Buried treasure

Plundering the past is often suggested as a kick-start to writing, either to borrow an incident to build a story from, or just as an exercise to get your mind working and the words flowing onto the page. A handy list I’ve got here mentions a host of firsts (pet, day at school, kiss, bedroom, experience of death), most memorables (former friend, item of clothing, shoes) and most evocatives (smell, taste, sound – but you could add most of the other items too) to get you thinking. Now maybe it’s my poor memory, my age or my mental state, but there are a lot of those that I either can’t or don’t want to remember. Our dog that died when I was about 5 probably counts as both my first pet and first experience of death, but I’m not sure I remember her, rather I remember photos of her and anecdotes involving her. I went to 4 schools and I can’t remember my first day at any of them, though I can remember my last day at all of them (even though I’d rather not). I can remember bedrooms number 2-16 (16 being the one I’m in now) but not the first one, which I vacated age 2. Memorable items of clothing are most likely to be the ones that make me cringe, things that are probably back in fashion now, like legwarmers and ear-muffs, leggings and other things I wouldn’t like to admit to. Pixie boots, for instance.

In the interest of sanity, I’m going to compile a new list of springboards, which you’re free to use: favourite childhood biscuit, preferably one no longer available; worst book studied in English at school; warmest coat you ever owned; first thing that made you feel grown-up, be it buying beer, becoming a parent, learning to drive or having some kid vacate a bus seat for you (though that one just makes you feel old, I think); most you’ve ever paid for a haircut. That should keep us all going for a while.

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