As if by magic, the lyrics appeared in my head:
pushed around and kicked around,
always the lonely boy.
You were the one they talked about round town
as they put you down.
But as hard as they might try to make you cry
you'd never cry to them
just to your soul.
Accompanied by Jimmy Sumerville's falsetto and his slightly unnerving resemblance to a singing potato.
And I remembered a time when those lyrics, ostensibly about growing up gay in a small town, had a tremendous resonance with me for different reasons.
It is natural for a teenager to feel apart, alone, different from the herd - it's part of the process of growing up, when we detach ourselves from the family in order to find out who we are. For me though, my sense of alienation, detachment and solitude began early and finished late, and certainly I felt that others pushed and kicked me around, that they talked about me behind my back, that I was being criticised just for being me. For many years, I felt that I was deliberately ignored and belittled, and this affected the way I viewed life, understandably. Indeed, it still colours it somewhere deep inside - when I feel down, for example, I cannot help a certain feeling of put-upon insecurity creeping over me, and I find certain people who give the impression that their lives are fine, perfect and dandy, who look like they fart flowers, insincere and false. As such, as I have grown older, I have given the impression of, first, shyness, then diffidence, and worst arrogance. I also have great difficulty in accepting my own abilities for what they are and being positive about myself in front of others.
Nowadays, though, I cannot help feeling that I am somewhat at fault. Was I ever really pushed round, as I saw it then? Sometimes, yes, and definitely when at primary school. Were people putting me down behind my back? Possibly, but to nowhere near the extent that I thought. The fact is, I think, that I was extremely poor in interacting with others (in fact, I still tend to keep my distance from people until I know them better), and so I blamed this on others - that it was their fault they didn't want to know me, that I wasn't worth knowing, and so forth and so on. Now, many of those I know and love may not recognise this portrait of me, yet I feel it to be honest.
And while I listened in my head to the potato singing his falsetto of loneliness back in the eighties, I recalled myself sat in the corner of the sixth form common room with considerably more hair than I have now, looking over the room to a group of fellow sixth formers laughing and smiling with each other over petty nothings, yearning to join in and yet unable to.