Memory Lane in Cheshire

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My mother isn’t used to driving me around so much these days. So all credit to her yesterday as she negotiated a narrow lane in the Cheshire countryside yesterday without going into a ditch as I suddenly yelled “STOP”.

“Can you just pull over? Yes, here. Yes, just here. Anywhere here, really. But now. Now. I need to take a photo.”

I opened the door and tumbled into a ditch of cow parsley. The cow parsley surrounded me. Pungent, sharp, scratchy. The cow parsley of my childhood punctuated by the isolated bent oak trees and rampant hedgerows of my childhood. Verdant fields stretching across the plain towards the Peckforton hills in the middle distance: Cheshire’s unmistakeable high ground.

It wasn’t so surprising I was swamped by remembrance of things past here and now, this precise instant.

We had just left the funeral of my father’s possibly closest and dearest friend. He survived my father by two decades, but these isolated moments of time’s passages conflate and mix in a bittersweet way on such occasions. I saw close childhood friends for the first time in 30 years. Friends of my parents from decades ago. All the same yet not the same in the surreal way that the passing of years affects such things.

I was suffused with memories of childhood beach holidays, climbing rocks and ancient castle walls unsupervised and unobserved. Sailing little dinghies on endless summer evenings. Beach picnics and family outings. Memories tumbling and pouring out too quickly to hold onto.

Then finally leaving the reception area and finding ourselves on a strangely familiar country road in a village I only passed through in the past. I think it was the back route the school bus took back and forth every day, collecting and depositing children from the surrounding hamlets and villages. But it may have been the route to the law college I attended after university. A strangely bucolic and isolated setting for one of only three professional law colleges in England at the time.

All I know is that the intensity of nostalgia overcame me to such a degree that the only possible course of action was to yell out “Stop!”

Stop. I want time to collect my memories sometimes.

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