I was invited to a garden party the other weekend.
Just a small affair, down the road, local.
I was invited to take along the Dementia Action Alliance banner and leaflets.
To promote the work I and others do.
Thought it would be a good opportunity.
Also thought I would meet one or two people I knew.
Well, actually, no.
I’m there with my glass of water.
Wandering around a lovely small garden which has been designed to be easy to look after.
Raised beds, false but very realistic grass, lovely flowers…
People arrive who I don’t know.
They come in groups but I’m on my own.
They don’t approach me so I go to them.
When your thought processes are slow it’s hard to both decode what others say
And think of a response quickly.
Conversation requires multi tasking.
A person you don’t know talks to you.
For people with healthy brains this is a no brainer.
You don’t need to think about it.
You hear, you respond.
You may think you don’t or do like the guy, but
You get on with your conversation.
And move on.
What are they saying?
Why are they saying it?
What sort of person is this?
I don’t really like what they are saying so how shall I react?
Shall I agree for the sake of calm and quiet?
Or shall I put them right on facts?
Or say actually you’re a prat,
Which is what I am thinking.
In my head.
And all the time I’m thinking these things I am also aware that
I have to respond.
And they expect a quick, normal, response.
Like conversations usually go.
They expect to chat, quickly, off the cuff…
Well I can banter and chat
But only with people I know or
People I trust.
Because I don’t have to think about the background noise.
If I am having a good day I can pass the time of day with anyone.
As long as you don’t require me to think outside my comfort zone.
I can say what a lovely day it is
Hope the train gets in on time
Yes, I’m going to London
How are you today?
All that flows out easily.
Ask me what I do and, well, that background noise starts again.
And in a group it all goes completely wrong.
If talking to one person is challenging, how about four or five?
Who you don’t know.
With other real noise going on as well.
Multi tasking becomes million tasking.
And the house of cards begins to fall apart.
When one person stops another starts before you can assimilate the first
So you lose that one and try to catch up with the second.
Another person jumps in.
The subject changes.
And so on, and on
Until someone jumps on you with a question.
Then there is no where to go.
Haven’t a clue what has just been said.
Still thinking about the comment before last.
Still wondering about going for another sandwich
And bang, you are totally exposed.
Um, well, (sigh), I suppose, I’m not sure really…
Look away so you can focus on finding words
Start a sentence with no idea of where it is going
The other person is looking at you
Then the right word isn’t there
Another um, and well, and
The wrong word comes out.
They must think I am stupid or just dull and boring.
Can’t even have a conversation.
They move away, turn to someone else
And you smile vaguely, pick up a sandwich
And look for a person on their own who looks unchallenging
Who you might be able to talk to
Who won’t demand quick answers
About things you don’t usually think about.
That is what it is like
As your brain slows down and bits of it get more difficult to find.
Background noise becomes fog.
And you sometimes clog.
It’s no one’s fault.