Confessions of an oddball

Month: January, 2014

No. 3: Adults only

Adults onlyAs I approached the end of my time in sixth form, I turned 18 years of age. It was much the same as any other day around that period, in that it was well wasted. Nobody had informed me that the building would be closed that day, and so I attended anyway. One other person had not received this memo – someone I had a crush on. We decided between us that we should break up the disappointment by going into town and hanging out.

Our plan seemed fool proof – what could go wrong about walking into town? Another of my friends was wandering down the main shopping street of my hometown when the girl I was with stopped for a girly chat with her. They got talking about the head joker. Let me make myself clear when I give him this name. He had no credentials as a joker. His jokes were unfunny, his attitude was sour, and he was the most obnoxious person I had ever known. When standing around having a conversation with his joker friends, he would step into their huddle and stand inches away from the person he was talking to. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to know he was an attention seeker.

Well the fool proof plan was about to unravel. Not only had my 18th birthday started with me wasting a day off I didn’t know I had. It took a further nose dive when the girl I fancied remarked about how enormous the head joker’s penis was. This did little to stir up envy, as I had no problems in that regard. Instead it made me wonder why fate would bestow the greatest of gifts to a boy with not a single good bone in his body. This was a boy who rejoiced in bullying, taunting, and otherwise berating any person he came across. He was ridiculous to look at, had a vile demeanour, and yet he was one of the most popular boys in my year.

It was the pull of living that made me move straight out of sixth form and straight into full-time work. I started with an italian restaurant chain. It was built on the principles I valued most – family, unity, and healthy home made food. During my interview, the manager informed me that this was all a fallacy. A large american company had bought the photo album of an italian family and fabricated a story about two men named Frankie & Benny.

Although my cynic alarm was ringing I decided to take the job, and started waiting tables in the place I would call work for the next 9 months. I rose through the ranks quickly and easily, earning a net gain of £1 extra per hour for 1 ton of added stress. There is stress in any job though, right? Mine came the night of a waiter leaving without cleaning his section. I became annoyed at this once he had left, and my work mates did nothing to hold their silence. He returned the favour by threatening to break my neck (while slicing an apple in a laughably hollywood way). I laughed at him and walked away, but Benny & co hadn’t finished with me yet. One night, much the same as this, I was handed the telephone by a manager who had a distinct lack of balls. An ex-employee had called to demand the money he felt was owed. It was up to me to explain that we owed him nothing. This favour was returned in much the same vein, by a threat from him to ram-raid the restaurant and ‘cut my throat out’.

The police decided this was not worthy of their effort – at least not until my throat had been removed – yet this was not the first time. Indeed there were other times when the police did nothing to help me. On a night when I had worked in a local chip shop, an employee sprung at the opportunity presented to him by the owner leaving for a walk around the block. His first move was to intimidate me. As I pushed him away from me, he launched an attack that had me lying on the floor being kicked repeatedly in the face. This the police stated was my fault for pushing him. Years earlier while still working at Matalan my bike had been stolen from the iron bar it was chained to, and similarly a second bike from outside of Frankie & Benny’s. This must have been my fault for owning a bike.

My faith in the police was altogether lost when I grew older and one of my two friends from school became a police officer himself. His ambition was greater than his empathy, and he enjoyed nothing more than informing me how superior he was. His views on the people he arrested was less than understanding; he became a racist and a bigot as time progressed; and he ceased any interesting pursuits in exchange for attending the same pub every week for the rest of his life. This was enough to make me question our friendship, yet our friendship was shaken to its foundations at another point in our history. In years to come he would explain that if a man in custody lay dead, and a team were resuscitating him, that he could legally obstruct this. Furthermore he stated that if the team asked for him to move aside he would arrest any team member for obstruction of justice.

Truly my 18th year was a lesson in faith for me. It began with my faith in fate, through the world of work mates, and concluded with the Police force. This lesson had no main lecturer and no break for coffee – yet its core message was the same throughout. Never put faith in anything outside of your own control. Your friends will betray you, your work mates will never care, and the police are as unreliable as the wind. You must live your own life and not dwell on the things which you will never change. Only accept that they are a necessary evil to highlight the good elsewhere in the world.

I have moved on from my hometown’s values; I no longer wait tables in hostility; I bear no grudge with the police force. The anarchy at my core remains unchecked however. Indeed in my 18th year it had been let loose to wreak havoc, and its target was my faith in the world.


No. 2: Life goes on

Life goes onSchooling for me had always been a chore. I attempted during my time there to get as much life experience as I could without having to go very far or talk to anyone. This led me to karate. It had discipline, people of all ages, and happened every Saturday. Of course I enjoyed going, but not for the people. Somehow even here I was the butt of people’s jokes – the instructor included. During my 3 years attending this class my enduring memories are of quitting when only 2 belts from black, and of getting the biggest most painful verruca of my life.

I had no good reason for leaving. It just seems that for some times in my life when things fall into routine, the tornado inside of me feels the need to disrupt things. There was only ever one person who could calm the storm, but she comes later in our tale. Karate paid me in uniforms, belts, and certificates. It did not pay me in strength, fitness or skill. I feel cheated when I gaze back on this part of my history, but it was myself I was cheating.

It took me some years to figure this out, and by that time college had passed me by. These my sixth form years were not my favourite. I had the misread understanding that because I had aced my GCSEs that this would allow me to pass my A-Levels with flying colours. Further from the truth than I am to Jupiter, this led to all out failure. One of my ambitions had been to become a doctor. My mother had politely informed me as a child that should I become anything other than a doctor or lawyer that she would be disappointed. This was a light-hearted joke, but for a boy with my view on things it was as serious as a pick axe.

And so the day came for my chemistry teacher to take me to one side. He impolitely informed me that should my ambition be doctor that I would fail, but that if it be failure then I would succeed. Much obliged by this encouragement and motivation, I went on resenting him for years to come. He became my litmus test for whether I would succeed in life. This ambition was always my mother’s, but my own was simply to help people in whatever form that took.

In my free time I would find jobs, apply, succeed, rejoice, start work, and become utterly bored senseless. What was there to do that would challenge me everyday, have a different work environment than anywhere else, and that would allow me to help people? I settled for Matalan. I worked in customer services and I mastered the cashier till system within a week of part-time work. I was billy the kid with a returns rail. Some old classmates that worked there invited me to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers live with them. I had to sleep on the floor of a hotel room, but it only added to the atmosphere. A workmate was attracted to me from the moment I first walked through the door (I was later told). I was besotted back. For the first time in my life I felt the pull of something that was worth taking a risk for. She was the first real time I could feel my dull heart beat. And boy did it beat!

I caught wind that there was a sixth form party for her cohort. My insider was a boy with whom I had shared a mutual hatred in high school. He had moved on to a rival sixth form college, and it just so happened to be hers. He bought a ticket to the event on my behalf and I sat waiting for her in the club – Merlin’s! As I sat there I cared about one thing only, and that was her. More and more people arrived, but not her. I heard reports from people she knew that she couldn’t wait to see me, that she was becoming gradually more drunk, and that she would mount me in the streets. This I thoroughly approved of.

As my cares lay elsewhere I lapsed in my notice of a girl sat by the table to my left. I struck up friendly conversation and she returned in kind. The moment that my girl walked through the door I leapt at the opportunity to join her on the dance floor. I received a prod in my back, and I turned to see the girl from the table in a dark corner throwing me a sultry gaze. Oblivious to a woman’s wiles I simply said ‘Hi!’ and turned to see my girl put her tongue down the throat of a boy with whom she had shared a ‘will they won’t they’ relationship for years. I felt shaken to the core, heartbroken, and truly cold. With some hesitation I left Merlin’s and found a taxi home.

This litmus test had failed its primary goal, yet another byproduct had appeared from the wastes. I had taken a risk for something I knew was a long-shot. It was the first risk of my life, and it led me down a road of destruction. In one moment I felt more alive than ever before, and in the next I felt like digging my own grave. This period of my life contained the first big trial that I actually cared about and – although I had failed in most of my endeavours – I had succeeded in feeling human. When at last I became 18, I felt that this should be commemorated in some form or another. And so it became my first tattoo. I made a choice on what to base the symbol of this era. It was not ‘Matalan’ or a chemistry set. It was not Merlin’s beard or a finger in my back. It was the symbol of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That night may have hurt my back, and Merlin may have hurt my feelings, but I felt alive for the first time and I was hooked.

No. 1: Beginnings


Life began much the same for me as for anyone else you might see in the street. The difference was I was born late, blue, and not breathing. There was no apparent brain damage as I grew and developed so there was no cause for concern. Still, it wasn’t the best start in life that you might hope for your son.

My sisters were victims of abuse from our dad. That’s their story so I’ll leave it to them to clarify, but he left before I could remember so you’d assume I was unaffected. Well yes, you’d assume. Not having a father of any kind would have been better than having a father I was constantly compared to. It reminded me for my entire life that I was not from a normal upbringing, and that half of my DNA came from an asshole.

Feeling different from everyone else my age turned into being different from everyone else. I was a private child who didn’t like to share with others. My life was my own and I liked it that way. When school years began I didn’t integrate very well. Something well noted by a few of my teachers. They decided to have me tested for autism. That came out negative, yet as ripples in a pond the repercussions continued to echo through my adult years. When being a victim of bullying became the norm for my life, what else was there to do but accept it into my daily routine? I had no contemporaries to discuss this with and my teachers thought me abnormal, so what could I do but accept it?

Later in school I became a disruption. Our teacher believed me a problem child. I had problems and I was a child, so this wasn’t so far from the truth. I began to rebel against the bullies. Fabricating the trouble they had caused and reporting it to teachers; feeding them false answers when they were demanded; causing them to trip and fall when they ran past me. Eventually of course this meant everyone avoided me. I had started life alone in every respect.

As I entered high school I didn’t know how to be normal. Normal for me was either sitting at home with my mother who struggled financially but still worked hard to keep us. Or it was sitting on my own at school with classmates who avoided and despised me to the fabric of my being. At my core I was a tornado wanting to bring everything down in anarchy around me. I never let this side of me see the light of day… not yet, anyway.

In high school I met friends who would in later years become bigots happy with the cards they were dealt. I absorbed a love of the rock band Muse from a classmate. The bullying continued, but I mostly ignored it. The cliques ran their groups as they usually did. The smokers hung out behind the sports hall, the footballers on the school yard, and the jokers in the cafeteria. I walked around the school aimlessly. I absent-mindedly blended in to each crowd just so I wouldn’t be seen to be stood alone. It made bullying irresistible.

I tried hard in class, but I tried my own way. If a teacher had a thought with which I disagreed, I would show my disapproval (and be sent to detention). My grades had been high in my early years, but they gradually dropped as I got older. Not because I had become stupid, but because as class sizes grew I became less exceptional and more average.

The jokers would sometimes hang out by the bike sheds. This became their territory, and I became their tag-along. I enjoyed the company of one of their brood. He was most definitely different to look at, and although he had the brunt of some bullying, he had persevered and become popular. I envied him, so I studied his actions to see how I could integrate later in life (my time in high school was already lost). The rest of the joker group weren’t happy to see me. They would challenge me at every step. One of their favourite topics of conversation was masturbation. They’d talk about how they did it, when they did it, how many times they did it. It was truly disgusting to me. Then they asked me if I’d done it. I couldn’t imagine rubbing my genitals to feel better so I replied, “That’s disgusting.” For this I became a laughing stock with them.

Yet of course – as all young boys do – I did get round to this pass time. To a 13 year old the full breasts of an 20 year old are like the holy grail. I didn’t share this view. I liked girls my own age as all 13 year olds do. I didn’t look for them in pornography though, so I didn’t get much gratification. This was of course illegal, immoral, etc. etc. Well I looked for legal sites with 18 year old girls who didn’t look 20+. This was a little more gratifying for a boy my age. Of course this took a turn when I stumbled on something I had not bargained for. Back in those times the internet was not as filtered or closely examined as nowadays. It was easy for sleazy paedophiles to find what they wanted most. They disguised their links and sites to look normal from outward appearance. Yet one innocent click from an unknowing reader became my downfall. To find actual filth scarred me emotionally.

Ever since then I’ve hated myself for looking for these younger images. What I looked for may have been legal but it led to something I could not un-see. They led me down the rabbit hole and what was to be found was disgusting. I was right to call pornography and masturbation disgusting because it was for the most part. Conventional porn is acceptable, but the periphery and fringes of what others call arousing was an eye-opener (and consequently a few seconds later an eye-closer). I have struggled with this truth for a long time. I have never told anybody about falling victim to finding this. I have also never told anybody about this later event…

As I grew into 14 years of age, still images weren’t enough. I wanted moving pictures, and so through persuasion and perversion a woman of adult age had enticed me with lies about her age. She wanted me to strip on my webcam for her in exchange for images. As my pants dropped, so did the proverbial ball. The webcam was switched off just as swiftly as I’d closed the filth that had scarred me previously. I had realised what this woman was doing and what had happened to me.

Yet don’t believe this to be a blog centred around bullying or explaining that I am a victim. These are not my intentions. They are merely my beginnings. As I look back on these years I begin to take inventory. I did not have many friends at all. The friends I did have were different from everyone else. In catholic schools full of white children my friend would be the indian boy who had just joined. My grades were average toward my exit and my time in college was a failure. I had been questioned and poked and prodded and examined to determine my IQ and my diagnosis.

They found no mental ill-health, no learning disability and a high IQ. What they wouldn’t admit to was the boy they found. Abused by my classmates via bullying; abused by my teachers via calling me a disruption and removing me from a class I might otherwise enjoy; abused by the perversions of others being placed upon my shoulders.

I was born blue into a plain white world, with a grey sky, and black uniforms. Now I am my own person. I have suppressed my emotions and repressed my memories. While these days I am running with the crowd I now find myself looking at who I am as a wholly different being. I have the empathy of a bullied child; the scars of a teenage victim of paedophilia; and the good sense of a man borne of self-pity and regret. I look at the world and laugh. When your whole life has been the butt of another’s joke, the arousal to another’s monster, and the bag for everyone’s punch, what do you become?

You become whoever and whatever you want to be. If they decided the rules of a normal life don’t apply to you, then become exceptional. Be the man who sees the tears someone is holding back. Be the person who can listen to the words not being said. Be the human who can hold something fragile in their hands and not crush it for pure pleasure. Be the best that you can be, because for all your flaws you can create something wonderful. Life is filled with rules and norms for people to conform to. Don’t let selfishness be the instrument you play best.