“The trouble with computers, of course, is that they’re very sophisticated idiots.”

Exciting things are hopefully happening, or about to happen, but I don’t want to pre-empt them by writing about them here yet. Work was dull and a bit difficult, but I don’t really want to go over that again. So, more ChatGPT malarkey.

This evening I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT again, asking it to write jokes in the style of favourite comedians or comedy programmes. ChatGPT is very good at rehashing information that is online, but less good at originality. Humour depends on originality. Just rehashing someone else’s joke isn’t funny. So I was curious as to how this would go. (I also have another reason based on my novel, but I don’t want to go into that now.)

I’ve pasted the exchanges below, but the short answer is that ChatGPT is not very good at it. The jokes read like someone tried to be funny despite never having understood a joke, by trying to analyse a joke book. (It also took a weirdly long time to write the Monty Python pastiche.) To be fair, there are one or two OKish jokes, or at least ones that might work depending on the delivery. The ‘corduroy trousers’ joke in the Are You Being Served? pastiche is actually something I could see the series doing, but it would need some work. And I can sort of see the Monty Python sketch in the not-very-good fourth and final series, which often felt tired and unfunny. I’m not sure that’s really praise.

It’s interesting that a number of these programmes used a lot of catchphrases and running jokes and ChatGPT hasn’t picked up on any of them. I’m not sure why it kept writing me sketches when I asked for jokes, but maybe that’s because I mostly asked it to imitate TV programmes rather than stand-up comedy. I don’t know why it gave so many of the sketches that weird summary conclusion, which isn’t something any of the programmes have in real life.

My choice of pastiches is very Anglo-centric (as are my comedy tastes). To explain a bit to non-English readers, Ronnie Barker was a comedy writer/performer best known for The Two Ronnies sketch show with Ronnie Corbett. His humour was based largely around clever wordplay, sexual double entendre and parodies of popular films and TV. This was considered family viewing in the 70s and 80s. The Goon Show was a surreal radio programme in the 50s, a progenitor of the nowadays more famous Monty Python’s Flying Circus on TV in the 70s. Are You Being Served? was a 70s sitcom based in the clothing department of a department store. The humour was mostly very dirty double entendre and it was also considered family viewing. Round the Horne was a 60s radio programme, again mostly based on parody, wordplay and double entendre and again considered suitable for the whole family. (The outrageously camp characters Julian and Sandy, played by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, both gay in real life, probably played a role in normalising homosexuality at a time when it was illegal, so I guess it’s appropriate for Pride Month.) Yes Prime Minister was a satirical sitcom in the 80s based around the conflict between government (the Prime Minister, James Hacker) and the civil service (the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby). It was very cleverly written, with different dialogue styles for the different main characters, biting satire and also some wordplay (you may notice a theme). It was so much better than ChatGTP’s effort that it’s laughable. Hancock’s Half-Hour was a character-focused radio sitcom from the 50s that transferred to TV as Hancock. I don’t know why ChatGPT thinks it was about inventions. It was about the slightly pompous and conceited Tony Hancock (the actor playing a character of the same name who wasn’t entirely dissimilar to himself), wide-boy Sid James and slightly stupid Bill Kerr. The humour came from the characters as much as anything, so it’s not surprising ChatGPT was more stumped by it the other requests. The IT Crowd was a noughties sitcom set in the IT department of a moderately large company. The humour was geeky and somewhat surreal.

(Yes, I like clever humour, wordplay and whimsical, surreal humour. I don’t like cruel or mocking humour. I’m not so keen on double entendre, but it tends to come in with the other wordplay.)

The ChatGPT conversation. I’m not editing as I don’t have time.

tell me a joke


Sure, here’s a classic one for you:

Why don’t scientists trust atoms?

Because they make up everything!


tell me a ronnie barker joke


Certainly! Here’s a joke from the late great British comedian Ronnie Barker:

“A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston Bypass. Motorists are asked to be on the lookout for 16 hardened criminals.”


tell me a new joke in the style of ronnie barker


Certainly! Here’s a new joke in the style of Ronnie Barker:

“I went to the bakery and asked the baker if he had any muffins. He said, ‘Sorry, we’re all out of muffins, but we have some fantastic bagels!’ I replied, ‘Well, that’s a real twist on things. I guess you could say you’ve bagel-ed my expectations!’ The baker just gave me a blank stare and said, ‘Sir, that’s a real crumby joke.’ I guess he couldn’t rise to the occasion!”


tell me a new joke in the style of the goon show


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “The Goon Show”:

[Narrator] Once upon a time, in the land of absolute absurdity, a peculiar event was about to unfold. The legendary Eccles, Bluebottle, and Grytpype-Thynne found themselves in a pickle, quite literally!

[Eccles] Oh, me, oh, my! We’ve landed in a giant jar of pickles, haven’t we, lads?

[Bluebottle] ‘Elp! ‘Elp! We’re in a bit of a tight spot here, aren’t we, Eccles?

[Grytpype-Thynne] Silence, you silly sausages! Now, listen carefully. I have a cunning plan to escape this tangy trap.

[Eccles] What’s the plan, then? Spit it out, before we turn into cucumbers!

[Grytpype-Thynne] Fear not! We shall tickle the pickles until they release us. Eccles, start tickling the pickles on the left, and Bluebottle, tickle the ones on the right.

[Eccles and Bluebottle start tickling the pickles, accompanied by giggles and pickle wiggles.]

[Narrator] And so, with a ridiculous mix of tickling and laughter, the trio managed to escape the pickle predicament. They walked away, leaving behind a jar of slightly confused and thoroughly amused pickles.

Remember, folks, in the realm of the Goons, the absurdity is a way of life and laughter is the ultimate escape!

tell me a new joke in the style of monty python


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of Monty Python:

[Scene: A dusty desert. Two explorers, Brian and Nigel, are searching for the fabled Holy Grail.]

Brian: Nigel, do you think we’ll ever find the Holy Grail?

Nigel: Well, Brian, it’s rather like trying to find a needle in a stack of shrubberies, isn’t it?

Brian: Indeed, Nigel. But fear not, for I have devised a brilliant plan to locate the Grail!

Nigel: Pray, do tell, Brian. What is your ingenious plan?

Brian: We shall disguise ourselves as knights and gallop through the land, asking every person we meet if they have seen the Holy Grail!

Nigel: Ah, yes! And when they say, “No, we haven’t seen it,” we shall shout, “Oh, come on! It’s a cup, for goodness’ sake! How hard can it be to find a cup?”

[Both burst into laughter.]

[Scene: A few hours later, covered in dust and exhaustion.]

Brian: Nigel, perhaps our plan was a tad too simplistic.

Nigel: Indeed, Brian. We’ve been mistaken for traveling salesmen, circus performers, and even door-to-door shrubbery inspectors!

Brian: Well, at least we’re expanding our knowledge of shrubberies in the process.

Nigel: True, Brian. But I fear our quest for the Holy Grail might require a bit more than just asking random strangers.

Brian: You may be right, Nigel. Perhaps we should try asking goats next. They seem to know a lot about everything.

Nigel: Splendid idea, Brian! Let us embark on a new quest: “In Search of the Wise Goats.”

Remember, folks, in the realm of Monty Python, the quest for absurdity and hilarity is never-ending!

tell me a joke in the style of are you being served?


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “Are You Being Served?”:

[Scene: The staff of Grace Brothers department store are gathered in the menswear section.]

Mr. Humphries: (with a mischievous smile) Captain Peacock, have you heard the latest fashion trend?

Captain Peacock: (adjusting his tie) No, Mr. Humphries, do tell.

Mr. Humphries: Well, they say that corduroy trousers are making a comeback!

Captain Peacock: (raising an eyebrow) Corduroy? Are you serious?

Mr. Humphries: Quite serious, Captain. In fact, the fashion experts claim that wearing corduroy trousers makes a person feel more “ribbed” for their pleasure!

[The staff chuckle and exchange knowing glances.]

Mrs. Slocombe: (joining in) Oh, Mr. Humphries, you always have a way with words. But I must say, I’ve always found corduroy to be quite “groovy”!

Captain Peacock: (trying to maintain composure) Well, if corduroy is making a comeback, I suppose I’ll have to dust off my old bell-bottoms too!

[Laughter erupts as they continue discussing fashion trends, leaving Captain Peacock bewildered by the ever-changing world of style.]

Remember, in the world of “Are You Being Served?”, even the most ordinary conversations can turn into comedic fashion fiascos!

tell me a joke in the style of round the horne


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “Round the Horne”:

[Scene: Kenneth Horne and his witty companion, Rambling Syd Rumpo, are engaged in a lively conversation.]

Kenneth Horne: Syd, did you hear about the new nightclub that just opened?

Syd Rumpo: Ooh, I’m all ears, Kenneth. Pray, enlighten me.

Kenneth Horne: It’s called “The Tangled Flamingo,” and they claim to have the most incredible dance floor in town!

Syd Rumpo: Dance floor, you say? Well, that sounds right up my alley, Kenneth.

Kenneth Horne: But here’s the catch, Syd. The dance floor is covered in super-sticky glue!

Syd Rumpo: Sticky glue? Crikey, Kenneth! That sounds like a recipe for disaster!

Kenneth Horne: Indeed, Syd. They call it the “Stickiest Samba.” Once you step foot on that dance floor, you’re stuck!

Syd Rumpo: Blimey! I can see it now, Kenneth. Dancers glued together, spinning and twirling like a tangled tango tornado!

Kenneth Horne: Quite the visual, Syd. The club owner insists it’s the latest craze, a surefire way to keep people glued to the dance floor all night long!

Syd Rumpo: Well, Kenneth, I’ll have to give it a whirl. But I’ll bring a bottle of oil, just in case things get a bit too sticky for my liking!

[Laughter ensues as they envision the hilarious mishaps and sticky situations that could occur on “The Tangled Flamingo” dance floor.]

Remember, in the whimsical world of “Round the Horne,” even the stickiest of situations can be a source of laughter and amusement!

write me a new joke in the style of Yes prime minister


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “Yes, Prime Minister”:

[Scene: The Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, is having a discussion with his advisor, Sir Humphrey Appleby.]

Jim Hacker: Humphrey, have you heard about this new study on political speeches?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Indeed, Prime Minister. It appears they’ve conducted extensive research on the effectiveness of politicians’ words.

Jim Hacker: Fascinating! So, what did they discover?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, Prime Minister, it turns out that the more words a politician uses in a speech, the greater the chance that the audience will be completely confused.

Jim Hacker: Ah, I see. So, brevity is not necessarily the soul of wit when it comes to politics.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Precisely, Prime Minister. In fact, the study suggests that politicians should aim for the perfect balance of length, complexity, and ambiguity to maintain the illusion of competence.

Jim Hacker: Ah, the delicate art of political rhetoric! It’s like trying to juggle jelly, Humphrey.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Indeed, Prime Minister. And it seems that some politicians have mastered the art of juggling jelly with such finesse that even they don’t know what they’re saying!

[They share a knowing chuckle, fully aware of the complexities and challenges of political communication.]

Remember, in the world of “Yes, Prime Minister,” the interplay of wit, wordplay, and political maneuvering is always a source of comedic enlightenment.

write me a joke in the style of hancock’s half hour


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “Hancock’s Half Hour”:

[Scene: Tony Hancock and his trusty companion, Sid James, are engaged in a banter-filled conversation.]

Tony Hancock: Sid, I’ve come up with a brilliant invention!

Sid James: Ooh, go on, Tony. Pray, enlighten me.

Tony Hancock: It’s a device that automatically tells you when you’re talking to someone who just loves the sound of their own voice!

Sid James: A device? That sounds marvellous! How does it work, Tony?

Tony Hancock: Well, you attach it to your pocket, and it’s equipped with a small microphone. Whenever the person you’re talking to starts rambling on and on, the device emits a subtle but distinct snoring sound!

Sid James: (chuckles) Brilliant, Tony! So, it’s a snore-ometer, then?

Tony Hancock: Exactly! I call it the “Conversational Dozer.” It’s like having a personal alarm for tedious talkers!

Sid James: (grinning) Oh, I can think of a few folks who would benefit from that invention, Tony.

Tony Hancock: Absolutely, Sid. We’ll revolutionize the art of conversation, one snore at a time!

[Laughter ensues as they imagine the hilarious scenarios and awkward encounters that the “Conversational Dozer” could alleviate.]

Remember, in the witty world of “Hancock’s Half Hour,” even the quirkiest inventions can bring joy and laughter to everyday situations!

write a joke in the style of the IT crowd


Certainly! Here’s a joke in the style of “The IT Crowd”:

[Scene: Roy and Moss are in the IT department, engrossed in their usual geeky banter.]

Roy: Hey, Moss, did you hear about the computer that went to the ballet?

Moss: No, Roy, I haven’t. Pray, enlighten me.

Roy: Well, it had some major software issues. Every time the dancers pirouetted, it would shout, “Buffering… buffering… buffering!”

Moss: (chuckles) Classic computer troubles, Roy. But did it at least enjoy the performance?

Roy: Oh, it had a great time! It gave a standing ovation, except instead of clapping, it just kept hitting the “Enter” key repeatedly!

Moss: (laughs) Ah, the awkward charm of a computer attempting to appreciate art. I can just imagine the confused looks from the other audience members.

Roy: Indeed, Moss. The ballet dancers thought it was part of the avant-garde choreography, a unique blend of technology and grace!

[Laughter ensues as they imagine the comical scene of a computer trying to blend into the world of ballet with its quirky computer-like behavior.]

Remember, in the quirky realm of “The IT Crowd,” even the most technical mishaps can lead to hilarious moments of technology meets humanity!

Being Seen at Volunteering, Flat-Hunting and Jewish Pride

Yesterday I went to volunteering for the first time in over a month. I missed a lot of sessions due to having to work on Tuesdays as a result of bank holidays falling on Mondays as well as a result of the wedding. After the volunteering session, there was a lunch for volunteers as a thank you from the organisation that runs the food bank. The paid staff we work with came, which I expected, but also the CEO of the whole organisation, which I did not expect. It’s a very big organisation and the food bank is just a part of it; indeed, even all the volunteering taken together is just a part of it, albeit a big part.

The CEO asked us all to say how we ended up volunteering. I was interested to see that so many people started because they were made unemployed during COVID. It was a bit of a relief to see it wasn’t just me! Of course, as most of these people are twenty or more years older than me, they saw unemployment as early retirement, which obviously wasn’t an option for me, but it’s interesting that I needn’t have been so ashamed of being unemployed when I started volunteering.

I did find the lunch a bit nerve-wracking, as there were a number of people there I didn’t know, and I didn’t actually say much, but I did feel accepted, even more so when I stayed afterwards for Minchah (Afternoon Prayers) on site and a couple of the rabbis present spoke to me. I think the paid staff said that the volunteers are a core part of the team even though we aren’t paid and one of the volunteers said the paid staff do spend a lot of time helping us in a hands-on way; they don’t treat us as menial workers that to whom they are superior by virtue of being paid.

It’s strange that we speak so much nowadays about wanting to “be seen” in the fiction we consume. I could probably write an ssay about that outlook and the problems with it, but I did feel seen here. Interestingly, I do not find feeling seen to be a wholly pleasurable or satisfactory experience. It is good to have one’s good work acknowledged and be thanked and praised, but, perhaps from social anxiety and low self-esteem, I feel discomfort whenever this happens, perhaps a feeling of not deserving praise, but perhaps just a feeling of awkwardness at being the centre of attention, of wanting to be invisible (the opposite of being seen).

At Minchah I ran into an old Oxford peer of mine who works for the organisation. I run into him every couple of years. He’s a nice person, but usually I feel awkward at not being “good enough” since leaving Oxford, but this time I made myself have a proper chat with him, and enjoyed it. E asked me if I would like to renew the friendship with him properly and I think I would, if I ever get the opportunity.


Flat-hunting news: E and I are edging closer to making an offer for the flat we liked. We saw a couple more flats today and really did not like them. It made us more certain that the first flat we saw really was excellent, not just better than everything else we’ve seen, but extremely good in its own right. I spoke a little bit about it in therapy today. I didn’t really come to any new conclusions there, but I realised that I was talking enthusiastically about it, not reluctantly as a “least worst” option, but somewhere where I think E and I could be happy despite the building work. The slight worry is, having found the planning documents online, we fear that further building work may follow one day, but as E and I both said, you could move anywhere and end up living with building work, either in that block of flats or even next-door, where you have no control whatsoever.

Estate agents annoy me, though. One who phoned me yesterday kept using the first person plural: “Where do we want to live?” I’m sorry, you aren’t going to be living with us! Then he asked why we were limiting our search to two specific areas. As I didn’t want to tell him everything about our religious and financial situation, I shut that down quickly, but I thought it was rude of him. Then, of course, there are those who try the hard sell, which is just annoying, but which sadly covers most of them. I guess it’s their job, but it’s still annoying.


While hanging around between flat viewings today, E and I had time for some charity shop browsing. E found me two of the three James Bond novels I don’t own! (The Ian Fleming ones, not the later books written by other writers.) She seems to be getting good at plugging gaps in my various collections. The books were Casino Royale and Diamonds are Forever, for those interested. The one I’m still looking for is The Man with the Golden Gun.


Pride Month always sparks a lot of thoughts in my head every June. I could probably write an essay about this too, but one thing I always think about is what would it take for society/businesses/media/etc. to spend even one day saying how much Jews have contributed to the world, how much Jews enrich society, how glad they are to welcome us and accept us and so on. I’m not into competitive victimhood, but I think it’s fair to say that Jews have been at least as persecuted in the Western and Middle Eastern worlds as LGBT people, yet we have contributed a huge amount, from the religious and moral structure that still underpins much of the world to a vastly disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners and other scientific and cultural geniuses (the famous statistic is that Jews constitute about 0.2% of the world’s population, yet about 20% of all Nobel Prize winners. Even Richard Dawkins finds this weird).

It’s hard to imagine it happening, though. The reality is that most LGBT people are perfectly normal, from a secular Western point of view, and therefore “safe” to welcome, whereas welcoming Jews would raise hard questions about the counter-cultural nature of so much of Jewish life, religion, Israel and so on. But that does raise the question whether tolerance for people who are pretty much exactly like you is really tolerance? I think this about a lot of things in our society, but Pride Month makes it very obvious, at least in the UK, which is pretty tolerant of LGBT rights. I know it’s different in parts of the USA where people protest Pride Month and perhaps it is a more meaningful event there. Here it’s just an excuse for big business to portray itself as socially aware by putting some rainbow flags in the window without doing anything that might actually cost it money, like paying workers more or checking that supply chains are free from slavery.

More Flat-Hunting, Or Raising the Roof

This will be another truncated post as I’m overwhelmed again, feel a bit ill/autistic exhaustion, and am trying to get to bed earlier. I really shouldn’t write, but (a) it’s been a few days and (b) I need to write to process.

On Saturday I was exhausted. I didn’t go to shul (synagogue) at all because I was too exhausted and I thought going would make the exhaustion worse. Did I do the right thing? I don’t know. E wants to know how to help me when I feel like this, when to push me and when to let me crash. It is hard to tell. I would like to ask the question on the autism forum, but haven’t had the time and energy.

E and I walked around a somewhat nature-ish area nearby. It helped a bit. People on the autism forum talk about being around nature to recover from burnout, but it’s not easy in the suburban London. I didn’t do much Torah study. Instead, I read more Terry Pratchett (the book is just about good enough to justify not giving up on it) and we (my parents, E and me) played the game E and I bought Mum for her birthday, Ticket to Ride Europe. We played an open game so that we could learn the rules. They seemed daunting initially, but we got the hang of it quickly and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Hopefully the long summer Shabbat afternoons/evenings will provide many more opportunities to play.

I didn’t sleep in the afternoon, which was good, but I still went to bed late and I then woke up an hour or two after going to bed with a migraine and stayed up late (or early) until I felt better.

Sunday was going to be mostly dedicated to flat-hunting. E and I took some time out by going to a nearby suburb that may be closer if we move to the flat we saw on Friday and wandered around the high street for a bit, investigating grocery shops and charity shops. Most of the charity shops had few books, except for one with quite a large book section where I bought three Doctor Who: The New Adventures novels for £2 each (the Cat’s Cradle trilogy: Time’s Crucible, Warhead and Witch Mark). The New Adventures were original Doctor Who spin-off novels in the years Doctor Who was off TV. They were pitched at people in their late teens/early twenties, rather than the family audience the TV series was pitched at, which caused some controversy around their somewhat more graphic violence, sex and swearing than the TV series and the BBC made the publishers reign things in after a while. To be honest, I think I bought the books from nostalgia for 1990s Doctor Who fandom and my youth as well as to express disenchantment with current Doctor Who as much as from a burning desire to read the books (or add to my vast To Read pile), although I do now feel excited to read them (at some point).

Afterwards, E and I looked at flats online and made tacos, but once again, I ran out of time and energy to write wedding present thank yous. Overall, I felt stressed and overwhelmed, but good.

Work was hard today. I went to bed a little earlier last night to try to be more alert at work, but then I woke up earlier this morning for no obvious reason. I had to phone a lot of people to ask for money again, which I hate doing, even though it’s money the organisation is owed and needs to function. I think I may be finished with this task for a few months, but I keep thinking that and then finding more people to phone. I left work feeling pretty exhausted again.

After work, I met with E and my parents to view the flat we saw on Friday again. E and I still like it and Mum and Dad were impressed. There were a few problems, but mostly fixable. The big drawback is that today the estate agent suddenly told us that a new floor is being built the flat we looked at. The flat is on the second floor (third floor to Americans) and they plan to build a new third floor. This will lead to a lot of noise and disruption for over a year, perhaps closer to two. The estate agent treated this as a done deal, but Dad tried to find the planning permission online and doesn’t think it’s been approved by the council yet. We need to investigate this further.

We definitely won’t find a better flat than this in our price range and meeting our other criteria (location, mainly). We’re not even sure we will find one equally good. But E works from home and I’m hoping to set up some work from home and am very sensitive to noise and disruption, so the building work isn’t something to take on lightly. Mum and Dad have said we can come and work in their house if necessary (the flat is about a twenty minute walk away), which is a possibility, if a slightly awkward one, given that we are moving out to get some space and independence.

We need some time to think about this. It’s hard to work out how to process it and decide. I think a lot of it boils down to how long we think we will be in this flat. If it’s five years or more, then the benefits of the wonderful flat outweigh the problems of the building period. Under four and it’s probably not worth it. The thing is, the length of time we spend there is dependent on whether we can improve our financial situation significantly as well as what happens regarding starting a family, so it’s hard to tell at this stage.

E and I sometimes feel like two children who have suddenly found themselves living as adults, but at least we’re together now.

I’m going to have some decompression time in front of Quatermass II (or more decompression time, as E and I watched Doctor Who earlier) and then try to get an earlyish night as I have volunteering tomorrow for the first time in a month or more followed by a thank you lunch for people who volunteer for the same organisation. I hope that the latter will be fun and not an energy drain, as I really want to write some wedding thank yous in the afternoon.


E and I went to bed about 11.50pm, which wasn’t our target of 11.00pm, but was at least before midnight. We need to work on this. I woke up feeling exhausted and struggled to get going. E was sympathetic, but we both find my energy levels, and the inability of sleep to restore them, frustrating, especially as it’s so hard to tell what is sleep apnoea, what is autistic exhaustion and what is medication side-effects (and what may be who knows what else).

I did have to get going eventually, as we were going flat-hunting (I could do a joke here about safari suits, rifles and snares, but Monty Python already did it). The second flat we saw was really not for us. It was already above the top of our price range and need a significant amount of refurbishment to make it liveable. However, the first one we saw was much better. I don’t want to say too much at this stage. It’s still at the top of our price range, but it seemed to meet most of our needs. We’re hoping to see it again at the beginning of next week, this time with my parents, who are more experienced homeowners/buyers and know what to look out for (I keep wondering if we overlooked some massive snag the estate agent is hiding from us). Of course, now we are worrying about rushing into a deal too fast, as we expected time to look round different communities, whereas this would be locking us into our current community for several years.

I probably won’t go to shul (synagogue)tonight as I feel exhausted. I’d like to go with E tomorrow, but I don’t know if I’ll make it. I worry I’m heading for burnout (probably delayed from the wedding) if I’m not careful, but it’s hard to know when to stop in time to avoid it and to convince other people that I need to do so. I’m not planning on doing more than about ten minutes or so of Torah study today to try to take things a bit easier and I hope to get a TV (Quatermass) break before Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts.

There isn’t much time or energy for much else, but I have a stack of things to do. I’m trying to find some easy wins, maybe working on one big thing and one small easy win each non-work day? It’s an idea.


I re-read a couple of Asterix comic books on our honeymoon, which made me want to re-read some that I didn’t own. Browsing on eBay, I managed to get a five-in-one omnibus for £2.90 with free postage. I didn’t have any of the books collected in it either; in the past when I’ve looked at Asterix omnibuses, I usually have at least one of them. I know I shouldn’t be buying more books, given how many unread ones I have, but this seemed a really good buy. It arrived today and turned out to be hardback too!

Exhausted and Overwhelmed

I’m not going to blog E and my minimoon. I wanted to, but there’s just too much going on right now and I need to move my focus on. I am exhausted, physically and possibly emotionally. Maybe the events of the last few weeks are catching up with me. I am possibly not sleeping well in the same bed as E, but I’m not sure about this. We both seem to have some kind of sleep disorder, so maybe we’re stopping each other sleeping well, or maybe I’m just not used to sleeping with someone after nearly forty years of sleeping alone. Or maybe it’s coincidence and I’m just going to bed too late. I mean, I am going to bed too late, I just wonder if there’s something else too.

I feel overwhelmed with house-hunting stuff. We’ve got four properties to view set up, three tomorrow and one next week, except one of the estate agents from tomorrow is probably switching us to next week, because customers are cattle with no lives of their own and can be moved around at whim he double-booked us. I feel overwhelmed with writing wedding thank yous, which I’ve hardly started on. And I have a list of other things to sort out, from small (sort out a new To Do list, believe it or not) to unrealistically massive (learn to drive, start writing my novel). I feel OK pushing off learning to drive, but my novel nags at me. I want to do it, I just don’t have the time/energy/brainpower.

To make things worse, I had to phone people to ask for outstanding payments at work again today. This kind of thing always makes me feel something between a bailiff and a loan shark’s enforcer. I dealt with some incoming phone calls too. I made mistakes and uncovered a big mistake I’d made weeks ago, thankfully before any harm was done (I hope). By the end of the day, I felt pretty awful, tired and burnt out, and faint. E and I were supposed to be meeting for a date night, but the restaurant didn’t have any tables. We went to a different restaurant, but it was too noisy for me. I just couldn’t cope. We ordered the food as takeaway and ate it at home. My vegetable curry was extremely good. Afterwards, I lay down on my bed by myself for fifteen minutes with no screens or noise and slowly felt a bit better. Then I had to plunge back into flat-hunting and I feel bad again, although not as bad. I’m hoping to watch Doctor Who with E soon; if not, I’ll watch Quatermass. I might eat ice cream; I certainly need to (whether I deserve to is another question). Whatever I do, I’ll try to get to bed earlier than usual.

E and I are good at caring for each other, because we have similar unusual (excessive) needs. This is good, as we have unusual (excessive) needs and need all the help we can get, which isn’t really anything from outside our family circle.

I spoke to the GP yesterday about reducing my medication (can’t get a psychiatrist appointment). I reduced the dose a little today and wonder if it was a good idea, although one day is hardly a fair test.


The Terry Pratchett novel I’m reading (I’ve stuck with it; it got a little better) said to “be yourself,” which is a pretty standard moral in 90% of novels, film and TV since the Romantic era, but I don’t know how to be myself, or who myself is. Or rather, I feel like I’m several different selves from totally different lives glued together in a weird metaphysical accident.


I have no idea what 90% of the memes and list articles I get on my Facebook feed are about. I don’t understand the cultural references or the slang. I’m not sure if this means I’ll never be a successful writer (in a postmodern age, where intertextuality and cultural references as well as an informal, slangy style, at least for dialogue, are in vogue), or that I’ll be a very successful writer (original), or that it won’t make any difference either way. Probably the latter.

The Wedding Part Three: The Party

When E and I came out from the yichud room, the reception was already under way. There were sandwiches, bridge rolls and the like and people stood around in the salon and outside eating and talking. E and I tried to talk to most people and ate a bit. After a while, tea was served: more sandwiches , but also pastries and scones, and sitting down in the dining room with floral crockery. It was really nice, very English and not at all like the traditional Jewish wedding with lots of noise, loud music and raucous dancing. I wondered how our guests would react, particularly the more religious, but everyone seemed to like it and a number of religious guests said they preferred it to typical noisy Jewish weddings.

I mentioned here before the wedding that E was worried about getting a “tacky” cake. Unfortunately, when she arrived at the venue (before me), she felt the cake was indeed tacky, with roses covered in glitter as decorations. Fortunately, our florist saved the day, carefully replacing the tacky glitter flowers with natural ones so well that you couldn’t see that it was a rush replacement. As ornaments, my Mum had helped us accessorise two model Daleks so that they looked like a Jewish bride and groom and these were the big hit of the wedding. Everyone loved the Daleks and even Rabbi L took a photo for a Doctor Who fan friend of his.

I was quite amused to have three rabbis (two Orthodox, one Masorti) at the wedding: Rabbi L, my rabbi mentor and my oldest friend. They sat together and seemed to get on well despite theological differences.

After the tea had been going for a while, the photographer took E and I out for some further photos now we were more relaxed. After we went back in, I gave my speech, which was well-received. I’ll post a redacted version below. I managed to mention “solipsism” in a wedding speech, which is probably a first and very me on multiple levels.

In the end both E and I had a wonderful time. It was amazing to celebrate with all these people who are important to us. As you know, E didn’t really want the party initially and was just doing it to please me, but she did have a really good time in the end and subsequently feels that it was an important event for us. This is similar to my thinking the civil wedding was just an immigration hurdle beforehand, but feeling it was more significant after the event.

Afterwards, we went to the hotel in Hendon where we were spending our minimoon. I was tired, but not burnt out, which was a pleasant surprise. And that’s all I’m saying about our wedding night!

Slightly Redacted Wedding Speech

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, [E’s parents], Mum and Dad, and most of all, E, it is wonderful to see you here for us today. I don’t like long speeches, but I wanted to say a few thank yous and address some words to E.

Thank you [E’s parents] for your support during the long process of our engagement and wedding planning, complicated by COVID and immigration law. In particular, thank you [E’s mother] for being the sole witness, photographer and videographer of our tiny COVID-regulated civil wedding in New York nine months ago.

Mum and Dad, thanks for helping us with the wedding. You were on the spot in more ways than one in this process. Thank you for guidance, support and free accommodation.

Thank you Rabbi L for officiating and for fielding many questions from me both about the wedding and, over the years, about other aspects of Jewish law. Thank you also to [rabbi mentor] for agreeing to be our other halakhic witness as well as for much support and words of wisdom over many years.

Thank you to all our guests who have come from across the world to be here today. We are delighted to have you here to celebrate with us.

Thank you also to the Stephens House staff and to the catering staff for helping our day run smoothly. We really would not be celebrating without you.

Finally, thank you to HaShem, to G-d, who brought E and I together in a very unlikely way.

E, you look so radiant and beautiful today and I’m so excited to be spending the rest of my life with someone so loving, caring, intelligent and funny, someone who cares about me so much, someone who shares my values and outlook on life in general as well as my love of books and Doctor Who. I look forward to the life we will build together.

I want to start that life together with a quick word of Torah. E, we are both book-lovers, so I’m going to talk about two books. We are now in the period known as the omer, between the festivals of Pesach and Shavuot. On Pesach we read Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs in the synagogue, while on Shavuot we will read Rut, the Book of Ruth.

Rabbi Lord Sacks z”tzl pointed out that these two books are both fundamentally about love, which he describes as the energy God has planted in the human heart to redeem us from narcissism and solipsism, something that creates, reveals and redeems.

However, these books are about very different kinds of love. Song of Songs is about the passionate love of two young lovers totally absorbed in each other, yet also who misunderstand each other and are continually separated from each other –although, unlike for us, they were not separated by the Atlantic Ocean and immigration law!

Ruth is about a very different kind of love, focused on loyalty to someone else, whether Boaz’s love for Ruth or Ruth’s platonic love for her mother-in-law, Naomi. This is a love based not on sudden passion, but fidelity, about being there for someone else no matter what. This is also a love that is rooted in the idea of family and community. While the lovers of Song and Songs hardly interact with anyone else, Ruth is a book about love that exists as a part of a social setting, about being loyal to family members and to the wider community as well as to one’s spouse. As Rabbi Sacks says, it is a book about lovingkindness and the power of love to redeem loneliness. It is also about marriage as the cornerstone of Jewish continuity and about keeping faith with the generations that went before us and the generations to come after us. Above all, it is about love as the driver of redemption, with the love of Boaz for Ruth leading to the birth of the future King David, the progenitor of Mashiach,the Messiah.

Rabbi Sacks says that the love of Song of Songs is passionate love, “the fire that gives love its redemptive, transforming, other-directed quality” while the love of Ruth, the love of marriage, is “the covenantal bond that turns love into a pledge of loyalty”.

E, our wedding falls between these two festivals and between these two books and I promise we will always combine the passion of the redemptive, transformative love of Song of Songs with the loyalty and lovingkindness of Ruth.

Finally, I would like to thank you all again for coming to celebrate with us and I hope you will all enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Moaning Luftmentsch Overdrive

I was supposed to be blogging the wedding party today, but I ran out of time to blog yesterday and I need to off-load stressful stuff, so no wedding party (also no thank you notes being written due to exhaustion, which is another issue).

Sunday’s adventures in social anxiety: emailing various friends to ask for their real-world addresses to send them thank you notes for wedding presents. I don’t know why this made me so anxious and why I procrastinated so much to avoid it. Maybe I feel I should know my friends’ email addresses? Even though one has two homes at the moment (he basically left his home to become his parents’ carer), another couple moved a while back, several people I usually socialise with in restaurants not their home and one I hadn’t seen in person for years because of his work schedule, we have just Skyped. But social anxiety isn’t rational.

I suppose some of the fear is missing allistic (non-autistic) social cues. I realised after sending most of the emails that perhaps I should “your kind gift” instead of just “your gift”. On the other hand, anyone who really cares probably wouldn’t be a good friend to start with. I feel like my parents tried to bring me up to pay careful attention to these things, but they don’t always stick in the autistic brain.

This all took about half an hour with procrastination. Because of this, I didn’t write any actual thank you notes. The advantage of a small wedding, of course, is that we don’t have as many thank yous to write, although a number of my parents’ friends gave us gifts anyway.

In terms of procrastination as well as many, many other things, it’s hard sometimes to know how much I should push myself and how much I should resign myself to being different or to struggling because of neurodivergence and mental health issues. E has started pushing me to get up earlier and to get to shul (synagogue) on Shabbat (Saturday) mornings, which I think is positive, but there’s still a lot going on in my life and I don’t want to take on too much at once. I’ve really cut back a bit on Torah study and I feel like I am taking a lot of recovery time, although this may be selective memory. I should probably ask E. Like I said the other day, I have had rabbis tell me not to push myself too hard, but it’s hard to internalise that message.

Other than this, I messed around with my music on my phone to try to get more memory and I finally worked out how to copy notes from my phone to a Word document on my computer (I had a thousand words of notes for my novel on there and was worried about transcribing or losing them. I don’t know when I will get time to start the novel properly).

E and I went for a walk in Golders Hill Park and Golders Green before dinner with E’s uncle and cousin. We popped into a bookshop and I ended up buying a cheap copy of Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson, partly as research for my novel but also because I like the title. Like Neuromancer by the same author, which I bought a while back for the same reason, but haven’t read yet, it’s a seminal cyberpunk novel dealing with the world of virtual reality before it was a reality and should be useful for understanding how other authors have dealt with similar themes. Dinner was good, but I struggled with insomnia afterwards, perhaps from not watching TV to unwind. I read for a few minutes, but probably not for long enough and not something I was enjoying enough (I Shall Wear Midnight – see below). I feel guilty for saying it, but often my brain needs the comfort of my favourite old science fiction TV programmes, even episodes I’ve watched many times, rather than reading. This feels wrong as reading “should” be more intellectual and “better” than TV, although I’m not sure the books I read are necessarily much more intellectual than the TV I watch.

Eventually I got up and watched a not-very-good “comedy” episode of The Twilight Zone. I’m re-watching the first series of The Twilight Zone because when I first wanted to watch the series, I was unwilling to commit to buying the complete series box set without having seen any episodes, so I bought the season one box set second-hand. After I watched and mostly liked season one, it turned out that buying the complete series box set brand new was still cheaper than buying seasons two to five second –hand. But now I worry that the discs for season one may be damaged and I should check they’re OK before giving away the original season one box set, even though I don’t particularly want to watch all the episodes at this stage. This is probably something else I’m over-thinking.

The insomnia meant I got about four and a half hours sleep and went to work feeling exhausted. I think I dozed off on the train. I needed an unprecedented four coffees to get through the morning. Work was not great. I’m phoning people to get membership fees. I hate doing this, but I have to do it every few months. The least said about that the better. I need to watch some comfort TV, but probably not The Twilight Zone. Maybe Quatermass II. Or The House that Jack Built episode of The Avengers. Now things are a struggle to work out what E wouldn’t want to watch when I’m watching without her.


I’m also getting annoyed with the Terry Pratchett book I’m reading. I read Pratchett’s Discworld series a lot as a teenager, but drifted away in my late teens. If you haven’t read any Discworld books, the idea is that they’re in a Tolkien-style fantasy world, but inhabited by people with contemporary mores. The effect is like Medieval Europe with real dragons, dwarves, witches etc. The novels often satirise our world.

My problem with the current book, I Shall Wear Midnight, is that it’s about witch-hunting, in a literal sense (although probably in a metaphorical one too once we get into it, otherwise it would be pointless writing it now). The problem is that Pratchett’s world is essentially a Medieval Europe with no Christianity, nor even monotheism. And Pratchett, being a twenty-first century liberal, professes tolerance, but also thinks that religion, especially monotheistic religions, are responsible for much of the world’s evils, including a lot of intolerance. But there is no monotheism in Discworld. So the hatred of witches doesn’t really seem thought out. Religious beliefs aren’t really spelt out in Discworld (actually, the first Discworld novel I read was Small Gods, but the thing I mainly remember was the power of a god being proportional to the number of people believing in it), but people seem to be broadly pagan. So it’s not really clear why people would be so opposed to witches, given that magic is intrinsic to paganism and it’s only monotheistic religions that have any interest in stamping out “unauthorised” magic. There’s even a bit where we’re supposed to think that only idiots would do something as pointless as praying to relieve someone’s pain, even though a few paragraphs later the heroine is removing someone’s pain with magic as if that’s not just as “irrational.”

The other problem I’m having with the book, which I didn’t have when I read the series as a teenager, is that so many of the characters across the series seem to have the same voice, which is the narrative voice: clever, witty, sardonic, cynical. As I recall, Captain Vimes, Granny Weatherwax and even sometimes Rincewind all have this voice, and now Tiffany Aching does too, even though she’s only sixteen and a bit young to be world-weary. It is a little annoying. It is hard not to see it as the voice of Pratchett himself. Particularly given that, as an adult, I now think that this voice isn’t as all-knowing as it thinks it is, that, while mocking the prejudices and inconsistencies of others, it has prejudices and inconsistencies of its own.

I should probably give up on the book (which isn’t particularly funny, the cardinal sin of this sort of thing), but somehow that feels like a betrayal of my teenage self, or maybe a betrayal of Pratchett for the pleasure he gave my teenage self, so I persevere for now.


I think I’ve adapted quickly to having E live with me in my room. Never having room-shared for more than a couple of days, I wondered how I would cope. I think we’re pretty good at giving each other space when we need it. I should probably clear out some stuff from my wardrobes to (a) give E more space and (b) get ready for moving out, but it’s just more things to do.

The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to listen to music when I’m getting dressed, as when I do that, E is either sleeping (work days) or working (other days) and it doesn’t seem right to impose on her. Music does help me getting going when I’ve just woken up and feel down or drained. Because of my own sensory sensitivity to noise and difficulty doing anything if I can hear unwanted noise, I think I assume that E is the same, but she isn’t.


I do feel better for having spent time with E tonight, but there still feels like there is so much to do. I won’t go through all of it again, but I have to phone two estate agents tomorrow to talk about flat-hunting. It does feel better doing this while being married to the woman I love, so I don’t want to sound overly negative, but life doesn’t stop just because you finally got some of it sorted.

The Wedding Part Two: The Ceremony

I actually had a fairly leisurely morning on the morning of the wedding. I even managed to read a few pages of The Guide for the Perplexed over lunch (it was Rosh Chodesh, so I wasn’t fasting as per Jewish custom, although I wouldn’t have fasted on my wedding day for medical reasons).

A couple of friends had got in touch with me in the last few days, one in response to an email I wrote, the other by chance. It felt good to connect with people at this time. Some of my parents’ friends had been in touch in the last few days to give us presents too, which was very nice of them and made me feel accepted even if I knew it was at least partially because of my parents.

The sad news I received shortly before leaving was that someone I knew from my old shul (synagogue) had just died and the funeral was that afternoon. I didn’t know him particularly well, but I knew the friends I had invited from my old shul were very friendly with him and I wondered if they would want to go to the funeral instead of the wedding. As it happened, two of the three friends went to the funeral and came on to the wedding afterwards, missing the ceremony; the other came for the whole of the wedding.

E and I had decided to have photos taken before the ceremony. They are usually taken afterwards, so that the couple don’t see each other in advance. We decided not to follow this custom as we wanted the tea to be over by late afternoon. I felt really comfortable with our photographer and didn’t shake or feel like I was going to shake at all, which surprised me, not even when having my photo taken with E’s relatives who I didn’t know.

I was a bit nervous about meeting new people, or even people I already knew, but was mostly OK and got better as the day went on.

The weather was good, so we were able to have the ceremony outdoors. The wedding was at Stephens House (formerly Avenue House) in Finchley, a Victorian house with large gardens that are mostly open to the public (the parts where the wedding took place were not open). We had the chuppah (wedding canopy where the ceremony is held) outside and the reception and tea party inside.

We had a small tish (gathering where the officiating rabbi gives the groom the ketubah, the wedding certificate), with just me, my father, Brother-in-law, Rabbi L and our other Jewish witness, my rabbi mentor. E’s father was invited, but declined. Whisky was consumed, but I was too nervous and don’t like whisky anyway (even aside from all the meds I’m on). My BIL had been waiting in the room for fifteen minutes because I had told him we were about to start and then realised we were not starting, not knowing that he had already gone up to the room. It felt good being with these people who are important to me.

When the tish was concluded, my parents led me out to the chuppah, followed by E led by her parents. People blew soap bubbles as we came out, which was a nice touch. The chuppah was quite a simple one, which was very tasteful.

The ceremony was fairly short and Rabbi L said some very nice things about E and me. Although the chuppah was in the private part of the park, it was visible from the public part and quite a crowd gathered to watch. Strangely, I was OK with this, even when one of the children present asked if I was about to smash the glass (the most famous part of a Jewish wedding ceremony). One girl was performing cartwheels on the grass, which amused me.

I had felt myself start to cry when my parents led me out, as soon as I saw my oldest friend. I’m not sure if the tears were triggered by seeming him, as we’ve been friends since we were five, nearly 90% of our lifetimes, or if he was just the first friend I saw and I was moved to see so many people who were important in my life and were here to celebrate with us. I held myself together during the ceremony, but when E and I got to the yichud room (the room where the couple are alone for a while which concludes the ceremony) I burst into tears. I felt a bit silly (isn’t it supposed to be the bride who cries at weddings?), but I couldn’t stop. We were in the room for ten minutes or more until I stopped crying. I had never felt so happy in my life.


I feel that the wedding euphoria wore off today. I’m still very happy to be married to E! I just mean the high from the ceremony and party wore off and life felt normal again. I knew this would happen eventually and I slightly dreaded it. I thought something bad would happen to shift gears. In the event, it was just an ordinary day.

We had a family lunch in Golders Green, “we” being E, my parents, Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephew and myself. Sister tried twice to ask us about our minimoon, but we kept being interrupted by someone who shall remain nameless changing the direction of conversation to something involving them. I was somewhat annoyed about this. Maybe on some level, as my therapist suggested, I thought getting married would allow me to renegotiate the dynamic of the family and be heard more, but in the event I wasn’t heard much and E wasn’t heard much either. At least we could engage in public displays of affection while everyone else spoke. Speaking of which, Nephew (now nearly six months old) bestowed about eight beaming smiles on me, far more than he gave to anyone else, so it seems I was his special favourite today. To be honest, I would rather have baby smiles than people talking to me.

We got back from the restaurant pretty late. I did a bit of Torah study, and E and I prepared dinner. I also made a start on the thank you notes for wedding gifts. We watched the final episode of the 2010 season of Doctor Who too, The Big Bang. (I appreciate that the way I’m currently writing this blog, going back to the wedding and forward to the present, is probably analogous to the Steven Moffat’s writing style with time-travel episodes like these, a style that annoyed a lot of people. Sorry.)

Otherwise, I’m feeling both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by life. Overwhelmed by all the things I need to do (we’re house-hunting, I’m going to make another effort at setting myself up as a freelance proofreader and I’d like to start work on my next novel in greater earnest some time), but I think overwhelm in me can manifest in focusing on minutiae, like how many books I own and haven’t read yet (an awful lot), the DVDs E and I want to watch together (quite a lot, some that I’ve seen and want to share with her and some for both of us to watch for the first time, a few she’s seen and I haven’t) and also my quiet, but firm belief that I am really going to hate the forthcoming new Doctor Who episodes for the foreseeable future. There’s a lot to this, but the return of my least favourite Doctor, least favourite companion and a showrunner/head writer I find hugely over-rated and often annoying are the main points, as well as the rapid deterioration of Doctor Who Magazine since Russell T Davies’ return, just like it did the first time he was showrunner. Similarly, I’ve just given up on a book on Doctor Who continuity problems (not engagingly written, massively out of date, and a weird mixture of pedantry and wild imagination) and I have mixed feelings about a Terry Pratchett novel I just started. As a teenager I loved Pratchett and he is still funny, but he simply isn’t as clever as his many adherents claim, and his observational humour depends on his having a sort of sage understanding of the world that he is wittily disclosing to readers and which I think he simply doesn’t have. I also think that Pratchett’s witches are basically Jews, not in an antisemitic way, but in a frustrating way, but that’s another story.  This is a kind of overwhelm (at things to read and watch) and underwhelm (I won’t like these things, or at least the new ones). I guess it can lead to a kind of “analysis paralysis” where I end up wanting to “get through” books and TV rather than enjoy them, because there are too many stories or because I think I simply won’t enjoy them, my tastes being too different from the mainstream. Autistically, I seek the comfort of things I know I like, which is more old TV than modern and familiar books. Ugh, breathe, Luftmentsch, breathe. I don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed. I just want to be whelmed.

I do feel a bit annoyed that there’s yet another bank holiday this week, the third this month, so I’ll be working on Tuesday instead of Monday and missing volunteering. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but, being autistic the disruption is unsettling even without it coming right after the wedding.

The Wedding Part 1: The Auf Ruf

I’m finally beginning to blog the wedding! I’ll do it over a few days as it’s very long.

Friday 19 May

We had a lot of my family over: aside from Mum, Dad and myself, Sister and Brother-in-law came over with Nephew and Uncle, Aunt and Cousins 1, 2 and 4 came from Israel. I didn’t go to shul (synagogue) this evening, as Sister wanted earlier dinner for Nephew’s sake (although he slept through the whole meal in the end) and I wanted to be in bed early too, to make it easier to get up for shul for my auf ruf (being called to the Torah as a groom) on Shabbat (Sabbath) morning. Sister, BIL and Nephew actually came around a bit before Shabbat to drop some stuff off and Nephew was awake then, so I got a couple of dazzling smiles from him. He’s nearly six months old now and beginning to really pay attention to the world around him.

The dinner was good, but I missed E, who decided to stay with her parents elsewhere (we weren’t sticking to the custom for bride and groom not to see each other for a week before the wedding for various reasons). Afterwards, I read some of The Guide for the Perplexed for a brief period for Torah study then read recreationally for a while before bed.

Saturday 20

I did make it to shul fairly early for my auf ruf. Various relatives got aliyot (called to the Torah) too, which was nice. I did have to put up with a couple of well-intentioned, but painful (to me) jokes. When I got to the bimah (Torah reading platform), the warden said I should smile; I was actually struggling with social anxiety in front of the crowd in the shul and worried I was going to do the wrong thing. And someone else later said it was “about time” I got married. I know people don’t know my neurological and mental health struggles or the difficulties I had finding dates, let alone getting married, but this kind of thing is painful. I guess it does make me wonder if any jokes I make are painful to their recipients; probably.

Lunch was good, but there was a heated discussion of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, the part of the Talmud dealing with ethics) between Uncle and Cousins 2 and 4. That side of the family debate/argue very loudly and passionately and I couldn’t get in and found the intensity of discussion too much, so I went to play with Nephew for a bit.

After lunch I slept for three hours. I woke up with a slight headache. The extended family had all gone, so it was just Mum, Dad and me, which was fortunate (you may remember I tried to stop extended family hanging around all afternoon because I knew I would get peopled out). The headache seemed to be getting better, but then, about half an hour before the end of Shabbat, it turned into a full-blown migraine. I took medicine, but it took ages to work, so after Shabbat I spent a while in my parents’ bedroom (mine was too hot), watching The Twilight Zone and feeling sorry for myself. By the time the migraine went and I could get ready for bed, it was very late. I think I got to bed about 2am, and then woke up briefly about 5.30am before falling asleep again. I did get about six hours sleep, which is the minimum I need to function, and it was reasonably refreshing, so things weren’t too bad.

After The Event

I still haven’t blogged the wedding, and I’m not going to do so tonight. I hope to get to it in the coming days. But I wanted to quickly set down some thoughts from Shavuot, the Jewish festival that just passed (the English word is Pentecost, but that confuses people as it has nothing to do with the Christian Pentecost).

Each day of the two-day festival went much the same: I went to shul (synagogue) in the evening, had dinner with my parents and E, read for a bit with E, then went to bed (I didn’t go to tikkun leil (all-night Torah study). In the morning, E dragged me out of bed (almost literally) and I fought sleep disorder-induced exhaustion and social anxiety to get to shul, very late, but still for a chunk of the service and which I enjoyed once I was there, but ate too much in the kiddush afterwards. After lunch, E and I napped, then on the first day, we went on a long walk and on the second day E and Mum went to a women’s tea and Torah event while I stayed at home and read.

It was enjoyable, and E enjoyed it too, but I felt a bit religiously disconnected. On Shavuot we celebrate receiving the Torah, but as I study Torah every day, it can feel hard to connect it to just one day, particularly as I missed the Torah reading in shul due to over-sleeping. I often go through Jewish festivals feeling I should be feeling some kind of noticeable spiritual feeling or connection. Maybe that’s not how it works, either in general or for me with alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions).

Lately I feel like I’m juggling a lot of stuff. A lot of this is in the wake of my wedding, but also two years after my autism diagnosis I’m still trying to understand what that means for me, especially for my Jewish life. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m juggling, or soon will be juggling, practical things like writing wedding thank you notes, finding somewhere to live with E and trying to set up a secondary career as a freelance proofreader and editor. At the same time, I’m trying to find the right balance between the Jewish life I want (which would feature quite a bit of prayer and Torah study) with the wider life I want (doing stuff with E and writing fiction) and balancing that against my various current diagnoses (autism, sleep apnoea, social anxiety, alexithymia).

I used to feel that, with my current and past diagnoses, my life has been a bedieved, something that is only religiously justified after the event. As in, you shouldn’t pray with no intention to concentrate, but, bedieved, after the event, if you prayed and your mind wandered, that would be OK and you shouldn’t repeat the prayers. I felt that the life I was living was not an ideal frum (religious Jewish) life and was only permitted because I was depressed, autistic, living with less religious family, etc, etc.

Now I’m married to E, I very much feel that our marriage is NOT a bedieved, that we are supposed to be together. But if we are supposed to be together, then the things that brought us together were supposed to happen too, which largely means our various diagnoses. Which in turn means that my life wasn’t/isn’t a bedieved. Which means God wants me to live this life, with all the ways it is imperfect from a strictly frum perspective. I don’t quite know what this means for me. I’ve discussed it/am discussing it with my rabbi mentor and also with a rabbi from the Ma’aglei Nefesh rabbinic mental health service, but I feel I’m still finding my way forward between wanting to study Torah and pray, but also wanting (or rather needing) to work and to build my life with E without burning out again, as well as to do things that matter to me and help keep me mentally health, like blogging and fiction writing, and also reading fiction and watching the TV programmes that help me switch off.

It would be nice to have a snappy conclusion here, but I don’t have one. I’m a work in progress and this is a topic I keep returning to here. But maybe I am inching forward; at any rate, being married to E does feel like a big positive change, even if I am not sure exactly what the ramifications are at this stage.

Back to Reality

E and I are back from our “minimoon” (mini-honeymoon, slightly silly term)! We had an amazing wedding and really enjoyed our two day Hendon/Golders Green break afterwards. Surprisingly, I didn’t get burnt out! I felt a bit tired today and disinclined to do very much. I really don’t feel ready for work tomorrow and then into Yom Tov (festival) and then Mum’s family birthday celebration on Sunday and a ton of other stuff still to do, so I don’t know when I’m going to catch up with blogging. I do intend to blog the wedding and the mini-moon, as well as the auf ruf Shabbat, (Sabbath before the wedding), albeit keeping some stuff private, but I think it’s going to take a while.

There’s a “back to reality” feel today. My Dad and my cousin moved some furniture around while E and I were minimooning and put a second bed into my bedroom to function with my old one as a double bed. It’s a bit cramped, and E is still using the spare bedroom for clothes and to work in (although this may change), but it’s good, albeit a bit weird, to be sharing bedroom space. I’ve never really shared bedroom space in my life, at least not in an ongoing way, and my bedroom has always been my private sanctuary away from others, so it’s going to take some getting used to. Sleeping in the same bed as E has been wonderful so far. Possibly too wonderful, as this morning we woke up surprisingly early, decided to snuggle for a bit, then both fell asleep and by the time we woke up again, the morning was nearly over!

What surprised me a bit today is the momentum the wedding still has. I thought things would get back to normal, but I spent a long time today dealing with most (not all) of the emails that piled up since Friday and not much else, other than therapy and a walk to the library with E. There are still thank you notes to write; photos (professional and amateur) to download, save, print, store and, in some cases, send to friends and family; cheques to bank and (more excitingly) leftover desserts to eat before they go off (we gave a ton away to a worthy cause). That’s alongside other things related to for this major life change, such as finding a place to live away from my parents and trying to set up a proofreading side-job. And I’ve done little religious study or recreational reading lately; I have a couple of autism books to read; the pile of research books for my novel still sits on my desk while the notes for it on my phone grows larger and larger and need to be integrated to the initial story plan on my laptop before writing; and on and on and on (as ABBA sang). Oh, and we want to have a “real” honeymoon at some point! I do think it will be some months before I come out of this phase of life and reach a “new normal.”

I don’t want to sound negative, because being married has been amazing so far. We just feel so right together, and so calm (bear in mind both of us are given to worry, anxiety and catastrophising, so this is a big thing). We really do both think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done, even if it’s probably the scariest thing too. And the photographer already sent us some “sneak peek” photos, and put one on her work Instagram!

Pre-Wedding Angst

E has gone to spend time with her best friend (the one I saw, but couldn’t hear, in the noisy restaurant earlier in the week) and then to stay with her parents in a rented flat in Fulham until the wedding, not so that we don’t see each other as per Jewish custom (we’re doing photos before the ceremony,  so we will see each other before the wedding anyway) and more to get away from my extended family, who are going to be here for Shabbat, although thankfully not actually staying in the house, just eating here.


E is really stressed and not happy about how much is going on, which makes me feel very guilty. I know I’ve been over this a lot, here and elsewhere, but it’s only through going through the wedding experience that I’ve realised how like me E is in terms of dealing (or not dealing) with stress and peopling. I’m so used to being the one who struggles with these things that it didn’t really occur to me that my spouse would be the same, particularly as E is a lot better at masking and peopling than I am. This is further complicated by her having suspected ADHD as well as suspected autism (AuDHD), as that adds a load of character traits that are very unlike me (like very changeable emotions and need for regular diversion) so it’s really hard for me to understand her sometimes. So I do feel guilty for having this celebration, but then again, I’ve done stuff for her that was out of my comfort zone (like our civil wedding celebration), so maybe it balances out. I hope so.

I probably spent too much of my single life reading marriage tips on frum websites. I thought it would help me prepare for marriage, but I’m not sure it did. Those sites talk a lot about compromise as the foundation for marriage, but frame it that compromise is always possible. They don’t talk about what happens if something is really important to one spouse, but really difficult for the other, with no obvious middle ground.

I also do need to read about ADHD and, if I can find anything on it, AuDHD (there doesn’t seem to be much information out there, and until recently the fact that you can have both disorders at once was not recognised by the medical profession) as I need to learn more.


I feel quite stressed and a bit anxious too, which is unsurprising, about the wedding and about Shabbat with my large and boisterous family, worrying about how much sleep I’ll get tonight and whether I’ll get up in time for shul tomorrow and so on. I was persuaded not to go to shul (synagogue) tonight, even though I wanted to do so, so we could eat earlier, which will benefit me (assuming we actually eat quickly and not just early, which remains to be seen), but was done to help Sister and Nephew rather than me. I have said I don’t want a three-course meal (no soup), as we would usually have on Friday night to finish eating earlier, which Mum initially didn’t agree with. These are both probably the right thing to do, but is just another case of the wedding highlighting my inability to determine when to compromise and what are my legitimate boundaries to enforce.

I feel down and vaguely depressed too, which I know is also normal on reaching a rite of passage, and when I know E is stressed and down, but it’s still hard to deal with and triggers guilt for feeling down when I “should” be happy.


My parents’ shul (synagogue), which is now E and my shul, forgot to wish us mazal tov in the weekly newsletter. This is similar to my bar mitzvah, when the newsletter of my shul (a different shul) said I was leining (reading from the Torah) much less than I actually was doing (I leined the whole sedra and haftarah). This kind of thing happens to me a lot. I just hope they remember to call me up tomorrow for my auf ruf and that everything else connected with the wedding goes OK. So far things have mostly gone well. Still, it does reinforce my feelings that I’m mostly forgettable and don’t really belong in the frum world, a world that I’m struggling to get back into post-COVID and post-diagnosis.

Insecurities; Or No One Belongs Here Less Than You

I woke up feeling peopled out after yesterday, drained, a little anxious and somewhat irritable. It makes me a bit worried about the weekend, my family being here for Shabbat (I envy E being in West London for Shabbat a little) and then the wedding on Sunday. I do still want the party as we’re having it, but I’m very aware it’s not a no-cost situation for me. At least E and I have two nights in a hotel (in Hendon…) to decompress afterwards.

I got up at a not-totally-crazy time, but after helping take in the weekly Tesco order, I had to lie down in a dark, quiet room for forty-five minutes to get into some kind of working state of mind. I just felt burnt out after yesterday. I did some Torah study and had therapy (online, as always), but experienced some anxiety and kept getting interrupted by wedding stuff, so I didn’t get much else done, but also didn’t get to relax and recover before dinner with E, her parents, her best friend, and her best friend’s father.

E and her parents were in town today, so I went to the restaurant by myself. I got lost and when I found the right road, I ran into E and her parents. E asked me about the wedding cake that we have now ordered, even though it’s not really what she wanted. She is worried about getting a “tacky” cake that will make people judge her taste negatively, even though she didn’t order the cake in the first place. I feel like I don’t really know what would count as “tacky” and, in any case, the baker isn’t running designs past us at this short notice. I worry that the cake will indeed be tacky and E will be upset.

This started a negative thought spiral of thinking about people judging me. I feel that, given the spread of people coming to this wedding (even though it’s pretty small), some will judging aspects of the wedding as proof that I’m going off the derekh (stopping being religious) and others will be judging me to be some crazy religious maniac. This, I guess, is what happens if you try to have a diverse friend and family group and accept people as they are regardless of their religious or political beliefs. I’m not too worried about being judged tacky, but I maybe that just shows I value religious devotion (genuine religious devotion, not the fake kind that is much easier to find) more than aesthetic taste.

Over the evening, I spiralled further into feeling that I was a FAILURE, that I vaguely thought about being an academic and FAILED at that, that I tried to be an academic librarian and FAILED at that too, that I FAILED at working full-time, FAILED at getting a vaguely decent job at all, FAILED at being religious, FAILED at fitting into the frum (religious Jewish) community, FAILED at writing and self-publishing, FAILED at proofreading…

I feel that E’s family are a lot more educated and sophisticated than mine, or than me. I like to think I’m well-read and know things about literature, history and a bit about politics, economics and philosophy (not that I share these thoughts much, because of social anxiety, but I know things). But E’s family seem to be on a whole other level of sophistication regarding things like food, music and art. I would not know about a tacky cake and I don’t know that anyone in my family would.

The irony is that I guess E’s parents are the type of people I would have wanted for parents when I was a child, when I was being silenced for being an “intellectual elitist” whenever I tried to talk about anything I saw as interesting, but now I know them, I’m too socially anxious and too afraid of seeming weird and meshugah frum (insanely religious) to say much.

Lately I’ve been thinking that I need to stop thinking of my life as a bedieved, rabbinic Hebrew for something valid only after the event, when the best option has failed (FAILED) to be done properly. It is hard to see that, sometimes (often). It is hard to see my job history as something meaningful and good, or my academic history as anything other than patchy, or my religious life as anything other than far from ideal (even if relying on genuine leniencies for disability). I’m holding on to the idea of my marriage to E being something that is valid for itself, in the first instance, not as Plan B after something else failed. And I suppose that entails that a lot of other things that happened that seemed like failures must have been necessary after all. But it’s a hard paradigm to shift. I’m just used to looking at myself as a failure, after so many years/decades of apparent failure not to mention the expectations of at least two different cultures.

Anyway, the evening was something of a FAILURE in itself, not through anyone’s fault. The music in the restaurant was incredibly loud. It felt more like a nightclub than a restaurant. I asked twice for it to be turned down and said both times that I had sensory issues and both the waiters I asked said they would turn it down, but it didn’t happen. Probably they went away wondering at my sense of privilege and entitlement in thinking I could demand something like that (more judging). I couldn’t hear what was being said and felt physically uncomfortable the whole time. I literally do not know what everyone was talking about, I could not hear more than occasional words, except for a historical anecdote E’s father tried to tell, but never finished because the food arrived. I felt the food was OK, but not really worth the high price tag, although other people thought more highly of it.

To be honest, if the idea was for me to get to know E’s best friend, inviting her father and both E’s parents was probably going to make it hard for me to join in anyway, as, like most autistics, I find conversation gets harder exponentially with the number of people added to a group. E’s friend seemed nice, though and it would be good to meet her again in a less fraught environment. Unfortunately, she’s only here until Tuesday and lives somewhere remote where we’re unlikely to go. The options are to see her on our two day “mini-moon” (which I’m not keen on because (a) I expect to be fairly burnt out after the wedding and (b) it’s our honeymoon, I don’t really want a gooseberry) or to organise a Zoom at some point, which I would have suggested before now if I’d thought of earlier.

E is working late tonight, so I’m going to read Lord Peter Wimsey and/or watch The Twilight Zone to try to decompress as I still don’t feel great. I’m off work tomorrow as I thought I would need a break before the weekend, but I still need to write my wedding speech (which I’m not 100% I’m going to deliver, but I want to have the option) and doubtless there will be wedding stuff I’m supposed to deal with. I also need to phone (dread word) the dentist to move my appointment next week as I’m working now and try to chase the psychiatrist appointment I was promised for June, which has not materialised (surprise surprise, NHS, etc.).

Five Days

There’s a lot going on, as you can guess. I don’t really have time to write, but I need to process some things.

E and I went to Golders Green on Sunday and she bought me a new tallit (prayer shawl). There is a custom for a woman to buy her groom a new tallit before the wedding. This is because in most Ashkenazi (Northern/Eastern European) communities, men don’t wear a tallit until they’re married. As it happens, I’ve worn one for years, partly because I sort of identify as a Yekke (German Jew) (I’m only one-eighth Yekkish, but I identify with the stereotypical Yekkish traits of decorum, precision, punctuality and scrupulous honesty), partly because I thought I was never going to get married, but mostly because the book To Pray as a Jew said it was a rather silly and ungrounded custom and the mitzvah (commandment) of wearing a tallit during prayer was too important to pass up. But E and I both thought a new tallit will look better in the wedding photographs (I will wear it during the wedding ceremony), so we got one. We got a nice one. Afterwards we went for lunch in a new Israeli-style cafe. It was rather noisy, but the food and atmosphere were good. We tried to get me a new tie for the wedding, but couldn’t find anything we liked, so I’m going to wear a tie I already own that will go well. We made tacos in the evening.

Monday was a work day, and a dull one at that. In the evening, E and I watched Vincent and the Doctor, one of the better episodes from Matt Smith’s first season of Doctor Who. It features Vincent Van Gogh and deals sensitively with depression. Not the easiest watch, but an important episode

Today E, her parents and I went to Tate Modern art gallery, which I’d never been to before. We went to see the Klimt and Mondrian exhibition. It took me a while to warm to it. I wasn’t conscious of feeling stressed about the wedding, but I found it hard to get into the right headspace for the exhibition. I did find some paintings I liked, though. After a while, I started getting a weird synaesthesia, where I didn’t hear the colours, but I heard the shapes, weird sounds (like 1960s science fiction) and then music (mostly theme music from TV or films probably triggered by association of shapes). Afterwards we browsed some of the other galleries, although I didn’t see a lot that really spoke to me. I’m not opposed to abstract art or even conceptual art, but I do wonder if some artists are just seeing what they can get away with. I can imagine some of them privately laughing at how much money they can get for a found object or a pile of sand.

In the evening the four of us met with my parents for dinner at a kosher Chinese restaurant. We had a good time, although I didn’t say much. I’m glad my parents get along so well with E’s parents; I feel that it shows that at least some people in this family are normal. That said, E’s father is a lot like me, except that I’m religious and he’s very much not religious.

The wedding preparation is mostly going OK, except that the cake, which should be the easiest thing, has turned into a nightmare. I’m too tired to go into the details.

There’s a lot happening that I haven’t written, because I don’t have time or I can’t remember (I have poor autobiographical memory) or it’s too private. But I feel mostly OK. Anyway, we get married in FIVE DAYS. Which is ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY HOURS (less now).

An Anthropologist on Mars

We had a quiet Shabbat (Sabbath) at home. I was too exhausted to go to shul (synagogue) last night or this morning. E was too tired too. We slept a lot and read quite a bit (in my case, mostly Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers by Aviva Gottleib Zornberg and more of Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy L. Sayers). We didn’t go for a walk as the weather was grim. I was OK with things, but E wishes she could have got out the house.

I also read some of An Adult with an Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Gillan Drew, which I borrowed from the library on Friday, even though I’m not newly diagnosed. I’m really just skimming it as I know a lot of what’s written in it (and some of what’s written strikes me as questionable). However, there were some metaphors for understanding autism that seemed useful.

One, which originated with Temple Grandin is that an autistic is “an anthropologist on Mars.” That rather than intuitively fitting in to allistic (non-autistic) society, we just watch and study. This is not an entirely new idea to me. What was new to me was the fact that I do this in Jewish society as well.

I have so much book learning about Judaism, Jewish history and Jewish culture that I assumed that I know all about the Jewish world and the frum (religious Jewish) world and that my problems fitting in to them were because of general autistic issues like not knowing how to start conversations or sensory overload in crowded spaces. But I probably don’t really understand much of the way Jewish and frum society works, certainly not in an intuitive way. I’ve never really grasped things like “Jewish geography” or shul politics. I am an anthropologist studying Orthodox Jews as much as an Orthodox Jew living a Jewish life. No wonder so much of my religious life takes place away from the usual centres of community such as the shul and the beit midrash (study hall), being located at home instead.

I wonder if I will ever manage to fit in to the frum community. I did manage to fit in better in the past, but that was when various other things in my life were different, when I had fewer responsibilities, more time and was generally in a different situation (better in some ways, worse in others).

There probably is more to say about this, but I’m too tired to write it tonight.

Beating Myself Up

I feel exhausted today. I’m not sure if I’m going to shul (synagogue) tonight, especially as E would like me to go with her tomorrow morning. I’m not sure I have the energy to go twice in fifteen or so hours. I feel like I get exhausted too easily. I know I’m autistic, but I still have stuff to do. I’m worried about the peopling I have to do in the next week or so and might have to skip some of it. E says I can, which is good, but I don’t want to unless I have to. On the plus side, we are getting married in ten days!

We are mostly there with the preparation. E and I collected the wedding rings today and E took her wedding dress to be adjusted to make it less revealing. E has really struggled to find something that (a) she likes that and is in her style, that is (b) is suitable for an Orthodox Jewish wedding and (c) in her price range. She got very frustrated about the fact that even dresses that are very modest in most ways seem to always have one “sexy” feature inappropriate for an Orthodox wedding, like no back or low cleavage. She can’t see the point of it. Unfortunately, because we are moving quickly from E moving to the UK to the wedding, and because E didn’t want to get a dress in the US and bring it over, E has been doing this to a tight deadline and with little time for alterations and definitely no time for a tailor-made dress.


I said something stupid the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. I also said some stupid things when collecting the wedding rings from the jeweller just now. (I was very anxious, but I’m not sure what was cause and what was effect there.) This is where autistic monotropic focus (intense focus on one thing) is awful. I just focus on mistakes and beat myself up for things that were not that serious. My therapist told me to be kind to self the other day, but I struggle to do that.

On the autism forum (which I seem to have gone back to, at least until there is more drama), someone asked what advice you would give your younger self. I said, “I’d say ‘Accept you’re not perfect and don’t beat yourself up about everything. Also, accept you’re autistic and be realistic in your personal goals.’ But I still need to make myself understand those things as my current self, so I’m not sure what my younger self would make of them.”

I was also thinking about feeling inadequate compared to other Orthodox Jews. I feel I don’t daven (pray) or study Torah enough, either quantatively, in terms of time spent, or qualitatively, in terms of things like praying at shul rather than at home or studying Talmud instead of Tanakh. But then I was thinking about a recent argument on the Orthodox Conundrum Facebook group about whether all Jews should live in Israel and it seemed very obvious to me that God doesn’t automatically think that I’m religiously inferior to another Jew just because I don’t fulfil the commandment to live in the land of Israel and they do. So it seems I don’t automatically feel inferior to other Jews, just about certain things. In fact, I even felt that God doesn’t really see people in terms of superior/inferior, but then I realised that I don’t always act like that is true, I think I’m meaningfully inferior.

Two Autistics Walk Into a Social Event

I used to blog my day in obsessive detail. I’m currently just blogging the highlights, or sometimes the lowlights. This is probably better, but autistic monotropic (single-focus) mind gets focused on details.

I went for my pre-wedding haircut on Wednesday. It was only the second professional haircut I’ve had since the pandemic started in 2020. The previous one was before my civil wedding last August. My parents think the haircut is a bit short. To be fair, I know my hair usually looks short when cut, which is why I got it cut a week and a half in advance, so it can grow out a bit. Not cutting it so short would have left it too long, I think. I do worry about my kippah (skullcap) and the clips holding it being too visible in the photos, so I might have to take it off then. I didn’t shake, but I do realise now that I hate having other people touch my hair and I’m surprised it took me so long to realise this was an autistic thing. (Sometimes kids would pat my frizzy hair at school; if I was black, this would now be considered a micro-aggression.)

I had therapy on Wednesday too, which was helpful, although the main thing I remember from it is just to be kind to myself at the moment, even if that means eating slightly more junk food than normal. It’s hard. As I’ve noted before, I tend to equate ‘being kind to myself’ with ‘turning into a lazy, greedy narcissist’ and back away from it. I think therapy was helpful even if I didn’t remember all of it. I think there’s an unconscious effect from a good session.

Thursday was another dull day at work. In the evening, E and I went to an event for Jewish newlyweds and nearly-weds (a term I just made up for people who are getting married soon). The food was good, but we struggled to talk to people. It really brought home to me how similar E is to me and how likely it is that she’s autistic too. She did a bit better than me: she started some conversations with other people (I definitely needed help with this) and was better at making small talk, but she also struggled with it and we spent quite a while standing and eating by ourselves and telling each other how out of place we felt. I had the extra problem of sensory overload, so even when we spoke to people, I couldn’t really hear what they were saying. We do both wonder how people make friends at events like these: between struggling to start conversations, sensory overload and unawareness of the “protocols” for exchanging personal information, we did not come away with any new friends. I don’t think I shook visibly while talking to people, but I felt I was about to shake a couple of times, resulting in some awkward (to me, I don’t know if anyone else noticed) pauses while I was mid-sentence as I tried not to shake.

I did think E was the most beautiful woman at the event. Some would say I’m biased, but I think this is an objective assessment.

There were some speeches, one from the Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Mirvis, and one from an American-Israeli basketball player who refused to play on Shabbat (the Sabbath) (shades of Chariots of Fire, which I’ve never actually seen). They were both funny and interesting, the former talking about the role he played in the king’s coronation ceremony and the acceptance of Jews and Judaism by British society, the latter about fulfilling his dream of playing professional basketball without compromising on his religious principles. I didn’t feel completely comfortable with it, though. I felt that there was some survivorship bias: obviously they don’t ask the people who fail to live their dreams while living a Jewish life to speak, and it’s probably easier to get people to make adjustments for you if you’re a leading national religious leader or an incredibly talented sportsman than if you’re just an ordinary person who wants to leave work early on Fridays in the winter to be home before sunset.


I want to write a speech in case I decide to deliver it at the wedding and I sort of know what I want to say, but every time I set aside time to write it, I lose that time to something else. Possibly there’s some kind of psychological block at work here stopping me from getting down to it.


Now I’m exhausted and trying to work out if I should watch TV to unwind for a bit or just go to bed. I do feel really tired, but I don’t know if I’ll sleep without relaxation.

The Sequel No One Wanted To See

Sunday was a hard day. I experienced strong anxiety. My religious OCD is trying to creep back in too. E and I went out to get a birthday present for Mum. We also did some grocery shopping, as E likes to browse in grocery shops for fun. On the way home, some stuff came to a head about my religious OCD and some other things centred on the wedding and our relationship. It was mostly stuff about it being harder than we expected to deal with a whole bunch of extra stressors most couples don’t have to deal with. Harder for both of us. Getting married is hard, even without immigration (for E), religious differences, neurodivergence (diagnosed for me, suspected for her), mental health issues (for both of us) and having to live with my parents (both of us, but harder for her). So we are both dealing with a lot. Anyway, we didn’t argue, we just talked it through. It was a painful conversation, but a necessary one and things feel better.

I feel particularly bad about having the wedding party, which is really just for me. E would rather have had a small wedding and a party later in the year, once she’s settled. I didn’t really understand what she was saying or why until recently, nor did I realise exactly what immigration would entail for her in practice. I knew intellectually, in an abstract way, but that’s not the same. So I feel bad about putting her through this. On the other hand, E is now very invested in having the party the way she wants, given that she has to have one. She has strong ideas about the wedding, even though she doesn’t really want the party, whereas I want the party, but am willing to go with the flow on many decisions. Even if I do have wants, if someone says, “What do you want for X?” my mind will go into autistic shutdown and I don’t know what to think, which doesn’t help anyone. We have now realised that conversations go better if E says, “Do you want A, B or C for X?” Give me a choice from two or three clear options, not a blank slate. But it’s taken us a while to reach that understanding.

The other thing I felt bad about was the return of the OCD, which I observed recently, but didn’t do enough to stop. I clearly wasn’t as in control as I thought I was. We did set some boundaries about that, mostly regarding checking that things are kosher, which E experiences as a sign that I don’t trust her to buy kosher foods. I think this is a reasonable feeling on her part and I’m upset that I hurt her, even though I know I was experiencing strong obsessive and compulsive thoughts. I think I need to appoint someone as my accountability partner. I would normally ask E, but that would be a bad idea here, as I would have to tell her every time I resisted checking something was kosher, not to mention if I actually gave in to the compulsion and checked. I’ll probably ask my Mum, as she is aware of kashrut OCD from my earlier bout (when I was mostly checking on her). The accountability partner is important, as I sometimes will need moral support not to check and positive reinforcement when I manage not to check.

When I had religious OCD first time around, I thought that some of my problem was that my view of God was punitive, as opposed to a loving God. But on reflection, I’m not sure that this was the problem. I don’t think I see God as particularly punitive. I do worry a bit about being punished, but it’s not a huge worry. It’s more that my view of God is too abstract. I do believe in a personal God Who cares about individuals, at least on paper, but unchecked my mind drifts towards see God as transcendent, remote and unaffected by humanity, certainly by me. I suppose it comes from a rather rationalistic, Maimonidean approach to religion, not to mention a reaction (or over-reaction) against conceptions of God that seem to me to be too anthropomorphic, not to mention convenient, in the sense of a “Divine Best Friend” God Who helps out His favoured children with miracles regardless of the moral worth of those involved, not to mention any kind of long-term divine plan for the individual or mankind as a whole. I find this attitude in parts of the Orthodox world as well as the wider world and I find it childish and lacking in morality. I believe in a God Who says “No” sometimes, although I possibly believe He says it more than is actually the case.

In addition, years of feeling depressed and burnt out probably had the effect of making me think that God just wouldn’t answer my prayers for myself and maybe it was a mistake to think that He would, that I should just stick to the set prayers, which are generally for communal, not individual, benefit. Except now He has answered my prayers (or some of them), so maybe I should reconsider this.

I used to be quite into the writings of twentieth century theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who wrote about divine concern, that God has concern for human beings, concern which is strongly moral. This is perhaps a better way to see things. Lately I’ve been trying to focus in my prayers not on God as a distant King, but as Someone I am talking to, really in a casual way. I try to say my prayers as if I’m spontaneously saying them, rather than reading the same words from a siddur (prayerbook) three times a day. It’s probably not ideal, but it seems to have helped my kavannah (mindfulness) in prayer somewhat.


To return to the main point, I think it’s worth noting that E and I don’t really argue. We tend to discuss things rather than argue, albeit that we also have some silent bits before or during the discussion, which I think is more processing time than passive aggression, although I guess it come across as passive aggression.

The bottom line is that we both love each other a lot and want to give to each other. We both have things we wish we could have done differently, but we just have to keep going forward now. In two weeks’ time at least some of these things will be over and we can concentrate on building our new life together.

Emotional Support Humans

It is two weeks to the wedding today. My mood is still all over the place, with some excitement, some anxiety about the final two weeks of preparations and the amount of peopling I’ve committed to doing in the week leading up to the wedding and some anxiety about how E and I will adapt to living together – and especially how we will cope living in my parents’ house for the immediate future.

To be honest, there’s a lot of anxiety right now. Alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my emotions) is actually a big issue here, as I recognise, and get stuck in, negative emotions a lot more than positive ones, so that can skew my feelings about a situation into more negative territory than it’s actually in. It’s probably why I am more conscious of anxious feelings right now rather than excited ones, rather than my actually being more anxious than excited. I guess it’s good to recognise that that can happen. I think I also do a thing whereby I feel something intensely negative (anxiety, despair), so I assume something intensely negative has happened, or is happening, or will happen, even though it doesn’t logically follow, particularly not when your emotions are somewhat crazy like mine (massively skewed towards the negative).

I am a little nervous about the party, even though it’s relatively small (we’re catering for forty-six people including E, myself, the musician and the photographer, but excluding Nephew). I’m more nervous about the meals with my family and E’s family (separately and together) beforehand, as well as with E’s best friend. It will be possible to skip some of those if I’m peopled out, but I am reluctant to do so, as I want to meet the important people in E’s life away from the wedding party, where we won’t be able to talk to anyone for long. I worry a bit about the effect of doing this over several days culminating in the wedding, which I obviously can’t skip, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way around that. It was probably silly of me to expect people to come from all over the world and not see me until the wedding day.

I do hope E enjoys the wedding, even though I know that she may not and that she is really only doing it for me. It is important for me to do it, though.

I think the question of how E and I will learn to live together is the big anxiety, especially how we will negotiate our religious differences. It’s hard for me to sort out which religious practices are important and which are less important, to find where I can compromise. I worry about becoming religiously lax, but I also worry about being too rigid and alienating E. I would like to talk to my rabbi mentor about this before the wedding, but it’s becoming hard to connect.


The last few days: on Thursday E and I went on a date night (or late afternoon) in Golders Green  after work. We did a lot of things we both like: browsed a charity shop (and picked up a copy of classic war/fantasy/romance film A Matter of Life and Death on DVD; neither of us have seen it), went to the kosher supermarket (that was more for E than for me), got falafel and ate outside, went home by bus, sitting at the front of the top deck and then watched Doctor Who when we got home. Listening to my voice as we sat on the almost empty upper deck of the bus, I sound a lot happier and more confident when I’m with E than when I’m not.

I managed to get to shul (synagogue) on Friday night, which was a relief, as I’ve been struggling to go lately. Even more surprisingly, E managed to get me up in time to go to shul for some of the Saturday morning service! We got there in time for the special prayers for the King’s coronation. There was alarge Union Jack on the front of the wardens’ box and bunting in the Kiddush hall, with scones at kiddush. In the afternoon it rained and we slept too much. Afterwards I did some Torah study and read some of the Lord Peter Wimsey short story collection I’m currently reading (Lord Peter Views the Body). It’s not as good as the novels.

Today we went out for a walk and ran into some street parties, apparently thrown by frum Jews who wouldn’t go to street parties on Shabbat. Otherwise it was difficult: I was very anxious and low. It helps being around E or even my parents. I guess anything to avoid sitting with my thoughts and catastrophising. E says that we’re each other’s “emotional support humans,” which is probably true.

Shanah Rishonah

I wrote a whole post on Sunday, then decided I shouldn’t post it publicly or even for friends and posted it privately so only I could see instead, as a private journal record. Today, I’ve just done the same thing. I feel totally overwhelmed with wedding stress and the stress of having E live with my parents, where I feel caught between the two. They don’t even get on badly, they just have different wants and needs. I am a people-pleaser and want to please everyone, but I can’t always do it.

I had therapy today and felt good, but now I feel overwhelmed again. It doesn’t help that the things that upset/stress out/worry me are not the things upsetting/stressing out/worrying E which makes me feel like a bad husband. E told me earlier that it would be hard for something to upset her so much that she wanted to leave the relationship, which should reassure me, but my attachment issues seem pretty pervasive despite this.

To be honest, between the wedding and just living in a house with three other people, there are a LOT of decisions coming up and my autistic brain is getting overloaded. Autistic executive function issues tend to mean that I struggle with decisions anyway and dealing with so many in so short a period of time is difficult, especially as it’s not always clear which ones are important and which can be left to other people or chance. I want to say, “You decide,” but depending on who I ask out of E, Mum and Dad there will be a very different answer that might upset the other two, so then the decision becomes, “Who do I authorise to take this decision?”

My mood goes up and down across the day with anxiety and low mood (not quite depression) alternating with feeling fine. The result of mood shifts, plus living with my parents and E at once (learning how to live with E, in fact), is feeling autistic exhaustion at times, particularly if there are other things that can set it off. I don’t really have good coping strategies for dealing with anxiety, aside from letting myself listen to music despite the omer and trying to spend time with E away from wedding stress and religious triggers. When I’m actually with E, there’s a lot less anxiety. The anxiety comes when I’m alone, particularly at work.

There’s a concept in Judaism of “shanah rishonah” the “first year” of a marriage. In the Torah, this refers to an exemption from religious conscription for newlyweds. In modern terms, yeshivah students are exempted from night classes to spend time with their wives and adjust to the new family dynamic. It’s accepted that the first year can be bumpy as two people learn to live together (bearing in mind they won’t have lived together before). E and I aren’t religiously married yet, but we are living together for the first time and it’s not always straightforward.

Weekend Update

We had a quiet Shabbat (Sabbath). I was exhausted by the time Shabbat came in and didn’t go to shul (synagogue). I feel frustrated by how exhausted I get and don’t know how to change it, not least because I don’t know how much is sleep apnoea and how much is or autistic exhaustion or something else, perhaps connected with my blood sugar issue. E and I went for a longish walk on Shabbat afternoon, about an hour. Afterwards, we played Scrabble with my parents. E won. I came second, but was pleased with playing ‘hex’.

Today E and I went to Hyde Park. We went on the bus. There’s a bus that goes from near where we live to Marble Arch (at the edge of Hyde Park). The journey takes quite a long time, even with little traffic. E likes long bus journeys, so we went and sat on the upper deck. We had a picnic at Hyde Park and then wandered around for a bit, mainly around The Serpentine lake, which isn’t very serpentine in my opinion. There was a fair amount of activity around Speaker’s Corner: missionaries (Christian and Muslim), gender-critical feminists and trans activists (and a lot of police to separate them) and a few cranks.

On the way back home, we got off the bus near Swiss Cottage and walked up some of Finchley Road, going in a lot of charity shops. I picked up two books, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale) and Facebook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy, which might be useful for research for my novel.

When we got home, E and I did some wedding planning stuff. We both had headaches at different times, which wasn’t good. Mine was probably from wedding stress and E’s may have been too. I thought mine had gone, but it seems to have come back, along with a neck ache. We watched Doctor Who in the evening, Time of the Angels, which reminded me that I do like some new Who. I should probably be heading for bed. It was definitely a good day.

Fragile and Vulnerable

This week has been very stressful, mostly with wedding stuff and E’s immigration, but also with me making quite a big mistake at work. I’m not going to go into all the stress publicly. I do feel very exhausted and a bit fragile and vulnerable now. I do still feel like a driver in a snow storm, fighting through my emotions without being able to see them clearly. My rabbi mentor said it’s very, very normal to be experiencing a lot of emotions and some meltdowns this close to the wedding and I shouldn’t see them as red flags, but I do sometimes wonder how I, an autistic person who struggles with change, uncertainty, emotions and empathy (too much emotional empathy (soaking up other people’s emotions and being disregulated and confused by them) alongside too little cognitive empathy (putting myself in other people’s position to help them)) am going to cope with the biggest change and uncertainty of my life, alongside a lot of big emotions and a need for cognitive empathy alongside someone who is a strong sender of her own emotions. But that’s kind of why I want to get married, because I think it will lead to growth in these areas, and why I could only marry E, because this would only feel safe and doable with her. Sometimes there’s the feeling of, “Is this going to work, given our mutual neurodivergence, mental health issues and related low economic status?” but it certainly wouldn’t work with anyone else.

I’m looking forward to Shabbat with E. We are also now closer to our wedding than to first night seder just gone, which is exciting and scary all at once.


E’s BPR document, which basically authorises her to re-enter the country if she leaves it and allows her to access healthcare, was mistakenly returned to the Home Office by the Post Office, so she had to wait in to get it by courier. She was told to wait in for TEN DAYS, because apparently delivery companies and supermarkets can tell you the day or even the hour something will be delivered, but the Home Office can’t even tell you the week. She was, understandably, depressed and angry at the thought of being under house arrest for a week and a half. Fortunately, the BPR arrived today (day two), which was a great relief.


I got some chewable glucose tablets (raspberry flavour) for when I suddenly feel faint, exhausted and light-headed. The first one worked well, the second one not so much. I would like to work out the reason I seem to get these sudden drops in blood sugar (or whatever it is), but the doctor doesn’t seem that interested in working it out. I hope the glucose tablets can at least cut some unnecessary calories when I experience a blood sugar drop without being hungry.


E and I just baked brownies. We’re not sure if they’re too gooey. We’ll have to wait for dinner to find out.


I don’t have a lot else to say that I can say publicly. I’m coping, we’re moving forward, it’s hard, but we’re getting there. I guess there could be worse ways to finish a post.

Wedding Anxiety

Apologies to those of you who already know some of this. The last few days have been quite intense for E and me, with some good times, but a lot of wedding and post-wedding stress and anxiety. I’m not going to go into all of it, but an area we felt would be a good place for us to live turned out to be really, really bad for us and our needs. On top of this were a number of other wedding-related hassles, mostly small in themselves, but cumulatively hard to cope with. I feel a bit panicked about getting everything done in time now we’re less than a month away from the big day. We’ve both had some anxiety and I’ve been struggling with wanting to “fix” E’s anxiety for her, but knowing that I can’t do that.

I’ve been going slowly the last two days. When I’m feeling emotionally disregulated (like now), I act like a driver caught in a snow storm: go slowly, as there’s all kinds of stuff flying around, I don’t know where I’m going and I could easily get out of control and crash. This means I haven’t done enough stuff as I would have liked. I’m trying to be kind to myself, but it doesn’t come easily to me.

The main good thing that’s happened so far is that E met Rabbi L, the rabbi who is going to marry us, for the first time in person and that went well. I think it’s the first positive interaction she’s had with the United Synagogue, which so far has not been so helpful for her.

I have been kicking around ideas for a wedding speech, although I’m still not sure if I’m going to give one. It partly depends on how much E is comfortable with me revealing about how we met (through this blog, for those who don’t know). I also have to make a decision about a wedding ring for myself. The one I wanted was a lot more expensive than I expected, but I need to choose between a number of different possibilities for cheaper ones.

I had a therapy session today. I wasn’t supposed to see the therapist until next week, but I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and other difficult emotions, so I asked her for an extra session and she agreed. It was an exhausting, but useful session. My main takeaways were (1) to try to self-soothe and feel safe and not catastrophise (2) by reminding myself that my flight/fight brain is not solution-focused and (3) to make sure to have some regular non-wedding-related time with E without other people (i.e. my parents, among others). I would add (4) to have some relaxing alone time every day too (from my rabbi mentor a few weeks ago). The self-soothing and not catastrophising is really hard, though. It doesn’t come easily to me and I don’t have many healthy coping strategies for difficult emotions.

Super-Duper Long Catch-Up Post

I haven’t blogged for a few days. I have things to say, although probably fewer things than in the past, I just don’t have the time. So this is a catch-up post for the last few days.

As I mentioned in my last post, on Monday night E was staying away overnight at a work event and I ate dinner with my parents, as much out of politeness and not knowing how to say no as anything else. The result was extreme autistic exhaustion. I watched The Twilight Zone, which helped relax me a little, but I had a late video call with E as she couldn’t get away from the work dinner until late, so I was up late.

By Tuesday morning I was still tired. I got up later than I intended, but I managed to go to volunteering, cook dinner and speak to my rabbi mentor. On Wednesday I was still tired, but went with E to Dad’s jeweller friend to discuss her wedding ring, as well as having therapy afterwards. E and I went on a date in the evening as we haven’t actually gone out much since she’s been here. We went to one of the three local kosher pizza places, the one with the worst ambience (it looks a bit like an old-fashioned American diner, but in a slightly tacky way rather than a retro way), but the best pizza. To be fair, I haven’t eaten at one of the other pizza places, so maybe I’m maligning them, but the pizzas at the place we went to were really good. We bought two pizzas and shared them, one vegetable, one four cheeses. They were both pretty good, but I worry that the four cheeses may have upset my stomach today, although I’ve had stomach issues for a couple of weeks, so maybe not. The date was good, though, and we both feel that dating is easier once you’re committed to each other and don’t have to worry about getting dumped at the end of the evening.

Unfortunately, I then stayed up late again. I had no reason, I just lost track of time on the autism forum. The result was that I struggled to get going for work this morning. I had some mild anxiety or agitation at work in the morning and I’m not sure if that was related. It could just as easily have been caused by J pointing out some mistakes I made at work on Monday. He never tells me off, but I feel like an idiot whenever this happens, which is too often. There was quite a bit to do at work today, but I was bored much of the time. Afterwards I got some glucose tablets at Boots. I struggled to find them and had misleading advice from shop assistants, so I ended up being in the shop for twenty minutes looking. The weather had been warm and sunny when I went to work in the morning, so I went without a coat and had to come home in the cold and wet this afternoon. So it was a stressful day without anything really bad happening.


I mentioned going to get E’s wedding ring. We were not planning to get a ring for me. It is required by Jewish law for the man to give the woman a ring, but not the reverse, although it is permitted for the woman to give a ring to the man if they want. In the Haredi world men generally don’t wear wedding rings as jewellery for men is frowned on. In the Modern Orthodox world it’s more of a personal choice; some do it and some don’t. I assumed I wouldn’t, as I don’t like wearing jewellery, which is probably an autistic sensory thing on some level (I have never liked wearing a watch much, the only jewellery I’ve worn until now), and I was thinking in very rigid halakhic (Jewish law) terms about what was legally necessary. But on the way back from the meeting with the jeweller, I surprised myself by thinking that I would like to show the world that I’m E’s husband, so I think I am going to wear a ring, although I’m a little nervous about it. I do still need to see the jeweller about it.


I finally heard from the NHS about the sleep study I had done in November. I got a text saying the advice from my sleep study is to get a mandibular advancement splint. No indication of what that means. I googled, and it’s a sort of mouth guard used to hold the mouth open in people with mild obstructive sleep apnoea. I assume that’s my diagnosis, although they didn’t say (!). Apparently the splints help a third to a half of people with this condition. I did find a short article online from a different NHS trust saying a bit more about it, including that the splints are not available on the NHS, which was implied by the text I got, which told me to reply YES if I had a splint and wanted an appointment with a member of the sleep team and to reply DELAY if I wanted a splint, but hadn’t purchased one yet. No advice in the text about how to get a splint, but the article I found has some suggestions. They do seem quite expensive, although if it can help with energy levels and getting up earlier it will be worth it. I will try to look into getting a splint. I might ask the dentist next week if they can help or recommend anyone, which was another suggestion from the article I found. Otherwise I’ll have to use the sites listed on the NHS article.


As I mentioned, I spoke to my rabbi mentor yesterday. I told him that I feel I’m being less strict with myself religiously, partly to create a religious environment that E feels more comfortable in, given that she does not come from an observant background, and partly because I feel that I need to prioritise my mental and physical health, as I am slowly recognising that I am an autistic person living in a deeply allistic (non-autistic) world and becoming increasingly aware (two years after diagnosis!) of what a toll this has taken on my mental and even physical health since childhood (I am nearly forty now). I knew this before intellectually, but I hadn’t internalised it.

I am doing things if I am 95% sure they are permitted rather than refraining unless I am 100% sureas I would have done previously. In some cases I am doing things without really knowing if they are permitted or not, but I am doing them just because I think the result of not doing them would be terrible for my mental health. For example, we are in the period of the omer, between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost) where there are traditions of national mourning, including not listening to music (the exact parameters of this and the dates included are very complicated and I won’t go into them here). I knew there is a leniency that allows depressed people to listen to music and my rabbi mentor has told me that this leniency applies if I need to listen to music when suffering autistic exhaustion. However, I didn’t know if it applies whenever I feel emotionally disregulated. As I wrote recently, I realised recently that I am very disregulated emotionally as a result of my alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions). To cut a long story short, a couple of times since Pesach I have felt very emotionally disregulated without suffering autistic exhaustion or depression and I listened to music knowing that it might not be correct according to halakhah (Jewish law), because I felt that the psychological/emotional consequences of not doing it would be too great. I am not seeing this as a blanket permission to listen to music whenever I want nor am I listening to music when I just feel vaguely down and tired (as was the case today), only when I feel totally exhausted or emotionally disregulated.

When I said this to my rabbi mentor he suggest that, rather than being lenient with myself (excessively or otherwise), it might be more accurate to say that I am finally learning to find more balance in my life. I hope he is right. I feel my behaviour before was as much about perfectionism as halakhah.

Related to this, I just read an article in the latest Jewish Chronicle by David Baddiel, plugging his new book attacking religion (about fifteen years after this was fashionable, but anyway…). I only skimmed it because it was too awful to read properly, all stuff about religion existing to stave off fear and that Orthodox Jews only keep the mitzvot (commandments) because of fear that undefined terrible things will happen if they don’t.

I don’t know if people really think like that. I’ve never met anyone who does, although I read an anthology of passages written by the Chofetz Chaim about the Yomim Noraim (High Holy Days) that was full of fear of punishment and I’ve encountered (online) people who have left Orthodoxy (particularly the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) world) who say that atmosphere of fear was how they were brought up and part of the reason they left observance. I don’t want to deny their stories, so maybe some people/communities do think like that, but it’s not the only or even primary attitude in Jewish texts of the last 3,000 years. (I did just read a review of Baddiel’s book that says exactly this, that he doesn’t actually seem to have read any Jewish theology as research for his book and just makes sweeping generalisations based on what he thinks Jews believe.)

When I had religious OCD, my religious thoughts were fear-orientated (although not so much punishment-orientated as fearing my being imperfect), but I was mentally ill. If I had had schizophrenia and thought the government was monitoring my thoughts, it would not be accurate to say that Orthodox Jews believe the government monitors their thoughts, so my OCD shouldn’t reflect badly on Jews as a whole. Since recovery, the level of fear in my religious life has declined a lot.

My problem is that, having alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions), I struggle to put this into words to explain how I feel to other people, particularly E and (hopefully, one day) our children. There just seems to be a kind of rightness, an almost mathematical elegance to Judaism and Torah and a sense of calm about Shabbat (the Sabbath) that I can’t put into words. I don’t feel it about every mitzvah or religious concept; there is much that I don’t understand, some things that I do not like, and I struggle greatly with many sociological aspects of the Orthodox community. Sometimes, to borrow a phrase from E, I want to go on a holiday from – if not Judaism, then particular mitzvot. But it kind of makes sense to me in a way I can’t seem to explain or transmit and it’s frustrating me that I can’t do that, particularly as I’m supposed to be good with words, at least in writing. I want to be able to express this to other people.


E and I have been watching the Doctor Who story The Chase. This came about because E said that she thinks I am right to prefer old (twentieth century) Doctor Who over new (twenty-first century) Doctor Who. I said this wasn’t a fair test, as we had been watching new Doctor Who sequentially (we are on series five), so it’s not surprising they are a mix of good and bad, but I had mostly cherry-picked good stories from the old series for us to watch, aside from a few that came up when we were watching a whole season or a bunch of connected stories. So she challenged me to show her a really awful old story.

I went for The Chase even though it’s not quite on my absolute worst list (although it’s close) because I wanted something we would get some enjoyment out of, even if in a “so bad it’s good” way. This backfired a bit, as E found it boring in parts, but also enjoyable in other parts and “cute.” Overall, she says it’s absolutely not the worst Doctor Who story we’ve seen together. To be honest, I found myself agreeing and enjoying it more with her than in the past. The first episode is a typical early 1960s story, focused on exploration and the main characters. The second episode is the worst, trying to build an alien world with about two sets, three costumes and no time. The third is vaguely dull, but E was amused to see Doctor Who’s first trip to New York (stock footage, a single set and some bad accents representing the top of the Empire State Building). The fourth is actually quite funny and is possibly unique as the only time the Doctor doesn’t really work out what’s going on even by the end (he thinks he’s landed in the collective unconscious, but is actually in a robotic haunted house). The fifth is mostly set-up for the final episode, which is pretty good. The Mechanoids were never going to work as a recurring foe, but are quite striking in appearance and the sequence where Ian and Barbara finally get home is a gem. I’m not entirely sure why this seems to have shot up in popularity among younger fans, but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

Maybe we should watch some more clunkers. E says that her least favourite new Who stories are the depressing ones, but the old series generally wasn’t that depressing, except for in the mid-eighties. Maybe we should watch something from then, not least as it’s my least favourite era of the old series. Although maybe I shouldn’t be looking for things we won’t like.

Baby Snuggles, Headaches and Low Blood Sugar

I’ve been too busy to write for a few days again.

I didn’t go to shul (synagogue) again on Friday night. I probably had the energy, but I was just running late, trying to cram in a lot the day after Pesach (Passover) when I was already exhausted from Yom Tov (the festival). We had a quiet Shabbat (Sabbath): E and I went for a walk and got rained on a little, but not much and we read a bit and I dozed for forty minutes or so. E and I are both looking forward to an ordinary week without extra religious events and in a weird way, I was glad to be back at work, just to be back in a routine again.

I did listen to music briefly on Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat, despite it being the part of the omer (period between Pesach and Shavuot) when frum (religious) Jews observe an element of national mourning, including not listening to music. I did this because I felt I needed to do so to regulate my emotions, which were becoming depressed. I’ve decided I will continue to listen to music if I need to calm myself, even though I’m not sure if it’s technically allowed. (It is permitted to listen to music if suffering from clinical depression or autistic exhaustion, so it might be allowed anyway, I’m not sure.)

I had headache on Saturday night and again on Sunday night, but I did realise that I haven’t woken up with a headache since E has been here, which seems to indicate that she’s good for my stress levels. Despite the headache, I drew up a schedule for the next five weeks, until the wedding (FIVE WEEKS!!!!!!!), which made me a little less stressed, as we’ve mostly got it under control. The big things still to organise are the ring (we’re seeing a jeweller Dad knows through shul on Wednesday to discuss this) and E’s dress (which may not be a traditional wedding dress, for various reasons).

Yesterday afternoon E and I went out with Sister, Brother-in-law and Nephew on Hampstead Heath and then on for coffee at a cafe that was nice, but ridiculously expensive (it was in Hampstead, so what do you expect?). The walk on the Heath was good, but there were a ridiculous number of dogs, including many not on leads. We are all at least mildly dog-phobic (technically Nephew isn’t, but with this family it’s basically only a matter of time). Nephew seems a lot more interested in his surroundings than he was in the past, particularly lights and the abstract painting on the wall of the cafe. E and I both had some baby snuggles, which was good. I caught up a bit with Sister, although any conversation with her or BIL is likely to be interrupted after a minute or two by Nephew. E and I also checked out some charity shops that were surprisingly open on a Sunday, but we weren’t willing to pay Hampstead prices for anything.

When we got home, we opened the wedding presents that had arrived before Pesach. We had been so busy with Pesach stuff that we hadn’t opened them yet. They were what we wanted (obviously, because they were from our wedding list), but I guess crockery and a kettle are never going to seem that fun to me.

Late in the evening, I started feeling faint again. I don’t know if this is low blood sugar or low salt or something else. When I feel faint, I don’t really want to slowly do scientific tests to work it out, I just want to eat and feel better. I felt faint at work today too and again when I got home. I am worrying that I’m hypoglycaemic, but don’t really know what that would entail or have time to research right now. I want to mention it to the doctor, but I have other things to talk to him about and I can’t get an appointment anyway.

Work was incredibly noisy again this morning with workmen outside and inside the building, the former with a loud radio blaring TalkSport again (is there really so much to say about sport 24/7?). The carpet under my desk has now worn away to the underlay. I told J and asked if we could get a new carpet, but he made uncommitted noises and muttered something about needing to replace the whole carpet, not just under my desk, and some of the furniture not being easily movable, so I shelved my radical plan to suggest that the walls could do with a coat of paint too. I guess before COVID I’d have had a stronger argument, but now we get about two visitors a year who don’t work in the building, so the economic argument for not doing anything is strong. I do keep catching my foot on the rim of the circular hole in the carpet, though, so I might see if some health and safety rationale develops.

The afternoon was largely devoted to sticking erratum stickers in prayer books and sorting papers again. When I got home I did a few necessary chores and read a few pages of Children of Dune. It’s still heavy-going and I’m struggling to remember all the plot points, but I’m determined to see what happens and finish it before my wedding. I ate a lot because of low blood sugar/salt/whatever. E is away for work, so I had dinner with my parents, which was probably a mistake, as I was feeling very depleted and peopled out, but I couldn’t find a polite way to say no (and now I’ve just annoyed my Mum by saying this to her when trying to explain why I couldn’t help her with something). I am too exhausted to do anything, so will probably just watch TV. I’m too tired to read, even The Sandman graphic novel that I started recently.


There has been Drama on the autism forum again. It’s happening a lot lately. It’s probably not surprising that a community of people who are pretty much defined by having poor social skills, no tact, obsessive focus and logical minds would spend so much time pointing out the (real or perceived) flaws in each others’ religious and political beliefs and opinions, but it is frustrating to watch given that I can mostly stay out of that sort of behaviour. Of course, this sort of thing happens all over the internet every day without neurodivergence. It’s just a shame as there are some people there I like a lot, but it’s getting harder to focus on the signal, not the noise, and it seems that some people I like are around less. This is probably not due to the Drama, as looking at old posts, most people only seem to stay on the forum for a year or two as they get a sense of their autistic identity, then move on.

A Month, A Week and A Day

“We got through Pesach (Passover) and we’re not getting divorced!” This has been E and my cry the last half day. We’re joking, I hasten to add. Pesach had its tough moments, but we never seriously considered divorcing our civil marriage and cancelling our chuppah (religious ceremony). The worst was a disagreement between E and Mum on the one hand and me on the other over the time we could halakhically (according to Jewish law) start the final day of Yom Tov (festival), but that turned out to be mostly a misunderstanding of what we wanted and we resolved it OK. E and I are thinking about how we can do Pesach differently next year, though, so she can enjoy it more.

I think E and I are good about resolving conflicts, but we’re both catastrophisers and worry that one day we won’t be able to do so.

Related to this, but far beyond it, is E’s frustration that the kosher food world in the UK is so much more limited than the USA and more complicated to access, as many kosher foods do not bear a visible hechsher (kosher sign) on the packaging. You have to check on an app or just know what is kosher. I feel sorry for her, as food is important to her, but I’m limited in what I can do to help. It would have been a lot easier if I was the one emigrating, but the health insurance situation and gun culture in the US made that impossible.

Otherwise, Pesach was quiet. I didn’t get to shul (synagogue) at all, which is frustrating, but I think shul has mostly drifted off my radar at the moment. I did a bit of Torah study, mostly The Guide for the Perplexed, and read some of Children of Dune, but both were heavy and I didn’t make a huge amount of progress in terms of pages. I think I need a long break from the Dune series after this volume. E and I went for a walk one day, but came back early as it started raining. The other day we napped and didn’t go out at all.


It is thirty-eight days until our chuppah (religious wedding), which works out as a month, a week and a day. I realised the other day that the default position on our chuppah is for it to happen even if there is stuff we run out of time to organise. It would take more effort for it not to happen at this stage than for it to happen. This is reassuring, although part of my brain is still sure that I’m going to fall under a bus or something a few days before it, on the grounds that the universe doesn’t want me to be happy or that my being married violates some fundamental natural law.


Something I realised today is that E and I are both bad at emotional regulation, but in different ways. I can’t notice a lot of my emotions; when I do, they tend to be intense, negative (loneliness, depression or anxiety) and last for days if not weeks. E’s emotions are the reverse. Still intense, but much more changeable and over a wider spectrum. She can go from “Life is going to be awful forever” to doing her happy dance in the space of about ten minutes (not exaggerating). Neither of these is good or bad (well, on some level they’re probably both bad, measured against some unattainable neurotypical, mentally healthy ideal), but we need to find a way for us to work with this situation. So far, snuggles seem to be a good way for both of us to regulate and have the added of advantage of being good for the non-dysregulated (at that moment) partner rather than a chore to help the other.

Number Crunching

I woke up feeling drained today and not sure why except Pesach (Passover) stress and maybe wedding stress, although it hasn’t been on my radar much lately. I love having E here, but I guess we’re going through the “first year of marriage learning to live together and compromise” stuff, even though we aren’t fully married yet. Having worked out our position on the “big” topics, we’re having to find compromises on topics that we didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago, with the added complication that this isn’t actually our home, so we have to organise a whole other set of compromises with my parents too. I wish we were living in our own place, but it won’t happen for a while. E was very homesick this morning too. Married life is hard, and we aren’t even allowed to sleep in the same bed or share very intimate touch yet.

Related to feeling drained, I would like to have more energy, but I’m not sure how feasible it is. Other autistics seem to think there is no real way of boosting energy levels, aside from relaxation and sleep and sleep is not always refreshing to me due to my suspected sleep disorder. You can only manage your environment better to lose energy slower and leave more rest time to allow energy levels to naturally restore. I’m not sure how much I can do that right now, given that I have to go out to work and do a lot of non-negotiable (to me) religious stuff, although I’m trying to find ways to make the religious stuff more negotiable and hope to move completely to work from home one day, although it’s a distant dream right now.

Speaking of sleep, the respiratory department (which weirdly was responsible for my sleep study) finally got back to me today regarding my email about my sleep study results. They asked for my date of birth and post code to try to find my results. I don’t know why it took them over two weeks to write one line. Small steps…

Other than that, I feel like I took advantage of one of the Jewish Facebook groups I’m on to post about how I’m feeling rather than asking a specific question, so now I feel bad about that, and also feeling that no one likes me on the autism forum (I haven’t looked at that much for the last week and don’t feel I’ve missed much).

I’m also struggling to feel the meaning and joy of Pesach, but I feel like that about much of Judaism. I can’t tell if it doesn’t really engage me and I only do it out of abstract belief or if it’s just the alexithymia (difficulty recognising and understanding my own emotions) screwing up my life again. I think Judaism engages me, but that means I can’t reach the positive emotions I have about it and maybe never will, which amounts to the same thing in practice as not having them in the first place. It makes it hard to share the joy and meaning of Judaism with E when so much of my own presumed joy and meaning goes unnoticed by me.

E and I did some cooking together just now and that felt positive, but on the whole I feel slightly down and alexithymically unaware of what my problem is and what I could/should do to fix it, if that’s even how I should be looking at it. I think that some sadness is just part of the human condition and needs to be ridden out rather than changed.


I’m still thinking about the statistic I saw yesterday that there are about 1,380 autistic Jews in the UK. I suspect it must be an underestimate either of the number of autistics or Jews. Looking online, it seems that a little over 1% of the UK population is diagnosed autistic. Assuming that’s the same in the Anglo-Jewish population, the equivalent figure would be just over 4,000 Jewish autistics.

I did a back of an envelope calculation, admittedly with some questionable assumptions, and even with this higher figure, it’s likely that there are just forty or so autistics in this country who are broadly in the observant Modern Orthodox community, and many of them are probably severely autistic (I can’t find statistics on the percentage of autistics who are described as “high-functioning”). This means that the number of people who experience the interaction of autism and Jewish life the way I do in this country is almost non-existent. Even if I widen that to include the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, I think it would still be hard to actually find people like me, as I’ve encountered almost no Haredi non-severe autistics online or in person and suspect that anyone even vaguely functional in that community is encouraged to keep quiet about any neurological differences as it would be “bad for shidduchim” (finding a partner for yourself and your siblings).

No wonder there’s so little support for non-severe autism in the Jewish or frum community. No wonder I’ve struggled to so hard to find people on my wavelength in the frum community over the years. And no wonder my wife came from overseas!