ABSTRACT

One bright autumn afternoon in the mid-1980s, while Gail Pattison was an education student in the English Lake District, we walked together in the college grounds, kicking through thick russet leaves in the earthy crisp air beneath the sage green hills. It was a shimmering Lakeland day, and Gail was a striking pre-Raphaelite ®gure. She was tall and slender, her pale earnest face framed by wild red hair. Within minutes of our meeting, she began to talk and continued with little pause for several hours. The essence of her message was that nobody around her could understand the depth of her gifted thinking, and how uncomfortable she felt among her fellow students with their lesser brainpower. Her barrage of words struck me as the combination of a hook to hold my attention and a defence against hurt. Gail had picked up on the stereotype of gifted and saw her life as inevitably hard because of her gifted mind:

It's dif®cult for people like me with a very high intelligence, because we think we know so much and are in¯uenced by bigger things. I say a lot of things that

other people would never say, and do things that other people wouldn't do. I live how other people wouldn't live. I've got a lot of thoughts that other people can't possibly begin to understand because they've probably never thought that hard before. It's unfortunate, but they just don't know what I'm going on about. Last week, I thought about truth ± nothing's real because what you see one day may be seen the next day as totally different. So reality is always real, but it changes and it's a different reality. When I say things like that, they say, `Yes . . . I think I'll go and have a cup of coffee.'