Silence was broken in a Lancashire household yesterday when 67 year old Eileen Dover turned to her husband, Ben, now 71, and said, "I think you've suffered enough now."
"I wondered what on earth it was," said shocked husband. "I thought maybe the tuning on the wireless had slipped and I was no longer listening to the breakfast show on Radio 2 hosted by that lugubrious Irish broadcaster and TV presenter, Terry Wogan. Then I realised it was the wife," he lamented, holding in head in his hands. "And she hasn't stopped since."
Eileen's lack of speech was brought about suddenly in 1995 following an argument between the couple regarding her mother coming to stop ‘for a few days' and Ben's decision to spend the said period of time ‘down the pub' and ‘fishing'. The last thing Ben can remember Eileen saying was "so I suppose I'LL be taking YOUR mother-in-law to The Alan Titchmarsh Roadshow on my own then, eh?"
"At first I was quite concerned at her lack of speech, but when I realised that my meals were still being prepared and my clothes washed, ironed and put away, I didn't feel that her condition needed any specialist medical intervention as she was managing to live a normal life without talking. It also brought our conjugals to a halt, but at my time of life I was content just pottering about in the shed polishing my tackle."
The situation hasn't been without its difficulties. Ben explained, "In 1998 I left her a note to wake me up early as there was a bowls tournament in Halifax and I didn't want to miss the coach. Next morning at 8.30am I saw the Post-It stuck to the alarm clock. It said, "Wake up. It's 6am". Luckily the team came through, but it meant I had to forfeit my place in the final against Rochdale First Reserves."
Psychologists have commented that it was impossible to tell what the consequences would be for Mr Dover over the next few days, weeks and months or indeed whether there would be an improvement in his domestic situation.
As for Eileen, her memory during her silent years has not been affected. "She can remember every bloody thing I've done since 1995 and she's not wasted a minute reminding me either," groaned the beleaguered husband.