The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 6, 2014

Dark Clouds

I think we need a holiday, a week or two in Mexico
The two of us, leave the fools at home
Away from all the heartache and the troubles that we’ve suffered
In the last two weeks, though it felt like years

It’s stupid o’clock in the morning. I’m watching Blur, in a concrete park full of hipsters. Jack and his mates are somewhere ahead in the crowd. Blur are playing ‘This Is A Low’, and behind me, the waves are crashing. The last festival I was at was Latitude, in 2010, where I camped with my mum, stepdad and one of my teenage cousins. Now it’s 2013, and I’ve seen Jack screaming like a teenage Justin Bieber fangirl at the Wu-Tang Clan, and wandered Parc Guell under a burning hot sun, looking down over the city. I travel around on the Metro and surprisingly, it takes very little time to get to grips with the Metro system, compared to its convoluted Berlin equivalent. I’m living on cheese sandwiches, knockoff cornflakes, pizza and festival food, reading Tori Amos’ Piece By Piece, talking to a Floridian woman and her gay best friend outside the hostel, sitting on the beach being mithered every minute by dodgy men selling mojitos and towels. It’s not my first holiday without my family – that would be the German Soc trip to Cologne in 2005, not to mention that I’d previously been to France on a school trip, Germany on a terrible work experience week and Poland and the Czech Republic on a choir tour. But it’s the first time I’ve been abroad, deciding for myself where to go and what to do, arranging my own cash conversion, booking my own flights and accommodation (which reminds me, I need to get this year’s accommodation for Primavera sorted…) There is no rain and no mud and no annoying teenagers slamming into me and no burning tents. Reading, this is not.

I should probably do a music festival guide for people on the spectrum, as festivals are a daunting experience. I had more panic attacks than I care to think about during the time I stewarded for Oxfam. I did have fun at Glastonbury and Reading, but there were times when I just wanted to go home, and let’s not even get into the last night of Leeds 2002. I would have to be on the campsite where the helicopters and burning toilets were. I think I got about half an hour’s sleep that night.

I sometimes fear that I depend too much on my family, and as I said the last time I wrote about it, going to Primavera Sound 2013 was a challenge; I wanted to prove to myself that I could manage in a foreign country, albeit one where I spoke the language to an extent. Unlike the other students in my flat in first year and the majority of the Jewish Society at Manchester University, I did not teach English to little kids in Israel or go hiking around Thailand or Africa or India. All the times I had been abroad were organised for me. Then, of course, there is the nightmare that is the fucking airport. The very thought of what happened at Schonefeld in 2012 brings me out in hives. Luckily, that stage of the Barcelona trip went fine – the worst bit was having to get rid of my shampoo. Barcelona itself is a beautiful city. Loads of my friends have been there; two of my favourite musicians, Cerys Matthews and Franny Griffiths of Space, both lived there (and Space shot the video for ‘Diary Of A Wimp’ on Las Ramblas). My mum took my maternal gran there for her eightieth birthday; I’ve promised to do the same for Mum if either of us live that long.

As an aside, one of the highlights of going to Barcelona was seeing Jack outside of a family context. A couple of months earlier, we’d met up before a Space gig in London as Jonny Abrams, a guy who I knew through Space fandom and who also turned out to be on Jack’s course, was also going and I had promised Jack that, were Space to play in London, I would come down and see him. Consider that when Jack and I were at Leeds in 2002, we avoided each other and the few times I did bump into him, I either blanked him or gave him the finger. Eleven years on, here I am sitting outside a pub with him and his mates while they eat some rather dodgy-looking tapas. Later we meet up and watch bands together and Jack tells his mates about Dad and one of them manages to sneak in some gin. Had someone told the teenage versions of us that we would have been hanging out at a festival in a decade or so, we would have both thought, “Hahaha, as if.” We are both older and, although this is debatable, wiser and not living together anymore. As much as I love Mum and Jack, I think the fact I no longer live with them is one of the reasons why my relationships with both of them are so much better these days.

Anyway, I don’t wish to go over old ground, except to say that I am going to Primavera again this year. Jack, sadly, is not as he is skint, so being abroad without anyone I know at all being there is the next step. Queens Of The Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, the Pixies and Arcade Fire are all playing. I hope my body can take it.

1 Comment »

  1. […] 4. Female Of The Species: not fitting in with other girls 5. No One Understands: the diagnosis 6. Dark Clouds: memories of Barcelona 7. Blow Your Cover: first sexual relationship 8. Influenza: getting ME 9. Life Of A Miser: managing […]

    Pingback by An announcement | The Hidden Village of Aspergers — March 8, 2014 @ 11:03 am | Reply


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