I know it’s because the baby boomers are in charge of the BBC and much of our media and entertainment these days, but there’s been an awful lot of discussion about Alzheimer’s and memory loss this year. From the movie ‘Still Alice’ to articles in the colour supplements about celebrities suffering a gradual decline, and many programmes on TV and radio, it all feels a bit overwhelming.
As it happens, I have a beloved relative who, over the last 18 months, I have effectively lost to Alzheimer’s and it’s been a dreadfully upsetting experience. So, it’s not surprising that my own memory lapses have given me pause for thought. I’m not obsessing about every time I can’t quite call the right word to mind. I know they are there, they’re on the tip of my tongue. They surface into the front of my mind eventually, but I do… you know…wonder sometimes.
I’m fairly sure my memory has always been shocking. I can’t remember a lot about my childhood or my teenage years. People show me old photographs and, while I can only summon up a vague recollection, they have absolute recall of the holiday, people, place or night out concerned.
Frankly, if I can remember things that happened last month I’m thrilled. But recently something confirmed to me that I’m not the only one with a duff memory and it’s not always about age.
A young lad, around 13 years old, arrived at my front door with a cheerful smile and a petrol-driven lawnmower at the beginning of the summer. Would I like my grass, front and back, cut for a fiver? Would I? My least favourite job in the garden? You betcha! So – let’s call him Josh – began to duly turn up every Friday with his machine and I would come home to the bliss of a surprisingly expertly cut lawn.
Josh was rained out one Friday, so he came by the following Tuesday and left the grass neatly cut as usual. On Friday the same week, Josh tapped at my front door. I opened it to find a puzzled face, possibly even a slightly annoyed face.
‘What’s happened to your grass?’ he demanded. ‘Has someone else been cutting it?’
‘No, Josh. You cut it.’
‘But I’ve only just arrived.’
‘Yes, but you came on Tuesday and cut it then.’
‘Did I? But I always come on Friday.’ Baffled look.
‘Well, it rained last Friday, don’t you remember? So you came on Tuesday instead.’
‘Oh. Yes. I forgot.’
I smiled. ‘No problem, Josh. We all forget things.”
I closed the front door and silently punched the air.