Do you have a good memory? Is it a good short-term memory, a good long-term memory or are you the sort of person who is fortunate in having both? In reality short-term isn’t very long so I suppose I should say medium-term memory. I also suppose I can say along with many others that I major in one but not so much the other. It is my long-term memory which is the better though I do possess a reasonably good short-term memory. The problems I have with my short-term memory are two-fold, on the one hand I often forget things and on the other hand I can remember some things but not when they occurred. During the last couple of years the second aspect has been more noticeable. For instance I would do a job of work for someone and a week or so later would receive a call from them regarding more work. I would ask who was calling of course but after being told I had been there only a week or two earlier I still had to ask where that was and sometimes even what I was doing! I could make excuses for that by saying I had a lot of work and couldn’t always remember but that would be a lie. The truth was I simply couldn’t retain the information. Yes, it was stored in my memory but I was being denied access would be a nice way of putting it. It would be true to a point. If the information wasn’t critical then it was lost. For serious and pertinent information I would remember most of the detail. When it comes to long-term memory I remember events which happened to me and things said to me because they are personal to me. They are my experiences both good and bad and I can remember them in great detail. Nowadays and because of my age I tend to be a little absent-minded which is something quite different. I find I am doing silly things, because of a lack of concentration I suppose. Putting sugar in E’s cup when I have already done it in preparing a coffee and then attempting putting the sugar in the fridge before realising it goes in the cupboard is one example. These are minor in the great scheme of things, as long as it doesn’t get worse. I could put them down to simple absent-mindedness due to age but there are people who for them being absent-minded is normal. I remember, it must have been twenty-five or more years ago, I was sitting near the front seats in an auditorium in my then workplace. We were there for instruction regarding a new working practice the company were introducing. Just prior to the speaker addressing the audience one of my colleagues, a young man, came rushing in and sat down in the front row of seats. The room was quiet for a minute as we listened to what was said to him. It wasn’t the speaker, oh no, as he sat there someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Mick, you’re sitting on my knee’! He had sat on someone’s knee and hadn’t realised it! I call that being absent-minded and indeed the young man did fit the bill. I can even remember the look on his face as we all began to laugh, even the speaker couldn’t contain himself but that was Mick.
Life is full of surprises isn’t it? You would think by my age I would have seen it all by now but no like everyone else there is always something to surprise. Speaking of age and all that comes with growing old I can say I am becoming a victim, if that is the right word, of it. According to one theory we begin the downward slope of deterioration once we are beyond the age of twenty-one. Until that age we evidently continue to grow. Obviously twenty-one is only an approximation though I remember noticing small things happening to me at around about that age which would seem to support the theory. Physical ability and strength are usually the first things one notices which begin to deteriorate. We simply cannot do things as we once were able to. Oh yes we can do them though often more slowly or with less strength but as the years pass even that sometimes dwindles away to nothing. We begin to forget things as we age.
Though I still have an excellent long-term memory recent events sometimes elude me. I can remember events from forty, fifty, sixty years ago, even further back in some instances which were part of my life. Often though I forget events which are very recent, months, weeks, days and even hours ago disappear from my thoughts. I would guess I first noticed poor short-term memory loss around the age of sixty. An example would be my going upstairs either at home or in someone else’s house to collect something and upon getting there no remembering what it was I was collecting! I have a poor memory when it comes to people’s names though faces I do remember. Where I had seen the face is usually forgotten though. What has all this to do with a dining room? No, I haven’t forgotten…….honestly! I was up in my bedroom a few days ago searching for something to wear and inside the wardrobe I noticed a cardboard box on the shelf. That in itself isn’t unusual for I have many boxes and other things in my wardrobes besides clothing. Wanting to refresh my memory as to the boxes contents I removed it from the shelf and delved inside. I found amongst other things some small plastic bags which I thought E might find useful so I removed them. Whilst doing that I saw a plastic money bag of the type used in banks with something inside it. To my surprise it contained banknotes, two hundred and sixty pounds in twenties, tens and fives. I couldn’t remember when it was I put the bag there or why. There is a small purse in the same wardrobe in which I keep banknotes and it has a similar amount in it but I know what that money is for. This separate bag of money I must have placed there for a rainy day as the saying goes but I had forgotten about it completely. It must have been there for more than a year waiting for me to use. I took a trip to the bank and deposited most of it. With the remainder I took E out to lunch. That is where the dining room comes into the story. We drove into town and went to the plush Bold Hotel restaurant for our meal. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g191255-d568615-i180703826-The_Bold_Hotel-Southport_Merseyside_England.html
They say that as you get older you look back to the past more often. We all have them of course, memories, but they are often neglected whilst we are giving our attention to the more pressing issues of the day. It is when we find ourselves at rest or having nothing much to do that we begin to recollect memories. This is probably why older folk in particular recall memories more often, they have more time on their hands. I have found in my own life that this is true and the more so now as I am breaking the ties of formal work as an electrician. I am slowly getting used to it though a better phrase might be making adjustments. The adjustments I am making is finding things to occupy my time, walking, gardening, little projects, dining out, playing around on my guitar and other things all help me to do that. It was while out walking a few days ago that I passed two girls selling fairy cakes at the gate leading to their house. They were around fifteen or sixteen years of age and evidently had baked the cakes themselves, selling them in aid of a local charity. Unfortunately I had no money with me as I invariably don’t carry cash when simply going out for a walk. I most probably would have given them my support had I been carrying some money, not least of all because the cakes looked so delicious! It reminded me of my past when I was young and the things I used to get up to raise some pocket-money, though we, my siblings and I, were given pocket money by our parents.
It also reminded me that I have more time now in which to bake more cakes of my own, especially when the weather restricts other activities. The weather has never prevented me from going for a run or nowadays going for a walk but it does prevent me doing much in the gardens or getting on with a project of which I have a couple pending at this time. One of those projects is to erect a gate at one side of the house in the rear garden but I have to build a brick pillar first of all. I will then be able to construct the gate itself from timber I have stored. It has to be bespoke because it will be wider than the average size that could be purchased. Anyway making my own will give me something to do and be far less expensive in the process. So unrelated events and incidences help to trigger my thoughts and memories and also remind me that I’ve things to do.
As we get older some of us get forgetful to the point that even the simplest of things become a problem. I could be talking about myself here but I am not. I accept the fact that in certain areas of my life I have become slower and yes even a little forgetful at times to some extent but I still have my wits about me! No, I was referring to some of the characters I meet in my line of work, those who employ me to do their electrical jobs. I am often surprised that many people, even younger people who you might think are more savvy regarding the location of power boards and switches in their own homes but often aren’t. I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks on the run-up to Christmas so you might expect me to be a little mixed-up sometimes but I am not, in fact I thrive on the pressure and work better under it. I had a couple of jobs to do on Thursday last and numerous phone calls for my services too. The first job was to check out a faulty power outlet and to see if another could be fitted where a suspected supply lay behind a blanked-off box. Both were located in very awkward places beneath the kitchen worktops but I managed to restore everything back to normal. The second job was to check out a cooker hood that had ceased working but it was only a blown fuse caused by a faulty lamp. Whilst there I was asked to check a floodlight which had ceased working too. The elderly couple at the house were next to useless when it came to ask about the location of switches yet they had lived there many years.
They had no idea that the supply switch for the hood was located about it even though the lady of the house told me she regularly cleaned the area above the hood where the supply switch is! The gentleman was trying to be as helpful as he could when I asked him where the switch controlling the floodlight was located and he kept saying he didn’t know. Then he showed me a switch which isolated an out-building and suggested that was the one controlling the floodlight too. Doubting it would be I humoured him and checked it out. It was as I thought, it had nothing to do with the floodlight. I asked him again if there were any other switches nearby which could be the controlling switch for the floodlight and eventually the penny must have dropped for he pointed straight to it. It was located in an out-of-the-way spot in the kitchen. I proceeded to replace the faulty floodlight with a new LED version at the gentleman’s request. Fortunately I had one in the van I was going to use elsewhere the next day. Most people would know immediately the location of a switch you might think but as we get older some things are not that easily remembered. Our thoughts are often elsewhere, we remember those things we are more often using and those we use less frequently we simply forget. Sometimes though we just lose the plot for no apparent reason at all.
It was the seventieth anniversary of my birthday last Saturday. I don’t much remember the first few though I can remember incidences in those far off days of yesteryear. Recent events and especially people I sometimes have immense difficulty in remembering though specific instances and the more memorable I do remember. It isn’t an age thing, I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Yes I do remember that! In fact I find that I can remember factual information more readily than many other things. I have noticed over the last few years in particular that I am getting progressively absent-minded. I accept that this is due to age for I never used to be this way. Simply put, I forget things more easily these days. Now we are all no doubt guilty of that to some extent and for the most part it is more of a nuisance than a liability, fortunately. Leaving home without an important document that is required for a meeting or leaving an umbrella on a train can be classed as a nuisance, an inconvenience but neither poses a real problem. It is when we forget to do something which in doing so might result in a calamity or a danger to ourselves or others. Thankfully I am not at that stage and hope I shall never be. As we get older though we do forget things. I have joked about this with people I have met during the day. I will tell them that sometimes I will go upstairs to collect something or do something but once there I sometimes have to think what it is I was intending to do! It appears I am not alone in this either, many of us do exactly the same thing. It doesn’t help when my mind is filled with other things, for instance whilst at work. As I am working my mind is often two, three or even four stages ahead of my current activity and I can therefore be prone to forgetting minor details. I have to be aware of that. Now recently we had repairs done under guarantee on some of our windows and the front door of the house. We had lived with the problems for quite a number of months but were in no hurry to have the repairs done as long as they got done at some point. The main two faults were on one of the upstairs windows in a room currently not in use as it needs refurbishing and the lock mechanism on the front door. As we were not using the room the faulty window wasn’t the main problem. The door lock was more important though having said that it was more of a nuisance than a problem. When the doors were installed we could leave the house, lift up the handle and the door would be locked. The door handles look something like those shown in the picture.
Unless we had the key we would not be able to get back indoors so it was essential that we took our keys with us if we went outside. Of course if we were leaving the house and going off somewhere we would also lock the door further using the key. The lock therefore is a two-stage device but even set at the first stage will prevent re-entry. We had gotten used to not having to do this by simply locking the door with the key whenever we left the house because whilst the lock was faulty simply lifting the handle wouldn’t lock the door. If therefore I was out in the front of the house say putting garbage in the bin I was in no danger of locking myself out by lifting the door handle. Since it has been repaired there is every chance of locking myself out unless I take the key with me. Now I do not carry all my keys around with me whilst at home but there is a single key we keep to hand that we can take outside with us and it is used to lock and unlock the door whilst we are inside the house. Now here is the funny part. On Thursday E had just gone out to do the weekly shopping with her mom and I was at home. I decided to put out the accumulated plastic and cardboard waste and duly took it to the wheelie bin lifting the door handle as I left the house. A force of habit. I had however not taken that key with me for I had forgotten that the door lock had been repaired. Fortunately I had my mobile phone attached to my belt as I usually do during the day and I was able to call E for help. It took some time to get through to her but after four or five attempts she answered and returned home ten minutes later. I wasn’t dressed to be outdoors in the cold but I was glad it wasn’t raining too. I could have sat in my neighbour’s house had that been the case. E tried her key in the lock but it wouldn’t fit, the single key was in the lock on the inside where I had left it when unlocking the door! Why oh why didn’t I take it with me? There was one other possibility, try the rear door which leads into the cellar but we usually leave its key in the lock so that it cannot be misplaced. As the door is solid with no panels the key is safe left in the lock. Would E’s key be able to unlock it from the outside? We had to open the garage door then two more internal doors to get to the rear garden and on to the rear house door. She put the key in and turned it, we were in! I thanked her and sheepishly went inside whilst she returned through the garage to her car and drove away. I must remember to take a key with me next time. Whenever I am leaving the house to go anywhere I have my handbag with me. My house keys are always in it. It is only whilst at home I don’t carry them around and it is only the front door which is waiting for me to make a mistake.
Are you a good listener? Does everything told to you remain in your memory? We all forget things we have heard, seen or spoken about, we are fallible in that respect. We usually remember those things which seem to be more important and detail is often overlooked. When somebody is speaking to us do we listen with intent? Are we concentrating on what the speaker is saying? As an example, I received a birthday card through the post on Saturday. It had been sent by a recent customer of mine or rather someone for whom I had previously worked and who had asked for my services again this past week. She had been very grateful for the work I had done and the reasonable price I had charged. Inside the card she had written ‘Have a nice day’ and had dated it 31st Oct. I tried to call her but wasn’t able to connect so I sent a text message to thank her for the card but that the date was wrong, indicating my real birthday date which is 21st Nov. I don’t remember having mentioned my birth date but I must have done at some point. If I mention anything about birthdays I usually mention that I don’t celebrate them. I never tell anyone who sends me a card that I immediately destroy them once I have read them, which is what I did with the card she had sent. I would never hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them that. I thought about why she had sent me a card and why she had forgotten my birth date. Some people forget things quite easily or get the information mixed up with other things in their thoughts. Some people just don’t listen in the first place. I have to admit to not listening as I ought to sometimes but it is usually because of the amount of things a person is telling me. I have a problem with short-term memory in that I cannot always remember recent things. My long-term memory on the other hand is very good. I have been told that I am a good listener when people have poured out their hearts to me, when they have needed someone who will listen and understand their need to do so. More often though I find that fewer people will really listen when I want to tell them things and it seems some who do forget the details.
The first yesterday was of course yesterday. It was also my eldest son’s birthday.He reached the ripe old age of 33 and it only seems like yesterday that I held him in my arms for the first time. I couldn’t do that now! Sometimes I look back and wonder where all the intervening years went. It was only a little over two and a half years later his younger brother arrived on the scene. He will be 31 years old next March. I was out in the garden on Sunday afternoon just looking at things and how much just the garden has changed since we moved here in the summer of 1988. I remember the boys learning how to ride a bicycle on and around what then passed as a lawn and my father-in-law bemoaning the fact that they were cutting a pathway through the grass with the bikes. At that time more of the family lived with us in the house but now there are but two of us living here. The house holds all sorts of memories, some good and some bad but mostly good. What started me thinking about the past was when I was watering the plants. It hadn’t rained for a day or so and some of the newly planted ones were beginning to suffer. These are the shrubs I planted in the mound and their roots have yet to grow down to where most of the water will be most of the time. The top soil dries out too quickly during the warmer weather. I began as I usually do when watering the garden, to water the plants at the opposite end of the garden to where the patio is and some of the plants there seem to have grown very little over the years even though they are perfectly healthy. They are naturally slow-growing but some have noticeably grown over the years and have needed pruning back. A few weeks ago I had to cut back some of those plants which had begun to grow over the path around the lawn making it difficult to walk along without having to swerve to avoid them. In the same border there is a variegated holly tree one of two in fact. The other one is intermingled with other trees and has not grown to any great height because of that but I plan to do some pruning in the area to get rid of unwanted side-shoots and such like. The holly I mention that has grown well started life as a very small plant back in the days when the boys lived here but is now over three metres in height. If you click on the above picture a couple of times you should be able to see this holly, it is the last tree on the left of those in the centre of the shot. Immediately to its left you can see the washing line post against the wall. It is difficult to see the holly as when the photo was taken a few years ago it hadn’t filled out. It isn’t the largest holly as there is one which stands next to the large greenhouse which is well over five metres and is shown in the top picture. It is a different variety of holly, dark green leaves and red berries. Where it stands the ground used to be a kind of garden waste dump but it has changed dramatically since those days. Many things have changed over the years and much work has been done but there is always scope for more. Yesterdays are full of reminders of things past and how I got to where I am and they are all inside my head, I don’t need heaps of photographs to remind me, though I have some, no, the greatest thing is to be able to sit there and look at how things have changed and all for the better. Yesterdays have gone and will never return, tomorrows are what counts.
Nothing to do on Monday as I had purposely left the day all to myself. My intention was to take a trip into Liverpool (again) and to walk about my old haunts, such as are left of them. I was up reasonably early having my breakfast before having a shower and getting dressed, something I almost never do is eat before I am washed and dressed but I made the exception this time. It was however approaching 9.30 before I was ready to leave the house. I asked E if she would like to accompany me but she declined. The main reason for that is I was going on a walk-about and she has a complaint which restricts her from walking too far. She also had to be at home to collect her medications which are delivered by the pharmacy. So off I went alone to the station. There is a guy who lives not too far away from us who, shall we say, is not playing with a full deck. I say that with all due respect to him as he suffers through no fault of his own with a mental deficiency and he has behavioural issues too. I have known him for many years first coming across him at a church I once attended. He turned up one day dressed in women’s clothes and carrying a handbag, the next week turning up as normal, that is dressed as a man. He was always seen about town doing the same thing and giving each person he came across the two fingers before continuing his walk. Very strange behaviour but as I say, he unfortunately cannot help himself. I arrived at the station and waited for the train to arrive a few minutes later when who should arrive on the platform but this guy. He was dressed as a man but was carrying a woman’s handbag. He was also carrying a very large corrugated metal food canister perhaps originally carrying carrots or something similar. A couple of holes had been put near to the rim of the can through which had been threaded a length of string. The can looked as if it held an amount of cold black coffee for as he sat down waiting for the train he poured out some of the liquid on to the platform a couple of times before deciding it was enough. I was hoping he would board the train in another carriage to the one I was boarding for I knew how difficult an encounter with him would be. It is sad really for people such as he but at the same time it can be a nightmare dealing with them. I don’t know where he was going but I do know it wasn’t to the same place as myself. I sat in the company of two other women and we chatted away the time together. Once out of the train station in Liverpool I made my way to the area in which I grew up. That area is about a half-mile behind the building shown above which stands on Lime Street, a street made famous in the old song from Liverpool called ‘Maggie May’ about a prostitute who walked it touting for business. This was the sole purpose of my visit on this occasion, not to walk down Lime Street for that reason I hasten to add but I had to walk it to get to my destination, Prescot Street.
I had driven past the area a couple of times recently but couldn’t stop there to browse around on foot. I made my way slowly uphill along the familiar roads which led to where my family lived from early 1946 when I was merely three months old until we left for the suburbs in 1958 when I was almost twelve. I have vivid memories of the area as it was then and knew that many changes had taken place since so I was prepared for it. The streets themselves have changed very little though most of the small side streets and the houses that stood in them are long-since gone as were the prefabricated houses one of which we lived in. The picture below shows the ‘prefabs’ that stood on the opposite side of the street to the one we lived in.
The direction to London Road, Lime Street, a half mile or so distant and the city centre is to the left. Strange as it may seem this photograph must have been taken not too far away from our house! Tram car lines can still be seen in the centre of the road. It was in 1957 I think that the tram service ceased though I seem to remember the last one did a final run in 1958. I know it was a so called ‘Green Goddess’ which I think went into service on Blackpool promenade thereafter.
I approached the spot where our little house once stood and there is absolutely no indication that is was ever there. A concrete wall over which and below are the grounds around one of the main hospital buildings which were erected perhaps in the seventies. They are themselves seemingly going to be demolished to make way for the expansion of the Liverpool University complex which will incorporate a replacement hospital building in its stead. Across the road are buildings which were erected around the same time and cover the ground where other prefabricated houses stood together with the brick-built terraced housing that remained standing after the bomb raids during the war. All that has gone but there was one old building at the top of the street that still stood its ground, the old police station that bore the name of ‘The Bridewell‘, if you spent the night there, and many did, you would most probably have been the worse for wear through drink! No longer used as a police station it was once one of a few where policemen operated from in an effort to combat crime and disorder in the streets of the city. It was also the place we had to go to retrieve a ball that had been confiscated by a local resident tired of it being kicked over their backyard wall! I stood and chatted with a couple of cabbies (Taxi drivers) about times gone by for one of them was wondering why I was standing there as if lost. As it turned out I was older than they and was able to tell them things they hadn’t been aware of. On my way back to the station I met an old lady who lived not far away when I lived in the street and we chatted about how the area has changed over the years. We both took the bus back into the town centre and went our separate ways. I took a stroll through the main shopping area having decided to catch the train home from another station across town and en route I went to an out-of-the-way pub I often visit when in the city to have lunch. The train ride home was uneventful but by the time I reached home my toes were feeling sore. I had been wearing a pair of low-heeled shoes and perhaps should have worn flats instead. I will know better next time.
‘The more I see you, the more I want you’, are the words of a song popular forty or so years ago but it is in my heart every time I visit the city of my birth, Liverpool. The city is becoming more and more different each time I visit, especially the road system in and around town. I had to visit the clinic I have been attending which is located not far from the city centre in one of the oldest residential areas and one which seems to be enjoying a renewed popularity. The merchants of the day who made Liverpool prosper and grow lived just outside of the heart of the city in houses that were considered up-market even by today’s standards and only the rich could afford to live in them. Many have stood there since the eighteenth century and outwardly remain for the most part exactly as they were built. Some have been turned into desirable apartments whilst others remain as they were originally intended as a complete home. They are full of character and it is nice to see them being well maintained and looked after. I took a different route into the city from my previous recent visits and it took me through the suburbs to the north-east passing through the familiar roads and streets where I lived from the age of twelve until I was twenty-seven. I saw many changes which I have to say broke my heart. There are neglected buildings and buildings being put to new use in some places and the whole area looks like it has ‘gone to seed’ as they say. Nothing is as it was when I lived there forty something years ago. There is a building in the Tue Brook area which once housed a popular cinema and I know for a fact that it hasn’t been in use for several years, even though it had been put to another use in more recent times. I know this because I have been past it a few times in the last ten years. As I drove past again on Friday the building was covered in plants growing out of the brickwork and crevasses, not merely small plants but many several feet in length, small bushes or trees in fact! Nobody seems to care. (you can see a picture of it in the article below (‘Liverpool has the most listed buildings outside of London’). As I drove onward, now approaching the outskirts of the city centre itself there is dereliction everywhere intermingled with modern housing that somehow seems to be going to seed too, old buildings partly demolished or barricaded up and graffiti adorning any wall that was in easy reach. At the end of the road I was on everything began to look different. The road turned left along Low Hill, an aptly named road for from that standpoint I could see over the city centre toward the river Mersey a couple of road miles distant though in fact probably less than two miles as the crow flies. A short distance ahead lay the area in which I grew up until I was twelve when the family moved further out from the city centre. Of the streets that remained, their names were easily recognisable but sadly many of the buildings were relatively new and stood over ground now changed beyond all recognition. The old back streets and houses were demolished years ago and nothing resembles what it was when I lived there. During the war many of the older buildings had been bombed and were razed to the ground but there still remained street after street of terraced houses when the war was over. In the mid forties, that is 1946 onward, the authorities erected prefabricated houses in many places though some of the land which had been bombed was left waste for many years and was still that way when we moved house. We lived in one of those ‘prefabs’ up until 1958. Now there are none, now there are Liverpool University buildings standing in their place and the main street on which we lived is no longer anything like it was. Although the city is vastly improved there will always be a sense of loss in my heart for the things that now only remain in memory or local history books. I would dearly like to return and live there and be close to the places where I had been raised but I know that isn’t going to happen. I shall have to be content with the occasional visit and leave the rest to memory. I now live in Southport, some twenty miles north along the coast from Liverpool but I will always be a Liverpudlian, a ‘Scouser‘ at heart.
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On Monday afternoon I went out for a short walk. I had been playing my guitar out in the rear garden and on my return indoors found the house empty. E had disappeared in her car without saying anything. I think she went to see her mum. Anyhow I decided to go for the walk and along the route I paid a visit to the pub for a soft drink as it was very warm and humid. There were not many people there but I found someone to chat with, one of the regulars, a woman I’ve known for some years. Whilst she was paying a visit to the toilet an older gentleman who was at the bar getting a couple of drinks turned to me and said ‘Hello Shirley Anne, done anymore testing lately’? I replied that he had me at a disadvantage for I couldn’t for the life of me remember him. He politely reminded me that it was his and his wife’s apartment I had checked only a couple of days prior to see if the electrical installation was safe! I apologised for not having remembered him after such a short time but in fact it had been his wife I had contact with for most of the time whilst I was there. That wasn’t an excuse though. Shortly afterward his wife appeared and I recognised her immediately. We had a laugh about my shortcomings. In real terms my short-term memory isn’t very good and I think it gets worse as time passes. However, my long-term memory is much better and I can remember things long-passed in great detail. I had gone into the kitchen the other evening to wash a glass I had been using and when I’d done that I proceeded to put it in the refrigerator! Realising my error I quickly put it in its usual place. I put these things down to my age of course, things we do when absent-mindedness takes control. I laugh about it and others laugh too. I have attempted to put the sugar bowl into the fridge and the margarine or butter into a storage cupboard instead of in the fridge before today. All very strange and comical but harmless and good for a ‘larf’. There are worse things that I could be doing and I hope it never comes to that. One thing I do notice from time to time is when I go upstairs for some reason I sometimes momentarily forget why I went upstairs or what it was I went for! I put that down to growing old and I laugh at myself for doing it. We can laugh and joke about such things but I suppose it could be worse, I could end up with that problem being a normal everyday occurrence rather than an occasional and infrequent one.
I forget recent things. I think I am forgetting recent things a lot more as the years pass and yet I have an excellent long-term memory, even remembering exactly words in a conversation. I almost never forget faces but names I have tremendous difficulty in remembering unless I know the person extremely well or they are related to me. If I don’t see a person for a reasonably long period I am apt to forget their name even if I know them or have known them for quite some time. As an example I do not remember most of the people I knew in the church in which I was a member up and until 1998 though I had been a member there for ten years. Much information is gathered and stored in my brain yet access to it much depends on how long it has been stored there, if a long time I will recall it, if only a short time I am likely to forget it. Some things however I will never forget whether it has been stored away for a long time or a little time. In a lifetime we must gather an enormous amount of data and it is all stored away in our brains. It really is amazing isn’t it? The human brain can store so much information, far more than computers can store. It can access stored information and process it almost immediately under normal circumstances without the need for special algorithms, formulas or programs. Yet for all that capability the brain is reliant on it not degenerating. Unfortunately our brains, like the rest of our bodies, do degenerate with age but for some that degeneration can be severe and for others less so. I do not think we lose the information that is stored but we can lose the capability to retrieve it or not be able to process it if we do. I sometimes go upstairs for instance and once there forget why I went there in the first place. It might be that I went to get something and forgot what it was I wanted yet minutes or even hours later it will come to me. I want to say something to somebody and it slips my mind. Later I will remember what it was I wanted to say but the opportunity may have passed me by. So the information is in my brain somewhere but that doesn’t always mean I can access it immediately. It is as though there is a barrier preventing access that requires a trigger of some sort to release it, you could say a password but that would be wrong as any number of things can trigger a recall. I sometimes find that not thinking about something I am trying to remember will eventually allow me to remember. Concentrating does not always result in remembering something so it appears that the brain is often best left to work things out in the background but just how it does that may not be understood. I forget things and trust that I can remember them somewhere along the line. I don’t really have a choice!
It is said that our whole lives flash before our eyes, really meaning all memory runs at high speed through our thoughts when we are in grave danger or near to death. Whether that is true could be argued, it is difficult to see how it would be possible for all memory to be recalled in a very short time but unless we experience it I suppose we’ll never know. I am sure I am not alone in saying that I sometimes think of things I have experienced in my life and much of it in great detail. I can recall many things both good and bad both enjoyable and not enjoyable that have happened to me during my life but I am not so sure I remember everything. Some memories are easily recalled aren’t they? Some of them we would rather forget I’m sure of that and some of them we wish would happen again. I was thinking about memory recall and how spontaneous it is sometimes. We remember things without any conscious effort, they just pop into our consciousness. We think computers are fast but the human brain is far quicker so I believe, when it comes to recall. How much of your life do you think you can remember, how much of it has been lost or seems to have been? I think we don’t lose memory but just have difficulty in recalling some things at times. Often something ‘jogs our memory’ as they say and we recall things we thought we’d forgotten. If you were to write an autobiography do you think you would be able to recall everything, every little detail down to the colour of your clothes for instance? A lifetime of events and all stored somewhere in our brains. This is your life.
I had very little to do on Thursday and became restless by the afternoon. E had gone shopping again with her mum, it only seems like yesterday she was doing the same thing but in fact it was last week. I changed out of my ‘intention gear’ and into my ‘no intention gear’ and drove to the pub for lunch. Now usually I would walk but I didn’t fancy getting wet on my return for rain had been forecast and indeed the forecast was right, it did rain before I left the pub. There weren’t many people in the pub at that time in the afternoon so I received my meal quite quickly. When I had finished eating I went to sit at the bar. On old guy whom I am acquainted with was sitting there and we chatted a little before he left for home. I sat alone for the rest of my time there, except for greeting several people I knew who came in. I spoke with none until one couple came and stood at the bar alongside me. We had met previously and I was sure that we’d exchanged names but could I remember theirs? No way, I tend to forget names unless I meet with people on a fairly regular basis or I have known them for years. We had a pleasant time chatting, making jokes and learning about one another until they left to go home a short time later. They got to know that I was a qualified electrician and were truly surprised that I had been so for many years. They asked for a card and I was able to give them a spare one I carry in my purse as I normally keep my cards in the bag I use for work which I didn’t have with me of course. Soon after they had left another couple I know came in and chatted briefly with me. Again I couldn’t remember their names. They had called into the pub on their way home to have a meal after spending the afternoon at The Southport Annual Flower Show, an event which has been staged since 1938, admittedly not as long as the many similar shows around the country but seemingly well supported nevertheless. Those who organise the show usually have a celebrity or two to open the proceedings which I guess makes the event more attractive to some. Since coming to live in Southport in 1988 I have never visited the show. It simply holds no interest for me. Just prior to leaving for home another guy came in whom I also know quite well but even his name eluded me and as we chatted I felt somewhat guilty for not remembering his name, especially as he never forgets mine! I will always remember a person’s face but I usually won’t remember their name, where we met or under which circumstances. It’s just the way I am. Many a time I have had to swallow my pride and ask their name. Those people I have worked for, even recently, I forget where we met. The odd thing is I have an extremely good long-term memory for experiences, places and conversations I’ve had many years ago! Maybe I forget only those things I’ve no real need to remember! It’s a good excuse but I’m convincing nobody I’m sure. There’s an art in forgetfulness and I have a certificate to prove it, now where did I put it?