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About A Week: Now What Was This Column Supposed To Be About?

Peter Hinchliffe turns Violet into Vera, Mary into Margaret, and Jean becomes Joan.

I hereby apologise to Violet for calling her Vera, to Mary for turning her into a Margaret, to Jean for addressing her as Joan.

And to Raymond…. what can I say? I’ve called him Roland so many times he must be on the point of checking his birth certificate.

From age four or five you realise that life is all about remembering. Two twos are four, two fours are eight, two eights are sixteen…

Then there’s the alphabet, when and where to put commas and full stops, important dates… Elizabeth I 1558 to 1603, James I 1603 to 1625, Charles I 1625 to 1649...

To sharpen the memory, they set exams, and if you don’t pass your exams, “Here’s a brush. Start sweeping.’’

The memorising goes on apace. How to bake a cake, operate a lathe, take a car engine to bits and put it back together again. How to use a computer, set a video, send a text message or an e-mail.

Then there are all those fiddly numbers so essential to modern living. Phone numbers, security alarm numbers, PIN numbers…

Oh the embarrassment of approaching the bank cash machine, with a small queue behind you, forgetting those four vital digits, then turning away as though you’ve suddenly changed your mind.

Throughout your schooldays and working life new must-know information pours into the memory vats. Yet another new computer system to master. Another code number for the security lock on the office front door.

Then you retire, settle down into stress-free bliss…and Violet becomes Vera, Raymond turns into a Roland.

This name confusion isn’t the onset of the dreaded Big A. Alzheimer’s. No, it’s a case of memory demanding its after-work dues.

“It’s all right for you, old pal,’’ says memory. “Taking it easy. Lying there in bed on freezing Monday mornings while the rest of the world is rushing off to work.

“I’ve served you well all these years. I can still tell you the height of Mount Kenya. The names of the little villages between Newcastle and Carlisle. Most of the novels written by Ernest Hemingway.

“Now it’s my turn to relax a bit. Forget the odd name or two…’’

By the way, Raymond/Roland is Raymond Philliskirk who has five sons, Keith, Raymond, Alec, Christopher and Colin. He admits that he sometimes says Colin instead of Keith, and Christopher instead of Alec or Raymond.

That makes me feel so much better.

Appropriately Roland…sorry, Raymond and I are members of a Huddersfield University of he Third Age Calls called Remember When.

Which reminds me. Did you hear about the chap who decided to drop in on one of his friends one day while out walking? They were chatting over a cup of coffee when the friend announced, “We went to this place last week and had a really great meal. A new restaurant. Good food, good service, and a reasonable price.’’

“What do they call it?’’ asked the walker.

“Oh dear… I knew you were going to ask that. My memory… What do they call that stuff which grows on the outside of houses? Thick green leaves…?

“Ivy?’’

“That’s it!’’ said the friend, then shouted through into the kitchen. “Hey Ivy what do they call the new place where we ate last week?’’


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