Saturday, 8 June 2013
When I was thirteen I got up in front of school and performed a solo violin piece. It was a really obscure choice. I remember the music teacher's look of deep concern. As if up till that point I had possessed a certain degree of respect, and was about to put it in the shredder. I did it anyway. The applause at the end was forthcoming, but uncertain. Like the old Hawkwind song "we took the wrong step years ago.." I feel that this was the first of just many stupid ideas. But then social conformity was always elusive to me. Like that sad realisation that being counted as 'gifted and talented' in school is not a blessing. It is in fact an early signpost to a lifetime of feeling lost and confused in a world where anyone who is even slightly different will be stigmatised. "Sometimes it's better to conform." A friend said this to me recently. She has a point. Sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves to the flow even though on reflection it isn't what we'd decide given time. I don't know whether at school I was deliberately obtuse or whether it really was impossible to fit in. A bit of both maybe. I used to get called lezza because of my clunky boots. That wasn't deliberate -- I couldn't afford better boots. Interestingly the jeering subsided almost to nothing when I invested in a pair of mainstream branded trainers; which shows you how cheap the elites of conformity are. If I went to school now I'd be classed as autistic. I read somewhere that some people with autism display difficulty in following rules and aligning themselves socially. Is it progress to find new labels for people who think differently? Or just another way of controlling unruly children who happen to have a mind of their own? Whenever you read studies on Autism there seems to be some sort of grey area in between arguments that Autism/EBD is an illness and that it is a brain type. That's a big difference. One wants to treat the 'sick' child who is being afflicted by bad thoughts. The other embraces the child as a victim in a system in which their intelligence and way of thinking are unlikely to ever be accepted.