October 24, 2004

What was my name again?

It's getting worse. Last month I speculated as to what I would forget to take with me next time I went away. The answer turned out to be not the next time, but the time after, and not what I would forget to take but what I would forget to bring back. I left a pair of jeans and a sweater in my hotel room in Port Erin, and had to send off two giant and expensive stamped addressed envelopes to get them back.

The week before last, I saw the doctor in Occupational Health to discuss how I was coping with having returned to work. I mentioned that the major change in me over the last few months was that my memory, though never good, seemed to be shot to pieces when it came to things like this. I'm not sure he really believed me, because I couldn't really quantify it, couldn't really remember the whole list of all the things I've found myself forgetting.

But it's true, and it is getting worse. Yesterday I sat down opposite a man and played him a game of chess lasting nearly three and a half hours. After I lost, I shook hands, got up and walked around for a couple of minutes, and then felt like discussing the game with the winner, as one normally does. But I couldn't remember who it was. I wasn't sure. I'd just sat opposite him for most of a 210-minute session, there was scarcely anybody around, how hard could it possibly be to remember? But I couldn't remember. I couldn't be sure.

It was embarrassing. Eventually I had to go over to the bloke I thought I'd played and ask him, "excuse me, I know this sounds stupid, but you are the bloke I've just played, aren't you?".

He was. I could have been relieved by this. I wasn't. Christ. If you can forget something like that, what can you possibly be sure of remembering? What are you supposed to do about? How much worse is this going to get, and how quickly is this going to happen?

No wonder I lost, I thought. Some time later I had another thought that put it somewhat differently. No wonder I am lost.


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