It’s The Freakiest Show..

My big brother was into the 1970s glam-rock scene, I mean, he had the platforms and everything.. He looked a div, but then what teenage boy didn’t look a div in the 70s?

For what’s it’s worth, I also looked a div – only I didn’t have any choice in the matter.

Anyway, it’s from rooting through his records that I came across the phenomenon that was David Bowie..

Being born in 1970 rendered me too young to appreciate the glam rock scene first time around. However, I didn’t have to wait too long because it made a comeback in the 80s with the likes of Def Leppard, Poison and Kiss – only with less glitter and more hair. Oh. And the flares were replaced by skin-tight, testicle-trapping jeans which of course helped them to reach those high notes..

WHOOOOOOOOO-YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH

Of all the records of the glam rock era, Life on Mars is my favourite.

Bowie labeled Life on Mars, “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media” and added, “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

I know how she feels..

Reality sucks. You spend nine months in the womb being prepared for your big entry into the world only to reach the age of five when you start school and your world turns phenomenally crap.

Yes, I know how that girl feels..

Life on Mars was released as a single in 1973. I was three years old and still wearing plastic pants. So it’s fair to say that while I no doubt heard it on the radio (or saw it on TOTP) I wasn’t into it until a few years later..

First, I fell in love with Mick Ronson’s orchestral arrangement because, lets face it, it’s EFFING AWESOME! Then came my obsession with the lyrics (also awesome) and all these years later, it STILL does things to me insides..

When it comes to the lyrics, the song is somewhat ambiguous but I identify with Bowie’s description because, like the girl, I am also at odds with reality. I see life as one big freak show.

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show

Bowie started out ordinary enough, apart from his freaky eye, but Mrs Bowie knew that his image was a bit crap so she turned him into the spiky red awesomeness that was ‘Ziggy Stardust’. He made weird, cool, and all the misfits and weirdos whooped with joy and bought all his records. He was like something out of space – which was kind of the idea. Nobody knew what the fuck he was. Was he male, female or alien?

Bowie wasn’t my dad’s cup of tea, as I imagine was the case with a lot of other parents of the time. Dad’s nervous cough would kick in when Ziggy beamed up via the gogglebox during those early years but he settled down once Dave brought out Lets Dance and ‘that one he did with Jagger’, got the Dad stamp of approval too.

Bowie has been a constant in some form or other since Ziggy. I almost had a coronary when the TV series Life on Mars was screened in 2006. Great plot. The legend what is ‘The Gene Genie’ (Gene Hunt) and a cracking 1970s soundtrack, including Life on Mars which was used a LOT. What’s not to like?

For those of you unfamiliar with Life on Mars.. the plot is is that Sam Tyler has an accident in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 wearing flares and driving a Cortina. The tagline is, Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.

I just hope to God I never suffer a head trauma and wake up in 1983 wearing a ra-ra skirt and legwarmers!

So, if I had to choose ONE song to listen to before I die, it would be Life On Mars. I want my life force to ebb away to this song but knowing my luck, it will be Justin Bieber and I will die with my middle finger stuck up in mid-air.

There is something satisfyingly poetic about Mick Ronson’s melodic string arrangements to Life on Mars being the last piece of music I ever hear before I depart this shit-hole planet. I am the girl with the mousey hair, or at least I used to be before I started dyeing the crap out of it, and I very much want this to be my swansong. Family, take note.

Finally, a bit o’ trivia for you..

The string arrangement for Life on Mars was written in a TOILET.

Genius.

Laughter As Therapy

Some of the most saddest people on earth are also the funniest. Funny, that.

Spike Milligan

Stephen Fry

Robin Williams

Jim Carrey

Paul Merton

Catherine Tate

David Walliams

Ruby Wax

Caroline Aherne

Kenneth Williams

All have had a depressive disorder.

I can understand how some people would struggle with the concept of funny people being depressed but the fact is that being funny doesn’t necessarily mean being happy. Humour is often a way of coping with life and the shit it throws at you – a defence mechanism, if you like..

I write funny posts. Correction, I try to write funny posts as well as serious ones but you may have noticed that even my funny ones are sometimes about difficult subjects? It’s a release for me. The sting of a bad memory isn’t quite as sharp when I’m putting a humourous spin on it. That said, some things just aren’t funny and never will be.

Humour was a lifeline to me when I was growing up. Watching comedy like The Kenny Everett Show or The Young Ones went some way to lifting my mood after yet another diabolically crap day at school. I laughed so hard I was in actual pain and sometimes my laughter bordered on the hysterical – which was a bit freaky – but I think it was in lieu of the tears that I hadn’t cried at school. That’s my theory, anyway.

Or I am indeed certifiable?

 

For me, the humour is there but it gets lost in translation if I try to verbalise it, so I write it down. I’m funnier on paper, or screen, in my case as I HATE writing with a passion. Maybe if I’d have been able to make people laugh at school, I wouldn’t have been bullied so much? As it was, I did make them laugh. The problem is that they were laughing at me, instead of with me.

Research shows that children laugh about 300 times a day whereas adults only laugh around 15 times a day.

I have laughed three times today. THREE!

This needs addressing, no?

Humour is medicine.

Write that down and stick it on your fridge door or laptop.

The sciencey bit..

Physical Benefits of Laughter

  • Improves brain and heart function
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Boosts immune system
  • We create disease – fighting antibodies
  • Increases oxygen levels in the blood
  • We heal faster

The way I see it, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting this to the test. So instead of putting on a film that makes you sad or on edge – put on a comedy.

Buy yourself a funky notepad (with unicorns on it, if that’s your bag) and rate how you feel, before and after the film.

Think of laughter as therapy. No, I don’t mean the kind of therapy where you sit in a circle and laugh like sodding hyenas for no reason at all. I mean funny books, films and TV.

I’ll give you three examples of what tickles my funny bone..

The 86 Fix by Keith A Pearson

It’s hard to believe this is Keith’s debut but it is and it’s hilarious. If you’re a certain age – you’ll need a change of pants or Tena pad.

It’s basically about mid-life, time travel and the 1980s. That ticks three of my boxes. It was most probably written with male readers in mind but I generally find male humour funnier than female so it works for me.

When it comes to films, Blazing Saddles is up there with the VERY best. There is a little high-pitched fart part way through and I usually lose it at that point. If you can watch this scene and not laugh, you’re dead to me.

Last of all we come to TV..

Dinnerladies is one of my all time favourite comedy programmes. Victoria Wood was a comedy genius. She was an observer of northern life and could take the mundane and make it knicker-wettingly funny. Victoria took her ‘flaws’ and made them funny. Her death was such a huge loss to the world of comedy but it’s the likes of her that inspire me to put a humorous spin on my own life.

This scene NEVER fails to make me laugh.

My examples may not be your cup of tea. The point is that there is something out there to suit everybody’s taste. So get looking and get laughing ha ha ha?

“Do you do sugar free muesli?”
“No. This is a canteen, not a ground sheet at Glastonbury.” ~ Dinnerladies

 

 

 

Never Say Die

Some people come into your life for a moment, a day, or for a lifetime.

It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life at that time.

Dear Chris,

I saw your name on social media and clicked on it fully expecting to see you smiling back at me. Instead, I saw an account remembering your life. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was some kind of joke?

Then I read your obituary..

At the age of 45, you were gone.

Our paths first crossed in 1981 when I started a new school. You were a lovely looking boy with twinkling eyes and a great sense of humour. Everybody liked you. Even the weirdos, like me. You made people laugh simply by being you. You didn’t pick on me like the rest of the boys and you’d never join in with the name-calling. In fact, you’d have a go at them and tell them not to be so ‘tight’ on me. That got you some flack, not that it bothered you.

I’ve never forgotten your kindness.

I never will.

By 1985 a friendship had developed between us. Not boyfriend and girlfriend. Just a two friends who shared a love of heavy metal music. You’d walk home with me after school and I felt safe when I was with you because I knew the others wouldn’t try anything while you were there. Some girls have knights in shining armour. My knight wore scuffed shoes and a blazer.

One of the first records I borrowed from you was Axe Attack which I played over and over again much to my parent’s annoyance. If I remember correctly, my Black Sabbath LP – Never Say Die – was originally yours?

When it felt as though the world was against me – you made a difference. You were a shining light in a very dark world – not that you were ever aware just how deeply I was affected by the bullying.

Nobody did, except me.

No doubt you continued to light up people’s worlds as you went through your life. You had a lovely wife and two handsome boys. I’m so sorry they’ve lost you when you had so much more to give. To lose you at such a young age is cruel. It seems so unfair that evil people live to an old age and so many good people die too young..

This is where I struggle with God.

This is where I question. why?

Why you?

You will always be the boy with the spiky hair and a twinkle in his eye.

That’s how I will remember you.

I can see you now – big grin on your face. 15 forever, eh?

I hope that your heaven plays non-stop rock music and you get to watch over your family until they can be with you again. When I eventually get my arse up there – be sure to say hi won’t you?

Chris, I don’t believe that we ever really die and so it’s seems apt to dedicate this record to you.

Thanks for being my friend.

 

 

 

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Researching autism in mainstream secondary schools, I came across this comment on an online debate of whether autistic children should be taught in mainstream schools..

 “As a student taught in a mainstream school, I know the pain of autistic kids. There is an average of one autistic per classroom, and it commonly disrupts the learning environment, In recent years, I have seen many classrooms disrupted by a call for “iPad!!!” or “Hungry!!!” in the middle of an important lesson, sometimes even a test. I understand the argument for mainstreaming, but by the time that making the… Lesser… Kids feel better by putting them in normal classes infringes upon the learning environment of those who actually have opportunity (keeping autistics in the same school as normals) , that’s going too far.”

Charming, eh?

Where do I start?

“I know the pain of autistic kids”

No you don’t.

“There is an average of one autistic per classroom, and it commonly disrupts the learning environment”

“It”? I hope this person is referring to ‘it’ as the autism, not the child?

“I understand the argument for mainstreaming, but by the time that making the… Lesser… Kids”

This person considers him/herself as being more important (and intelligent) than autistic pupils.

“keeping autistics in the same school as normals) , that’s going too far.”

Are we talking feral cats here? Or human beings?

I am a literal person and I take words literally but there is no doubt in my mind that this person sees autistic pupils as inferior to himself and that they should all be buggered off elsewhere.

I’m not oblivious to how autistic pupils can be disruptive but that doesn’t mean they have no place in mainstream. When I was at school it was the opposite. It was the “normals” that disrupted my learning on a daily basis for the entire four years I was there. Personally, I’d have ripped someone’s arm off to go to a special school but many autistic people do better in mainstream as long as they have the right support – not to mention the acceptance and understanding of their peers.

There is much I could say about inclusion but that’s for another post. Today, I want to address attitudes towards autistic people.

So, lets take a look at some other “lessers”.

  • Dan Aykroyd –  Actor – Aspergers DX
  • Hans Christian Andersen – Author – Considered Autistic
  • Susan Boyle – Singer – Aspergers DX.
  • Tim Burton – Film Director – Considered Autistic
  • Henry Cavendish – Scientist – Considered Autistic
  • Charles Darwin – Naturalist, Geologist, and Biologist – Considered Autistic
  • Paul Dirac – Physicist – Considered Autistic
  • Albert Einstein –Er, Hello? Genius!– Considered Autistic
  • Bobby Fischer – Chess Whizz – Considered Autistic
  • Bill Gates – Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation – Considered Autistic
  • Temple Grandin – Animal Scientist – Asperger DX
  • Daryl Hannah – Actress – Asperger DX
  • Steve Jobs – Former CEO of Apple – Considered Autistic
  • James Joyce – Author – Considered Autistic
  • Barbara McClintock – Scientist and Cytogeneticist – Considered Autistic
  • Michelangelo – Sculptor, Painter, Architect, Poet – Considered Autistic
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Musical Genius – Considered Autistic
  • Sir Isaac Newton – Mathematician, Astronomer, & Physicist – Considered Autistic
  • Jerry Seinfeld – Comedian – Self-DX
  • Satoshi Tajiri – Creator of Nintendo’s Pokémon – Aspergers DX
  • Nikola Tesla – Inventor – Physicist -Electrical & Mechanical Engineer- Considered Autistic
  • Gary Numan – Singer – Song Writer – Producer – Composer – Self-DX Aspergers
  • Paddy Considine – Actor – Director – Screen Writer – Musician – Aspergers DX
  • Alan Gardner – Award Winning Garden Designer and TV presenter – Aspergers DX
  • Chris Packham – Nature Photographer, TV Presenter – Author – Aspergers DX

Those who consider that autism equals low intelligence would do well to take a long hard look at this list because all the people on it have a diagnosis or are generally considered to be autistic by those who are autistic and the professionals who diagnose it. This list of talents is as diverse as the autistic spectrum itself. I wonder if our friend who wants the “lesser kids” out of his/her classroom will change the world in the way that some of these people have?

I’m guessing not.

Another problem is that the word ‘Autism’ is often used as a slur – an insult.

Ignorance causes distress. On any given day you can type the word ‘Autistic’ into the search bar of Twitter and you will come across a tweet that uses the word as an insult.

Actual Tweets.

“This lady is watching some lads just go and buy a drink, yelling autistic dribble, making funny noises and clapping her hands.”

“they usually have something worthwhile to say though…..your tweets are nothing but autistic outbursts”

“Got an image in my head of (name omitted) having an autistic shitfit trying to work the wetherspoons app hahahahahahha”

“Like how autistic do you have to be to think going to spawns on an aim map and spawn killing in DM is going to help you or beneficial.”

“autistic retard”

“my friend keeps sending me snaps of some autistic guy dancing at the bar .. lemme tell u for free , i never seen a retard dance like that.”

Plenty more where they came from but you get my drift?

If I had my way, I would have them rounded up and fired off into space on a one way ticket because there is a chance these fuckwits will spawn and spread their ignorance throughout the planet. Harsh, but effective, yes?

I haven’t made screen shots of the tweets but they are there. I haven’t made these up.

Some of these tweets will have been made on iPhones and what these idiots don’t realise is that the Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple, is Steve Jobs – a man who is generally considered to have been AUTISTIC.

Or maybe they’ve done the Pokémon thing?

The world-wide phenomenon which is Pokémon was created by a man with a Aspergers diagnosis. Get this. In 2014 Satoshi Tajiri was estimated to be worth $5.1 billion!

PIKA PIKA MOFOS!

“Lesser”? I don’t think so!

Some autistic people do have severe learning difficulties but they often excel in creative thinking.

“Lesser”? No. Different? Yes.

We all have something to offer.

The slurs are offensive – no question. However, the joke is on the ignorant wankpuffins who make such comments because the world that we know today has been shaped by autistic people.

Issac Newton wrote: “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

We see further today because we are standing on the shoulders of giants and many of those giants were autistic.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs