RICHARD ORD: Never forget the value of a butternut squash for good mental health

‘There’s only two things wrong with me,’ as I remind my kids on a regular basis. ‘One, I’ve got a terrible memory. And two… I’ve got a terrible memory.’

By Richard Ord
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:00 am

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Butternut squash ... forgotten something?
Butternut squash ... forgotten something?

It’s a joke that never ceases to amuse. Or, more accurately, it’s a joke that never ceases to amuse me. Drives my boys mad, which only amuses me more.

As I get older, however, it’s becoming less of a joke and more of a disturbing reality.

The majority of conversations I have are stunted by my lack of recall. My method of retrieving the names of forgotten actors/former-classmates/sons is to go through the alphabet in the hope it jogs the memory.

Great if my forgotten actor is Alan Alda, but the conversation doesn’t half drag if it’s Anthony Zerbe.

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Zerbe rarely gets an outing, I grant you. He usually only surfaces when I’m railing against the movie I Am Legend. Zerbe didn’t appear in that movie, but in an earlier movie version of the novel I Am Legend called The Omega Man, starring (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H…) Charlton Heston.

Since I’ve brought it up, my dislike of I Am Legend, the movie starring Will Smith, is that its Hollywood ending rewrites the ending of the Richard Matheson novel.

So what? I hear you cry. Hollywood does it all the time. Yes, I know, but the title of the book is the punchline of the novel. Because they change the movie ending, it renders the title of the film meaningless. Read the book, watch the movie, and come back to me on this one.

In the meanwhile, my memory failings and laborious alphabet retrieval system make me glad that Zerbe didn’t star alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger

When it comes to remembering tasks about the home my memory is equally fallible. A month ago, I thought I’d cracked it. With a butternut squash!

This odd-shaped vegetable appeared in our fruit bowl and soon became my aide-memoire (which is French for ‘a thingamajig to help you remember stuff’ as Shakespeare once said).

If I was asked to remember to put the washing out, I’d leave the butternut squash outside the fruit bowl. Two hours later… ‘What’s that butternut squash doing on the radiator? Ah yes, I must put the washing out. Brilliant.

It worked for about a fortnight. Butternut squash on the window sill? Need to get that ironing done. Butternut squash on the settee? Pay the window cleaner.

It all fell through when I spotted the butternut squash on the kitchen table. Make the bed … but the bed’s made. I left the butternut squash on the coffee table to remind me.

I’d forgotten why I’d left it on the kitchen table. Aargh.

Turns out it was on the kitchen table to remind me to eat it, which we duly did in a risotto that night. Or was it a soup?