Souvenir of a visit that is beyond recall
Yesterday’s gone. But it lingers on, the details not forgotten unless it was one of those total wipe-out booze-laden occasions. Same for last week, the month that has passed and, hopefully, the highlights at least, of the year before this one.
All are within recall in varying degrees of detail unless one sadly suffers, like far too many appear to do, from some debilitating condition.
Going further back down the tracks of life, however, requires more mental effort. Additional reminders and prompts are needed, like a fading actor who has lost the facility for memorising the lines.
Usually, given the right clues and feeds, something is eventually stirred. A name, a place, a snippet of music, even a catchphrase can niggle away until the past is brought back to the here and now.
The story thus raised from the dead may have been embroidered over the years; there may be distortions to what was said and perhaps subtle shifts made in the precise time and place. The occasion can be relived, hopefully with pleasure, although there is no guarding against unwanted sadness or regret.
But what happens when no amount of nudges, hints, reminders and even solid facts fail to winkle out anything other than a total blank?
Is this what is meant by losing one’s mind? Is this an early warning sign of something more serious?
This is the dilemma – one among many – that this sudden discovery of a hoard of old postcards has created.
Found among them is a handful sent to me by family members at two addresses where I was apparently residing in the city where I worked, but which was some miles from the town where I normally lived with my parents and younger sister.
No matter how hard I try, I have no recollection of ever living at either address or, indeed, in that city even though it does happen to be where I have lived for the past eight years.
Today I took a walk. I power-walked up the hilly streets where it seems I once lived. Streets up which I have frequently run many times in recent years. And, as on those occasions, not a tweak of memory occurred.
Similarly, in recent years I have visited streets in towns throughout England where I previously lived way back when. On these excursions, memories were always revived of having trod those same routes in the distant past. Forgotten people and events were often vividly resurrected.
But not this time. These streets are familiar from the present but have no connections to my past. There is a blank … and this is somewhat disturbing. Best to move on.
So I turned to another of my postcards from long ago; four scenes of Jersey in the Channel Islands, a place I have frequently toyed with visiting.
But it seems I’ve already been; and, no matter how hard I try, it is an experience I cannot recall.
This card, from 1962, informs my family I am “having three days here for a conference.” Really! Discussing what?
Apparently I endured “a bumpy flight and two hours late.”
Once there, I decided “this place is just like Bognor but the drinks are cheaper”. However, there was a downside as there were “horrible flat-capped English holidaymakers everywhere.”
So, that’s Jersey for you as it once appeared to one who still believes he has never been there.
I wonder how many more blank pages of my mind I am to discover.