I’ve been watching all the episodes of “Detectorists” again, a comedy series ostensibly about nothing more than two friends with a passion for metal detecting but ultimately a lovely story about male relationships.
This might be the third time I’ve watched it from start to finish and, nearing the very last episode, I start to recall the events which bring the whole thing together.
The problem is, none of the events I remember actually occurs, other than in my head.
Instances of false memory are likely to be more frequent when time stretches lazily out before us with each day looking much like the last.
On a walk to the Heath with my daughter, we meet up with Martin, my long time friend and podcast collaborator.
Making our way around the gardens past the tennis courts we pass the place where the little cafe used to sell drinks and ice creams.
“Do you remember the cafe? I can still see the man who ran it, and hear his voice” I say to Martin.
“Yes I remember it, but I don’t remember the man,” he says.
My daughter chips in with a grin, “You used to buy a hotdog from there if you had enough money, didn’t you?”
She’s heard the story a hundred times.
“I don’t remember being able to buy hot dogs,” Martin says.
Around the back and into the sparse woodland we can hear the hum from the motorway which has increased over the past few days.
Martin seems to be looking for something, “I haven’t been around this bit since the putting course was here,”
“What? That’s the best part of forty years ago,” I tell him and we proceed to try and work out which hole was where while my daughter plugs in the other headphone and the dog looks for something to roll in.
Now I’m not sure if they did sell hotdogs in the cafe, but I want it to be true because it’s a small part of such a fond memory from long summer days spent in childhood.
Temporal landmarks help us to make sense of our lives and they stop time from being amorphous.
In lockdown, there is a marked absence of temporal landmark for most of us which, ironically, will probably make remembering spring 2020 accurately more difficult in years to come than seems possible.
What’s more sobering is the thought that some of our memories, the ones which might define the way we see ourselves and other people, or cause us to berate ourselves many years later, may not be true in quite the way we recall them.
Sometimes we make memories fit our conclusions instead of the other way around.
Better perhaps to work with what you have here in the present.
The best way of all to make sure we hold onto the things that are precious from our lives is to write them down.
Perhaps I imagined those scenes in “Detectorists” because a story with a happy ending, specifically the one that I envisage, is more important to me that I had realised.
But I won’t make the same mistake again because, this time, I have written it down.