135. Feedback and flashback

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Rose Valley. That last blog had a tremendously buoyant effect.

The spring and summer of 1981 in Brentwood was always categorised in a box marked ‘magical time’, but to go back and excavate the details has added to the wonder I felt, and feel again. It brought back other memories of love and sensuality – again a cocktail of ecstasy and vulnerability – but making me so grateful to have been through the experience.

That recollection pulled scales from my eyes. Maureen walked in from work Monday night and I was seeing the 21-year-old nursery nurse whose body rested against mine in that Brentwood single bed. The clean smell of her hair and her gentleness. Amazing and beautiful. What a lucky boy. Still lucky 38 years later.

It’s arguable that memory is all, or most, of what we are.

My wife was talking on Monday about how difficult it is to rid yourself of the Pavlovian reactions that get built in at a young age. At her January 27 birthday celebrations, a group of people laughed at the other end of the table, looking at her.

Her immediate and unstoppable thought was that they were laughing about her weight. The legacy of her younger school years.

It reminded me of crossing a road in Chelmsford on a summer evening several years ago. A group of lads drinking their lagers all burst out in laughter about 20 yards away, and all my internal defences came shuttering down. They hadn’t even seen me.

Fortunately, perspective and common sense kick in. But the neural pathways from school days never disappear.






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