There an absolutely fascinating project going on at BBC Radio Four at the moment called the Memory Experience. For some time I’ve been wanting to do something with memory, though not necessarily personal ones. Some of the strongest images I have of historical events are generated from older people’s personal accounts of them.For instance, my father’s memory of Independence was as a six year boy watching locals raze the local Coastguard Station (though not to the ground, it is still standing, if derelict). My mother talks of her memories of taking the tram back from the Floral Hall gardens on the day the VE Day was announced, and having to walk into the centre of town from York Road station because the crowds were so thick.
But probably the one that sticks most is from one of my colleagues in my first job who had a strong (if borrowed) memory of her father’s return from the first world war.
He’d been struck with flu in the last year of the conflict and had spent some time with other flu victims in a dug out. No one still uninfected dared enter, so their daily food rations were tins of bully beef thrown in through the door. On his return to Belfast he ordered his wife to dispose of all tinned food in the house a situation that persisted for the rest of their long life together.
If you have any such vicarious memories of the past, let us have them below…