James Wannerton, 50, is one of an estimated two-and-a-half million people who suffer from gustatory auditory synaesthesia, a cross-sensory neurological condition, which means he can literally taste words. A systems analyst, he lives in Blackpool, Lancashire, with his partner, Jeanette. Here, he talks about how it has affected his life.
Taste of life: James Wannerton suffers from gustatory auditory synaesthesia.
One of my earliest memories was when I was about four or five and chanting The Lord's Prayer in school assembly.
But it's not the words, the school hall or the teachers I remember most. It's the flavours, because The Lord's Prayer tasted unmistakably of bacon.
It was the first time I'd experienced tasting words, and most of my early memories are dominated by taste more than any other sense.
At school, I was always one of the dreamy kids - staring out of the window and tasting stuff. Blue was lovely, like a very soft Opal Fruit sweet. My family holidays in Devon tasted strongly of brick dust. Other trips tasted of chocolates and wine gums.
To me, tasting words is as natural as breathing, but as a child I had no idea I was any different from anyone else.
Concentrating and, particularly reading were difficult, as often the words' flavours overwhelmed their meanings, so I had to re-read everything to understand it properly.
That has continued into my adult life - I don't read novels because of the flowery prose, only factual books or books with pictures.
I can't cope with tabloid newspapers either as the flavours are overpowering - the Sun
are the worst.
And some words taste better than others. French words are difficult because most of them taste eggy, like the crispy bits under a burnt fried egg.
Political flavour: Gordon Brown tastes of mud and Marmite.
German, which tastes of marmalade, is far more enjoyable. Maybe it's the gutturals.
I don't get that many flavours with the American accent, because words seem to merge into each other. It's somewhat mangled, so I can listen to it quite easily.
One accent I've never been able to bear, though, is cricket commentator Richie Benaud's.
Every word he says has a taste. I can work my way round most things, but with him, the flavours come one after the other. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.
I also have real problems talking to people with very clear diction. They evoke too many flavours.
Mumblers and fast talkers are fine, and people with accents I'm okay with.
Despite the obvious difficulties, I developed strategies for coping and managed to muddle through school and university. But it wasn't until I was 21, on a visit to the US in 1981 - when I saw a woman on TV explaining that she saw colours when she listened to music - that I realised I might not be the only one.
I started researching it and, after being given some odd looks from doctors, I was referred to London's Maudsley Hospital, where I underwent a series of MRI scans to look at the part of the brain linked to taste.
When normal people are given headphones and played music and words, no activity is recorded in that area. With me, when the doctors played the same for me, the taste area of my brain lit up significantly.
I was diagnosed with gustatory auditory synaesthesia. At last I had proof that I had a neurological disorder, and it was a huge relief to find out.
I finally felt validated and not mad. Before that point, I'd been frightened of telling people about it for fear of them thinking I was a raving lunatic. Suddenly I felt credible.
Since my diagnosis, I've submitted more than 3,000 words with flavours to researchers at University College London and Edinburgh University, and every now and again they ring up without notice and I have to instantly articulate the taste of whatever word they give me.
Tony Blair tastes of desiccated coconut.
My answers are instant and they never change, so it's obviously not just a memory thing.
Synaesthesia is essentially a genetic fault - my mother and sister are also affected, but not as strongly.
It is caused when neurological pathways between the senses are not pruned during brain development, resulting in an overlap of the senses.
Some people can 'hear' textures, others can 'see' smell.
Looking back and knowing what I do now, tasting words has seriously affected the way I interact with people, and I'm sure that's why I became a systems analyst, which is quite a solitary occupation.
I've avoided weddings and parties over the years, and if I know someone with a horrible tasting name is going to be at a social situation, then I just won't go. I'm not going to let it dominate my existence to the point where it ruins my life, but it does play a part in the decisions I make.
Most of my friends have names that taste nice, and I have avoided people on the basis that their names tasted unpleasant.
Gordon tastes of muck. Gordon Brown is even worse. It's a revolting name - a mixture of mud and Marmite. Absolutely disgusting.
Tony, on the other hand, tastes of desiccated coconut. And I don't mind Martin, which has a Bakewell tart flavour.
I'm drawn to girls with nice tasting names - it was part of the attraction. If the name tastes nice, then it's a plus, but it has got me into trouble a few times.
Some girls have had lovely names but disgusting temperaments. It's my synaesthesia choosing wrongly for me.
I could never go out with someone called Helen - the mucus flavour is overpowering. Barbara, on the other hand, tastes of rhubarb, and Jemma of melted sweets.
My partner is called Jeanette, which is nice, as she's a mild bacon flavour. I'd rather she was called Genna or Gemma or Hanna or something sweet like that, but such is life.
At least she's not called Jane, which has a dusty taste.
People ask me if I could wave a magic wand would I get rid of my synaesthesia, but I wouldn't live without it, despite the difficulties and the isolation it can bring.
It forms a big part of my pleasurable memories, so if I didn't have that, my memories would feel very flat.
It's a bit like tinnitus really. It's always there, but you just have to learn to work your way around it. But I would like to be able to turn it off for a few days.