Friday, March 27, 2020

The sudden recovery of disturbing memories

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I used to be sceptical of the idea that traumatic memories could suddenly resurface.
But in recent years I have had some experience of this myself as two memories – not traumatic but a little disturbing – reappeared without warning.

The first dates from my days as a student at York. There was not much to do on campus on Sunday afternoons, so I got into the habit of walking to the next village and buying a meal from the one shop that was open there.

I remember these Sunday afternoons as being always foggy with an almost violet light. “Fog in the Vale of York” was a recurrent theme on the radio weather forecast in winter.

One afternoon I was taking this walk, and as I passed a house I saw a body bag being carried out.

The second takes me back to Boxmoor primary school. When you moved on to secondary school there were two choices. You either went to Hemel Hempstead School, which had just gone comprehensive after being a very traditional grammar school, which is what I did. Yes, reader, I once wore a school cap.

If you didn’t get a place there, you went to the former secondary modern Bourne Valley, which was seen as being second best by a distance.

The top class at Boxmoor was not large, even though some children had been moved up to it early to balance numbers, so only three boys were given a place at Bourne Valley.

Two were good friends of mine and the parents of both appealed, trying to get them a place at the former grammar.

One was the son of a doctor and, as my parents forecast, he duly won his appeal. The other boy didn’t and the memory that resurfaced was of him sitting in the boys’ cloakroom at Boxmoor crying at the unfairness of it all and of the rest of us standing around awkwardly not knowing what to do.

An interesting thing about the reappearance of these memories is that in neither case could I find any reason why it should have happened when it did. There was no connection with what I had been doing or thinking at the time.

It makes me worry a little about what might bubble up next.

1 comment:

Grumpy of Leicester said...

It does happen, and I wonder if it happens more as one becomes slightly more mature.
When I was younger it was embarrassing moments that would suddenly appear in my head - generally things for which I felt I needed to offer some sort of apology or receive, for want of a better word, forgiveness.
Now I'm well into my 60s it's the sort of stuff you describe, in the way you describe.
I'm hard pressed to give an example, although a recurring flashback is a very frightening incident from when I must have been about 8 involving my being sent down a railway line with a red flag by my grandmother (a signal-woman in a level crossing box) to stop a train of chalk wagons before it hit the level crossing gates. I get vivd moments at the oddest times seeing, hearing and sensing the black 5 just feet from me (although I can't see its number!!). Yes I did stop it.