LostA while back, I was contacted by my agent and asked if I was available to give my Inspirational Speech up in Johannesburg. It would mean flying to Johannesburg the next day and then giving my speech early the following morning. Yes, was my response! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I came through the airport doors to see a man with a sign saying: GAYNOR YOUNG. I introduced myself and we were off. I hadn’t been in Johannesburg for about two years. What struck me was how BIG it seemed. George is smaller and more intimate. And those mountains are a definite draw card! Although the people in Jo’burg are some of the friendliest in the world, I am very happy now living in George!
We arrived at my hotel at 8.45pm and I was given a key to my bungalow. I shut the door, put my case down, took off my coat and breathed a huge sigh. I was exhausted. Before collapsing on my bed and going through my speech, there was something more important – dinner! I was the only one in the dining room. The other guests had all been taken out. So I sat reading my book, eating Spring Rolls and drinking a beer. Yes, incredibly healthy, I know, but a very pleasant way to wind down!
The next morning I met the lady in charge of the event. They were running late. I would be speaking at 9.00 a.m. No problem!
“Lord”, I prayed, “I’m quite nervous. I haven’t spoken for a while and…and…oohhh, don’t let me make a fool of myself! Help me to remember what to say. I want to give a good speech because…well, I…um…like to give good speeches! And Lord, let me glorify You in my speech. So, Lord, well…over to You!”
We stood at the back of the hall and waited for the man on the podium to finish what he was presenting and introduce me. He was speaking very fast. Obviously too fast for my hearing. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. I remarked very sotto voce to the lady next to me: “Glory, my hearing is bad. I can’t hear a word he is saying. He might as well be speaking in another language!”
“He is,” she answered, “he’s speaking in Spanish.”
“Spanish!“ Oh, oh, I see…” I didn’t see at all!
I looked at the audience. Blow me down, if they didn’t all appear to be Spanish. Not a blonde or red head amongst them! Before I could say anything the audience clapped and I was pushed forward. “Your turn!”
GayeFlip! I faced the audience. The obviously Spanish audience stared back in a friendly manner. Ohhhh, double flip! I considered beginning my speech with: “Buonos Dias!” but as this was the only Spanish I knew, I cast that thought aside. What a battle that speech proved to be! The majority of the audience wore headphones while a person interpreted everything I said into Spanish. Points at which I normally got a response, a smile or a laugh, this time…zilch! I tell a story about my having dinner with another deaf man and usually the audience are crying they are laughing so much. This time…just vague smiles! I thought to myself: Keep going! Don’t lose your thread! Don’t be put off! This audience are just…just reacting differently, that’s all!
I finished with an inner sigh of relief. I sat at a table in the shade of the verandah, took several deep, calming breaths and drank a Coke. You should be drinking a large gin and tonic after what you have just been through, I thought. I held off on the G and T. After all, it was only 10.45!
orangesI was reflecting on how humour and wit are very difficult to successfully transcend language barriers when I heard: “Excuse me!” I looked up to see a man addressing me, “I have just listened to your speech. I was the sound operator.” I smiled at him. “Just recently I have undergone a pretty traumatic experience. Your courage and determination have given me a different perspective on my life. What you said about your faith really struck home. Thanks so much, this morning has been life changing!”
My heart gave a sigh. “Hey, good one, Lord!” I said silently.
Two Spaniards then came up to me and complemented me on my performance and I thought to myself: Don’t always rush in and judge, Gaynor. This audience was just…different, that’s all. They had understood the message I was trying to get across.
As awful as it sounds, when I flopped into my own bed that night, I still thanked God for my other “normal” audiences!
Whilst typing this blog, I am doing what I love to do – eat biltong! I cast my eyes to the left and there, sitting on her haunches in the typical “beg” position is my dog, Perdita! Hell, she is cute, and what she would like is definitely not lost in translation! ”Ah ah, Angel-Face, biltong is a death trap for dogs. Hold on, let’s see what we can find in the fridge.”
Five minutes later, Perdita is happily polishing off last nights stew, while I sit watching a DVD of The Good Wife. Silence reigns. We are content…….