I was thinking the other day about…well, I can’t remember what about, and that’s half the problem. My brain has gone mushy.
I’m doing all those things they talk about in Readers Digest. (At least, I think it was that. For all I know it could have been Miniature Donkey Talk, or OMFG: Official Meeting Facilities Guide). I go into rooms and can’t remember why I’m there.
I start sentences and get stuck at the most tantalising moment. ‘Yes, but that’s nothing,’ I will confide to a friend. ‘I remember a time when I took all my clothes off in a train and….’ Friend looks at me eagerly.
‘When I took all my…’ I repeat.
Friend nods. ‘Yes,’ she says. ‘Yes??? What happened next?
And then I look at her rather doubtfully because at the same time as I am talking something really mundane enters my head, like the fact that the woman at the entrance to TK Maxx is pleading with her seven year old son, ‘Look, Ryan, I’ve gotta have a roll up, right? One roll up, and then we’ll do the escalator. We will Do The Escalator. Right?’
And whatever I was talking about has vanished into the Christmas mist.
Still, my mind is as a steel trap compared with the rest of my family when it comes to remembering stuff. In the 1950s my mum and dad lived in Malaya, as it was called then, and when they wanted to come home they had to fly in a succession of Dakotas. Which was fine, until my mother left my brother, then a baby, at Milan airport. Apparently, they were all ready to taxi off when this Italian judge came running out, shouting, ‘Signora, signora…I think you have left something!’
Even then my mother just smiled at him. ‘No, really, ‘ she said comfortingly. ‘I’ve got my handbag. And my passport. What else could I possibly need?’
But it was only when I met my husband that I began to realise that forgetfulness can be specific. Steve, when he wants to put something down, generally puts it up; his favourite places are, the top of the fridge, the top of the wardrobe, or above a door. He lost a drill for three years and then discovered it on the top of the window shutters. (Don’t ask). On holiday one time in Chamonix, in the French Alps, we had a lovely picnic in a summer meadow and then drove off. Only for him to realise he’d left his Swiss Army knife on the roof. Which, when he stopped was, strangely, no longer there. Optimist that he is, we went back and searched for it. And, get this, we found it. In the middle of a bloody Alpine meadow.
We weren’t so lucky a few days later when he left his sandals on the roof of the car in the middle of Cannes and drove away. They sailed off into the blue, God knows where. We never found them. He had to go to a supermarket in bare feet to get a new pair. Which, even for the French, was a Bit Bohemian.
A few years later I drove off with the kids in the back of the car only to hear a vague crash as I neared the post office. Eldest son said conversationally to eldest daughter, ‘I knew she wouldn’t see that dinner plate on the roof.’
And then…I’m not actually sure I should be telling you this, but, we went to Ikea and husband bought a wardrobe door in the bargain basement. He thought it would Come In Useful. It was an enormous thing; far too big to get in the car. So he tied it to the roof. And, determined that it wasn’t going to fly off, he tied it on very tightly. Too tightly. Because at 60mph it reached maximum waggle (I’m sure that’s the correct physical term) and yes, you guessed correctly, it flew off on a major A road Somewhere in England. All we heard was a giant Craaaaack! And then a bang as it hit the road. Neither of us wanted to look round in case there was a mortally wounded motor cyclist lying behind us, struggling feebly under some bloodstained particle board. You can imagine our relief, therefore, when we did look and there was nothing in the road but a trail of splintered wood. Gosh, how good we felt. We picked up the pieces and found that they now fitted quite nicely in the car, and drove away, quickly.
So there you have it. What was I talking about?
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