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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Thoughts on Time and Memory

A couple of rather abstract concepts have been occupying my thoughts lately the first of which is Time.

 Time can be measured in years, months, weeks, days and each day can be split into hours, minutes and seconds (and if you are competing in the Commonwealth Games into fractions of seconds!)

But what a slippery eel time can be - although it passes in measurable units it doesn't seem that way at all.  Remember being a child and "in a minute" being an absolute age to wait?  Why is it that almost any retired person will agree that once you leave work with all those empty hours ahead, in which to do all the things you used to dream of, suddenly there are less hours in each day and less days in each week or so it would seem!  How can this be?  When I look back I remember finding time to cycle to work, to cultivate an allotment, to sew and knit clothes for the Wanderer, to bake cakes and make my own bread and to go for walks gathering blackberries and crab apples to make into jams and puddings before I had to pick her up from school and still having "change from half a crown" as the old Hovis ad used to say! (or did it?)  Now I get to the end of the day and realise I haven't actually done anything much at all some days.  How can that be?  Or is it down to the other concept I have been thinking about?  Maybe I didn't do all those thing every day it just seems like that.

Memory - is another slippery character - it can't be measured (unless we are being asked what is the date today and who is the Prime Minister as we are diagnosed as having or not having Alzhiemer's - do they really ask such questions I wonder as if so I might be suffering already!)  but it's there alright.  Why is it that I can remember in vivid detail things that happened back in the 1940s but have difficulty in remembering what I did yesterday?  But memory is a real gift and is something which nobody can take away from us.  My days out (which maybe one of the reasons I don't get much done) are filling my memory bank so that in the winter I can call up the sunny memories to keep me going through the months which always seem much longer than the summer ones - see Time above!!

All kinds of things trigger memories - for me it might be flowers - you might remember me telling you about the snowdrops at Pope's Hill back when I was writing about my childhood perhaps, colours especially in combination such as bright blue and buttercup yellow which immediately remind me of some sheets of paper I was given as a 6 year old to cut up and make patterns with or perhaps lime green and turquoise which were the colours in a check dress for a paper doll which came each week in my mother's magazine.  Who remembers dressing a card doll with cut out paper clothes fitted with little fold over tabs? Sounds such as classical piano music which reminds me of school assemblies, smells such as warm milk reminding me of having to drink those little third of a pint bottles at playtime at school - no refrigeration for the bottles they just sat in the crates getting warm and horrible all morning, and so on and so on.  Truly memory is a marvellous thing even if it cannot be measured and it also cannot always be believed!

For those who enjoy coming with me on my outings I am off to London again on Friday so will share that outing with you when I get back - it's no wonder I don't get much done at home is it?!   Having been inspired by the crazy patchwork we saw at the Tate Britain last week I took advantage of the wet weather on Friday afternoon to make a start on a piece myself.  When I have stitched this I intend to use it on a small bag - watch this space!  So perhaps if I were to write a diary of what I do it wouldn't all be time wasted and in any case maybe sitting in the garden musing on this and that is not time wasted anyway but just another memory for my mental scrapbook!

Just received this link from a friend - imagine what a memory this might be if you were lucky enough to come across it!


  1. Oh I enjoyed this post and I totally agree with you Dear!
    Time...Where does it go?
    Thank you for telling it like it is!
    Have a splendid day (no matter what you'll do, you know how precious it is!)

  2. All I know is that time goes by way too quickly!!
    You have jogged a memory about paper dolls, I loved them and could have played with them for hours!
    Looking forward to seeing the bag. :)
    V x

  3. Time is of the essence as you get older, every day counts especially on a birthday! (I'm on the left by the way).
    I loved my paper dolls, you really brought back a memory there!

  4. What a lot of musing you've been doing. It seems to go with our having accumulated quite a few decades of living. But I can only agree with you about both time and memory . . . slippery things they are indeed! Your crazy quilt creation has some lovely colors to it and I'll be looking for that bag. Enjoy your time in London!.

  5. I really don't understand how it can be but I am far busier now than I ever was when I was working, and the years are going by much faster.

  6. Definitely remember the paper dolls -I loved them. I don't know where the time goes - sewing and knitting projects pile up and housework gets out of hand, yet everything used to get done when I had a job and a small daughter to look after. It's one of life's mysteries.

  7. LOVED the video, how wonderful it would have been to be there. I know exactly what you mean about memory. One single little thing can transport you back to an exact time, place, memory, in the blink of an eye. Amazing. I do remember the little bottles of milk. Never liked them much either. The bottles are quite collectable now! I hope you have a lovely trip to London. CJ xx

  8. How fabulous is that video. I would just adore to be in a store when that happened. And that mannie in the blue jacket is definitely coming home with me....he's very tasty looking!

    I know what you mean about time and memory but although I adore all my memories I try not to think to closely about these things near bedtime. My Mother has cognitive issues and it makes me distressed to think about how fragile memories are and how easily who we are can be wiped out. I need to face these things as I am her voice and support but the temporality and cruelty of time and memory can be as magical as it is devastating.

    1. Of course you are right not all memories are good ones and not all of us are lucky enough to be able to remember either - so enjoy the ones which are good and happy whilst we can eh? So sorry about your mother.

  9. Hello Jane, fun video! Yes, I remember the paper dolls with the bend-over tabs. My Grandmother would give me some on occasion. They would come in large 'book's and you'd press them out, and they would be able to stand up by folding back a support on the bottom. Thinner pages contained the clothing. I played for hours with paper dolls.

  10. Just catching up! I see I've missed a lot of your thoughts and trips whilst I've been out of action. As ever the thoughts are pertinent and relevant to the rest of us too.There are days when I make great use of time and others when it slips away from me.If I had a better memory, I'd remember why that is.....

  11. I wrote a post on time a few months back as my children were asking questions and it got me thinking too. I remember those bottles of warm milk too, put me off warm milk for life! Memory is a funny thing isn't it, what we remember and what we think we remember trigger by other things like photos. Memories are a good thing tho' I am glad I have them to treasure :)

  12. Another lovely, well thought out post Jane. Thanks also for posting the wonderful youtube clip! x

  13. It seems we all suffered the warm milk but I bet ours was warmer ( and yuckier ) than yours !!
    Look forward to Friday's outing .

  14. My memory is dreadful, both long and short term but, I think I remember that the magazine the paper daoll came in was Woman & Home? Is that right? My Mum wouldn't have been able to afford to buy it so it must have been a hand-me-down from a kind neighbour.

    My abiding memory of the school milk is of the crate having to be kept near the fire in winter, so that it defrosted; it was always snowy in winter in Wales.


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