Sunday, 3 May 2009

Chicken Soup and Junior/Senior Moments

What should you do when your mother has been taken into hospital? Well, that's obvious - make some chicken soup for her! At least that was my plan, on the expectation that she would only be in for one night, possibly two. However, she's going to be in (in a much more convivial ward, thank goodness than was reported in my previous Blog) until Tuesday at least.

Which means that there's an excess of chicken soup in the neighbourhood as I decided to make one large potful for my parents and one for my own home. I don't know if the 'Jewish penicillin' idea holds much water (or soup), but it certainly doesn't do any harm and in fact last time Mum wasn't feeling well, it was about the only thing she was able to consume for a couple of days. Fortunately, there's a container-full in the freezer with her name on it for when she is released.

The ward she is in now is very bright, fresh and clean - which wasn't always the case for a while in what is a Victorian hospital, due to close next decade. Even more condusive to recovery, is the fact that the staff are very kind and helpful and the patients seem to be good company for each other. Having been in hospital on many occasions myself, I know what a difference that can make.

On the way out from visiting her one evening, I passed a former colleague with whom I'd worked a few years ago in Abbey National's IT division. He'd just been visiting a relative and I stopped to have a quick chat. Once I caught up with my father and daughter, Suzanne, she asked me who I'd been speaking to and I told her it was someone I'd worked with. 'What was his name?' she asked.

'I'll tell you, hopefully before we get back home.' She couldn't quite grasp the concept of knowing who someone was and yet not knowing. I knew exactly who I'd been talking to - just not his name, but I was very confident that it would soon come back to me.

It's just one of those junior/senior moments that mark the passing into middle age (though at 55, by today's standards I'm still a kid). It's incredibly frustrating - and embarrassing at times, but hopefully many of the people whose names temporarily escape me, are having similar moments themselves.

It seems like the filing cabinet drawers are getting a bit stuck and information retrieval (was that the department Sam Lowry worked in in Brazil?) is taking a bit longer than it used to. I don't mind these little lapses as much as I do when it's a case of seeing someone I definitely know, but can't for the life of me work out where from.

The first name of my former colleague did pop out about ten minutes later, by the way, followed by his surname a couple of minutes after that.


  1. I'm reminded of the story about John Gielgud who found himself in conversation with a lady at a reception whom he knew, but who, for the life of him, he couldn't place. They made inconsequential conversation, but no clues were forthcoming.

    Finally, in an attempt to nail who she was, Gielgud asked: "And what is your husband doing these days?"

    "Oh," she replied sweetly, "he's still King."

  2. Yes, one of many Gielgudian greats!

    My mother has a terrific memory, but it looks like mine comes from my father, who has always been forgetful, ever since I can remember.

    If he didn't see nieces or nephews for a while and bumped into them, he'd often come home and ask Mum their names.

    And on the forgetful side, he twice returned home from work only to be asked my mother 'Haven't you forgotten something?' That 'something' was me, whom he was meant to be giving a lift home, once from touch-typing classes and the other from university.

  3. I had a fantastic memory until about a year ago: just the menopause catching up. Names are always the first thing to go, apparently. Remembering names comes from a different bit of the brain from the rest of the stored stuff. These days as soon as I go, 'It's...' the name that was hovering about at that point just flies away out of my reach, only to come back a few minutes (or several hours) later. It's infuriating, but it happens to most of us.

    Hopen your mother is getting better. :-)

  4. Bela - it's just a pity that the name usually surfaces when it's too late. I think the worst situation is when you're with two people you know but don't know each other and they are expecting you to do the introductions but you can't - and simply appear rude.

    Re my mother, thanks for the good wishes. She got home from hospital on Wednesday evening after some 'wrestling' with hospital regulations that nearly didn't allow her to get to another hospital in time for MRI scans for her back she'd been waiting for for months.

    What with that and having an alcoholic and a drug-addict either side of her in the ward who were creating havoc and taking the nurses attention away from all the other patients, getting home has been a great tonic.