Out and proud: why life is all geek to me

20th May 2011 at 01:00
It's more acceptable to be a bit of an oddball these days. And if you don't want to accept us, then, well, so what? Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre

I have something to tell you and I hope it doesn't spoil everything we've built up over the past 19 years or so. Perhaps you'd better sit down. Before I say what I have to say, here's a story from my childhood. I'm in my granny's front room. One of her friends is there. "Do you like football?" she asks me. "Mmm, only a wee bit," I reply. "You prefer a good book," my granny's friend asserts. She is correct, but on the spectrum of things Gregor likes and dislikes, football and good books are not at extreme ends. Beyond good books are exploring the moors looking for alien life and inventing things in the shed. You see, I am and always have been . a bit geeky.

I promise you, I haven't been having geeky thoughts about you personally. I have no desire to come round to your house and install Ubuntu Linux on your laptop (though I will if you want me to). Nor do I lie in bed at night planning ways to get you to come along to a Star Trek exhibition. In truth, I tried that myself once and didn't much like it. There were mop swirls on the floor of the transporter bay.

It's much easier to be openly geeky these days. There are some well-loved geeks on television who defy the "badly dressed, socially inept loner with poor personal hygiene" stereotype (according to the easily googlable geek Venn diagram, socially dysfunctional geeks are nerds).

Nevertheless, while many people assume that physics teachers are geeky anyway, it wasn't something I felt I could be overt about when I was in the classroom. Supposing an unreconstructed parent got to hear about it?

I could have faced accusations of turning young lads away from their natural inclinations to go out and get plastered, opting instead to lie on their backs in fields looking for meteor showers.

I must stress that my liking for old cars and, latterly, my enthusiasm for Livingston FC, are not fronts. I genuinely do enjoy these things. My bookshelves are laden with Scottish literature and crime, with virtually no science fiction and fantasy to be seen. I own only one graphic novel (a Scottish crime story).

Working around the country helps me to realise that I am not the only geek in the Scottish education village. What's surprising is the number of people who fall into the "young, female and geeky" category. Now there's a title for a BBC3 documentary.

So there you are. I am, have always been and always will be a bit of a geek. And you know what? It's never brought me anything other than pleasure. What do you mean, you knew all along?

Gregor Steele has yet to go as far as attending a geek pride event.

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