Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I’m fascinated and frustrated by what I remember and don’t remember. Something enables me to recall in great detail certain events from the past. And something disenables me to remember other things. I can’t find a consistent key to this phenomenon.

For quite a while now I’ve been writing a memoir. There’s a whole story about why I’m doing this (which I won’t go into at the moment) but suffice to say I’m putting down the story as it happened. So far I’m up to the 1970’s, when I turned 40.

Old notes and papers help me remember. The Internet is useful for digging out information I’ve forgotten. But most of the time I rely on my memory. I’ve just recounted some dramatic events that involved my work. For this my recall was quite good. Now, as I think about the next phase covering about two years I find I can hardly remember anything.

The easy explanation is that I remember the dramatic stuff and forget the rest. Or I remember what pleased me and suppress what was negative or neutral. The trouble is that while this may be true sometimes, it is a long way from being true all the time. So I’m still left wondering what’s going on with this remembering thing.

Later I’m going over to have lunch with my Dear Old Mum, who turned 95 last month. With her remembering is a different issue. Her long-term memory is great. She can tell me what happened 70 years ago with no problem. But her short-term memory is close to nonexistent. She doesn’t remember what she said two minutes ago – so she says it again – and again. There’s no point in telling her this is going on. It just frustrates her. So I quietly play a game and see if I can keep count of how often this or that is going to come up in the conversation.

Like I say, this remembering business is a mystery.


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