Sunday, 23 February 2014

Pictures in my head.

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.


Dartford Warbler said...

Yes, I do. Completely forgotten events that pop up out of nowhere.

All the research into long term and short term memory are one thing. The random "flashing up" of memories so long hidden seem to dispute the theory that we only store certain things in long term memory.

Mr DW has a theory that we have everything from our lives stored away there somewhere, but that might be a bit fanciful!

Elizabeth said...

This phenomena is such a delight.
How much we have stored in our noggins. Food for a novel perhaps!

John Going Gently said...

A nice meander!
Funny you mention the organ
I cleaned the church on Saturday as chris played the organ!
I videod it

Cro Magnon said...

Absolutely. Usually in the form of very short 'flashes' about places. I then spend the next few hours wondering why on earth it came into my mind. A bit like you.

It can't be old age; I'm not old enough!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I do have memories that pop up like that - and I usually try and find what triggered them - but sometimes they just pop up by themselves, and sometimes I see, hear or smell something and know what it will remind me of.

One is of rowing up the bay in Alaska with a young friend - I was 8, he was 6 - and we saw a bear on the beach near where we had pulled up our skiff - he started rowing - I ran down a nearby beached barge and jumped into the boat - landing with a thud and knocking the wind out of myself - but that bear was NOT going to catch me. I see it clear as day quite often. The story is in my book "Are We Walking To Alaska?" - along with a lot of other adventures in Alaska when I was a little girl (before Alaska became a state).

jinxxxygirl said...

Often times its a smell that will set the memories free....... My grandmother always wore a certain face cream at night before bed and when i smell it now ( I wear the same) I remember vividly summer vacation nights spent with her...lying in bed next to her under clean ,crisp sheets the windows open with sounds of the night drifting in....

She always wore the same perfume during the day 'Sand and Sable' I'm not sure you can even find it anymore.... But when i do catch a whiff it reminds me of standing in the bathroom watching her get ready... fixing her hair...getting the wave in it just right...putting on just a little makeup and earrings always clipon earrings...she always said if God intended her to have holes in her ears he would have put them Hugs! deb

Terry and Linda said...

It is amazing how we have random but very clean photos and events stuck in our brains! A thought frozen in time, so to speak!


Em Parkinson said...

Yes - absolutely. It started at 45 for me. Lovely post Pat and the mention of potted beef made me sigh and picture a scene with my Grandmother and Grandfather. He loved it, as did I, whilst my Grandmother thought it 'common'! Hmmmm.

Gwil W said...

I was in a church in rural East Anglia about 10 years ago and there was a man there and he started talking to me about the bats that were living in the church. I'd never thought it afterwards, and completely forgot about it, that is until this very minute. And now I find thinking of that leads me to think of something else I'd forgotten, also to do with a church but in Wales, and so it goes on. Maybe I have a drawer in my head crammed full of churches I've completely forgotten about?

Heather said...

That was a big responsibility for one so young, but you were obviously capable enough to take it on.
I suddenly recall things from my youth or childhood for no apparent reason, but nothing comes to me at the moment!

Hildred said...

I can remember being amazed at the things my grandmother remembered about her childhood, and here I am, so often astounded at the memories that just seem to appear from nowhere and give me a lovely warm feeling of contentment for the moments life returns to me as memory.

angryparsnip said...

My idea on this is we have a somewhat quieter (?) time in our life.... and all these wonderful stored up thoughts and memories come flooding back.
I now live in a city that I grew up in. Just the other day I was looking out at the Tangelo tree and thinking I needed to pick some fruit. All of a sudden I was about 10 ? walking with my family through a Citrus Tree farm. It was before the Holidays and we would send a box of fruit back to some relatives in Chicago.
Now this was way back in the day when stores really only had small veggie/fruit counters and mostly filled with seasonal. A orange in winter now that was a treat.
But living in Tucson we were very lucky with the fruit and veggies.

cheers, parsnip

Bovey Belle said...

What a wonderful post. I never knew that you were so musical - and in a position of authority from such a young age too!

These memories (and DW, tell your man I agree with him) are all stashed away in our subconscious. Sometimes something will gie a little jolt and out they fly. Things I'd COMPLETELY forgotten. It happened last week with a memory about my mum - how COULD I have forgotten it? Yet, it has already subsided into subconscious and I can't recall it again!

Smells certainly set these memories off - I have only to smell crushed bracken to be 10 years old again, and in a bracken den down in the old disused brickworks. Magical times . . .

Bovey Belle said...

sorry Pat - brain-dead this morning - for "position of authority" "read position of responsility" . . . Doh! Off out for a brisk walk to get the grey cells jiggled up a bit.