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How Many Camels are There in Holland? Dementia, Ma and Me by Phyllida Law

How Many Camels are There in Holland? Dementia, Ma and Me

Biography / Autobiography   The Real World   eBook Favourites   
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A moving, funny, poignant and ultimately incredibly sad account of how Phyllida Law and family try to cope with her Mother’s encroaching Alzheimer’s. A constant battle to keep her at home and safe, it’s exhausting work but somehow they keep going, showing just what is involved when someone is gradually taken over by Alzheimer’s. A lovely little book, it will give comfort and support to anyone coping themselves and to the general reader an insight into just what is involved in this dreadful disease which is so much more than forgetting where you’ve put something and those many other “senior moments” we joke about.

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How Many Camels are There in Holland? Dementia, Ma and Me by Phyllida Law

The charming, funny successor to the hugely popular 'Notes to my Mother-in-Law', from the inimitable Phyllida Law. When her Uncle Arthur dies, actress Phyllida Law returns to the tiny Scottish village of Ardentinny to look after her ma, Mego. Mego's always been deliciously dotty. She once put a new packet of tights in the fridge (and the bacon in her sock drawer). But Mego's older now and becoming ever more muddled. So Phyllida devotes herself to looking after Mego, but not without the help of friends, local villagers, and her two daughters, actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson: pulling together, they maintain order in the cottage, find Delia on the telly and keep Mego's spirits up-with a G&T if all else fails. Somehow, Phyllida even manages to slip away on acting jaunts in Glasgow and Italy. Running through Phyllida's account of Mego's final months are the anecdotes, memories and legends that form the fabric of every family. Phyllida's account captures the warmth and tenderness of two generations of daughters brought together to care for their much-loved mother and grandmother.


Praise for 'How Many Camels Are There in Holland?':

'Handling delicate material with a clear head and a loving heart, Law manages to turn the stuff of tragedies into the most delicate of comedies ... Law's technique ought to be studied on writing courses

'I doubted that I could ever read anything that would make me smile gently at the tragic reality of caring for a beloved family member who slips away before your eyes becoming a stranger. Yet Phyllida Law has provided such a book ...'

'Phyllida Law has a delightfully natural style, a gift for anecdote and the knack of seeing the funny side of pretty much everything. Someone so accomplished could write a book about their weekly trip to the supermarket and make it highly amusing ... funny, brave and heartening.'

'So much merriment courses through Phyllida Law's account of looking after her mother ... Many of their exchanges belong in an Alan Bennett play'
Daily Telegraph

'The first thing that strikes you about Phyllida Law's account of her mother's descent into dementia is how merry and life-affirming it is. The fast pace gives it the immediacy of a diary and from the first page you are thrust into the middle of the tumbling, loving Thompson family...Not once does Phyllida moan, tears are only occasionally mentioned and always cried in private... It is the ultimate in girl power... the perfect (gin &) tonic'

'Her and Mego's exchanges often have the ring of a daffy sitcom. At one point she shouts after her glaucoma-afflicted mother You haven't got your long-distance glasses on, as the latter totters out the door for a stroll. Don't worry dear, Mego shouts back. I'm not going any distance'

About the Author

Phyllida Law has appeared in numerous plays, television series and films, including Peter's Friends, Much Ado about Nothing, Foyle's War and Kingdom. She was married to Eric Thompson, the writer and narrator of the English version of The Magic Roundabout, until his death in 1982. She has two daughters, Emma and Sophie. ‘Notes to my Mother-in-Law’ was her first book.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th February 2013


Phyllida Law

More books by Phyllida Law
Author 'Like for Like'


Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


208 pages


Biography / Autobiography
The Real World
eBook Favourites

Intergenerational relationships
Coping with illness & specific conditions
Diaries, letters & journals



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