With a post this morning showing Venice clad in fog, I was trying to remember the composer’s name whose music was used in ‘Death in Venice.’ It would not come. I gave up and asked my wife, Helvi. It was Mahler. Of course it was. Am I slipping? The urgency to put down words is there but is the re-call lagging? Perhaps it is just the result of so much emphasis lately, on the aged loosing memory. All that publicity is affecting me. Am I going gaga? Don’t go there!
All those TV medical shows on Alzheimer and close ups shots of the pulsating vibrant full brain of the healthy maniac and those of an old dithering bloke’s blacked out bits of a withering brain. Why anyone is so keen on having to remember all and everything, is so soul destroying. So much of it could well be overrated? Has it become obligatory to remember Mahler at all times? Surely a reward of getting old is blissful forgetfulness!
Even so, I do notice a tapering off. I will use less words and condense. That might help and could well be my answer as well as to other sufferers. Would it not be marvellous to have a book all written down in using just one word. In music sometimes just a single note hangs in there so hauntingly beautiful. Why not in words? A simple unadorned word like ‘Carrot in Middle c’ . Would that suffice? Would a book titled ‘Carrot’ sell? Perhaps not many. What about extending it to ‘A Carrot for Rudolf?’ The imaginary reader could well link this further. What about ‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer and his fondness for carrots?
I remember reindeer and Santa’s homeland. Suomi. That wonderful country of birch, spruce and fifty thousand lakes. Some call it Finland. I was there during 1965/66. I remember the stopping of the train at Ankeriasjarvi with my Helvi. We walked over the frozen lake and made tea in the surrounding forest on a fire of twigs and pine with water made out of snow. I made a hole in the ice but did not catch a single fish. It takes an expert and a true Finn to do that. But, I did try out the -34C and threw water over the grinding wheel to hone he axe which turned into instant ice. I thought my eyes would freeze but they did not. I was no Dr Zhivago nor a Boris Pasternak.
I remember as well the glorious stillness of Finland in winter and the inside warmth of Helvi’s parents farm-house. The huge lounge and fire-place above which we would, on New Years Eve, slowly melt lead and throw in water to figure out our future from the randomly formed leaden ingots. (Uudenvuodenaatto) Surely those memories will never escape into the fogginess of advancing years. I also cannot forget JP Sibelius and his wonderful music. His wife Aino was still alive when I was in Finland. He did not write anymore music for the last thirty years of his life. He must have felt he had done it all. He also had six daughters.
So, there you have it. All from a single word, ‘carrot.’