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3 May, 2005

Gridlocked memories

a chunk of childhoodA few days ago, my mother was sorting through old boxes and found some of my childhood toys, specifically the die-cast metal vehicles.  She's repacked them for me to bring back to Lancaster (to take up my space rather than her's), and took a photograph.
For some reason, I find it very difficult to study the image – my mind recoils.  There are just too many memories here, not so much suppressed as simply forgotten until now. 

I haven't seen any of these toys for at least half my lifetime, yet I recognise virtually every item in the image, including the ones only partially visible and also including missing components.  I have almost tangible recall of every corner, every detail.  It's not that I have negative memories of the toys; so far as I'm able to associate them with any emotional response, it's slight wistfulness about childish escapism and blind terror about advancing age.

That primal fear is bad enough, but there's more: I remember a bathroom suite which was replaced years ago, and a bare patch of garden which was turfed-over decades ago. I remember a friend who I haven't seen since we left primary school to attend different secondary schools. I remember his garden. And his next-door neighbour's. I suddenly, vividly, remember the layout of my bedroom in the late 1970s. From that, I remember specific events – and my memory tends to fixate on the less pleasant ones. I remember arguments, the deterioration of my parents' marriage,... **** – change the subject.

In short, this unexpected rush of memories unsettled me, and further recollections have already been influencing my dreams.

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