Let Eccentricity Ring!

Alice and the Red Queen

Alice and the Red Queen: Steampunk Doncaster, held on the 150th anniversary of “Alice in Wonderland”‘s publication

” … they didn’t think there was anything very odd in anyone being a little odd.” James Hilton, Random Harvest

I feel at peace amongst the odd: whether it be a gallifrey of Doctor Who fans (1), a geek of sci fi enthusiasts (2), or the steampunks who gathered last Saturday at Steampunk Doncaster.

Saturday was also the 4th of July. Back in Detroit, the weekend around 1 July – “Canada Day” – and the 4th has long been the occasion for a huge, joint fireworks festival, between Detroit on one side of the river, and Windsor, Ontario, on the other.

The White Rose of Yorkshire nudges the national flag of Britain: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

The White Rose of Yorkshire nudges the national flag of Britain: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

Whilst not a big fan of fireworks, I love seeing people come together like this. As for celebrating the 4th, the closest I’ve come since moving to the UK was an approximately 15 year stint of taking homemade cookies (3) to work. Because, according to my boss, “that’s what Americans do”.

Right, Anne. At least it gave me a brief, annual window of popularity.

I am not a steampunk. However, as previously said, I feel at home amongst people who, as Hilton said, don’t find “anything very odd about being a little odd”. Steampunk gatherings have a similar vibe to the Doctor Who and other sci fi conventions I attended in the US and, on one occasion, Canada, during my 20s.

A "lemester": a hamster / lemming cross. Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

A “lemester”: a hamster / lemming cross. Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

Away from such gatherings, we eccentrics can find that our surroundings are less than friendly. It’s a bit of a cookie cutter world out there: one where bland, shortbread men and women sometime look askance at the ginger nuts, and the jammy dodgers.

Mmmm, cake: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

Mmmm, cake: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

But what if freeing one’s inner eccentric actually make for a more creative, more mentally healthy individual? Life, after all, is tricky: the odds are against any of us making our way out of it alive.

I wrote last year of what I call “the Richard Tauber Effect“: about how our admiration for talented individuals may stifle our own creativity. Sometimes, too, our desire to conform, to be accepted – perhaps, not to be bullied – will make us throw a monkey wrench into our creative works. To put vanilla in the biscuits, when we’d really rather reach for the ginger, or the chili and the chocolate.

More than another Alice: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

More than another Alice: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

Read about the lives of the inventive, and creative, and odds are they will be “a bit odd”. The sort of people whose drummer is so different, it’s playing the ukelele, the harpsichord, or the piccolo. Sometimes, all three at one go.

I started this morning in my back garden: where, in the space of a few minutes, I cautioned a starling against drinking from the gutter (4), and praised two calendulas, and a geranium, for their new flowerheads.

So my inner eccentric – indeed, my outer one – is just dandy. I hope this finds yours in fine fettle, too.

A fox in a pith helmet: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

A fox in a pith helmet: Steampunk Doncaster, 2015

(1) My suggestion for a collective noun describing DW fans
(2) I love collective nouns, don’t you?
(3) “Cookies” as I was exercising my inner American. When I’m British, they’re “biscuits”
(4) The starling’s mother was not available to chastise him/her

 

 

 

 

 

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