I picked up a book today off my bookshelf; one that I have not read for a long time, at least ten years or so. I realised that I’d completely forgotten it.
Like my dreams I had suppressed this book. I remembered other books by Monica Dickens, but this one, which meant nothing to me until I looked at the picture on the cover, was the one that mattered most to me. Maybe not her best book, but one that I turned to for comfort.
So why had I forgotten it?
Over the last six months I have been deliberately trying to dredge up some memories from childhood, of films, books and music that I enjoyed then and have forgotten, that have been relegated to the past and not even to a distant memory.
There is a common theme running through them, and that is one of yearning. Yearning for better, happier times, with frustration with the present. There is an awareness that something is wrong, but without necessarily the power to change things for the better, the feeling that the main character/s are being swept along without the power to control and change their own destiny.
Many of Daphne Du Maurier’s books follow this theme and they too are life long favourites, not just the Rebecca that everyone knows. Although Rebecca fits the pattern too and I have long thought Mrs Danvers the scariest person on film ever (“Why don’t you… go on”). Now as an adult knowing a bit more about her life, I understand better that yearning for the ability to live a different life, whilst recognising that some things you simply cannot change.
I bought Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York on DVD, after having it on video for so long; this is one I could never forget and watch regularly. I remember the first time as it was on late and I had been refused permission to watch it, so I crept downstairs late at night, turned the volume down as low as I could and watched it snuggled up to the screen. It wowed me at the age of 11 and it wows me now. A few days after seeing the film I asked for saxophone lessons which I did eventually get. The interesting thing about the DVD is that it showed alternate endings, where the main characters did get together, or where he made the gesture of reconciliation that she rejected or accidentally missed or she made the gestures that he failed to respond to. Subtle differences that would have substantially changed the film. Robert De Niro and Liza Minelli love each other, but they can’t live with each other. There’s poignancy, yearning and frustration. Also a sense of helplessness descends on you as you realise there is no happy ever after here, they are not going to make it as a couple because they can’t, however hard they try.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull was a film that I had forgotten, although the book stands on my shelf along with others by Richard Bach. Jonathan was a seagull who wanted more from life than just being part of a flock and chasing boats and fighting over scraps. He wanted to fly; in fact he yearned to fly. And he did eventually, but he was rejected by his family and his flock along the way and had some very lonely times. He struggled and yearned, but he got there in the end. He is the only success story out of all these stories.
Some of these films, books and albums stayed with me. But several of them ended up as not even memories. They meant so much to me and yet I had to forget about them. Subconsciously I made that decision and now I need to unravel it.