Sunday, June 14, 2009

Voice. I spoke recently in public and was surprised afterwards that some people commented on how they ‘loved hearing the sound of my voice’. 

When I was a secondary school boy I ‘learnt’ to hate the sound of my own voice. I went to an all boys grammar school. As time went on and my athletic career pettered out, I was mocked mercilessly for what was seen as an ‘effeminate voice’. (While I had athletic potential, boys had no trouble with my voice.) 

I have a particular memory of a prefect yelling down an echoing corridor that he wanted ‘to hear my voice’. This wasn’t yelled in a normal voice - the voice he used was high, mocking. He was half way to enjoying himself by ridiculing me. I was sixteen at the time. 

Someone who later became an All Black, ie a ‘role model’ as they are called today, used to take particular delight in ‘joining in the harmless fun’. Of course it was bullying.

I grew to hate the sound of my voice. I took care never to speak in public. Effectively I had no voice. Of course, all the time I was writing. I was driven underground. Words became my friends. So perhaps those boys unwittingly did me a service.

Bryan Williams, I would like to thank you.

But it’s still a surprise - when people say to me ‘I love to hear the sound of your voice.’ 

I feel a sense of disbelief.

Followed by a sense of victory.

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