A vegetable beginning with ‘A’


Asparagus, avocado, artichoke… and that one with the fabulous purple skin. You know, it’s the  shape of teardrop, glossy and  smooth, and needs to be cooked properly.

‘Aubergine’ keeps eluding me. I can picture one easily – I’ve got some growing in the greenhouse – but when I come to say the word, it isn’t there. There’s just a little space in my thinking, which causes a pause in my speech.

Everyone forgets words, some people more than others and it changes with age. I knew my place on that scale and it has shifted. It isn’t a problem with recognition or ‘knowing’ – it’s a problem with how quickly my brain can transport words to the areas that control speech, due to damage caused by MS.

‘Sorry mate, I’ll try a back route,’  says the brain as we hit another axonal traffic jam, where a backlog of nerve impulses are waiting, beeping their horns and winding down the window to see what’s causing the delay. Some give  up and do a U-turn – ‘Sorry mate, this is going nowhere, you’ll have to drop that cup of coffee I’m afraid. Can’t get the signal these days…’ Others persevere but turn up late, ‘Sorry mate, it was aubergine you were after but I think the conversation’s moved on to deadheading marigolds. Want to throw it in as a random afterthought? That’ll be £5’

In addition to these fleeting losses,  the wrong words slip in too.  I now see how people get ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ mixed up, because I’ve started doing it, for the first time since I was about eight. And with the correct route snarled up, my brain will take the quickest route it can find , missing out the odd verb or conjunction on the way.

It used to be ‘easy’ for me to get words right. It’s less easy now, and that’s a disappointment that I need to overcome.

It is fascinating how the brain works. To labour the taxi analogy, it will drop me off at the corner because there’s a lorry parked in the way – ‘Have this word, it’ll do. Sounds about the same, no one will notice the difference. That’ll be £5 please.’

And there are the malapropisms of course. I’ve always found these funny, so it’s not so bad to be generating more of them myself. Sometimes I’ll confidently and unwittingly replace the correct word with one of roughly the same length and cadence – ‘I’ll check the colander and see what what we’re doing’ or ‘That new Hobbit farm is a bit long’.

My best recent effort? When tired at the end of the week,  I tried to join a conversation about the cost of ‘noise counselling headlines…’


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