It has been a few days since I last wrote here. However, I’ve been blogging daily to my distribution group, ‘Friends, Family and Church’. It started at about twelve people and now it is 40. So many people have joined in, responded and re-blogged.
I’m having a lot of sleepless nights at the moment; not sure why, not anxious or nervous. However, last night’s sleepless night thoughts revolved around reading and reading aloud. When an idea gets into my head, I just can’t get it out of there. This is where my mind was last night.
I’ve always enjoyed reading and reading aloud. As a child at primary school, my head teacher, Fred Elsey, taught me about reading aloud. I’m not sure whether or not I liked Fred but I certainly respected him. He had three messages about reading aloud. First, the reader is reading, not shouting, at the person on the last row at the back of the hall. He said that this was called projecting your voice, a skill practiced by all good actors. Second, the reader should hold anything at chest height, below chin level with the voice projected above the reading material, not into it. Finally, he taught me to take my time. He would say, ‘If you come to a comma, pause and count one, a semi-colon count two, colon count three and a full stop count four. Then breathe.’ It was good advice. It stood me well when singing solo. Especially when trying to fill a theatre like the Theatre Royal in Newcastle or the Empire Theatre in Sunderland. Trying to sing to the back row of the Upper Circle or to the top of the Gods is a real challenge. And it was good advice when acting on the stage, knowing how to use the ‘empty spaces’ that Peter Brook wrote about.
So, in a life of teaching, I’ve loved reading aloud to children. And I’ve loved hearing children read to me. Just occasionally when tired, I’ve dozed off listening to a child read. More recently, members of the writers’ club that I attend, have praised the clarity and quality of my voice when reading my work to them. I was taught to have an expressive voice. It has been one of my best assets in professional life. One fellow writer even said that my voice sounded like Alan Bennet’s. That’s very flattering. However, my accent is Tyneside not Yorkshire. These days, Jeanie, my wife, says I mutter. There are three factors in that possibility: one, Jeanie has a slight hearing loss and prefers not to wear her hearing aids, two, my muttering may be her selective hearing and three, my false teeth do not militate for clarity.
Still, when I write, the words appear aloud in the silence of my mind. I think this is one reason why I write so rapidly. I can hear the phrases and sentences in my head as they appear on paper or on my computer screen. The ability to touch type is another element. Not a poet, I can hear and feel the rhythm and pulse of what I am writing.