‘Dad has Alzheimer’s. He didn’t remember Arsenal, or my brother’s birth – but he remembered Manze’s pie and mash’
- Credit: Archant
If anything symbolises how much of an Islington institution soon-to-close pie and mash shop Manze’s is, it’s the story of Dennis Elmore’s visit.
Dennis, 79, has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and his memory is not what it was. Last summer his son Derek decided to take him on a tour of Highbury, his old stomping ground, to see if it would trigger memories from his younger days.
Derek had come up with the idea after seeing a TV show about a care home that did the same thing with three patients.
“I thought: ‘I’ve got to do that for dad,’” he said. “He grew up in Aberdeen Road, and my mum grew up 100 yards away in Aberdeen Park.”
After moving to Lough Road, the family left London for Stevenage New Town in 1965, and Dennis now lives in Northamptonshire.
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“The stuff he remembers is really odd,” continued Derek. “In 1959 he was a bus conductor on the number 19 from Highbury Barn to Chelsea and he still tells you his badge number.
“Every time I go to see him he will ask what football team I support every 15 minutes. He gave me my love of Arsenal and I tell him: ‘It’s your fault!’
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“He’ll ask if we have got a new stadium yet. He doesn’t recognise it’s been over 10 years since we moved.
“He hadn’t been back to Highbury for many years. The first thing we did was go to Liverpool Road hospital, where my brother was born. It’s now a housing estate, but he didn’t remember it at all.
“I told the driver: ‘Right, take us to Highbury Fields’. As we drove up Upper Street the 19s were coming past and he was loving it. He was telling everyone he used to work on them.
“He used to take me and my brother to Highbury Fields to play when we visited my nan and grandad, but he didn’t really remember.
“So we took him to Highbury. We’d go and see Charlie George playing there in the reserves when he was coming back from injury. I said ‘dad, you used to take us here’, but again he didn’t really remember.”
He’d been to The Emirates soon after it opened in 2006, but that drew a blank too. The trip hadn’t been able to trigger Dennis’s memories as Derek had hoped. But he had one last card to play – a visit to Chapel Market.
“He knows he loves pie and mash,” he said. “Family legend has it that I was weaned on it, I used to be fed mashed potato on a spoon with liquor on it.
“Manze’s is the place he remembers from his younger days, so I told him we were going to get pie and mash and he was saying ‘Manze’s is the place to go’.
“I took a picture of him outside and he was quite keen, but not as keen as he was inside. He had the biggest smile on his face in ages. That was the thing he remembered. It was the highlight of his trip.
“I hope it can stay open. I work in the City and I found out about the closure when I was trying to book it for next week with some Essex boys from work.”
If you’d like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Society, click here.