What proportion of moments of our lives do we not remember, I wonder. I got to thinking about this following my latest trip up the Wendover arm of the Grand Union canal.
I was reminded of a single event at infant school in Cardiff. We were all sitting on the parkay flooring of the hall in assembly. There was that smell of polish, and mustiness, and faint whiff of vomit that had been cleared up some time ago. We were being told that the head mistress, Mrs Thomas, was not coming back to school because she had been killed in a motorbike accident. I remember very little else about that school, other than bullying staff and children. By which I mean staff and children who were bullies, not that I bullied them.
Now what made me think of that day was that in the assembly hall was a poster of a painting. The subject is familiar one, that of a farmer ploughing a field and the gulls following the plough looking for easy pickings. There were no farmers ploughing fields near the Wendover arm. It was very quiet, and fairly well encroached by reeds.
However I noticed that a common tern kept over flying the boat.
Looking astern I realised why. It was doing the same as those gulls following the tractor. It spent most of the time watching the wake of the boat then diving for food. Clearly it had learnt to follow a boat because I was churning up or otherwise disturbing potential food. I had not seen this behaviour before, Maybe other have.
These two moments were linked by a train of thought over nearly sixty years, where are the memories of the other moments from that span? Makes you wonder doesn’t it? or at least, it does me.