Engaging people living with dementia and cognitive impairment through the arts

What I’ve Missed Most — Annette

The Covid-19 crisis has forced many people to stay indoors more than they normally would have. This is particularly true for the elderly community. We asked Annette, a poet and writer Annette what she’s missed most Arrow right

Interviewed by Melissa Fry

A podiatrist service

It’s the thing I miss most actually. They rang me up and said my next appointment was cancelled. I asked them why and they suggested I file my nails my myself. I explained, it’s very hard for me to make repetitive movements, it’s generally one of the things I find hardest. They then said I should ask a family member, but I don’t have any family members living nearby. I have one in New Zealand. I’m sure that would make a marvellous cartoon, somebody reaching over the continents with a pair of clippers!

A fruit market with shops in the background
Annette’s hairdressers, Walkincuts, on Chapel Market, Islington

Going to the hair dressers

I don’t have much hair, but I’m looking forward to my £9 haircut.

Art exhibitions

Luckily I managed to go to an exhibition at the Tate Britain just before the coronavirus took over. Apart from the works that made Andy Warhol famous, I don’t really like much of his stuff, so I’m not too bothered about his exhibition. I used love going to the Barbican. Last time I was there I saw some amazing photographic work by Dorothea Lange of the Great Depression. There was a photograph of a woman with a torn skirt and two children poking through the holes. The description said “she is a tree of life to them”. Isn’t that marvellous. It’s stayed with me that image.

Woman at an art exhibition
Dorothea Lange’s Politics Of Seeing at Barbican Art Gallery.
Source: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
“I used love going to the Barbican. Last time I was there I saw some amazing photographic work by Dorothea Lange of the Great Depression”

Not being able to just go to where you like

We took it for granted didn’t we, I mean I have taken it for granted for years. I’ve had time to go to lots of stuff but I haven't always felt like it.

The theatre

I actually used to volunteer at the Almeida Theater in Islington, and then I developed fibromyalgia and had to give up working. I didn’t know it was called fibromyalgia and I wasn’t diagnosed until this century. For years I was told I was lazy and lacked motivation. Even people I knew and regarded as friends said “wouldn't you feel better if you got a little part-time job”. I tried to continue at the Almeida for as long as I could, but I started to make mistakes with money and I thought I can’t do this anymore. Concentration is the thing that’s most affected. I haven’t worked since the 1980s, but I’ve worked for most of my life. I was pushed out to work when I was 15, as most working-class people were.

Two elderly women with presents
The Almeida Theatre on Almeida Street, Islington