Last week, I was granted a trip into my distant past, thanks to some old reel to reels I had kept from doing radio journalism when I was 19. One of them said that it was the Anti Poll Tax March in Manchester in 1989, and one said that it was an interview with my mother. I remembered neither of these things, but couldn't think why I would have cassettes with those titles on if they were not what they said they were. I have spent the best part of a decade trying to find video or audio of my mother so I could hear her voice, and have contacted people all over the world with no joy whatsoever.
I got the digitized copies back and knew that only one of them had been blank. I knew I was going to have to listen to the tape of my mum at home, so listened to the poll tax march one first - a mish mash of telling my friends to fuck off and be serious, interviewing friends pretending they were strangers, random vox pops, conversations with actual strangers and ending up in the pub interviewing two people from Glasgow who I clearly can't understand. I try to tape someone burning their form, they have to light it three times. It's fantastically Partridge.
I got home and me and Baron sat down to put on the disc with my mum on it. I had warned my three siblings this is what I was doing that day, and that I would send a copy as soon as I could. They all stayed awake until I had sent it. I can't explain fully what it felt like, waiting to put the disc in. It's not like preparing to open a photo album, or read a letter. The knowledge that your ears are about to receive something that it has not done in a long time is a bizarre moment, and I didn't know how I would react. I pressed play and sat back against the sofa and the absolute second that she started talking I was slack jawed. Of course, this was the first time Baron had met my mum too, and it was extraordinary that the whole conversation was about Perestroika and her Estonian story, given that Baron has developed the same love for Estonia that I have.
I always remembered her with a much deeper voice -yet here she was with something of a much higher pitch, answering thoughtfully, with ideas that came out of real and dreadful experiences but also random observations about people she disliked (my mum disliked lots of people) that she presented somehow as deep insights into the nature of mankind. Her pacing and pauses were dramatic and it was littered with the little sighs she used to do that I had almost forgotten. I wasn't exactly propelled back in time on listening, but it did stop the present for me and it did wrap me with a layer of something that I can't easily write about, only that it feels like blood and muscle and time and acceptance and both picking something up and letting go of something simultaneously.
My siblings have all had various experiences of listening to it, and everyone is focused on different things. My nephew listened to his grandmother for the first time sitting next to my brother, his dad, at the computer and I know what that scene would have been like and I can cry without even having to hear about the details.
On a completely different note, I don't remember doing that interview with my mother, at all. Neither do I remember being on the poll tax march in Manchester. I remember being on the London march, but only because of the riot and because I have pictures of the day. How could I have completely forgotten both of those things? This is the first time that I have experienced a real, tangible and vivid sense of being "older" and sections of my memory being in a closet, unused. It made me think, for the first time in any real-life experience terms, of punitive sentences and the purpose of punishment. Had I done something at that march that resulted in a fatality, I might well still be in prison today - and I can't even remember the march. I can't remember it!
You come at the Queen, you best not miss.
Dr Markus wrote:
Someone in your line of work usually as their own man cave aka the shed we're they can potter around fixing stuff or something don't they?
Flower wrote:I just did a google search.