A POEM FROM THE MEMORY CAFE, SOLIHULL

When you’re remembering
you just can’t put it out in the open.
I can remember things from faraway back.
The thing is that I forget,
I start off halfway through a story and forget.
It’s such a strange illness, the forgetting.
I can remember moving into our first house.
It’s the longer term memories.
It’s not only dementia –
brain problems over all, strokes,
it can affect younger people.
In my case the frontal half of the brain
is going away from the back half.
It really is funny
how you can get words come to you.

The memory test:
What day is it?
What month?
What year?
What floor are we on?
You can remember those for five minutes.

And here comes a piece of paper.
What does it say on it?
It’s amazing what you find out about yourself
when you’re reading upside down.

Every so often I say to my husband,
‘Who am I?’
My husband goes, ‘Did you understand
what I just said to you?
Because this conversation is nothing
like what we were just having.’
Monica is an angel, she really is.
My wife does everything for me.
She’s French and I love her very much.
My children as well, we’re very close.
We are indebted to them.
Nothing is too much trouble.

Well, at least you don’t have to go to work.
Ex-pilot. I used to have an air taxi firm in Birmingham.
I used to be a flying instructor.
I got a commercial pilot’s licence ten years ago.
I was a secretary and they’d throw me out now.
I was in a big company and I’ve lost it all.
We made little screws.
GKN, I worked for GKN.
Somebody has to do it.

Why me?
I used to have a choice when I was younger.
If I try to have a conversation
I don’t remember one word
and the conversation’s ruined.
I find it very frustrating at times.
I find it extremely frustrating
when I used to run for the Air Force,
played rugby and refereed at Wembley,
the old Wembley I must say.
I don’t think I was a brilliant referee
because I never made it to the top.
What have I got now? I can hardly walk.
I found out a few weeks ago
that I can’t play the trombone any more.
My daughter said, ‘Are you going to play
a tune for us?’ I played it to here.
The change in my life is that I can’t drive,
I miss that.
Annual driving test – I haven’t driven since.
It takes guts not to drive.
I don’t read now. I don’t take it in.

You find you’re better some times of the day than others.
I can’t even write my own name in the morning.
As the day goes on I get better.
Nobody tells you how to do it.
You’ve just got to use your memory in a different way.
There are issues to be faced.
The first issue is what do I do?
It’s a case of what can I do?
Those people who have high intelligence.
The impact of music and children.
I think that’s very important in life.
It’s a question of having a project.
I come to the club once a week.
The first time I came here
I was not quite with it.
I look forward to coming
and enjoy the fellowship,
the peer group

I went in the canyon.
I bet you’ll never forget that.
It was really wonderful,
we went on a holiday.
The Settle and Carlisle train trip,
that was lovely, just wonderful.
We were in first class coaches,
great food, individual carriages,
the best day of our year.
A walk to the bookies every day, feed the horses.
When I was on National Service I used to post the bets.
They used to have one in Birmingham,
a race course, Chester Road way.
I’ve started doing sport again.
I’ve started playing bowls.
My wife said to me, ‘Let’s go for a drive,’ and we ended up
at the biggest golf course in the midlands, the Belfry.
We had a meal there.
It’s doing something different.
If you go down to Birmingham University, to the Barber Institute.
What I did and what a lot of people do
is join the National Trust.
A little stretch by the Wye with some Roman artefacts.
An estate with Batsford in the middle,
some wonderful flowers.
I’m starting to do things I didn’t do before.

WORDS OF MEMBERS OFSOLIHULL MEMORY CAFE, GATHERED AND ASSEMBLED INTO A POEM BY JACQUI ROWE