Memories are made of this

It’s been a week for memories.  My sister Fran arrived on Thursday and we enjoyed a very reasonable and delicious lunch at the Bluebell Café on the estate where I winter. ( Home made veggie moussaka. Anyway it was good to see her as she now lives in France and only comes to the UK for work.  I hadn’t seen her for about two years and, like me, she is hopeless with keeping in touch. Also like me, she is a nomad, and sells her beautiful handmade pearl jewelry ( by touring round Women’s Institutes and similar in the UK, giving talks about pearls and selling her wares at the end. She lives out of a suitcase while she is working and stays in those pretty dreadful anonymous roadside hotels.  Rather her than me, but she enjoys the performance and the selling is going well.  Check out her lovely stuff!

We talked for a couple of hours, catching up and delving into the memories of lives once shared but now separate.  It was pleasure of course flecked with the occasional tear.

She brought an intriguing brown paper parcel with her with my address on it.  You probably know I’m a sucker for mysteries and especially ones involving brown paper, so as soon as she’d gone I tore it open it to find hundreds of photos dating back through my life and a scarf of mine I’d left at hers an eon ago.  She’d been going through the photographic archive and had divvied mine out.  An hour of memory followed and the box is still sitting by me here and I occasionally lucky dip into it and emerge with a black and white faded treasure of recollection, looking not just at the people but the detail in the backgrounds. An infusion of remembrance of the places I have been and the things I have done and the people I’ve been with.  Extraordinary.

The other box of memories which has been sitting beside me all week is my close-up magic box.  This only very occasionally emerges during a show, mostly because the show is on a large scale and close-up magic requires only a small handful of watchers.  I really should bring it out more because it contains some classics, not just of magic but also of making.  Little finely crafted objects that do amazing things.  A true Pandora’s box. I love delving through it as I tend to forget what is in there. 

Memory is extraordinary.  As soon as I have the object in my hands, the presentation all comes back.  Perhaps it’s a card trick I originally learned twenty years ago or a miniature box that requires a quick secret unseen action to effect a finale.  It’s as though the object itself contains the memory and this is transferred to my hands and mind when I pick it up.  It might require a quick refresher practice but then I have it and am moving on with the presentation, exactly where I left off all those years ago.  Sometimes, and most strangely of all, I find the years of not doing the action seems to have lent an increased fluency and ease with the process.  This also quite often happens with juggling.  If I haven’t done any for a while (this time of year is a case in point) I find that when I return to it not only can I still do it but also I am a little better at it than I remember.  It’s as though my sub-conscious has been practising while I’ve been doing other things.  I’ve heard the same thing can happen for golfers.

The travelling stage is nearly refreshed and ready for the season.  A few more days of varnishing and painting will have it scintillating and flashing in the sun and looking at its best, as I love it to look, opened up and ready for the audience.  The new illusion is also still bubbling away in my sub-conscious, rising occasionally with a new detail of fabrication or presentation.  I think the illusion is also going to be a trip down memory lane.  Back to a time when, as a child, I craved for a cardboard box to make something with, much as today’s children crave a iPod or a game controller.  I remember pleading for a cardboard cornflake packet, long before the box itself was empty, but then, these are other memories and I’ve work to do…

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander