Bigmouth strikes again

October 12, 2009

I’ve a big mouth. I can’t help it. If I could I would. It’s always been with me and to some degree it’s part of my undoing. As a child of three or four, at nursery, the teacher would sit me on her knee and look down into my mouth to jokingly see where all that noise came from.

It’s never gone away. Occasionally I am allowed to forget. But there’s always something there to remind me.

In relationships things can be fine and dandy. Love can be in the air. It can be all around. Then one day, and I rarely see it coming, she will lean in to me, and carefully and gently go “sshhh.”

Here I am as the appropriately titled Launcelot Gobbo in a Salford Youth Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice.

"conscience", say I, "you counsel well."

"conscience", say I, "you counsel well."

Today, on the train, I did something I rarely do. I had a phone conversation with David Mercer, an old friend and a man partly responsible for putting us on TV all those years back in 1987. He’s to blame folks for ten years of Trev and Simon. Now he runs Total Eclipse TV.

I don’t like talking on phones on trains. I avoid it. I don’t like others talking on phones on trains. I scowl at them. But today, for maybe something like the third time in my life, I talked on a phone on a train. And I forget, I’m a big mouth. No matter how hard I try, when I think I am talking quietly I clearly am not.

Getting off the train at Charing Cross I sat on a bench to finish our conversation. A smart middle aged businessman approached me and I asked David to hang on a mo. The businessman told me off; he said that I obviously loved the sound of my own voice. I was embarrassed, mortified, shamed. I apologised. I tried to apologise more but he wasn’t having it. He’d made his point and moved on. He was off.

I am sorry. And to all those people I bothered who didn’t have the heart, nerve or whatever it takes to say something, I apologise. I just wish this man had scowled at me, said something on the train, instead of saving it up with a dig at the end of the journey. But it can take guts to say something and maybe his move was the best to make.

For what it’s worth, I do not love the sound of my own voice. I doubt I love any part of me. I know he didn’t mean it so, but I have been thinking about it so. I must have some kind of crazy ego about me, after all I’m typing this now and who knows who’ll read it, but no, my voice is the constant bane of my life.

Maybe it’s an illness, maybe I can be cured by a voice coach. But it is difficult for me to face up to it as such a problem. I choose to think I am quiet and unobtrusive, but every know and then my own voice yells at me through the reactions of others.

As I thought about this post; as I thought about the comments of the man; the voice I hear in my head is still mine. Try listening to your own voice and see if you can hear it as you would like to hear it; maybe sounding like Sinatra or Morgan Freeman. I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. It’s always me. And me doesn’t half go on.

Tonight it is choir. It’s our birthday. We are a year old. tonight I can sing loud and blend in.

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26 Responses to “Bigmouth strikes again”

  1. Samantha said

    Oh POOR YOU!!

    I once had something like that happen on a little bus in the mid/late 90’s with a mobile (the size of a brick of course) 2 women said to me as they got off the bus “You think your so posh and important with your mobile phone – Who are you showing off for, Why do you think your so great?”
    I wanted the ground to swallow me. I tried to say I just had it for emergencies as I traveled alone alot and how sorry I was, but they got off the bus, leaving me red faced and stammering with a bus load of people!!!

    Have a good loud sing tonight, and forget it about, everybody has things like it happen every now and again… I think…

  2. Simon Hickson said

    Thank you Samantha,

    that’s a kind comment and made me smile. A couple of poshies. It’s all a shame. No one’s bad or right or wrong in these situations. Bad moves on our part, quick judgements on the parts of others. Life’s a struggle isn’t it.

    And yes, I had a good sing and a few drinks. We started Mr Blue Sky tonight, a favourite, and harder than it seems.

  3. Andrea said

    Simon – it’s not you that has the problem. It’s the man who addressed you so rudely. He could have said: ‘Look mate, you probably don’t realise it, but your voice is actually really loud; would you mind keeping it down, please, or not making this call on the train?’. And he could have said it during your phone call on the train, when it was clearly annoying him, rather than wait until afterwards.

    This morning at the ticket barrier at Cannon Street, the guy in front of me swiped his Oyster Card, and I swiftly swiped mine after him – only his didn’t work, and he took a step back, standing on my foot and hurting it. I just went ‘Oww!’ – an instinctive reaction, not a dig at him – and he muttered ‘Well, if you had just waited’. I felt crushed; a total stranger, someone who doesn’t know me, had a go at me and I was actually rather upset.

    Was I in the wrong? Maybe. Were you in the wrong? Possibly. But also in the wrong were the two gentlemen who spoke to us rudely; who treated strangers impolitely, because to them, it doesn’t matter how you talk to a stranger.

    But it *does* matter how you talk to a stranger.

    So, please don’t be sad or feel crushed. You are lovely. He’s an eejit. And yes, by saying that, I’m being rude about a stranger. But not *to* him. 😉

  4. Simon Hickson said

    Thank you Andrea. As I said earlier, there are no rights or wrongs and we can all be clumsy in how we deal with situations that unsettle us. I was in the wrong, and that guy was right to say something- but yes, the way in which he chose to say it also says something about him. On reflection,I don’t think he had trouble in saying it. I think he quite enjoyed himself.

    David, rather kindly, on the other end of the phone said that I should have said to him “No, I don’t love the sound of my own voice, but David does.”

    Sorry about your foot. I think we should all stay in our homes and be quiet.

  5. I’m very, very annoyed at this, he was extremely rude and should have said something on the train if it was that much of a problem.

    Personally I can forgive one loud phone call. There are people that sit on public transport and make loud call after call – in that case I might have said something, but I would have been a lot more pleasant about it.

    Oh and incidentally the correct response would have been “I don’t like the sound of my own voice, but the thousands of people who listen to my podcasts do!”

  6. oh and hope yr foot is OK Andrea – bad week for you really, hope better stuff is just around the corner.

  7. Sarah said

    I’ll never get tired of your voice, my friend. It’s supported me, calmed me, made me laugh, popped up when I’ve most needed it, reminded me of good things, softened the bad things, sung with me, surprised me, protected me, cared for me, inspired me and made me feel exactly in the right place when I hear it.
    sx

  8. Simon Hickson said

    Everyone is just too kind, it’s making me want to cry. And no doubt I’d bawl out loud like a big loud baby.

    Thank you all for your kind words. I’ll get back to comedy soon.

    Why can’t we all just live in the world of Twitter, where everyone is so nice and polite and caring.

  9. Andrea said

    …and shouts only 140 characters at any one time.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, professoryard. See? People are caring on blogs, too! 🙂

  10. Trevor Neal said

    That bloke has no right to have a go at you for being loud. One phone call? One poxy little train journey? All I can say to the pompous idiot is “You think that was bad? Try listening to him for 28 years, mate!” Sometimes if the wind is in the right direction I can still hear you in Broadstairs.

  11. Simon – Don’t cry because someone will probably come up to you and complain about it and then we will end up with some sort of vicious circle.

    PS Trevor’s comment is brilliant.

    PPS Happy choir birthday Simon – another cake eating session no doubt?

  12. Simon Hickson said

    Yes! There was cake indeed. and champagne. and beer. I’ll put a pic up of the cake later.

    Take no notice of Trev. He’s jealous. We used to call him the Whisperer because he has the voice of a dormouse.

  13. Trevor Neal said

    That reminds me – there was an electrical shop near me, when I was a kid, called Husky’s. Strangely, the owner had a very husky whispery voice. Me and my friends used to think it was very funny. Coincidence? Who knows? We never went in the Chemist shop next door though – Stinky’s.

  14. Jefy said

    You seem like such a considerate, sensitive soul. I don’t talk on my phone on the bus/tube/train either and would consider this avenging noise-abatement obsessed businessman to be the anti-Joly (“I’m in the LIBRARY”)

  15. Simon Hickson said

    Aaah, seem, it’s all a ruse Jefy.

    Only joking, I do my best, like all of you with your kind thoughts and words.

    My blog, on the whole, is just a bit of daft nonsense, but I have been moved by the carefu land considered comments left on this post.

    I maintain that I was a bit out of order, and I will try and correct that. But yes, the bloke was maybe a bit rude.

    And you lot are all lovely. x

  16. sounds like you annoyed somebody – because you forgot yourself in a public place – and then you were told that your behaviour caused some offence – the man who told you is deemed unkind and rude – isn’t that a turn-around? it’s courting sympathy isn’t it? – there is no world of twitter – it is an imagined space – oh and it’s a shame about andrea’s foot being trodden on

  17. Simon Hickson said

    My intention was not to court sympathy. I don’t think the piece does that. It’s a blog piece about me and my big mouth, and my history of having a big mouth, and what I can do about having a big mouth.

    Anyone can leave any kind of comment here… it’s nice that some of my friends (most here whom I know personally and not through Twitter) will seek to reassure me… but I wasn’t looking for that and I don’t think my piece portrays the man as unkind or rude… just maybe a bit brusque.

    As for imagined spaces, I like them. They’re are as real to me as anywhere else. And perhaps that is why I sometimes forget myself and my location in a real world.

    I apologise to anyone on that train who I bothered, and I will work on “ssshhhh.”

    “conscience”, say I, “you counsel well.”

  18. I recently had my manager walk past my cubicle and I had my feet up on my desk as I was talking to a coworker about a work-related issue. I did this without thinking, and was very embarassed when he told me in a hushed but stern voice to please take my feet off my desk.

    We’re all human and sometimes do make mistakes. Your response of embarassement simply shows how well-adjusted you are. Don’t dwell on it – this kind of stuff happens to everybody! 🙂

  19. *My manager walked past and told me to take my feet off the desk (not my coworker)

  20. Simon Hickson said

    Thank you Steven for your kind comment. Though if you are Steven Seagal I think you should be allowed to put your feet up on your desk. Your manager’s a brave person and lucky to escape in one piece.

  21. reason and responsibility said

    i have a professional interest in blogs….the motivation of those that post….the underlying reasons for the need to broadcast and the psycho-sociological aspects of networking sites….questions around ego and intent

    i don’t know you personally….i used to watch your comedy on saturday morning children’s programs…my partner noticed you had a web-presence….marked up your pod-casts and i found the link to your page….which i read and it struck me strongly that there was….perhaps unconsciously….a strong indication of an appeal for sympathy….what a shame you should be so pointedly defensive….obviously anyone can comment….that is what you ask for….perhaps you balked not so much at the content but from surprise….your post in reply is very quickly uploaded i see

    the man who spoke to you could have tackled you on the train….which would have been more difficult i think….a public space with no means of getting away effectively except by changing carriages….other people being witness to a rebuke….his actions can be considered as thoughtful and contained….your conversation was not interrupted and the man had what sounds like ‘a quiet word’ away from an enclosed carriage….those that have responded take the view that the man is rude and annoying….an idiot….perhaps if they’d actually been on the train and experienced the events you write of they would have an altered perspective

    as for your belief in imagined spaces….if i were your friend i would advise you to reassess….demonstrably they do not exist and belief in them is considered close to psychosis….but that may be just a joke…..?

  22. nmefc said

    i’m a bit late replying here, so apols. i’m with you on the phones on trains thing – if mine rings, whcih is rare, i tend to say i’m in transit’ and call them back. but i can see why you’d want to talk to this fellow. i think this situation could have been easily resolved if the train bloke had simply taken your phone, slapped you firmly across the chops, and asked the packed train if anyone else fancies it. it;s what jeusus would do. probably

  23. Jason said

    Wow that is an impressive collection of responses. I feel it’s only right to add something frivolous and cheap, so suggest that when you next meet your magician friends, you allow them to hypnotise you in an attempt to silence you. as a bonus they could force you to communicate only in the form of interpretive dance.

  24. Emma said

    I think R&R has a good point, and it is well made. The first response to this post is ‘Oh POOR YOU!!’. That’s no surprise when i re-read the post. It elicits support, and other posts on this site show a number of similar partially veiled appeals. Perhaps you are not aware of this. Like R&R i used to watch as a youngster. I was very pleased to see you once in a bar in Edinburgh. You were loud in the bar, some people around you moved away. You seemed happy with yourself and didn’t notice. Could it be you don’t know yourself well? In the most recent post you say you don’t know why you are doing your blog. My life is an ordinary quiet one so I can’t image what being famous is like. I imagine, though, it must be hard to go from many millions of people watching to the comparative handful that follow now. Perhaps you need attention. But only of the right sort.

  25. Simon Hickson said

    Hi Emma. I’m sorry I came across so badly in that bar in Edinburgh, particularly after your initial pleasure at seeing me there. As I say in the post “when I think I am talking quietly I clearly am not.” And obviously there are degrees. In a bar, where often we all have to raise our voices to be heard, I must be at times intolerable. I will bear this in mind.

  26. those people in edinburgh should have shouted more themselves. if something’s worth saying it’s worth shouting.

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