Did you ever sit at school, chin on hand and gaze out of the window, the teacher`s voice a mumbling blur in the background as you drifted off to somewhere else.
The sound of chalk on boards and the squeak of classroom shoes merely the hypnogogic soundtrack to accompany the drifting inertia of your mind?
Wishing you were somewhere else and even, possibly someone else?
I know I certainly did!
What if you sometimes felt that you didn´t really "fit in" with the crowd? The other boys, who talked of rugby heroes and racing drivers.
That you preferred arts and drama to sports and rigid and rigorous maths exams?
That is precisely what this boy did, like so many who came before and after him!
Let's just say you were a dreamer.
Living your life in the normal way, you ponder and muse on what might be...what you might one day become.
You dream of growing out from your roots.
Finding out what may be possible.
You feel you may have a gift or a special talent, even if you don't quite know what that talent is and how it might one day reveal itself, both to you and the world around you.
You look around and see how everyone around you lives and, although you know you are loved, a hankering for escape begins to seed itself within your soul.
When you're young you think about being someone, doing something. But WHO will you be and WHAT will you do?
You have home comforts and your basic needs are met, yet, somehow....all is not quite right.
You wish to grow, explore, expand and discover yourself. You may have to, one day, leave it all behind.
It´s all a part of the existential journey, from childhood through to adult, filled with pitfalls and possibilities.
"And if your nearest " Big Town Attractions" look like this?
Well, that may be another reason to think about moving on at some point...unless you wish for a career in the steel industry of course.
Port Talbot was a hard working, hard drinking industrial settlement, blighted by air pollution and short on career prospects.
Perhaps not the easiest place for a soulful, sensitive and creative young man to feel that he belonged and to somehow imagine a life lived through and fully realised.
Tony loved drama, music and literature, got roles in school and other plays and realized that he wanted to act.
He met an aspiring and confident Richard Burton, also with eyes on the glittering prize of fame and fortune, and who famously persuaded him to keep going, to study theatre formally.
Before too long, young Tony was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. ( R.A.D.A.)
In 1957, aged 19, he packed his bags and, even filled with doubt and some trepidation, headed off to the big city lights, the citadel of dreams and hopes, possibilities.
Would the boy from small town Wales be able to hold his own and get along with the elite of London's' thrusting acting community? The boys from the posh backgrounds and well spoken accents? The so called "Luvvies"? Mostly University educated and from well off families, a contrast indeed with Tony´s somewhat humbler social origins.
It was here that social class distinctions became apparent, as Tony met the likes of John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, already at the height of their majestic powers as leading lights in the London theatre scene.
In fact, it was Olivier who was to support and encourage our young man, pushing him forward to accept bigger and more challenging roles.
He performed in many plays, learning the ropes of performing Shakespearean classics and all the demands required in remembering and rehearsing many lines of dialogue. Practice which requires constant rehearsal and readings. Imagine all those voices echoing around in your head!
Often it can be hard to sleep when your lines are perpetually revolving in your mind and drinking alcohol has long been a staple of the film and theatre set, not only linked with the constant socializing and parties but to sedate over active brains and help exhausted actors to get to sleep.
One of the reasons so many entertainers used to go on to develop chronic drink related illnesses.
Laurence Olivier saw the potential in our young hero.
And it was during these times of challenge, excitement and diverse pressures that Tony recalls hearing a voice, a voice that mocked his efforts, self belief and endeavours.
It used to say:
"Come on, who are you kidding? YOU doing Shakespeare?"
A voice of self doubt and mocking self incrimination and one that would appear at various times in his life and in different circumstances but one that he was determined to prove wrong again and again.
Over many years, he went on to build a fabulous career including well known films and critically acclaimed stage plays, eventually receiving a CBE in 1987 and a knighthood in 1993, becoming Sir. Anthony Hopkins.
Not bad for a boy from small town Wales!
And the voice?
On Christmas day, 1975 it spoke to him again. As he raised a glass to his lips it said: "Drink that and you will be dead."
He had been been habitually and regularly drinking too heavily and he says he hasn´t touched alcohol since. He also claims he has never been fitter, healthier or happier.
And on later occasions, when he´s interviewed on a TV chat show and is asked questions or to give an opinion on any kind of subject, his little critical voice speaks to him, saying,
"What do you know about anything? You´re just a sodding actor!"
Do these kind of voices emanate from deep and within the subconscious self?
Do they speak to our condition of being and touch upon unresolved aspects of our personal development and growth?
Can they guide us and spur us on as well as be critical and undermine our confidence?
Do they respond to external influences and triggered by circumstances?
Aren´t these experiences interesting to think about?
Activist/ Health worker/ 20 years. Specific interests : wellness/ voice hearing/ coping/ exploring/ sharing/ stigma reduction.