Memories are always selective, edited by our ongoing lives each hour, and then by the day, the week and year,
Writing a memoir is not like writing a novel, with a beginning, middle and end, a prescriptive number of words.
From a home of forty years there is much choice to trigger a memory, from bookshelves, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, drawers of papers, cupboards of mementos and now there is Google Earth
You can begin a memoir as an autobiography jotting down the key events, birth, education, marriage and you can fill it in from the resources mention above and what you choose to mention will be subjective. What you probably have less control over is where it will lead you.
Apart from key personal events there are bound to be major world events, political and environmental and over these you have no control.
Two events will have shaped our own lives without us being conscious that they have.
In January 1973 Britain joined the E.C, eight months after our first family foreign holiday, when we had chosen to visit the Greek island of Corfu, already confirmed in our Europeaness. But it took Street View on Google Earth to pull in the memories of how strong our feelings of belonging were. Just to zoom into the facade of the old crumbling Corfiot house, the rotting muddy-colured wooden doors of the olive press on the lower floor, the delicate green painted iron balcony with two single doors leading from the living quarters above where high ceilings and dark brown wooden floors flooded the memory. Better still Street View allowed you to turn the corner at the side of the old building and climb up the weed covered steps and take your imagination round to the back of the house where two very young children were playing, covered in cotton clothing and sun hats. Here Kyria Koula was podding young broad beans and dechoking artichokes, covering the vegetables with lashings of olive oil, mint leaves and water to make the most wonderful dish for our lunch, all on an outdoor gas ring. As we were educating the young children into ‘foreign’ food so we were experiencing Greek philoxenia, all of us influenced for life. We were certainly ready to join the European Economic Community and when it became the E.C (European Community) we were delighted. We felt part of something safe and stable.
In 2016, on the 23rd June Britain voted in a Referendum and voted to leave the single market, to leave the European Union.
Again we were in Greece. We were in Neapolis, at the southernmost point of Greece at the southern and eastern point of mainland Europe. The news that we had voted out came through on my iphone radio in the middel of the night. Turning the TV on in the hotel bedroom only confirmed our fears and with a huge ache in the pit of our stomachs we eventually made our way to breakfast. “What have you done?” ask the hotel owner as we made our way to shady courtyard where we toyed with a minimum breakfast. It was a question that we would be asked all day. Neapolis does not have many British visitors and the was no other Brits to glare at accusingly, instead we slunk guiltily back to the room, packed our cases and went down to the ferry port. Did we look so British? Why was everyone looking at us? The stevedore loading the cars looked at us, took pity on us and let us drive straight into the hold without negotiating the tricky ramp up to the upper deck.
We found three seats in the shade, facing aft, and then realising that once moving we would be directly into the sun changed to three other seats. The journey to Kythira seemed interminable. A passing dog crouched to pee about twenty feet from us. Glumly I watch the puddle expand and then form a narrow stream heading very slowly the way of our bags. It signified the mood of the day. Once on land there was the normal scramble off the ship. Drivers pushing past old ladies and children to get first to the hold, laid-back holidaymakers giving space but not adverse to swinging round to give any Brit who had voted the UK out of the EU a nasty swipe with their backpack.
The day wasn’t going to improve. We drove to absolutely stunning Avlemonas, all white and blue and made a conscious decision over iced tea and chocolate cake this was an island we had sweated to reach and EU aside there was nothing we could do except try to enjoy this precious visit.
Once in Kapsali, our lodgings located we hung on to that thought, but in the roasting afternoon heat, carrying large cases up multiple very steep steps on an outside staircase that was only half in the shade, staying positive was not easy.
To quote a modern phrase: it is what it is. We were in beautiful Kapsali, our fourth trip in life time, but it was many years since we had last visited and were overjoyed that very little had changed excepting everything was better!