The stale cold smell of morning

“On a London night at the stroke of midnight
I could hear old Big Ben chime
If only you, could be here too
We’d have the best of times”

I did not write the poem above. I did not write the poem above. I can’t stress this enough – I DID NOT write the poem above. And before I tell you who wrote it, I want to first talk about how we should treasure our memories and respect them for what they are – memories.

As we grow older, live a bit more, experience life a bit more, we tend to change as people. We all change all the time. For some people, it is more obvious than others, but we all still change.

When we live, each present moment is the most raw, the most genuine, and also the most sensuous. After the present moment, it becomes the past and our mind retains only a memory of what it was to have experienced that specific memory. How we remember how we felt.

This memory, cannot be a true reflection or copy of the actual moment. It can never be. And the more that moment is played back in our mind, the more we recall that memory over and over again, the more that memory is altered.

For example, one morning, you wake up before dawn and you step outside. That experience leaves you with the memory of how the cold air smelt, early in the morning. Some time later – a few months, or even years – you read the line ‘The stale cold smell of morning’ and it triggers your brain to recall that early morning experience you had. Perhaps when you were reading, you were drinking coffee. Now, that early morning memory gets tainted with the smell of coffee.

Then, some time later, you might watch Cats, The Musical on TV and you hear the famous song, ‘Memory’. As the singer reaches the bridge near the end, you hear her sing the words, “The stale cold smell of morning” and you think to yourself, “now where have I heard that line before?” And before you know it, your mind brings you back to the memory of reading the line, which then triggers the early morning memory.

Now, I wonder what you think of when I ask you to remember how ‘early morning’ feels like.

Anyway, I do apologise for the very long winded explanation above, but I will get to what I experienced not half an hour ago (before I started writing this post, of course). I was looking for inspiration to write a new piece of short fiction that is themed ‘London’. I have been thinking about this for a few days now, but it was only earlier today that I thought of an old memory. My memory of listening to Tommy Page’s music as a young girl.

I remember to like listening to Tommy Page’s music, and I remember feeling grown-up, as I was just copying what my older sister was doing, really. I also remembered that Tommy Page had a song called ‘I Love London’. My downfall was the next bit. I googled for the song and I listened to it.

Needless to say, I made a new memory of how listening to Tommy Page’s ‘I Love London’ feels like. It is shite. I don’t know how I ever liked it before and reading the lyrics, why anyone would even go near it with a ten-foot pole. And now, to describe what I am currently feeling about that song, I will borrow another few lines from ‘Memory’ again.

“I remember
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again”

Yes, of course I realise that you can also make new happy memories or enhance old memories to make them happier. However, a word of advice, if I may. Learn from my mistake… if you already have a happy or nice memory, don’t go dragging it up again. Let it be kept in your mind… as just that…

… a happy memory.


One thought on “The stale cold smell of morning

  1. As always, I enjoyed reading this. I remember reading somewhere that memory, even of the present moment, is inhibited by the process of sensory stimulation. In effect, even the present and the process of creating memory is restricted by the limitations of visual, olefactoral, and other sensory perceptions.

    It made me wonder, even if memory is limited, does it make it any less real? Is memory, although of the past, any less real than the moment it was experienced? After all, a memory is technically real — biologically. In the brain, it is real. Or does it become less real when it is tempered with external, perhaps technological, influences?

    Is a photo less real than a memory?


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