Thursday 4 December 2008

Memory Lane

Finn was at the zoo with pre-school on Tuesday. He said he liked the chimpanzees in the monkey house the best, saw the penguins eating their fish but didn't see the zebras. Fortunately the worst of the two-day cold snap had passed and the snow and ice had melted away. Our road and the school playground were rather treacherous. It seems a long time since we had a year-long zoo membership and I was taking Sean and the infant Finn on occasional trips. We never made the best use of it, to be honest.

Talking to Finn about his trip reminded me of going to Edinburgh Zoo when I was in P1, one of my earliest (and few) school memories. I'm sure it was Edinburgh Zoo rather than Calderpark Zoo on the east side of Glasgow, although Edinburgh seems like a very long way from Paisley for a day trip for small children, especially on the road network circa 1972. Anyway, my memory is confined to Miss McGeoch, the rather austere, bespectacled assistant head teacher, being with us and me riding on the back of a donkey. (Why would there be a donkey ride at the zoo? Again, it seems a bit odd.) I have this impression of a viewpoint from the back of a beast, looking over great broad hairy shoulders, rocking from side to side as the donkey was led across a field.

As a further aside and trip down memory lane, that leads to an even earlier snippet of memory, of going to the Kelvin Hall Carnival with the nursery class (play-school, we called it, was where we went in the year before primary school, to the Glenburn Community Centre). This memory is almost formless save for an impression of a vast space, machines, Christmas lights and noise. And a packet of Golden Wonder crisps. That must be from Christmas 1970. I think you maintain these memories because they aren't overwritten with repeated experience. It would be 25 years before I was next at Edinburgh Zoo and I never again did go to the Kelvin Hall Carnival. I can also remember the fleet of red scooters that we had at play-school; all similar apart from a wonky-wheeled one that a mouse-like boy always had to have and one with newer solid red wheels and white tyres that ran the smoothest.

Compared to me, Finn and his brothers seem to have had so many experiences and opportunities to date, but Finn is only four and you wonder what will stick in his mind, and why, as he grows up.

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