A Quest for Normality

What is normal?

That is a question that has no right or wrong answer. It varies not only from person to person but from day to day. For some of you reading right now it may be completely normal and positively hum drum to wear frilly lacy panties because you like the way they feel against your skin. Some of you might even be male. Ugh a man in frilly pants, how is that normal? Normal for him, so it’s all good.

Of course we all have to conform to a certain degree to what society has laid out for us as normal. In the workplace for example it would probably be considered abnormal to fart loudly and shout “I’m a stinky monkey” whereas at home you can do this no worries, trust me you can, go on give it a whirl.

For the young at school the quest for the non-existent “normal” is strong. Your friends, even the ones “sticking it to the man” want you to conform to their perception of normal. Your parents want you to conform the family version of normal and then there is your teachers who demand a adherence to their classroom norm.

The classroom normal is the most dangerous and the most influential. As is proved now in the classrooms of North Korea and in history with the schoolrooms of Nazi Germany. A normal taught in a classroom with an agenda can influence a persons actions throughout their life, be it that your leader is indeed glorious and infallible or that Jacob sat next to you is sub-human.

Teachers outside of obvious oppressive regimes need students to be normal. It makes their life easier. If you as a student have a impairment that makes it impossible to conform then the school has three choices.
1.Belittle that impairment “Be normal!” (Pleading helps!) “We are not here to babysit”
2.Provide no support and deny the impairment exists. “Normalising”
3.Provide a quality education (Difficult, but not impossible)

In case you haven’t guessed 1 and 2 happened! The pleading came from the Head of of local academy. A man blinded by the quest for “normal” that he’d forgotten that the reason for schools to provide an education for all. But this is not just a dig at him, arsehole of the highest order as he is.

The normal ideal, conditions us to believe in a society where difference is something to be avoided for ourselves and feared within others. At best it promotes a boring closed life, at worse it provides an environment where it is ok to exclude, discriminate against or even exterminate others because their normality is different from our own.

Mexican curious monkey

Mexican Monkey… not stinky, but perhaps curious to learn.


Poem: The Snitch



The snitch is oh so eager,
To report to Miss,
So he’ll get a house point,
Or even steal a kiss.
Not on the lips,

Snitch working the way,
To the top of the class,
By Kissing some butt
Being a pain in the arse,

If we were still at school,
His point I could almost see,
But this is an working office,
And I’m almost thirty three,


(28DW) Ed McBain

Aside from The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium, my favourite writer of all time is Evan Hunter. Well I say that, it is under the name of Ed McBain that I first became aware of his work. My Mother had mentioned to me that I might enjoy his books. So I was overjoyed to find “Rumpelstiltskin” in the school library. I literally launched the book at my mother on my return from school. I of course forgot, that my Mother was recovering from major surgery and therefore didn’t appreciate me lobbing a hardback book in her general direction.

At my school we had reading in English lessons, I brought Rumpelstiltskin along as it was the book I was reading at the time. It is the second book in the Matthew Hope series. All of them named after fairy tales or fables. Matthew Hope is a lawyer who does a fair bit of investigating as part of his cases. In Rumpelstiltskin is he dating a redhead (whos name escapes me), they met thanks to a minor traffic ding. There is a scene in the book where Matthew Hope gets to have sex with the girl. A scene not lost on my then horny teenage self. Unfortunately for me my English teacher then decides to take the book and read the sexy passage aloud. Much to the amusement of my class mates. Can’t have got to me that much because I remember burning the midnight oil to finish it.

McBain’s greatest work is the 87th Precinct series of books. All about the detectives and characters in the fictional city of Isola. Which is for all intents and purposes is New York in all but name. I love the police procedural genre of fiction and McBain was a master of this. His work is a large reason why I write now, it inspired me to continue writing fictional pieces on a quest to find my own voice as a writer. This blog is a testament to that.

For all you film buffs out there. Evan Hunter wrote the screenplay to The Birds. A film which is being spoken about again thanks to the Hitchcock film and BBC drama The Girl. Hunter wrote a memoir about his time working with Hitchcock, called ‘Me and Hitch’ which is well worth a read.

Evan Hunter died in 2005. Hunter/McBain is one that seems to constantly get missed when people start talking of great writers. He is therefore maybe one that you have missed too. If you like your characters to be “real”, your stories to be gritty and to pull no punches. Take a trip down to the 87th. You won’t regret it.


(28DW) The Cat Sat on the Mat

What does the writer do, when he cannot think of anything of which to write? He writes about writing of course. Although I do not consider myself to be a writer, I have never been paid for writing anything. I have a feeling though if that never changes I will always write, as I have always done. Just for me.

I say always done. I can remember writing stories when I was very young. I guess when other kids reached for the easel and paints to paint that picture I was always more inclined to reach for the pen (or crayon) and write. Thinking about it this may tie in with the disability slightly (oh blah blah poor little spacko boy) you see, and I guess this is the same for all who can’t draw, the picture I had in my head never came out the way I wanted it. Hands wouldn’t quite move with the control required. However with my writing I was able to express myself in exactly the way I wanted.

“The Cat sat on the mat…” was how my first critically acclaimed masterpiece started. When I say critically acclaimed, I mean my teacher when I was 8 and by masterpiece I mean, part of creative writing. We had these creative writing folders you see, I’d written this story at home (swot) and I had brought it in to show the teacher. (Suck up) She said I could include it in my folder. So I went over to my tray, found my folder and slipped it inside.

Pauline Eccles [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The next day I looked through my folder only to find my story had gone! Shock horror OMG (before OMG existed, actually I coined the phrase, although it was supposed to be Oh Manuscript Gone, not sure how God got involved) I searched, I asked my friends. Then I found it on my teachers desk. I took it (it was mine, not like it was in a drawer or anything) and put it back in my folder. Next day.. it disappeared again.

I searched again. But to no avail. Then mid-afternoon, English, Creative Writing. Teacher says she has something to read to the class. It’s my story.. why? It started in that really mundane way, but as I recall my lead character stepped on the mat and followed the cat into this mystical world. Yes similar to Alice and white rabbit but with no paedophilic overtones. She thought (my teacher not Alice) my story was so good she wanted the rest to have a go.

Thats the writing highlight thus far!! I did try to write a novel when I left school, but life happened, had to get a proper job. At least I was able to pass on this strange idea I had about a boy wizard.. Never did find out what happened to Larry Plotter..

Still on with the blog…

Please check out the work of my 28DW friends at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium Neither of whom have heard about Larry Plotter either

(28DW) Jump!

How many times have you jumped so far this year? Not out of a plane or into a long jump pit but jumped out of surprise. You know the kind of “Oh my God Mark! What are you doing in my dress and stockings, it’s not Tuesday.” Kinda jump.

I bet you it’s less than me.

Yes as part of my continued quest to shine daylight on the magic that is disability, I bring you random jumping. Yes a wonderful effect of cerebral palsy means that should a sparrow fart when I’m not expecting it I jump, like a Magnum (the gun as opposed to the ice cream or Tom Selleck) has gone off in my ear. This might be fine, you might think, you’d surely get used to it. No. You don’t.

The reason why you don’t get used to it is the shear variety of ways it can effect you. Balloons are bastards, people popping said items, even when I know what is going to happen, I’m jumping more than a jack-in-the-box. Sometimes, jumping joins forces with the lack of balance with hilarious consequences, you jump and you fall down too. If I remade the video to “99 Red Balloons” I’d fill a whole Video Bloopers show all to myself.

School was a nightmare, especially the drama studio. Now I loved drama, wasn’t too good at it, but I enjoyed it. However we occasionally used to do these exercises, which involved laying down on the floor and getting as relaxed as possible, picturing we are off in a garden or something like that. Being a drama studio the room was largely empty, meaning the school bell signalling it’s “half period” warning was at it’s loudest. Couple this with my “relaxed” state and I jump up to the ceiling, to be laughed at by all, including the drama teacher.

The jump effect I hate most though. Is the tea / hot beverage jump. I love tea, drink it by the gallon. Carry it carefully from kitchen to lounge only for the phone to ring or something to fall down, do I keep composed? After all the tea is very hot. Do I fuck, I jump, tea flies through the air, usually close or over any expensive equipment I have. To top it all, it always seems to occur when I’m hankering after a cuppa the most. So I have to mop up and make another one.

Big deal you may say. But when this happens on a regular basis, you get tired of it. If I could change one thing about my disability it would be that. That over the not being able to walk, or being as dextrous as someone trying to pick up cooked pasta using only their arseholes. Yes those things I can live with, plan for, work around. What can I say, jumping catches me by surprise.

Please check out the work of my 28DW Comrades at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium 

(BDYBIS) Of Kids and Dogs

What happens here can change it all. The rest of your life will be defined by this short period of time. Screw it all up and you may as well give up. That’s what they have you believe anyway. The Olympic finals, the Paralympics, the penalty shootouts England always lose at? No, School.

Many children have gone back to school this week after the long balmy summer we had. Ok so the two days where they could actually play outside. But they were able to get in a fair amount of Xbox/Smoking/Wanking and the over 8’s probably had some fun as well. Now they are back in new uniforms that cost their parents £400, little Timmy could have had a HD TV for that, but instead Mum had to buy him a jumper so big he will still be able to wear it when he’s 35.

The pressure to succeed for some of these kids is immense. Some parents living their dreams through their kids, it’s quite astounding. Some have the best intentions “I want my child to have all the things I haven’t got outta life” you carry on mate and he will have something you never had. An early heart attack.

Then there is the teachers, who have quotas to fill and targets to meet. This by the way is not a dig at teachers, they have 30+ little darlings in each class, a head-teacher who hasn’t actually taught for 20+ years breathing down their neck, mumbling something about the league tables and OFSTED. They are to a certain extent looking out for themselves as they have teacher training debts or mortgages to pay, so if Billy is playing the fool bringing down the averages it’s little wonder Billy is sent home when testing day arrives.

Those kids that have to do the tests, particularly final exams are told by so many people that this actually matters, some are fooled into believing it. Some have even buckled under the pressure and taken their own lives.

Two things are important at school. These are things taught to dogs in obedience classes.

  1. Know the basics
For dogs this is For children it’s:
Sit, Maths
Stay, English
Fetch, A little science but meh!
Come back when I call Don’t shit on the carpet
Don’t shit on the carpet.  

2. Socialise

For dogs: For children
Play with others Play with others
Find your place in the group Find your place in the group
Don’t be an arse Don’t be an arse

Get these right before you leave school (obedience or comprehensive (High School my american friends)) and you are more than half way there. Anything and everything else you can learn if you want to at a later date. You’ll also have the added bonus of not worrying about your voice breaking or if Beth fancies you or Brad. Or indeed if you fancy Brad more than Beth anyway.

You can be as clever as you like. But if you don’t learn the “don’t be an arse” lesson. You will never get anywhere in life.

Dog and Child Learning in the 80’s