Happy New Year
At this time of year many of us make resolutions that fall by the wayside just a few days into the New Year. Just as we get used to writing ‘2014’, we forget what we promised we would do.
I don’t know about you, but I am constantly surprised at how much I forget. Fortunately this is not a function of dementia but just my normal memory function. It is extraordinary how I can remember some detailed issue for the business but constantly forget to pick up the dry cleaning!
Some years ago I went on a special holiday to Barbados - for the first time. I decided not only to take loads of pictures, but also to keep a diary of the trip. Every now and then I find that diary and re-read my sun soaked stories of that amazing holiday. It is almost like reading a work of fiction because, apart from a couple of experiences, most of those two weeks have been completely wiped from my memory. But when I read that diary they come flooding back and so does the gloriously happy feeling I had while on Barbados.
One of my favourite books is the diary of Samuel Pepys. His description of the plague and the fire of London, or burying his valuables in his back garden, and of dallying with women, bring that period of history to life in a way that no other documents do. We know so much more about this extraordinary period because we can read his amazing descriptions. I am sure at the time he didn’t think he was creating such an important book. But his memories have enriched our understanding of Stuart England.
Rather less historic but just as revealing, recently I posted a description of eating in the UK in the 1950s. Among the things that connected with so many of you were:
“Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
* Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were
used for embalming
* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and
cabbage, anything else was regarded as being a bit suspicious.
* All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the
salt on or not.
* Soft drinks were called pop.
* Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
* A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
* A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.”
So quickly we forget what it was like back then, just 50 years ago. Only two TV channels; no central heating, we used to have a paraffin heater in the bathroom when it got cold; I used to have ice on the inside of my bedroom window in the winter; things were very different.
Now, we are not all going to be Samuel Pepys, but without recording what life was like it will disappear. I recently discovered a saying that 'when a person dies, a library burns.'
It doesn’t have to be hard work – in fact it is rather fun, and children and grandchildren find it hard to believe that times were so different. So rather than letting your memories get away, share them, write them down, so that they will be forever a record of what your life was like.
I am going to start a campaign this year to persuade people to write down their memories for their nearest and dearest and I need a name for it – a bottle of champagne if you can come up with the winning slogan.
So, may I wish you a happy New Year and my resolution is to try to get everyone in the UK to share their memories with their families – this is one resolution I won’t forget!
Please make it your resolution to write down your life story and share your memories with those most precious to you. Thank you.
Bryher Scudamore 31st December 2013.