Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Now I’ve always suspected that I wasn’t particularly bright, but there’s a far cry from veiled assumption to stark certainty. I was horrified then at the end of last week to discover that I was even dafter than at first alleged.
After last week’s events I’d gone over to Mags’s house for a reviving cup of tea. “Coo-ee” I sang as I entered Mags’s kitchen. She was sipping her Green tea and chatting to her mother-in-law. As I poured boiling water over my own bog standard tea bag I tried to make out what they were talking about.
“I’m thrilled my brain age is only 32 now” said her mother-in-law.
“32? Blimey I can’t get mine down beyond 34”, replied Mags.
“What on earth are you two on about”? I asked heaving my bum cheeks onto one of her kitchen stools.
“Brain training Alice. It’s a must. It keeps you on your toes and exercises areas of your brain that, how shall I put it, are perhaps hibernating”.
I was still in the dark. “I don’t get you”, I replied, “How do you exercise your brain? It’s not as though you can take it down the gym”, I laughed at my own wittiness.
They however were deadly serious. “It’s like that actually Alice. It’s exactly like taking your brain for its own workout.”
“Well I still don’t know what you’re both talking about. What is like taking your brain for a workout? How do you know how old your brain is? Isn’t it the same as your body?”
Mags, slipped effortlessly and elegantly off her stool. “Come into the sitting room and I’ll show you”, she said. Where she was elegant, I was clumsy and her mother-in-law had to lend me a hand as I struggled to get off the stool, my thighs now settled, were resolutely stubborn to be moved again in a hurry.
“Sit on the sofa and have a go at this”. Mags handed me, what I now recognise as a Nintendo DS Lite. She opened it up, pulled out a stylus and touched the screen a few times.
“Here we are. Quick Brain AgeTest. Have a bash”. Before I could protest the numbers on the screen counted down from 3 and I was off. Simple arithmetic flashed up on the left hand of the screen and with stylus in my right I had to write the answers down, very, very quickly. I felt as though I were once again back in school, in remedial maths. Finally the sums and I ran out of time and I handed the machine back to Mags.
“Bloody hell Alice! You’re worse than I thought! You’ve got a brain age of 80!” The two of them fell about on the sofa laughing, much like those Smash Aliens from the 70’s.
“80? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That’s only six years older than me?”, roared the mother-in-law.
“It’s all those kids she’s had. They’ve genuinely turned her brain to mwsh. He-he-he. Mwah-ha-ha ha.” I was most put out. Was I really that thick these days? Had my lifestyle of day to day child rearing, domesticity and morning coffee genuinely atrophied my grey matter? It wouldn’t be that surprising, hell the most profound conversations I had these days were on the lines of “What do you want for dinner?”, or if I was lucky, discussing the issues raised in my older children’s RE lessons. Hubby has long since excluded me from what is happening at work, especially since he is now also studying for his masters’ degree and won’t even share assignment titles with me. Well really, does, Simulation & Synthetic Environments sound that sexy? I rest my case.
I barely touched my tea before making my excuses and returning home. I turfed my son, who had just got up and was still in his dressing gown, off my computer – we are now in phase two of the Easter Hols, whereby my youngest have returned to school and my eldest are loping around the house for another fortnight.
“Aw ma. I was just msn-ing Laura/Becky/Hannah/Sarah/Charlotte” or whichever it was of the myriad girls he regularly communicates with but who, oddly, never actually materialise in the flesh. One wonders at times whether they are actually living girls, or whether they are figments of the virtual, electronic world teenagers exist in.
“Tough luck matey. I need to look up something”. He sloped off into the kitchen muttering unpleasantries under his breath, whilst I Googled eBay, then searched for a Nintendo DS Lite.
Immediately a choice of thousands were returned, the first one a snip at £70, especially as it came with the much desired Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training game. I wondered what the highest bid was and typed in £90, then, like some ghastly game of Countdown gone wrong, the time ticked away from me and before you could say Richard Whiteley the auction time had run out and you-know-who had won the item.
“Oh my God”, I groaned, “No, no. Why didn’t anyone else put in a higher bid?” In the past, whenever I’ve had my eye on something I really want, like a Boden coat, I’m always pipped to the post in my bidding at the last second. Now I’d won something that I could ill afford. My curiosity had certainly killed the cat or surely my marriage. Hubby would go spare.
By now my 12 year old daughter and her sleepover friend had wandered in to see what was for lunch and were astounded by my folly.
“Mu-um you idiot!”
“We can’t keep it”, I wailed as though one of them had returned home with a puppy. “Daddy will be so cross. Oh God, our overdraught”. I put my head in my hands. Hubby’s response was icy if resigned. “I fear it will take more than an electronic game to have any impact on your intellect Alice. It is just far too blonde”.


Kit said...

I'm sure your brain is totally agile and youthful if you set it some language orientated exercises - it's really not fair just to judge it on its maths abilities, and your blog is witness to some great writing!

Alice Band said...

kit - you are too kind! Anyway, I've reduced my brain age to 41!!

Yvonne said...

Alice not only can you train your brain on these machines but also open and run a bakery and cook a three course meal - so the kids tell me!

Alice Band said...

Yvonne - sky's the limit then.. Here I come!

enidd said...

bum alice, enidd could have sold you one of those for a knock down price. she and the man are selling their lives, ready to move into the granny flat...

(enidd got her brain age down to 18 though. now she leaves her room in a complete state and says "well, duh," all the time.)

Alice Band said...

My thirteen year old does a lot of the 'duh' stuff and her room? Don't even go there. I forgot about you being an American now, of course you could have got me one cheap. Should you see any coloured cling film, send it my way please..

Mary Alice said...

I think using anything with Nintendo in the name would cause me to seem as though I had been born in the Victorian age. THAT right there probably put you at a severe disadvantage. I suspect that you like me....really doesn't have time to sit around getting familiar with the features of Nintendo products.

Alice Band said...

Mary ALice - My brain is now only 37 , only wish my tits were!

Candyce said...

I recently had a similar experience with ebay. I bid on a lovely china creamer and sugar bowl. As I am usually outbid I never dreamed I would "win". NO ONE bid!! So I explained to my husband but I never thought I would win. Why would you even bid? He asked. Because I did want it. He looked more confused than ever.

The things we do. I don't even want to think about my poor brain and how it is doing. Somethings are best left alone.

I enjoy your blog so much....Candyce

Alice Band said...

Candyce - Oh poor you! A couple of years ago I bid on a trailer tent - a massive thing. Won it then realised that I had nowhere to park it and had to get in touch and say I wouldn;t be buying it after all. The people went crazy and I had a black mark next to my name -it is probably still there. Nice to meet you x