I visit Tony once a week as part of a befriending service for people with dementia. Tony is 70 and has lived in a care home for several years since suffering a major stroke.

He’s in the early stages of dementia but keeps it at bay with an encyclopaedic memory of bad jokes and on-going disputes with his fellow residents who, he declares, are either mad or have given up on life.

I say he must see a lot of people come and go.

“ Yes. And all of them feet first under a blanket,” he replies with a cackle.

The communal TV room is lined with high wing backed chairs whose occupants sit listless and glassy eyed staring at place I can’t see. Loneliness and depression seem to erode their minds as much as dementia

It can’t be much fun seeing people around you in advanced stages of dementia knowing that is what you will be like.

I ask Tony if he has been outside since I saw him the previous week. He says no. We slip out of the security doors and walk round the adjacent green.

It’s just rough triangle of grass hemmed in on three sides by rush hour traffic and he tells me about his father who served on the North West Frontier in 1920s, his love of carpentry and how he first meet his wife.

“It was nice to be free for a while,” he says as we head back to the care home.

“Do you want to make a run for it?”

“Nah. Maybe next week.”

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