From the age of about ten I became organist of our church. My parents were strict Methodist and the chapel played a large part in my childhood. Although I am no longer a practising Christian, I do not regret those years; being part of what was in our village a large group of folk, young and old, and constantly having lots of social activities, have stood me in good stead throughout my life.
As well as playing for services I also accompanied the choir, which was a strong and active one, on their forays to surrounding churches. When I think that I played things like The Messiah at Christmas, on the organ, adding the foot pedals (which I could only just reach), I just don't know how I did it. I suppose my young brain coped better than it would now - and the innate musicality of my whole family would also play a part.
We had so many social activities. In the Winter there was always Christmas of course - the services, the parties, the Winter stage show (which makes me cringe when I think of it now, but which in those pre TV days was always guaranteed a capacity audience). In the Summer the highlight was the Sunday School Anniversary. This took months of practice.
Early in the year the particular booklet of songs would be chosen. The choirmaster did this, so I have no idea where it came from. Then all the songs would be rehearsed - not by the choir but by the children of the Sunday School. Every child would also learn a recitation off by heart - some of them would be quite long but we took it very seriously. Even I had to learn one and would pop off the organ seat to stand and recite.
On the big weekend we would spend the Saturday afternoon going round the village on a dray pulled by a cart horse who was patience itself. Every now and then we would stop and sing one of our songs (there was a harmonium on the dray for the accompaniment)
while somebody went round the houses collecting money for that year's chosen charity. Then we would all go back for a tea in the school room - always potted beef sandwiches, caraway seed cake and 'fancy cakes'. In the evening it would be games - never my most enjoyable thing - I hated (and still do) party games.
The other summer highlight was the Sunday school outing. There were four venues - Bridlington, Scarborough, Hunstanton and Cromer - and these never varied.
Last evening there was a history programme on television about the North coast of Norfolk - most interesting and definitely the subject of another post one day. When the presenter arrived on the harbour front at Hunstanton I got this amazingly clear image in my head. It was so clear that I was really bowled over by it.
Peter, Margaret and I were rowing round Hunstanton harbour in a rowing boat. We were all around twelve years old - no lifejackets in those days -and I was wearing my best coat. It was a light sandy colour and it buttoned up to the neck - I thought I looked the bees knees in it. I don't think I have thought of that day for at least sixty years. It has laid there, somewhere in the filing cabinet of my brain, waiting for the right trigger to release it.
Now I can't wait for an image of Bridlington harbour to appear on the T V screen to see if a similar picture pops up. Did we row round there too?
Is this a phenomenon of old age? Do our brains throw out these images much more easily as we advance in years? I was in Hunstanton only last year, standing looking out over the harbour, and I didn't remember it then. So what suddenly triggers it?
Do you have flashes of memory like this - and if you do - please tell us about one of them.