The King’s (and the Provost’s) Speech

OK – so I came rather late to this one. Spent an afternoon off yesterday in the cinema watching The King’s Speech. I guess that most of you have already seen it and are immune to my enthusiasm.

Actually, I spent a fair portion of the movie with tears very gently streaming down my chops. This time last year I was was being treated by a speech therapist up at Gartnavel Hospital. I’d been having a lot of problems with my voice and I was lucky enough to be referred to someone who was able to help. It was an intense process and not at all what I expected. Like the Duke of York in the film, what I went expecting and hoping for, was some voice exercises and instructions in how to gargle. What I got was quite different – a far more holistic treatment than ever I thought I was letting myself in for. It was as much about inner work as about the larynx and the diaphragm and that was far from what I expected or even at the time really wanted.

It was a period of self-reflection that I value greatly. One of the clear themes to emerge was that I could not expect to work at St Mary’s as the only full time member of staff and expect to be well. That is not to diminish the gifts and skills of others. Indeed, my appreciation of the giftedness of the community here is huge – both in terms of clergy colleagues and talented lay folk. I often say that St Mary’s congregation is the most gifted, talented and well connected group of people I can imagine existing in Scotland. However, I became aware last year that my own wellbeing depended on trying to help the congregation to make changes both to the full time staffing and also to the lay leadership of the congregation. Others have assisted greatly with that, most notably through a very creative Vestry Day last year.

However, my own ability to recognise what was happening to me in the middle of this was aided greatly, and greatly to my surprise, by my speech therapist. As I watched the film yesterday afternoon I found myself thinking back a year to how it was then and how it is now. How very much has changed.

The film itself was a surprise to me too. I expected it to be about courage in the face of adversity. That was but a part of it. It was really an excellent film about friendship and there are not enough of those.

Let’s hear it for speech therapy. And let’s hear it for unlikely friends.