Tales of Lionel Logue


Recollections


Duncan C. M. Smith, a Management Consultant now living in Falls Church, Virginia writes that his English parents, Charles and Jane Smith took him to see Lionel Logue in Harley Street twice, when he was seven or eight years old (in 1951 or possibly 1952, the year prior to Logue’s death).

Duncan was attending boarding school in England at the time - his Father was the Agricultural Manager for a 2 million acre Agricultural scheme in the Sudan between the White Nile and the Blue Nile.


Kind and friendly man


In correspondence dated 23 December, 2010, Mr Smith stated that he has a vivid memory of Mr. Logue as “a very kind and friendly man” who taught him breathing exercises to combat a stutter. He remembers Mr. Logue talking about how he had helped George VI, including standing on the other side of the microphone to encourage and coach him during his speeches. Mr Smith also undertook a professional public speaking course in Birmingham, England as an adult. He attributes his good speaking abilities and “almost cured” stutter today to Logue’s input in the 50’s and the public speaking course in about 1965, which he probably would not have considered doing had it not been for Logue’s influence.


Breathing exercises


He still occasionally practices the sequenced breathing exercises and relaxation techniques taught to him by Logue, as follows:

  1. make sure there is plenty of fresh air in the room; stand legs apart, hands on hips and relax; then completely exhale

  2. breathe in slowly through the nose, filling the lungs

  3. pause

  4. breath out slowly through the mouth, emptying the lungs

  5. pause

Repeat 2-5 three times

  1. breathe in again slowly through the nose, filling the lungs

  2. pause

  3. exhale half the air

  4. pause

  5. exhale the rest of the air, emptying the lungs

  6. pause

Repeat 6-11 three times

  1. breathe in again slowly through the nose, filling the lungs

  2. pause

  3. exhale one third of the air

  4. pause

  5. exhale the next third

  6. pause

  7. exhale the rest of the air, emptying the lungs

  8. pause

Repeat 12-19 three times

  1. breathe in again slowly through the nose, filling the lungs

  2. pause

  3. exhale one quarter of the air

  4. pause

  5. exhale the next quarter

  6. pause

  7. and the next

  8. pause

  9. exhale the rest of the air, emptying the lungs

  10. pause

Repeat 20-29 three times

Mr Smith followed Mr. Logue’s direction to complete the sequence slowly, filling the lungs fully with each inhalation through the nose, and completely emptying the lungs through the mouth in the final step of each phase. It had to be performed in a relaxed, standing pose, feet apart and hands on hips following a process of conscious relaxation, progressing from the feet upwards.


Occasional stumble


Mr. Smith writes that occasionally his tendency to stumble on words can return when he is very tired and/or under a lot of pressure.

As with George VI Mr. Smith does not remember a time in his early childhood when he did not stutter. Various theories have been presented as to the potential cause, including possible harm from pneumonia at 6 months old in Kenya that he nearly died from, and a theory proposed by the school doctor, who sadly lost a son in one of the Comet crashes of the 50's, that being forced to fly from England to the Sudan for School Holidays was the cause. (In fact these two day flights were exciting adventures to be looked forward to and the envy of every other boy at the school !).

During the 40+ years that Mr. Smith has worked as a Management Consultant in Europe, Bermuda, Caribbean, North America, Southeast Asia and Australia, plus travels through Africa and South and Central America, he has rarely been impaired by the stammer of his boyhood, in large measure thanks to his brief contact with Lionel Logue.

His job involves interaction with people at all levels and requires him to be an empathetic listener, and a good analyst, and in a strange way having to deal with his stammer has helped him to develop these skills, and also to develop a good vocabulary (real-time substitution with synonyms as needed when speaking).

He jokes that none of his three children (now in their 20's) nor his American dog have inherited his affliction!

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