Unforgettable

Thinking back to my youth, I remember the sounds and smells of a steam-filled Sunday Roast kitchen at a great pal of mine’s house. Lamb, gravy, two types of potatoes and usually two pudding pies; fit for a King. 

And always in the background there’d be Nat King Cole, Sinatra and Louis Armstrong on the radio. 25 years on and that era of music always transports me back to a Lancashire kitchen.

Bittersweet then to hear of Teddy Mac (above) the ‘Songaminute man’ who at 80 has advanced Alzheimers, but still belts out a show tune in the car with his son, like in his holiday-camp pomp as a Butlin’s redcoat. 

Terry Jones the former Python has gone the same way we learn this week. And there but for the grace of God go us all.

But the uplifting story of Teddy Mac – whilst clearly no fairytale for his family – at least reminds us that the best memories and probably the most durable are often the simplest: a great tune, a tasty meal, a happy moment.

I’ve bought his rendition of “You make me feel so young” on iTunes; it makes me smile, and the proceeds go to Alzheimers research. I’ve also bought a copy for my pal, whose mum’s kitchen I’m sure I heard it in – it brings back happy memories.

Listen to You Make Me Feel So Young – Single by Teddy Mac – The Songaminute Man on @AppleMusic.


Note to Self

20111217-121831.jpgI came upon a terse description of ‘identity’ this week in a longer piece by neuroscientist Terrence W. Deacon of USC Berkeley:

An intrinsic tendency to maintain a distinctive integrity against the ravages of increasing entropy as well as disturbances imposed by the surroundings.

He was describing the way molecules come together in sympathetic, then symbiotic relationships to form ‘auto-catalytic’ processes – where one chemical reaction feeds, and is fed by another. But deliberately he was defining ‘self’ in a way which embraces chemicals, bodies and minds.

I watched a chilling piece on the news last night about Alzheimer’s, with an awareness raising TV ad portrays sufferers fading through transparency to invisibility. Another of Deacon’s definitions – intended for chemicals, is as true of minds:

To be truly self-maintaining, a system must contain within it some means to ‘remember’ and regenerate those constraints determining its integrity which would otherwise tend to dissipate spontaneously.

Which leads me to the conclusion that:

After Aristotle, as moral animals, we are what we repeatedly do.

After Aquinas and McCabe, as linguistic animals, we are what we think, say and write.

And after Deacon, as forgetful animals – sometimes helpfully, sometimes tragically – we are what we can remember against the ravages of entropy, the environment and time.

All the more reason to write the odd reminder I think.