I'm an unsociable old bugger. In times past, I was an unsociable young bugger. Parties have always been dull at best, terrifying at worst. My current self-employed situation means I can avoid busy transport times, work weekends and shop at night or while everyone else is at work. I have always hated nightclubs and discos, will have nothing to do with karaoke or any other party games and before the smoking ban banned me from the pub, I was rarely to be found in one on a Friday or Saturday night. I'd usually be in there Tuesday and/or Wednesday when it was quiet. Now it's small Smoky-Drinkies, mostly at weekends but they aren't anywhere near as scary as a busy pub.
I don't like crowds. I won't go near a city centre now that Christmas shopping is in full swing. If you meet me, I might not say much and will probably avoid eye contact unless enraged. That does improve with time. I won't be attending any Christmas parties. Visitors are a disruption although I make an exception for Smoky-Drinky evenings. I know they won't be staying and I can corral them in specific parts of the house.
I can be obsessive and compulsive, traits that come in handy in my line of work. I have never caught an infection in the lab and I can perform the same test on multiple samples and it will be exactly the same test every time. If I spot a typo in one of these posts after publishing, I have to go back in and correct it. I cannot leave it.
I can't go to funerals. I can't take them seriously enough because I can't understand what all the crying is about. Death happens and often, it's not really a surprise. Then again, when someone leaves the room they cease to exist for me. I cannot make small talk. If I have nothing to say, I am silent. Oh, I can write masses but casual chat? I'm useless at it. I can sit in silence for hours and so still I've actually had sparrows perch on me in the garden. Oh, I can creep people out with those long still silences. Thinking does not require movement.
I could never wear these. They would drive me nuts because I'd be trying to keep them level all the time.
That's enough to diagnose me with Asperger's. Years ago I would simply have been diagnosed as 'a grumpy git' but now, every deviation from the British Standard Human has to have a syndrome attached to it. There is nothing wrong with me. It's the rest of you that are weird. Especially you constantly-moving fidgets who talk all the time. How do you do it? Why ask how my family are? They're not here. Besides, I don't know how they are unless they phone me and tell me. They know I'm not likely to ask unless I'm already aware of some problem.
My dislike of clubbing, karaoke, parties and idle chat does not make me 'dysfunctional'. I just don't like those things. I really don't want to be 'adjusted' to be 'able to do them'. I don't want to do them. No more than I'd want to try parachuting or mountain climbing or sailing or any of a million other things that some people enjoy. I'm not ill, I'm just non-standard.
Everyone, in fact, is non-standard. There is no British Standard Human outside the minds of the Righteous. Therefore everyone can have a syndrome. Therefore everyone can be taken away for treatment at any time. Feeling a bit low today? You have 'depression'. Feeling full of joy one day and gloomy the next? You have 'bipolar disorder'. That win on the horses one day followed by the death of your dog the next has nothing to do with it. Only the symptoms matter.
Why? Money, of course. It is not in any drug company's interests to cure anything. There is little profit in a pill you take once and then you're fixed. There is considerable profit in treatments for things that can't be cured and that will last a lifetime. There is fantastic profit in claiming that a personality difference is a personality disorder and selling you treatment for something that cannot be fixed because it's not a fault at all.
Suppose you took your car to a mechanic and he said 'Oh, I can see the problem. Your car is the wrong colour. We'll keep repainting it until we find the colour that works.' Unless you're such an imbecile you shouldn't be driving anyway, you'd take that car to another mechanic straight away.
Yet doctors get away with that all the time. Feeling sad? Here, have a pill. This is not to deny that there is a real illness of clinical depression, but the definition is now so wide that a few days of feeling a bit glum can get you onto medication. There are real cases of bipolar disorder, but you can get almost everyone into the definition now.
There is a real horror of change in the human race now. The world might warm or cool and that terrifies people. It's changed in my lifetime, I remember summers where we heard of people dying from the heat and summers that were so washed-out that barbecues were selling for peanuts because nobody could use one. Winters with a couple of days of light snow, and winters where you'd open the door and find a three-foot snowdrift against it. Temperatures in the UK can top 30C in a hot summer and reach -20C in a severe winter. Fifty degrees of temperature difference in one year and people are terrified of half a degree of global warming over the next hundred years.
The fear of change extends into all aspects of life. Someone smokes. That's not 'normal'. Someone drinks. That's not 'normal'. Someone has too much or too little body weight for their height. That's not 'normal'. Someone leaves their curtains closed all day. That's not 'normal'. Someone likes to go out at 1 am just to wander around. That's not 'normal'. All these things and many more were shrugged off as trivial differences in the past but now they are seen as threatening deviations from the British Standard Human. You must not be different. You must conform. Resistance is futile.
The definition of normal becomes narrower by the day. Soon it will reach the point where none of us can possibly fit into it. Those declaring the Aryan perfect norm certainly don't, but then the last guy who wanted it didn't fit it either. It is not an issue for those who want it because they won't have to fit it. Only the plebs must fit.
The day is coming where, if you park your car nose-in in your driveway, while everyone else parks nose-out, it will be noticed and reported. Here there are already strict rules defining what we can do to the fronts of our houses. They must all look largely the same. Seriously. If the money is ever there, I'm not building a conservatory at the back of the house. I'll build an observatory on the roof and sit in the glass dome sipping whisky and smoking. At last, something I could do with a lottery win! Although I doubt I'd be allowed to. It's not 'normal'.
We used to have a great tradition of eccentricity. Viv Stanshall, Spike Milligan, Michael Bentine, to name a very few of the famous ones. Every town, every street had its oddballs. A great-uncle of mine was sent to live in an old people's home in his eighties because he kept starting fights in pubs. He could speak English but would only speak Welsh just to be difficult. He didn't like the home. Restricted smoking and no booze. I remember thinking, even as a small child back then, that it was as if he had been sent to prison.
Now they look even worse. There are several such homes here and you'll see very old people shivering outside with cigarettes that, if ASH are to be believed, actually killed them forty years ago. The buildings look nice enough but there are no gardens. There are regimented flower beds and lawns tended by Council employees but the inmates can't touch them. They can't smoke in their own homes. They can't tend their own patch of garden. They eat what they are given at times directed by their handlers. If I ever end up in one of those places I am going to be trouble. So, 'retirement' homes, when the doctor says 'We have Leg-iron for you', I advise you to have no rooms available. Because I will smoke in them, I will drink in them and I will eat what I please, when I please, with salt on it and if I want to stay up all night and sleep all day, deal with it. It's not going to change.
But then I am not vulnerable. I can understand what is happening around me and react to it. I can pretend to be 'normal' when necessary. I can also exaggerate my abnormality when I think it's likely to be amusing. There was once a nurse who came to my house. She wanted a 'personality profile'. Well, I wasn't always writing stories but I was born with the imagination and sense of absurdity that is so much fun to have. I sat her at the dining room table and took a seat myself. Mine was placed so she couldn't get out without going past me. As the questions progressed, she became more and more nervous. I have unusually pointy canines and one of the lower ones juts out like an orc's. Dentists have offered to fix it, but I like it. After she left, I couldn't stop laughing for hours. She never came back. So yes, I might be a long way from the tedium of State-directed normality but I can look after myself.
Would I do the same now? Probably not. These days I would engineer a personality blander than John Major so they'd leave me alone. I would probably refuse to even take part in the test. These days, being different is dangerous. Ten years ago I might have dressed up as a Borg to take the piss but now, even preferring the wrong kind of hat could get me sectioned.
Being different is no longer allowed. You have to conform to the increasingly tight definition of 'normal' or you are considered dangerously deviant. It's all very well for the likes of me who can talk down most of the intrusive and pathologically insane medical profession but for those who can't it's a very different story.
As Anna Raccoon ably demonstrates. I'd advise everyone to sign that petition because no matter what you think of my deviant life, yours is deviant too. You are not the British Standard Human any more than you are the Urban Spaceman. It does not exist. It cannot exist.
When the British Standard Human becomes law, none of us will be allowed to exist.