A demented aside

My mother has vascular dementia. This means there is no drug programme or rehabilitation programme or hope that we can halt her decline. She is folding in on herself and every now and again has another vascular “episode” (read “stroke”) after which she has declined a whole step further. It’s not a smooth slope, more a staircase down to hell.

Some days she is confused about what is going on, Those days are rarer as she loses connection ot the outside world.

She’s not too bad yet. We can have conversations, so long as they don’t last more than about 60 seconds. She still knows who I am, at least I think she does most of the time. And she is generally happy because she sits and sings the same tune to herself all day. She doesn’t cry or seem distressed.

So the thing is – I want to record something about her as a younger, more assertive person. She was a caution! She got thrown out of dance halls for jitter-bugging with the American service men who were over here. She was the life and soul of the party. My dad followed her about like a puppy. She was funny and sharp and brilliant at Pitman’s shorthand and typing and getting stuff organised.

The best of her stories though, for me, was about the male colleague who was harassing the girls in the office.  This would have been in the early 1950s I suppose; she and Dad married in 1957. Basically the slime was making the girls’ lives misery what with the comments and the bum-punching and so on. One day he tried it with my mother, who was not standing for any of it,.

That lunchtime she went out to Woolworths and bought a bottle of the cheapest perfume she could find. When she got back to the office and the guy came up again she poured the entire bottle over his trousers.

“Not the jacket,” she told me. “He could have taken the jacket off.”

She poured it over his trousers so he had to spend all afternoon in the office stinking of cheap perfume and his colleagues, including his boss, knew why. Then he had to go home and explain it to his wife.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” she said, with a gleam in her eye.

She was amazing; this is the woman I try to see when I get exasperated dealing with the mad old bat.

If this is 1978 I must be 16

Jetsons Commute

Hello from one of your possible future selves! You will understand this when you read about Schroedinger’s Cat next year.

The future I am in is pretty good, thanks for asking. Je ne regrette rien.

But there are some things you might need to know now which would make it better.

Everone has hard times, and so will you, but you will get over them. On the whole they will be relatively few and far between, and probably you could make them easier if you asked for help sooner.

The plan to win fame and fortune hasn’t quite got there yet. I’m still working on it but it seems less important. Looks like I got a bit old, but it’s OK because now I have kids to be young in my place. And they are doing a good job too. You’ll like them, which is just as well.

The world domination is coming along nicely though. The alter ego you are looking for is “Bill Gates”: hire a right charlie scientist type to act for you – like Bruce Willis in Moonlighting (watch him by the way, he’ll go far) – and the world will worship at your very tootsies. I tell you, it’s great and no one suspects a thing. Our little secret.

Obviously we invented time travel already, hence the quick note. It’s not quite as fab as the Tardis, speaking of which the new Doctor is pretty good. Don’t worry about what happens after Sylvester McCoy – the BBC gets over it eventually.

Hang on to your Wade miniatures – they sell pretty well nowadays. I knew I would regret throwing them out, so don’t do it.

So far we have avoided the nuclear option, and even improved things a bit. Some wars, but no worse then you have now (which is bad enough I grant you).

Obviously we all travel in hover cars now, and I bought a holiday apartment on the Moon, although there’s not much atmosphere.

The robot doing the housework is useful but as we eat pills instead of real food there’s less washing up anyway. Fortunately the programmes on the telly are much better so no need to worry about having things to do! You can watch in 3-D and full Sensesurround in your own home too. It’s especially helpful when the snooker is on.

I do wonder if I should have stuck to my guns over A-level choices; give it some thought. You might have a different future to my past, and who knows how that might have turned out. Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Just remember the Bill Gates thing – it’s really important.

Love me xx


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Up in the sky! Look!

Remembering Dad’s game with gnomes reminded me of how he used to play a game with me when we were out somewhere busy. For example, one day we were shopping in Staines, and the street was rather crowded. Suddenly Dad stopped and looked up in the sky, pulling a surprised face.

“Look up there!” he said loudly and pointed. I said I couldn’t see anything. “Just there! Quick, look now!” he said again. And so he carried on. People stopped and looked. Dad winked at me. “Just there!” he said.

I had worked it out by now of course, but no one else had seen him wink. The crowd was growing and beginning to block the pavement. A couple of people were claiming to have seen “it” as well and were pointing it out to others who were inexplicably unable to see anything.

Dad smiled, took my hand, and we walked away to meet up with Mum.

He pulled the same trick at Windsor Safari Park another day. We came across a small, empty pen. “Look!” he said, “Behind that clump of grass! I just saw something move.” I was older and wiser by then, so was able to play along. We soon got a crowd and I’m pretty certain at least one man was describing the colour and shape of the creature by the time we left. Happy days.

Dancing Gnomes

I just remembered today a thing my Dad used to do when I was little.

He always liked playing daft tricks, not mean ones, just ones to make me laugh. When I was small he got some garden gnomes and out them in the front garden where I could see them from my bedroom window. I really liked those gnomes, and they were my responsibility; I had to move them to somewhere safe when the lawn needed cutting, for example, which was how I helped in the garden.

But the thing he did which I really liked was making them move. It all started when I found a fairy circle one morning in the grass (a circle of toadstools). Once I had the idea that the fairies came and danced in the garden Dad decided that of course the gnomes would join in – so each night he would wait until I was asleep then go into the garden and move them. When I woke up in the morning I saw they had moved and was told it was because they had been dancing all night. I worked out he was making it up fairly quickly, but it was still a great game we played for quite a long time.

Actually the meanest thing he did was when he was working on the flower bed in the back garden. I was helping of course. We found some lovely juicy worms, and I expect I squawked a bit. So to make sure I didn’t feel scared of them he showed me how you picked them up very carefully and how they tickled. Then he told me to go and give them to Mum because she would like to see them too.

Off I ran to the kitchen and put them right into her hand. Well, the shrieking that happened! Apparently my mother wasn’t such a fan of worms after all. And there was Dad standing in the doorway laughing fit to burst. Poor Mum. But it was funny. And I certainly don’t mind worms (although spiders are a different story).