Very earliest memories

I saw Mum today. I won’t go into the wherefores, but between events we had a pleasant time talking over a bakery lunch in the Wittunga Botanic Gardens.

Writing this blog, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately upon early childhood memories, and we talked about that. It’s interesting how different people remember different sorts of things – I have a very verbal memory (many of my earliest memories are snippets of conversation), whereas Mum’s memories tend to be visual. We also talked about how it can be hard to tell which memories are true, and which are cobbled together by the mind after the fact. But Mum confirmed that my earliest “this feels faintly like a memory but I couldn’t swear by it” recollections are, at least, plausible.

Here are some of my very earliest memories, real or false, in reverse chronological order:

  • Once during our time in Scotland, when I was three or four years old, we went on the ferry to Denmark for a holiday. My impression of Denmark consists of tiled pavements, people speaking a foreign language, and, of course, lego, but the memory in question is an incident that took place on the ferry. I’d been told we were going to visit the lego shop in Denmark, but hadn’t been told there was a smaller lego shop on the ferry … so upon hearing that Mum had gone to “the lego shop”, I was somewhat stunned — my parents may have many talents, but I wasn’t willing to believe Mum had walked on water and gone to Denmark and back ahead of the ferry! My puzzlement got sorted out sooner or later (she’d gone to a lego shop), but I just remember that sensation of “huh??”.
  • Going back even further in time, I have a memory that I am not sure is a real memory at all. It concerns the move from Bowling to Bishopbriggs, when I was two. The memory is that I didn’t want to move, and tried to grab on to the grandfather clock near the front door in order to avoid being pulled away. Mum confirms that there was indeed a grandfather clock near the front door, which makes the memory plausible.
  • My earliest memory-impression of all involves an elderly female relative telling me, on a recurring basis, to “Put your tongue between your teeth and say ‘th'”. It is linked in my mind with an image of being pushed on an outdoor swing. In fact, my mother’s parents did stay with us during the first summer in Bowling (but I have no corresponding memories of my grandfather), and Mum confirms they did indeed use that sentence in the context of teaching me to speak correctly. (Update: my sister remembers Grandnan using the same sentence much later, when she was four and I was six, but my impression of it being recalled from much, much earlier is persistent. That doesn’t make it real, of course: I could have projected it back in time.)

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