Archive for October, 2013

‘Exploring dementia through film’ presented by Alzheimer’s Research UK

October 20, 2013

‘Exploring dementia through film’ presented by Alzheimer’s Research UK was well worth attending. The 8 films provided insight into different aspects of the condition. For me the highlights were ‘Going Home’, ‘This may just drive us crazy’ and ‘Look up’.

‘Going Home’ by Stuart Ramsey and Ben Thompson (Vantage Films 2012) told the story of Stanley, a dementia sufferer who is unaware of this fact and packs his briefcase for an ordinary day at work but is confused when everything is different. The buildings and the occupants had all changed, for in reality, he had escaped from his care home and had acted out the ritual he had observed for years as a young breadwinner for his family. Watching the film, I really felt for Stanley and could easily sympathise with his plight. During the discussion after the films, getting rid of the stigma that surrounds this disease was one of the important points raised and this film certainly helped bring this into focus.

‘This may just drive us crazy’ by Lee Pearse (2013) showed us two brothers talking about their mother’s situation as a dementia sufferer and how they felt about it. Set at the seaside, it was easy to sympathise with these brothers, contemplating their plight and how their mother had changed so drastically.

‘Look up’ by Liz Banks (2012) was an inspired film that expressed peaceful acceptance of the inevitable loss of someone close and that there is comfort in the constancy of the sky and nature’s beauty.

‘Jamie and Vicky’s story’ (Alzheimer’s Research 2013) was a lovely, natural introduction to a charming couple who were going through the changes that occur as the husband’s mental capacity gradually declined.

In ‘Keeping Mum’, James Murray-White ( showed us his relationship with his mother who is portrayed as a delightful, but confused individual. It was wonderful to note that his mother was in the audience this night, although she was probably not aware of the film that was about her. The music to this film was certainly the best of the evening.

The humour in ‘Kindred’ by Ross Neill/Stephen J. Dunn (2013) was heart-warming and the personality of Lilly Mitchell came alive, in spite of her affliction with the disease.

‘Lost’ by Natalie Morrell (2013) captured Nan has dementia and goes through activities that are repetitive and lack meaning.  

‘The diseased other’ by Peter Gordon Omphalos Films (2013) brought home the prevalence of the disease and the need to remove the stigma that goes with dementia.

The panel discussion afterwards helped to provide more information and support. The evening was expertly chaired by Tim Parry, Head of Communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK and included Lee Pearse , James Murray-White, Dr Tim Rittman (clinical research fellow in Neurology at the University of Cambridge) and Dr Michael Hornberger (translational neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge).

This was a very worthy event. For more information contact:

Fen Speak: the first open mic session

October 17, 2013

This was the very first open mic session for Fen Speak at the Babylon Gallery in Ely. Organizers Elaine Ewert and Leanne Moden were delighted when the room filled to capacity. Over twenty readers entertained the crowd with poetry, prose and song. Performers included Fay, Jake, Miriam, Alan, Lindam, Liam, Tim, David, Elaine, Robin,  Lowan, Caoimhin, Jordan, Siavashm, George, Tony, Trevor, Ian, Zoe, Clive, Dominic and me.

It was heartening to feel that the crowd was with you – even though you felt nervous and that your poem was not quite right yet, nobody minded. We all had one purpose and that was to appreciate the most moving moments within the best of the writing and there were many items that fitted the bill. Writing is no easy game and one is always learning. There was some great talent amongst the performers.  Highlights for me were Tony’s traditional Irish song, Dominic’s poems of protest (I think it was the subjects, especially, that appealed to me) and Fay’s amazing poem that mixed French and English seamlessly – not that I fully understood what the French meant.

Nobody oversold their books and publications. Even I felt it would have been inappropriate to brandish the copy of my book I had filling my bag. For once, I kept mum and only read the poem ‘I grieve for my love’ that I had been inspired to write for the event that morning – a poem trying to express my feelings about my husband’s dementia. You may by now have realized that I have already been in the press a bit this year with the book ‘John, Dementia and Me’ available at Burrows Bookshop Ely or from . There, I couldn’t resist it, could I?

Rosemary Westwell