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Flamborough III: Week 11 – 2nd August

What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to you this week? In my case it came with an invitation to speak at an information management forum. No problem I said, but I’ve never come across this forum before, can you tell me more about it? The reply when it came was crushing: “You gave a presentation to it last month”. Oops. (If only, one feels, the “reply all” button hadn’t been clicked, causing the exchange to be shared with about 150 others.) In my defence, I have been very busy…

To be fair, this is nothing new. When I worked in Taunton in the late 2000s I was so overworked at one point my team used to start meetings with, “We discussed this yesterday, but you won’t remember what was said, so let me remind you…” But in truth I’ve been forgetful all my life. I remember one day being jolted out of a reverie to discover I was trying to insert a long-playing record into the tiny drawer of a cassette deck, with no recollection of how I’d got there or, indeed, of the previous half-hour. (That’s an anecdote that will probably require copious footnotes for anyone under forty when this blog is eventually reprinted in the Penguin Classics edition.) Bob Dylan’s late, great song Not Dark Yet contains the lyric, “I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from”; and I listen to it and think, you and me both Bob, you and me both.

A foggy day at the Trinkie

It’s partly my faulty memory that leads me to keep track of my knitting with 5-barred gates and detailed notes; left to my own devices I’d be hopelessly adrift, especially when it comes to a row count. It’s a bit of fag keeping count on the sleeves, especially when plain knitting near the cuff with the rows coming thick and fast, but it’s the only way to keep the count accurate; and it ensures that both sleeves are exactly the same length. (I don’t know how it is, but I can measure the same sleeve a dozen times and get a dozen different lengths.) Anyway, I’m almost at the cuff of the second sleeve, and even with six inches of ribbing ahead of me (six inches! *sob*) I should finish it this week.

Emperor Moth caterpillar (about 2″/5cm long)

And while some people use memories like chapter headings in a book so they always know where they are in their lives, or the way a mountain climber uses pitons, hammering them home for a surer footing, I live in a fog of recollective uncertainty. True, some memories do loom out of the haze, as sharp and devastating as icebergs, but mostly my mind’s filled with a sort of murky, impenetrable memory soup. And, you know, that’s okay. For as someone said to me this week (one of the 150 who were “replied all”), I should look on the bright side: for even if things go badly, odds are I’ll have forgotten all about it next month…

8 comments to Flamborough III: Week 11 – 2nd August

  • Dave

    Who are you again?

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, I find “international man of mystery” sounds better than “man who has to check his pants label to remember his name…”

  • You have my sympathy… forgetting something one wants to remember is annoying,but you can be overjoyed each day by something you forgot from the day before so it balances out….

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, yes, the bonus is I’m starting to resemble Terry Pratchett’s great character Wen The Eternally Surprised:

      “The first question they ask is: ‘Why was he eternally surprised?’

      “And they are told: ‘Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. Therefore, he understood, there is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink our eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of mind is surprise. The only state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.'”

  • =Tamar

    Out of caterpillar goop comes a butterfly, out of memory soup, comes… who knows?

    It takes holding the shift key down to capitalize a letter. Why isn’t it at least that difficult to hit “Reply All”?

    Those little plastic safety-pin shaped stitch markers are helpful for marking rows; one every tenth row makes it easier to count.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I think the key thing is to let it go, and try not to worry (says the guy with a diagnosed anxiety disorder…)

      I have a clever device of plastic and metal that lets you record rows, which it tallies into tens and, for all i know, thousands. But I find a page of scribbled five-barred gates in black (for the front/first sleeve) or red (the back/second sleeve) much more satisfying. (The fact that its brand is “Red and Black” is just the icing on the cake!)

  • Lois

    When I have to start a reminder list to remember to look at the “to do” list, I really think I’m beginning to lose it……………

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I have to-do lists for work.They give me a sense of accomplishment just writing them. I then forget about them, and find them weeks later, and realise all the things i was supposed to do and haven’t… (Oops.)

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