My Mind’s A Blank
A friend praises my ‘phenomenal’ memory’ this week, but I have to disagree. Why?
The news that this year’s BAFTA TV awards went not to any cutting edge shows or new format channels but to ‘Panorama’, ‘Emmerdale’, Ant & Dec and Steve Coogan not only confirms what deeply conservative times we’re living through, but also creates another problem; namely, I realise (and this is not some strange version of humble-bragging) that I haven’t the faintest idea who Ant & Dec actually are.
A quick brain-wrack produced these crumbs; they are TV presenters, they have northern accents, their names are always coupled, they’re married (not to each other) and (I think) they live next door to one another. After that, zip, nada, zilch. So what is it that they do? They don’t seem to be comedians, have musical skills or any other discernible talents. Presumably they’re good at whatever it is they do, though, as they win lots of awards. Nobody else from the North seems to be allowed a look-in on television. It’s as if we can only have one celebrity northern duo at a time.
The same blankness descends on me when I try to conjure up anything at all about Pippa Middleton. I imagine she’s Kate’s sister, but after that – nothing. I should read the Daily Telegraph more often.
To balance this, can name every character in ‘Bleak House’ or recite forgotten old films line by line. When I’m researching say, London architecture, I can recall every last detail of every building I’ve read about. While I was working on the timelines for my upcoming pseudonymously-written thriller ‘Little Boy Found’ I knew exactly where each of my characters was at any given moment. What’s going on here?
I think my brain preserves what I need to know while I need it, then dumps it as soon as it’s surplus to requirement. It also recalls what I enjoy, storing it somewhere in the back of my brain to be called upon for future enjoyment. The pleasure-memory gets periodically recalled and refreshed, while the need-memory is available for a limited time. This would explain why Ant & Dec don’t make the cut – they fit into neither category. And why Gilbert & Sullivan do – they fit both. In short, ‘I know the kings of England and can quote the fights historical, from Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical’. But I don’t care who’s dating who and who’s presenting what on telly.
Selective memory – it’s the way forward. I think I’ve turned into Arthur Bryant.