You may already know from things I've mentioned before here that I feel great affinity and admiration for Chris Packham. It's for many reasons - his deep love of nature is at the fore, but also his sense of outsiderness, his admission of social anxiety, and of course his musical and sartorial tastes.
I think a lot of us have a sort of autistic streak to one degree or another. Not enough to affect our ability to function normally but perhaps enough to make some aspects of life trickier than we envisage it being for our peers. Maybe just the merest hint of it, maybe not even something noticeable to anyone else, but the horrible feeling you get deep inside when you don't want to go to that party, or that wedding, or that work do, or whatever it is where everyone expects things to be a certain way and that way just isn't you. When you feel in the minority - or maybe completely alone - for whatever reason, be it your interests, or your level of enthusiasm for something, or your lack of enthusiasm for something else. Where you don't feel you can fit in, because everyone else seems to do so with ease and so you must be the odd one out. When you have to adapt the way you express yourself, when you tone down your inner voice that wants to rave about its weird passions that nobody else seems to get. I think here, in this corner, it's a safe place. But in the wider world it's sometimes hard to navigate. Sometimes you have to fake normality. Is that some kind of autism, being a bit unusual? I don't know. But I know that a lot of what Chris spoke about in his programme was absolutely relatable.
I'm pretty sure my dad would be diagnosed as having Asperger's if he were to undergo analysis. An incredibly brainy, mathematical, logical man, he has no idea how to behave socially, how to dress or present himself conventionally, how to even be a 'true' father to my sister and me. He's awkward, disconnected. I see him in myself at times and I have to work at it. I forgive him his inability to communicate normally with his own offspring. It's just the way he is, and it doesn't make him bad.
My mum - very sociable and gregarious - was affected by mental health issues (clinical depression) and what with my dad... well, perhaps that's why I was precocious and difficult for a few years, maybe it's in that odd combination of genes! I was happy to spend hours, days, on my own in my bedroom drawing, writing, reading. My head was nearly always in a book - or making books of my own. Or crouching outside on the step watching ants, studying woodlice, feeding lettuce to snails. Hating new clothes, hating change. Refusing to eat the baked beans that fell off the toast. Keeping a collection of butterfly cocoons in a plastic box. Having to get back to my bedroom before the toilet flush stopped making a noise for fear of something bad happening if I didn't. Daydreaming far too much. It all kind of broke when I became a teenager. And then punk spoke to me, music and style and gigs and kindred spirits gave me an outlet. It's okay to be a bit weird - embrace it. You can be creative with clothes! You can be creative, full stop.
Punk spoke to Chris Packham as a teenager too - it's easy to see why.
I really recommend watching it, if not already. Here's the iPlayer link: