Take That? F*** That! In Praise Of Nonconformity

I dont want to see Take That at Wembley, watch X Factor or have kids... deal with it.
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I dont want to see Take That at Wembley, watch X Factor or have kids... deal with it.

A survey out this week tells us that Mr Average drives a Ford Focus, likes Dr Who and has fish and chips once a week. Whilst the marketing wonks that compiled this ground-breaking research will be pleased with their startling insights I hardly need a bunch of Prozac-fuelled perma-grin market researchers to state the bleeding obvious. Personally I’d rather burn in in hell than renounce my individuality but my brother fits the mould perfectly. He works in his dream job, data management for Argos, having eschewed the traditional wank mag for their catalogue during his teens, spouts entire excerpts from 5-live radio as ‘proof’ that others think like him and isn’t even ashamed that he once bought a dabber for bingo nights when he went to a caravan site on holiday. He’s 38.

In contrast, I’ve always been on the margins of society and have no desire to change that. It’s amazing how comfortable I am out here and yet for some reason the majority of people I cross in everyday life seem hell bent on trying to convert me. I am regularly asked why I don’t appreciate certain mainstream activities, usually accompanied by a quizzical, impertinent tone implying ‘what the fuck’ as if their brains can’t compute that differing tastes and opinions are perfectly acceptable. There are countless indignant souls out there that can’t comprehend my preferences and somehow feel the pressing need to question this stance. They think nothing of openly laughing and calling me a freak for my outlandish ways (I have never learnt to drive, my biological clock hasn’t started ticking because it has quite simply never worked and I wear a lot of black) and yet it’s all pretty inconsequential stuff. So why exactly does bucking a trend bring out the fucktard in so many?

So why exactly does bucking a trend bring out the fucktard in so many?

Any event which receives national media attention and is billed as being unmissable causes me misery. Last week it was all about a concert. Take Twat at Wembley to be precise. Our company has a box at its disposal and about 3 months ago the fawning and adoring 30-40 something ladies in the office hit the phones to get tickets to the latest tour. Most missed the boat so they were reassured by the box administrator that they could avail themselves of it on one of the nights for free. Cue their little squeals of incontinent delight and the start of the hysteria.

One polite enquiry about my attendance was fine and my ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply should have sufficed. Instead I have been subjected to the following exchange (slightly varied depending on the enquirer though usually following much the same pattern) on a regular basis over the course of the last 2 weeks.

Interfering Busybody: Are you excited too?

Me: Sorry, what about?

IB: Take That of course. Are you going on Wednesday night?

Me: No, I’m not.

At this point I tend to turn/walk away as a sign that I am not that interested. Not exactly subtle, I know, but you’d be amazed how many persist.

IB: Why?

Me: It’s not my thing.

I’m still really trying to be diplomatic without engaging in a discussion about the relative merits of some warbling dancers and a paranoid pub singer.

IB: Why not?

My head tells me it’s time to disabuse them of the notion that Take That are the apogee of musical talent but I resist the urge to deride each member in turn, count to 10 and reply.

Me: I’m just not in to their music

IB: Ah but it’s not about the music (ha – you don’t say!) it’s the spectacle that is worth seeing. It’s a show, a cabaret and the lighting is just….

My glazed and disinterested look is clearly still not cutting it.

Me: Yeah, I’m not really fussed about that stuff.

I don’t explain that the guys who live above and below me in our Victorian conversion are all performers in the West End. The ‘spectacles’ and singing lessons they give at home to make up their shit wages would soon put off the most ardent fan of musical theatre.  I simply pray at this point that the busybody has run out of inane retorts. Maybe I ought to find a God and make my prayers matter as it rarely works.

IB: Ah but (insert name of lily-livered colleague who changes his mind as often as his pants) loved it and he hates that sort of thing.

Me: You know I’d love to stop and chat but I really must get on.

At what point exactly am I entitled to take this person aside and inform them that ‘it’s people like you that voted for the Lib Dems at the last election and look where that fucking got us’. I even checked the HR handbook (the esteemed publication that I rifle through on bored days playing ‘how many rules can I contravene in an afternoon for fun’) and can find no mention of a policy on following the herd. I felt much the same about the Royal Wedding and Olympic Ticket applications so 2011 is turning out to be a cracking year for me to be tormented until I want to weep about my non-adherence to society’s norms.

What’s even more irksome is that I get castigated by friends’ partners for refusing to accompany their beloved to these hormone-charged shindigs as if standing in a stadium of screaming, flushing ladies is a female preserve and I am weird for opting out. One husband obliged to go with my friend to the last Take That concert (because I refused and she didn’t know a simpleton to cajole) still thinks I said no to wind him up. Believe me, if it had involved shopping for handbags and shoes, gorging on a chocolate fountain or collapsing in mirth at a Michael McIntyre gig, I’d have been opting out just as fast. My Norman Normal sibling, on the other hand, would have been tempted by at least two of the above.

So if I can silently accept the mass adoration of the latest reality TV sensation (discussed extensively around me on Monday mornings whilst I pen my column for Baby and Child Haters Anonymous Magazine) why can’t folk refrain from asking if it’s true that I walked down the aisle to Metallica, whilst wrinkling their nose as if the devil himself had been orchestrating the service? After all, I don’t show disdain at their lack of individuality so how about ‘if you tolerate my quirks I won’t mention yours?’ The least said about my brother’s adult babygro (well Primark called it a sleepsuit!) though, the better…

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