Monday 16 January 2017

Dear Sherlock,

Dear Sherlock,

Well, they say all good things come to an end. And so it is with you. I'm not prone to being a fangirl about anything really, as evidenced by my inability to fool my school friends that I really did think New Kids on the Block were gods gift to teenage girls. Or certainly not my idea of a gift. I wasn't interested in much though, to be fair, so nothing personal NKOTB. Anyway, never really been a fan in the true sense of the word. Until season 2 of Sherlock. Yeah, I admitted it, I kinda missed series 1 - I was too busy breaking myself in service to some deluded idea of that I could make a difference.

But series 2? We went back and watched series 1. Then we watched series 2 and Moriarty got me. But that wasn't the real reason I fell in love. Something a little more crucial happened between series 1 & 2 in my life - I started to suspect I had Aspergers. This resulted in some consternation, thanks to you lot, the comments about being a high-functioning sociopath leaving me a little confused as I watched someone half me and half not walking across the screen, leaving a trail of offended people in his wake.

Why half me and half not me?

Well at that point in my life, I certainly left a trail of offended people in my wake. Offended, hurt, confused, distanced...but, and I appreciate this is a massive cliche, I did and do a lot of things that a lot of other people can't or don't. I feel a lot of things others don't. I see a lot of things others don't. People had always told me I was smart but I just compared myself to all my geek friends around me and came off worse. I've felt stupid, actually, for a lot of my life, measuring myself on social intelligence, rather than acknowledging to myself that it's not normal to find so many things so easy.

So I watched you. I watched you saying the things out loud I would never. I watched you affecting those people around you. More importantly, I watched how others watched you from the outside - how the audience reacted to you. I expected hate and fear. All I could see was a slow understanding dawning on people that there are some people who just don't work the same way we do. Kids with 'high functioning sociopath' t-shirts. Filming locations mobbed. Careers made and others resurrected for an entirely new generation. It turned into a monster. I know none of you expected it to quite turn out like this and I know for some of you it has been a double edged sword, occasionally a right royal pain in the arse.

But I wanted to write this to help you understand how this show has helped me. As a friend and writing colleague told me straight to my face with no frippery or fluff - I'm somewhere at the end of a bell curve and which end is only a matter of how you choose to measure me. From watching Sherlock I have realised that I too have a sort of mind palace. That I close my eyes and I can recall almost anything I've seen instantly with complete accuracy that I have ever seen. That being able to close a book and put it down and reread what I've just read again in my head isn't normal. That meeting someone once and reading a few of their tweets and being able to provide them with a 5 minute breakdown of who they are and what they do in their spare time and who their friends are and what they do with them, isn't normal. On, and on and on and on.

And all because of you lot.

I am aware from visting the Sherlocked convention that that 'you' encompasses a lot of people, some of whom I met and all of whom responded to my explanations of how the show had helped me with kindness and gentle curiosity. Well okay, most. But the one who didn't, well I should have worked it out way before that that was the one person who absolutely did not want to talk about Aspergers. Because I've been diagnosed now. And because of a group of people who laboured and loved, grafted and had their patience sorely tested at times, I am proud to be so. I even use some of superpowers for good now - I work in a job where not only am I allowed and actually liked for being me, but I can use those superpowers to help other people who might have them but haven't realised what they are yet. Because we all have superpowers, actually. We all do. The capacity to love, unconditionally and without question is a superpower. It's not one I have. Or rather, love to me looks different, feels different, is experienced differently. But that doesn't mean my way is right or others wrong. It doesn't mean that I am envious of those who can love like that. It simply means that that is a superpower. A valued one.

What I know now is that mine are as valid. I like them. I have understood that I can use them. And it's all cos of you. Cos of seeing a bloke who had some superpowers grow up, gain friendships, become part of a gang, understand closeness, understand love, understand different love and what it might look like for him, understand that family can be more than blood, that friendships can look different as well, that you don't have to apologise for being different, don't have to apologise for breathing, that family are difficult but worth it, that smart might be the new sexy for particular kinds of people (and those might be the kind of people he might actually find sexy back!).

The same journey I have been on, in the same time frame as your show has been broadcast.

So thank you. I wanted to say thank you. I hope the thank you screams from the words above. I have spent 6 years wrapped in a world where I didn't know the ending all the time before it appeared. Where I was actually surprised by an ending of a show when it arrived. Where, yes, okay, the eye candy was quite lovely, but more than that, so much more than that.

So thank you. To the cast, the writers, the producers (Sue Vertue still remains the nicest person I've met thanks to this show - your signatures inside my little book of Sherlock stories will remain my most treasured possession for a very long time to come), the crew. Together you have come together to make something beautiful, something smart, and to one woman who used to be a girl, something life affirming and life changing.


Benedict - When I blurted 'Hi, I'm aspie too'... it wasn't planned. It wasn't supposed to come out. I was terrified and intimidated and it just came out. I know you're not Sherlock. I'm not completely bonkers. What I meant to say was 'I'm aspie and your portrayal of Sherlock has changed my life, thank you'. When you turned to me and stared me straight in the eye and said 'Are you?' in a tone of voice I actually can recognise, what I wanted to say was this:
'Yes. I am. And because of you and your portrayal of a man, I am so so proud to be so'. After last nights episode, even more so. Redemption. It's a beautiful beautiful thing. I wont say only you could have played him so well, but we both know few could have played him so well. Thank you.

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