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In the past year or so my sneezes have gone from, on a scale of one to ten, 5 to 15.  By that I mean my sneezes are so ridiculous they sound as though I am being attacked with a sharp object.  Or possibly tasered.   Anyway, they are ludicrous, I think you get the idea.  The real problem is I daren’t stifle them as I’m now in my mid forties and well, let’s just say I’ve heard some proper nightmares, let’s just leave it there shall we?

So the other day I had a really violent sneezing fit, bizarre, screaming, yelping, sometimes barking sneezes; about 8 of them all together.  They were so hysterical I laughed and said “that was ludicrous”; which got an even bigger laugh as I sounded like Joe Pasquale on helium.   I tried to speak again and nothing came out.  Nothing, not a squeak.  Panicking I contacted my friend who was a GP; “mmm, could be just a bit of vocal damage or could be a vocal haemorrhage, hard to say over the phone, obviously.  I’d suggest complete vocal rest until you can see your GP”.

In the meantime another mate told me he’d had a similar thing when he was in his twenties, he ignored the ‘vocal rest’ part of the advice and carried on chatting, shouting, singing etc.  He now can’t sing, shout or do anything vocal other than his quiet speaking voice.   Not liking the idea of a vow of silence or the rest of my life I stopped speaking.   I mean completely.  Until the morning I didn’t utter a single word for 4 days; sometimes with hilarious results.  I went into a local pub yesterday, I wrote on my iPhone, “Hello, I’ve completely lost my voice, can I get a still water with no lemon please”.  The barman looked slightly dubious but got the drink.  While he did that I realised it was after 1pm and I was hungry, “are you doing food?”  I wrote on iPhone and showed it to the barman.   “Yeah, fine thanks”, he replied and proceeded to poke a large slice of unwanted lemon into my drink.  “Yeah, fine thanks”?  What does that mean?   I looked at my phone and started laughing (silently),  lovely autocorrect had written “are you doing good?”. Jesus christ, the barman thinks I want to have a full blown conversation via my iPhone.   So now with images running through my mind of myself showing him pictures of Hull FC on my phone with the title “did you see the rugby at the weekend?” I am almost doubled up at the bar but of course not laughing because I have no voice and the barman now thinks I’m having some kind of attack.  Oh Lord have mercy…


Anyway, I got an appointment with my GP this morning and I’m still walking around with written messages on my iPhone and the odd improvised bit of paper and sharpie pen.  I sit down in my GP’s office and check that my iPhone hasn’t converted “I’ve been told I may have haemorrhaged vocal chords and not to speak until I get checked by my GP” to “I have a bomb in my bag and I’m not afraid to use it, death to the infidels and residents of Muswell Hill” – what else could explain the look of bemused horror on her face.   “Why haven’t you been speaking?”, I point to the words written on my iPhone.  She now looks quite annoyed, she sighs and pick up one of the lolly sticks and a torch.  I thought she’s either gonna read me a really shit joke or have a look down my throat; either would lighten the mood.  She looks down my throat.  “Well I can’t look at your vocal chords as you’d need an ENT specialist, they have a mirror to look around the corner for that (fuckin ell, do they have those x-ray glasses from the joke shop that make you see people skeletons too?) but I can see no damage to your throat so I would say you can talk.   I start to croak out a few words of apology, I sound like one of those Chilean miners who were trapped down the mine for 40 days (I don’t look like one, unless there was one of them who found a massive stack of pizzas down there and didn’t tell the rest).  I say, “sorry if you thought no speaking was over the top but it was just a precaution”.  She tells me she has actors, singers and opera stars (very Muswell Hill) as patients and she’s never heard anything like it (never heard of total vocal rest?  Hm, I’d best tell all my mates in west end musicals they’ve got it all wrong).


Anyway, I’m fine (save you asking), I’m speaking a lot less than usual and sound a bit like Phyllis Pearce from Coronation Street but apart from I will survive.  Talking of I Will Survive, I go to Spain tomorrow to continue writing series ten of Benidorm and get the last of the Summer sun; but no drinking or karaoke…. Hashtag Pray For Derren…