May letter 2018

STOP PRESS (see what’s on)

Zen Pen Absolute Beach Britannia Bay 25-7 May

The Rough Writing Road A 16 week self-directed Online Journaling Course

I was tired. So I lay down.
My lids grew heavy. So I slept.
Slender memory, stay with me.(Li-Young Zee)
Dear writer, storyteller, reader, traveller, lover of words, images, silences…
Slender memory, stay with me…

In 1967 (or was it 68?) I heard Max Bygraves (1922 –2012) sing in East London.

His repertoire included:
…We still get so many laughs, Looking at these photographs Remember when we made these memories. Wasn’t that some honeymoon I know I won’t forget it soon Not if I live to be a hundred years …. All good things must end it’s true; So back to London town we flew But who was happier than you and me To relive each wonderland We open up this album and Remember when we made these memories

Bygraves died of Alzheimer’s at 89. His son, Anthony, who worked as his father’s producer, manager and roadie said ‘Dad loved singing along to his old songs ….Right until he died, he could remember every song he’d ever done – every refrain, every verse, chorus, where the change of key came. He’d recorded over 2,000 songs. He could remember them all, but he couldn’t remember where the bathroom was.’ Or that his wife had died. Anthony, a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain service, played ‘my Dad’s albums… and we all sing along to them together. People (dementia sufferers) know his old songs off by heart.’

My mother who suffered from senile dementia for many years spent her last days in Frail Care in a Home. The nurses who cared for her had served under her when she was Matron of that same Frail Care facility. Once while visiting her, a nurse suggested ‘ask you mother to sing to you.’ Out of her mouth came the word and tune perfect rendering of a hymn she must have learnt in the 1930’s:
Nkosi, sikelel’ iAfrika; Malupakam’upondo lwayo; Yiva imitandazo yetu Usisikelele…
Yihla Moya, Yihla Moya, Yihla Moya Oyingcwele

In Norse mythology the god Odin, is often depicted flanked by two ravens. He sends them forth in the morning to fly around the world and return to whisper news into his ear. In the Norse shamanic tradition semi-autonomous parts can detach. Whenever a magician sent parts of him/herself on some quest there was risk that the parts would not return. The two ravens’ names are often translated as ‘Thought’ and “’Memory’ and Odin was more concerned that ‘Memory’ might not return.

In English ‘remember’ carries multiple meanings, linking past present and future – recalling information, not to forget to do something, to be held in people’s memories because of a particular action, quality or day. The antonyms (opposite)? To forget yet also to dismember as in re-member – to bring together what belongs together.
The literary harbour of unremembering is awash with craft – Dramatists, novelists, movie makers, caregivers, family physicians, neurologists poets have berthed their craft on this troubled island shore.

May what’s on 2018