Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

False Memory

(Posting to kill time while I wait for the horrible journey to begin.)

I was reading an article about false memories and how little, if anything, of what we recall from our childhoods, is actually true.
I have an story of what is certainly a false memory - though it's hard to say whose.

My brother and I both recall in detail an incident from early childhood. Near to where we lived there used to be a patch of waste ground and annually a travelling fair would arrive and set up there. One year we went along and one of us, neither of us can recall who, won a goldfish - fairgrounds in those days routinely gave away goldfish as prizes. Back home it was carefully decanted from the plastic bag into a bowl of clean water and we left it. A few days later, as fairground goldfish were wont to do it was lying belly up on the surface. We were both really unhappy and our mother, probably more to say she'd tried than in any expectation of success, took a drinking straw and started to blow gently into its mouth - giving the kiss of life to a goldfish. To everyone's amazement it started to swim around the bowl again, completely unaware that it had been dead.

Now that, I think you will agree, is so unlikely that it's probably a false memory but it might have happened that way. Possibly. Maybe.

We have told the story many times over the years and recall our mother more fondly for it. However a few years after my mother passed away her sister, our aunt, also died. At the funeral the vicar, in her eulogy, told a story that had been recounted to her by one of our cousins. It was identical in every respect to our story of the resurrected goldfish - with the sole exception that it was one of them who had one it and their mother that had performed the miracle rather than ours.

Now unlikely as it was to have happened even once, that it could have happened exactly that way twice is staggeringly improbable. But it seems that while my brother and I recall it one way, our cousins (three of them at the funeral) recall it the other way. No one is telling lies so someone has a false memory. I suspect that it never actually happened at all and all of us are misremembering.