Friday, 27 August 2010
He was "clearing out"; a euphemism for "I can't fuckin' move there's so much junk all around me".
He was telling me that he'd unearthed operating manuals for equipment he bought 25 years ago and receipts for televisions he can't remember ever viewing.
Much of the conversion began..."Do you remember..." Do you remember you could buy fibre optics so you could construct you own fibre light. It was a huge fad in the late 70's. You had a strong single light source in the base and loads of fibre optic strands rising from that base each displaying a pin point of light. It was an evolutionary advance on Lava Lamps - but not much.
It struck me as he mentioned this frivious lighting device that that was where Britain's hi tech industrial base lost its way. Instead of developing a high speed information, computer and telecommunications industry using this technology; we sold light spiders in Habitat.
25 years on he'd discovered an envelope containing a few yards of fibre optics. He never built his lamp.
I reminded him that he was proud that he had his first pay slip and credit card bill. He'd forgotten. But sure enough he was able to turn up an envelope containing these historical gems. He recalled that he first used his Access credit card to purchase a curry in Belsize Park. He couldn't remember the year but there was his first statement from Access and sure enough the first entry was for a curry costing £2.80 in September 1973. He forgot to clear the balance and was charged 34 pence interest. His credit limit was £150. Oh, Happy, Happy Days.
He's recently restored his ancient Tandberg reel to reel tape recorder. It still had a tape in situ. "Odessey and Oracle" by the Zombies.
I always thought there was no point in dwelling on the past. So I've never kept much.I thought that hanging onto memories was a sign of weakness, not being able to face the present and future. I now regret not holding onto a bit more of my past. Pieces of paper, plastic or porcelain which trigger a rush of memories, good and bad.
I have little of that and now I know why. Because for too long my memories were painful and I wanted to run away from them and wipe them out. That's a habit that's hard to break even when there's no longer any reason to continue.