Monday, May 19, 2008

Memory Definitely Full

When I stopped at Waitrose yesterday the Mail caught my eye. It was giving away Paul McCartney's Memory Almost Full. I had been thinking about getting some new music as of late, and £ 1.50 beat even the cheapest of iTunes downloads. So I paid for the CD and threw away (in the recycling box...) the wad of paper. I played the CD this morning on the way to work and had a musical epiphany. I think I had not listened to anything by Paul in many years. Strangely, I never equated Paul with the Beatles or with Hey Jude (who does not know that song I wonder?) but with My Brave Face. This was the most catchy single to come out of Flowers In The Dirt, Paul's album from 1989. Even typing that date makes me feel removed from reality, as much as 1066 or 1776 does. Was I really around in 1989? That is just short of twenty years ago! I was around alright; I used to spend lengthy afternoons in the company of a friend, playing Flowers In The Dirt ad nauseam, until the tape crinkled into papery crackles only to return to intelligible music just before the end of side A. We loved My Brave Face; it was our soundtrack to secondary school, when we used to study music and play the flute, when we used to call strangers in France in order to practise our French and when we had only just started to buy Marie Claire which, at barely £ 1.50 a copy, seemed wildly expensive and incredibly sophisticated.

This morning, playing Paul made me feel like a child again, even though these songs are new, and made me wonder whether anyone would release this sort of music if it were not by Paul McCartney (and I say this in the kindest of ways, mind you). They say that once you hit 40, life starts speeding up exponentially. I cannot even imagine it. I cannot imagine time whirring past me any faster than it already does. I feel like my hard-drive is definitely full, with not an Mb of space for the smallest of experiences, the shortest of books, the tiniest of disappointments. I don't know what is wrong with me but usually, when I think of my past, I always think of regret. I do not have anything to regret in the standard sense. What I mourn is the passing of time itself, this feeling of memory getting full, even though we can all always save an extra file somewhere. There is always a way to deconstruct the memory and to defragment it, to re-arrange its contents, to compress and zip and shuffle them around so that, magically, a sliver of space appears out of nowhere, a little space that will hold another surprise, another disappointment, another death, another joy. I cannot imagine what being 60 or 80 or older must be like. Perhaps we all get an upgrade when we hit 40 so that we can save more without this sense of hopelessness, without this feeling of saving stuff we really do not need to save. Maybe that's what happens with age and wisdom; we only save the important things and direct the pointless ones to the trashcan. At the moment, it certainly feels like I am saving a lot fit for the trash but perhaps that is what it is like to be young.
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