Last week I spent some time with a 75-year old woman. We had only met that morning and had the whole day together so we started in the way that all new acquaintances start, with general pleasantries and the odd bit of social mapping ("So how do you know...?", "Oh I see!").
We had a quiet but productive morning, passing the occasional comment about the tennis (our appreciation of Roger Federer's fine legs, for example) and telling the odd joke about Descartes and politicians.
It was all going fine until we were about to break for lunch; at that point it all went hideously wrong.
I looked across the table at her and said, "Would you mind passing me that ... um ... thingummy. The little ... with the ... oh bum, you know, with the [insert hand gesture] ... Oh man, what's it called? The the the ... you know, to hold the ... with the ... MY GOD! To hold the freakin' paper together?"
She stared at me (as though I'd been babbling incoherently), and said, droll-as, "You mean ... paperclip?" Then she laughed so hard she snorted and had to put her foot up on a chair.
After she'd finished laughing her arse off, said "oh dear" a few times and coughed once or twice (for effect), she said, "I'm glad to know you have senior moments too," then she leaned forward confidentially and whispered, "You might want to see someone about that, before it's too late," and roared with laughter again.
So after this disastrous brain malfunction I'm pretty sure I'm experiencing the early stages of early onset senility.
But it's ok, I'm onto it: I've diagnosed myself via a range of trust-worthy forum-based medical websites, I've bought a jumbo-sized container of fish oil capsules, and I've made sure my Power of Attorney includes the words "reduced capacity" (it does). So all I have to do now is get started on this pile of Sudoku, crosswords and mind-bending challenging logic puzzles (as any good current affairs show would recommend).
Think you might be going senile too? Come stave it off with me; here, sit. We can share my puzzle book. Let's do that one, the one about the shopping. I'll read it out (have you got a pencil?): "Susan, Stephen and Stephanie helped their mother to carry the shopping home. Each child had seven pieces of fruit in his or her bag..."
I'm feeling better already.