I would like to think that I have developed an industrial strength memory because it puts in fleets of hours and faces a constant barrage of daily challenges. It is certainly a contender for the most useful tool of my trade. Like many others I worry about short-term memory loss when it wobbles and up the crossword ante like some kind of amulet when the grey matter, unbidden, not only perfectly recalls my birthdate but increases the font and props it in front of my mental image sensor. This is totally unnecessary and petulant as the information resides in a node clearly marked “selective recall only”, “see also : ‘irrelevant’ ”.
One of the aspects that fascinates me is the ambit of stimulants that can bring memories flooding back. Kimberley is now twenty-one but to this day even the whiff of an aftershave I can no longer name makes me as nauseous as when I was in the pits of morning-sickness and Rob used the same brand. For the following few years very hot weather also set me off as the worst of the morning-sickness had happened in mid-summer.
Sounds are in a league of their own. The colleague who shares my office space and I also share the recurring problem of getting “Pumped Up Kicks” stuck in our heads. When it strikes I try and dilute the problem by telling Kerwin about it ; watching his attempts to free himself makes me feel better. Yesterday I tried a different approach, subtly asking if he remembered it and, when alarm flashed over his face, telling him that I wished it would get back in my head because I’ve been battling to eradicate “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” for the last few days. This ploy was doubly successful because I told Kimberley about it last evening and she started berating me at the top of her voice in an attempt to keep me and the kangaroo out of her head but I don’t think she succeeded. This backfired badly on me this morning when I realised the folly of trying to exorcise a song by whistling it to extinction at the washing line – in range of the new neighbour’s parrot. I’d forgotten he was there until the first few experimental bars whistled back at me. The curse of a memory lapse.
Are you battling too now, Sport?
There are two pieces of music that I still cannot bear after decades. It wasn’t long after we moved to Pietermaritzburg in the early Seventies ; one of the neighbours’ teenagers had a party at which they played “Viva Espana” nonstop for about six hours. Twenty years later another neighbour didn’t need a party to play “Achy Breaky Heart” for *days* on end.
Classical music still reaches me at unnamed levels. With my dad having been a musician in the Durban Symphony Orchestra during my early years this isn’t surprising as there are plenty of memory strings to pluck.
What brought the current flood of thoughts to life was a news article I came across earlier today about Torvill and Dean (ice-skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean of the 1984 Winter Olympics and their enduring performance to “Bolero”). Apparently their perfect score has not been equalled in thirty years and they were invited to repeat the performance this year in Sarajevo. “Bolero” has also been played to death over the years but, combined with the video footage, it has brought back overwhelming emotions I can’t name. The fact that Torvill and Dean are now in their fifties makes this footage even more remarkable.
Words fail me so I’ll end on an unprecedented silent note.