Memories I had forgotten

On Sunday I went to La Defense to get lunch and suddenly realised that it was the same place that, on a school trip with the music department years ago, we had danced the simple ceilidh dances the school made us learn and run around making jokes about entering the Paris Hilton. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make the connection – I’ve been up there several times since I got here as it’s a convenient place to change from the city centre metro to the suburban tram, and the memory only found a place to lodge itself that day because I approached the Grand Arch from the right angle.

Once that had come back I could remember all kinds of things about the area that I’d forgotten about. It’s really weird how we have a capacity to remember something without knowing it’s there.

A similar thing happened again, although ironically I have forgotten what it was that I remembered I had forgotten – I think it was a person. At the time I was amazed I had ever forgotten about them, but of course now I have no idea who it was so clearly it isn’t that hard.

I think my point today is that my memory is unreliable (we all knew that already though) and that I’ve been doing things that bring back lots of hidden memories. Not bad ones, not repressed ones – simply things I had forgotten about to make space for newer memories. Last night I spent a couple of hours sorting through the children’s books, relocating them to more suitable shelves and removing the ones that need mending or quietly disposing of, and I rediscovered so many books that I had loved as a child, and let’s face it still loved when I flicked through them again. It made me kind of excited about having my own children, because then I’d have every right to re-read children’s books. I guess I could now, but it would be strange for me to be rooting through bookshelves outside of work hours and I don’t think reading bedtime stories to myself is really considered productive or helpful.

Anyway, what prompted this line of thought was the fact that I’m spending the half hour before I start work listening to the music we’re singing in choir on Sunday. I have been in choirs most of my life and actually one of them was a very good one, but I seem to have almost totally forgotten how it feels to be in a rehearsal – I didn’t remember to take a pencil or any water, I had to remind myself to look up for the beat at tricky pauses, and I had to readjust to reading four lines of notation whilst only singing one. But it’s nice, it is rather like sinking into bed after a long day and re-discovering how comfortable it is. I’ve missed singing and I’ve certainly missed singing decent music (Rubbra’s Missa in Honorem Sancti Dominici and Eccard’s When To the Temple Mary Went this week, for anyone keeping score at home).

Now I’m going to go and grab some lunch to scoff before I go “on duty”. Wednesday is the heavy-duty day where I work seven hours straight with all the youngest children home for all the hours (French schools have half days on Wednesday). Actually the only person not home today is Daughter One because Sole Son is off school sick, so it’s pretty noisy up there. I think we’re baking fairy cakes this afternoon – or at least the children are; I might be tidying bookshelves and sewing on nametapes, or perhaps redirecting Baby Girl from eating the dog food. Is she craving trace elements or just experimenting? Hard to tell but she makes a beeline for the stuff every time you turn away for a second.


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