which a fellow TA and ex-teacher was giving a presentation on autism to our class, part of the presentation was about things that people with autism also often have. One of these is Social Anxiety. I was sitting there, enjoying the presentation, keeping the kids in order and doing other things that TAs do, considering whether or not to tell the class about my personal experiences with SA. Bearing in mind that I have blogged about my SA, spoken about it on Facebook and spoken to a small number of people individually about my SA, I have actually never got up in public and spoken about it before. But I decided that in this context, it was too important and too much of an opportunity to miss, so up I got and told the kids about this thing which most of them and I shared… and which I have largely overcome or found strategies to compensate for.

I felt emotionally drained by the end of those few minutes, but I’m so glad I did it! I couldn’t entirely discern, at the time, the kids’ reaction to my exposé, but I was later informed that the kids were rapt and seemed to appreciate my honesty. I really hope they can learn from my getting up there and telling them how I got where I am today, despite the barriers I have had to overcome.


Yesterday I started a conversation. Specifically I spoke to a lovely lady at Croome Court, with whom I discussed the possibility of forming links between the National Trust and the special school where I work. I was with my family, my partner was talking to another National Trust person and I just went up to the lady in question and started talking. I didn’t think anything of it – we had a nice chat and I came away with some potentially useful information. Actually not quite true – I thought something of it, but not enough to stop me walking up and talking to her. This wasn’t a big deal. But the fact that I have been writing about social anxiety (here & here) made me think about what a big deal it used to be.

Think about the kind of advice we give to people… if a friend wants to talk to someone they fancy; or your child wants to make friends:

“Just walk up to them and say, ‘Hello’.”

Just walk up to them and say hello! As if that is the easiest thing in the world. Nowadays I have trained my mind (more or less) to blank out all the possible negative consequences of doing such a simple thing.

What if they don’t hear you?
What if they hear you but don’t reply?
What if they reply, but it is clear that they don’t really want to?
What if they say “hello” back, but then you don’t have a clue what to say next?
What if, by some miracle, you manage a few simple exchanges (“Hello,” “Hello,” “How are you?,” “I’m fine.”), but then the conversation dries up and you are left feeling awkward and terrified and don’t know what to do next?

In fact all of the above will render you feeling awkward and terrified and not knowing what to do next. And then of course, with the primary exchange going tits up (pardon my vulgarity), the person you were trying to have a conversation with now hates you and you have zero chance of resurrecting any hope of getting to know that person (or whatever the reason was for trying to have a conversation with them).

And so, with such a high probability of failure, best to just not try in the first place.

Or so I used to think.

I just walked up to that lady at Croome Court and I said, “Hello”! In fact I said a little more than that. Someone I had never met before (okay, I had met her earlier in the day). I opened the conversation, she replied; we had an interesting, useful and pleasant chat. I said thank you and goodbye and off we went. I came away feeling good.

It has taken decades of training to get to this point. And to do it sober, with a complete stranger and feel happy about it! I feel sad for the years I have lost to social anxiety… but I look forward to all the happy, pleasant, interesting, funny conversations to come.