Saturday, April 27, 2013

Week/Weak of Memory

This week I've been thinking about memory.  I blogged about it over on Girls Heart Books - going back to my earliest memory and making a probably pretty tenuous connection between individual remembered scenes and the discrete snippets that I write at the beginning of work on a new book.

Basically, I'm very fuzzy about - and at - memory.  It's so susceptible to fiction.  Here I am, for example, looking puffy-eyed, scruffy-haired, sturdy in the leg department and about to fall over with excitement about ... something.  I don't remember what, or the fence, or having the photo taken.  Do I recognize all those things in me now?  Yes.  Do I remember those matching dresses my mum made?  No.  Do I think you could write a story about the characters in the scene?  Oh yes.

I watched a programme about memory a while back and though I don't in fact remember that much about it (sigh) there was a point made which stuck in my mind.  They were saying that most people don't remember anything before about age 3, and that this had to do with the acquisition of language.  But not just single words - specifically, the ability to speak in sentences.  And it seems to me the main reason for sentences is for making stories.  So we start to be able to have memories at the point where we can begin to make stories.  (Okay, I don't think they said that on the programme, but maybe they did and then I just forgot.)

And, just because it's a pleasant image, here is the dog who lived across the street when I was small, named, I think, Patches.  I'm sure I loved Patches.  But do I remember him (or, possibly, her) or do I just remember looking at the photo, and loving things with fur generally?  I don't know.

But what a nice dog.


At 4:32 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

I meant to add and, er, forgot, that I'm reading a delightful book of memories called Period Piece by Gwen Raverat, which I would definitely recommend. I was introduced to it on Susan Price's blog here -
Lovely stuff.

At 5:19 AM, Blogger madwippitt said...

Cute dog! And how sweet, having matching dresses (although personally I'm not sure it would have made them any more acceptable to me!) I remember the dressmaking era - and our school used to provide details of fabric and patterns to use, assuming as a matter of course that the mums would be making our summer dresses ...

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

Those odd 50's fabrics - it was a peculiar decade in so many ways! But she was a really good seamstress.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Maureen said...

What wonderful photos! And I love the fluffy dress and the little sneakers, and your total absorption in that dog!

At 12:30 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

For me it's the rabbit socks and the bruise on the forehead (in keeping with the falling over thread ...) - and yes, we seem to be really meeting as equals, Patches and I.


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