26/01/2015

Defining Memories Today



I met up again with a very old friend last week.

Time had passed. And it hadn't.

We hadn't seen each other for a quarter of a century. Rather like Simon and Garfunkel's 'old friends' we'll be in our seventies if that amount of time passes again!

No small talk was needed. Shared memories punctuated any gaps in our parallel lives.

Connections. Shared moments in the past continued to unite us.

How many of those connections - those shared, special, defining moments, take you back to schooldays? How many are being shaped at Park House today?

The best days of your life...

www.parkhouseschool.org/Blog/The-best-days-of-your-life.aspx

My favourite 'Special Subject', studied as part of my History Degree was entitled 'Literature, Politics and Society in France, 1870-1914'.

I loved it because it invited you to make exciting connections between a turbulent period of economic, social and political change and it's expression through the art, writing and culture of la Belle Époque. For example...

'Les Nabis' ('The Prophets') school of painting: one the most influential artistic movements of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, inspired by Paul Gauguin and including vibrant and experimental artists like Pierre Bonnard...

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Mountains

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Mountains (1893)

Pierre Bonnard, The Dining Room in the Country

Pierre Bonnard, The Dining Room in the Country (1923)

And, above all, the author, Marcel Proust. Would never have come across him otherwise.

Marcel Proust

Proust is most famous for his 'madeleine moment'!

Proust Madeleine

In the monumental, seven-volume "A La Recherche du Temps Perdu" (roughly translated as 'Remembrance of Times Past''), the main character's memories are involuntarily unlocked by the taste of that small and quintessentially French sponge cake dipped in tea. His childhood, and all associated with it, floods back in a spontaneous stream of consciousness:

"I raised to my lips a spoonful of my aunt's tea in which a morsel of the cake that had been soaked. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, than a shudder ran through my whole body... Immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built around it for my parents... And with the house the town, from morning to night in all weathers, the square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine."
 
This connection between the senses and memory does resonate, doesn't it! The flavour of a favourite ice cream; a sweet; the smell of school disinfectant!

A song. Or songs.

In remembering times past I am indeed brought right back to the present.
Last week's blog described a defining moment for the school. And for young people who took part in it. Fame.

Fame The Musical at Arlington Arts
Fame The Musical at Arlington Arts
Fame The Musical at Arlington Arts
Fame The Musical at Arlington Arts
Fame The Musical at Arlington Arts

Photos courtesy Waddell Digital.

A collective memory which has forged new friendships and will no doubt rekindle old ones twenty five years from now.

Tea and Madeleine



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