Soon you will hear that I am feeling nostalgic this morning. In this mood I decide to listen to Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon a Time in America)—Ennio Morricone
After going for a stroll during the allotted time (what craziness!), I came back and painted our camp stove. The memories go back almost 50 years. A nostalgia for the good times with my parents, my family, and children. Camping. food prepared on that stove, storms survived, a lifetime in a 2-plate camping gas stove.
I had to include Diane Setterfield’s quote – it is só me and I just had to re-listen Susan Cain, with whom I share the love of books and who taught me why I am like I am, at TED. Listen to Susan Cain, perhaps you understand.
“I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled.”
― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl
Being an introvert, it is difficult to make small talk. Books were my friends before I could read. I read all the youth series of my time. I started reading non-fiction at an early age. It was almost a daily trip to the library behind the old oak slave tree in York Street, George. I will be forever indebted to the librarian (with hindsight and being older I realise she understood me) who allowed me to sneak into the adult section of the library and borrow those books in the children’s section long before I was the age to move over. In those days adult section had nothing to do with X-rated! I am forever grateful to a friend of my sister who forced me to read Alistair Maclean before I could borrow a penny-dreadful (which I never borrowed after getting into Alistair Maclean). It is about books and authors who had an influence, but it is also about people who contributed to make me the man I am because of the person the are (or were, unfortunately). Often I wish I could go back and thank them.
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I look over my bookshelves. I gave away many of my books last year to make room and tidy up. My mind goes back to Og Mandino and Napoleon Hill. Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and Stephan Hawking A Brief History of Time. Seth Godin and Steven Levitt, Malcolm Gladwell, Edward de Bono, Stephan Covey, Khalid Hosseini, and Philip Yancey … I can go on forever. Books of all kinds have formed me. Out of lockdown a weekly visit to the library would be extra luxurious! Memories filled with books. Memories of times spend at the library. Memories of visiting the library with Leah.
Music also brings memories. Demis Roussos will always remind me of See and Sand camps in 1975 and a three week holiday on my own at Victoria Bay in Dec 1976. And the people I with whom I made a lifetime if good memories in three weeks. Fun experiences. December 1976 was the holiday when I had breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time – just before bed. There just wasn’t time to eat during the day. Fortunately, from time-to-time, some other campers invited me to have something to eat with them. And every now and again my Mom brought me some food. A most memorable holiday. Music can take you back to places you have been – like Neil Diamond singing I am I said at full blast driving through Golden Gate. It sounds like an abomination, but it was a way to express the exhilaration I felt with living and being there at t that moment.
Smells can also recall memories in a flash. I have lots of Diesel memories. When I was about 11 years old, my dad had a smallholding outside Blanco near George. Another source of good memories. Early Saturday mornings we would go there to work. A few Canada Dry’s (cooldrinks) in water in the shade, for lunchtime. The smell of diesel when the first puff of black diesel smoke escapes the exhaust. Our tour through South West Africa (now Namibia) in June 1977. Rising early to start driving at daybreak. Starting the Diesel Mercedes to idle and warm-up while packing the last baggage. The smell of Diesel and National Service in the Navy. The smell of Diesel recalls that remarkable sound when a Strike Craft’s engine starts turning over with compressed air. There is an extra special memory attached to this. A trip to Durban. Entering the harbor at sundown after maneuvers at sea. A quick decision to pack and return to Simon’s Town (home) immediately when the “washup” was done. The 2IC and myself on the bridge. I confess to him I am in love with the sound of those majestic engines starting. He says: “You should hear it when we start all 6 together.” I reply: “Do it!” “We only do that in an emergency.” To which I reply: “It is an emergency, we are going home.” He chuckles and pipes to the Chief Engineer in the engine room: “Start all the engines simultaneously.” Chief Engineer: “We only do that in an emergency?” “It is an emergency, we are going home,” the 2IC echoes my words. Thirty-three years later I still get goose-bumps thinking of it.
Every day, every moment we make memories. While we make the effort, let it be good memories! Memories not only keep us alive, it also keeps people, perhaps long gone, alive. Perhaps we only really die when nobody remembers us anymore. We die when all memories of us are gone.
The cover photo represents memories of a visit to the Kruger National Park. That Hilux was Donkedoef. He used old style diesel … (Look, and you will see the stove!)