Lately I’ve been comparing human brains to colanders, which, if you know me at all, you’ll find extremely apt. I forget almost everything.
But not everything.
Some things I remember almost forever. Like Alice Thomas Ellis on Desert Island Disks (Or was it Woman’s Hour? Or In The Psychiatrist’s Chair?) in about 1990, talking about the death of her son, and how she ran a loop of him falling from the roof every day of her life, hoping this time she might reach out and save him.
1986, a Saturday afternoon in New York City, when I’d gone back to bed with a book and the sun came in at exactly the right angle through the window and I felt perfectly happy.
Being picked up hitchhiking by James Taylor and Carly Simon when I was fifteen. Swimming at night. My first Clash concert. The joke about the dyslexic atheist my cousin told me thirty years ago (punchline: There is no dog).
I wish I had a better memory. Perfect recall makes anyone appear intelligent. Besides, it’s depressing to get all the way through a joke and forget the punchline. I forget to deposit cheques. Answer e-mails. Book tickets. Renew the car insurance.
But sometimes a bad memory is useful. I hold grudges only until I forget what they were about. I nearly always forget to ask for borrowed money back. And I can see the same Shakespeare play ten times without getting bored — gosh, I hope Beatrice and Benedick get together in the end.
As it happened (last night at the Globe theatre), they did.