Exploring memory

Aged 4 with marrow

Nostalgia for the 1960s seems to be very in vogue at the moment.

Fashion is following the lines and silhouettes of the early 1960s; ‘classic’ designs have been revitalised.

Is it all down to the influence of ‘Mad Men’?

We enjoy watching the constant smoking and drinking and the casual misogyny, racism and  anti-Semitism, and say to ourselves ‘Good heavens, haven’t things changed?  No-one behaves like that any more.’  (Dimwit TV sports presenters excepted.)

Part of the phenomenon must be down to the fact that the generation which was children during the 60s are now commissioning editors for television and films, and there is a curiosity to explore the way things have changed in their own lifetimes.  The research they have been doing must be exhaustive and exhausting as no-one could possible remember all the details, could they?

It’s certainly made me think about what I remember.

This is a photo of me from that time.  It was here initially because it makes me laugh to look at it; if only because of the ridiculous expression on my face.  My sister used to take ages to take a photo and I’d be staring into the sun for so long I’d have to close my eyes and screw my face up, as only a four year old can do.

And then I studied the picture more closely.

It’s taken at the bottom of the garden of the first family house I remember clearly; but if I ever conjure up an image of it in my mind, there is a six foot wooden fence across the bottom and trees down the side.

Clearly they must have come later.  But my father had evidently already established his vegetable patch and grown a marrow too big to eat.

The houses in the background were still under construction, but I have no memory of that either, yet I would have thought that a construction site would have been a source of fascination for my child self;  but I do remember what it feels like to hold a really big marrow!

I’ve been mining my memory for the ideas to explore in my new novel, but inevitably they can only ever be a starting point.  The best bit is both improving the reality and embellishing it.

The revival of the BBC’s Doctor Who is probably also part of the 1960s nostalgia movement.  I watched the early episodes from behind the sofa, particularly terrified of the Daleks.  I think I imagined that they were really about to take over the world if William Hartnell didn’t stop them.

It must have become quite a problem as my parents conducted a co-ordinated programme of reassurance.  As he cultivated the garden and came across big lumps of clay, my father would fashion a Dalek from each lump, with three twigs for the eye piece and arms.  He’d arrange them on the outside windowsill and bang on the window until I came to see.

Somehow, realising that they were only small, well they’d have to be to get inside the television, wouldn’t they, I was no longer frightened.

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1 Comment

  1. margaret nickels

     /  January 28, 2011

    Ah yes I remember it well !


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