Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Conformity Is A Prison

Following on from what I said on Sunday, normality is the prison of conformity that a society surrounds an individual with so that they behave, act and work according to accepted norms. As long as you don't do anybody any harm or hurt anybody else, mentally, emotionally or physically, what does it matter?

On Thursday 11th May 2000, twenty days before I was diagnosed with AS, I told a Clinical Psychologist that mass uniformity in society scares the shit out of me, and it still does. In life you are going to meet people who are different to yourself, and from other people, and not everybody is the same, and it takes all sorts to make the world go around.

We are all individuals, and the true and genuine Psychopathy in life is that which insists on everybody being like everybody else or Sheep or clones.

I remember when I heard a song about 12 years ago, and it was a local singer, and it was about two boys called Michael and Ben. Michael was Autistic and Ben was not. Ben was into things such as fighting with teachers, with other kids, being disruptive in classes, playing truant and being a general nuisance.. the song went "They say Michael's crazy, but there's nothing wrong with Ben".

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Formal Education Doesn't Educate You In Differences Of Life

I have come to the conclusions that Primary certainly, and definitely Secondary School, are largely artificial, false and fake environments. Certainly in Secondary School, most people are conformity driven and uniformity obsessed. I remember when I was at Secondary School that nearly everybody supported Liverpool Football Club, because they were winning everything, including the Eurovision Song Contest and the Grand National, most people supported them. A few supported Arsenal or Everton and one or two Manchester United, and there were those of course, who didn't support anybody or didn't like football.. but I am sure some people supported them to fit in.

I was basically rejected by the majority of peers at Secondary School anyway, but I had the piss taken out of me for my music tastes when I was 13 for liking Queen and the Jam when most people were fans of Bros and Brother Beyond or whatever was in the charts at the time, though inhindsight the music scene in 1989 was not bad at all compared with 2012. I still like Queen and the Jam today, for what it is worth.

In the Secondary School years, certainly, everybody tries to be like everybody else and ridicules or rejects anything or anyone that is different. Of course NT's tend to be like that in general, but it is definitely more pronounced people at that age.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

You Can Make Anything Interesting Or Boring

I was talking to a woman last Wednesday, who is a trainee Teacher, at University, about to finish her studies next summer. We talked about hidden conditions such as Asperger's Syndrome, Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. She said something which reasonated with me straight away. It was that a person can make a subject boring or interesting. For example, someone can talk about the most boring topic on earth and make it interesting. I have been in that situation in life. Alternatively, someone can talk about an interesting subject or topic and make it dull and boring. I have also been in that situation. Teachers are best example of both, but you can get people like that in all walks of life.

Friday, 16 November 2012

What Is Funny?

I suppose what we all find funny is subjective and differs from person to person but I don't find well-worn jokes funny or "I say I say I say" jokes. I also don't like statements which misrepresent an affliction. One example is "I am Schizophrenic: both of us". Schizophrenia is not about having a split personality where you are a Jekyll and Hyde character. It is about hearing voices, experiencing delusions and hallucinations or one can have Catatonic Schizophrenia or Hebrephrenic Schizophrenia or Simple Schizophrena, but the only split is a split from reality. However, if you were going to make a joke about Schizophrenia, you should say "I am not a Schizophrenic: I hear voices telling me I am not" because it is accurate.

I don't find jokes about Tourettes funny. Not that I don't find the subject funny in itself, but all the jokes I have heard about it are unoriginal. An example is "What do we want? A cure for Tourettes. When do we want it? Cunt".. Now I don't find that remotely funny at all, and it is unoriginal, because loads of people tell it on Facebook in posters. Another joke I don't find funny is that "Most of our political jokes get elected". Well, they maybe jokes but they don't make me laugh, and neither does that joke.

What I find funny varies, I suppose I like off the cuff humour. That makes me laugh. I like daft thoughts, adlibs, puns, original humour or timely humour like when something happens. An example of timely humour is someone gets busted for drugs and the song "Ebenezeer Goode is being played on a CD at the time they are being busted, or Rainy Days Women No 12 and 35" by Bob Dylan, or "Cocaine" or "I got high" by Afroman.

I find Fawlty Towers, One Foot in the Grave, the Young Ones and OFAH funny. I rarely tell a joke because I have a rubbish memory for them. I have a bit of an odd sense of humour.. but if having a normal sense of humour is laughing at "I say I say I say" jokes then I am pleased it is odd! I find lampooning famous people funny to an extent as well. Viz makes me laugh! I am surprised they have never done a Jeremy Kyle send-up! I have 26 Annuals of it dating back to the mid-1980's. I am not a big fan of comedians. Stewart Lee is quite good.. but I can't think of many others I have been in stitches laughing at..

In life you can be offensive and funny at the same time. It is possible to pull it off. I have seen certain people do it. However, simply slagging someone off isn't witty or clever or inventive. If I walked up to someone and called them a Tw*t or a Shithouse, I am not being witty or clever or inventive, I am just insulting them. If I did it in an inventive or ingenious way, then fair enough.

Why often people like Jeremy Clarkson and others like that are hailed as having devastating, rapier wits, or even being comic geniuses is beyond me, because that is all they basically do. I laughed at one Top Gear situation when they drove through the deep South of the USA with "I am Gay" and "Hilary For President" written on their cars and other similar messages, and received death threats and honks and one-fingered salutes but I wouldn't say anybody on there is a comic genius!

However, people seem to mistake wit for loudness. This is seen notably in working-men's clubs or even pubs. People try to be the Alpha man or woman in those type of situations. People seem to think that the louder you are, the funnier you are. I disagree. Wit is about being quick, clever, inventive, and funny. It isn't about shouting or shouting someone down, or insulting someone. That isn't clever or inventive. If I walk up to someone and call them a knobhead or shithouse, I am not witty. I am just insulting them. That isn't clever or original. Anybody can do that.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Coincidence Or Joke?

When watching the BBC news last Monday Morning, I saw that a reporter on an item about school dinners was a man called Graham Satchell. I thought to myself, "Do they choose these people deliberately? Was it some kind of a joke or was it a coincidence?". Indeed, I thought it was the 5th November not the 1st April. However, I have seen Satchell reporting several other news items. It did get me thinking though if people chose names for their children that are fitting as a joke or whether it is a coincidence. Similarly when they live somewhere. For example, I heard some years ago that a Secondary School Teacher lived on a street called School Lane!!!

In March 2007 I was in Ely, Cambridgeshire, and I noticed on a Church wall a plaque saying "The Rev Alan Partridge. Tel 202666". The first one was funny in itself. However the three sixes on a telephone number for the plaque on a church wall?

I also read somewhere that this woman stated there was a teacher at her daughter's school called Mrs Schooler and an educational psychologist called Mrs Schools. And a Weather Forecaster in the Midlands is called Miss Blizzard!!!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Check The Facts Not The Image

Whenever I read a biography of a person or a publication which has been written about an event, regardless of what it is, I prefer tomes which are dispassionate, neutral and which are laden with facts that are detailed and can be substantiated, and when as much accurate and reliable information is provided as possible. I have found in general, autobiographies, unless totally and brutally honest, are too self-serving.

This is certainly preferable to propaganda or hagiographies. Too many people are taken in by myths, half-truths, horseshit or bullshit which gets repeated and circulated and taken as gospel about a person or an event or an image that is projected in the media. Isn't it amazing how once spread, something like that gets set in stone?

When I look for information on politics or current affairs, I try to obtain information from sources that are as neutral and unbiased as is possible. I wouldn't look for information in the Daily Mirror, which gives you left-wing propaganda. Nor would I look for information or facts in the Sun, or the Daily Express, or the Daily Mail, all of which give you right-wing, sometimes hard right-wing, propaganda and bias.

I have, in the last two years, encountered numerous books about several individuals or events where facts and data have been used to counteract the legend or the image. In 1994 the late football manager Brian Clough brought out his autobiography. No doubt it was read by the average football fan and taken to be 100% true. In one story, set in April 1959, Clough told of how he scored two goals in the last two minutes of a match against Liverpool to win the game for Middlesbrough who he played for at the time. At the end of the match Bill Shankly, the Liverpool manager, apparently walked across the pitch and told Harold Shepherdson, Clough's manager at the time, "He (Clough) hasn't had a F*cking kick!!!!". Shepherdson allegedly replied "Well he's had at least two to my knowledge Bill!!".

A good answer, and it could very well be that this event or exchange involving Shankly and Sheperdson did happen in a later match in Clough's career with Middlesbrough, but it was not on that occasion. Regarding the match in question, Clough did indeed score, but it wasn't near the end of the match, and one fact I am surprised nobody has ever noticed, least of all Jonathan Wilson in his book about Clough in 2011 which for me is the best and most detailed about the subject, which is that Shankly did not become Liverpool manager until December 1959, so for him to have said that to Shepherdson in April 1959 as Liverpool manager would never have happened. Yet this story has been repeated in various books and publications. In his 1994 autobiography Clough also described the late Sir Harold Thompson as a great "Mathematician" when he was a Chemist. There are other information and corrections in Jonathan Wilson's book regarding some of the stories Clough told.

Other publications which I have come across that have gave an unbiased account, or have corrected information which has been repeated, regurgitated and taken as gospel, or at least has gave a more even-handed account, which I have come across, have been Richard Sutcliffe's biography of Don Revie (2010). I am no Leeds United fan, but I find it interesting to read a more detailed, balanced and open-ended account of the man commonly portrayed as a traitor, a neurotic, a cheat and a mercenary, as he has so often has been by the press and his detractors, and the image has stuck. Revie might have engaged in activities that got him labelled as these things, but I wanted to know more about the man behind the labels.

Another one I have found interesting because it provides factual information and challenges the long-held presumptions of the story was "John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer" by Jonathan Oates (2012). The popular version of the story, in the publics mind, is that an intelligent but evil sexual psychopath killed the wife of Timothy Evans, a gullible and illiterate van driver, and his daughter and conned him into admitting he had done it, and as a result, Evans, wrongly (as widely believed) was hanged on Thursday 9th March 1950. Christie murdered several other people, including his wife, until his arrest, and subsequent and undisputably correct execution on Wednesday 15th July 1953. The book challenges the assumptions and provides factual and detailed information about the two men, their backgrounds and their families.

If you ask many people who they think was the greatest boxer of all time, they will say "Mohammed Ali" or "Cassius Clay" as he was previously known as. Yes he was a brilliant boxer, at his peak, in the 1960's and 1970's. He was also a great showman. He was certainly the best, or if not one of the best during that era.

Despite all this information, to call him the best ever is stretching a point somewhat. Training methods and fitness are vastly different now than in the 1960's and 1970's. Would he have beaten Mike Tyson at his peak in the late 1980's? How can you argue with Rocky Marciano going 46 out of 46 fights undefeated? Would Ali have beaten Jack Dempsey? Would he have beaten Joe Louis at his peak? He might not have been the best ever boxer, to paraphrase, again, Brian Clough, but he was the top one!!!

A politician might come across as an avuncular figure or a nice guy. Yet his policies might be brutal or extreme.

So yes, in life, I think it is vital that you check behind the facts and information before you are fooled by the image or rumour or heresay. Look at Jimmy Savile and the image he had. After his death we were given the reality of the man.