Do you remember?

smokeringvideoMemories are an odd concept. They are unpredictable, and in my brain can present as solid, liquid or gas. My memories are classified by these three states. Some are carved- hewn out of fact and indelible. Others are more fluid-I can bathe in them, but never grasp them. Some, the taunting ones, are a whisper that is almost unintelligible. Almost. Of the three, I like the gaseous memories the most. The ethereal remembrances that appear suddenly, vibrantly, out of nowhere, and then evaporate without warning. The psychological equivalent of somebody blowing a smoke ring with a cigarette. I remember seeing this in pubs as a little boy, and loving it. A silver hoop emerging then stretching, only to break in to thin air.

Today frustrated me. I was casting around my brain for a subject to write about, like a Blackbird searching for worms. I have days when  feel full of cretivity but cannot channel it. It vexes me. Salvation arrived, though. I received a text, and the floodgates opened. It was like sitting on the pressed on  edge of a paddling pool and feeling the gushing flow of water surge out on to the lawn. The text? ‘Do you remember Nanan and Len’s wedding here’? From nowhere, I did. I set myself a challenge: what can I remember? I had a flashing sequence of images like something from a Baz Luhrmann movie, just before somebody sobers up or plunges their head in to water. I recalled things that I had not thought of for years. Things filed decades ago, that only now were bought to light.

I do remember that wedding  reception, and my memories are daubed in vibrant, rural colours. This is fitting, as the wedding reception was held on a farm. Amerton Farm, in Staffordshire. I remember the weather as one of those hazy days when it was misty or cloudy, but tantalisingly close to breaking out in to sunlight. When the air feels pressed and contained. Golden. I remember a room, a barn, with triangular beams stained a dark brown, and whitewashed stone walls. I vividly recall a fantastic pastoral mural, replete with cows, green fields and arching skies. There were tables set out with linen cloths. There was nobody there. This caused consternation. You see, this is the part where it becomes ethereal. My brain tells me that the guests of the wedding had all gone to the pub across the road. I remember worried voices, then being carried into a smoky, blue-hazed room which was full of people who had just ordered a drink and had to shift it. I think so anyway. My mind could have fabricated this.

I hope my parents can help me to iron out the creases of my folded mind. They sent the trigger text that span me back to my Nanan’s (Grandmother’s) wedding. I was looking at a record sleeve when my phone pinged, but when I read the message I instantly recalled a stone floor and the arid, cool smell of that barn. From nowhere I am collating and gathering a whole new well of memories of my Grandparents. I feel these vaporous moments trickling into my consciousness, a sensation akin to waiting for a frozen bottle of squash to melt, and so quench a thirst (all the rage at Secondary school, I suddenly recall as I write this). I find myself realising the true meaning of nostalgia with these remembrances. They are presented to me suddenly, vibrantly, through my younger eyes and ears. They are at the same time both wonderful and sadly, sadly missed.


© Tom Tide 2016




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