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Illustrating the fragility of memory

I hold in my hand a snapshot of time. To you, it appears to be an old-fashioned glass slide, three and a half inches square. It is a slide of a map of Europe in about 1890, showing the boundaries of the time. It is fascinating to reflect that the national territories have changed so much - I can see Bavaria, Bohemia, Austro-Hungary, places which history has marched past. And yet, here is a footprint, fossilised, as it were, in glass.

Here is also a piece of technology, which, though appearing crude now, represented a leap forward in both education and entertainment. There are two slips of glass, bound together with lead, the whole being so fragile that a single knock could shatter it for ever. I imagine the gasps of wonder as the magic lantern audience saw the world unfold before them.

It is also a personal memory - I recall vividly the shop in Evesham, which I visited with my then girlfriend. Downstairs, an Aladdin's Cave of wonders, old and new - ancient weapons of all types jostling with electronic toys, the kipple of the geeks of ages. Upstairs, a strange mixture of byegone ages, with the mundane; the day-to-day paraphernalia of tools and utensils alongside the exotica of art and invention. I recall finding a box - just a box, containing about two hundred of these slides. This was the first I saw, and it caught my eye and my imagination. With trembling fingers, I put it to one side as I searched for more in the series, to no avail. It cost me all of 50 pence, and I have no idea what I will do with it, other than remember and reflect.

To you, it is just a glass slide. To me, it is a snapshot of time, a crystallised memory. I hold it now, and it calls to me on all these levels, and I am filled with wonder at the fragility of memory, history and perceptions of time.

Times Change

So now, I can no longer hold that slide. It's one of the multitude of things I things I left behind in the UK. Now many of my memories are just memories, with no physical cues.

Oddly, I now recall the things themselves in absentia for perpetuity, a series of fleeting memories. Equally fragile.

Thanks for the challenge, Ferenczy

Eat pub nosh and reminisce

Reading, I sit and enjoy one of the finer delicacies this country has in it's repetoire- chips with cheese. Listening with my eyes closed and brain tuned to static, a few words stick in my head and I giggle - just giggle.

I know what I'm doing when my audience question me with their 'having a book is no excuse for being by yourself in a pub - and how can you dare to laugh' irritating smiles. I respond with nothing and reminisce... Twelve, twelve and a half years old, sitting, sticky with summer and sports day in the air, threatening its arrival. I fidget which earns a glare from my principle who is taking the after school Spanish activity class. This is never a good start with any new teacher, let alone Captain Clarke, the brand new leader of our pack. He's disappointed already.

He starts the class in what I can only guess is his usual manner; he conjugates his verbs, rolls his r's and speaks to us, in English, as if he's giving directions to a Spaniard, who can clearly understand what he's saying now that he gives an obvious lift to his voice at the end of every sentence- I guess he thinks it gives ambiance. I embarass myself further by misguidedly correcting him - something you learn to stop. It seems to give an air of 'steer well clear'! He doesn't like this, sends me to the corner, yelping that I should "respect my elders". Eventually, I'm allowed to rejoin the group.

The last nail in my coffin is hammered in when he can't think of a word. He plunges his face into an open dictionary on the table and gurgles. Everyone finds it amusing and manages to hold back their smiles. I, on the other hand, roar with laughter. Uncontrollably. As a final indignity, snot jets out with gusto and, I fart,audibly, in fact in Dolby surround sound.

This was, as it turns out to be my last lesson with the 'Spanish club'

His office was nice, not as nice as I expected- but nice.

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