co-author of The Meadow
Mike O'Hare
August - 17 - 2012 | 2 Comments

To be more precise I should title this YOUR Memory Lane. All too often in the past people have written, discussed, debated and documented Memory Lane with the intention of bringing a little of the past back into our lives, even if just for a short while. In order to succeed the theme had to be more of a general nature because readers and listeners come from all walks of life and different geographical locations. Being specific was the only way in helping to create interaction and that greatly reduced the impact of the exercise.

Well, not this time so read on.

In 1999 I was asked by my local paper if I would be willing to write an article for its ‘Down Memory Lane’ page. I realised that this had been done many times before and, of course, it related only to my immediate area. If I was going to agree with this request, I had to think of doing something quite different — something that could get the reader embroiled into the article with the intention of writing letters to the Editor based on their past experiences.

By using my own specific memories of times gone by in my town and surrounding area wasn’t going to register with that many people. Our memories can differ so much, even when we were brought up within the same catchment area. The conventional way of doing this, most definitely, wasn’t going to work. So I came up with a great idea and, as far as I know, this had not been used before. The responses came flooding in and I was asked to create a series of articles albeit still using my local area but with the technique that I had introduced.

From herein I’m hoping that I’m going to trigger memory banks in the same way whereby everything that I mention will become specific (bespoke) to you. Because most of us (not all of us, I know) are nostalgic, what I’m proposing here is to make it hard to resist responding to my suggestions. This will be your Memory Lane make no bones about it and each and every one who reads this page will find memories flooding back into your consciousness. It’s a very pleasant feeling as so many have told me.

I can go back quite a long time and I reckon the further we go back, the greater the impact that registers. Because of this and because of my age, I’d like to quote a paragraph that I used when introducing this technique the first time around:

“Austere days”

“The fact that we made the most of our senses in those early times is the reason why we were able to entertain and enjoy ourselves so much. They may have been austere days compared to the present, but that didn’t really matter. Technology is helping to cloak our senses today, which is why our youth cannot use their imagination. Hence the climate of society we so readily (unfortunately) accept. Our imagination was the key to linking our senses and creating our own world that we could enjoy.”

I mentioned earlier that I had had a great idea, and I did then. However, it was so simple in its concept that I’m surprised no one had exploited it before. All I did and what I’m proposing to do now is to appeal to your five physical senses — even your sixth sense if you have discovered more about the true nature of your being. Without more ado let me give you an example of what I’m proposing. Afterwards I’m hoping you’ll be thinking “wow, he hit the nail right on the head and he has no idea about my past or my locations.” It’s true, it doesn’t matter where you have lived in the past because I’m stimulating your emotions via your senses so here goes.

My first example is based on my sense of smell. Whenever I smell hotdogs my memory banks burst into overdrive and take me back to the fun palace at my local seaside resort (I lived by the sea and still do). Those frankfurters and onions are too overpowering to prevent me from reminiscing my youth at that specific place called The Dovecot. Just think about all the things you have smelled and then try to remember where you were at the time when your sense of smell had the ability to register an event that is etched in your mind for the rest of your life.

The sound of music (no, not that one) particularly rock n’ roll and specifically Little Richard singing whisks me away to a small piece of land behind one of our public houses where a fun fair would set up stall for a fortnight out of each year. It’s quite unbelievable how strong that memory is and how it can be released by listening to that music. As long as you are of sound mind, with all of your physical faculties unimpaired, how can you not be moved by something that is so personal to you? Go on, give it a try and respond to this blog.

Next is the sensation of cold water touching or immersing my body which places me back in the cold sea during those days when nothing would stop me from taking a swim at my local seaside resort. The sense of touch has an equal ability to impress on our bodies and eventually our minds as we move (hopefully progress) through life. Oh, those wonderful memories of sunny warm days, but such a cold North Sea. Nothing has diminished in my mind thanks to the overriding experiences that my physical senses offered me. I haven’t forgotten how lucky I am and how privileged to be a part of this physical world when it can offer so much pleasure.

Isn’t it odd how personal our memories are and how they are triggered by events that are so unique? Who would have thought that the sight of ornate lamp posts, erected in a pleasant area and used by a lot of traffic could take me back to the era of the trolley bus? This was a time during the 50s when the trolley bus had superseded the wonderful tram and the most ornate supports of electrical supply were sought in able to power the environmentally friendly trolley bus. Who decided to scrap such  a marvellous mode of transport?

And finally . . .

Finally we have the sense of taste. Oh, those wonderful things that appealed so much to our taste buds. I’ll bet you can think of many experiences that, without the sense of taste, would be buried and forgotten. Mine is a simple experience of eating scones with fresh cream followed by a nice cup of tea. There used to be a small garden café based on the outskirts of a very small country village not far from my home. The thought of eating cucumber and tuna sandwiches followed by scones and fresh cream takes me nowhere else. Such is the overwhelming power of our five physical senses and how they register into our subconscious to be resurrected when the time is right.

I hope you’ve got this far reading about how our past experiences have managed to hit that nostalgic nerve which can create so much sensation that is our privilege, as human beings, to appreciate. I know that you have your own specific memories and they are all, every one of them, capable of being presented to your conscious mind thanks to the physical five senses that we possess. Please share your thoughts with everyone so that we can demonstrate how similar we are in principle but so diverse by virtue of our experiences. It’s a wonderful world and I’m so glad that I have my memories tucked safely away so that they can be brought out and polished now and again thanks to the way that we can smell, hear, see, touch and taste.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Nigel Hey says:

    Lenin’s tomb, surrounded by a rectangle of blue spruce, was closed to visitors. “Kremlin wall is world’s most famous cemetery,” I heard a passing guide tell his charges, referring to the vertically-arranged interments behind the tomb. “Every year tomb is closed for few months for renewing Lenin’s body.” His accented announcementheld an odd charm, for Slavs often omit the articles when speaking otherwise passableEnglish.

    I walked over icy cobbles into the cluster of Kremlin cathedrals, fronted by iconic (in both senses of the word) St. Basil’s, its dome like a huge twisted dollop of frozen cherry-vanilla ice cream.

    At Archangelskii Cathedral I sat down to rest my feet but was distracted by a wonderful sound. It was ethereal, unaccompanied religious song, reminding me of Gregorian chant but more beautiful. Somehow through some magic spirituality of their own, those old Russian religious composers were able to communicate with the deep spirituality of people, and there were choristers who could convey their meaning perfectly. They shared a gift that was imbued with the special pain, longing and sadness that seem always to have colored the Russian soul.

    I thought how marvelous it was and yet how strange that this church should have such a wonderful electronic sound system — but no, three men and two women were standing in front of a great carved gilded door, and this exquisiteness was coming from them. Awed, I stayed to listen, and then bought their compact disk, which was identified with the name “Anima” — Soul.

    I took a Sunday morning walk to a deserted Gorky Park, which despite its cheerful signs made me think of a spooky old abandoned movie set. Around me were small icy mounds of old snow, with black tips like tiny melted cathedrals or browned meringue. To my left, bizarrely, English-language rock music pounded eerily from a deserted octopus-type fair ride named “Break Dance,” its cars immobile against a much-faded, painted backdrop of scantily dressed female dancers. When I stopped my note-taking to look at it, the music stopped, too. There was the plosive cough of pneumatics, somewhere behind the frozen two-dimensional dancing girls, and another, kissshh, and mysteriously one of the cars made a spastic half-spin, then another, and then all was silent again.

    Where was everyone? What did they know that I didn’t know? In the entire park I had only seen one furtive man wearing a dirty jacket, flaps hanging loose from his cap. At the park gate a man was buying a pony ride for his little girl. And then I was gone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


Twitter feed