My life so far

Introduction


It is presently early September 2020, year of the pandemic, and having moved home back with my Mum, due to all things in my life being lost, halted, adrift, in stasis, constantly changing, uncertain or otherwise utterly screwed-up, I have found myself in the dual pursuits of gardening and writing. This is firstly , and mostly, so when it comes to this point in the movie of my life I look both rugged but thoughtful, but additionally as 1. I found a box of my Granddad’s poetry hidden in the loft, and decided I did not want all my life’s writings to end up similarly mixed in with tatty Christmas decorations and a rusty 70’s hoover – which is why I have collated this archive – and 2. Gardening seems a useful form of activity to both rescue my mums daffodil beds from the wood that grew on top of them and combat the after effects of recovering from big-scale proper bulimia, for the 2nd or 3rd time in my life, that was brought with the depression that visited me during the height of lockdown.

This archive contains both funny and serious music and words, on all things, although with me being me that will include; autism, dyslexia, being gay, mental health, various sorts of struggle and some truly odd mind-boggling weird stuff, and comes from both early writing, where I could only play the piano with one finger, to the present day, where I have now learned to use at least 2 fingers and an elbow. I have included examples of all things I have done, except for stuff left hibernating and waiting for the world to come back, and the main reason is just to get it out there. We have all been through crazy stuff in our lives, but this little corner is for my craziness , reflections on it , experiences of it and writings about it, to be liked or not liked, I don’t really mind, but at least now the effort of my life isn’t wedged under the nozzle of 1973’s must-have household appliance.

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CHILD-HOODLUM

IMAGES OF MY CHILDHOOD
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKKTNZ

I was not always a hell-monster, and there were nice times too, but I was as strange as I was bad. I once was sent to my room and reacted by dressing up my large toy panda in my own clothes and dropping it out the window, so when it went past where my family were sitting having dinner they thought I’d committed suicide. Mental !!! And in hindsight maybe funny , but at the time literally heart-stopping. See, my childhood was one of un-diagnosed autism, which meant that I was often an absolute monstrous knee in the testicles to live with, destroying my family from within, with no rhyme reason or explanation to my parents for why, autism never even being considered when I was a child, and my mum didn’t want to admit my issues to anyone for fear I would be taken away. At one point I did see an educational psychologist, but all they said was that I was a ‘very-strong cross-lateral’, which is a totally useless diagnosis meaning that my strong eye and strong hand are the wrong way round from what they should be. But this was really almost the same as telling my parents that anything and everything they, I and the family were going through – my tantrums, self hitting, self biting, oddness, attitudes, tempers, running round with knives scaring siblings, breaking things, and all sorts of craziness – came from much the same as just being left handed. In honesty no-one really did have a clue about me, and for a large family or 4 young kids, where the money worries that my Dad’s financial anxiety loomed over the house were ever-present, I and my behaviour must have seemed like the spot on the pimple on the wart on the arse of the worstest bad-luck.

I also had un-diagnosed dyslexia, which meant at school I came across as stupid, from my dribbling-idot penmanship, with hand-writing like a drunk spider on hot coals moving across the page, and arrogant, from always trying to prove that I was better than people saw me, as I was just seen through my written work and my social ability #autism. As such I ended up with only 2 A’ levels, well below what you may expect from someone with an IQ of 140. History was a D and yes Music was a B, but without dyslexia, or with it taken into account, I could have probably farted and A for music A’level at the age of 11.

And yes I know 140 is not proper clever, or Mensa level clever, which is 150, but still it’s up there. And anyway I’d rather be clever at something practical, like writing, architecture or plumbing or whatever, than just spend days practising logic tests. But then I would say that, as I wouldn’t get into Mensa.

So mostly my childhood was a life of desperately attempting to shout that I was more than I was able to show, with no-one seeing, and always making mistakes in my attempts to do so, and I shut myself off, both emotionally, and also literally, as I banged away in the back room of the house playing the old knackered piano, which was, to be frank, much much more knackered after my banging than before I had got to it.

My piano, which was really the house piano, but no-one else played it so it sort of became mine, was just like me; broken, and both rubbish and special, and a bit screwed-up. It was about 37th hand, was tuned down a tone from normal, out of tune in itself, with pedals that didn’t really work and notes that took turns in doing all manner of wrong things. To me it didn’t matter, as I never played to perform for others, but to express to myself inside, although I didn’t know that’s what it was as an 11 year old totally disconnected from who inside really was. Not reading music well – I think I have only read 2 or 3 books all the way through in my entire life ( all of them biographies about George Gershwin) – I found it much easier to sit and just make up stuff and work it out myself than try and do what others had done, and this has become a life long pattern, where it was easier in all things to do such, meaning almost everything I have done has been mostly self-taught and done on my own. Being self-taught at piano I was not learning about finger patterns, control , dynamics , musicality or anything else ‘proper’, but just putting notes together and finding what worked, and, having no friends, I was just playing on my own, and if it worked in my head, even if the notes I hit were wrong it didn’t really matter as no one was there to say. To this day I am a person who has had 30 plus years of playing the piano, and whilst I can do some quite impressive things, at other quite simple stuff I am really really rubbish, and I will always, and I mean always, always, always, make mistakes ! All this goes back to how I started and I describe my playing as good-rubbish, although most proper pianists would only agree with half of that. So whilst I wanted to be George Gershwin I was more like George Formby. Although, let’s not put myself down too much, as my piano playing was with mixed results but what I created wasn’t too bad, I have written a Symphony don’t you know? But we’ll come to that.

At primary school fitting-in wasn’t so much of a problem, mainly because young kids don’t judge really, and if you are odd they just see you as you, but at secondary school ‘odd’ takes on a new strength. What once was just you is now you within a microcosm of groups and social norms where anything not socially normal was wrong, and so that was me, odd and wrong. So bullied, ignored and ostracised, I did the only thing I could do, I found the music practice room, isolated myself, and sat at a piano locked away on my own in a far corner of the school for the entirety of my secondary school years. I locked myself away and forgot about the key as much as my good-rubbish piano playing did.

Secondary school bullying and isolation also started my comfort eating, and by the 6th form I had gone from my initial primary school skinny self to a walking chip-fat lard-faced 16 stone bloater, affectionately (NOT) known by kids at school as Mr. Blobby. This was the start of my life of eating, weight and image issues that has been a full time struggle, and I have gone to some quite disgusting excesses, with extreme physical and mental health scars still remaining into the bargain, if you can call it a bargain, well maybe more of a ‘bargain bucket’ perhaps. BTW; Friendly advice: Never say at a bulimia group therapy meeting ‘Do you mind if I bring something up?’ , they don’t find it funny.

Music wasn’t all an anti-social activity and , as a trumpet player I joined a number of groups for the county and such, although whilst I was always playing-up during the rehearsals, chipping-in on the conductor and making jokes, when breaks came I would stand alone, only speak to a very few people or, most often, find where there was a piano and play that. And to this day there are numerous broken pianos around the West Sussex region to support this fact. I did make some sort-of friends, particularity in a small spin-off group at the Saturday morning music centre called Jagged Jazz ! We came up with the name ourselves can you believe? Which was good as Saturday’s needed to give me something useful for my adult life, having taken away my chance to get a weekend job and so afford driving lessons as they did. So making me now that rare comedian who can’t do a gig if they need me to drive, but can if they need Dixieland trumpet. Btw, about seven out of ten of all gigs need you to drive and exactly zero out of ten of all gigs need you to be Louis Armstrong.

I made friends in Jagged Jazz, but even still there was a disconnect, and I didn’t quite understand the social side of this grouping, or think they thought anything of me other than for me playing the trumpet, even though we were quite close-knit and spent social time together. To be honest to this day I still can’t figure it out, as the fact of learning social skills in your later life is that you cannot apply them retrospectively to your teenage self. If I could, I am sure I would have at some point surely told my younger self to stop getting photographed whilst eating!

IMAGES OF TEENAGE GROWING UPWARDS AND OUTWARDS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKRoxb

MUSIC FROM MY FIRST TEENAGE TUNES
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/sixth-form/s-wgyMsxJ1VJK

UNI-ADVERSITY

With my 2 A’levels I ended up going to University to do Music, where I was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia and got a 2:1, so there ! Blows raspberry at primary school educational psychologist and secondary school tutor who consistently belittled me. Doing just music made my life get a bit better because it was something I could do, in my good-rubbish way at least, and as such the confidence I got made me come out of myself socially a bit. For a start I lost a hell of a lot of weight over the 3 years at university; some in a good way, yet some in quite extreme ways that were to lay the seeds for later life’s eating disorders, I’m ashamed to say. Damn you banana milk-shake!! Which was my downfall at the time, not only from drinking a bucket-full every hour , but also because it was when ordering a banana milkshake from Burger King, during one post-lecture afternoon waddle home, that the server serving me turned to his colleague, and in unison, they both completed the rest of my order. And so I went on a diet.

At university I started to work out how to make friends, but still was not diagnosed with autism, so all my working-out came from a mind that was a bit to the left of everyone else, and I would often make strange decisions and come to odd conclusions, such is the nature of autistic hyper-logical / black-and-white thinking, in that, when it gets it wrong, it takes simple things, applies incorrect conclusions and then makes results extreme.

Eg: A + B = C

OR

‘FRIEND’ + ‘NOT TURNING UP’ = ‘THEY HATE YOU! NEVER CONTACT THEM AGAIN !’

For example; The course didn’t seem to have any composition I wanted to do, it was all a bit arty farty and avant garde and, instead of asking a lecturer about the rest of the course or what to do, I just wrote a Symphony in the university holidays, off my own back and totally self-done. And, another hyper-logical conclusion, I decided that I didn’t want to use computers to compose as it was ‘Not what composers did in the past’. The fact that I didn’t have the money to buy such a computer was a moot point, but let’s run with this thought. So whilst everyone in the industry was getting into tech, and other students too, and even though I was severely Dyslexic, I just decided it was bad because ‘George Gershwin didn’t do it’. How stupid ! After all Gershwin; 1. Lived before computers, 2. Was not, as far as I am aware, dyslexic, 3. He was Gershwin, he was a genius !!!. I was just good-rubbish. The fact I learned later on reading-up on the genius George Gershwin that he did actually use composing techniques very forward looking for his age, which were certainly not traditional, and which could be considered the equivalent of someone these days using computers, didn’t even change my mind. It was A + B = C , and that was clear, and that was autism.

Another conclusion I, or more so ‘my mind’, came to – and yes is it is often hard to tell the difference between me and my mind – arrived to me during the rehearsal and performance of the symphony, with a group I got together all myself, as it wasn’t part of the course. [Btw, there were only 2 rehearsals and one performance , which is, as I think about it now, totally mental for something I’d written over 2 months… by hand …. with dyslexia !!!!! Sheesh ! Even as I think now, well, I know it wasn’t the best symphony, but I didn’t even really give it a chance]. My conclusion was that , as the performance didn’t go especially well, then my problem was working with other people, so I then decided to not work with people or make connections, through networking, which is pretty much career suicide in any of the arts. In fact, my process at university was to gradually reduce my written-for ensemble size, so I started by writing the symphony for about 30 people in the first year, by the third year the music I wrote was for a little jazz band of 6 people, then after university I wrote my own songs and got a singer to sing them and finally I wrote just for me, and put stuff in a draw in the hope that one day somehow the back of this draw would become some sort of magical music-industry Narnia and success would just happen.

Working with people may have been tricky, but rubbing along with other people, musical people, like me and, even finding similarities and making friends, still did take place and, as I worked out the world in my own way , over the years at university I gradually came out of myself socially, and, as is the nature of a young persons development, the socialisation led to sexualisation and I then ‘came out’ in a very different way. My clothes said fat straight odd bloke but my head now said John Inman. Btw Becoming thin at the same time as going gay was just coincidental and not a side-effect of homosexuality, as some have stated, only half-jokingly . When I say I ‘came out’ that isn’t strictly true, of course I didn’t , I’d been brought up a good church boy and the realisation terrified me and I did the very opposite, I went straight back in. I didn’t want to be gay, people were hard enough as it was , and I didn’t really know about being gay, just that it was all very John Inman, which quite frankly was resting far to much responsibility on the shoulders of one classic sitcom star, and I knew that it was wrong to my religious parents and so it was just wrong. With hindsight my thoughts of what my parents would think was more my imagination than actuality but 1. Autistic thinking A + B = C and 2. A feeling is as real as you imagine it, unless it’s Leomardo Di Caprio, however much I imagine, that feeling never happens, sadly.

IMAGES OF UNIVERSITY ANTICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKVSZk

MUSIC FROM UNIVERSITY COMPOSER STUFF
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/uni-stuff/s-kVhyaHOwOps

MUSIC: ME TRYING TO WRITE MUSIC LIKE GEORGE GERSHWIN
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/trying-to-be-george-gershwin/s-d2d8DnnYzdv

POST-TRAUMATIC-GRADUATION

So I got in a relationship with a girl, I suppose to try and not be gay and also my life had made me so lonely at times that anyone taking an interest, as she did , was a totally unknown magical land that hypnotised me and drew me in. After all I was worthless, I knew deep down and told myself that I was all the time, so why would anyone be interested in me? BTW: As little as ‘Leonardo Di Caprio imagining’ works in isolation it works even less, well not at all, if you are trying to romantically lose your virginity on Valentines day with a girl when doing so. As we started at 7pm but when 2am of the following morning came, and I still hadn’t.

And yes it is very wrong to get in a relationship with a girl if I know I am gay, I agree it is totally unfair on her, but this situation was even less conventional than that little unconventionality as it turned out. She was an alcoholic, drug addict and with massive mental health and family issues of her own – and they say opposites attract ? – And yes I did and do feel sorry for her, and yes I was gay, but still all her issues meant that she became abusive; emotionally, psychologically and physically. Hitting, terrorising, controlling, force feeding, threatening to cut me, spending my money – in so doing losing me jobs and all but one of the small amount of friends I had made at university, and she even broke my trumpet. So in the end I had a total mental breakdown. And yes there must have been a point where it was my choice to follow this road, but, without her, the path to destruction would never have even been there, let alone have me walk down with full stride. And anyway I was unknowingly thinking autistically, so; A + B = C, or in other words; Me + Girlfriend = Not gay. Oh dear!

That mental breakdown was a reaction to all this situation, multiplied by not knowing how to respond, and came as I had no support system as 1. I was gradually isolating myself from my family the older I got, because I lumped them in with my childhood that I was trying to escape and 2. I could hardly tell my religious parents anyway I was gay could I? So I told them nothing.

During the midst of my mental breakdown I finally responded to the abuse, in what was basically a cry for help , but such an obscure OTT act-out, an adult version of ‘panda suicide’ one could call it, that it looked nothing like a cry for help at all. See, I had eventually got myself away from her, but she kept on popping up in town and phoning and still, from memories of her abuse , was tormenting my thoughts even after we parted. So I decided – or more so my mind decided , as it is always hard to tell what is it and what is me – on the spur of the moment one morning to do a practical joke/prank, having just failed an audition for a cruise ship as a trumpeter, which I blamed on her for breaking my trumpet. The joke would be where I took a bent music stand into a shop where she worked and say ‘Music stand and deliver’ and ‘Hand over the notes’ whilst dressed in the most ridiculous comedy armed-robber get up of ; a snoopy hat, a chunky knit white fair isle jumper and a gray old ladies style wig. So with this in mind I walked into town, but, on actually getting into town, overcome by a racing mind, I decided not to follow through with the joke and instead sat eating some cakes on a park bench, as was the habit of the depressed fat teenager inside of me. And then, as I was walking home, after deciding not to do what I’d planned to and having done nothing, I crossed the road in front of a police car and in an instant my situation became subject to the workings of the legal system. In short I was acting very very mental, but in a way that was also by worstest inconceivable luck looking very very criminal. It looked too criminal to seem mental and looked too mental to seem criminal, so they came down on the side of criminal, and I was screwed, for a very very very long time, and even in some ways still today I am from it. The problem was I wasn’t mental enough, I should have chosen to dress in a ball gown or something obvious, at least that way If police stopped me and asked my ‘name and address’ I could at say ‘My name’s Robert and my dress is … Lovely!’.

Because I didn’t want to admit being gay I said nothing of the relationship abuse during the police interview, as to my mind admitting one would reveal the other [A+B =C] and because to me the situation was so obviously not a crime I didn’t say it was a joke, and even used the word gun. Add to that the fact of the police interview being conducted with an autistic individual , where no-one knew I was autistic , and so I ended up charged with attempted armed robbery, with an imitation firearm and then went to prison, on remand, for that crime that I’d thought about but hadn’t committed. The prison being most local to me just happened to be Wandsworth so I ended up there, which is like one of the worst, I am told, but then I have only experienced the one, so it would be unfair to write them a bad trip adviser review.

Prison wasn’t as absolutely awful as sometimes it is painted on TV, well for me at least, because, if you live in your mind, as I had done from childhood, then physical restriction isn’t as bad as for other people. Yes, I didn’t use the showers, because I was tiny and other blokes were massive, and I got beaten up a few times, and admittedly one of the screws welcoming gift of colouring-in a latex glove with red pen and asking me to bend over on my first strip-search was an unwanted , and not at all hilarious, addition I could have done without. But all in all the prisoners were mostly broken or otherwise victims to their situation, although I’m not saying that there weren’t some assholes in there because there were, and most of the screws, when they were away from the colouring pens, were decent and nice too. The only real issues I had were 1. A geriatric alcoholic tramp I was sharing my cell with started coughing up blood in the night and, when I called the guard to say he was dying, I was given a reprimand 2. The time a guard came into my cell and found me slumped against the wall whilst messily spreading toothpaste over various sheets of scattered newspaper, having used up all my stationery allocation, and I told him I was writing a symphony and 3. The time I sang too loudly in the Christmas service – well it was Oh Come all ye faithful and I love that descant – got a spontaneous round of applause and standing ovation from the other prisoners and the vicar asked me never to come back to chapel again! And they say god is forgiving ! And yes this was particularly rubbish, because chapel was the only place in prison with music, but the event did secure me my own prison nickname of ‘Choir boy’ , and not all prisoners get a nickname, despite what you see on Orange Is The New Black.

The thing about living in my mind though was that, from all that had been, what was in my head was not all overly pleasant, and negative thoughts taking over, one day I attempted suicide with a razor blade and writing the word help in my arm ! Well ‘attempting’ to write the word help, for when I marked the first down-stroke of the beginning of the letter ‘H’ the pain was so great that the rest of the word was merely a surface scratch, because obviously, even when it comes to severing my radial artery, I was still ‘limp wristed!’

On seeing me in the mental wing the barrister said the first thing that came across his mind was that I shouldn’t be there, and so he wanted to get me out, but, combined with the fact that a jury wouldn’t understand me or what had gone on, which makes total sense because I didn’t even understand it all until years later, he said I should go guilty to a lesser charge. So I ended up with a sentence of 2 years probation, lucky me ! Although the real result, from the extreme nature of the charge and ridiculous nature of the circumstances, was a life-time of explaining at job interviews, and cursing myself when receiving the endless rejections.

My hell-holiday ended on January 10th 2000, which means I was in there for New Year’s Eve of the millennium, and so doubles down on commemorating a scar on my past I’d rather forget, but, on the plus side I did get a lovely view of New Year’s Eve Thames Fireworks without having to pay, and now if anyone ever asks “Where were you do on the millennium’, if I’m feeling cheeky, I just smile to myself and knowingly say ‘Well I had to stay in’. But in truth, at this time, not for the last time, I was totally broken and had lost everything.

IMAGES FROM THAT VISIT TO WANDSWORTH
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKXAXM

WRITINGS: BLUE EYES – LESS WRITING A MUSICAL, MORE A SELF-HELP THERAPY SESSION
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLmTw6

WRITINGS: EARLY 20’S POETRY TRYING TO WORK LIFE OUT:
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLi8zz

TWENTY SLUM-THING
In addition to how all my life so far had effected me, the pressure on my parents was considerable, I was a hell of kid and now I put them through this as a hell of a man, and I mean that in a bad way, not ‘A hell of a man’, like describing a 50’s movie star, no, I was just hell. I think hell is the word with my autism at this time, and exactly the word for describing the difference between knowing versus not knowing about autism in a child, because without explanation an autistic child is hell, but with explanation they are in hell. For if my parents had known about my autism, even if some things were the same, then the whole direction and context would have been different. Firstly, if you know about autism in someone you then have an instruction manual for them which is a massive help, as anyone will know if they’ve tried putting together even the most simple bit of flat pack furniture. Me and a house-mate once bought some unlabelled flat-pack furniture, not knowing at all what it was, and challenged ourselves to see who’d be the first to build it, as it happens it ended in a draw! Bdm Tish ! Sorry ! But seriously, with an instruction manual things do not spiral out of control as they did in my life, and importantly with a diagnosis someone with a condition is a victim, but without, someone doing what I was doing, if no other explanation is given, is a perpetrator. As such my parents just saw me as this guy who kept on deliberately getting things wrong, and causing mine and their destruction, through my ‘chosen’ personal choice. The truth is I, and my mind, had treated my parents like crap! I think about the worst was when, just after sixth form for the whole summer holiday, I blocked-off between the living room and the little back room where the piano was, put a house number on intervening door, started living there, said it was now my own flat, refused to speak to my Dad for months and even tried to get some of my post re-directed to this ‘new’ address. Now with hindsight I can blame autism or explain with autism, but that doesn’t stop the way I treated them. And this is the big thing with autism, and only a few disabilities, compared to most – and please forgive me if I am mis-speaking for other disabilities, but I think I’ve got this right.

Because autism is a social disability, when you make mistakes, you make them socially, ie to those around you , not just to yourself AND because it is an invisible disability, being unseen, then the most natural and first assumption to those around you is that you have just been cruel, or nasty, or rude, or dismissive or committed whatever otherwise the social indiscretion was. This doesn’t happen where someone is learning to walk, as if they fall over they mostly hurt themselves and, even if they by random chance fall on someone else, you can see the crutches or at least be told of the much more easily understandable physical condition. So with autism, when you learn how to sort your head out, and fit in, you do so by time after time taking massive dumps on all those around you, especially those who love you! And the worst of all this, for me, is that, in the same way that I cannot retrospectively turn back my present-day understanding to my childhood, so my parents cannot turn back the clock on the incidents and the pain. Knowing now doesn’t undo the times my Mum and Dad worried and stressed and cried and feared and were truly and utterly wholly broken by how I was.

At this point I was going to try and inject some levity by making a joke about my Mum really being at fault for not controlling the umbilical cord when I was born, but on a re-read I’ve decided it was erm… well, it was a joke about a 30 second old baby, so let’s leave it at that ! It’s deleted ! BTW; My umbilical cord did get caught, well hers, although I suppose we were technically sharing it at the time, but whatever, it did get caught around my neck, although I’m not too sure how much I like that as an explanation for autism, and I prefer the genetic inheritance idea. 1. Genetics makes me complete and whole, but just made different – as well as giving me a potential special link to my favourite Granddad. Him of the loft-Hoover poetry, who talked to my childish ears in a mysterious beautiful and foreign accent, which I later learned was Welsh – to this day I cannot get heckled at gigs in Wales without thinking even the most awful profanity sounds lovely – and he who once saw Jesus under the side wall light and 2. The umbilical cord explanation would mean I was made ok but, on being born, I was broken, and that really makes me feel like crap tbh.

Talking of which, I came out of prison broken, which was not my first prison related coming out, that had happened in the large visiting canteen hall of Wandsworth, when I admitted my sexuality to my religious bigoted Tory Dad, as I/my mind assumed he would be [ A + B = C in this case being; DAD + ‘RELIGION HATES GAYS’ = DAD HATES GAYS] and what had been his actual response?’ Well, the most unexpected; ‘I love you son’. So one nil to love over logic there then! In hindsight, yes I was wrong to assume his reaction would be totally off-the-wall, but , in my defence, I was in prison when I told him and he could hardly say the much more traditional ‘Your’e not coming home!’ or ‘You’re grounded!’. Although, whilst I genuinely think that mind-set must have tempered his Conservative CofE response somewhat, he had said he loved me, and ultimately chosen the right answer. So I went home to the same parents who I had treated like crap, but they still held out for me, even though I was stretching them way way beyond the limit of their own breaking through all my now ever-increasing hell-monster shenanigans.

At this point someone should have sat me down and forced into me that I’d been through a load of crap, and I should have got help/counselling. I would have had PTSD from prison alone, I’m sure, let alone the abusive relationship or my childhood, but everything was invisible, and no-one really did, and anyway I took control of me ,or more so, my ‘mentally spinning out of control’ took control of me, as I now was desperately flailing around to put all my life right, and make good from all these wrongs . Yet, from here on in making good the failings was on false foundations as 1. I’m autistic and I was still not diagnosed or even dealing with that and 2. All my conclusions came from autistic hyper logic [A + B = C], but now multiplied by depression, PTSD, and all sorts of un-dealt-with fall-out. Yes, to look at me at the time in certain situations you may not have seen such angst plastered on my face 24/7, but that is the nature of brains, they are beneath the surface. And A + B = C thinking isn’t all wrong , in fact it is quite often right and a lot of the time creates unexpected positive conclusions, that’s why it can be so destructive , because the bad conclusions hide within the same thinking as the good, but when they are wrong they see nothing except the A + B = C. And saying that, the next idea I had was a good A + B = C conclusion actually, as in; ME + TEACHING = JOB TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL STABILITY WITHIN MUSIC.

I could only stay with my parents briefly after prison, due to arguments and such that were making it untenable [ A + B = C OR ‘PARENTS WERE IN PAST’ + ‘MUST ESCAPE PAST’ = ‘PARENTS ARE BAD’ ]. and somehow I wangled my way onto a teacher training course. I say somehow ‘wangled’, I don’t mean I did it dodgy like hiding in a lunchbox or faking anything, it was all proper, and I got supporting letters to say my conviction was a one-off unusual incident etc. What I mean by wangled is that somehow despite all the rubbish that had gone on I was able to make myself a positive step to move forward, and I think that was quite lucky. To me teaching would make everything right, It would be as if the mis-steps of the past had not even been, and I could just start my life over, and this was in my head, and this was all that was in my head, and this new A + B = C, of starting my life over, and destroying the past, which seems so so positive, then, once and for all had me finally turn my back on my parents and totally break all ties with them. I was gone from them and their lives and they were dead to me. So, there we go, my brilliant ability to throw the baby out with the bath water strikes again. Thinking of which, sometimes I think Mum would have done better to keep the umbilical cord and thrown me out ! . Although then again I was born 1977, which is the end of the 70’s and so cords were going out of fashion. Sorry !

So my way now was to teach and then I could attempt to write music along side, and somehow get into that, and that is what I planned to do. Ever since the good-rubbish piano of my childhood, and isolating myself in practice rooms at secondary school, what I wanted, and still do, is to be a songwriter and composer. Teaching would be my stability and music would be my dream, and who knows what could happen. Now that didn’t come to pass, as we are soon to find out, and I may have ended up being rubbish at composing and stuff, after all I am sure the commercial side has so many more hurdles than the actual writing of music and words itself, but it would have been nice to have the chance to try in a more conventional way than has turned out. But then again we all have dreams and there’s a reason they are called dreams and not certainties, for one I’m sure my own beloved Granddad’s lofty poetry ambitions probably contained a lot less actual loft than has turned out.

Maybe if I’d spent a little time looking back at what I’d been writing as a child, rather than just following a dream to write, I may have seen there was something wrong. How could I ever think my childhood self was in a reasonable mental state when at the age of 11 I wrote, as my first ever lyrics; “As I lie here more dead than a live, I am thinking how will I survive, Or will I die from this pain ?’’. As I then repeated it over and over, merrily singing to an upbeat tune, but never actually really engaging with the words. Or that when I was 14 and told in a lesson to write a happy Christmas song, I wrote one about a boy who’s dad had died, or , my other classic from this time, a song I wrote after I’d seen a film and had felt a deep understanding of the struggle of the central character, where that film was The Elephant Man, and so I had emotionally bonded with a literal freak. Sheesh ! What next ? An upbeat disco number entitled ‘Everyone dies, you’ll be soon’.

IMAGES AND MUSIC: TEENAGE SONGS FROM UNSEEN INNER-SELF
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKUDM8
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/teenage-songs/s-u8OkX39vr6T

IMAGES FROM A HAPPY TEACHER TRAINEE
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKYaid

MUSIC FROM QUICKLY-WRITTEN SCHOOL PRODUCTION https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/canterbury-tales/s-gKroTyctyzX

So I did the teacher training and at the first teaching placement, a mixed catholic school , they thought I was rubbish and maybe I was, but at the second teaching placement, a private girls school for the high achieving, they thought I was a star and maybe I am. I loved it to bits and, as such, I passed the course and was now a teacher. A gay eccentric music teacher, what a novelty !

The interview for my first teaching job was just like you’d expect any teacher interview to be, just with an added ‘I have to explain this criminal record’ bit, although tbh it was easier than you’d think, the headmaster accepted my explanation, accepted the accompanying supporting letters I had and I got the job. So I thought my fresh start was here, with a job, a career, even a flat that went with the job, and a new start at last , and so I had made it !! I thought this was brilliant ! I started to teach and was doing as well as any new teacher, learning and improving and spending too much on photocopying, and then nine weeks later happened.

Nine weeks later was the headmaster walking into my classroom, during a lesson, telling me to stop, escorting me to his office and saying I no longer had a job. The reason? Well, whilst he had accepted my explanation the local authority felt me not suitable due to the conviction I had. My conviction didn’t barr me from teaching, obviously, and it is not against any rules for ex-offenders to teach, or do all sorts of jobs. Believe me, tons of ex-offenders, from speeding reprobates, to Stephen Fry, to that bald bloke from afternoon TV, who used to break into houses for money but now breaks into houses on TV instead … for money, walk among us. And you will know some and you will have friends who are, without even knowing. Not every ex-offender is a nasty git, in fact a lot are just good people whose life once farted on them. But, this local authority had decided I was a nasty git and not a person with a farty life, and that was that. Literally that was the reason, they fired me for a criminal record which I had admitted and explained at interview, and presumably it took 9 weeks because their red tape takes that long to work through from headmaster to local authority. Later when exploring further, the only greater reason that I could glean, was that this particular authority had been stung in the past by some teacher lying on his CV, which put an aura of worry over the whole place, made them extra cautious, and I was receiving the result of the fall-out from that. Pants!

Anyway their ‘reasons’ didn’t matter, I was jobless and now squatting in the house that had gone with the teaching job, with no heating, no lighting, no electricity, no money, broken again, and now with not even my parents to turn to. And worst of all, when I eventually gave into pride and stupidity and rang them to say what and how I now was, when asked to come home, this time they said no. That is how much hell I/my mind had been, because at a time of me being at my worst, my parents just couldn’t take anymore.

So from then, and to this present day, my whole life has been based on this foundation of this broken me and a place of being and having nothing, and the fact that, if ever my life fails, and when things go wrong, I have not a thing to fall back on and no-where to go, as I have spent my years desperately lunging at opportunities to turn my life around and gain the financial stability I crave and ever fearing I will end up homeless again in my old age. It’s sort of like a rather rubbish poverty-fueled less science-fictiony, and more call-centre based, real-life version of Quantum Leap, but with no Ziggy.

This has lasted with me so long as I think stability is what you’re supposed to make yourself in you earliest adult years, and is what I failed to do. Whether in your early adult life you get a settled job you keep for a while, or qualifications towards a career, or savings, or a mortgage even, or some people even a house, or whatever. Your early adult years create where you fall and what you fall back on when things in life get tough, so, without anything there, every time something in my life has gone wrong, which have been numerous times, I have flailed about in a place forever trying to keep myself afloat. This doesn’t just go for financial stability, but thinking my life is worth anything too; a relationship, or getting settled in a place to live, or marking out a proper career, let alone following dreams and ambitions to write music. So since this time my entire life’s effort has all been waiting for some foundation to be sorted so I can start to live and build again, in knowing I have a place to fall back to.

On a brighter note, and it sure is needed with all this windy-bag gloom, the irony is that all my attempts to get a job since, to give that stability, eventually resulted in me falling back on my skills to write music and songs, in comedy. So I’ve ended up with something like what I wanted to do, although not exactly – which was to write orchestral music, film music, and children’s musicals tbh – but still while the top half of my life is living the potential of my 40’s my lower half rests on the ridiculously weak and faulty life nothingness foundations of my 20’s. Although it’s not all bad, as, if I use my life progression from 20 to 40 to extrapolate future direction, when I’m 60 the top of my life will be fantastic and , if I get to 80, I’ll be playing naked twister with Leonardo Di Caprio, although he will be 83 by then, so maybe not.

WANTING TO BE A COMPOSER/SONGWRITER, BUT NOT KNOWING HOW, WHERE, WHAT ETC.

MUSIC: SHORT PASTICHE THEMES
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/short-themes/s-BPurfQh9MJG

MUSIC: CRAZY CHRISTMAS ORGAN
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/crazy-christmas-organ/s-mje5MEr9ji4

SONG ALBUM: CHASING RAINBOWS

LYRICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLiWwq

SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/chasing-rainbows-album/s-rkZCAOO9oU6

ALBUM PRODUCED
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/chasing-rainbows-michael/s-njda7HhRo6v

SONG ALBUM: LIVING

LYRICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKYxw1

SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/living-album/s-1BhSfYzjO9p

BACKING TRACKS:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/living-backing-tracks/s-J3NJjmBANSA

SONG ALBUM: THANK YOU

LYRICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLiYZw

SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/thank-you-album/s-aq5ixYz05lx

SONG ALBUM:FLYING

LYRICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLiYeP

SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/flying-album/s-z2b1LM1Gbfe

OTHER SONGS

LYRICS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKYAme

SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/other-songs/s-5D9kLqtNPkB

OTHER SUNG VERSIONS
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/djamila-singer/s-ffHwvZvTK4k

ALL SONG SIMPLE PIANO MELODIES:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/songs-simple-piano-melodies/s-0p0whftZOYW

WRITINGS: MUSICAL – THE SELFISH GIANT
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLmSNx

IMAGES: EARLY 20’S, GETTING THIN AND LOOKING INTO A DIFFERENT THE FUTURE THEN
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQL2wu5

IN MY MAD-TWENTIES

So what did happen when I was squatting, penniless, cold, down and out blah blah blah etc. ? Well, I met someone on gaydar, which is what Grindr was when people actually asked you your name and didn’t send so many pictures of willies…. sadly. I was in my 20’s, I had a profile on it and poverty and squatting is one of the most particularly boring things I’ve done. If bored you log in just to chat … – YES ! Just to chat , you dirty minded ruffian ! – or because you’re young , gay and nosey as to who is around, and whether the local Woolworth’s worker you fancy has a profile yet, because they just must be gay, especially with that hat! So I was just logging in as a normal thing, not to meet anyone, certainly not to date anyone and definitely not to find anyone who was going to save me from this mess! So then I found someone who saved me from this mess.

It just happened, with this one guy I did meet and we clicked, we really did , it wasn’t a cry for help type thing, and it was even a few months more until I told him I was squatting. He told me that he didn’t mind all sorts of ‘sexual positions’, I told him it was not ‘that’ sort of squatting and he said he knew, but he was gay and as such turned everything into an innuendo [ because sometimes stereotypes do exist!] and so, a little later, I moved in with him. In hindsight, I’ve tried to make me the baddie in this, seeing me as using him for a place to live, and I’ve also tried to make him the baddie, by him picking out me as a vulnerable person who couldn’t say no, but truth is we both liked each other, and yes it came at an odd time in my life and by the oddest of odd situations, but still it was just fairly normal really, and really the most normal thing at that time of anything.

The relationship lasted an expected time for a first serious boyfriend I’d imagine, as he was mine, two years or there abouts, and in that time I started to put my life in order a bit. Tentatively reconnecting with my parents, sorting money, which was really a case of lining up all the debt I had and crying, and getting a job that was a nice enough office job, but came with a number social hurdles a bit too much for me, being still unaware of my autism. That said it was around this time, through depression self-help books and such, and therapy, that I read up about Asperger’s syndrome, and it was like a light in the darkness. So sure was I that the description in this book was also a description of me that I didn’t even try to go for diagnosis, that, and also the stigma around admitting mental illness at the time. How odd looking back that I feared more then being seen as mental than admitting my attempted armed robbery conviction. Nowadays everyone wants to be mental, have a series and write a book about it, but I was there first , suicide panda, plane biscuit and all. And yes I did say ‘plane’ biscuit, and not ‘plain’ biscuit ! That’s because , when I was about 10, being mental well before it was fashionable, I didn’t like the fact that we had only a single rich tea biscuit for pudding one teatime and so I threw it across the table in anger. My dad said I needed to go to my room and my response, being as quick as a flying biscuit, was that the biscuit should fly threw the air because it was a ‘plane’ biscuit. As such my dad laughed and I got out of going to my room. So see, I wasn’t always an evil hell monster, and sometimes mental can be charming ! Because of this, from a young age along side my mistakes, I would sometimes pretend that my failings were just jokes, and contrive that my inadequacies were not such, but instead deliberate comedy, in order to fit in a teensey weensey little bit better. Like trying to make up for the lie of my thought by countering it’s effect by a different lie of my own making. So the lines between what was me, what was my mind, what was me controlling my mind and what was my mind controlling me became ever blurred and harder to know what was what, and as much as the world was confusing to me , I then became more confusing to the world. I had created a solution to a problem that was itself a greater problem on a problem, to cause further ripples and murmurs still needing to be unpicked later when the real ‘problem’ was actually much discovered. But, on the plus side, I did learn to do nob gags! {PS. If you don’t like nob gags, I’m afraid that’s the act!}

My time with this first serious boyfriend came to an end. We’d met at a place in both our lives where all was shifting, me being as I was and him having just been made redundant, so, when we both sorted ourselves a bit it just turned out that two years on he was more at a point of settling down than starting out and I was wanting to see if I could properly rescue my life and begin again. I’d been writing music and tried making headway in my ambition whilst with him, but , being in a small town away from any hub of activity, at a time when Hotmail was the peak of internet sophistication, meant that whatever I wrote or recorded really had no-where to go that I could see. Apart from one album of songs I wrote, my most musical activity was a drunk party-trick of playing my boyfriends piano and changing the words of pop songs so that they were rude, a trick I’d picked up from university end of term shows. For me, weighing up options and career paths, hurdles and things ruled-out by life experience, the plan was to move to London, and see what happened. I knew I could write music and songs so if I moved there I thought I could see what London had for me, and just meet people. The fact that I was autistic and found it hard even to meet my own boyfriend in a public place, even if we had arranged to meet there and even if I could see him, totally passed me by! This was the plan! And whilst it was an A + B = C plan, I knew about Asperger’s Syndrome by now and was starting, gradually, to understand the way my mind works and counter-act what was negative.

So I moved to London in an attempt to try and ‘make it’, to be one of the approximately 2.7 million young people each year who apparently do the same, and that’s just in one house-share. I did a few jobs in various shops and call-centres, making mistakes, getting fired and learning what this autism thing actually was, with self-help books, life experience and a gay haircut. And work mistakes did come, like when I wanted to do something clever with my pay by having it go to my savings account, so I didn’t spend it without knowing, and the manager , getting the wrong end of the stick and thinking I was asking to get paid twice said ‘Are you trying to be clever?’ , to which I answered ‘Yes!’, and so I was fired. Or the time the team-leader of the call-centre wrote out a list entitled ‘All the things you can’t do’, and I saw that the list of ‘ALL the things’ didn’t say that you couldn’t fashion a Gareth Gates mask out of an old magazine, so I did that, which I wore whilst answering the phone, and so I was fired.

Now, here’s the science bit, in the first ‘Trying to be clever’ incident, the misunderstanding was genuine taking language literally, and my words were an unseen faux-pas, where as in the second ‘list of ALL the things’ example the misunderstanding was contrived, and I deliberately took words literally in order to play a joke and I knew exactly what the list really meant, but the fact that I chose to play the joke itself was the faux-pas. So the world understanding me, and me getting to grips with the world, was so tricky because deliberate and accidental can look identical, and once I’ve figured out one thing another pops-up, meaning even my workings-round an issue could be subject to some other failing playing its part. So on meeting people now I have to work hard using all my experience, even with those I’m close to, so that they know what is a joke, what is misunderstanding and generally what I am really meaning. Like an enigma wrapped in a puzzle held in a mystery and then wafted into a bucket of misunderstanding and confusion.

After what seemed like ages I started to learn how to counter my mind and caveat it, so that my thinking is now a sort of agreement between what I think and what my mind wants, but a translation of my mind’s wants altered according to my understanding of how my mind works. It’s sort of thinking as two people at the same time, like a parent and child in your head, but most of the time the child is trying to be charge, but then just sometimes the child comes up with amazing pictures that you’d actually want to stick on the fridge, unlike real children – no offence – but at other times you only half trust them. As you can imagine this is quite draining and the better I got at dealing with the world, the more downtime away from people, and all stimulus, was needed, because calculating consciously what everyone else does subconsciously, as well as thinking about what you are doing normally, is a bit of an arse tbh. Especially as I saw progress and a distinction between the me that is able to function and get on with people, when counter-acting my mind, and the me that is also be a bit of an arse, that I preferred very much not being.

Needing downtime, when I don’t have to think about fitting in with people, London flat-shares were a nightmare, because the people I was sharing with were… well … they existed…and gradually I ended up living in really rough bedsits on my own, with a landlord that ignored me, because of the need for downtime, and also, as I was told, because practising the trumpet at two in the morning is not normal apparently ! People are so picky!

Getting fired, and other social faux-pas, gradually decreased, as keeping jobs, social skills, adjusting my life to fit me better and making friends increased, as my process of life-learning through experience continued, and failings from now on were a learning thing, where as earlier in life they were just plain mistakes. One turning-point came at a particular firing, as the ways I had fitted-in, well failed to fit-in, at this one job had been so autistically text-book that it clarified any niggling doubt I had had about my autism. So much so that I even told the boss when he let me go, and was laughing and smiling as I did, whilst he reprimanded me for whatever it was this time. The list of oddities was long from job to job; pretending to be my manager on the phone, to that same manger, writing out music on Paint during a shift, printing and sticking to the call-centre wall a three metre by three metre A4 paper collage of Mr Bump or answering a customer’s question of ‘Excuse me where’s your toilet’ with the response ‘In my house’. There were some genuine autistic misunderstandings of language, there were some things from an inability to see social boundaries of jokes and there must have been some stuff I brought on myself too. I was a wanna-be creative in my early 20’s going from job to job, and not everything is the fault of the world, after all , as well as my A + B = C thinking I am human also, which is a bit too close to the Elephant Man’s ‘I am not an animal’ maybe, but then we did bond when I was 14 and, as stated, I cannot go back to my teenage self and tell him what to do. If I could I’d say to watch Rainman instead, as that would have helped a lot more, with Dustin Hoffman’s acting and Tom Cruises trousers both my autism and sexuality would been sorted at once.

MUSIC WRITTEN WHEN (NOT) WORKING IN MUSIC SHOPS https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/music-written-in-a-piano-shop/s-8z6L1dM6yOW

IMAGES OF (NOT) WORKING IN MUSIC SHOPS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLnRGH

WRITINGS: POETRY , WORKING OUT ABOUT MY AUTISM
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKZeq2

WRITINGS: POETRY, ON MY MISTAKES AND LIFE LEARNING
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKZfgW

Alongside the fluctuating and ever-changing day-job’s rocky financial stability my plan, to see if I could write music and get into that world, was not as easy as I had hoped, and whilst I had never thought the streets would be paved with sheet-music I had hoped there would be at least one or two notes hanging around. Apart from the fact that my computer equipment was not good enough to create pro level demos even if I’d had the programming ability, having sold what I had had long since to pay rent in a lean month, when it came to trying to connect with other people, and do networking and stuff, I was just rubbish. Going into bars alone, or any place with people in it, or any place without people, or just any place, was like a foreign language to me, and many is the time I would get to the door of some networking thing or open-mic singers night, and just turn away without going in. Meeting new people can be tricky, but imagine finding it hard to say hello to someone you’ve met before, and have met quite a number of times! That time of my life social skills learning was like pulling teeth, from a marble statue, of a thing that had no teeth. I could understand if there was a formal situation for people being brought together; work, university, house-shares etc., but just talking to people otherwise was like wanting to start a conversation with a tree. So, it took time, but gradually I met people in house-shares and at work who I could get on with, and eventually sort-of friends did happen.

One day I was with a friend I’d made, either a boyfriend or quirky single-girl, as these seemed to be the only two types of relationship I was able to do at the time, and we were in a bar where, unbeknownst to me, there was an open mic night. So with the confidence of being with this friend, and having consumed a good deal of Malibu and pineapple juice, I was spurred-on and drunk enough to do my party-trick of improvising rude words to pre-existing songs. I did this and got a massive round of applause, ended up being much funnier than the drag queen, who didn’t take it too well because she/he/they ?, I’m never sure with drag queen’s, wanted to be the only funny one on the night, and as such she/he/they didn’t let me sing another song. Although really I should have known in advance, from my prison chapel vicar altercation, never to try and up-stage a bloke in a dress!

This experience started me exploring comedy, because it seemed there was a potential for my creative ability, I figured I could do it without having to work with people and, whilst it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, it seemed a best compromise given all my failings. And most of all, when I looked into it at the time, you could have a decent full-time job as a live comedian as there were a lot more comedy clubs, chains and little gigs and stuff around then. I surmised that if I could make a decent living in comedy clubs then, once I had that financial base, I could see if I could get into writing music and stuff. I think it is an example of just how obscure, confusing, out-there and, it’s probably fair to say, difficult my life was/is, that my most likely potential for a stable income came in the form of something that other people would see only as an outlandish unachievable dream, like playing the lottery in order to get the money to finance a time machine.

IMAGES – ON THE CUSP OF COMEDY
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKZuek

MUSIC: MY FIRST (SORT-OF) SHOW – THE MUSIC TEACHER https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/the-music-teacher/s-mpkmml2vozr

IMAGES: SOME EARLY COMEDY GUBBINS
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQKZvk3

WRITINGS: QUITE RUDE (MAYBE 18+) COMEDY SONGS BEFORE MY COMEDY STARTED
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLodVj

LAUGH BEGINS AT 30

So I got myself onto the comedy open-mic scene, with a period first of just doing stand-up without songs, and then 2 years on, when I could eventually afford the eighty or so pounds, I brought a portable keyboard and music into my act. So from my late 20’s into my early 30’s, from 2004 until 2010, and as I gradually worked my way up the circuit I equally gradually learned more about my autism and fitting-in with other people, through this new comedy life experience. In addition I equally gradually extended the length of time I was able to keep from getting fired in the day-jobs too, which were needed as the financial support to comedy, which itself was to be the longer-term financial stable basis that would allow me to start my life in all ways, as I’d been waiting for since the mistake of my early 20’s. A life now like some sort of deformed Jenga tower, where it’s hard enough even setting up the bricks in their correct place, let alone then playing it.

I have to say the thing about comedy is it is brilliant as a learning medium for autism, because the open mic circuit is basically going to lots of different places, but always doing the same thing and, because the experience is so heightened, by the intense atmosphere and performance aspect, it tests you way beyond normal levels of socialisation boundaries. The open mic circuit for me was a case of me making mistakes, in intense situations, and then repeating those situations elsewhere without the mistakes. This is how comedians hone their jokes on stage but was for me also, both off and on stage, how I was learning my life skills and social abilities. It’s actually a lot like a very intense form of CBT, which is what young autistic people now have to help them. So you could say I sort of invented CBT, if it hadn’t been invented first, which isn’t surprising at all to me as I’m doing that all the time, inventing stuff. When I was in my first year of university I told my lecturer of an idea I’d had, and he told me I’d discovered Schenkerian analysis, which is actually quite a fancy musicological concept, when I was doing an autism survey and said what I ate they told me I’d come up with the Keto diet by myself, which is actually a quite a fancy Autism-healthy way of eating, and when I was in the first year of secondary school I was only one of two kids, the other being the brain-box of the year, to work out the solution to a very complicated maths problem, which was actually a quite fancy way of finding that you get marked-down, and accused of cheating, if you’re not supposed to have a brain. B***ards!

So through gig experience I was learning to go into new places, cope with crowds and public spaces, meet people I didn’t know, do small talk, cope with mental overload, travel where I hadn’t been to, boldly go where no autistic had gone before, and do everything which most people think is normal, but contain elements of social interaction that they wouldn’t even consider. For example, if you sit on a tube you have to face other people and this potential for unwanted social interaction can be brain-frying. Over the years I gradually went from having to stand, so I didn’t accidentally sit in the wrong place, to sitting but always having a paper, so I didn’t accidentally make eye contact, to sitting but not needing a paper and using headphones, so I could pretend that my music was taking my attention if I did accidentally look in the wrong direction, to now sitting without the need for any props at all ! Although I do have to close my eyes and think to myself for the whole journey. But still, slowly that progress was made, and now, like all other Londoners, I can happily ignore everyone.

Getting opportunities to learn through such a heightened atmosphere gave me experiences which one never would get in ‘normal’ life, and therefore it enabled me, in my normal life, to do a lot of things that I think other autistic people struggle with, but to me are easy/easier touch wood. In the same way as as a person who weight-lifts a 10 tonne truck would find it a doddle to pick up some heavy shopping or a person who works in sewer all day would be fine to cope with a fart in a lift. And not to say that all comedy gigs are like a sewer or that performance is like lifting a 10 tonne truck, not ALL gigs !! Only Jongluers Comedy Club in Croydon at Christmas 2008, may it rest in peace.

Although it wasn’t all as easy as I make out because , whilst I was making mistakes and learning, I was still making mistakes, social errors, in public ! Over-loading, melting-down, shouting at audience members when I mistakenly thought they were homophobic, making jokes that were way beyond socially acceptable, offending other comics, annoying promoters etc etc etc. The comedy circuit is large, but not large enough to make so many errors , and as well as progress some things I did will never be forgiven, just ask Simon surname redacted to protect the innocent

All in all though comedy had so many positives, and eventually, as I learned to ‘do’ people, I made more friends in comedy and then learned to make proper friends outside of comedy, and as comedy continued it genuinely seemed to have a lot going for it as a place leading to my ever desired financial stability/job/life start:

Positives of the comedy circuit for learning social skills:

  • Lots of different venues and promoters means lots of bosses, so there are many more chances to make mistakes and if you annoy one there are others.
  • You return to the same place maybe every 6 months or so, sometimes more frequently and sometimes less, but either way, you are not going in every day for eight hours like a normal job.
  • What you actually do on stage rests just on you, so there is much less ‘working with other people’ to deal with.
  • It uses my creative skills and as such focuses on my positive aspects.
  • Working at night for small periods gives a good deal of down-time in the day, which is very important for autistic brains that buzz like a bee-hive, and over-fill, especially if you are putting yourself through heightened states, as I do with performing.
  • If I seem odd that’s a bonus on stage.
  • Lots of comics are somehow strange or otherwise outsiders, so a lot of ‘freaks’ to bond with.
  • Some elements of autistic interaction can be mistaken for ‘diva’ behaviour, which is partly tolerated in show business as long as you are good in performing.

Negatives of using your job to learn how to be autistic:

  • You can’t undo mistakes.
  • Sometimes people do not forget some mistakes.
  • Sometimes Diva behaviour, or any other indiscretion, cannot be explained or apologised for however much you try to do so.
  • However much you learn there will always be new and unexpected situations so mistakes, big and small, will happen. Obviously smaller and rarer as you get older , but still, whether you fart in a lift through a vicious uncontrollable bowel condition or fart in a lift through deliberately aiming at someone and letting rip, sometimes , even when the condition is explained, the fart itself is enough to be told never to come back to the lift. This clearly is not fair on the person that farted because of a condition, but then to also allow the farter to stay in the lift would not be fair to the person farted at either. So you just have to suck it up and move on. [I mean suck up the experience, not the fart ! Unless your gig has wildly gone off the rails and the hecklers have taken an overly innovative turn!] So you apologise, learn and, just sometimes at some places, never go back – Like Jongluers Comedy Club in Croydon at Christmas 2008, may it rest in peace.

At this stage I just want to pause and make clear and state directly that I do do wrong things, get stuff wrong, I am human and I am normal in that regard. Sometimes when explaining autism, or any condition, it can look like everything is excuses and the fault of others, or the world, or the condition etc. but no! I am people and I do people things too. With autism though 1. Lots of things perceived as wrong didn’t come from a bad place and 2. The way A + B = C thinking works means that if you do argue, disagree, fight etc, you can take the point way beyond socially normal. So if there are genuine disagreements/arguments, whether you are right or wrong, you can only see the A + B = C of your thinking. So, when you are right you don’t just put your point across, but could lose all credence by a response which is basically sharpening that point, heating it up on a fire and sticking it where it’s not supposed to go, and if you are wrong, you’ve just sharpened the point, heated it up, stuck it in and only then said ‘Oops I was wrong! Sorry!’. Either way is not good. Sometimes it would be easier just to be a twat that means to be nasty to people all the time, except for the fact that I’ve met a few of those and I’d rather eat my own elbow.

So, with more learning, growing, mistakes and effort, comedy was looking positive, and in 2010 I packed up my keyboard and my nob gags, and all the jokes the open mic circuit had helped me fashion, and, with a small amount of money that came to me from my dad’s passing, I took my comedy to the Edinburgh festival, where I won the Malcolm Hardee Main Award – for comic originality !! Which to some will sound impressive but, truth is , for those in the know, like comedians, it is lovely, but it’s a bit of a wooden-spoonish double-edged odd award, for wacky outsiders mostly, and sort of a bit of a good-rubbish award. So it was made for me and that was brilliant !

Yes, my Dad had sadly died of cancer the year before, and I say sadly because, by this time, I had put things right. In the intervening years I had reconnected with my parents without baggage, emotional or physical, and made amends, explaining autism and going some way to making good the past. In fact my emaciated chemo-faced father came and saw a gig I did just before he died and was pleased and proud. Almost as pleased as he was that he was, due to the chemo, able to get into a size 32 trouser ! Which was his bitter-sweet take on it, and funny yes, but also knowingly chimed with me as I’d felt quite happy having lost a stone on coming out of prison, but only in the same way as finding a cherry in a vomit pie. My dad was dead, it was still a vomit pie.

It wasn’t all awards and good stuff, as I quite notably received a zero star review from an infamous reviewer [DICTIONARY DEFINITION: ‘infamous reviewer’ = ‘Twat’]. It was towards the end of the run and all things had gone well, but this one show, knowing the reviewer was in, I walked out on stage, just looked into the audience and , with a sudden unexpected intense sense of fear, ran off unable to do the show. At the time I put it down to my Dad’s death, his birthday having just gone, and the fact that maybe too many things had got in my head, but then a few years later I read about a thing called sensory overload. Now I always did, and do, like to have lighting so I can see as much as possible of the audience and I knew at the time, from talking to the stage tech after the show, that this reviewer had asked for the stage lights to be turned brighter before the show so the reviewer, as well as coincidentally the rest of the audience, couldn’t be seen, but I hadn’t put two and two together. My ‘sudden unexpected intense sense of fear’ was sensory overload, brought on by unexpected lighting, and therefore both my total absence of stars and public drubbing was given and initiated by the same reviewer. Of course if I didn’t know then they didn’t know, but still, that mistake’s learning was quite painfully added to the data-bank. But when all things are considered, I do not bear any grudge against the reviewer, because knowing everything else about them there are so many other reasons to consider them a twat…. and I mean that in the friendliest way possible.

IMAGES: COMEDY ARTICLES OF ME IN THE PAPERS, HOW FANCY !
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQL1hC7

IMAGES: MIXED BLESSING OF EDINBURGH FESTIVAL 2010
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQL1m4a

MUSIC: COMEDY SONGS RECORDED ON A BROKEN LAPTOP IN A BATHROOM (MAYBE 18+)
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/comedy-songs/s-ki4ULu4vcn1

ITUNES
https://music.apple.com/us/album/kooky-comedy-songs-from-a-bathroom-in-haringey/1532434092?ls=1&app=itunes

WRITINGS: SOME EARLY COMEDY LYRICS, ALSO QUITE RUDE (MAYBE 18+)
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQL4ApR

MAD-LIFE CRISIS

So, everything came together for me at this time after Edinburgh 2010, adding together my years of working my way up the comedy circuit with my Edinburgh success, and I got an agent, got in with a few big promoters, got in with a few big clubs – Jongleurs Croydon, may it burn in hell – and it seemed that eventually my dream of having a financially stable basis, that could last, that I wouldn’t get fired from and as some form of stability for my life to start from, was here, as now I could be a full-time live circuit comedian. Then the recession hit and everything went to crap!

Really, it did ! Which is why sadly Jongleurs Comedy Club, which had some brilliant gigs – not Croydon – is now resting in peace, or burning in hell, depending on what particular venue it was. The whole circuit imploded, retracted and re-shaped, and in so doing brought down my deformed Jenga of a life plan as if it was, erm, well, a real deformed Jenga, resting on a spinning and vibrating table which itself was balanced on an angry walrus.

Due to there being less live work, and clubs and promoters tightening their belts, over the next few years the importance of comedians having TV credits, that I didn’t have, or being able to drive, that I couldn’t do or afford to learn to do, and the power of big mega-agents, of which my agent was not one really made it’s mark and as such the gigs I had spent my years to get in with, as did the industry in general, shifted direction. Gradually my potential for having a financially stable job withered away and I was getting closer and closer to where I started.

Like a lot of comics I spluttered along from 2010 onwards, changing, adapting, moving on, re-thinking, trying and failing and, me myself, now actually in reality flailing back once again on the ridiculously weak and faulty life nothingness foundations of my 20’s. I even got to the point of asking my Mum if I could go home to start again, but again was rejected as, even though the son she saw had changed so much, and even though we spent nice times together and were/are so close, some pains and memories are too deep and cutting.

So, after exploring various different options over this time, I decided in 2017 to try teaching again, as not only had that industry itself changed, but almost 20 years had passed since my conviction, which was now a spent conviction, although for teaching and such jobs no conviction is ever spent technically. Also within the years from 2010 to 2017, on top of all the other life strides I had made in previous years, so much more had improved in my life;

  • I had a realised the necessity for a full autism diagnosis, struggled to get my head sorted and everything together to get one, and then finally got it.
  • I had come on leaps and bounds in improving my self-taught people skills and social abilities and compensating for autism.
  • I had had therapy for depression.
  • I had had bulimia talking-therapy and once and for all kicked away my eating disorder.

In short, I was such a different person from what I was 20 years before.

This time round teaching worked, sort of accidentally so, as I ended up doing primary school music, rather than secondary music, just because these were the positions that were available. And Primary teaching for me was unexpectedly better, because secondary teaching, as I see it, is taking a whole lot of information and putting that across once or twice maybe, and then getting another massive heap of information to put across, whereas primary teaching is about taking information and putting it across in many many different creative ways, and this suits me. So it was during this term of teaching that I decided that that was what I was going to do. This would then, in light of comedy not being what it had promised, be the potential for a financially stable basis, so life and all could at last begin. Looking at the number of ex-teacher comedians there are, I must have been just about the only person apparently doing it the ‘wrong’ way round.

The long and the short of the next bit is that choice isn’t easy and that, whilst comedy was my plan for financial stability, but was now proving to fail, it was not only that and I did, and do, like and love many parts of it. So, talking with my Mum – see we were close ! – she said I may regret leaving comedy unless I had tried absolutely everything, to which I told her that these days you need TV credits, which was not possible, and to prove that it was not possible I entered Britain’s Got Talent 2018. 

AS RECESSION CAME AND INDUSTRY SHIFTED THIS GUY TRIED VARIOUS STUFF ALONG WITH IT:

IMAGES: BUMPH OF THIS COMEDIAN BLOKE GETTING OLDER
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQL9qsg

MY SHOW: InstruMENTAL – AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ONE-MAN MUSICAL

IMAGES: InstruMENTAL
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLtXap

MUSIC: InstruMENTAL
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/instrumental-backing-tracks/s-K15efzVQ8w7

VIDEO: VIMEO PURCHASE – InstruMENTAL:
https://vimeo.com/robertwhitecomedy/vod_pages

MUSIC: NEWER PIANO MUSIC:
https://soundcloud.com/robert-white-music/sets/newer-piano-music/s-MwiOcthjtD2

MY FIRST [VERY ODD] COMEDY VIDEOS – ADVENT COLANDER:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2QGZMHrxIME-6_fdF9828nU

SOME COMEDY VIDEOS 2018 – 2019:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2QOBvqul1nk_mJLeP1LxMV8

Coming second on Britain’s Got Talent was an achievement yes, and doing the show was an amazing thing to do, I literally put my best jokes and songs of all my years doing comedy, since the very start in 2004, into it. In fact, considering that comedy grew out of all my life struggles, you could say that my entire life had been working to this point, to this ‘answer’.

The judges were brilliant, the contestants all super people and the production staff were all great, which is true, even though I know it sounds like the sort of thing people say when they receive an award, which is ironic as coming second I didn’t even get the bus fare home! Which I say with tongue heavily in cheek, and in the most grateful way possible, because you don’t go into it for prize alone, there is only one winner and coming first is always a big challenge, however much you try to imagine Leonardo Di Caprio. You sort of think other stuff will happen, and I did hope it would be the achievement I wanted it to be, and, even at one point for a brief moment, despite what all my life experience had taught me, I thought that everything was sorted. Unfortunately my life is a deformed Jenga and the person trusted in charge of placing the next few bricks on the tower, after the Britain’s Got Talent show was done and dusted, lied to me. So opportunity was wasted and stability was turned to greater debt and, as well as Wandsworth Prison and autism on my CV, I now have Britain’s Got Talent , so giving any job applications and interviews quite an extra edge of highly obscure ridiculousness.

You see, being autistic I’m not the best at reading people, I can be naive, I’m often gullible, I’m not very good at understanding turns-of-phrase and non-direct answers, and I can’t see if someone is lying to me. But I know this and so I have a way of getting around my failings, built up over years of experience, or so I thought. 1. I ask direct questions to which only direct answers can be given, and I make sure I get direct answers and 2. I ask someone to say if something is true. But I am a twit ! As, in hindsight, this only works if someone doesn’t lie, and I had not reasoned that, if a liar says something is true, then they may well be lying. In short I trusted a liar and so I arsed it up like a major pratt, and as such again I lost my potential place of financial stability from which to start my life. Another mistake to add to the data- bank ! Pants !

IMAGES: THE YEAR AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE – 2018-2019
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLKoW4

VIDOES: BGT 2018 AND ME !!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2Rg6_HR8ybaF6vKUeCNN58l

VIDEO: MY FIRST STAND UP COMEDY TOUR – TANK TOP TOUR 2019 – VIMEO PURCHASE:
https://vimeo.com/robertwhitecomedy/vod_pages

WRITINGS: AUTISM CARRIES ON – POETRY ON CHALLENGES AND TRYING
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLKGsB

WRITINGS: LIFE CARRIES ON – PERSONAL POETRY
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLKxGR

Over the year, as realisation sank in, some opportunities came good, but others were affected by my growing anxiety, as I saw promises crashing around me, and my mind went back to a place of fearing an old-age of homelessness, whilst panicking that I could be back to poverty and flailing about in a foundation of the nothingness of my 20’s. And so I then took back my deformed Jenga for myself, started to struggle up all I had, the potential and opportunity, and I continued on. I made opportunities and planted my potentials, ready to harvest in 2020, and then, well, you know the rest.

Here we are in virus/lockdown/post-lockdown/ self-isolation/Covid/Boris/Brexit/masked/gloved/ hand-sanitised-well-past-the-elbows-and-now-racing-towards-the-nipples September 2020 hell ! The absurdity that ‘2020 vision’ means to see clearly what’s coming is so bleakly ironic that it almost makes me wish that god does exist and that he/she is just playing an autistic good-rubbish practical-joke on humanity.

VIDEO: MY AUTISTIC LIFE VARIOUS BITS
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2Teqmar-OsYhpPmE9LpGM8K

VIDEO: AUTISTIC COMEDIAN DOCUMENTARY
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2RBL72Co8EGi31r94-BaaXE

VIDEO: COMEDY SONGS FROM LOCKDOWN
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeu0j2_2Xi2Q4pYobGVaFNosPKGrEehnm

IMAGES OF LOCKDOWN
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLmJ6r

So life was lost, has halted, put adrift, placed in stasis, is constantly changing, is uncertain or otherwise made utterly screwed-up, and so depression arrived , bringing with it bulimia, and here I am now spending my time doing the poetry/garden scene of the movie of my life, this bit of which , the ‘Archive summary’, has so far taken 49 pages so, if you’ve got this to this point, thank you ! It really makes all that’s happened in my life worth it! Actually, let me come back to you on that.

So this time having totally, unequivocally, once and for all fallen to the ridiculously weak and faulty life nothingness foundations of my 20’s after flailing about for 20 years trying to avoid doing so, or more so, after having been trampled down by the broken world to this point. I turned to home for rescue, as I did back then, and, where once rejected, now with so much happened between, and me as a completely different person from then, my Mum said come, and I am home.

Good luck everyone, September is here, my hibernation is over and, whilst I veer between thinking the future will never not be rubbish to hoping it could be something better, for now I’ve got some gardening to do and a new Jenga to start.

IMAGES FROM LOCKDOWN AND GOING HOME
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLmKQU

WRITINGS: 2020 LOCKDOWN SORTING MY LIFE – POETRY
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQLqdJK