Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

Why, I do not know but I am tempted to write a blog page today after such a long break from production. Maybe it is auto-suggestion that end of year needs some mark of passage or the hosts of year end items in the media. In keeping with the end of year theme, I am just going to review 2011 as it concerned me and mine. It could be that I will stray outside the calendar year; flow of consciousness and all that.
The major item must be that I seem to have halted the losses of memory that led me to worry about dementia. These losses were quite frequent about the beginning of the year. I would be in a conversation and speaking freely when I would stop suddenly because I could not remember a name or a place or even an item. Apart from annoying me, it tended to embarrass the person to whom I was speaking - rather as if I were afflicted with a stammer. The absentee word would come to me unbidden some five or so minutes after I needed it.
I did some delving about on the Internet and the early onset of dementia seemed to be the most likely culprit. I reasoned that I needed to raise the use of my brain - kick it into fitness as it were. Crosswords and puzzles bore me so that route was out but I happened to see a young mum reading to her child from a Janet and John-style book. The child was learning from repeatedly seeing and hearing a word until it formed a groove in it's brain; rather like a tennis player practising a forehand drive again and again until little thought was required once that shot had been chosen. If I formed a collection of words or images I could keep the names in my mind
Thus began a furious winnowing of drawers, cupboards, albums and computer files until I had a large box of memory-inspiring objects. I am lucky to have a clever daughter whose forte is organising and she made these into a scrapbook some seven or eight inches thick. I have a DVD with music and another with images. I spent time dipping into this scrapbook.
Where possible, I expanded upon an item. Yes, that is us at the beach in Benghazi. What is that big building behind us? It is a hotel - the Berenice. Did we ever go there? Yes often. There was a casino on the ground floor and a cellar night club. I and my team had free entry to both on the understanding that we would deal with any trouble makers. One night one of the high rollers took me under his wing at the casino and I won a considerable sum of money with his guidance. This brain-fodder may seem very Mickey Mouse but the embarrassing hiatus do not now occur.
What else? We have the benefit of a first class GP group and a equally good hospital. With my doctor's support I underwent a sort of medical MOT and had orifices checked, bulk prodded and just about everything I would have had to pay many pounds for with a private medical organisation. Behind it all was my realisation that age and physical condition would most likely determine what treatments I would receive. I was mindful of the total rejection of a general anaesthetic when I had my dental clear out and such treatment as I was receiving was aimed at dealing with the symptoms rather than the underlying medical condition. We changed some medications and it seems there are a few miles left on the old jalopy The financial upheavals seem to have passed us by. We have not made any drastic changes to our life style but manage to end each month with more 'in' than 'out'. I was scornful of pension schemes until I had some sort of epiphany when I left the Army in 1974 and thank the ER guy who showed me the error of my ways.
I have to admit that I have not matured too well; I am still Mr Grumpy. The highlight in this connection was a long-running and heated objection to the instruction of the recycling guru that we would have to have and use a wheelie bin. The front door of our flat opens directly onto the street and we have no outside ground at all. The so-called adviser wanted to place our bin directly in front of our door on the pavement of a narrow road. I thoroughly enjoyed objecting on one issue at a time until I had some seven or eight points where the faults of his suggestion were clearly stated. Eventually, after some five months, I had a terse one-line email saying that the bin proposal had been withdrawn.
I used to follow politics; no actual involvement other than voting but the twists and turns and confidence tricks emanating from Westminster. This coalition effort is such that I have really lost interest in politics. The whole nation gets aroused to indignation at the slightest excuse and on the most flimsy of evidence. I would like the power in some two or three years to conduct a poll asking what people then remember of all the 'major' interests of today. I suspect Jordan will be better remembered than Fox and his 'assistant' Now seems appropriate to withdraw from patriarch duties. My children and their children are all, touch wood, settled into their careers or the foundations of such. The light touch seems to have worked. That must be quite enough of a year end piece. Only remains to wish anyone who has got this far a Good 2012 and many years ahead. May you all get what you wish for.