It is a mission I never thought I would accept. I need to find a way to make my most mouthy friend talk more.
If you don’t know
He makes Gyles Brandreth look reticent and tongue-tied. Beside Peter, Donald Trump is modest and backward about coming forward. Other famously garrulous Irishmen like Terry Wogan and Graham Norton seem hopelessly reserved.
Rumour has it this Crawfordsburn resident–known locally as the Mouth of Belfast Lough– once became unnecessarily intimate with the Blarney Stone, and that God mistakenly clicked refresh a number of times when endowing Peter with the gift of the gab.
On May 24, Peter has decided to stay silent for a day. He’s not in a huff, nor on a meditative retreat. There is no suggestion of oral surgery. No, Peter is trying to raise funds for a good cause by belatedly showing he knows how to shut up.
The idea was suggested by his long-suffering colleagues on the board of Belfast Central Mission. Even one day without Peter’s opinions, ideas and oft-repeated anecdotes will provide them welcome respite. Normally, I’d be with them. 24 hours of blissful quiet– what’s not to like?
Well, Peter has booked himself into Belfast’s newest hotel– the Grand Central. He knows he couldn’t go through an ordinary day without spouting forth on the bus, in the office, over lunch, and on the phone, but he thinks that a day lying on a comfortable bed binge-watching TV will allow him to do the impossible: keep his big mouth shut.
I think this is too easy. I am already plotting how to trick him into talking.
“Will it brighten up do you think?” I’ll bribe the hotel doorman to ask, for it is unlikely Peter can resist the chance to share his thoughts on Northern Ireland’s weather.
Perhaps I can prevail on the receptionist to ask him if he would like an upgrade to a Junior suite. Fond of luxury, it will kill him not to be able to say ‘Yes please’.
Once I know he is in his room I will need to arrange a series of phone calls and knocks at the door.
Maybe I could get someone to ring from Stormont issuing a special invitation for Peter to join the faltering political talks.
“Peter” I’ll get Mary Lou or Arlene to whisper “We need you here to tell us the way forward”. A long- frustrated pundit, Peter will be there just as soon as he can hail a taxi.
Then I’ll get Northern Ireland Railways on the line. Could Peter fill an immediate need for a guardsmen on the Belfast-Dublin line? Train-loving Peter has always wanted to announce the 3:33 to Portadown stopping at Lisburn.
If he still hasn’t cracked, I’ll arrange for a bewildered German tourist to stumble into his room, seeking directions to the Crown Bar. Peter prides himself on his linguistic talent and won’t be able to say Nein to showing off.
I don’t know if laughing out loud counts, but if it does then maybe I could persuade the gegsters from Queens Comedy Club to drop in on Peter during his silent vigil. The craic could make him crack.
Another weak spot of Peter’s is food. Unless he is permitted to pack a picnic, he will have to dial room service if he wants to eat. Hard to place an order if he can’t talk out loud. Maybe I can rig the TV in his bedroom so it carries only food and cooking channels? This way I can make sure he works up a massive appetite and has to dial for a starter, main and dessert. Come to think of it, there is probably no need to go to this trouble. Peter can’t work even his own remote control and so is likely to have to call Hastings Hotels’ Housekeeping for assistance long before hunger sets in.
The rules of Peter’s challenge say he is not allowed to use Twitter or other social media to get his needs met. This is not a particular hardship for Peter. He is of a vintage that prefers talk to text. But while he is not allowed online, I can be busily crowd sourcing mean tricks to get him talking. Share your ideas using #WeilWiles on May 24.
Peter Weil is attempting a 24 hour sponsored silence to raise money for Copelands – an eldercare facility that Belfast Central Mission hopes to open in County Down. You can support him and the Copelands project here. https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/peterkeepsquietforcopelands. If Peter succeeds in staying silent despite Liz Barron’s ruses, you might want to pay him double.