Thursday, 21 October 2010


I lost my voice last Friday night.

It’s the first time this has ever happened to me, and it was a fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) experience. But I can’t say that being forced into constantly-listening mode was all bad.

Although of course first I had to listen to all the funnies. My kids thought it all superbly amusing. They made me try shouting, ‘I’m really cross with you!’ and fell about laughing when I screamed so loud the veins stood out furiously on my forehead and I couldn’t be heard more than 15 centimetres away. ‘Where are my socks, ma?’ my son asked, and when I told him, he said, ‘Is that a secret?’ Har-de-har-har. And when the phone rang, and I answered – obviously – and the person on the other end said, ‘Hello? Hello? Hello?’ – well, that was the funniest of all.

But perhaps the most interesting thing was hosting a party for about 30 people on Sunday, for my 46th birthday, and not being able to be heard. I had the most amazing backup in my astonishingly energetic friend Brigitte (a retired air steward, she is constantly coming in to land, which is very useful in large groups of hungry people), and everyone generally got on with things without my having to play director – in fact, probably a sight better than they would have without my offering my opinions (of which I have several, about everything).

My friend P (pictured here, at far left; that's me sitting silently in the middle, with my new short hair; and my friend T is on the right of the pic) took the opportunity – with astounding intuition – to make a speech on my behalf.

Now, my father has made speeches for me – on my 21st and at my wedding – but then he had to, and both times I think it’s fair to say he took the piss out of me (and, to be fair to both of us, I’m the kind of person it’s pretty easy to take the piss out of) but P was specific: she asked me beforehand if she could say a few words because, she said, she’d wanted to for a while.

She spoke about when we first met, 22 years ago, on Noordhoek beach (we were both there for boys – of course); about the ‘hazy, crazy days’ of the ’80s, which we both lived through with a great deal of enthusiasm and a severe shortage of sleep; and about how we’ve kept in contact through some hectic upheavals in both our lives. She reaffirmed that friendships – real friendships: formed in fun, based on loyalty, tested in adversity, strengthened through longevity, reinforced by differences, authenticated by similarities – are what enliven our world.

It turns out, sometimes you don’t need a voice. You just need ears.

* These photographs were taken at my birthday party by my darling Juno – also a real friend, over many years and many experiences, loyal through thick and thin.

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Claudine said...

Happy Birthday!

kyllikki said...

Silence is very important now and then,especially for nowdays people.