Sensing memories.


What brings back memories for you?    Because I have quite a bad memory, I’m not good with visual recall from memory, but smell, and sound seem to be the big ones for me.     I think certain smells hold the most vivid of memories.

Who remembers parmolive soap?    Not the highly scented with different essential oils ones you can buy these days, but proper old-fashioned Parmolive soap.      That smell reminds me of my Grandad.      I just have to get a whiff of if and I am transported back to the days where I would hang on the side of his big wooden chair when we visited him every October holidays.      The smell must be a vivid trigger, as he died when I was just 9 years old.

The smell of Brylceme is the smell of my Uncle.

Damp smells take me back to travelling to college in the old rickety train that used to run back and forth from Basingstoke to Andover.     It had a right stench to it, definitely damp, and probably some other nasty things too!       But a smell that will always trigger the memory of doing homework on the 20 minute journey down the track!

Last week, I was got a packet of Soreen slices..     I don’t like dried fruit, so for me it was a no no, but the boys eat a lot of sultanas and raisins, so I was happy for them to try it.       Even though there is now a vast amount of products in the range, the packaging is still familiar, and it made me smile.      You see, my Dad was a sucker for a slice of malt loaf.     He wasnt one for creamy things, or anything too sweet, but a hunk of malt loaf, with a good slap of butter and he was happy.      It was something, I would often put in the trolley when I shopped.      I had to stop myself a few times after his death from buying it, as it was just a staple on the list!

The smell of malt loaf for those that aren’t familiar with it, is strange to say the least.   Strange isn’t always bad though!    You can smell the fruit, but the malt is an over-riding fragrance.    The texture is soft and kind of sticky.    As I say, I don’t like the fruit, but it still smells and looks lovely!

The boys were a bit reluctant to try it.    M did his usual, smell, lick, reject, that he does with all new foods.      That is until I said it was his Grandads favorite and then he had a proper bite, and after a little deliberation, decided it wasnt so bad!       D munched straight in.    It was gone before I had a chance to ask him what he thought of it.     When he asked for some more, I think the answer was clear that he had inherited his Grandads love of it!       It is comforting to know that something that may have skipped my generation can be continued by D!

I imagine a lot of people have songs that evoke memories for them, and when they hear them, they are transported back in time.

When I hear Deacon Blue – Dignity (, I think of the London Underground.     It was in the charts at a time when I was having a lot job interviews, and was up and down to London, and I had it on a cassette in my Walkman (those too young to remember cassettes and Walkmans, just google them!).    Whenever it is played on the radio, I think of that time.   The thing is I couldn’t tell you any of the companies I saw at that time, just makes me think of the Tube.

While Byran Adams is probably one of my favorite singers ( and I am educating the boys to his gravelly tones too!), the first few bars of Summer of ’69 make me hold my breath.     It was the summer of 1991, and I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at Wembley.      When he came on, everyone surged forward, and there was a really squash, it was frightening until everyone settles down to dance, but for a few second, I literally couldnt breath as there were so many bodies pushing together.     It was scary!

For my Hubby it is food that triggers memories for him.     He can talk you through meals he has had around the world, more than what he actually did in each city!

So what triggers memories for you?       I’d love to know that I’m not the only person that has strange things trigger such vivid memories!



2 responses »

  1. The smell of bay laurel brings back all kinds of memories from the ten years I worked at the Northern California Renaissance Faire. The site had a lot of bay laurel trees. In the late summer and early autumn the heat would release the scent of the leaves. “The Reflex” by Duran Duran played constantly in the summer of 1984. Here in the U.S. the Summer Olympics had come to Los Angeles. I was off in the Netherlands, living with the girl who’d been my lab partner in high school Physics. We went to the disco on Thursday nights and “The Reflex” always played at least once. Good times!

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