Thursday, 23 October 2008

Deja Vu

In yesterday's Times, Robert Crampton mentioned taking his son on a tandem and how it made him realise that you need a degree of trust regarding the person on the back! Robert comes from Hull originally and the two things together struck a chord with me as I remembered riding through Hull, aged 17, on the back of a tandem with my feet off the pedals and my eyes closed as I was scared of the traffic.
So I began thinking about what sparks of that "deja vu" moment. I think all of our senses keep us in touch with the past. Often a sight, or a smell, or a taste - or as above - even reading something, one is instantly transported back to the past.
Apples are evocative for me. I pick up an apple in the supermarket, walk past apples on a fruit stall, stew a few windfalls - I am instantly back in The Dukeries in Nottinghamshire, at my Aunt Kate's, where boxes of keepers were laid out in the attic every Autumn. We would sneak up the stairs and pinch an apple (usually an Ellison's Orange Pippin, the sweetest)
The first primrose or lesser celandine I see in Spring under a hedgerow bank takes me straight back to my Lincolnshire childhood and walking in our local lane, Allaballa. My father and I would walk looking for the first sign of Spring. The lane has long given way to houses (the best reason I know for never going back to where one spent one's childhood) but one small flower brings it back to me in glorious technicolour.
I always remember the first time i heard Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis". The Kyrie opens with a crashing burst of "Kyrie" from the full orchestra and choir - both at full volume - then fades away to leave one single voice holding on the note. Whenever I hear it I am back on the lawn at Bath University (where I went for Summer school on an Open University course) with a glass of white wine in my hand.
Sometimes I buy a packet of Sherbet in a sweetshop, so that I can open it and experience again the fizz as the sherbet hits the tongue. Then I am back in Mrs Applewhite's shop in her front room, handing over a penny for a sucker and dab.
We (well, I) marvel at the complexity of the computer - its ability, at our command, to bring up information; in fact IT is now a very important subject in the curriculum of our schools. But I hope we never forget that our brains got there first.
I wonder what deja vu experiences readers of my blog have encountered. I would love to know.

14 comments:

Kyfarmlife said...

I think it's wonderful when you come across something that reminds you of a simpler days. For me, When I hear certain Fleetwood Mac song I'm taken back as a very small child in our kitchen, mom is doing laundry and the clean smell of the clothes drying in the dryer with fabric softner, I'm hanging on the handle to the fridge and swinging back and forth...the smell of crickets at night and tree frogs out an open window in the summer remind me of summers in the country when I was little and would stay at my aunts...so much fun

Kyfarmlife said...

Nope its nothing your doing wrong on the comments, we all have that problem...I dont know why...there are days I cant leave a single comment on any, and some days I can only leave on certain ones....its something with blogspot/google...who knows but its so annoying! I'm glad you like my blog, I read yours all the time too, but usually i cant get a comment on there! LOL

The Weaver of Grass said...

What do cricket smell like, I wonder? We don't have them here.

willow said...

Today, as I sharpened a pencil, the scent of the wood and lead took me back to my grandparents' house in that tiny Indiana town, where they kept a pencil sharpener mounted in a back room that was once my grandfather's photography darkroom. It was always overflowing with wood pencil shavings, with a little pile on the floor. The smell was always, and still is, heavenly to me.

Janice Thomson said...

Sometimes an old song will take me back to my youth or a certain smell in the woods. The taste of good old-fashioned ice cream always reminds me of making ours from a hailstorm when growing up on the farm. So many things take us back to the past...

Pat Posner said...

The old-fashioned Christmas cake decorations always take me back. Not only to Christmas down through the years, but to days when I went to my Nan's and we made snow scenes with wet salt on a metal tray and arranged the tiny trees, the sledge, the skating figures and the little cottage in the 'snow'. Oh, and the small oblong mirrors that were always inside a handbag made the frozen lake for the skating figures.

The Weaver of Grass said...

That smell, Willow, is recallable - I am sitting here typing this and can imagine the smell of sharpenings - it is so strong. I think smell is probably the one that reminds me of the past the most.

The Weaver of Grass said...

You have hearing, smell and taste reminding you Janice. Our senses are amazing really, aren't they?

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have never heard of using wet salt for making decorations, Pat - but you conjure up a lovely picture of days that are not likely to return. Quite sad in some ways.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Actually, my fence is around my small backyard (small by American standards) and it is about the only place for birds to land and have a commanding view of the neighborhood. Sometimes the hawks land there to have a look around and see if they can spot anything moving in the bushes or shrubs. It is always fascinating to see who comes and who goes.

Thanks for your visit.

Red Clover said...

As a young girl I would come down the stairs on a Saturday morning and hear brazilian music playing. Years later I lived in Brazil for a year and a half, mostly in the city of Rio de Janeiro on the coast. I would be walking down the street or entering an apartment, and hear that soft bossa nova beat, with Joao Gilberto singing, and miss my father terribly. (He had spent a few years in Brazil as a young man, hence the music.) Strange that now when I hear those songs they take me back to the streets of Laranjeiras in Rio, and the pulse of a different nation.

Robyn said...

Speaking of Bath....every time I hear an owl calling I'm transported back to our first night in Bath where an owl hooted all night.It was a great feeling lying snuggly in the dark listening and knowing that we had many days ahead of us to explore.

The scent of newly mown hay or wood smoke on a cold afternoon takes me straight back to the farm of my childhood.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes, red clover, music is very evocative - and can make one feel quite sad sometimes.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you enjoyed your visit to Bath, Robyn - it is a lovely city, isn't it?