A recent passage on Darts and Letters, one of the most poetic and endearing blogs I follow, reminded me of my grandad, and the most enduring memories I have of him.
One is of his old wooden greenhouse, fit to bursting with fresh tomatoes in late summer, and the overwhelming heady scent and tidal wave of heat that hit three year old me, as he opened the door at the end of a long hot day, and we carefully selected the largest and juiciest fruit for our tea.
To this day, one of my favourite scents in the world is tomato plants, and it never fails to remind me of him, some four decades ago.
I started to wonder though, how much of my memories come from experiences as they actually happened, and how much from photographs?
One of the images I saw most often of my early childhood – in fact the childhood photograph I recall more than any other – was of me standing with my grandad outside this greenhouse.
I suspect that at least 50% of the fabric of my memories of that greenhouse, how it looked, what my grandad wore, and other details come from seeing that single photograph hundreds of times.
My memory is undoubtably more of that photograph, than the event itself.
So how much do specific photographs aid our memories? How much do they alter them?
And today, with typical parents vastly more prolific with their camera phones than their grandparents ever were when they had to pay per exposure, and a roll of 35mm film lasted months, do any children have such lasting individual images of their own childhoods?
Or are they so saturated in images of themselves that none make any particular impact at all?
What do you think?
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