Copyright Accent Press
My book,The House That Built Me is mentioned by Lorraine Kelly in this month’s Good Housekeeping mag (May issue page 18) and Woman’s Weekly are running a feature on it in May. It was inspired by an encounter with a ghost hunter.
My father had recently passed away from Alzheimer’s, when a knock came at my door and there stood a stranger. He smiled at me as though he was waiting for me to recognise him. ‘I’ve come back!’ he announced. I eyed him suspiciously. ‘I’ve been living in New Zealand. This was my childhood home. I lived here from 1944-1964,’ he sighed sadly.
‘There was a beautiful tree here,’ he said pointing to where indeed, over thirty years ago, there had once stood a cherry blossom tree. He went on to describe how the house used to look and I knew indeed it had once been his residence.
I have always been fiercely protective of my home, having being born and raised there and now I am bringing up my own son in the same rooms where I grew up
We spoke for over half an hour. He told me of how his mother had recently died just two weeks short of her hundredth birthday. I shared with him how both my parents battled with Alzheimer’s. He described how he used to catch the tram at the top of the street to school. I revealed the paw prints in the cement on the driveway belonged to my dog who died when I was eleven. We both got caught up in memoires of yesteryear.
Eventually we parted
For days afterwards, I couldn’t get his melancholy pilgrimage out of my mind. Then the idea came to me of putting a charity book together. Perhaps I could collect childhood memoires from celebrities to help those who have lost their memories through Alzheimer’s.
I received some wonderful stories from Hollywood actress Carey Mulligan, Lorraine Kelly and lots of other well-known people. I also wrote about my own experience of being a carer twice over to two parents who took Alzheimer’s one after the other.
The celebrity memory contributions give a fascinating glimpse into the writer’s past. Bill Oddie wrote emotionally about his mother’s mental health problems and Nicolas Parsons recalls going for wonderful rides in a pony and cart with his nanny.
Copyright Accent Press
I also compiled a book called, ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me,’ in 2011. This came about when my father was having music therapy for his dementia. Dad hadn’t been able to talk for years but the nurse noticed he began to cry each time he heard the song Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller, this had been my parent’s love song.
Glenn Miller & His Orchestra - Moonlight Serenade
It was clear the music was evoking memories of my mother for dad and it gave me the idea to put together a book of musical memories to help those with Alzheimer’s. Many A-list celebrities took part including Dame Judi Dench, Kim Cattrall, David Cameron, Paul O’Grady, Tom Conti and many more. The stars donated memoires evoked by particular songs.
All royalties of both of my books go to the Alzheimer’s Society
The House That Built Me will be published by Accent Press on 19th May. It can be pre ordered from Amazon.
EDITOR: They Can't Take That Away From Me is a truly wonderful book. You can buy it from Amazon. My late mother enjoyed reading about the favourite songs people had chosen. I am really looking forward to reading The House That Built Me. Jackie has very kindly offered to donate a copy of They Can't Take That Away From Me for a raffle prize. Details will appear on the website soon. Many thanks Jackie.