The Sound of Memory

November 1999, or thereabouts.

Have you ever heard a song or a sound that has put you somewhere very specific? So strong even your senses are momentarily transformed and you remember details beyond time and place and it practically moves into the realm of an actual experience, right in the present moment.

Remember the old Windows 98 startup sound? I'd forgotten it, I'd heard it somewhere out of the blue a while ago and was struck with a very specific memory.

It took me back to my mum's flat in York, late 1999. I didn't think I had a close attachment to the place. I was living down South at the time and would visit periodically,although in that classic son's lament, perhaps not enough. That sound reminds me of sitting at my mum's computer (an AMD K6-2 333Mhz, pretty decent for the time) and pottering about. Sun coming through the windows, the gentle patter of the cat's paws on the floor, and the smell of shoe leather and polish from the cupboard next to the computer desk. My mum wasn't there, I think it was one of those moments she went out and left me to my thoughts (and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, the original one, not the shite you have today). The cat would fuss, missing her and letting me know all about it.

I tried to understand why it was such a strong and specific memory. There's some obvious things. My mum isn't around anymore, she died of cancer 16yrs ago. The place is meaningful though, it was the last home she had in York - the city of my adolescence - before moving to London, effectively severing my last link to the city. It was at at time when I was listless and I think contemplating coming back North, but that never got beyond a thought.

There's a lot of memories associated with sound, but I think I like to hang on to this one because it is a moment representing something that is otherwise lost to me.

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