One of Us, One of Us

It is hard to know how weird you are. You just don’t know what really goes on inside other people’s heads. Sometimes a thought disconcerts you and you think, “am I the only one? am I freak”

During the first part of my tour with Josie Long and Grace Petrie, I took to asking the audience who thought they were a bit of a freak. I was surprised how few hands went up, though Reading had a healthy spread and obviously if someone in the front put their hand up this gave greater confidence to those behind. Nevertheless, thinking of the sort of people who might want to come and see the three of us, I thought there would be more. It might have been that many of our audience were acclimatized to the idea that there is no such thing as normal and therefore no such thing as freaks, or at least the truly freakish freak is a rarity. 

Anyway, biologically we are all a bit freaky. This is a world of mutants, and hence thumbs and minds and remnants of tails. For a while in the sixties, a freak was pretty specific, a bandana wearing, tie-dyed, acid swallowing dancing blindly to some cosmic understanding that was never peer-reviewed and in its few lucid moments sat in or stood up for some better future before returning to visions of blue-bladed grass and some Krishna or other. 

Where are they now? To view archive shows of the sixties you would think the whole western world save for a few military men and huntsman were using their hair as aerials? 

“Teenage dreams so hard to beat”

Did they all scrub up, suit up and look back with irony at their youthful malpractice, save for the occasional weekend joint? I once sat with a sea captain and sometime comedian in Dorset at dawn and he suddenly looked up in mock horror and self-realisation glee and said, “oh god, I’ve just realised what an old hippy I am, I’m rolling a joint on a Grateful Dead record” 

But I am not thinking of the extrovert freakiness, but the introverted freakiness.This is not to say people who are socially introverted, just that freak thoughts bit that gets maintained unspoken in the sidelines of the mind. Things that occasionally creep out vocally, and may be met with silence or the relief of “I do that too”.

I remember Johnny Vegas’s wonderful line, “I’m not one of those comedians who says do you know what it’s like when this happens or do you know what it’s like when that happens, because you don’t know what it’s like to be me!” (vaguely misquoted I imagine, I am relying on a memory from 1997 at the Buzz Club, Chorlton).

I used to try and find common ground with the audience by asking how many talked to themselves as characters from their head when alone in the house and how many would sometimes dance alone to a silent tune. I can’t remember the list of things in fool, though they were all true to me, but I would end by asking how many people ever had the sudden urge on a train platform to pointlessly push the person in front of them into the path of a train. Oddly, amongst all the benign and childish offerings that came before, it was this that would get the biggest reaction – more psychopaths than secret dancers every night.  

Apparently thoughts of pushing people onto platforms, rarely driven by bloody desire from what I’ve learnt so far, are just part of taboo thinking. The first time I can remember imagining committing ghastly or embarrassing deeds, I was horrified by what lay within. Did this mean a psychopath or madman lay within me, that there was just a thin thread control that might snap at any moment between me and the actions of a front page news splash (actually, I can’t think of any imaginings that would get the front page of a national newspaper, at best a page 17 of the Crawley Observer). 

Have you ever had those odd thoughts, not based on wishes or desires, just nightmares out of nowhere.

Have you ever stood opposite an elderly relative who is telling you of their war service, and suddenly imagined kissing them on the lips? That would certainly be a talking point at family reunions for a decade or two. 

Have you ever stood at a cliff face and thought, “it feels as if my legs want to run over it, I hope they remain obedient, or do I want to?” (a similar feeling might happen as a goods train speeds by)

Have you ever felt tremulous when holding a chainsaw, for fear you might suddenly be taken over by the spirit of Leatherface?

The relief, or so I am told, is that far from implying that you are forever holding back some undignified or barbaric urges, thoughts of the worst that can happen mean you are the least likely to commit these acts. Well, that’s what a psychologist told me. I hope she was right. For the time being, I’ll hold off buying that chainsaw.

I am on tour as usual from Edinburgh to Exeter via Manchester and 50 or so other places. Newbury, Croydon, Shoreham and Aldershot are next on the list. Tour details HERE

Here is a piece about when such thinking becomes OCD and unmanageable

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to One of Us, One of Us

  1. I, along with many others I imagine, have had similar thoughts from time to time. I’d always considered it my, our, the brain’s rebellion to the orthodoxy of modern society. It’s not so much that we desire the taboo thought, but that we think the taboo as it means we don’t then have to act it.

  2. Slumba says:

    You think you may be a “freak”,
    therefore you are.

    75%* of the human race stumble through their lives merely responding to primitive biochemical impulses stimulated by an environment of teen star twat mags and candy crush saga. They can hardly find time to cram knowledge into their minds when they’re cramming McCrap into their fat fucking faces. The other 25%* (the group you belong in) are different, you take your time to learn things, analyse yourself and others. Your interests aren’t easily digestible, to the contrary, they’re anything but. You realise this is essential for having a healthy, questioning brain.

    Ultimately though the 25%* are as ineffective as the 75%* in making any sort of a difference in the world, and become frustrated when they realise that in the end, they may have been better off ignorant, lazy and unquestioning.

    * These statistics have been fabricated and are most likely not indicative of reality

  3. I have so often played with my dog in the guise of Brian Blessed that now the words ” OH NO, I’M TURNING INTO BRIAN BLESSED” stimulate him to retrieve his rubber ring ready to be chased around the living room. Is that freaky?…I’m not sure.

  4. Davided says:

    Thanks to a friend of mine, I know these feelings as emanations of the Imp of the Perverse. That conversation came about when I described to him the thought I frequently have on long drives, about what it would be like to suddenly swerve into the path of oncoming traffic. At the moment of the thought, it feels like curiosity, but as the thought passes, it feels like something to speak to an analyst about. And hardly a day goes past without my wondering what would happen if I actually said at work all the things I leave unsaid. After being fired, of course. This is a lovely description of the Imp.

  5. Scurra says:

    Of course, most of us freaks are sitting at home happy with our own company rather than going to a publicly social comedy gig. Or we’re the ones doing said comedy gigs. Which doesn’t leave many left for an audience.

  6. Hi Robin, you may be aware that intrusive thoughts, of the kind you describe, are one very distressing manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder – ie repeatedly having these thoughts and being convinced you will actually act on them. There is more info about this on OCD Action’s website – if you are not already aware of this, it might be worth a read.

  7. Jen says:

    Peter Baynham had a bit about this as “Pete” on Fist of Fun- he called them Mad Thoughts. Of course the whole point of that character was being a freak who didn’t really know it.

    I think I’m depressingly bland and just have hobbies that nobody else is interested in. At least freaks stand out in some way.

  8. sam says:

    To many geeks, and not enough freaks, narrow minded geeks are taking over the world, we should all be afraid, the rise of the specialist geek will kill off the all-rounder freaks. Its never crossed my mind to push one under a train, But…..

  9. celkali says:

    I am a genuine weirdo, at least according to my 7th grade class. We had to pass around a piece of paper where we wrote comments about each other. Every single comment on mine said ‘weird, but in a good way’, including the teacher’s. A year later, I get diagnosed with Aspergers. Though to be fair, the year before I was misdiagnosed with both Borderline Personality Disorder and as a Sociopath. Easy to mix the three up.
    I was a girl who was only friends with boys, played video games, and had intense passions about the strangest things. I can tell you damn near anything about sharks, Jon Stewart, Lemony Snicket, serial killers, the lore of the Warcraft series, British comedy, and many MANY more; and that’s just that time back in 7th grade. It’s not a simple, “Ooh, she likes it we guess.” It’s a drive to have a passion. The moment one dies out, I need to have another one. I joke about it and say I have an obsession with obsessions.
    There are things I don’t even know why or how I know them, I just do. Like the serial killers thing. Why do I know so much about them? What fucked up macabre night did I spend drinking Coke after Coke, reading about serial killers and unsolved murders at such a young age? Probably around the time that I wanted to be like Stephen Fry and be knowledgeable in all sorts of subjects.

    Sometimes being weird or a freak is helpful in cases such as mine. Can you imagine going forward in life, being undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed), and constantly worrying, not wondering, why the world is so vastly different to you compared to everyone else? Why people can’t seem to read your thoughts and understand your thought process? Not knowing why you can’t identify what emotion you’re currently feeling?
    Weirdest part is, I like being this way. I can confidently say that there is no one else like me in my family. Which is nice when one side is composed of a bunch of first generation Norwegians and the other a bunch of ex-Mafioso on the run from the Italian mobs. We don’t really talk to the latter half.

    Well. That was therapeutic. Thanks, Robin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s