The worst possible time to lose your voice
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time; I was looking forward to the most exciting night of the Fringe in three of the seven shows on which I am working and I woke to find myself facing the worst nightmare that a performer can be forced to endure. More crippling than a bad review. More debilitating than the most ferocious of hangovers. More sickening than a badly fried batch of battered haggis. I had lost my voice!
When I say ‘lost my voice’, I don’t mean that it had disappeared entirely. Oh no. That would have borne a mythical, enigmatic, almost romantic quality; forced to communicate my malady in mime. Instead, this was a squeaky, croaky, mucus-muted tragedy. I still had a voice of sorts, it just served no practical purpose whatsoever to a man who carves a living making verbal love to strangers in darkened rooms. Like a violin strung with spaghetti, my beleaguered pharynx and larynx hung limply in my over-worked throat, able only to generate a flaccid facsimile of my one time sonorous tones.
There are cures. Oh yes, there are cures; but like the hangover remedies and spot creams that wink and flirt on supermarket shelves, promising dreams to the desperate, no amount of marigold mouthwash, honey and ginger, lemons or lozenges could offer the quick fix of which I was in need; it was time and not thyme that would cure my ills.
And so the dreamed-of duet with Camille O’Sullivan was hung up to rest. The musical appearance on Radio One was an atonal aberration. My hosting that night was more evocative of the saliva-soaked sibilance of John Merrick than husky seduction of Joe Viterelli. I was an instant outcast; shunned by fellow performers lest they be struck down as I had been. The only person from whom I received sympathy and love was my girlfriend who may, perhaps, have passed on the cold in the first place… but that had been the fun part.
So now I sit and wait, weighed down by the realisation that all work and too much play makes Jack a very quiet boy.
Desmond O’Connor is in Edinburgh with The Bitch Doctors, The Voodoo Rooms, 5.30–6.30pm until 28 Aug; Voodoo Revue, The Voodoo Rooms, 8.10–9.20pm until 28 Aug; and Vive le Cabaret, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh10.30–11.45pm until 29 Aug.