For many people this song ‘My favourite things’ from the 1965 film The Sound of Music might be thought as insipid, sickly sweet, even nauseating. But, surprisingly, if we did a straw-poll you might find that most of us know some of the words. I remember in my early twenties coming home from seeing the film at the local cinema with my friends singing our heads off as we walked along.
I was reminded of my memories by the commentators at the recent World Championships on the Gold Coast when a number of them alluded to the unforgettable memories participants would treasure as they carried off their laurels and stood in triumph as their national anthem was played.
I can’t recall ever noticing this particular observation before at the Olympics or other sporting or cultural event, though I am sure it is true. Of course, it set me thinking about my own favourite memories, though none of them could match winning a gold medal.
I was further prompted to reminisce after watching a very interesting programme about John Paul Getty which spent some time looking at the Getty Villa, on Pacific Palisades in LA. but more about that later.
I spent a pleasant hour or so one Sunday afternoon, after a particularly busy week, ensconced in a comfy chair with my feet up, dredging my memories thinking about my memorable moments, not memorable things, although one or two of them are physical objects.
Naturally my wedding day and the birth of my son and grandchildren must be at the top of my list of unforgettable memories. But I was quite surprised, having had so far, a fairly adventurous, interesting and often challenging life, that of my memories, and I eventually selected some and discarded others, the most-dear are relatively simple and not spectacular, because we have had quite a few of those over the years.
As I have said in the past, time travel is easy we do it everyday when we remember or are reminded of past events. The taste of blueberries and also ginger beer take me back to my early childhood in Yorkshire whilst the smell of ground coffee takes me back to my teens in Cumbria.
My earliest memories are of idyllic days trailing behind my sisters through wild rose draped hedgerows as we wandered through God’s own county. We used to go every day that the sun shone, which seemed all the time, to swim in the river pools in Thick Hollins Dike at Royd Edge up in the Pennines, crystal clear, but with rust red rocks on the water margins from the iron in the water. Far above the Dark Satanic Mills we would spend the day just like the water babies in Charles Kingsley’s ‘Fairy tale for a Land baby’. Our Mother would give each of us a small container into which we were to gather the bilberries that grew in profusion alongside the century’s old sheep worn paths. My sisters dutifully filled their containers with the luscious, juicy berries but mine would have a mere handful and there would be a big blue circle round my mouth from the juice of the bilberries I would greedily cram into my mouth. My mother always threatened not to give me any of the delicious bilberry pies that she made to feed her hungry brood.
Another childhood memory is of a new coat, a dark shade of azure blue with a velvet collar. Being the youngest of a family of six, every garment I wore was a hand-me-down from my older sisters. Don’t feel sorry for me, all families were like that in the fifties and early sixties. This coat was the very first new garment that I ever had, and when I wore it I felt like a princess in fact, Princess Anne had a very similar coat.
I love red shoes and I attribute this to a pair of high heeled red shoes that my mother had, also hand-me-downs from her employer, but when she wore them to me she always looked like a film star.
For every girl her first bra is a “rite-of-passage” and my eldest sister bought me mine, it had pink rose buds and the minutest frill of lace. This is the only memory from my teens that I’m willing to share. There isn’t enough money in the world that could persuade me to be a teenager again, though I did get to see the Beatles live twice and they were asked to leave a dance I was attending at the poshest hotel in the city, this was before the mop haircuts and the jackets; leather jackets were ‘pas la chose’.
Walking through the archaeological ruins of Carthage and the El Jem Amphitheatre in North Africa; nose to nose with a giant Groper and Nemo’s clownfish cousins on the Barrier Reef; the terrifying antiquated, rusty cable car and the history and horror of Masada; swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea; petal shaped dabs of sunlight shimmering and flashing on the water of lake Geneva; Caraway Bread for breakfast in Copenhagen; being stopped for speeding in New York State; the fairy tale that is Niagara in winter; a staggering lightning storm in the Glass House Mountains in Queensland and Hells Angels on the Nullarbor plain in Australia; and sea gulls washing the salt off their feathers in the river Sid at Sidmouth in Devon, all cherished memories. Unforgettable and so many, many more, I have been blessed.
It has been surprisingly difficult to pick the best of memories which brings us back to the Getty Villa This is a truly opulent building, a copy of a Roman Villa in Herculaneum destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79, no expense spared, the repository of Getty’s fabulous Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures. Much to see and absorb so many things I might have chosen to remember but the strongest memory for me was sitting in the tranquil east garden eating our picnic. There were no other visitors there to disturb our peace, but we were not alone within moments of our sitting down on a stone seat tiny jewel like lizards came out of hidden crevasses to stare at us and we became the exhibit, they seemed to have no fear and after deciding that we would do them no harm they went about their business some to bask in the warmth of the sun others to hunt the many insects that shared their domain.
Of course, we have had our fair share of unhappy memories too but I choose not to dwell on the. The memories I have shared are the short list and I hope that as I get older I’ll accumulate more to add to them.
What we allow into our minds is what comes out of it so negative dark reflections I choose to expel Philippians 4: 8 is my mantra. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.
I would recommend this memory exercise, I remembered not just the events but remembered also those who I had shared them with, the warmth of the sun or the breeze or the smell of trees or flowers, the taste of the air, the sound of the sea. A real sensory journey through my life.
Sometimes I forget that this Blog was initiated to hopefully encourage people to read my Kindle ‘indie’ published novels, two so far. ‘Reflections of the Old Past’, and ‘Red Sky at Dawning’: The Time Oak.
Watching Country file’s Royal Special this evening on BBC1 was like stepping into the pages of my Kindle ‘indie’ published novel ‘Red Sky at Dawning’: The Time Oak.
I found the programme encouraging, because for every author self doubt is never far away. I was reassured, whilst my story is entirely fiction it is also credible and current at the same time. My story charts the highs and lows, mistakes and triumphs, laughter and tears of the relationships of my characters often bitter-sweet. I hope is also expresses some of the culture and character of this green and pleasant land in which we live.
‘Red Sky at Dawning’ has been described as lyrical but readers have also expressed that the climax took their breath away.
The book is available on Kindle books, a free app will allow you to down load it to your iPad or posh phone, for the princely sum of £2.44, thanks to those who have already bought it.
A recent review of my first published novel, ‘Reflections of the Old Past’ likened it to be a cross between Agatha Christi and Jane Austin I’m taking that as a compliment.