Dearest child, I can’t recall your name (the consequence of a chaotic mind?)

Dearest child, I can’t recall your name (the consequence of a chaotic mind?)

It’s not an uncommon condition. Anomic or nominal aphasia, apparently. Problems with name retrieval. Or anomia, problems recalling any word. Ah, yes, that happens too, occasionally.

Ironic that there are three names for the condition, and that I probably won’t remember any of them when I’ve finished writing this post.

C’est la vie. Whatever it’s called, I’ve got it. I run through a telephone directory before I hit on the right name for whichever member of my family I’m trying to holler. I might chuck in the names of the dogs, the horses, distant acquaintances (and, all too often these days, the name of a character in the novel I’m writing). My children have learnt to forewarn new partners that mother will refer to them by someone else’s name. In my defence, the name I use isn’t always that of one of their exes, but anomia has no decency filter.

When recalling the stars of TV or screen, Google is my friend. I can quickly locate the cast list for any film or drama. Now, what was the name of that blasted film? Pop stars, and who-sung-that? No point in looking to me for your answer, as many a pub quiz has proven.

Where we stayed on holiday will be ‘that little town/harbour/resort in the north/east/west/south’ and as a writer, I live in perpetual fear of being asked to name my favourite authors. Or what they wrote, come to that.

Apparently, it’s something to do with the way your synapses fire (or fail to fire in my case) and it frustrates me because I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. I can recall many facts of less importance than the name of the person I’m talking to. My history teacher might have disputed my self-awarded IQ, but you tell me how it’s possible to correctly order the monarchs of England if you can’t remember their names. I wasn’t getting the dates wrong, you see.

When I speak, as an author, about my writing, I sometimes recount a funny story about how I changed one of my character’s names halfway through the manuscript (and the beta reading friend who sent me a text asking who the f**k is Ethan?).  It always gets a laugh, (or is it a scornful titter?) and I thought it was amusing too… until the second novel came back from the editor with TWO character name changes, and one poor soul with THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

I’m afraid that’s what happens when you become part of my family.

Thank goodness for proofreaders. And thank you for reading, mary/jane/ben/tom… whoever you are. Please don’t take it personally, I’ve got a chaotic mind and I am synaptically challenged.

A Very British Seaside Tradition – deck-chairs, ice-cream and sandy bottoms

A Very British Seaside Tradition – deck-chairs, ice-cream and sandy bottoms

There were seven of us on that first beach hut adventure. Six adults and one tiny-eight-week old baby. My nephew. We lounged in deck-chairs as we read our books, and brewed cups of tea. Strolled along the coast and swam in the sea. Twelve arms to share one precious bundle.

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Within ten years, the adults were outnumbered. Rumbustious kids, adventurous toddlers and sandy-bottomed babies. Buggys, pottys and sun-cream. We hauled a hand cart up and down the steep and winding path, heavy with picnics, towelling jackets, swimming suits. Buckets and spades. Saucepans, nappies and home-made cakes. Lounging became a dream of the past, forsaken to the glorious chaos of toddler pursuit, life-guard duties and feeding a hungry swarm. We cooked up fish fingers and baked beans on the gas stove in the hut, strung a mosquito net to fend off angry wasps. Embraced the weariness as we settled our gaggle of salty-haired offspring onto child-sized plastic chairs. As the beach cleared and the sun dropped, we sipped mugs of tea and smiled as they ate with an appetite born of a well lived day. Babies slept on impromptu beds spread on the beach hut floor. A weary-legged tramp took us back up to the top of the cliff. The sleep of the rosy-cheeked, sated child. Heads lolling in car seats, drunk on fresh air.


Tots grew into children. Bikinis and body boards, chips and arcades. Windy days brought waves to ride and kites to fly. Even when it rained the beach never failed to work its magic. Sandcastles became more adventurous. Shells gathered for bracelets, plaits beaded in hair. Granddad’s faithful frisbee, beach-boules and cricket. Suntan lotion glistened on youthful bodies which had evolved between our visits.

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The whistle on the kettle changed its tune and more mugs were needed. We spread, our chairs spilling across the promenade. We took more than our share. Behind dark glasses teenage eyes watched passing talent. Youth swooped from angsty adolescent to playful child and back again with dizzying speed. Fireworks, air shows and smart phones. They might not want to come next year. Can they bring their girlfriend/boyfriend? But go without them, and oh they are pissed off.

cliff view

We must buy our fish and chips from the very same place. Park at the cliff-top to take in the view of our beach. Ice cream cones, mugs of tea and rock cakes are compulsory. Change is good, but who can argue with those traditions. We number sixteen now, there is a new tot on the beach. My great nephew – sandy-bottomed, salty-haired and very precious.