Early birds yesterday will have to forgive my having mourned the death of Reg Vardy instead of Reg Varney. I actually woke and realised my brain had been on another planet and had to whizz in to fix it. Reg Vardy is a Sunderland car dealer, not a Cockney comic. His name used to be blazoned on the shirts of the local footballers. His son Peter is the man behind the creationist ‘faith’ school movement in the North East (what’s that about?).

Perhaps that is not forgetfulness so much as a non-Freudian slip (no reason why Sigmund should take the credit for every fuse in the circuitry of the brain). But I have started to forget things. Where I am in the morning. What day it is. What month it is. What century it is, even. If I had a pound for every time I write a cheque and start the year ’19…’, always supposing I can find my cheque book(s) – plural, because I have to have a spare in case I forget where the main one is – if I had a pound for each time, I would be… where am I in this sentence?

Billy Collins has a great poem called ‘Forgetfulness’, in which he imagines facts retiring to the southern hemisphere of his brain. (There is also a lovely poem about forgetfulness in Carol Rumens’ new collection, ‘Blind Spots’ (Seren) – one which I am convinced will win the TS Eliot prize next year. It is her best ever collection.) There’s a gizmo on the market called – can’t remember, damn – which finds things for you. No, wait. It’s called a Loc8tor. It can find up to 24 things if you tag them. It will set you back, they claim, only £75. But read the small print. The £75 buys you the gizmo (which you will of course lose), but it comes with only three or four tags. To get the full function out of it, you have to buy extra tags at about a fiver or a tenner each (can’t remember exactly), which is a lot of money if you want to tag the phone, the phone, the phone, the phone and the phone (cordless and mobile phones are a curse invented by memory men to torture the forgetful). There is an American equivalent called a FOFA, which I am thinking of going for instead, and which is much cheaper. FOFA stands for… stands for… well, the first F is ‘Find’, I guess.

There was a vogue (you can still buy them) for a battery operated thing which you attached to your keys, and which beeped if you whistled. If you whistled at the right frequency, that is. Since the sound of my whistling is the same sound old fasioned barbers used to make when they blew at the back of your head to dislodge stray hairs, it wasn’t very effective. Whistling is another thing I can’t do. In fact, I can hardly remember what I can do, having written about so many things I can’t do. Anyway, I had one of these thingummies, and was well-known in department head meetings for putting my keys down, absently, when I arrived. Since I panic when key things – like keys, pun uninentional but not bad – go AWOL, I used to interrupt the meetings by making my fatal blowing sound, until a pipsqueak of a whistle escaped my lips.

Unfortunately, the frequency to which the whistling gizmo responded was exactly the frequency of the voice of the Head of Social Care. When she piped up with a point, so did my keys. That was a gizmo which didn’t last very long.

It is a truth well-acknowledged that a married person in possession of a single blog must be in want of a theme. And mine today, incidentally, was not forgetfulness. It just came out that way. I have no idea what I meant to tell you. Perhaps I should have made a list, but the bugger about lists is, when you make them, you quite often get interrupted and, moments later, Where’s That List?

It’s a cruel world.


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