Saturday, 26 July 2014

Why the Hell do People Think I'm Intelligent?

My Dad was a working class orphan from Fulham. He spent the second world war down mines as he was too young to fight, he later became a fireman then a central heating service engineer. My Mum was a working class girl from Ireland. Her first job was as a servant, she later ran away to London and worked for the BBC as a cook. They met, got married, moved to Hampshire and finally had 1 child when they were both in their 40s. That'll be me then.

So I grew up within constant hearing distance of 2 very distinctive - and different - accents. Yet my brain decided to ignore this and, for some reason, I have never had any accent at all. Nothing. Also, being an only child to older parents, I learned to escape boredom by reading and I developed an interest in words. This ensured that I gradually expanded my vocabulary and developed a love of the English language. 

BUT - and this is the important part - on a basic level I've never really been particularly bright. I have an average level of education because I simply couldn't be bothered to go to university, I couldn't see the advantages it might offer. So I went to work in a supermarket (and stayed in retail for 22 years, never progressing beyond dept. manager). 

I digress, the point I am stumbling towards here is that ever since the age of 10 I have been dogged by the general opinion that, almost entirely due to the way I talk, I am some sort of clever person. We moved to Wiltshire when I was 10 and for the first couple of years I was relentlessly bullied because I was 'posh' and 'clever'. Nope. I just don't have any kind of local accent. This, somehow, translates to 'posh' for a lot of folks.

People who have worked with me know only too well that I am not suited to work. Oh sure, I can muck in and work hard, I just dislike the whole ethos of having to do stuff all day for somebody when I'd rather be doing stuff for myself, in my own way and my own time. This causes an emotional response which translates into stress. So work colleagues would often see a side of me which only ever materialises when at work - miserable, confrontational and generally unpleasant. I recently (and not for the first time) walked out of a job for entirely emotional reasons and am now unemployed with no money. I am applying for jobs which I know will stress me out again and which I'll probably eventually walk away from under a big black cloud... but I've never had any kind of career plan or managed trajectory in life and I'm basically at the same place now that I was when I was made redundant at 20. Just hanging around hoping something will 'turn up'. But I've never been clever enough to work out a way to work for myself, even though I've had 30 years in which to do so.

So, I really don't see myself as being intelligent, sorry. Perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding what 'intelligent' means... This, in itself, makes me a bit dim.

There's a point in the book The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or one of its sequels) where Ford Prefect declares to Arthur Dent that they are both just a couple of "fartarounds". I like that. That word sums up my approach to life completely. 

Forget intelligent. Forget imaginative. I hereby declare that I am, always have been and always will be a fartaround.


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