Second installment of my story about an autistic boy forming a band
Chapter 2 - 1988 - Two Worlds Collide
“What have I done with my life, is this the end when two worlds collide” - Inspiral Carpets
After carefully considering my life so far I can confidently say that it is firmly split in two. Everything that happened before we moved to Brighton was the practice, the training, the rehearsal. All the humiliation, the meltdowns, the torment, the utter and disorientating bewilderment that I felt about the world I inhabited. I was always sure that I was meant to be delivered to another place but there was a mix up.
The best training I had was the acting classes that my parents insisted on sending me to. How they got me there some days, I will never know. Bribery and often physically dragging me was the order of the day if I remember rightly. Although I probably don’t remember rightly as I tend to forget stuff when I am stressed and freaking out.The thing about acting classes was they taught me that you can be someone else, you can become totally absorbed in a different character. In fact you need to do this, you have to do this, in order to play roles effectively. At acting classes we learned about studying other people. We learned to take on their physical affections and to portray their personalities. We heard stories of actors spending days with people or studying video footage of people just to get their mannerisms exact. We heard stories about actors staying in character off stage or when the camera stopped rolling. Sometimes never breaking character for entire days, weeks or whole film shoots. I remember thinking, why not just stay in character? Why not just play a character who doesn’t feel like an alien on the wrong planet? Just play someone who fits in.
So during the rehearsal before Brighton that’s what I tried to do. Watching and studying my school mates…. School mates?? Mates as i understand it, know that you are alive. Trouble was I sucked at it. I realised that I would need practise.
The trouble was outside of school, my choices for characters to study were very limited. I am an only child. I tried playing my dad for a while but taking on the mannerisms of a middle age man was not much better than being myself in terms of social acceptance. However the most effective source of characters was the TV. Television was full of characters and full of lessons on how to negotiate different social situations. Neighbours and Home and Away were packed full of young subject matter that would prove useful to me in finding a workable persona. I also noticed at this time that memorising and regurgitating lines of TV comedies comes in handy when wishing to appear like an earthling. Everyone seems to do this, much to the amusement of everyone else. My particular talent for memorising things perfectly had become something of a party piece. I am quite a novelty at school at the moment and kids find it hilarious to quote bits of TV shows at me to hear me reply with the next line, I am even learning to hold my tongue and not correct their lines when they get them wrong.
I remember as clear as day when walking down the corridor at my new school in Brighton. Hove Park Lower School is like, I would guess, so many other schools around the country. A grey rectangular building some time in god knows when. The corridors are adorned with colourful work and pictures of impressive looking ex students trying to make the place look less grey and bland. Trying in vain, to convince its students that the world they were being prepared for offered something more than the ominous grey of middle class suburban Hove. As I walked down that corridor with my mum on one side and Mr Bratten the headmaster on the other side of me I realised something that changed my life. I realised that I can be anyone I want to be. All the training I had been doing before we moved to Brighton could now come to fruition. I had a blank slate, a clean start. Literally no-one knew who this kid that was about to walk through the door was. It didn’t quite work out like that but at least I suppose I started life at Hove Park a few rungs higher that I had before.
The problem of course is what happens to the real me? The alien me? Well I kinda know how Peter Parker feels when switching between himself and Spiderman. Let’s get something straight here though. I am not suggesting that my character is as good as Spiderman, or any other superhero come to that. He is still a bit weird, largely a loner and on the bottom rung of the social ladder. We don’t live in an american high school movie but you know what I mean. If the truth be told, I am barely clinging on to this fantasy that I am a character that belongs here but I have experienced the alternative and this is my best chance of joining the human race. My parents are the only ones who know me and the thought of them discovering my chosen character is as terrifying as my peers uncovering the real me. One of the many problems with living your life like this is that keeping my personas separate is becoming harder and harder. Couple this with the exhaustion of trying to keep myself level and avoiding overloading, freaking out or melting down and it is getting harder and harder to make it through the day. I guess it will be worth it if I make it through school alive. This is an example of hyperbole that I have used for comic effect. I learnt that in English, I hope you enjoy it.
One of the shining beacons of hopefulness in my life, and I mean this is shining like a red giant burning bright in the far reaches of the galaxy. Infinite potential but also seeming way to far off to make any real difference. It turns out my parents are not the only ones who know the real me, I am constantly discovering people who know me and I am starting to believe they understand me as well to varying degrees. Each day I am discovering more by working through my dad’s record collection. John Lennon, Roger Daltrey, Ray Davies especially Ray Davies they seem to be writing about me and the way I feel. Listening to their songs makes me feel like I am not alone. I don’t just mean the lyrics but the music too. How do these bands explain the way I feel through their music. Could it be that I am not the only visitor to this planet? I love listening to his music with dad and I love listening to him telling me how it speaks to him. There is so much depth to the relationship dad has with his records. He understands it differently to me and it says something different to him. He tells me that this is not only okay it is the whole point of music and other art forms. You take what you want from it in your own way.
He says that tomorrow he is going to take me into town to buy me some records of my own. He told me to ask the kids at school what they are listening to and what I should get. I really have no idea who I should ask or how I should do it.