Tuesday, April 04, 2006

When I was little

I'll start at the beginning - as early as I can remember. Why? Because this all gives 'context'. What a load of .... I just want to recount that my memory on the whole rather ropy, comes up with some small snippets that hang in my mind like small pictures, framed, preserved and most probably distorted.

In my earliest memory I must be around three years old, and my mother is standing in her paisley patterned housecoat, holding a full-length mirror. We are moving house, and she is talking to the au pair, Elvira. Au pairs were a kind of home help, but that that's what they were called then, au pairs, and Elvira killed our hamster by leaving the gas on. He was very probably called 'Hammy'. After all, we called the dog 'Petra' (as in TV's Blue Peter's pet of the time). Then I remember being at our new house, and watching my bed being unloaded from a van. I can picture the headboard, in a teak coloured wood, with a clover leaf pattern in relief. I think my father was holding me as we watched the van unload.

Those must be my earliest memories (though the Elvira bit is definitely from a retelling, I don't remember mourning the hamster). I can then see myself in my room, but from behind. I am on the floor, head in hands, on the floor, crouched in a 'hiding' position - and I can see the soles of my white shoes. I must have been upset about something I suppose, but it is odd that I can see this memory so clearly from outside myself, as it were. I can remember what must have been my fourth birthday party too - I had a white satin and net dress with a purple velvet sash. Getting me into a dress at all must have been a trial for my mother, but I do remember liking the feel of the velvet sash. I can see myself again, at the head of the old refectory-style dining table my mother still has.

Are all my earliest memories reconstructed? Is that why I can see them from a third perspective? Or are my memories created from a quirk in time so that I can look back at an event and see it as if watching through a glass darkly, as they say? Most probably not.
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