We need to talk about Morten Harket

One of my many annoying habits is asking my husband if he still loves me or does he want to throw me away yet. I’d always assumed it was just because I’m massively insecure and needy (and indeed I may well be), but sometimes it borders on being mindless repetition, almost like a verbal tic (echolalia? palialia?). I will ask him a second time, literally 5 minutes after asking him a first time. Sometimes the words will come out of my mouth without me realising and the first I know of what I’ve just done is that he’s sighing once again because, well how is he supposed to answer, what answer could he possibly give that would stop me asking again?

Anyway, it was after a recent exasperated response of, “Yes Kate, I was OK this morning but on going out to the bins I’ve changed my mind,” that I fired back with:

But allistic people are fickle. You say what you don’t mean and change your minds constantly. I’ve had the same favourite band since I was 9. I never change my mind about anything. Well unless I was wrong about it to begin with …

It turns out that while autistic boys are more likely to be into space and trains, girls on the spectrum have special interests more in line with the interests of their neurotypical peers – so horses, fairies, unicorns, dolls, celebrities, pop stars. (Clearly as an avid teenage reader of Railway Modeller I was following both the boy and girl path.)

My family are amazed when I demonstrate knowledge of any music other than that produced by a-ha. I’ve always used their music to decompress although when I was a child I wouldn’t have had the language to express what I was doing and why. My brain loves Morten’s angelic, perfectly pitched voice – as someone for whom attention to detail comes naturally that’s incredibly important. I can’t stand to listen to bands like Joy Division whose lead singers sound like the musical equivalent of fingernails down a chalkboard.

But there’s more than that. Even as a child I felt that I could relate to them, that they knew what it was to be a person like me – their songs often speak of being an outsider, an alien, the person who never fitted in, who never belonged. Witness exhibit A:

“And I try and I try and I try
But it never comes out right
Yes, I try and I try and I try
But I never get it right”

And I love that they’re massive nerds who’d much rather discuss philosophy and orchids than the banal topics that interviewers are so keen to talk about. I think my three favourite Norwegians might want to get that looked at…

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