This is not the post that it was planned to be – remarkably there are usually plans for this stuff. This was going to be a simple listed jaunt, a T-shirt rail of just-arrived retro specials, a clutch of simply nice photos of old cars. Instead it’s about forgetting.
When I started writing bits on Fisher Lane I had a store of notebooked material to take from; handwritten pieces I’d begun with no other objective known than getting them down, written often as a release from impersonal, unfunny work and continuing a lineage, a habit, of notings that stemmed from a ’74 Snoopy Diary. They were pieces put in a place – loose chippings swept together, and for neatness mainly. Funny stuff I merely wanted down. Yes, entirely perhaps in the absence of the thing that’s truly new.
Facts did not need verifying. They were either bang-on anyway or in the act of comic rendering just didn’t wholly matter. How do you remember all this stuff? a sister asked. Why? was probably the burnier question – the one she really wanted to ask. As to how, well I guess that it’s just the way I’m wired. But on the off-chance I did need something checking, I could always ask my mum and dad.
When it comes to Dad’s company cars that were changed every two or three years, the clutch of simply nice photos needs some readying for publication: for our family picnic Kodak moment M.O. was to stand in front of the model number – Hillman Hunter ‘N’ Reg, okay, but a GLS? a DL? And really, there was another Morris (1500?) between the bright-red 1300 and the Hunter, right?
Dad now says ‘I can’t even remember what I had for lunch, so don’t ask me about something from years ago.’ He tails off. I don’t know if he lays awake (I do know that he lays awake at night) and the exercise returns as a lovely troubling puzzle. Of course, I like to think he does. And that he’ll phone with the answer tomorrow.
The worth of memories, as I feel it, is less secure than I thought – more dependent on the subjects’ involvedness – be it emotional or just temporarily bothered, the enjoyment of an out-of-the-blue anecdote: the index-link is not to factual correctness but to the interested parties being interested parties. When Dad says ‘I don’t know’, I know I am hearing ‘I don’t care’. And I am hearing that because I know I am resenting that his memory is going. And with it the worth of our memories.
These pieces of nostalgia are attempts to undo forgetting while we live. I don’t know that for certain, it’s a hunch. My memory too will go. I will go on building this store. I have read too much John Irving not to have the faith that the ending will explain the book.
© Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2013.
That parade of motors coming soon…