Well, if you are reading this then you probably know who I am. If you don’t then, by way of introduction I will say, I am Patrick, I was born on 13th March 1966 and I was born at 11.30 on a Sunday morning, at home, in my parents bed and I weighed 11lbs 7oz. Yes, you did read that right. I was a whopper.
Growing up was a bit odd. I’ve talked about my immediate family in another blog so we will gloss over them here and talk of other things.
My maternal grandparents lived with us in a large, three storey, Victorian house. They occupied downstairs at the front and had a kitchen on the fist floor. Grandad had a stroke shortly after I was born so he was effectively bedridden. He was an interesting man, a Buddhist, one of eight brothers, married at 52, served with Lawrence of Arabia and who didn’t register Mums birth because he went to do so but, in Calcutta where Mum was born, there was a demonstration in support of Gandhi outside the registration office and my grandfather decided that a single white man might stand out a bit so he turned around, went home….and promptly forgot he had something important to do!.
He died when I was seven but I still recall days perched on the end of his bed as he regaled me with tales of India. Tales of Snakes (I wonder if that’s where my interest comes from) were quite frequent.
Grandma had met my Grandfather on a boat coming back from India. She had been 37. They had two children, Mum and her brother who, sadly, committed suicide six weeks before I was born. He had been a great traveller ( I wonder if that’s where my interest comes from).
Grandma and I got on very well. Because my parents rowed so frequently about, or with my sister, I spent a lot of time with her. She had a fondness for Sherbet Lemons (my love of all things Lemon is well known) and Doctor Who novels. Seriously. She once remarked that I was the only sensible and mature person in the family. I do wonder how well she knew me..
Because my grandparents lived downstairs it meant, in my formative years, a bit of a struggle to actually see them. Because I couldn’t walk. Not that I didn’t want to but I simply couldn’t. I went everywhere on my bottom. Upstairs and downstairs until the bottoms of my trousers were threadbare and the carpets had distinct grooves in them. I was well past three before I actually took a step.
My grandparents (and, in fairness, my parents) imbued me with a love of books. We didn’t have a TV until I was 7 and by age 4, I (apparently) had the reading age of a 12 year old. I read voraciously, Enid Blyton, Richmael Crompton, Milly-Molly Mandy as well as many other children’s classics. Dr Seuss was big in our house!.
When I was 4 months old I contracted Chicken Pox and it became so severe that I was hospitalised for several weeks. According to Mum I was lucky to come out alive.
When it came to toys I, like most boys, loved cars. But I loved to line them up. I loved to compare them. I rejected those which did not meet my exacting standards of colour and sleekness. I had an Action Man but his uniforms were soon discarded in favour of Greek armour made from milk bottle tops and string!. I loved football games to accompany my World Cup fixation and then there was Lego with its infinite variety of possibilities, it’s shapes, it’s colours and the glorious opportunity to line hundreds up on end then topple one and watch them all knock into each other sending a delightful wave of motion across the floor.
Speech came naturally to me. But it wasn’t baby talk. It was big words. The dreaded advanced vocabulary.
I hated parties. They were a nightmare with this parental expectation of social interaction. The horror of reciprocal invitations. Thankfully I was not a popular child and avoided many such lost causes. For my own parties I preferred everyone else to pass the parcel whilst I constructed my fort or put some exciting transfers of dinosaurs onto an epic mountain scene!. Who needs little Lucy from up the road when you have a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex to position for a fight ?.
We didn’t have much money so I wore my sisters hand me downs. My swimming trunks were her navy blue knickers. They were important because, during the summer months, we went to the beach almost every night after school. We only lived 8 miles from the coast and mum adored swimming so beach and a picnic became a nightly ritual. Odd then that I didn’t learn to swim but I simply had no coordination and couldn’t float. Dad never really learnt either but he could, at least, manage some form of doggy paddle.
So that’s a bit about me. Some clues to my Autism, some influences and a dose of good old fashioned nostalgia.
There will be more…