The most thrilling part of my day

NEVER one to dodge a drama, or allow the truth to get in the way of a good story, I need neither to evade or embellish this week. Regular James Marston column readers - both of you - will remember that last week I reported on my inability to talk, due to laryngitis.

NEVER one to dodge a drama, or allow the truth to get in the way of a good story, I need neither to evade or embellish this week.

Regular James Marston column readers - both of you - will remember that last week I reported on my inability to talk, due to laryngitis.

As I said at the time, for an expressive, talented, witty erudite and charismatic man like me, such a handicap is akin to cutting off the right arm of someone more taciturn.

My fans might not be surprised to know I love the sound of my own voice and I am not averse to a spot of excess attention. Naturally, that lucky gang who have been honoured to be admitted in to my exclusive inner circle have made full use of the mobile telephone text system, and messages are coming in from all over the world - well all over Suffolk at least.

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So, dear reader, as I wait for lorry loads of flowers, cures, advice, chocolates, get well cards and other goodies to be sent to 'James Marston care of the Evening Star,' I am living off a compote of soup luncheons and daytime television, with a generous dollop of life threatening boredom and utter frustration thrown in.

My routine of Jeremy Kyle followed by Fern and Phillip, a spot of lunch, then Diagnosis Murder, rounding off with Carol and Des with a good dose of Countdown is slowly beginning to threaten my sanity. I haven't watched so much television since I was doing my A levels.

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The biggest shock by far is this Jeremy Kyle chap. For those who don't know Mr Kyle, who seems nice enough, he speaks to ghastly people about their very private problems in front of a noisy and opinionated audience.

Of course for a life-long student of human nature like me, it's absolutely gripping.

“I think my child is someone else's”... “I can't stop cheating”… “I slept with my boyfriend's father”... “I slept with my father's girlfriend” - the drama is undeniable.

Once that is out of the way, I tune in to Philip and Fern's This Morning to learn a few recipes I will never cook, to take an in-depth three minute look at some pressing social problem, to watch a so-called celebrity - and dear reader, I am expecting an invite any day - to plug a book and then I get a few ideas on what frock to wear to my best friend's mid to late summer wedding, before it's time for the news and that light lunch.

By then the excitement is building in my little Ipswich sitting room, as at 3.30pm it's the highlight of the listings and the most thrilling part of my day - Countdown.

I wait with bated breath to see what creation Carol is wearing each day.

I look forward to Mr Lynam's light banter.

I admire the expert in Dictionary Corner.

I shout a few four and the odd five, letter words at the screen. I don't even try with the maths.

Despite my admitted lack of brilliance at the game, Countdown is a beacon of light relief amid a rather unstimulating day off sick, and I sincerely hope it's still running when I'm a pensioner.

Aside from the penchant for daytime television there has been one other notable advantage from this unfortunate and unpleasant deterioration in my precious health, I have stopped smoking - at least for the moment.

Advised to quit by all six of my doctors, including the one who said during an inspection that my tonsils seemed normal despite the fact they were removed in 1981, I did for fear that I would never speak again.

Indeed, so strongly is my will to speak and make my views known, that giving up tobacco suddenly seemed a much easier prospect. I'd rather not smoke than encounter anyone unaware of my thoughts.

But there is another thing that's also crossing my mind.

Though sure I will eventually recover and return to the land of the useful, I certainly don't want to be left with an incurable addiction to attention. That would never do.

Too Much Attention For James Disorder to use the medical term, is a disease I just know I will never be able to beat.

The word 'conundrum' has featured as the Conundrum on at least one occasion.

Harvey Freeman was the ultimate Countdowner - undefeated after 19 games.

One of the most extraordinary 9-letter words ever was myoglobin - a red protein which stores oxygen in muscle cells - which Scotsman Michael Calder got in the first round of his series final (he went on to become the champion).

Some of today's contestants weren't even born when the first Countdown was broadcast; and its producer, Michael Wylie, was a contestant in the very first series when he lost in the final. He became producer in 1995.

Carol Vorderman once sang in a group called Dawn Chorus and the Blue Tits alongside radio DJ Liz Kershaw.

Almost every day that Countdown is on, a woman called Viv rings up to tell the team, round by round, the words she got and how she solved the numbers.

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