I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE NEXT two years of my life to fly by. Come 2023 I might be able to remember what happened last Wednesday!
Older readers will know the problem: you remember in glorious detail what you did in your teens and twenties but as for where you were, what you did or who you met a matter of days ago. . . not a sausage.
’Er Indoors (I can’t recall the wife’s name just for the moment) assures me that she, too, suffers from Six-Week Wipeout, whereby all memories of my recent doings and details of future plans are erased along with the memory of where I left my diary and when I last had my spectacles (and why is this dratted piece of string tied in a bow around my little finger?).
Our solution to slow this slide into senility is to divide the morning newspaper into its alpha-numeric parts: the Codeword for wordsmith me and the Sudoku for my mathematical missus. After lunch we combine to tackle The Guardian cryptic crossword, finally to moan that the crossword compilers must be getting younger as they don’t seem to be on our wavelength any more.
You may wonder why I have chosen to tackle this subject (actually, I had almost forgotten!) but I was reminded of the ‘far and near’ nature of memory impairment by two recent events. First, an amusing text message from my daughter, the New Mum, who wrote from her daily pram-pushing exercise:
“In ‘Ally Pally’ (Alexandra Palace), a very small boy and rather larger dad jogging very, very slowly up a hill, but quite obviously at the dad’s pace ’cos the kid clearly has more gas in the tank. As they pass me the little boy says “Dad! The café is open. I think you need a drink.”
Foul look from dad, who has been surreptitiously checking his phone, presumably to see if they can stop any time soon. They jog slowly past the café.”
With a mental click of the fingers my memory snapped back with absolute clarity to a frosty morning in 1984 when a pigtailed six-year-old skipped happily backwards and chatted (without pause for breath) at her much heavier father as he toiled through one of his v-e-r-y occasional ‘I Must Get Fitter Before I’m Fifty’ jogs.
We lived in rural Kent at the time and I was determined to make the ‘Elmscroft Mile’ my daily fitness routine for life. I still smile through gritted teeth when I remember that child delivering the coup-de-grâce to her sweating parent, by now shambling along at tortoise pace.
“Please stop now, daddy,” she implored. “Mummy said I MUST make you sit down when we reach the cricket pitch.”
You see? I remember that perfectly, every far-off detail almost 40 years later. But last night in the Red Lion, Joe the Barber bowled me the perfect googly that had me stumped all ends up.
“Saw you on the telly,” he said.
“I haven’t done any telly,” I replied.
“This was a trailer,” he persisted. “For Channel Five. Later this week. About the tabloids. . .”
That interview! It was beginning to come back to me. . . ITN did the filming, took about three hours, travelled down to London for it.
“So what did you tell them about the tabloids?” asked farmer Billy the Quid.
Truth is, I don’t remember. It was back in May, not enough years back for me to have total recall but too close in time to remember a damned word!
“You said in the trailer that ‘Once you open the floodgates the dam is broken,’” said a gleeful Joe the Barber. “I suppose it’s about how you tabloids editors turn over those poor celebrities,” he offered, primly.
Your guess is as good as mine. If you’re interested, the first episode of Sex and Power: Celebrity Wars airs on Channel 5 tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9pm.
I daren’t watch. Instead, I’ve decided to run a mile. . .for old times’ sake.
Come and see Camera Club’s finest FREE!
<Voiceofthenorth.net> is always in need of photographic illustration, so advertising the upcoming (and FREE!) Berwick Camera Club exhibition in exchange for a well-taken shot of a local beauty spot is an excellent trade-off.
The exhibition takes place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September from 10am-4pm in St Aidan’s Church Hall, Church St, Berwick. Entry is free and tea, coffee and cake will be available. There’s a wide variety of pictures to enjoy, all made by club members, plus a wealth of detail regarding how, when and where they were taken.
And the trade-off picture? The Tweed at Coldstream was taken by the club secretary, Annie Watt. Pop along to the exhibition and she’ll spill the tricks of the trade!
Why can’t our village church become a place of sanctuary?
Times change, as do the needs of every community. There has been a church in our village since 1745. The original building lasted almost 200 years until it had to be replaced in 1932 with the superficially utilitarian church that stands in Crookham to this day.
As a boy, I was taken by my grandparents to worship there and my parents were married in Crookham Presbyterian Church in 1947. Since 1972, when the United Reformed Church was created with the union of the English Presbyterian and Congregational churches, the present building has seen its membership diminish, through population drift and a lessening of religious observance generally.
Despite the energetic efforts of its two most recent ministers, our church has dwindled to almost certain closure. Its future seems likely to belong in the hands of the highest bidder, almost certainly a developer who will build more expensive dwellings to house more well-off elderly people. A village which once offered affordable rentals to farm workers and their young families will thus become a retirement dormitory without any facility beyond those the village hall can offer.
But, as I said earlier, times and needs change: should not a caring community – and I naturally include a church, whose pastoral care encompasses social welfare as much as religious devotion –consider using this sturdy building, and many others throughout Britain, as a means of helping the worst-off in society instead of amassing mammon?
Yes, I am thinking of refugees who should be welcomed to our country with sound accommodation in a friendly community instead of being housed on sink estates in soulless cities? Think of the return they could make to a tourism-led region like Northumbria where the greatest need (ask any hotelier) is finding staff to cook, wait table or make beds and clean. Or to farmers begging for casual labour to pick fruit before it rots in the fields.
Our own old church has a rare claim to stay anchored to the community: the Flodden Peace and Reconciliation Centre and the Peace Garden which surrounds the building, both created at some expense and which could surely be incorporated into some community care facility.
It is at least worth considering.