Memory is the most illusive and frustrating thing in the world. It is an all-five senses experience and so difficult to recapture. There are triggers, of course, some say smell, that French guy (yeah, I know – here comes Mr. Stroke Ed again, stealing my library) and his cakes – madeleines (funny how I can remember those!)
At the moment, my memory is like a colander – a big metal colander that looks solid, like the one I used to shove on my head as a child for a helmet and charge around waving my plastic Woolworth’s sword. But full of holes and unable to keep anything in for long. So full of holes that grains of rice slip through it and only long stuff like spaghetti or big things like peas will stay in. Maybe that is what I have – memories that are rice grains or spaghetti.
I have had to adopt a system where I use one of my impulse purchase charity shop pretties (a very sparkly little shoulder bag with a long cord that can be worn as a bandolier but it makes you look like a totally camp Mexican bandit). In it I keep a small notebook and pen because part of my rehab is obvious to me (sorry, rewind… I am not coming off drink or drugs, but réhabilitation or réeducation is what we say in French for people recovering from trauma… that’s a bit of music too isn’t it? Trauma-ray? No matter… shut up Mr. Stroke Ed & let me finish.)
Whenever I think of something I should do, from very small thing like “get washing out of machine” to big stuff like “remember to do Lily’s ear” I must write it down or forget it. That makes the bag much more useful than the original purpose – carrying around ciggies and lighter when I don’t have pocketses.
I got a really big memory hit on Sunday. All my life I have been mixing with different religions which is why I’m so at home with all or none of them. Where I grew up in Cornwall there was just as strong a tradition of male voice choirs as in … Dragon, Cymri, Cariad.. bugger! Well – the choir would come in the pub after practice & then we had a sing song so it was all very pagan/Christian with us gathered with pints singing holy songs but as a social activity.
Cornwall has a big Methodist tradition so I grew up knowing the particular “all purpose hymn tune” which we used for While Shepherds washed their sock, and any other hymn that would fit and when I heard it on the radio I had one of those total-memory moments. I was back in my village, in the King’s Arms on a winter night, with Buryan choir and their choirmaster, My Auntie Diz belting it out and I could see, hear, smell, feel, taste all of it, which was like a sign – it will all come back, patience, have a rest, work with Mr. Stroke Ed and don’t fight him. He is sitting on my shoulder watching me write this and nodding. He has let me get on with it for half an hour without interruption.. bless ‘im. We’ll get to an agreement.
Here is the tune – by a Cornish choir of course. Bless to all.