I Forgot I Had Alzheimer’s

It’s an old joke, of course. A man is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but his doctor tells him to go home and forget about it.
Ha ha.
My father had Alzheimer’s. He died in 2007 having forgotten his family and himself and just about everything else. It was tragic, given that he had had such a marvellous mind throughout his life. He was a psychiatrist and a good man who helped a lot of people.
My mother has now been diagnosed with the same disease.
In case you don’t know, Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia. The victim forgets who they are and who everyone else is and can’t properly look after themselves. There is no cure.
I remember what my mother went through when Dad was diagnosed and slipped away from us. I was living in another town at the time, 600 kilometres away, but I visited them as often as I could. Dad became increasingly needy, eventually unable to care for himself and even, on occasion, wandering off. Mum found it enormously difficult and eventually Dad had to be put in a nursing home.
One time I visited him and he had forgotten who I was. His speech became increasingly difficult to understand. We knew he was desperately trying to communicate with us but at the end we couldn’t understand a word he said. That was frustrating for him as much as us. He even asked me on one occasion if Mum was angry with him, because she had sent him away to live apart from her. He had the idea there had been a disaster and he and “these other people” (his fellow patients in the nursing home) were trapped in a cave. Did I know the way out?


I believe that my father died twice. Once when he lost his mind, and once when he lost his life. He died from septicaemia. We thought it was best to just let him go, so asked the doctors to fill him full of morphine so he could die in peace. At his funeral, my brother gave a eulogy in which he documented my father’s life and achievements but refused to deal with the last few years when he no longer in charge of himself. “That,” said my brother, “was not who Dad was.” My own eulogy avoided the subject, too. I focused on Dad’s wonderful sense of humour and how loving he had been to his family. That’s the father we want to remember.
I now live with Mum. And she is going to go through the same process, apparently. She is ok so far, but the first signs are there. I am trying my best to look after her, but I am gaining a vivid picture of what she went through with Dad.
As I said, there is no cure. It is a terrible disease without hope at the moment. I fully intend to leave everything I have to Alzheimer’s research in my will. There has to be something done about this.
Of course, I should also be worried for myself and my brothers. Are we likely to suffer the same thing because both our parents have had it? I don’t know. Having witnessed (and now witnessing again) the effects of this disease makes me feel uneasy for my own future.

If you know someone, or have a family member with Alzheimer’s, I know how you feel. I know what you are going through. It is a shit of an illness. My heart goes out to you. Maybe there will be a cure for this horror someday. But it isn’t here yet.

Be strong. Be loving. The person needs you more than anything.

–  Russell Proctor. http://www.russellproctor.com

Lisa Works Hard for the Money

Let me tell you about Lisa.
Lisa isn’t her real name, by the way. It isn’t even her professional name. It’s just a name I chose for her, to protect her identity.
Lisa is a fun girl. She’s caring, forthright, independent, and hard-working. I love spending time with her. She makes me feel good and I get a genuine sense that she enjoys my company, too. If she doesn’t, she at least gives me the feeling that she does. Since I have been a professional actor in my time, I can usually tell when someone is acting. She doesn’t give me that impression, so if she is just pretending, that makes her a great actor, too.
Lisa is a prostitute.


There are other names for her type of worker, but I won’t put them here. She doesn’t deserve it. Lisa prefers the term “sex worker”. She takes her job seriously, and doesn’t like the negative image some people have about her line of work.
Lisa works hard. She has to put up with all sorts of stupid people, demanding people, crazy people, obnoxious people, angry people, scared people…

“Lisa”, as I said, isn’t her name. That’s because Lisa is an amalgam of sex workers. She is representative of the vast majority of them. I never met a sex worker I didn’t like. I know there are some desperate girls out there, hooked on drugs or whatever, selling themselves because they have no other choice. But I haven’t met them.
And I can tell you why I haven’t. Because I live in a society (Australia) where brothels are legal and registered. There may be streetwalkers out there, but I haven’t seen them. I’ve seen them overseas, but have avoided them.
Most of the girls working in the brothels here are young, intelligent ladies earning a bit of extra cash. Ones I have met have been nurses, teachers, university students, housewives and mothers. They know what they are doing and have chosen to do it. Most of them have high sex drives (a benefit in their job) and genuinely enjoy their work. That must be hard, given some of the clients they must have met.
They have regular health check-ups and insist on safe sex always. So do I. That’s just logical.
I would hazard a guess that it’s the places where sex for sale is illegal, where their services are frowned upon, that have the problems usually associated with the sex industry.
So legalised prostitution is a good idea.
There are restrictions, of course. A girl (or guy) can work from home or a hotel room, as long as they work solo. One can see the sense behind that, but it does limit the services that can be provided, such as when a client wants more than one girl or guy at a time. Still, the situation is much better than in some countries.

And of course, the illegal sex trade, where workers are exploited and abused, is not good. But the prostitution laws are designed to discourage that sort of activity.
So, why the stigma? The usual objections, I guess, arise from people concerned about morals, family values, religious edicts and so forth. None of these are really convincing. There is some evidence to suggest that having a sexual outlet allows people to experiment with other partners in a safe, discreet way. Sure, a partner cheating on their spouse with a sex worker is still cheating, but that’s something for individual couples to sort out. The sex worker isn’t going to say anything, or expect the cheating spouse to get a divorce or give them gifts or hold them to blackmail.
Lisa deserves more praise than she gets. She works hard and fulfils a vital service. She won’t do it forever. She has other things to be getting on with. It’s just a job.
So cut her some slack. And pay her a visit. Or her, friend, Jim. He’s available too, ladies. Or guys.

– Russell Proctor http://www.russellproctor.com

Things I Would Never Say

I don’t think these need much introduction. It’s just a list of things you will never, ever hear me say.


1)“Wow, reality TV is so entertaining, isn’t it?”
2) “That’s ok, you don’t have to go school. No one needs an education anyway.”
3) “God is great.”
4) “Gangnam Style!”
5) “What we really need is another Superman movie. Oh, really?”
6) “Politicians make so many sacrifices and have the good of the nation constantly in their minds.”
7) “Emma Watson is such a good actress. She really has a vast range of talent.”
8) “Hey, could you speak a bit louder into your mobile phone? We can’t hear you up the back of the bus!”
9) “This broccoli is delicious!”
10) “Can I have a ticket to the One Direction concert, please?”
11) “Sure, you can have my address. I love people dropping in unexpectedly and wasting my time.”
12) “No, I don’t mind if you smoke.”

Sexting Selfies

The youth of today, some people declare, are narcissistic and obsessed with appearance and popularity.

The evidence for this is pretty clear. In her article in The Courier-Mail of 10 June 2013, “World of Y is made in their image” http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/world-of-y-is-made-in-their-image/story-fnihsr9v-1226660911988 Karen Brooks declares today’s teens are “screenagers”, jockeying for fame and recognition from a bunch of “friends” on Facebook. They effectively turn themselves into a brand, she writes, updating that brand and marketing themselves constantly. Appearance, it seems, is all that matters, and getting your appearance out there is equally important.

There is, methinks, much reason in her sayings. She goes on to declare that the people responsible for this are the parents. And she is right, there, too. Coddling children, protecting them from harm and the need to make decisions, and, moreover, providing them with the technology to communicate 24/7, has a big part to play in all this.

I was discussing things with a teenager recently about the propensity for her generation to exhibit the minutiae of their lives online. One example we discussed was the habit some people have of taking a picture of what they are currently eating and posting it as a picture on Facebook. Do I really want to see that? Really? So you enjoyed the meal. Great. But you took a picture of it before you ate it, so how did you know it was going to be so fantastic that everyone needed to see what it was? Oh, I see, you just thought we might be interested. Sorry, no.


Even my Facebook page, which has an appropriate proportion of adults as friends, is subject to this kind of post.

And selfies. Let me talk about selfies. You know what they are, those pictures taken with a phone camera, usually looking in a mirror or held at arm’s length so a number of friends can cram their heads together, mouths open and say “Look at us! We’re important!” Then the subject of the pic posts it on their social network.

No harm in that, really. Not unless they are in their underwear or doing something inappropriate. But I just don’t really want to see it. I don’t care you are, I don’t care what you’re wearing. Well, not always. Depends on who is in the underwear. I must confess I did take a selfie once, and sent it to someone, but it was just for them and not for posting for the whole world to see. I trusted the person I sent it to not to send it on, and they haven’t so far. Besides, you couldn’t see my face. Well and good.

So, you ask, if I am guilty of posting a selfie, why should I criticise those who do?

Well, for a start, as I said, it was only for private consumption, not general viewing. I got one back from them, and it remains private in my files. For another thing, it’s probably not something teenagers should be doing. A girl posts a picture of herself in a rude pose or wearing (or not) something alluring, and sends it to her current squeeze. The boyfriend may get a thrill out of it, but boys will be boys, and he can post that on to whoever he likes. And probably does.

So the obsessed Me Generation (or the “Millenials” as Joel Stern calls them), are a product of our desire to invent machines that can keep us in constant, if unnecessary, communication with everyone all the time, and our desire to coddle and protect the young. Not much we can do about it, I expect.

Except that we can, of course, try to cut down on texting, and sexting, and twittering, and social media-ing. I was waiting for a bus the other night in the city at peak hour. Of the forty-odd people (or forty odd people, including me) only three, including myself, were not using their phones or iPads for various purposes. I guess they felt the need to text someone urgently, or check their emails, or watch the news or the sports, or see what someone had for lunch, or see if anyone liked what they had for lunch. Nothing, I maintain, that couldn’t wait until they got home.
It wasn’t just the screenagers doing this. There were adults, too.

It’s a bit much, really.
So don’t send me a selfie. Not unless you have a good body. Then, please.