Monday 1st August 2011
“First of the month, pinch punch” – as we used to sing at school. But that was a very long time ago now. Funny how those little rhymes stay lodged in the memory, when events such as birthdays, or holiday trips remain stubbornly vague. Conversations are the hardest to recall, and inevitably one ad-libs when writing them down, the actual words used are impossible to remember but the flavour, the vinegar or the oil, the tone, is all too clear in the memory.
And how many conversations I would have with my Grandma, during the long winter nights, or sitting in the garden at Putney on summer evenings how we would chat for hours. That was all before Paris and my first big deception of course. Before the television started to dominate and Grandma’s attention would be taken up by the blurry images skittering away in the corner of the room. Or when I was a little girl; I cannot remember the studio room in Chelsea which Grandma talks about in her spiteful little journal to me, but I do remember Cyprus. The hot-hot afternoons which seemed endless, like the clouds that slowly drifted across the wide horizon outside our residence. And how we would automatically lower our voices when a servant came into the room, or even my mother, as if we were conspirators in some play. (whispered asides to an imaginary audience) And our little game of speaking French so that nobody, and that would include, or so I thought, my mother and father, could understand us. And my shadow of an evasive father – even though I know and love his features now in his old age, I really cannot imagine how he looked as a young man.
Maybe we never can; maybe that explains the surprise when we see an old photo, and we struggle to recognise both ourselves and relatives or school-friends in the tiny black and white smudgy and fading images. Of course this experience will not be shared by the younger generation, whose digital images will remain forever pristine and enlargeable, and even now being “tagged” so they can never forget the names. How sad that they will miss out on this ageing experience, that their world will always remain clear and un-blurred. Even their paper will not wither and curl up, as another printout can always be obtained at the click of a mouse.
Ah well, maybe it is all for the best really.