I often end a talk speaking about the ‘advantages of dementia’ ….eye balls roll, cynical looks pass between the audience……the audience always think I’ve totally lost the plot 🤣 But Dementia has opened up so many new worlds to me….focusing on the positives is my way of coping with this bummer of a diagnosis…..
Since my book, one whole new world is that of Book Festivals…and Friday saw me back at Cheltenham Litertaure Festival. I was there last year being interviewed by Julia Wheeler. If it’s of interest,doing a double act with neurologist, Jules Montague you can read about that trundle here:
Amazingly they asked me back again and this year I was doing a double act with Nicci Gerrard. We were being interviewed on stage by Alex Clark. We make a good duo as Nicci writes from the side of the supporter of her father and me, obviously, as someone living with dementia. I always say that both sides live parallel lives, rarely meeting, but both equally important in the need for advice and support, just different advice and support.
I wonder what Nicci thinks of being with me again 🤔 as we’re often put together and will be together again a couple of days later on Sunday at Ilkley Festival, which will be tomorrows blog ………
Nicci has always been very kind and patient with me. She wrote a lovely article when the hardback version of my book came out a couple of years ago.
Any back to Friday……..a blustery night was followed by a blustery wake up call. It was silly o’clock…..we were speaking in the afternoon so I opted for overnight stay on the Friday instead of Thursday. I don’t mind setting off in the dark as I know it’s going to get light but travelling at night can be quite disturbing, with confusing shadows, Inability to see where you are and no opportunity to take piccies to calm me down…..so a silly o’clock start it had to be….
The taxi driver was from the night shift so one I’d not met. We got chatting and it came out that I had dementia…..he then told me his story – his father has dementia in the later stages. He doesn’t know who any of his children are but comes alive when they visit….I told him why and we chatted more. By the time we’d arrived at the station he was busy downloading my book on audible …….❤️…….it’s amazing how much you can say in a 12 minute trundle……..
The journey to Cheltenham is a long one and involves my least favourite train company – Cross Country……..🙈…..their trains are soooo claustrophobic and squashed…but first I had to get to Sheffield, which meant a change at Doncaster……it was so dark I missed the trundle alongside the Humber 🙄 no stunning sunrises today……just splashes of rain on the windows, car headlights in the distance with windscreen wipers clearing the deluge…….
But a glimpse of autumn on the tops of the trees at Sheffield as I waited for my connection brighten my day
I used to have the lovely Jasmin looking after me at Bloomsbury but she’s now departed to ventures new and I have an equally lovely Ella. She sent me my usual detailed plan of my stay – and I was told someone in a bright pink t shirt carrying a festival sign would meet me at Cheltenham……Cheltenham looked after me really well last year but I txt the number Ella had given me, just to make sure someone was on the other end. I needn’t have worried as Louise came back immediately so I was a very relaxed bunny……..
I arrived and sure enough, Mr Pinkman was waiting for me and we happily chatted to the lovely writers room they provide to chill…. all the helpers were dressed in pink tops so they stood out wonderfully……it was so windy outside, the tent was billowing and pictures of farmhouse people on the tent walls were bouncing around….😂
A man came over to me, introduced himself as James and said how he’d interviewed me at Bath Festival……☺️…….just nice that he took the trouble to come over and say hello….. and then a Julia Wheeler, who interviewed me here last year and knows my partner in writing Anna!
We would be in the Garden Theatre…..what a lovely name, so I spent the next couple of hours people watching, catching snippets of conversations and just enjoying the wonderful atmosphere……heaven…….and so calming….
Nicci was also with husband Sean French later on. For those that don’t know, Nicci and Sean write as Nicci French, writing crime novels. I remember being fascinated when she told me how she and Sean wrote their books……..
Alex came over and said hello as Nicci was caught up in one of my nightmare trundles and would be here late 🙈….but still with time to spare hopefully. Alex was so nice and smiley and kind. We chatted for ages to get to know one another before heading over to the Garden theatre to be miked up
and wait in the Green Room for 2pm to arrive….Nicci arrived with minutes to spare, but still time for a piccie….
Obviously I wasn’t typing, but I know we had a wonderful time, took lots of questions and it was very emotional….a full house were so kind, so generous in their applause.
On the way to the Book signing, we were stopped by various people just wanting to say thank you, just wanting to chat. Some were in tears and one said she’d now realised she wasn’t alone……. We signed lots of books, had lovely chats with lovely people about their connection with dementia before making our way back to the writers room……
Here I was met by Jill Ronnie and Sue Learner to record a podcast for their series called ‘Let’s Talk about Care’ ….They’re from from Carehome.co.uk and Homecare.co.uk………it felt like we spoke for ages but again I wasn’t typing so no idea what we spoke about – this, that and everything probably…..I’m sure they;ll let me have the link when it’s published …..
Time for a quick piccie
….before heading back to the hotel totally exhausted but happy…..I’d had such a wonderful day and the pink t shirt brigade looked after me wonderfully……feeling very lucky….