Language & Memory


Posted by in November's Magazine

I am often asked – indeed interrogated – about why I read so many newspapers. “Is it because you want to pinch all their stories, or is it just to find out how proper journalists write?”
I reply, in that usual ‘self-deprecating and humble’ way I have. that this is not the case, as I am not a journalist in ‘anybody’s book’. Indeed a recent vote taken in my local hostelry was 100% in favour of the motion: Is the Editor of The Leither a waste of space? (One person with a ‘declared interest’ abstained.)

Up until now I have been able to answer, quite truthfully, that I just like something to read while I’m necking 6 pints of wallop. Alas the vile accusations thrown in my direction now ring uncanny true, I am about to nick an actual journalist’s idea. That Eva Wiseman from The Observer, whilst riffing on the language of gentrification, wrote that she was compiling an ad hoc dictionary on the subject.
Of particular interest in the context of Leith are her musings on the wording of property pages, as in: A ‘vibrant neighbourhood’ meaning ‘still has enough poor people to feel like real life’ and ‘emerging neighbourhood’ denoting ‘a poor area that has recently been colonised by the middle classes’.

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My friend is shredding his life
In his 9th decade everything must go. 70 years worth of wage slips, bank accounts, statements, legal documents, ration books, personal correspondence, everything.

He is shredding so furiously that the machine keeps overheating and packing in. So he pops over for a beer or so and regales me with details of what he has ‘disappeared’ that day. His enthusiasm is catching; he is actually enjoying this process “I bought 20 industrial sized black bags and I’ve already filled five of them!”

I tell him he should have given it all to The Living Memory Association in Ocean Terminal – a wee archive of how one Leither (and his family) managed their finances etc. throughout most of the 20th century and a decent chunk of the 21st. He’s a wily character though “C’moan Billy, ahm no wantin’ everyone kenin’ mah business!” Fair point.

So, as I write this on he shreds and he will do so until he has exactly one year’s worth – to the present day – of memorabilia left. At which point I suddenly realise that, at least in a textual sense, he will only be one year old. I like that.

Rosie has a list
…I know this because a moment ago she was weaving in my direction happily waving a can of Red Stripe, and then, suddenly, she had a list.

And I was on it
“Are you happy to be on my list?” I thought for a moment…”well that rather depends on what kind of a list it is. Is it a good list or a bad one?” “Oh, I can’t tell you that” she reasoned ‘because then I’d have to take you off my list”. And away she went.

Much later as the music blared, she returned, cupped my ear, and said with some conviction, “You’re still on my list.”

I’d like to thank the owners of the Alan Breck Lounge Bar for the use of their facilities whilst ‘composing’ this article. Their well-appointed premises are available free for celebrations, bridge nights and bar mitzvahs, provided a ‘reasonable quantity of drink is dispatched timeously during the function in question’.

4 responses to “Language & Memory”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I really like this….

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