One of the best things about chatting to my mother was when she couldn’t quite remember someone’s name and had to have a crack at describing them.

I am blessed with a great memory, and can recall whole conversations verbatim. My mother was exactly the same. However, I have been told in recent years, that a person’s memory can be a bit like a computer’s hard drive. After a while, some information just doesn’t stick quite like it used to.

Here’s an example from about fifteen years ago.


Mother: I know what I was going to tell you. She’s going to be on TV.

Me: Who?

Mother: Her. You know her. That one you like.

Me: Which one I like?

Mother: Her. She’s on that other thing. You know her. On the telly.

Me: What — what sort of thing on the telly?

Mother: They have tables.

Me: (as if it was code) They have tables.

Mother: Tables, and they talk.

Me: Do they talk about tables? Is it like Antiques Roadshow?

Mother: No, they sit at the tables and talk.

Me: A panel show?

Mother: Yes.

Me: On TV?

Mother: (exasperated) Yes.

Me: What channel?

Mother: Oh…

Me: Are there adverts?

Mother: I don’t think so.

Me: So, a woman on a panel show on the BBC.

Mother: Yes. Her.

Me: What time of day is this panel show on?

Mother: You’re not always up.

Me: Okay, so – during the day. Woman, panel show, BBC, daytime. What does she look like?

Mother: (shaking her head) There are more important things.

Me: Is she blonde, dark, bottle-job?

Mother: Funny. She’s funny. She has a wonderful laugh.

Me: (counting on my fingers) Funny woman, BBC, panel show, daytime, wonderful laugh… oh God, do you mean Sandi Toksvig?

Mother: That’s her! And she sits opposite him on—

Me: Call My Bluff.

Mother: What’s his name?

Me: Who?

Mother: Chap she sits across from. Bald. Clever. Oxford. Something like a grain. Oats? Rice? Wheat. Maybe Wheaton? Or corn? (starts making faces as she drags out the R) Cor-n? Cor—n?

Me: Coren. You should see what your face is doing. Coren. It’s Alan Coren.

Mother: That’s it. And she’s married to him.

Me: (had to grab the radiator to stop myself from falling down) What?

Mother: Yes. Why else would they be opposing teams?

Me: There’s a frightening insight.

Mother: No because – he’s a man, she’s a woman. He was Oxford. She’s Cambridge. I think they’re married.

Me: Not to each other.

Mother: Yes, of course they are.

Me: (shrug) I imagine they both have wives.

Mother: Anyway, she’s going to be on Question Time.

Now, every time there’s an advert for QI or Bake Off, all I can think is: a great long list and ‘she has a wonderful laugh.’

As proof, I just found this on YouTube and I suspect it’s impossible to watch right through without giggling like a child. See what you think…