That is that they aren’t anything special. An old girlfriend of mine told me that I was wasn’t anything special some twenty five years ago now, she was off studying English at university and I was having to work in an unrewarding civil service job because I couldn’t afford to go to university myself due to the messy family situation that I was embroiled in. I was leaking like a rusty bucket mentally and I was discussing with her as to whether I should go and see the doctors about how I was feeling. She felt I was just playing up the part of a struggling artist and was just seeking attention, “you’re nothing special!” she said, as if being mentaly ill would somehow convey on me that sacred order of artyness given to Richard Dadd, Vincent Van Gogh and whoever else. I looked her up a while back, no writing career, nothing of note for all that private education, I’m sure she is a very special person to her husband and child but outside of that there is no trace of her existence. I took one thing from that relationship and that was, judging by the people I met when I would go up to visit her at weekends before she chucked me, I was certainly smart enough to go to university.
I was brought up to think that I was stupid from an early age, by the time I was seven I believed that I would be nothing more than a dustman or a site labourer, my mum told me that in no uncertain terms. Not that there is anything wrong with those jobs if that is what you want to do… When I got older my mum was determined I would work as a bank clerk, because I would be able to get a cheap mortgage. When I told them I wanted to be an artist, I might as well have said Prime Minister or the King, no one in my family would dare to reach above their station. Every step of the way was met with inertia and it took decades rather than the years it would in a nice, cosy and supportive, middle class household.
I believe everyone has specialness in them, it is just a case of working out what that special thing is and nurturing it. It is important to note that specialness is different from celebrity, with the rise of the talent show, the YouTube channel and, to a certain extent, the blog, people can get out in the ether with extreme ease, regardless of talent. I feel that there is such a thing as specialness parity, that point where someone’s abilities match the level of how special they actually think they are. When someone’s perception of their own talent is too low, it can be heart breaking, the further the disparity, the more heartbreaking it is. It can go the other way though… When people have absolutely no talent at something, but are convinced that they do, it can be teeth-pullingly awful. You see it a lot on programmes like the X factor, personally I think shows like that should be banned for the theatres of cruelty that they are. I meet people of that ilk locally, I avoid them when I can but it can get so very frustrating when people have belief that propels then forward way beyond their abilities. I wouldn’t mind so much but they always knock the truly talented aside as they try and barge their way into the spotlight where they quite clearly shouldn’t be.
I am a great believer in fairness and justice, if someone has a gift that needs some assistance, I will happily help, and have done many times, practical things, not just words. Mind you, it goes both way… Have been known to put a metaphorical foot in the way if I feel that something is happening that I feel is plainly wrong. I won’t go into details but I’m not averse to the odd bit of brandelism or sabotage if it comes to it. Waving banners doesn’t work , not since the miners strike, not since the Iraqi invasion (it needed two sides to be a war) but a bit of creativity might not work any better but it is so much fun and it will make some great stories when I get some distance on them. You may have to wait a few years though….
My own specialness isn’t in art, words or even making things, I am at best competent and that is only through hard work and practice. I would like to think I have some small gift in imagination but I think, if I’m honest, I believe the only area I truly have a speciality in is stubbornness. Call it determination if you like but I would stay stubbornness is more accurate and more honest. I suspect that if I was less stubborn I would probably been dead by now, dead or living on the streets. It is the sheer determination not to let the bastards grind me down that has pushed me through everything. It can be my undoing though, as I start grinding back, and said bastards don’t like it. I have made a lot of enemies over the years but as the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I have made a lot of those too.
I would like to hope that everyone would acknowledge their own specialness and go with with it. Unless your specialty is being horrible, you can be rubbish at that if you want.