Saw the ‘Kings Speech’ a while back. It was very, very good. It was painful to watch Bertie (later King George) struggle to say the simplest things; when trying to talk, he looked like someone who was frantically struggling to escape from a straight jacket bound in chains.
You could see the utter frustration he was going through to even get started; and when he did finally commence, he’d soon find his tongue struggling to break free yet again to finish his thoughts.
It was easy for those who speak smoothly and without constraint, to feel sorry for the future king, manacled by an affliction so monstrous so uncontrollable. For me watching his struggle to speak was worse, far worse. You see I’m a stutterer. Not to the degree of Bertie but a stutterer still.
My trouble started when a youth, when I developed a mild stutter that was ripe for teasing. My sister discovered that she could get me so angry I could barely speak a word…then she’d laugh at me. My mild stammer therefore developed into something that was embarrassing and immensely frustrating.
I was generally a good student and can recall countless times I’d dare not raise my hand when knowing illusive answers because I worried about not being able to start a simple sentence.
Once in high school, I stood to answer a puzzling question, pleased that only I knew the answer…and found that I couldn’t make a sound…I was speechless. After what seemed like an eternity in trying to ‘get out’ the answer, I sheepishly sat down. Madame Baines gave me a look like ‘what the hell was that all about’; I hung my head…couldn’t dare look up and meet the eyes of my classmates.
What I’m saying is that there is always a risk of attaining public humiliation if a stutterer volunteers to speak….poor Bertie, poor Hags.
At times and through much effort I found that I could often control my problem. I would mentally say what I was going to say before I said it. This usually allowed me to get started. But quite honestly there are days that I can wax eloquently and days when I am afraid to utter a sound because my problem rages inside of me like an untamed beast.
Funny but when I was the ‘MC’ for the weddings of our best friend’s kids, I was fine. A secret however, I rehearsed like a madman and spoke my lines in a sequence suited for my tongue. I had put myself through exercises in much the same way that the king’s helper, Mr. Logue did.
Anyway, my impediment is usually random meaning I have good days or bad days. It’s all a little scary however because on meeting me, one could meet either a babbling twit or a coherently gifted speaker.
I’m also in good company with Mr. Bean, Hugh Grant and Samuel L Jackson; even Churchill and Elvis shared my problem.
So anyway, if you encounter me, don’t be shy, engage me in conversation. It could be a good day for me or maybe not. Just try not to laugh too much if it’s a bad day.
P.S. If you’re wondering if I laughed at the character Kenny in a ‘Fish Called Wanda’…I did….God help me but I couldn’t help myself.