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.



14 thoughts on “What sticks in your head?

  1. Sheryl Gwyther 8 years ago

    Wow, Meg, who could forget the experience of being picked up by James Taylor and Carole King when hitch-hiking? Brilliant!
    Don’t despair, seems like you’ve remembered the more important things in life. 🙂
    btw, I went to JT and CK’s amazing touring concert here in Brisbane – an experience I will never forget. Still the same gorgeous voices, sill the same stage presence. And a good friend and I sat three seats from the front and danced and sang the night away. Sigh! An experience I will NEVER forget.

  2. bookwitch 8 years ago

    The money I lent you; could I have it back?

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Have we met?

    2. bookwitch 8 years ago

      No. I think it was a straightforward bank transfer. I suppose I should have asked for a receipt?

  3. sharon creech 8 years ago

    Okay, the James Taylor/Carly Simon hitchhiking pickup is definitely something you should keep remembering.

  4. Amanda 8 years ago

    Breakfast yesterday? total blank
    The smell of my old dog when I was 6 and we used o cuddle together in the hallway – with me forever.
    Thanks Meg

  5. MaryWitzl 8 years ago

    Decades ago, my boyfriend and I hitched a ride with a boy who was born in the same hospital as I was, on the exact same day. Not as cool as being picked up by Carly Simon and James Taylor, but it has stayed with me all these years.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Actually, just as cool.

  6. Lois Peterson 8 years ago

    From one colander-head to another – that joke about the dyslexic atheist is the only joke I can ever remember, but I’m glad you reminded me as I had forgotten it.

    One prevailing memory – a James Taylor concert at Radio City in the 70s at which he announced his wedding to Carly Simon and brought her on stage. Maybe they picked you up on their way home from the gig.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Wow. Lots of James Taylor fans creep out of the woodwork. But no, it was on Martha’s Vineyard, and I think they were already married.

    2. Kirsten Baron 8 years ago

      Is it actually possible to dislike James Taylor? It’s not just that his music is beautiful, it also all sounds like songs written by a lovely person.

    3. Meg 8 years ago

      My husband, who was listening to Glam Rock at the time, is quite sniffy about him (*sob*)

  7. Kate 8 years ago

    So why do the rest of us get picked up by weirdos we have to run away from at service stations and you get James Taylor and Carly Simon?? (Though there was also a very nice woman with two small sons with whom I discussed the feminist politics of bringing up boys.) Please, please tell more of the story!

  8. Faith 8 years ago

    Agreed. Although I find if I smell something at the right time I’ll remember something that I totally thought I’d forgotten. Someone had a fire going tonight and it brought back memories of roasting marshmallows with my now-husband back when we were in high school. And there’s something about a look that my 18 month old gives me that brings up a memory of my sister and I as teens that makes me stop whatever I’m doing to call my sister. Memories are good things.

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