The Long Way Down With ADHD

If I hear one more rendition of the theme music to Long Way Down, I’m going to gouge my eyeballs out with an ice-cream scoop as a form of pain relief.

What can I say? It is the latest hyperfocus of my ADHD son.

In my previous life, I used to enjoy a not- entirely- innocent,  (bordering perverted, if I’m honest) interest in Ewan McGregor’s antics in Africa. Suffice it to say, having been force fed the first series (and in particular the first episode), without respite, for the past year, that particular little middle-aged fantasy has been fully sated, and frankly, I never want to hear his dulcet Scottish tones again.

There are few social boundaries with ADHD, which can make sharing a house an intense experience. Rules become futile unless they can be absorbed and their consequences understood, so house rules are continually massaged in our home, and in their place there are degrees of flexibility that are further manipulated and reworked with far too much negotiation if I’m honest. We are weak parents.

The ADHD child invades everyone’s personal space, yet doesn’t share his own. Every member of a family has their foibles and ‘buttons’ regarding the foibles of others; my ‘button’ in relation to ADHD is the chaos, the tween’s is the lack of filter, the old man’s is the noise. That lack of dopamine can determine the energy of the house; the satisfaction he extracts from his obsessions often determines him.

Concentrating and organisational issues have been well documented, but what is less understood is the ADHD child’s ability to hyperfocus and the impact of that focus, good and bad.

Our son is currently hyperfocusing on Long Way Down.

‘Excess’ is a word I associate with my son. His excesses are done to excess, often to the point of obsession. He can eat to excess, he drinks juice to excesss, and talks to excess; often in different voices. He watches Long Way Down excessively.

There’s a whole load of scientific mumbo-jumbo as to why these kids hyperfocus on areas of interest and demonstrate high distractability around ‘boring’ stuff, such as co-morbidity and the side effects of medication. It’s a fact that with ADHD you often get  the ‘premium’ package, a sort of three for one.

My son has a very kinesthetic approach to his obsessions; he ‘lives’ through them. Sometimes he sleeps with his guitars, for example.

Where once he simply played them, now he disassembles them, physically analysing every detail of their structure, systematically stripping them back to remove their innards; to see how they work. I often wonder how my son ‘works’.

I now wake in the middle of the night humming the theme tune to Long Way Down.

The tween and I can recite the first episode word for word, from the moment Ewan breaks his leg and has to make coffee for himself on crutches – a tricky task when your day job is as a supes world famous, mega-rich actor and you probably haven’t had to make your own coffee for a very long time. To loveable rogue, gap-toothed Charlie, being a bit ‘silly’ (like, all the time), who mucks up the African Orientated Hostile Environment Training Course (!) just prior to their London departure. ‘Ohhhh, Charrrrrlieeee, (in heavy, sensual Scottish accent), you stupid f*cking bastard,’ is a recurring theme.

I suspect that Charlie is ADHD. Charlie is Laurel to Ewan’s Hardy; the perfect double act.

I keep trying to explain to my son that unless he is in training to perfect a Scottish accent or motorbike wheelies, his groundhog viewing habits are really not educational. And furthermore, the open-plan design of our fibro beach-house is not conducive to revving motorbikes and guitar distortion; noisy, guttural sounds that resonate sharply around stark white walls and echoing timber floors.

Our neighbours no longer discuss what the other neighbours are doing, with us.

And the special 4D effect pushbike which is  permanently parked in the middle of my sitting room conflicts horribly with my driftwood and sisal beach decor, if I’m honest. He rides it with Ewan and Charlie across Africa.

And did I mention that he sometimes wears snorkeling goggles while eating dinner, or that I fear that his passion for guitars has usurped his love for me, or the potential to love a girl in his future? Or that it’s physically quite difficult to watch television through the frame of a bicycle, or discuss unfinished school assignments while your son sips custard through a straw?

ADHD is a real condition.

I see flashes of madness and moments of brilliance in my boy. The mind works in mysterious ways and like my son’s guitars, we are all wired differently.

Photo eos20d 337 courtesy +sko11ie of www.flickr.com

Learn About ADHD: Focus on Hyperfocus

Midlife Mayhem – The Sexiness Of ‘Salmon Fishing’

In conjunction with my recent  post about following your dreams, I stumbled upon this quasi-perfect little gem of a Brit flick the other day, and so decided to brazenly write a film review about it.

I am completely aware of my  zero credibility as a film critic but allow me to indulge myself and promote a movie that managed, not only to make me belly laugh, but also to touch my heart, (apparently it was there all along, and Search and Rescue managed to locate it behind dense, protective force fields of cholesterol build-up). Read on for my ‘midlife’ interpretation of ‘Salmon Fishing In the Yemen’.

Firstly, a brief synopsis……

Think ‘Four Weddings’, with an injection of intellectual sensibility, astute casting, hilarious British pomposity and an engaging, if slightly absurd plot (with the underlying message of ‘following your dreams’).

With a smorgasbord of tantalizing backdrops, from the lushness of the Scottish landscape and the manicured perfection of British suburbia, to the heady diversity of London (complete with grey skies), this movie managed to invoke in me, long-buried cravings for everything English.

(For the record, it obviously would have been a treason-worthy offence for me not to view this  film – what with Diamond Jubilee year and all that, but that is as far as my patriotic bias stretches in this review. It should however be noted that Vegemite has, once again, been usurped by Marmite in the ‘spread’ war in our house).

But it was the synergy of self-deprecating humour, sensitive character portrayal and a surfeit of gorgeous eye-candy that really sold this movie to me.

And talking of eye-candy, Ewan McGregor plays the main protagonist of the story, Dr Alfred Jones, a British fisheries expert, who is asked to research the possibility of introducing the sport of salmon fishing to the Yemen.

Bogged down by the tedious conventionality of his office job and a tired marriage, he is initially contemptuous of the project and tries everything in his power to avoid involvement. But the British government has other plans.

I should point out here that Ewan McGregor and I have had a few personal issues that needed ironing out, prior to me seeing this movie.

You see, having fallen deeply in lust with him, when he thrust his phallic light saber as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, (dire futuristic subject matter aside), and then deeply in love with him in his ‘I’m just a normal guy’ guise on his bike for The Long Way Round, he disappeared from my ‘hot leading men’ radar for one very good reason – sorry Ewan, but singing in films????

Allow me to qualify why this is an issue……….

In my opinion, there are two raison-d’etres for going to the movies – 1) justification for the consumption of a whole box of Maltesers and 2) justification for gawping at gorgeous leading men. (I’m a mature woman and I can own up to the fact that the main prerequisite of my film choices is eye-candy; I can also admit that I am a sad old woman).

So in watching this film, I was, in fact, giving Ewan the chance to put right the wrong of ‘Moulin Rouge’, the chance to resurrect his leading man ‘sexiness’ status. And although the confines of this role certainly limits conventional sexiness, he works it.

However, whereas my passion for Ewan’s craft has peaked and troughed over time, I’ve never liked Emily Blunt since she slept with Michael Buble.

But in this movie, (and no matter how irritating I find her unthreatening girl-next-door allure on a personal level), she does manage to carry off the ‘thinking man’s’ female protagonist role, as Harriet, convincingly.

In her role as the Sheikh’s consultant, she plays the sensible foil to Ewan’s (hinted-at) Asperger’s awkwardness, working as intermediary between the two men. And she generously allows Ewan to wring out every last subtle comedic moment of his parody of the fishing nerd, and to demonstrate his growth into a thoughtful and emotional man.

But back to the eye-candy. This beautiful film actually provides more stunningly handsome men than the Hemsworth family and certainly more than your average middle-aged woman can handle. Not only does Ewan’s latent sexuality simmer throughout the film, but there is also the visual delight of Amr Waked who plays Sheikh Muhammed, the catalyst of the salmon-fishing project and the modern day equivalent of Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia. Not forgetting Tom Mison, who plays the heroic man-in-uniform role, stoically, in spite of being a little under-developed as a character (but did I mention he was wearing a uniform?)

Testosterone aside, it is Kristen Scott Thomas, as Patricia Maxwell the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, who steals the show for me. Her timing and execution is faultless and she does the affected-wannabe-aristocrat act so persuasively. Her comedic scenes in London are in sharp contrast to the serene, more serious tones of the developments in Scotland and the Yemen, where the underlying theme of following your dreams is fully played out.

The finale was a little ‘Americanized schmaltz’ for my liking, (in the real world, they would have all gone back to their boring day jobs), although my companion wept through the ‘will they/won’t they’ scene. But in spite of some poorly contrived situations – Yemeni assassins floating around the Highlands springs to mind –  the storyline was strong enough for me.

Mega-rich Sheikhs spending more money on luxury sports than it would cost to rebuild the Greek economy, is probably not the most appropriate storyline in the current climate, and this film has attracted mixed reviews, but the cinema is about displacing reality and in my humble opinion, the theme of taking a chance and ‘swimming against the current’ is a positive theme in a western world still drowning in recession.

Apparently there are about 606 calories in a box of Maltesers.

Salmon Jump courtesy of www.flickr.com (Steve Courson)

Follow Your Dreams courtesy of www.flickr.com (Hitesh Sheladiya)