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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Oh my days. Hope yours were happy too.




2013.

Was it good for you?

Thanks, if you played any part in the pictures above, or just tweeted me, met me for coffee, encouraged me to keep running, chatted to me or turned my Metro map up the right way in Paris or Rome. Thanks if you shared a laugh over lunch, helped while away those endless hours waiting for 'action'... on set... cheered me up when I worried about Dad, or just listened. Always happy to be a listening ear for you too. So... ready?   Here's to the next one  xx

Top row, left to right: Juliet on the beach at Aberdovey, freezing February at Harlech, my 'hometown' from the Shard, yeh, right, beautiful woodland near Shrewsbury on my morning mile, Rome in July.

Second row, left to right: Alice, as 'Meat' in We Will Rock You, view from my Rome apartment, Emanuale at his veg stall in Campo di Fiori market, the Severn on my morning run, home, beautiful little studio in Vieux Nice from outside.

Third row, left to right: inside my Nice hideaway in November, Nice - the view from the Castle, 'extra' friends on set, Trafalgar Square this Christmas, autumn path out running, Alice(left) and Juliet in The Witches of Eastwick.  

Fourth row, left to right: Juliet at Stokesay Castle, Marbella palm trees in April, junkshop in Normandy, Juliet on the Brooklyn Bridge, Dad in his fine hat, Alice.

Fifth row, left to right: Harlech beach,Scott rolls up (eventually...!) to mini Tweet up at the Steam Rally, boots, made for walking, etc, lol, Big Cuz Phil on his Olympic London cycle thang, Normandy cottage (Twitter mates' rates...!), Happy Day at the Big Busk, Shrewsbury.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

We'll have to muddle through somehow...


How many Christmas days are you having this year?

We had a sneaky one on Saturday morning before Juliet flew out to America.

And then another at Dad's house on Sunday before I headed home.

He's 85 now, with advanced dementia, and spends all his time in bed. I tried to stir up some festive family memories. 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas' was always his favourite song - one that would make this big, brave man's eyes glisten, year after year. It's always been special to our family.

I tried a singing few lines, wobbling a bit when I had to negotiate 'next year... all our troubles will be out of sight...'

Nothing.

So I remembered the laughs we'd had as children, singing 'We wish you a merry Christmas' with him. We'd always end up giggling over the mention of 'figgy pudding...' and then defiantly shouting out the 'won't go until we've got some' verse.

Furrowed brow.

OK... I'd try a present. It's hard to know what to buy the man who had everything, but has forgotten most of it.

So I'd  got a 'John McIntyre's Memory Book' made up. There are press cuttings of various proud and heroic career moments. A picture from the fifties of him marrying mum. Beach shots from sunny holidays on Hayling Island. And more recent views of his pretty garden, his partner Phyllis, Dad's new hat, my sister and me, and our three children. All with simple, printed captions.

He flicked through, not really registering. I'd steeled myself for that, vowing to bite my lip if he clearly didn't recognise my mugshot, even though I'd be standing right beside him. I was, and he didn't.

And then he turned to the very oldest picture of them all. A now sepia shot of him as a bonny blond toddler in his mother's arms.

'That's my mum,' he said. 'My mummy'.

Seven words, shining like a beacon through the now dense fog of his dementia.

One picture, from more than eighty years ago,stirring instant recognition in a man who struggles to name people he's seen five minutes before.

I gulped a bit, then smiled. As 'Memory Books' go - this one had done its job. As for the rest of it?

Yes, Dad. We'll 'have to muddle through, somehow...' And we will.

Happy Christmas xx


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dear David: A tale of two parents.




Dear David Cameron and all at the G8 dementia summit. Got five minutes to hear about my mum and dad?

First: Jeannie.

She was 48 when she developed breast cancer. It was found just weeks before she was due to get married (to a man whose wife, sadly, had died of breast cancer). They went ahead with the wedding. A Londoner, Jeannie had worked in the city since her teens. She met Bertie at one of the big banks. She travelled to some fantastic places on business with him - on Concorde once. And when she needed it, the care Jeannie received at London teaching hospitals was among the best available anywhere in the world.

Although Jeannie had some good, 'clear' years, the cancer was to return in a very aggressive form, and she died seven years after diagnosis. She never knew her grandchildren: all of them lovely and sources of great pride.

The disease had claimed the life of one of her five sisters, and was to prove fatal, later, for another. A third sister has beaten breast cancer twice, and has survived into her eighties. So, it's 'in the family' and has knocked at my door too. Because of that, I have regular screening, was accepted on to a pioneering MRI research programme and another looking into DCIS. I feel 'watched over'. In a good way.

Now: John.

Down the mines near Musselburgh at 14, he 'escaped' to London to join the Met police. He was on the beat in London, then selected for royalty protection duties, often solely responsible for the security of key royals. He stayed in palaces around the world, worked the longest days, was an excellent marksman, fit and strong; protecting people. And looking after his family.

He's been battling Alzheimer's for over five years, and so now, we're doing our best to look after him. These days, he's bedridden, but at home. He needs help with every aspect of daily living. His face lights up when he sees me, but sometimes he forgets my name. He got to know the grandchildren well, but now struggles to remember their names or what they're up to.

I never expected to be standing over my big, brave dad with a toddler cup and a feeding spoon, but that's the way it is. His partner and carer, Phyllis, does an amazing job, backed up by visits from a local carer, paid for by Dad. She needs a break. Lots of breaks. Local carers' groups are helping, but it all takes planning, and Dad's not always receptive to newcomers who might 'sit' with him. He's had some bad days lately. Sleepy weeks. Not sure what the future holds, really. It scares me.


I was shocked, Mr Cameron, to see a report by Fergus Walsh on BBC news last night. It contained a statistic from the Alzheimer's Society, on how research into cancer receives eight times as much funding as research into dementia. Eight times! Is one condition more 'cruel' than the other? More deserving of investment into its prevention? I don't think so. From where I'm sitting, they both hurt like hell.

I know you've said you're working to address this, planning to double the amount of funding over the next decade or so, to £132 million, and increasing support for carers, like Phyllis.

But I'd like to hear that you're not 'just' doubling dementia funding... but quadrupling it, and then some. It seems that because dementia was for so long considered to be a sad and inevitable fact of life for some elderly people, it's slipped down the priorities list, and it shouldn't have done. You have the predictions and the projections at your fingertips now.

Cancer and dementia are equally cruel conditions in their way; for patients, and for families like mine. Both are dreaded and feared. I hope you use this G8 summit to make dementia research and care as much of a priority as that surrounding cancer, and as an opportunity to think about devoting more funds to those with other life threatening and life limiting conditions. Please keep support for carers uppermost in your mind. With the dementia timebomb ticking, you're going to need them more than ever. And they will be looking to you, to get the funding, the support, and the respite they desperately need.