ONE of my favourite songs of the early 1960s was a plaintiff ditty by Tommy Roe called The Folk Singer.

It contains the line “He woke one morning and he couldn’t speak” and the other day, I became that folk singer of 1963.

It started off as a normal day with me waking up about 7 o’clock and asking Mrs Hextol if she would like a cup of tea. But after I had gone downstairs to brew up, I returned to the bedroom to find she had gone back to sleep.

I drank my own coffee, and read for about an hour, and Mrs Hextol finally awoke to complain that her tea had gone cold.

I went downstairs to make her another, and on returning to the bedroom discovered that the power of speech had deserted me almost entirely.

All I could manage was a cross between Bill and Ben talking to Weed and Rocky Balboa after meeting Clubber Lang.

My tongue had been exchanged for a flapping halibut, and drool was trickling down my chin.

Mrs Hextol thought I was acting the fool, so I quickly got dressed and took the dog out for her usual morning stroll.

It was only when I realised I could not whistle her that I accepted I was in a spot of bother.

I got back home dribbling like Stanley Matthews in his glory days, and Mrs Hextol and I agreed I appeared to have suffered a stroke.

She swiftly dialled 999, and the local paramedic was there within 10 minutes doing all manner of tests, which soon established that whatever had happened had only affected my face and tongue, with arms and legs still functioning as normally as ever.

I had the indignity of having my chest shaved while Peter the paramedic attached tags and I was compos mentis enough to take a call booking Bellingham Town Hall in my capacity as booking clerk.

An ambulance eventually arrived from Wallsend to whisk me away to the emergency hospital at Cramlington, but these vehicles are clearly made for speed, nor comfort, as Mrs Hextol and I bounced our way past Hexham General Hospital and on down the A69 rather than taking the quick route over the Wannies – apparently, ambulances can’t go that way!

While I was technically the emergency, the ambulancemen’s real problem was Mrs Hextol, who found herself regretting the calming cups of tea she had drunk while waiting their arrival.

She was in desperate need of the loo, but not desperate enough to accept the offer of a bucket.

When we arrived at Cramlington, I don’t suppose many people have leapt out of an ambulance with such alacrity as she was pointed in the direction of the nearest conveniences.

I have only good things to say about Cramlington, where I was seen by a consultant within moments of arrival and then by a succession of nurses and doctors, all of whom were keen to hear me say ‘baby hippopotamus’ which was not, as I first thought, an unkind description of my chubby body, but a recognised tool in establishing the effect of a stroke on speech patterns.

I was blood pressured, blood sampled and ECGed before being trundled off for a CT scan which revealed a small blood clot on the brain of this big clot!

Quite how it got there I could not say, for I seemed to be an unlikely candidate for a stroke, given that my blood pressure is fine, cholesterol not outrageously high, weight OK and thanks to my horsey work, I enjoy a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Had it happened before I retired, when I had a couple of pints in Wetherspoon’s every day, guzzled growlers by the score and weighed three stones more than I do now, I would not have been entirely surprised.

Having had nothing to eat all day, I was a bit taken aback when another of the tests I had to do involved a speciality of mine – eating biscuits.

Staff said it was to test whether my swallowing had been affected, but I had no trouble in disposing of a packet of custard creams and another of Shrewsbury biscuits.

I seemingly passed with flying colours, because after another Ultrasound scan on the arteries in my neck – also clear – I was allowed home with a bagful of tablets and I seem to be making a full recovery.