I learned long ago that I’m not like most people. More recently, I made peace with that. All of the labels that can be attached to me, though, link me to other people. I’m a Hibs fan and a library assistant, a blogger and I like Chinese food and stovies. I like to walk and talk. I’m a member of both a gym and Amnesty International. I’m autistic and sometimes anxious. That’s off the top of my head.
I admire quite a few people. To take the first three labels, I admire Darren McGregor, who plays for Hibs, who has a good attitude towards life, fitness and of course the Hibs. I have been lucky to work with many good people in libraries, one or two of whom I look up to and aspire to being. There are lots of good bloggers too. Some of them even read this blog, remarkably.
Autistic people are more prominent in society than ever before. Two who are often in the media are Chris Packham, the naturalist and broadcaster, and Anne Hegerty, the Governess off The Chase. Chris Packham presented a BBC documentary at the end of last year called ‘Asperger’s And Me’, variously moving, funny and sweet, an insight into his life and autism more generally. What he wrote after the documentary came out is worth a read too. I’ve been meaning to read his memoir Fingers In The Sparkle Jar for ages and I have it sitting at work to read during breaks. I heard Anne Hegerty talk on a podcast recently and she came across very well. One bit that struck home was how she talked about needing time away from people now and then. I do a people-facing job and despite liking people, I also enjoy my own company too. It is necessary for survival too. Anne Hegerty is also on my favourite quiz show and the combination of quiz questions and smart people makes me happy. Knowing things should be celebrated and cherished, not dismissed as obsolete and unnecessary.
I’ve always believed that we should celebrate people when they’re alive. Funerals and obituaries are great but too late. Just tonight, I read the obituary of Jim Baikie, a comic artist from Hoy, Orkney who was involved in comic strips and worked for DC. He sounds like quite a guy. The Guardian publishes obits of people who maybe aren’t so well known. That’s great but I would like it if the papers published articles in praise of ordinary punters off the street. The New Year’s Honours list was published recently and while I disagree with the honours system for many reasons, I would rather read about those many deserving people garlanded for working in their communities than the latest Tory MP or arms dealer given a knighthood. To take but three examples from the most recent list, David Duke, the founder of Street Soccer Scotland, a charity which seeks to help homeless people gain skills and get involved in sport, got an MBE while Helen Morton was awarded the British Empire Medal for volunteering on Childline. The Church of Scotland minister Iain Torrance got a knighthood for services to higher education and theology, more specifically for chairing the Kirk’s Theological Forum investigating homophobia.
When I was a teenager, I read The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger. I suspect I’m not alone in that. One passage that I liked was one early on when Holden talked about wanting to be able to contact one’s favourite authors to talk about their books. I’ve met a few authors or been in the same airspace as a few more and I tend to get star struck. Despite believing that ‘rank is but the guinea’s stamp’ and that everyone is equal, people who write things and have books on actual shelves are on a pedestal for me, as are people who help homeless people get their lives on track, fight homophobia and help children in their darkest times, not to mention Chris Packham and Anne Hegerty. Plus Darren McGregor, since he’s a class defender and never gives the ball away. People are good, for the most part.