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Saturday 1st July 2006

I came back to Cheddar for a Kings of Wessex School reunion. My oen remaining grandmother is coincidentally staying this week, so I got to see her for the first time in a couple of years. She is 95 years old, which is quite astonishing when you think about. She is a remarkable woman having stayed healthy anmd feisty right through her eighties. When my grandad died about eighteen or nineteen years ago she had a queue of men after her (after a respectful period of mourning), despite her being in her mid-70s and finally got herself a toyboy some ten years her junior. If my profligate lifestyle fails to kill me in my mid-forties, I hope to emulate her. I admire her as much as anyone in the world. Good old Doris!
Although still physically agile her short term memory has perhaps inevitably been affected byt he ravages of time, so sadly she doesn't really remember who I am, which is both upsetting and strangely amusing at the same time. So when I arrived she was slightly confused about who I was and would end up asking me the same question three times in five minutes. "Have you met this young man before Ken?" she asked her 85 year old toyboy. Ken and I both said we knew each other, but she'd forget and ask again, perplexed about who I was and why I was here. "How old are you?" she asked me three times in the garden later on. She's not doddery and aside from not remembering what has just happened or who her relatives are she can hold a conversation. My mum told her it waw my birthday soon and said she better start saving for a present. "My gran don't owe me nothing!" I commented, at which Doris came straight back with "Well if I don't owe you nothing, then I owe you something. I was always a whizz at grammar." She was a grammer grandma that's fro sure.
"It's lovely to meet you," she had said early on. "We have met a couple of times," I told her.
It made me a little bit sad, but she's still happy and feisty and alas this is the way of cruel life. Better to be here and not really remember anything, than not here at all, I suppose. Up to a point. But she's still very much on the positive side of that point at the moment.
It's good she can't really remember stuff because I nearly killed her on my arrival. I was a bit earlier than anticipated as I was going to watch the England match with some friends in a ocal pub, and so barged into the kitchen a bit unexpectedly. Doris had been standing right behind the door and it was only a rapid intervention by my mum that stopped me committing grand-matricide, which sounds so much more serious than simple matricide even if it is acutally less serious (surely it is less serious to kill an older person who woudl die soon enough anyway? Discuss). It was the second time I had nearly killed a family member with that self-same door and in fact given that it was my mum who had early been killed last time, had my grandad not intervened that time, then mum wouldn't have been here to intervene this time. To kill one family member with the same kitchen door might be considered unfortunate, to kill two- I don't think there'sa court in the land that wouldn't convict you of premeditated door murder. How ever much you protested your innocence. Thank goodness for my vigilant family: they have prevented me from being labelled a kitchen door vigilante.
The reunion was a little bit disappointing - not that many people showed up, but it was still fun nonetheless to see those who made it along. And to walk round the school we left 20 years ago, seeing what had changed. There was a Caribbean theme and a great band were playing, alas to very few people dancing. The Trinidad and Tobago flag was on the wall behind them. Strange. The people I had last seen as schoolchildren were now middle-aged, fatter, balder,more wrinkled. I couldn't remember who most of them were, so I am worse off than my gran in that way as she has quite a clear memory of things from ages ago. In fifty years time we may all meet up and be unable to remember each other from when we re-met just five minute before
So more depressing thoughts about the passage of time today. I tried to celebrate being alive by drinking too much, destroying more brain cells and hastening the progression of dementia. Happy days!

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