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But, believe me, stammerers winced when they read it, as recollections of mocking chants in the playground flooded back. Didn’t he know that stammerers don’t stammer, or ‘jerk’, as he put it, when they sing? Though I could certainly sing, I was excluded from the choir. In my experience, if stammerers appear more nervous than anyone else it’s because they know they’re going to stammer, not the ­reason they stammer. After giving a class paper in my first few weeks, and thinking I’d done rather well (for me), I was brought down to earth when my blunt tutor later said to me, ‘I suppose you realise we couldn’t tell what you were saying most of the time’, and advised me to see the college psychiatrist. Plum, my wife, recently admitted to me that before she introduced me to her flat-mates she warned them about my speech.But then, as most young stammerers quickly recognise, being excluded is part of everyday life. Unable to display much personality other than that of someone who seems to be tearing his face apart in order to make conversation, who is bursting with frustration, and who, yes, is often fearful of being mocked, young stammerers tend to keep quiet. There’s much more understanding of stammering than when I was a boy, and infinitely more than when George VI was growing up, but I strongly suspect that those who ­stammer are still regarded as basically timid, nervous types. It was probably with this misapprehension that my headmaster wrote to my mother when I was in my late teens suggesting that he might recommend me for a local government job where I would never have to speak. This was the bleakest moment, but, like George VI, I’d been seeking help all my life, at first from an elocutionist, later speech therapists and then a psychotherapist. All kinds of techniques were tried, from breathing exercises to copying the sounds on spoken records; even a Freudian quest into my, then non-existent, sex life. When we became engaged, her thoughtful aunt advised her that she was taking on someone with a serious handicap; and when we got married the priest at the altar ­whispered to me just to try to make the vows as best I could.

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RAs are usually put in place for those with a recognised disability or condition.

That is the key point for me - I have never ticked the “Are you disabled?

Ticking the box and being open will alleviate this. This is a recent thread on the DSN Facebook group: “Recently I applied for a new internal job.

In my online application I ticked the disability box, stating that I have a stammer.

She replied: ‘Not in my lifetime.’ Even as an old lady, and 50 years after his death, the memory of the distress that a speech impediment brought King George VI was still too raw.

He, a brave man, was, by accident of birth, fated to become King and the head of a vast Empire. But he did so only with the greatest difficulty, as cinema-goers can witness in the newly-released film, The King’s Speech, about George VI’s relationship with the Australian speech therapist who ­prepared him for radio broadcasts.

In my mind I was quick-witted, even good with words.

And perhaps having a stammer inadvertently made my career.

The Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence employ over 200,000 people in the UK (excluding Reserves), which means there are likely to be more than 2,000 people who stammer working in this high pressure, high profile environment.

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