PG’s Tips for Survival at the RHN




    It’s often said that there are three things about getting old(er). The first is the loss of memory and …um …

I’m blowed if I can remember the other two. This is what Sidney’s sister euphemistically calls ‘a senior moment’.

    One thing which compensates this short-term memory loss is the remarkable ability of many ‘senior’ people has for long-term memory. They may seem to ‘past it’, as the young cruelly call them, but Sidney is constantly amazed by the recall of the older members of his family.
    An agéd aunt, a mere 99 years young, can recite poetry and speeches of ‘Billy Waggledagger’
(aka Shakespeare) learnt as a child and a young actress – though it must be said that she also has an astounding short-term memory too.

    Sidney’s mother, too, has the ability to remember details about the early days of her childhood – and there are the many tales about her father. He was, by all accounts, an eccentric /quirky Irishman. There was one occasion when Willy was waiting for a train in a London station. Then he heard a goat bleating, and instinctively milked it right there on the platform!

    Will was quite a practical joker, and to break up the boredom of commuting he called out ‘a rat’, and proceeded to chase the imaginary rodent under the benches on the platform. Another ruse he performed was to break up the quiet of an otherwise silent journey in the railway carriage by suddenly uncrossing his legs, and rattled his newspaper noisily. Yet another time he was tired, having been standing for most of the journey, so waited until the train pulled into the station a few stops before his own. He leaned out of the window and, imitating the station master, called out ‘Knockholt’ (his actual stop).  Whereupon a number of people got out, so Will sat down – a real Chaplin-like stunt, revealing the genius!  

    One day, he was with his cousin when the two passed a policeman. Kinnear then called out ‘THIEF’, and chased after Will, followed by P.C. Plod. The two cousins sprinted away, and hid down an alleyway until the policeman ran past – they then walked back casually in the opposite direction.
    Such was the life of Sidney’s grandfather, kept alive with the memories of those who loved him – as someone said, “This is an epitaph and an ’alf”.


Written by Peter Gow

October 2004

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