I’m still wondering, like I have since being very young, if I really do live on another planet.
For many that will suggest I’m out of touch with reality, unable to sense and respect the choices of others and have poor social skills and adhesion. It might also imply that I expect a lot more from life than what I give back, or even deserve.
Dare I think that any of those don’t apply to me? I should not be the judge, not from the near virtual reality of seeing the world differently to the masses.
I write about a metaphor, a self-perception, an instinct and gut feeling that I have forever been out of touch with mainstream thinking. Certainly as a child one would expect it, but throughout my adult life it would seem the way I see the world and its troubles, down to everyday events that hit all of us, I have not concurred with the majority view.
Of course, that isn’t always true and a typical example is Brexit, where for once I agreed with the majority, even of my reasons were less emotive and hysterical.
Lest you suggest it, none of this implies putting me or my character on a pedestal of righteousness or good. Crikey, my conscience knows otherwise and besides, I’ve had my card marked too many times by those who assume moral authority over us.
Life has taught me that people on pedestals seldom stay on them!
I could blame my childhood for living on my own planet. My upbringing and the influences imposed upon my young mind certainly played a part in this, for as a child I was forced to read the Bible, always reminded of Jesus and the scenario of hell, in an attempt to avoid my likely temptation to step over it.
None of it managed to fit with my juvenile but very own logic or reasoning. So overstepping any invisible mark was surely the whole purpose of being here.
Religion aside, like most kids I just didn’t get adult behaviour. But even my peers seemed to know and accept things I didn’t, do things alien to me or maybe didn’t know stuff that I thought I did.
And what precisely did I know?
Sod all by all accounts, because it was deemed I was backward, a slow learner and suffered from dyslexia of some sort, where speaking the Queen’s English came out of my mouth as gobbledegook.
I was a poorly child, with a squint from the day I started school. I ended up wearing a patch over my strongest eye to strengthen the weaker one, so like a sore thumb I stood out with a prescribed pink eye patch and a squint.
I hated school from day one to the day I left. I loathed almost every minute, except painting and maths and the showers, where self-inhibition of my skinny white body collided with the delights of seeing other boys naked. On such occasions, my innocence was surely bliss and part of what turned out to be innate, alienating me even further from an alarmingly intolerant society.
I loved big dogs and the big outdoors. I also connected with objects and things. To me, every object had feelings and could tell its own story, had it the power to do so. Even at a young age, my imagination and instinct took me outside of what society seemed to accept as the way it is or should be, making me question umpteen things I was supposed to be agreeing with.
Yet the simple pleasures one has as a kid and the gift of amazement to the ways of nature and animals came as naturally to me as my utter indifference to God and the devil and my perception of nonsense in the bible.
My contentious view of faith set me apart from the rest. I was forced to be confirmed into the Church of England, against my will and my instinct. Even the priests were against it, for I showed no sign of understanding or accepting the law of God and everything it implied.
I did try to fathom the rights and wrongs of life and the difference between good and bad behaviour. Values, as in personal ones and the ones deemed sacrosanct in British society really hurt my brain. But only because the very same values did not show themselves in people behaviour.
I had my own values and principles, along with my own choices and innate preferences, but I wasn’t always allowed to follow them. I knew kindness and compassion were better than being nasty. I knew it was wrong to steal or to hurt others. Maybe I was taught such things, but it seemed instinctive, like I could never hurt an animal or trash something with a story to tell.
As I got older, I struggled enormously with rules and regulations. I partly blame my mother, bless her. She ruled the roost in our house, always telling me what to do and what I couldn’t or shouldn’t.
When eventually I got to wear long trousers, her hand would clout my ears for my many misdemeanors. I never saw this as child abuse, but I did resent it at the time because it bloody hurt.
At secondary school I was regularly caned, usually across the palm of the hand, for ignoring stupid and unnecessary rules and for talking during lunch. Once I was told to drop my trousers to be caned on the arse. I adamantly refused and eventually got six strokes of the cane on both hands and detention for a week.
I couldn’t write for two days because of the pain, or wipe my bum properly!
Maybe such experiences in childhood led me to the contempt I have for authority and those given it who abuse it. Weren’t many school rules just mirroring how the establishment still control the masses?
My dad was much more placid and never laid a finger on me, although he too was horrified the day I dyed my hair jet black! Being a teenager brought me untold stress, not only because I was horny as hell and attracted to other boys my age, but because I was getting closer to joining the ranks of adulthood, a frightening thought to someone so averse to adult thinking and knowing I was somewhat different to the perceived norm.
My mum threatened me with national service, as if it would make a man of me. Brawn and no brains came to mind (my perception at the time). To be frank, I was scared of becoming a man and the expectations likely to be forced upon me.
I missed the call up to National Service because of my age. Had it happened, there’s no way on earth I would have tolerated some bully of an army drill sergeant bellowing orders at me, so I would have paid dearly.
I and my uniform would have been on first name terms with a million spuds, cuz I’d have been peeling them day and night or cleaning the mess latrines.
Somehow as a teenager, I collided with real life as I ducked and dived the agony of being one. Some of it was fun and for the things I was never supposed to be doing, for fear of the hell, fire and brimstone nonsense, exploring my sexuality was fucking amazing.
The day I started work I realized I knew nothing of the world others lived or worked in. My mind occupied a parallel world that seemingly tangled with the one being forced upon me. Up to then I’d rather be hypnotized by a spider and its web rather than understanding verbs and prepositions or following a set of rules.
Now I was on a steep learning curve, and the reality of being an apprentice chef meant grasping techniques and following kitchen etiquette. Learning hit me like my mother’s clout round the lughole. Suddenly I couldn’t drift and be damned so I learned the art of bluffing my way and smiling sweetly, a false belief that I’d get away with it to get through this dreaded period of entering the adult world.
I learnt that it’s okay to burn the food, but a sin to try and serve it!
Yet instinctively, nothing changed in my mind. I still didn’t get it, apart from the obvious and the essential, although even then I had a thousand questions as to why, when and what if.
I became that irksome employee who always wanted to know why before doing it and then claiming I knew a better way, even if it wasn’t. Tried and tested still doesn’t wash with me when there’s a better way, so no wonder my time as a chef was a battle of its own.
I started to be aware of world affairs and politics, and my mind resisted a further wave of incomprehension. How come adults were so determined to hate their fellow man? That was over 50 years ago, and nothing has changed.
I’d already learnt that the stuff us humans just don’t say to each other is staggering compared to what we do say and the way we say it. No one wants to listen, comprehend or even consider anything beyond what is already cemented in their thick heads.
We’re forever judging each other and I do it all the time, yet my judgement is based on my view of the world as it bumps with their own.
I’ve always trusted others, based on my instinct and the vibes they give off. I’ve come a cropper many times because of it, being too trusting and wrongly believing everyone wants this world to be a fair and friendly place. I guess it’s made me even more wary of this world compared to my own little one.
With growing maturity I’ve tried to colour in my view of life and share it. Apparently, except to the awesome few, I’m colour blind to reality. So how might I have got through life, on this rocky road that zigzags the wavelength most of society and the establishment ride with?
I’m still riding mine, still mesmerised by others logic, reason and conflicting values. I’m still unable to grasp the dogged belief in a god fantasy yet to be proven and the negative power such a thing has over human intelligence and compassion. I see the conflict between personal faith driving what is good in any society and hate and intolerance the same faith often imposes.
To me, most of the troubles in the world boil down to belief in this fantasy and how it then imposes on human thinking and behaviour.
My own differences may be puzzling to others, but not to me. I’m perfectly happy being who I am, be it my sexuality, my character or by being at odds with those who deem to know best. Gradually I created my own faith, not in any god but in the power of nature and the possibility that there is more to life than this one, in other dimensions somewhere in eternity where our beings have yet to explore and learn from.
Others are free to make judgement if they choose, but now I’m much older and wiser than my schoolboy days, I’m likely to listen and consider to an alternative viewpoint. I also understand why some rules need to dictate the goalposts. That doesn’t mean that I’ll agree with others or that a short lesson about the complexes of nature compared to their thick head won’t follow!
Since those short trousered days, my question remains as to why the human creature forbids itself to accept or even tolerate human diversity. We embrace it for the animal and plant kingdom, yet for ourselves, the real wonders of nature’s intent and complexity of human creation escapes us.
To me, along with the wonders of all creatures, the clues are in our uniqueness and the pinnacle of being alive. We are guided by umpteen influences, many of them imposed by some moral code. Such a code should surely be more about how we treat and respect human differences rather than adult, mutual and consenting intimacy, regardless of our own innate instincts.
If it did, maybe man would kill fewer men, women and children in the name of greed and power and maybe, the other planet I live on would mirror the one nature plonked me on.
I’m now so old it’s frightening. Old enough to know more than I do but terrified of fitting in with mainstream thinking against my better judgement.
Bewildered by life on this cosmic journey, like a boy in short trousers, am I still due for that well deserved smack?