MIDWAY : Storage failure

Fabulous news: our little memory lapses, known as “senior moments”, are not senior any more, they are any age. They are even hip, with a Homer Simpson name — “Doh moments”, and are nothing to do with gender or intelligence, but everything with stress and busy lives. They happen up to 30 times a week, to anyone. Thank you so much, Finnish researcher Maria Jonsdottir for these revelations. What a relief for us older persons who have, until now, been mocked for losing our marbles.

We even believed it ourselves, it happens so often. I listen to my answering machine messages, I press delete, the messages have gone, but so has the memory, within seconds. Same with call waiting. Who called? Who did I promise to ring back? Haven’t a clue. I look up a word in a glossary, I’ve forgotten the word. But it doesn’t matter any more, because the darling Jonsdottir says so. The brain is at fault, says she, but there’s nothing wrong with the brain. To her, memory loss isn’t a sign of decrepitude, it’s just a normal “storage failure” or “action slip”. (I do love Jonsdottir’s heavenly new terminology.) And it’s on the increase because of our busy lifestyles and high levels of stress.

Rosemary thinks my memory ought to retain her week’s schedule; my mother used to think it should remember if she wanted a cup of tea or not; and others think it should remember their names and birthdays. All these people have been insulted by my “storage failures”. To them, I wasn’t having a common memory blank, it was a personal slight — a subconscious truth surfacing and giving the game away. Well, think again, you people. Those were just plain “action slips” and nothing more.

My friend Fielding had a terrible “storage failure” last month. He and his family set off on holiday; three hours into their journey Fielding realised he’d forgotten his blood pressure pills. The family showered him with abuse, and they drove all the way back, but Fielding couldn’t remember where he’d put the pills. Reproach just makes people panic, which causes “discrimination or sub-routine failures”, like putting a tea bag into your case instead of your pills. I think once upon a time I may have written something about this. But did I? Can’t remember.