Silence is far from golden

I'VE always liked the sound of my own voice. I admit that hidden under my dazzling array of talents I do have just the tiniest of narcissistic streaks.

I'VE always liked the sound of my own voice.

I admit that hidden under my dazzling array of talents I do have just the tiniest of narcissistic streaks.

I'm self-centred, self-obsessed and I is my favourite pronoun.

So dear readers, can you imagine my horror this week when a nasty cough- regular readers will remember I reported this in my column last week-developed into what the doctor called viral laryngitis.

For those of you who don't know viral laryngitis means that for nearly a week I have not been able to talk above a whisper. Worse still there is no knowing when my rich, treacle-like, sonorous voice might return.

I don't want to go one and on about my health - like some dull pensioner - but this experience and my inability to communicate effectively has left me with no alternative-I have to get it off my chest.

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Can you imagine what it is like for an expressive, articulate, erudite man who loves talking to be denied this most effective form of communication?

Well I'll tell you what it's been like for me.

I have been forced to watch television news in silence without indulging in my preferred sport of shouting at politicians who irk me.

I have had to watch Wimbledon-surely being ill was punishment enough without watching grunting women.

I have been so frustrated I forgot to eat-that's never happened before.

I have stopped smoking-almost.

I have been unable to take part in amateur dramatics or sing any show tunes-my whip crack away is suffering.

Forced to whisper, text, write, e-mail and use a basic form of sign language-which is developing rapidly-to get my points across-I have noticed one other disturbing effect of my silence.

Those around me seem to think it's quite funny when I try to speak.

Sarah-the health reporter-giggled, Helen-the entertainments reporter-exclaimed “It's bliss.” and my family in the west of the county are mixing utter delight with natural concern.

Conversations are of course tricky, because:

I sound like Eartha Kitt after a night on the Monte Cristos.

I can't really answer the phone without sounding like a heavy breather.

Shop assistants think I'm being rude when I don't reply to their banter.

Several people have rather strangely started to whisper to me.

If I try to be funny people just think I'm odd-I have no voice to inflect.

And worst of all I am easy to ignore-a slight too far.

So dear readers-that's enough about me for now-I know that my more loyal fans will be wondering how on earth to cheer me up.

Here are a few ideas:

Flowers-lillies please

Chocolates-to soothe my feelings.

A red Maserati/Aston Martin/Bentley-always an acceptable gift.

A letter/email of sympathy and understanding-a rarity for a journalist.

An old fashioned house and an old fashioned millionaire-Eartha wasn't daft.

HOW many houses do these people need?

Unlike those in what is fast becoming the Big Brother housing estate I am a celebrity with a background of talent-I haven't just dressed up as a woman and shouted a lot to get on tv.

But just when I thought Big Brother couldn't get more insufferable they started another house for common chavs. To be subjected to such dreadful people with such unpleasant estuary English is not my idea of entertainment.

Though time and time again people have suggested I audition, I have rather resented the implied suggestion that I am ignorant enough, stupid enough, or freaky enough to be a successful house mate of the Big Brother house.

Of course, I am far too fat as well.

I'm sticking to my little Ipswich home -at least my Ipswich sitting room doesn't have cameras recording my every move.

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