"This is a driving test," memory specialist Bobbie Bryce says as we sat on office chairs in her sunny clinic in a corner of her house in Whanganui.

"This is to see what you will score and whether you're fit to drive or not, and I'll tell you afterwards what we're looking at."

Bobbie Bryce begins the test, smiling at me as she begins.

I'm fairly confident my memory is good. I haven't had any reason to worry.


"I'm going to slowly read you a list of 10 words," she says. "When I've finished, please repeat as many of these words as possible, it doesn't matter in what order."

This might be harder than I thought.

I feel like I'm on the spot a bit with photographer Bevan here to watch and enjoy my failures. What if I fail? I'm 29 and my memory is supposed to be nice and stretchy. Will Bobbie tell someone I shouldn't be driving?

"Apple, ink, nail, bird ... " she says. This is easy I think, and I imprint apples, ink and nail into my mind.

"... ticket, tree, chair ..." Wait, what came before ticket?

"Can you tell me as many as you can remember?" I can only get about five or six words out before I seize up and my mind goes completely blank. I wasn't listening.

Bobbie makes no comment about how I did.

Is she going to tell me I can't drive at the end of this? It's actually a little scary being put on the spot and have your memory jump through hoops.


Next she wants me to name things you can buy in a supermarket. I've got one minute.

The items start flying through my mind. Bread - surely everyone's first word. Milk - another classic. Beer, wine, nappies, toilet paper, chips. Then some random items start turning up in my head: firestarters, gum and frozen vegetables. Cigarette lighters, cheese and chocolate.

"We'll stop there," Bobbie says. "That was quite impressive."

She asks me to repeat the 10 words she read out at the beginning. This is frightening. "Nail, tree, ship and chair," I say. I think I get a couple more out.

Bobbie crunches some numbers before telling me that I got a score of ... 94 out of 130.

"If it was below 70 I'd have concerns," says Bobbie.

I leave Bobbie's office only slightly reassured of my memory and driving skills, and I let Bevan drive us back to the office.