I phone Albert after work to check that he still wants fish and chips for our Friday-night treat, as instructed yesterday. “No!” he says. “We didn’t say fish and chips! I thought you were going to get those little mexican things!”
Little Mexican Things. Now I’m really stumped. To the best of my knowledge, Albert has never eaten anything Mexican and I can’t think that he would like it if he did, given that he objects to colourful and spicy food (and has no truck with anything from the American continent). I suggest a few Mexican food items that I can think of. “Do you mean Enchiladas, Tacos?”
“No, no!” he replies, frustrated, “those little things!”
In the end we settle for Chinese as a compromise.
Halfway through the evening, tea long eaten, we start talking about friends around the world and inspiration strikes him. “You know,” he exclaims, “those little things they eat where those Japanese people live!”
Light dawns. “Albert,” I say. “Do you mean sushi, by any chance?”
“Yes,” he cries, delighted that I have got over my stupidity, “Sushi!”
Ah yes, sushi, that well-known Mexican dish. Another conversation successfully navigated through the mysteries of memory loss, even if it took us a couple of hours this time. You may as well laugh!
Albert has a new TV. I’m not sure whether the old one simply wore out, whether he irretrievably jammed it by jabbing at random buttons on the remote control, or whether it took exception to the clouds of black smoke in his flat last Thursday when he accidentally set the place on fire (another story – I’ll need more gin before I tell you that one…) Anyway, Monday morning, 12 noon and only an hour to go until Heartbeat* and even with all the gadget-fixing skills I’ve developed over the past year, I could not get the darn thing to work.
So, long-story-short – new TV and although Albert can’t totally work out how to switch it on, when I do so, he is VERY impressed with it. “I’ve bought a new television”, he said this morning when he answered the door to me. Actually, he didn’t. I did. Online – next-day delivery as a matter of urgency. And then spent ages setting it up… but why quibble about details. Every day since Tuesday he’s told me about his new TV and then switched it on for me to admire the lovely clear picture. At least he likes it!
“Oh”, he says, as he flicks past the Yesterday channel and sees an image of Hitler “I’ve forgotten that man’s name, but he was a very bad baddy during the War.”
I’m still chuckling as I walk home later. So yes, dementia is cruel and weird and confusing and frightening and unfathomable, but sometimes… you just have to laugh.
*TV programme shown in the UK between 1992 and 2010 set in 1960s Yorkshire, now being repeated every lunchtime and much beloved by seniors. Albert believes it to be a documentary about ‘policemen and cars’