Available as an eBook and Paperback very soon.
Bits to make you chuckle..
This is the life story of Buridan, who at the age of seventeen found himself working in a lawnmower factory, where in desperation he creates a vision of the future. Making the most of serendipity, and using his "dyslexic advantage”, he charts a path to adventure, worldwide travel, and solving personal challenges. Along the way, Buridan faces more than a few, sometimes life-threatening jeopardies.
Our lawnmower man flies on Concorde, coauthors a book, works for the Home Office, and has three Mafia-related incidents across three continents. However, many of the tales are about his often comical interactions with his friends and the many people he meets on his journey.
These chronicles cover Burdan’s life from birth to his sixties, and what’s more, the stories are all true! Names have been changed to protect privacy!
You’ll find out how Buridan finds himself in France, Rome, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Tokyo, and many more. You’ll get to peek inside the dyslexic mind and learn how Buridan used unorthodox thinking to get a job travelling across Europe, hack a grocery company’s software, prevent bombs in sea containers, and solve a problem with Criminal Justice in the UK, among others.
If you're looking for
a fun holiday read,
an antidote to depressing news,
Baby Boomer nostalgia,
stories about the dyslexic advantage,
…this book’s for you.
This book is a collection of short candid stories and is for anyone who wants to alternatively laugh & cringe. It does deal with adult matters so discretion is advised.
There was a dyslexic repairman,
Who wanted to be a comedian,
He practised his jokes,
With confused-looking folk.
‘coz he’d always punch up the fuck line.
Born in a modest terrace house in Hayes, west of London, Buridan’s year of birth was 1956. His father named him after the medieval philosopher Jean Buridan, who was known for a parody of his theory of free will. The parody is called “Buridan's Ass paradox, which goes like this:
“Imagine a hungry donkey who is placed between two equidistant and identical bales of hay. Assume that the surrounding environments on both sides are also identical. The donkey cannot choose between the two bales, so it dies of hunger, which is absurd.”
The decision to name his child after Jean Buridan speaks volumes about the father, a man who grew up in the poorer quarters of London with a fanatical devotion to bettering himself and his family but found life decisions overwhelming. In recognition of this failure, he effectively named his son “I Can’t Decide”. Buridan’s mum liked the unusual name. This was a typical example of his father’s self-deprecating sense of humour, combined with a desire to show off his intellect. And, more importantly, his inability to appreciate the impact of a ‘clever’ name on his son.
Throughout Buridan's childhood, his father continued to exercise his indecisiveness over such matters as moving house and emigration. Buridan and his sister, Amelia-Jane (AJ), very nearly grew up as South Africans or Australians or, no doubt, numerous unuttered nationalities. The lack of decision meant that Buridan’s family grew up in a modest house in a working-class area of West London despite his father's success.
Life was mostly good for Buridan and his sister in the early years. Family holidays were often memorable, but not always for the usual reasons. For example, a driving holiday to Cornwall in a pre-war grocery van, which was bought especially for the occasion. This vehicle stood over six feet tall at its highest point. It had bulbous front wheel arches over thick spoked wheels and long-running boards on either side. From the front, two large, yet almost useless, headlamps sat on either side of a tall radiator, approximating Micky Mouse's ears. Ancient clockwork windscreen wipers hung down like worried eyebrows. This vehicle was so old the clutch and brake pedals were swapped around.
On the plus side, it was very light and roomy. Earlier in its life, someone had decided to convert it to a “people carrier” with the addition of large side windows and a bench seat between the rear wheel arches. The arches were clad in plywood, which furnished the rear passengers with a sizeable side table each. On this particular jaunt, AJ put Hammy, the hamster’s cage, on her table. He didn’t seem bothered about the journey; the familiar squeak of his wheel let us know all was well. So with the family and pet all aboard, the proud pipe-smoking driver set off in a Westerly direction. The vehicle was christened Calliope (rhyming with “me”) after the iconic steam organs of the late 1800s, yet Dad, just to be awkward, pronounced like the Greek muse of the same name.
Proud folk stare after me,
Call me Calliope;
Tooting joy, tooting hope,
I am the Calliope.
Gallon for gallon, Calliope drank as much oil as it did petrol. As a result, the ageing vehicle would disappear under thick plumes of blue-grey smoke, particularly when tackling the gentlest of inclines. On one occasion during the trip to Cornwall, Calliope faced a long slow hill just outside Cirencester. The top speed dropped from a stately 40 mph to around 8 mph as she belched her thick oily smog. The poor driver behind wound-up his windows, and, in his haste to pass the incontinent vehicle, he accelerated into the fumy fog. Unfortunately, he misjudged the distance and, with a loud clunk, caught Calliope’s rear bumper, a length of unforgiving cast iron. He didn’t stop, but when Buridan’s dad stopped to examine the damage, he found the rear bumper short of 8 inches of cast iron. He could only imagine the damage inflicted on the other car.
Surprisingly, Calliope made it to Land’s End with only one further incident. This time, not her fault, being several inches wider than more modern vehicles made navigating the narrow Cornish lanes a little more exciting. In this case, she was correctly making her way down a one-way thoroughfare when she came bumper to bumper with a posh new sports car coming the other way. Buridan’s father surveyed the vehicle’s driver with a touch of disdain before leaning out of the window and pointing with his pipe.
“Wrong way, Old Sock!” he announced, sounding much like Bertie Wooster.
The man behind the wheel of the sports car said something inaudible (probably something a bit fruity) before reversing his car for over a mile.
Unbelievably, Calliope also chuffed all the way back to Hayes. Sadly she suffered a terminal ailment the following winter.
While we were talking about holidays, the family was on a trip to Los Boliches, Costa del Sol, Spain, when things took a turn. But before we go on, we need to go back to before Buridan’s birth, to his mum’s pregnancy. Buridan made his presence felt even before birth; his mum had a problem with gum disease which was deemed dangerous to unborn Buridan. This resulted in having all her teeth removed six months into the pregnancy (poor thing).
Back in Los Boliches, Buridan and his mum were having a play in the sea. Buridan encouraged her further and further out until an unusually large wave enveloped his mum. Unfortunately, she was mid-shriek as she went under. She came up again sans teeth. Predictably, Buridan was in the poo again with his dad.
This happened on the second day of a ten-day holiday, but now the family were facing an earlier return home for Mum to have her teeth replaced. While Buridan and his sister felt sorry for their mum, they were both very upset at the prospect of cutting the holiday short. The next day, Buridan and AJ went off on a day trip to Ronda, a picturesque town in the Andalusian Mountains, while their parents pondered their mum’s gnashers. When the two siblings returned from their trip around 7 PM, they knocked on the apartment door. Their mum opened the door with a broad toothsome smile.
Dad recounted an unbelievable story. He and Mum had spent much of the day walking the shoreline in the faint hope of finding the lost dentures. They were about to give up but instead did one last scan when something caught Dad’s eye. There, partially covered in thick tar, was a denture. And, even more surprisingly, within a few feet, another one. Mum’s teeth had been floating about the Mediterranean for over 24 hours before landing a few feet apart on the beach. It was great to see Mum happy and able to face the world.
Buridan faced a few significant hurdles growing up. The first was acceptance by other local kids. This, in part, was due to Buridan’s; it was simply too weird for the Kevins, Steves, Bobs and Micks to handle. Another challenge was the way Buridan and Amelia-Jane spoke. Their father insisted that his offspring would “talk properly”. As a consequence, they sounded quite “plummy” to their schoolmates.
Buridan had to live with a number of other quirks of biology that made him a target for the typically cruel teasings of nine-year-olds; he was unusually tall for his age but was around the typical weight of his peer. Like an astronaut falling into a black hole, he was effectively spaghettified. To make matters worse, his head was slightly larger than normal, so the overall effect was that of a large meatball balanced atop a strand of thin pasta. Then there was the (undiagnosed) dyslexia and early onset essential tremor, which he inherited from his mother.
The last, perhaps biggest, challenge was his complete lack of knowledge of football (soccer). His father had no interest in the sport and would always switch channels if a match came on the TV.
To sum up, Buridan was a quivering spaghetti boy with a melon for a head, which housed a learning-challenged brain with an undernourished hippocampus when it came to team sports. To say Buridan was ill-equipped for life in Hayes was probably an understatement. He did have a few useful weapons in his arsenal: the ability to make people laugh, a willingness to take on a dare and, as he got older, the ability to befriend much older teens. The latter often saved his bacon when being chased by gangs of kids his own age and sometimes older.
Buridan's dyslexia showed itself when he was around seven years old. He would write three or four lines when asked to pen a story. In contrast, his schoolmates would write two or three pages. And when called to read aloud, he stuttered and stumbled over a few words. The teacher would tut-tut and select another pupil. Dyslexia felt like a demon on his shoulders.
Things improved when his mum encouraged him to write a few small rhymes and, over time, complete poems. He even got a gold star from his teacher for a few of his poems. It seemed that his brain was poetry-wired. Poetry came more naturally to him than his fellow pupils, and this was the first inkling of the "Dyslexic Advantage". He felt fear inch towards hope.
In many ways, the rest of Buridan's life was a journey towards hope and a journey that uncovered the advantages of a dyslexic mind.