Saturday, 5 May 2018

Oh yes, I remember it well (I think) by Jane Clamp

As you read this, I shall be at the ACW Scottish Writers’ Day in Dundee. I have the privilege of opening the day with a session on Memoir and thought I’d share some thoughts with you today so you don’t feel you're missing out!

We all have things that we remember and it always amazes me why we remember what we do. How come, amidst all the hundreds and thousands of experiences we have gone through, some seem to stick more than others?

A fresh-faced 11 year-old. I haven't changed
a bit...
Some of our memories are painful to recollect. I had a great education, for example, but I didn’t ever feel I fitted in at school. It was the year most primary schools became middle schools and I effectively joined my high school a year late. I wasn’t alone: there were about a dozen of us that arrived that first day from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. I survived by keeping my head down and getting on with my work.

My memories of school would have stayed set in concrete, or at least fixed in the childish handwriting within my diaries; but something happened recently that put an entirely different spin on it. Through the technological marvels of Facebook, I re-connected with a school friend after 38 years. It was her suggestion to meet up while I was back in my home town and I found myself curiously nervous at the prospect. During an online chat before I travelled, we reminisced over some of the old days. I still felt anxious about meeting but then up popped a set of words that changed everything: You made high school for me.

I stared at the screen for a few moments, realising that I’d forgotten to keep breathing. Those 6 words challenged everything I remembered about school. All of a sudden, I saw that I’d remembered wrong. My recollections were skewed. I typed back my reply: I’d love to meet up! And we did, in a seafront café that did such an array of cake that we have pledged to return often. We re-visited those times that had been difficult for both of us and enjoyed each other as the women we had become. We bonded afresh over our feelings of being outsiders. We talked of the gap we filled for each other.

The sharing of memory is powerful, healing. Some of us may write about our experiences for a wider audience, others prefer to keep our recollections safely hidden in our journals. Our instinct might be to shy away from telling our difficult truths at all; but in doing so, we miss the chance to redeem the past and invigorate our present. Perhaps it’s time to dust off a memory or two and write from a fresh perspective?

Jane Clamp is Groups' Coordinator for ACW and runs the Brecks, Fens and Pens group in West Norfolk.
Her first book, Too Soon, a devotional on the topic of miscarriage, is to be published on August 16th by SPCK.


  1. Oh, I so relate to what you've written here, Jane! For a host of reasons I felt a misfit at school: wrong faith at an RC school; useless at sport due to an intestinal problem; disastrous adolescence due to it being my first time at a mixed school. But - as I've said in my up-coming book, Picked for a Purpose - all the negatives can be used to good effect. And as Princes William and Harry showed, sharing may not halve a sorrow but, as you've pointed out, it can be healing - and bring a new persepective. Well said, Jane!

  2. What a fantastic post Jane. I loved the way you took us on a journey. Especially poignant for me as recently a few old friends from school have got in touch. Thank you :)

  3. Thank you for this, Jane. You've really made me think about some of the old times and the possibility of different perspectives. Maybe there's another way to look at things.... hmm. Thank you. x