I had a strange experience in the week, totally of my own making. I visited a large new shopping centre in Derby called Westfield with my wife, mother-in law and sister-in-law; my daughter Alison joined the group a few minutes later.
On arrival I needed to look for something in the old market adjoining the centre so off I went, arranging to meet up on the ground floor (there are two levels) a few minutes later. A typically loose arrangement on my part. Mistake number one, no actual place mentioned. Mistake number two, on return I immediately realised I had spectacularly underestimated how big the place was. There are hundreds of shops and eating establishments spread over the two floors. Mistake number three, guess who is the only adult in the whole of the western world who doesn't possess a mobile phone. I spent at least fifteen minutes walking up and down the concourses. It soon became obvious if the group were in a shop, as was likely, I would pass on by oblivious. I spent at least another fifteen minutes sitting on seats provided studying passersby to no avail. I have never seen so many grey haired geriatrics in my life. Plus there seemed to be a cross section of every shape and size individuals on the planet passing by, put there presumably for my delectation. All very well but no-one remotely related.
I had briefly spoken to a security man at the beginning of my search. As I sat bemused pondering a life to be now spent in the Westfield Centre (have you ever seen the film of the man who lived at an airport for a year or two) the guard passed by again.
"No luck" he said.
"Dead right" I said.
And bingo, my problems were solved. He had a phone in his hand and he enquired as to whether anyone had lost a five feet four, bemused, confused, hopelessly inept, aged male who obviously should not have been out on his own, (my description, not his, he was kindly and helpful). And the answer cometh back, four adults plus a five month old (very bright, my grandchildren) had reported missing someone wearing distinctive corduroy trousers fitting that description. The concerned gentleman escorted me, somewhat like a lost child only a short distance and I was reunited with my amused family. (Evidently there is a loud speaker system but only used for lost children, not lost sixty nine year olds. Though the question had been asked when I was reported missing, was I on medication.)
I felt a a total prat, pillock and a few other things besides. I was also annoyed with myself and not a little embarrassed. Inherent in all this are more serious questions. Am I losing it and nobody dare tell me. Are we the last to know in these circumstances. Presumably I'm just a silly old fogey or are there more serious implications. Do people with Alzheimer's know they have it or are they again the last to know. Any comments gratefully received.
A year or two ago I wrote a short story and guess what was it was about. You've got it, an old man who loses his wife whilst out shopping. Perhaps it's right, art mirrors real life or whatever.
The short, or not so short story follows for anyone who wishes to read it.