À la recherche du temps perdu. In Search of Lost Time
by Marcel Proust
I guess this is a much abbreviated version by yours truly, which is much more personal and poignant. Although I must admit I don’t know what poignant means. I just use such words sometimes to give my writings a certain je ne sais quoi. I don’t know what that means either. Let me look both up in the dictionary.
As I was saying, there are times when our thoughts take us back to times gone by when we were young, and foolish perhaps, and life was so different and simpler than it is now. Such an occasion occurred recently when I was alone at home and I had lost a goldfish. I counted the ones in the pond in the garden and realised that one was missing – I think it was the gold and white one.
How did that happen? I hear you ask. Oddly enough, I asked the same question to no one there. And no one heard at all. Not even the chair. Or Neil Diamond for that matter. (Guess the name of the song!)
After a search all over the house for the missing goldfish I eventually gave up and sat down totally exhausted. They say when you lose something it is always in the last place you look. Obvious really. Because when you find it in the last place, you just stop looking. Unless you decide to start looking for something else. A bit like hide-and-seek really.
I used to like playing hide-and-seek with my parents as a child. I used to close my eyes and count to 100 then look for them all over Europe. On one occasion they went to Australia to run away from me.
Whilst searching for the missing goldfish; the last place I looked was in the fridge, and he was not there. So I took a few cans of beer and sat down thinking.
My eyes caught an article in an open magazine on the table beside me. It read, “10 Things You Must Do before You Die”. Oddly enough, “Yell for help!” wasn’t one of them. I did nine of these things and then stopped because I did not want to tempt fate.
As we get older we must look after our health more. Last week when I visited the doctor he told me my sugar was too high; so I brought it down to a lower shelf. When I was in the doctor’s insulting room I found a pen on the floor. I picked it up and asked him, “is this pen yours?” He said, “I don’t know,” then he took it and wrote a few words and said, “yes, it is definitely mine!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
He replied, “this is my handwriting!”
Whilst I was there, he tried to test my mental acuity. I did not know what “acuity” meant so I looked it up in my pocket dictionary. That didn’t help. It was an Italian dictionary.
He asked me, “What do Alexander The Great and Winnie The Pooh have in common?”
I answered, “their middle name!”
He wrote that down and then asked, “What do you get if you’re in the North Pole and you sit on the ice for too long?”
I replied, “Polaroids!”
He wrote some more and asked, “do you ever wake up grumpy in the morning?”
I said, “not really … I just let her sleep!”
He scribbled something in his notebook and then asked, “what would you do if a small child swallowed your front door key?”
I replied, “climb through the window!”
He scribbled something again and said nothing. I became concerned. I mumbled, “Doctor … do you have any books on paranoia?”
He smiled and said, “they’re right behind you!!!”
That made me feel worse. Was I being followed?
Whilst I was at the doctor’s my wife rang. She said the car was not working because there was water in the engine. I was surprised she knew so much about technical matters, and said I’d pick her up. I asked her, “where is the car?”
She said, “in the river!”
She was very sad because that very day her sister rang her to say her husband left her. Apparently, he said he was going out to buy some milk and never returned. I asked my wife, “how is your sister coping?”
She replied, “she’s using powdered milk!”
Anyway, I sat there at home with my cans of beer reminiscing. I remembered that we were very poor in my childhood. I used to lie back in my bed at night and look at the stars and think to myself, “one day, I’ll get that hole in the roof fixed when I can afford it.”
We were very poor indeed. But even in our poverty we helped others. I recall once a beggar knocked on our door and my mom gave him some of our food to eat. The next day he gave her a book on how to cook!
Lots of people were poor in those days. I remember once at the shops an old lady at the till had all her shopping accounted for and it totalled £35.72
She did not have enough money to pay for her shopping. Although I was poor too I helped her out. She didn’t want my help but I insisted and in no time we had put all her shopping back on the shelves.
I remembered that day well. Because on my way back home I saw my neighbour walking two dogs. I said, “I didn’t know you had dogs!” She replied, “they are not my dogs, they are my sisters’.”
I said, “your sisters are very ugly!” She slapped my face.
I liked music when I was young. Most people do, I suppose. I loved the song “Non, Je ne regrette rien” sung originally by Edith Piaf, and later by Mireille Mathieu. I wanted a tattoo of the lyrics but the tattooist declined because he could not speak French.
So I got a tattoo of a potato smoking a pipe instead. He did it with a Biro pen and it washed off after a week.
Anyway, back to where I started. À la recherche du temps perdu. In Search of Lost Time.
Often, we spend time searching back into our memories for times gone by. But the real work starts now.
Make yourself happy memories every day. They will sustain you in future when you look back and you go for a recherche du temps perdu.