Michael Rosen says since Covid battle he can't recall actors' names

Author Michael Rosen, 74, says since his battle with Covid he suffers from ‘Hollywood Forgetting Syndrome’ and can’t remember the names of famous actors

  • Former children’s laureate Rosen spent 47 days in intensive care fighting Covid
  • Rosen, 74, says he can remember the movies’ names but not their leading actors
  • The author says coronavirus left him with sight, hearing and memory problems 

Children’s author Michael Rosen, 74, says his battle with Covid has left him with sight, hearing and memory problems including the inability to remember famous Hollywood actor’s names

Author Michael Rosen has revealed that almost dying from Covid has left him suffering from ‘Hollywood Forgetting Syndrome’.

The former children’s laureate – who spent 47 days in intensive care fighting coronavirus – says he now can’t remember the names of famous actors.

The 74-year-old can name the movies stars like Tom Cruise, George Clooney and Meryl Streep have appeared in.

But he has to use a computer to remind him what their names are.

The ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’ writer suffered a series of ‘microbleeds’ on the brain after being struck down by the disease in March.

The award-winning poet and author, 74, spent almost seven weeks in an induced coma on a ventilator after falling ill with the virus.

Earlier this year, he told the Today programme: ‘I thought I was coping with a flu… or that it was the coronavirus and I was going to be one of those people who experience it as a kind of flu.’

But things started ‘moving very, very quickly’ when a neighbour, who is a GP, did an ‘oxygen saturation test… and suddenly it was, ‘You’ve got to go to A&E now’.

‘They handed me a piece of paper and said you’ve got a 50/50 chance. I said “Well are you telling me that’s better than the chance I’ve got now?”

‘And I said “Are you telling me I might not wake up?” and they said ‘Yes’, then I signed something.’

Despite recovering, the consequences of Covid have left him with problems with his eyesight, hearing and his memory.

He has described himself as ‘feeble’ since leaving hospital and said he had to learn to walk with a stick.

Michael Rosen’s wife, Emma-Louise Williams, shared a picture of the author on Twitter as he returned home for the first time following his battle with the illness and began recovering

‘I think I’ve got various bits blocked off,’ he told the How Do You Cope? podcast. ‘I sometimes sit here of an evening trying to remember actors names.

‘Now I know (for) anyone over the age of 70 this does begin to happen anyway, but I was quite good before Covid.’

Rosen says that while he remembers the names of films or adverts that Hollywood stars Cruise, Streep and Clooney have appeared in – including Mission: Impossible, River Wild or the Nespresso commercials – their names escape him.

‘I have some real weird blanks,’ he said. ‘I spent one evening determined not to go to the computer in order to try and remember Tom Cruise.

‘I spent a whole evening going ‘Mission: Impossible, Magnolia’.

‘What about that wonderful movie where he was a lawyer? No, the other one where he’s with the mafia, he cracks the mafia (The Firm), what’s his name?’ And I couldn’t get it.

‘I had exactly the same with George Clooney: ‘Espresso?’ And then again Meryl Streep. I went through it: ‘Sophie’s Choice? The one where she’s canoeing on the rapids with Sam O’Neill’, and I couldn’t get it.

‘And I was determined to try and get them without going to the computer. So I think I’ve got Hollywood Forgetting Syndrome.


Former Children’s Laureate Rosen says he can remember films of Hollywood heavyweights Tom Cruise (left) and Meryl Streep (right), but their names are difficult for him to recall

‘So what I can do is I can remember the scenes from the films, I can remember the faces but I can’t remember the actors’ names. I have got patches of forgetfulness of all kinds.’

The children’s author, whose books include We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Chocolate Cake, left hospital in June and said being on a ‘knife edge’ had changed him as a person.

‘I was so near to going…. It’s a reminder of how life is very impermanent,’ he said.

‘I get these, not exactly nightmares, but recurring images… and I don’t really want them there but I can’t get rid of them.’

‘I didn’t know about the seven weeks being in this induced coma until I came home and (his wife) Emma told me about it… I got quite upset about it…. That’s full of emotion for me, that people were just hanging in there.’

Rosen will not be writing about the experience just yet, saying: ‘I usually allow these more traumatic things to sit about for a bit.’

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