The King and I

I am worried about next weekend.

It is the coronation of King Charles.

I gather he is the third.

I restrained myself when the Queen died, she did, after all, die, and it is never great to celebrate someone’s passing.

I put to one side all my thoughts about the crown and colonialism, all the badness that is inherent in the English aristocracy – the landowners, the men in Burberry Range Rovers, the fox hunting, the Tory heartlands singing Rule Britannia, the Britain that was mocked so successfully by Matt Lucas and David Walliams in the now dated Little Britain.

We have been invited to a garden party.

Fortunately, I have plans, to be somewhere else.

I struggle with all the flags and the banners and bunting, Charles’ punim on balloons, mugs and posters, the English ability to lay aside all the history and revel in the moment, the taxpayer’s celebration, just, as the numbers of homeless on the streets of our cities increases, just as we arrest refugees and plot their deportation to Rwanda.

I think historically of the story of Exodus.

Not the one involving Moses, the novel by Leon Uris describing the ill-fated journey of the steam-boat Exodus, captured 40 miles off the coast of Palestine in 1947 and the forced repatriation of 5,000 Holocaust survivors back to Europe.

I think of the farmer screaming for me to ‘get off his land’ as I harmlessly walk my dog, I think of Perfidious Albion. Of Bloody Sunday and the Irish Famine.

It all comes at once.

On Thursday I was involved in my first ever road-rage.

A woman was annoyed that I pulled into her lane (after indicating), she accelerated beside me, lowered her window, and screamed that I was a useless bastard (or words to that effect) (I couldn’t hear her as my window was up). She then pulled in front, slowed and switched on her hazard lights, all the time gesticulating furiously. Fortunately, she then drove-off, I imagine, to purchase a disposable barbecue and some bunting.

I think of the Royals, and I see unabashed privilege; I perceive farmers, hedge-fund managers, Jeffrey Epstein aspirants, stockbrokers and all who are destroying the planet.

And so, I am anxious, worried about how I might behave or might be expected to behave.

Yesterday I heard there is a plan for people to swear their allegiance to the King.

I almost choked on my cornflakes; had I been eating them.

I don’t understand the behaviour.

It seems to run deep in a psyche that has passed me by.

Perhaps it is because I am Scottish, or Jewish.

And yet, there will be plenty of Scottish Jews I am sure, singing God Save the King next weekend.

I suspect Colin Wilson (writer), were he still alive, would say, ‘Don’t worry, you stand outside of all of that, you are you.’

This, for me, leads to a question about autism.

Which was the original intention of this blog (called, provisionally, ‘Autism and I’) although subsequently deleted.

Last night I completed a few online autism questionnaires.

It seems I score quite highly on certain measures – most notably my sensitivity to noise, preference for lots of alone time and my inability to remember birthdays.

No, this doesn’t mean I am autistic, although it might suggest I am somewhere on what is called the spectrum, unclear as whether at the red or the violet end.

It is true that many things that people enjoy I dislike.

Such as Strictly and The Bake-Off; my Mary Berry chagrin is a running-joke in our household.

I find connections between unexpected ideas, I can obsessively chew gum, I am very good at recognising subtle changes in peoples’ appearance, all these, I am informed, are traits.

Who knows? And does it matter?

My brother asked me this last night.

Autism, does it matter? There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so, to paraphrase Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius.

Over recent years, within the world of autism, the terminology of neurotypical and neurodivergent has become part of our language.

The former being the state that the majority represent, within the diversity of human experience and neurodivergent, the state that those on the spectrum occupy.

Again, does it matter?

Well, society can be cruel.

It tends to favour the needs, aspirations, and behaviours of the majority (we call these people normal) and if you fall outside this (also a spectrum) you have a problem.

(It’s mad to be normal, said RD Laing)

So long as you are quiet about your problem no one really bothers; when you start expressing your thoughts, people notice.

RD Laing also famously said the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic person was that one caused problems for themselves (the neurotic) and the other, the psychotic, problems for others. (I paraphrase).

Keeping quiet about my distain for the Crown would likely not raise eyebrows, expressing a preference might.

I have sometimes wondered what I would do if, say, the Tory Prime Minster were to visit me at work. You know, those TV set-ups where the politician stalks a hospital ward with tie tucked-in to shirt, watch (Patek Philippe) in pocket and shirt sleeves rolled up to elbows (thank you Hunt).

Would I stay quiet and shake the hand or would I have a go? Would I be the have-a-go hero you sometimes see on election campaigns when politicians go to ‘meet the people?’

Who knows.

I suspect decorum would intervene and I would play along.

I am a wimp.

It is one thing sitting at a keyboard and another upsetting your general manager or chief executive.

Getting back to my brother’s question, ‘What is the point? Why assign the diagnosis? Where does it take us?’

Well, I believe that for those who are neurodivergent, that is, people who see the world differently to the majority because of a genetic inheritance or a twist of fate are legitimate like everyone else.

Neurodivergence can result in fantastic acts of creativity and originality (please, please, someone listen to Blindboy (You can read about him in the New York Times here!)) And, so long as no one is harmed, people should be allowed to get on with their lives without fear of repercussion or the risk of a clinical diagnosis and subsequent medication.

I am me.

I am not you.

The me, that is me, is as valid as you.

That is all we need.

If my preference is for silence, please respect me.

I will wear my earplugs and allow you to get-on with your noisemaking.

Many years ago, it was three in the morning, walking home from a nightclub, I remember passing the Medical Sciences Institute in Dundee, seeing the lights on in the labs and commenting to my friend, ‘I wish I was there.’

My friend, I think took offence, or perhaps just thought, ‘Weirdo,’ for me, however, I had just spent an evening in meaningless dancing and drinking, for the researchers, they were hard at work, perhaps unravelling the genome or something equally amazing or trivial (it might have been the cleaning staff).

And these reflections have provided for me insight into that statement.

We each enjoy different things, ‘Come on, you will enjoy yourself,’ says my friend, ‘No, I’d prefer to read my book,’ I reply.

Difference, divergence.

We all walk different paths.

Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

2 thoughts on “The King and I

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