The ageing brain is capable of growth and development. How do I know this? This morning, to my wife’s considerable annoyance, I set myself the target of completing the Times mild sudoku in 15 minutes or less. She dislikes any unnecessary stress, pressure and ridiculous targets, but you’ve got to do something to keep your spirits up during lockdown. I almost managed to achieve my aim (and yes, I know, teacher followers, that aims are different from targets). Despite interruptions, I completed the task in 17 minutes. A year ago, with patient coaching from herself, I struggled to complete a sudoku grid at all. Now I have even managed to tackle the occasional fiendish one successfully. So, brain power growth achieved (albeit slowly), alongside smug self-satisfaction.
There is hope here for all stroke survivors. As with sudoku and brain power, so with neurological recovery, stamina and muscle strength. Last November, as I previously posted in the golden pre-covid days, I invested in a small treadmill. Despite the fact that it is located in a cold garage, I have been conscientious in using it through the winter, on days when the weather was too miserable to consider going out with Archie. From a lowish starting base of 5 minutes per session, which left me wobbling with muscle fatigue on the way back into the house, I can now manage 20 minutes at a reasonable pace without draining all energy from my body for the next two hours. This is helped, as I pointed out at the time, by listening simultaneously to the innuendo-drenched adolescent humour in past episodes of I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue and other classic comedy, which helps to take your mind off the repetitive tedium of treadmill use.
My opening statement on this post about ageing brains was further encouraged by learning today that the actor Anthony Hopkins (82) has gone viral – unfortunate term – for his attempts to do something called the “toosie slide”. This “dance” involves movements – left foot up, right foot slide, right foot up, left foot slide – which you can observe on the rapper Drake’s video here. Probably best if you don’t try to understand the lyrics. If you switch off the sound, and simply look at the dance movements, you will be reminded of those foxtrot instructions – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Or, at least, a version of them. You can apparently find Anthony Hopkins’ performance on a social medium called TikTok.
I feel it is unlikely that I will ever manage the toosie slide. Even pre-stroke, my dance style was described by partners and observers as “interesting”, but you never know. One day residents of our street may hear our garage throbbing to the sound of Drake the rapper’s lyrics, and the distant sound of my feet sliding and lifting across the floor. I fear that if that is ever the case, “slide and lift” will be the last words I hear as I am hoisted into an ambulance by despairing medics.
And still they come
From Bethan Starling, thinking of small children:
A black cloud descends. Ecstatic, Finlay grabs his indigo jumpsuit. Keen little mouth open. Patience quavers. Rain! Splash! The utopian vision. Wild, xenodochial youth zigzagging!
And from Jane Stephen, who may be feeling the pressure of lockdown:
A bored couple driving each other frantic. Geriatric humour is jaded. Knives look menacing. Nattering on. Prattling. “QUIET!” roars Simon to unrestrained voluble wife, Xanthippe. “Yes; ZIP (it).”
Meanwhile, David Ellix feels we should add to the torture of creating pangrams by attempting “margnaps” – i.e. telling the story with the alphabet back to front. As my friend, Alison, pointed out, this would have the benefit of dealing with the “x” early on in the writing process. This is David’s rather good A – Z offering:
“And breathe! Culture demands effort. Find great, high impact, jingles. Kindly love music now, or perhaps quietly retire south.” The uninspired, very weary, xylophonist yawns. “Zzzzz”
A land of quizzers?
It seems that during lockdown we have become a land of quizzers – quiz setters and quiz doers. Long-suffering followers of this blog will remember that some time ago I offered a cryptic quiz based on British trees. I have had a number of local replies, which I’ve responded to individually, but, particular congratulations to Mr and Mrs Davies from Pentredwr in North Wales who have sent in a complete set of correct answers. Well done. I hope lockdown is going well with you.
Now, let’s have another look at that toosie slide….