Saturday, 14 February 2009


I'm getting old. My eyesight is at that stage where I have to confess that it is painful to try to read something held too close to my eyes but if I move it further away I can't read the small print. The work printouts I use at my new job are so small that I have taken to enlarging them on the photocopier before I settle down at the computer. I am however still reluctant to give in and get glasses as I am convinced that once I do that, my eyes will sort of shout "Thank God!" and give up trying, and I'll have to wear glasses for everything and I will constantly lose them and half my life will be spent trying to find my glasses unless I get one of those chains to hang them around my neck in which case I end up looking like one half of Hinge & Bracket.

Which brings me to the other thing I am noticing more often, which is the way my memory works. Or more accurately, doesn't. Today in Sainsbury's car park I was loading my shopping into the boot when a car stopped beside me and the lady in the passenger seat asked me if I knew where Dunelm Mills was (this is a shop. I have no idea what it sells but I know where it is.)

I said sure, and proceeded to tell her to drive straight along the road in front of us until she saw Pets At Home and JJB sports, drive between them and Halfords, then take a right turn by Carphone Warehouse, opposite McDonalds, drive past TK Maxx and Laura Ashley and they'd find it. She thanked me and drove off.

And I wondered why it was that I had clearly memorised the location and names of a number of shops I NEVER GO INTO such that I could recall them instantly, whereas most of the time I can't remember the names of people I work with, what the important errand I was supposed to run was or where I have left my car keys.

What's more, I have discovered that I have a huge library of song lyrics stored in my brain which I can access instantly. It is normally about 3pm when I drive to pick up the boys from school and on Radio 2 at that time (I am definitely too old for Radio 1) Steve Wright plays a run of golden oldies. And I can sing along with virtually all of them. Last week I sang along with Neil Diamond to "Love on the Rocks" and I was word perfect. I don't think I have heard that song for about 30 years, so how come I can give a flawless rendition of that with no effort when I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the woman who lives at number 6 in our street and who has sent us Christmas cards for the past 10 years?

There should be some gizmo you can buy to sort of de-frag your brain the way you do with the computer hard drive. Something that would let you decide whether you could safely delete your perfect recall of Rick Astley's back catalogue and the scripts of every episode of "Friends" ever made and thus free up some space for important stuff like remembering to wash your children's clothes so they have clean underwear (not that the elder of my children particularly cares about such things). If such a gadget exists, I want it for my birthday. Or maybe next Christmas. (I really really want a Wii Fit for my birthday.)


  1. You should definitely put off buying glasses for as long as you possibly can (until just before your head explodes). Glasses are a PAIN IN THE BUM!!!!! Argh! I hate them so much. I can't read, watch TV or use my PC without my glasses and they are never there when I need them. Grrrr.

  2. My Granny's Coop number was 4541. Her phone number was 6695071. She died (alas) in 1980. I shall not be buying her food in the Coop or phoning her any time soon.

    Can I remember my own mobile phone number? Or, sometimes, my Visa card pin number?

  3. My theory is that we really have not evolved from life on the plains. Our ability to locate "watering holes" or stores or remember where every friend of your children live. Regarding songs, this, of course, ties in with our innate ability to identify bird and animal sounds so that we can either kill for food or run for protection.

    Regarding glasses, give in, our bodies don't really do the whole spite thing.

  4. Hmmmmm... I think I know that mall myself, and I've only been there a couple of times (car seat at halfords, for one)... memories are strange things.

  5. I can't remember my own phone number either, and my PIN number is clearly stored in my index finger. I have difficulty remembering it, but no difficulty typing it in.

    And I too remember all the lyrics to everything, which is irritating when I hear other people singing with the wrong lyrics. I can't give people directions, though. I know where things are, but not the street names or whether you need to turn right or left to get there. Hopeless.

    "Take a look at my turnip" sounds like the sort of thing that might happen in our house. One of J's favourite songs is "My old man's a mushroom". He's also fond of fitting other songs' words to the theme tune of "The Magic Roundabout"...

  6. I am HORRIBLE with names!! I meet people and if I get very busy directly after hearing their name, I will instantly forget who I just met. And I have trouble remembering most of my high school years-19 yrs ago, but I can remember most songs from that era.
    It's frustrating...

  7. It's not that you have a bad memory, it's that your memory is just full. You need to find a way to delete those superfluous files to make room for new, files and maybe come up with an easy-to-retrieve filing system

  8. If you find that defrag device, let me know. I remember my first phone number from nearly 40 years ago, all the lyrics from the Bay City Rollers album I bought when I was 11 or so, but I can't remember to buy cat litter on a regular basis or which day the girls have to return books to the school library.

    And my glasses? I resisted the old-lady-chain-around-the-neck thing, and the cat knocked them off the table beside my chair in the living room and Rachel promptly stepped on them. Wearing snow boots. In the house, but that's another problem... Get the glasses.