Memory

Tuesday November 2, 2004

“What are we going to get, then?” Graham asked as we walked into Tesco’s.

“I’m not really sure. I shall have to wing it.”

“But I thought you had a list?”

“I do. It’s in my memory book.”

“Well then?”

“I forgot to bring it with me.”

That’s the problem with having a memory book. It’s a good idea when you tend to be absent minded like me—my mother used to delight in telling me I’d forget my head if it were not screwed on. Shopping lists, notes of phone calls, notes for interviews with the doctor, reference lists of names, numbers and all sorts of things that are liable to fly away o’er hill and dale the moment I’m asked for them. I often say that I may not be able to recall something but I know exactly where and how I wrote it down. It’s a great heap of a thing, getting larger all the time, filled with pasted-in bits of paper and goodness knows what-all. Goodness and me, that is, because I genuinely do know more or less where everything is in it, and can turn to the right page in seconds.

Except when I forget to take it with me.

When I’m referring to it and to its predecessors more formally I use the term ‘notebook’. But realistically, it’s my memory book, and that’s how I think of it. I’ve come increasingly to depend on it as my memory changes. It’s not that I’m experiencing age related memory failure, least, I don’t think so. It’s more that my memory has become a selective instrument, centred on things other than the detail of the day to day.

So, my memory book is an essential part of life. I can manage without it, of course, for routine things like shopping expeditions. After all, getting home to discover I’ve forgotten some small item is no great tragedy. It’s an essential aid to more momentous decisions, however, and I refuse to face them without my memory book at my side, and without consulting it prior to entering upon the decision process.

Mind you, I don’t really think my memory book is of much use to me or anyone else today. Worse, I stayed up so late to watch the American elections that it’s likely to be pretty useless tomorrow, too.

 

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