I slipped onto the stage that Wednesday night,
our audience in rapturous applause.
I bawled my way into their hearts.
The Path I’d come was a long, nourished, winding road.
The midwife grinned, concluded her Service,
and tucked away her fears.
I was born to cry,
it was not time to speak.
If you’d known me then,
you’d have judged me unique.
My father, the bookseller, could not bear the pain
of reading my mother’s face
as she bore the body language and every laboured move.
My father slurped his pints, with friends,
in Murphy’s bar on Catherine Street
until he was turfed out
to meet me on another stage,
– before the cock crowed.
If you knew me then,
you’d have counted me (Eh) a child with Potential.
After that start, and before I came to greet you
I joined the club. Together we chartered “Excellence Born From Fun”.
You, my friends, you know
the way you came into the world of faltering phrases.
the years at school were not enough to wipe the jitters from your heart.
what it’s like to be married to Trepidation, to be caged like a tiger separated from her Confidence.
You’ve lived on stages and danced with clogs
on floorboards creaking for flight.
Today, of all days, let us join together and thank the gods.
This online day you come divorced, divorced from the Demon Doubt
that on your stage once reigned.
Come here, dear friend, from every field of Earth.
Let us separate together
from a spouse that vowed the worst on you, that vowed you’d fail
Un-vow that contract with Trepidation
It was made under duress
Annul the marriage of unlike minds
Cast off the shackles that hold your larynx tight.
Arise angelic audience
Arise and sing together the lyrics Smedley sang
Your “Song of Champions”,
Champions of the World.
You know what it’s like to be a flower born to bloom on stage.
Promise you’ll trust that sweet melody of Integrity
that’s growing in your field of dreams.
I came in last last night.
A loser, comprehensively vanquished, whitewashed, beaten, massacred.
In a phrase, I was thrashed.
Not just pipped at the post
Not just a photo-finish
Not nudged out by a nose.
I wasn’t even placed.
Everyone was better than me in the speech contest.
That’s the end of my effort to become World Champion (for another year).
Was I that bad? Yes.
Was the speech a nightmare? No.
The speech was fine.
came up to me with tears in her eyes.
“Thank you for your wonderful speech. I was so moved by it. Like you said, all I’ve wanted all my life is to be listened to, to be heard. You put your finger on what matters most to me. Thank you ever so much. It was great.”
The speech was well worth delivering.
It meant a lot to at least two of us.
The speech was magnificent, despite my delivery – not because of how I delivered it.
found my speaking style poorer than every one of the other contestants.
They punctured my self-esteem.
Don’t you love it
when judges do that for you?
What a gift.
I owe a debt of gratitude, don’t I?
Unless I’m wearing hearing aids I won’t make the great speech you’re hoping for.
You know, my friends, that unless you hear brilliantly, It’s impossible to speak well.
Before I speak I need to put my hearing aids in
- My mother had excellent hearing all her life. She listened at keyholes. She kept in touch with her children’s phone calls about important matters which might impinge on the extended family.
- She had phenomenal hearing. She once heard me and Brian Cox lighting up Woodbine cigarettes behind the copper beech tree in our garden.
- She had patient hearing. She spent hours in the kitchen listening to me spout on about my beliefs, my thoughts, my feelings. She even asked me questions about my political rants.
My mother couldn’t afford to buy hearing aids.
Her hearing aid was the acute attention she paid to me -whatever & how ever I spoke, plus the attentive ear she gave to others, all her adult life.
And what about you?
The most important thing I know about you, I see written all over your face.
Deeply chiseled into your Toastmasterly character
- You love to be heard. You are no wallpaper – You are the leading actor in the Oscar-winning movie “My dramatic life” – you are the Linchpin.
- In your deepest heart, you wantthe person sitting next to you to wear hearing aids, before they speak to you.
- You want them to listen to you as if their life depended on it
Last evening, I was cooking spaghetti Like my daughter said over spaghetti in the kitchen last night, “Dad, all I want for you is your attention, that’s what I call love.”
This evening, you expressed it through your body language, the way you settled into your seat.
You wanted all of us speakers to pay attention to you our . It was as if you spoke to me “Paul, pay attention to me before you speak.”
Where are your hearing aids now?
Isn’t it so uplifting to be in the midst of a community of friends who listen to each other – genuinely listen.
Friends genuinely listen to you, friends listen well.
you’re going to leave here and go out into the garden and hillside of a wider community.
you’re going to take your hearing aids with you – just as your best friends do.
like my mother, you have excellent, phenomenal & patient hearing.
I must arise and go now, and take my hearing aids out.
Let me trust you to leave your hearing aids turned on.
Let me trust you to listen well
I trust you to speak superbly and wear your hearing aids with pride.
I was ‘Master of Ceremonies (MC)” last night.
About 20 people in a room in Blarney Woolen Mills hotel.
All keen to become better at public speaking – formal & informal.
All expecting a good experience.
The meeting was mettlesome.
Two members of our Toastmasters Club introduced themselves to the audience.
They each spoke for about five minutes in prepared speeches. There was plenty of applause.
I felt good to be in the room.
When you go out to the bluebell wood
to paint the white bells blue
holding hands with your granddaughter
I advise you go by night
with light of the moon
– so you don’t paint the wrong bells
so neighbours don’t catch you mad
so you show her how to make magic
how to restore order in the universe.
Don’t squash the bluebells.
With thanks to William FitzGerald the storyteller