Emerging from rubble consequential of COVID’s wrecking ball, when sporting historians recollect this annus horrobilis, my hometown of Leeds can at least muster a degree of cheer and pride.

Yesterday, the city’s premier rugby league side, the Rhinos, lifted the RL Challenge Cup at Wembley. An accomplishment augmenting Leeds United’s earlier achievement of prevailing in English Football League’s (EFL) Championship season (2019/20), ensuring Loiners can take some comfort from existential starkness.

Quite clearly those deeds bear little importance in relation to the hundreds of thousands of lives and jobs lost during the pandemic. Nevertheless, as a fan of both sides, I’ll embrace any crumb of comfort in times when finding a triffid knocking on my front door wouldn’t be a surprise.

I watched yesterday’s rugby league final with my mum, who loves rugby of both codes, football and cricket. Her punditry before, during and after watching a game becoming ever more baffling as her ageing process sojourn enters its 81st year.

Now in her 80’s, the Leeds born and bred lass appears less lucid of late. Yesterday witnessing her becoming so confused she expressed melancholy at Salford (our rivals) missing a conversion. A kick which ultimately would’ve seen her hometown side lose the prestigious tie.

It’s sad to see how much she’s aged, both mentally and physically, in the three years since my old man passed. Ever the one to seek the best in individuals and situation, as she flounders cognitively her rose tinted glasses appear to be taking on an ever more chromatic hue.

Being positive is a great trait, however when all you proffer is everything and everyone are “Nice”, for me it morphs from a genuine comment into an habitual tic.

It breaks my heart, day-in-day out, watching this once bright, funny and sharp lady deteriorate; now appearing a shadow of her former self. Maggie’s banter, confidence and awareness ebbing away; the very jocular and capable lady of yore diminishing into an acquiescent shell.

For someone like me, who if such a test existed, would be found as negative for being positive, my mum’s views on the wonder of everyone and anything has become all encompassing.

It’s lovely when you cook someone’s meals and they are grateful and comment how much they’ve enjoyed it. But I’m sorry, when someone attempts to ignite a conversation by proffering how wonderful the baked beans side are I’m less inclined to engage….. It’s not cordon bleu cuisine, it’s a 35p tin of Tesco beans for flip sake, mum!!

I love indulging in whimsical conversations, like mum and me’ve had for over 50 years. However, if someone makes small talk as inane as that I’m forced to withdraw my participation. Like sleeping in the refrigerator, telling me how great culinary basics like beans, frozen peas and stale bread are leaves me cold.

Yours truly fixed the toilet seat the other day, to be told on completing the task “That’s a nice toilet seat!”……. It was the same bloody toilet seat! All I’d done was replace the broken hinges!….. Come on, mum! You’re better than that!

I fully understand this chest offloading paints me in a far worse light than anybody else. Within this prose, I’m guilty of accusations of intolerance, curmudgeonliness and being a right chuffing misery.

In my defence, though, this diatribe is penned more from a position of my concern for Maggie’s health, along with a sadness to see the decline of this lady who not long ago was the life and soul of casa Strachan.

My main fear, despite her protestations to the contrary, the confusion’s a consequence of something cognitively degenerative, such as the onset of alzheimer’s.

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