Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – What? When? Where? Who?… by Ken Dunn

I have reached that time of life when memory doesn’t always function as well as it used to do. I sometimes think I may be in the foothills of that dreaded larger condition known as ‘Alzheimer’s’. My long term memory is fine it’s just that, all too often, the short term variety tends to be a bit ‘dodgy’.

I get shouted at sometimes for leaving the kettle on, leaving a tap running, losing my specs but my worst ‘crime’ is leaving the door to the fridge slightly open. There are also the classic circumstances of finding myself downstairs, upstairs, inside or out and then wondering why I’m there and what it was I was supposed to be doing, looking for, attending to, going to, come from…. and so on, and on.

The only real lack of memory disaster I was guilty of happened a few years ago. We had arrived from the UK, drove up to our place in Lapta and then, to my horror, I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring the house keys. I was not a popular pixie! Fortunately, we’d arrived during the day. Fumbling around in complete darkness would not have been easy. Anyway, I dragged an old ladder out we had from beneath the staircase, climbed onto the balcony and broke in! As you do!

This was in full view of several houses occupied by the locals. Once having prised a shutter open the noise of braking glass couldn’t have been missed. I expected the ‘he-haw-he-haw’ any minute but, fortunately for me, nothing happened. I suppose the neighbours must have recognised me and probably muttered to each other, ‘Crazzee inglizh! Always fixing when not busted!’

Now, I know I’m not the only one to have this condition but that doesn’t help. The fact that it happens is not just irritating but rather worrisome. Research into it has been just as unnerving but I found that there is a well known diagnosis with a specific and very accurate neurological term for it and it’s not, thankfully, the big, ‘A’. It’s called…. Oh, here we go. I can’t remember! No matter. It’ll come back soon…., won’t it?

Where was I? Lapta? No, no. Memory, that’s it, yes. So, telephone numbers are covered. I always write them down with ‘things to do, to be done, shopping lists’ and so on and I commit all of this to a small notebook, always carried ‘on my person’ and always in the same pocket just to make sure. Now that seems to work for me but there are other, slightly embarrassing situations, where my ‘get me out of trouble’ notebook doesn’t help.

These can be summed up as ‘Names and faces’, or is it the other way round? Remembering someone’s name has become something of a game for me, a detection process, when I meet someone I should remember but haven’t. I find that questions like, ‘When did I see you last?’ or , ‘What was the name of that place…?’ or even ‘How’s your wife/husband/partner these days?’ usually triggers the required name.

But telephone calls from previous brief encounters with folk are just as tricky. Many never, ever give their name but launch immediately into a horribly cheery, ‘Hello there! How are you?’ ‘Nonplussed’ is usually the answer while I desperately try to put the sound of the voice to a forgotten face. Even if they’ve given a name I’m usually in the same situation, my ‘organisational memory trousers’ well down round my ankles!

And I still can’t remember the name of that medical term. Bear with me. It’s bound to arrive soon.

Having gone through this kind of thing many times over, instead of agonising about not remembering and trying to do so without causing offence, I’ve found it’s so much easier to simply own up with a limp grin and say, ‘ I’m sorry. It’s the age. I can’t remember your name.’ More often than not they have the same problem!

So, if you are finding this malaise creeping up on you fear not. It’s just a fact of life. It happens to everyone and often well before the age of fifty! Carry a notebook, ‘come clean’ when faced with it and relax into enjoying life. You probably haven’t got the dreaded ‘A’ condition but even if you have you wouldn’t know it or remember, would you?

Ah, yes. Here’s my final point. I’ve just remembered that special medical term for this widespread condition. It’s known as ‘C.R.A.F.T.’ If you suffer from this, as I do, just trot it out when faced with a memory loss. Simply say, with a grin, ‘I’ve got C.R.A.F.T.!’ Then you can enjoy watching the reaction when you explain. It means, ‘Can’t Remember A Fxxxxxg Thing.’

Now then, what was I talking about?

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