Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Blue Boy “Remember Me”
 Diana Ross and the Supremes “Love Child”
 Cicada “Same Old Scene”
 The Mac Band “Roses Are Red”
 Florence + The Machine “Breath of Life”
 Tongue ‘N’ Cheek “Encore”
How are those memories? Do you remember what happened this time last week or has it all become a little hazy? How much data have you managed to retain during that time and how much has fallen by the wayside? It is futile attempting to recall every last detail of our lives as fresh information comes from all around us and can arrive at any given moment. It is our job to encode it, store it, then retrieve it at a later point and this three-prong process is easier said than done with the amount of cognitive ammunition we are provided. My short-term memory isn’t the strongest and a certain amount of loss is inevitable. However, my long-term memory is practically unbounded and there are things I still recall from my childhood many years on that I am in no danger of ever forgetting. One example is the license plate of our family automobile from when I was about five-years-old. Quite why BPC925H is as clear as day even now I haven’t the vaguest idea. Perhaps it was repetition that made it so memorable but I couldn’t misplace this seven-strong sequence if I tried. Somehow it managed to lodge itself in the old hippocampus and stubbornly refused to budge. Of course, it serves no great purpose to anyone other than me, but I take considerable comfort from its very remembrance.
Yet there are things I have attempted to soak up just days ago that have since fallen by the wayside. Relay to me a mobile phone number and, chances are, I will have forgotten it by the time I pick up my handset. Sensory memory is first up and this is a decidedly fleeting process. Indeed, it has the capability to preserve information for less than a second, and is as generic a response as they come. This entails observing an item for a split second and memorizing it accordingly. Forget about short-term, sensory memory tackles the shit that cannot even claim to have made it that far yet. If you pass a black cat on your daily travels, then you may well be very aware of its presence, but there’s no great reason to commit it to those memory banks. However, should wretched misfortune play out directly afterwards, then it may just graduate to short-term retention as it now has a relevancy and purpose. Now crank that up another notch and provide said feline with a way of articulating itself verbally and, chances are, it’ll stay with you like airport luggage for the rest of your life. You see, our frontal lobes are effectively sorting offices and decide what should endure and what should be discarded. Clever huh?
Of course, not everything stored is done so photographically and often our minds place their own spin on any data stockpiled without our prior knowledge. You may recall an instance from many years ago and believe that to have happened a certain way but time may just cloud that reminiscence and tamper with the minor details to either suit you or shaft you. We swear blind that we know precisely how an event turned out and would take out a second mortgage on our homes to place bets on being 100% factual with our recollection but, somewhere along the way and for reasons unclear, the story changes. This may be down to putting a spin on said tale for effect and altering our own perception indefinitely or it could just be our minds playing tricks on us as they have a tendency to do that from time to time. When your imagination is over-active as is mine, it’s only natural that it will see fit to spice things up a little in the name of keeping it fresh over a prolonged period. That is not to say that it is something I actively partake in but it does happen and there’s not a damn thing any one of us can do about it.
Did you ever play Chinese Whispers as a child? This delightful little game involves a message which is passed around within a group in a hushed tone and invariably ends up distorted come the tail-end. One instance from my adolescence still holds up all these years later and it came during a school music lecture. Our tutor donated a short sentence to one of my classmates, before standing back and allowing it to gestate. I have to come clean here as, what began totally innocuous, soon altered the very moment it reached this link in the chain. The word “ice-cream” was then replaced with “plonker” and, while this may suggest a foolish or inept person, back then it roughly translated to penis. I simply couldn’t resist the urge and was protected by the Chinese Whispers confidentiality act so saw no harm or foul in making any necessary amendments. To my distinct pleasure, this made it through the remainder of the group intact, and the most timid wallflower in class was then required to stand up and present it to her peers. I’ll never forget the color of her face as she did.
Chinese Whispers are still just as relevent now as they were back then as each of us place our own unique twist on information for the purpose of maximizing effect. What starts as “I have a boil on my left ass cheek” soon becomes “Did you hear about Richard? He’s just had a biopsy on a tumor they found on his right buttock. I hear he’s in critical condition and it’s touch and go right now as to whether or not he’ll make it through the weekend. We’re all collecting to buy him a bouquet of flowers if you wish to chip in”. Suddenly I am presented with a spray of lilies and have no idea what I did to earn this floral freebie. Meanwhile, I have already lanced the poison out, and my butt is back to being as smooth as the day I was born. I find it all rather fascinating and only wish that somebody didn’t assume that I had a thing for garlands. I clearly stated that I desired the Phantasm 1-4 Box Set and, somewhere along the chain, it all broke down dagnabbit. I guess I kinda had that coming for the whole “plonker” debacle. It’s true what they say – what goes around does indeed come back that way, but not before receiving the old Cantonese remix.
Given that I spend so much of my man hours dusting off my memoirs, I am required to call upon long-term retention habitually. Whether or not this is 100% factual matters not as, in my mind, it’s as bona fide as they come. I don’t see fit to twist gospel for my own merriment and, instead, search for a manner in which to relay said tidbit for maximum amusement from my readership. It’s all certainly true enough as the Keeper of The Crimson Quill knows not how to falsify information. That said, it is there for the embellishment and a good story is all in the telling after all. Should I be in the midst of running for my life after being rumbled playing unlicensed physician with my neighbor’s little sister, then her furious mother may now be brandishing a rolling-pin just to heighten the tension some. Everything else is authentic and I can still taste the metallic tang of terrorization to this very day. But don’t be surprised if that becomes a hand whisk by the time I eventually revisit the fable. What is critical to our investment is the scenario itself, not minor detail or what color pinafore THE MOTHERNATOR! was wearing that day. For the record, the Chinese grapevine has long since suggested that she was dressed head to toe in dominatrix gear and the rolling-pin in question was actually a cat ‘o’ nine tails. You see how the plot can soon thicken?
While I deal in truth, occasionally I may just throw something bogus in just for the sheer helluvit. Should you have heard me mention a cheese grater at any point during my chronicles, then you’ll likely be thinking the worst given how open I am about my excessive masturbation as a teen. Put two and two together and the probability is that you’ll come up with four. That said, while you’re bang on with regards to my reasoning for its inclusion, it turns out that I never once partook in any act quite so demented. Instead, the old cheese grater chestnut is only present for personal gratification, a long-running in-joke that I just cannot seem to shake. Simple things please simple minds and the sheer thought of using this particular kitchen utensil to rub one out is so preposterous that it’s simply begging for a run-out. It’s not even a white lie, just a repeat offender in my chosen dialogue and, therefore, fair game in my book. To my knowledge this is a one-off and everything else you read comes with the full endorsement of my long-term memory.
As you will already be aware, I travel nowhere without my rose-tinted spectacles, and have a tendency to remember the good as opposed to the bad when casting my mind back affectionately. Recently I released an article by the name of Keeper of The Clerks and it only highlighted how delightful a period my ten-year stint in retail management was. To be fair, it wasn’t all cheek dimples and happy stickers, but I have no great desire to recall anything about my tenure that was anything other than pleasurable, unless there’s a spin to be placed on it of course. Being a cherry-picker by nature, said nature is simply of the beast, why rattle on about amateurish dramatics when there’s a celebration to be had? Indeed, anything sinister dissolved many moons ago, and warrants absolutely no place in my sensory banks. I find this a most cordial pastime, especially when frequenting one’s past as there are skeletons there if you go prodding too deep and they will poke you dead in the eyeball with their spindly digits just because that’s what these bone-shakers do for their shits and giggles.
Having undergone short-term therapy as I plummeted towards my forties, I’m only too aware of any shenanigans that played out in my infancy. However, where I had spent the lion’s share of my adulthood believing this to have been a somber time, I now consider my childhood as a ripened bowl of glazed cherries, positively thirsting for the picking. Long-term memory helps here but isn’t the be-all and end-all that I thought it was initially. Personal choice also comes into play as I am both master and commander of my own vessel and steer that ship in whatever way keeps it from ending up dashed upon the rigid rocks of regret. Naturally there will also be painful recollections and I’m still very much privy to such signposts. I’m just a lot more sparing with my remembrance as I’d much rather dish out the smiles than the grimaces. Occasionally, as with a piece I posted on Father’s Day called Lost & Found and opted against mass mailing, it is necessary for me to reach into the deepest vaults and recover an angst nugget or three. This may be a particularly daunting exercise but, through another taking the leap of faith before me, I promptly took her lead.
To say that this was draining is to place far too fine a point on it as, two hours later, I emerged from my expedition emotionally drained and unable to engage in the usual social festivities. Then, literally moments after I clicked that Publish tab, I received tragic news of the untimely passing of one of the brightest young talents the film industry has known for many a year and simply wasn’t equipped to process this new data. Thus a long period ensued whereby I didn’t move a solitary inch and sat agape as this cataclysm washed over my sensory glands. Now I found myself in a pickle as Anton Yelchin deserved a true celebration of his life and I knew fellow aficionados would be hurting just as I was so I was under no illusion as to what needed to be done. However, having wrestled out over 2000 words already that day about the passing of a personal hero, I just didn’t have it in me to pick up the reins a second time. This would be required to marinate overnight as I needed to approach this in a very distinct manner. Writing about my beloved father’s death was beyond strenuous and involved a fair old modicum of smarting pain. But the method to my madness was as clear as it was crystallized.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t exactly a hootenanny. There were tears welling throughout and a solitary escapee from the pool as I reenacted his final denouement. However, the spin on this exertion was overwhelmingly positive and designed to supply solace to the reader. Once it was done, it was done, and I can now peruse said piece of literature with a warm glow as opposed to the cold front I felt previously. Thus it was worth every last gulp, each lower lip quiver, and the agony of primary re-enlightenment. I then adopted an entirely different approach as I thrashed out Anton Yelchin: Stargazer the very next morning as this wasn’t quite such an intimate affair, at least not with regards to homelands. Here was an individual snatched away callously and way before his time, which made mourning very acceptable practise. But everyone else already seemed to have that side covered and, weeks after we have absorbed this horrendous news, I wish for this tribute to be able to provide serenity, not perpetuating angst. One thing was for sure, it drained my resources a second time, and my interactions have been scant ever since.
The difference now to six months ago is that I now know how to stop the rot when corrosion begins to rear its ugly head. After working on a typically uplifting piece on Tuesday morning, I felt ratified in knocking out something light and playful for my evening shift. Chatterbox worked wonders in halting my sorry slide and, as a result, normal business is all set to resume post-haste. Depression isn’t something I have rid myself of so much as learned how to duck away from for the most part. As walls commence closing in around me, it’s time to test some boundaries, and this leaves me outside the box of my own construction looking in, having fled fate’s fickle finger by the very skin on my marrow. This process worked wonders as we learn something new every day and, this day, I unearthed such blunderful gadgets as the iPotty and Man Bra. It tickled me pink if I’m honest and hopefully we all came away from my ramblings a similar shade of salmon. No longer did I feel glum, any pangs were significantly lessened, and I woke up this Wednesday lunchtime to radiant daylight. True, this didn’t alleviate the twenty-minute hacking fit which I believe may well be the introductory red flag of Emphysema but at least I was sporting one of my three favorite happy grills. For the record, just writing this now has empowered me to make a health appointment at my local surgery so how’s that for meaningful prose.
I remember much from my forty-one years and every repeat visit yields fresh reconnaissance so I’m grateful for every last long-term investigation. Dementia is a very real threat to many and a heartbreaking thing to have to either endure or watch on helplessly as it manifests in a loved one. I like to think of it as a secret garden of sorts that only the user themselves knows the coordinates to. The bliss in ignorance comes from choosing not to hang onto what is being lost in your slipstream and, instead, focus on the beautiful estate before you and only that. This is what invariably occurs and I take great comfort from this interpretation of fast-accelerating ambiguity. Some memories may fade, while others crusade, and which confectionary we elect to hold on to is ordinarily under our sole jurisdiction. Months from now as I sit in this precise garden chair, tear and share, I will remember this moment and do so with a contented smile and warm heart. And do you know what? I may finally get around to trying out that cheese grater after all. Anyone for dairy? Should memory serve, then I believe you’re somewhat partial.