What is your first memory? Mine, I think, is aged 4 sitting on the back seat of my Dad's Morris Minor Traveller. I can see it now; the vivid deep maroon interior and the hot, cracked leather seats against my soft chubby legs. It was definitely a hot day - possibly from the scorching summer of '76 - the rear windows are down, and I am leaning towards the window smiling as widely as I can. I do remember this... it is so vivid and yet... in truth I'm remembering a photograph taken by my Dad. My memories of the car are most likely from when I'm older and are infused in to this scene in my mind. I've asked my 2 children about their earliest memories and without fail they describe a photograph of the same event.
Our memories are unreliable, suggestible, easily manipulated and polluted with composite memories from different times. These days more and more is understood about the psychological fallibility of memory; Police techniques have changed when interviewing eye witnesses to ensure their recall isn't accidently infused with the accounts of other people. And we know now long term memories are stored in a different place in the brain to our short term memories and deteriorate similarly to an analogue tape being recorded over and over again. One thing is for certain; imagery is a vital component in the construction of our memories, however unreliable they may be.
Real or not, the memory of my father's Morris Traveller is still vivid in its richness of tones and hues . As much as I imagined WW2 took place in black and white, my childhood memories are presented in my mind in the saturated colour of film. Maybe in the years to come when my boys are grown men they will look back at these images produced on film and they too will evoke strong memories of their childhood. I hope so.
Till next time....