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I swore never again but that was eighteen months ago and 2015 Kathryn was clearly talking nonsense because books are amazing!
What else is amazing is the people who hold together the families whose relatives have dementia. A group that I joined this year when my wonderful Grandad was getting more forgetful, increasingly frail and ultimately, diagnosed. In no time at all he went from living independently to my mum calling me from Yorkshire saying he couldn’t return to his retirement community.
“Don’t worry” I said, “I’ll sort out somewhere near us. Just worry about the hospital stuff.”
Then I put down the phone and sat for a minute. Then I made a cup of tea. Then I was out of legitimate procrastination tasks.
A short while later and I’d found a wealth of information on Alzheimer’s Society which led me to talking to Lilian Faithful Homes. There were times when I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe and when it came to choosing the actual room at my Grandad’s care home I admit my four year old son played a major part (he liked the view with the room we took). But he’s safely housed and I’m visiting regularly.
I think one of the most important things about understanding dementia is understanding that while the person changes (don’t we all change continually?) they are still your parent/grandparent/whatever. I haven’t had a single visit where I haven’t properly belly laughed because my Grandad is awful. I mean sure he’s a lovely sweet old man but he has a dry sense of humour. This is the man who once said, “You look good, have you had work done?” He’s amazing and while it’s horrible that he’s living close by because he’s not allowed to live alone, it’s lovely that I’m getting to see so much of him.
The book itself is a celebration of safe spaces. I know plenty of people with Kota Huts (the type of building which houses Gloucester Studio) and they’re sharing their beautiful photos in celebration of these remarkable structures and the people who love them. I’ve seen books on boats, camper vans and shepherds huts so I’m hoping there’ll be plenty of people interested in a glossy picture book. And if that’s not your cup of tea there’ll be plenty of other great pledge rewards.
To get the party started there’s a launch party on Saturday 27th May (6pm-10pm). Tickets cost £75 and include a cocktail on arrival, four courses with wine based on dishes I cooked for Masterchef and Hidden Restaurants with Michel Roux Jr, tea and coffee, frozen schnapps and marshmallows for toasting. £50 from each ticket will go to the charities. There are eight spaces available which you can book here.