Silence is a funny old thing.
As a mark of respect it is awesome. A stadium in silence is more impactful than the death wail of mourners, or very public tears of those wanting to be seen to be sad.
Weird silence with strangers in a lift makes my pelvic floor clench. If my mouth isn’t moving, my vaginal walls have a reflex spasm at the awkwardness of it all.
And yet, I love the power of the stuff. If you are unhappy with someone – tell them. But make your next sentence silence.
Don’t be tempted to fill it, to apologise, to do the British thing of being sorry for being done over. Give them a present of an awkward gap to fill, wrapped in an icy glare.
Most of us live pretty noisy lives; mine can reach aeroplane engine levels as people react to my life without a filter, swimming in the goldfish bowl of life in the media.
Bottom-dwellers like Russell Brand and Piers Morgan slime through the murk feeding on ambient noise, resonating it for self-promotion.
Usually I shout back; bolstered by sarcasm and defiance. This week I decided to take a different track. I was silent.
I pressed pause on Twitter, stepped back from the radio and politely refused opportunities to file copy. The silence was near total.
There is a room in the States that is 99.99% silent. The chamber is so quiet, it is disorientating. In the dark, without a chair, the longest anyone has lasted is 45 minutes.
All you hear in the anechoic chamber is the rush of blood in your ears, the sound of your lungs and the thud of your heart suddenly in your throat. It can be used for torture.
I thought the Big Brother House might make me feel the same way, causing the same strange claustrophobia that rookie oil rig workers experience at sea.
Being confined; by silence, the vast expanse of an ocean or in a house filled with noisy idiots can be suffocating.
But my silence on Twitter was illuminating. Set against an almost constant narrative on life I write for my own amusement and to challenge polite consensus I despise, my silence created just as much noise as any 140 characters.
‘Where is Hopkins?’ blared the Mirror. OK magazine fretted; ‘She’s been silent for three days and no one knows where she’s gone’, quoting my last tweet like some suicide note left before a jumper takes the final leap from life.
But I have filled the peace profitably, listening to the quiet person in the room, seeking out solitude, admiring my peers – defending freedom of speech.
And I have learned. We are masters of the remote control, we can change the volume, hit mute, step back and enjoy the sounds our own silence reveals.
Sometimes when all you want to do is scream, silence is the loudest shout of all.