Next the smell and the taste of biscuits. Biscuits in a big jar, from a variety pack; but they've all been put in there together so the tastes have mingled. Chocolate digestives are tinged with strawberry pink wafers, and custard creams infused with the tang of gingernut. No matter, they're creamy and crumbly and more interesting than Rich Tea, even if a little stale. Their softness, that accidental melange of flavours... it's comfortable. It's sugary-tea and paper-bag-of-sherbet-lemons and a Hot Wheels set and black-and-white-telly, home-from-school comfortable.
It's 1972 and I have a (surprise) kitten for Christmas! She's delivered on Christmas Eve, in a big box. I open the lid and reach in to find the sweetest, lightest – feather-light! - fluffiest ball of sleepy kitten softness, all huge ears and round eyes that look just a little too far apart. Cleo, I call her. Middle name Olga (after Olympic heroine of the year, Olga Korbut). She's white with black splodges; three big black spots in a line on her tummy look like buttons of coal on a snowman. When she licks my cheek I feel the unexpected raspiness of her tongue and get a faint whiff of pilchard Kitekat. If this nine-year-old child could see into the future she might be surprised to know that Cleo would be with her for the next 19 years.
Then I think of Nanny and Granddad coming to stay, a memory which conjures up more tastes and smells: the floral scent of Nanny's face powder, like talc, and the taste of Granddad's diabetic chocolate (oddly, a treat, just because it was different.) Nanny drinks Guinness and sleeps in the afternoons, Granddad wears a huge gold and black signet ring on one of his fingers, his hands have big yellow knuckles and, sadly, a few too many scabs, from woodworking wounds which don't heal as fast as they should. (I don't like to see the scabs.) He makes pictures from flat wood pieces, like one of a house all formed from geometric shapes in different shades of brown. With a steep roof and a large chimney, it's set against a background of chequerboard fields.
This is my Christmas past, locked somewhere in the late sixties and early seventies, a mash-up of moments experienced through senses. It wasn't actually snowing when that car went past yesterday morning as I lay in bed... although they say it may do tomorrow. I can't wait for the muffled sound of the tyres on the road when it does.
Cleo (cats dig vinyl)
This brought back so many memories for me, too - the biscuits all mixed up in the jar, the car inching along a snow-covered road. And Cleo reminds me of my cat Clyde. Beautiful, evocative writing...ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! I love the memories which come without effort, and the way the sensory experiences they evoke sometimes surprise us... up 'til now I'd forgotten all about that mixed up biscuit taste!Delete
Really lovely writing, C. Those moments when the mind floods with precious memories are magical. Bed is an optimum place for their appearance, I find. Love the descriptions here.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much, SB, and you're so right about the magic of memories. I love the randomness of them and enjoy letting them appear of their own accord - as you say, usually in bed, when our minds are otherwise vacant!Delete
Isn't it interesting how memories of the past are ignited at this time of year in particular? Certain Christmas songs that my mother played every Christmas Eve have that effect on me.ReplyDelete
I tried yesterday and today to add a link to your blog on mine, but blogger refuses to accept it for some reason, telling me to "try again in a few moments." I finally had to create a separate link list. ;-)
Hi there Vintage Spins - thanks v much for coming by and for linking on your blog too. I think I used to have a link to a previous blog of yours but which is no longer live (?) - if so, it's good to see you again and I'm adding It's All In The Grooves to my reading list too!Delete
Yes, I had a link to Sun Dried Sparrows on my previous blog and you had one to mine. Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll again. I finally came up with a little trick to get you back onto my main list. :-)
Hi again! Just mentioned it over on GUB but I can't get into IAITG now - your updates are showing in my reading list but unfortunately I can't access it (I was looking forward to listening to Edwin Starr!) If you need to email my address is top right, thanks :-)Delete
Just wonderful writing that triggers off all kinds of half (and totally) forgotten memories of my own. The biscuit tin! Everything tasted of those bloody pink wafers, which never actually seemed to get eaten! I hated them, but I hated my custard cremes tasting of them even more! And each relative's individual smell (I don't mean that in an unpleasant way) - if I concentrate, I can still summon the particular scent of my own Nan, her clothing, her house. It's all locked away in there isn't it?ReplyDelete
Your memories of Cleo are very sweet too, although, having mis-read the sentence at the first attempt, I initially found myself struggling to recall a time when pilchard flavoured kit-kats were available on the high street!
I never understood the point of those pink wafers... ugh!Delete
You're right about the smells, they're a huge part of what we remember, aren't they? I have lots of primary school memories based around smells: floor polish, dinnertime and Dettol!
Pilchard flavoured kit-kats? Only marginally less distasteful than pink wafers!