Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Where have our memories gone? The three of us sat at the table last night trying to remember what it used to be like to remember with clarity. The consequences of age, said someone. Disagreement round the table. Old people seem to remember things clear as a bell, I said, such and such happened in the summer of ’73. Arbitrary dates, came the reply, hold no relevance for us.

We watched television as children, said Ben. We have no concept of time. Television has been around for longer than us, replied Richard, much longer. That’s not it. I bet the drink hasn’t helped, nor the psychadelics of our teenage years.

Thinking now, I remember 2001 and 2005 clearly enough, and 1997 and 1998 too for very simple reasons – I can anchor my own personal experiences within unique political events. Remembering and forgetting are political acts.

Just as poignant however is work and housing. Eleven houses in eight years, no job longer than six months. These fundamentals of work and housing are demarcations of the passage of time. Don’t I remember the trek down to the Metro every morning for seven o’clock, the half an hour ride to Sunderland and then the twenty minute walk? That journey of over an hour was regimented, exacting and repetitive. A framework for memory. I would arrive at that grand old house and head down to the studio where I was teaching autistic adults to paint.

Was it not the same as a temporary worker at an accountancy software firm? The walk through the park, buy The Independent for a laugh, get on a bus to Gosforth High Street, change at Regent, then the bus out to Great North Park. Same journey, a grid on which to plot experience.

Now however, working from home on various different projects, time is harder to grasp. The weather, changeable as it is, offers no support, no firmament upon which to stake out boundaries. Just as pale grey light makes way to a more insistent yellow, and I think that warmth will be here soon, drizzle floats in from the West.