I’ll readily share my thoughts on pretty much any given subject, and my views have a tendency to be hardline, uncompromising and brutally honest. Although, from a proud Yorkshireman, you wouldn’t expect anything different – opinions are our speciality.
I’m a tolerant man; well, more than I used to be. However, things still get to me and I have to stand up for my little bit of the corner. Not everyone agrees with my views, some might be taken aback – but that’s not intentional. In my defence, I get hot-headed because I’m passionate about my country and what I believe is an erosion of its core values.
I certainly don’t consider myself a hateful person. I’ve got compassion – but I can’t sit idly by when we’ve people living on the streets, elderly struggling to keep warm and families on the breadline while gangs of kids are running roughshod around town. Like I say, these are my opinions, but I’ll admit that one is laced with an element of hypocrisy – I was no angel during my teens and beyond.
However, that and my garb, which to some portrays me as an anti-establishment thug, isn’t the full picture. In fact, being labelled and judged is something I’ve had to deal with throughout a majority of my life. In 1992, after years of struggles, I was diagnosed with Klinefelter syndrome. Only then did issues that had plagued my life truly make sense.
I was born in Bradford in 1961. My mother was a housewife turned dinner lady and my father a mechanic who later, like the majority of my family, worked on the buses. In many ways I wasn’t dissimilar to many teenagers – emotional and rebellious when presented with authority. However, unlike others of my age, puberty wasn’t the underlying cause. My condition, which at that time I was unaware of, stood in the way of that.
It may sound like a cop-out, but when I was finally diagnosed it went a long way towards explaining my irrational behaviour. Mosaic Klinefelter syndrome (as I was later found to have) is a congenital condition where instead of the usual male XY chromosomes (XX being female) I had an additional X. Although still genetically male, my condition brought with it a host of problems including dyslexia, low energy, passive nature and, in later years, depression – but more troubling was several female traits. With insufficient testosterone to bring about puberty, my voice didn’t break, and with a low libido neither was I interested in girls. This, together with slight effeminate ways, led some to wrongly label me as gay. This amounted to more than enough ammo to be singled out by a school bully, who began to extort money from me. This led to me being placed on probation for theft, when the cash I’d been robbing from my parents wasn’t enough to pay him.
'I immediately felt at home alongside the loveable social misfits that made up the scooter scene'
With no factual explanation for my physical or emotion issues my self-esteem took a battering. I overcompensated by exerting my maleness; bravado that got me into all sorts of trouble. The upshot was that I left school with few qualifications. Although my job options were limited, I knew I didn’t want to follow the family habit of working on the buses. Instead, after a few short-lived jobs, I became a decorator – it was a good profession to be in, plus the decent pay helped me pay my fines.
My love of scooters started straight after a mate let me have a crack at his Vespa. I immediately felt at home alongside the loveable social misfits that made up the scene – it gave me a sense of belonging at a time when I didn’t fully understand myself. Although we mocked each other, our main focus was getting larruped at the pub before waging war on the local bikers.
The 1980s wasn’t an especially good time for Bradford. My father had quit working on the buses due to an injury so a move to become school custodian (pompous lingo for caretaker!) in Ware, Hertfordshire, benefitted not only him but us all.
Although I’d often return ‘home’, I needed to form friendships down south. A local pub and scooter hangout seemed a good place to start. My accent has mellowed in recent years – however, back then that wasn’t the only thing that left some bemused. The Mod scene, with blokes sporting bobby haircuts, eyeliner, frilly cravats and sharp suits, was very much alive. Whereas I, as a through ‘n’ through scooterist (considered by some as the poor relation of the scooter scene), breezed in wearing DMs, combat greens and flying jacket! But true to form they were welcoming and I soon put down some roots.
Like I said, it was 1992 when I got my diagnosis. I clearly remember that as the doctor was reeling off the symptoms, I was mentally placing a BIG tick alongside them. Also, despite being giving conflicting views, I was left to understand that fathering children would be almost impossible.
My immediate reaction was to feel less of a man, feelings which quickly turned to anger when I reflected on all the needless problems which, if I’d been diagnosed early, could’ve been avoided or eased. Some I had considered friends, when learning about my condition, didn’t want to know me. It became easier to avoid people, as I feared the backlash over gender-related issues would alter their perception of me. No one knew what I was going through and whenever I turned for help, no one – including my parents – wanted to know.
'I don't have a lot, but I'm content with what I've got - just don't ask for my opinion about Harlow.'
I felt like an outsider and with a bellyful of problems soon went off the rails. In hindsight, getting obliterated on booze, which only gave me short-term relief, wasn’t the best course of action. At my lowest point I questioned my existence; if it were not for my wife I can’t honestly say whether I’d be here now – and I don’t just mean living in Harlow. She’s been my rock and not once has she judged me. We got together in 2000 – in truth, she was the first woman I really clicked with. Marrying outside of the realm was a gamble; you know, with her being a southerner! But thanks to her and regular boosts of testosterone I’ve come out of it relatively unscathed and cracking on with life as best I can.
Few people outside of my immediate circle know about the battles I’ve had. But the need for greater public awareness towards Klinefelter syndrome outweighs any further prejudice that can be put my way – that’s one opinion I won’t be swayed on!
I now lead rather a quiet life with very few friends to call upon. Due to poor health I’ve had to give up scooters and some of the social scene that once filled my life – but some things are just meant to be. I don’t have a lot, but I’m content with what I’ve got – just don’t ask for my opinion about Harlow.