Silence Is Stressful

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Last night was odd. Really odd.

In fact it was unlike any other night I’ve experienced at the Racecourse.

It wasn’t the fact that we frittered away an easy win: let’s be honest, if I thought that was odd then I’d have been living in a permanent state of astonishment for much of the last three decades. it wasn’t even the madness which surrounded Joslain Mayebi’s injury, decisive as it was. It was because I went to a football match and stayed totally silent throughout. And believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds!

This wasn’t some sort of Danny Wallace-style experiment. I wasn’t trying to see how what a human can achieve. I wasn’t even being a miserable swine, which is a much more likely explanation now I think about it. It was because I had an operation on my throat last week (and have been bleating on about it ever since) and therefore am not allowed to speak for a bit.

But I wanted to go to the footy so, silent but armed with my laptop and determined to make myself useful somehow, I marched along and returned to my usual place in the press box for the first time since we beat Southport in the FA Cup.

It was weird though. I had a message written on my phone to explain to people why I was being so rude:

I’m sorry but I  can’t  speak because I had an operation on my throat last week!

However, the text was too small and things soon got awkward as I discovered the hard way that most of the people I talk to at Wrexham games are short-sighted (this might say something about Wrexham fans – I’ll leave you to your own conclusions). Whipping out my mobile message inevitably led to confused expressions followed by a fumbling for reading glasses while I stood there like a prize idiot! Unfortunately my alternative mode of communication, a text-to-speech app on my mobile which turned my wise words into a Stephen Hawking style message, was inaudible above the crowd noise, so I was stuffed!

The most worrying interaction, by the way, came at half time when I made one of my heroes, and one of the nicest people I know, feel bad! Completely oblivious of my surgery and no doubt surprised to see me back, Dixie McNeil crept up behind me and started playfully strangling me! It didn’t hurt and did no damage, and I typed on my laptop my standard “sorry, can’t speak, just had an operation message!” for him. I wish I hadn’t – I think I made a legend feel bad! And until I can speak again, I’ve no way of apologising!

The game itself was strange because I wanted to help Alex do the commentary. He’s stepped into the breach since I’ve stopped commentating and done a superb job: listening to him made me realise just what an asset he is to the club, and indeed the extent to which he’s developed as a commentator and reporter. He’s always been really good, but listening to him last night made me realise just how terrific he is. Sometimes it’s good to be thrown into the deep end, and having to carry the broadcast on his own has accelerated his progress, I think. If he isn’t off to the BBC soon I’ll want to know what the hell they’re playing at!

However, listening to excellence made me want to join in. Obviously I couldn’t, but somehow I wanted to contribute to the Alex show: I’m telling myself it’s because of my impeccable team spirit, but it’s more likely that I needed to prove to myself that I could still fulfil some sort of function! Feeding him latest scores was fairly futile because it turns out he can multi-task: as I’d be typing one out, he’d suddenly announce it himself!

So I ended up disrupting him by typing stupid little messages for him to read off my laptop screen. It was all a bit like a ventriloquist act, except on this occasion it was the dummy that wasn’t talking!

And then it was all over, we’d squandered the points, and I was left to listen to Alex’s excellent summing up, then walk back to my car with the legendary Joe Jakub, a gentleman to the last who was explaining to everyone that I couldn’t speak as I scrambled for my phone in the car park!

Unlike everyone else, I can’t wait to be able to speak again.

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