I began to think seriously about memory after my mother died suddenly. I became very afraid of forgetting her - forgetting all of the small daily things, the conversations we’d had. I was so afraid that I did forget, at least for a while. Then, when memories began to come back, I felt I had to preserve them in case they went away again. So I started writing them down.

But the other reason her death made me consider memory differently was that my general, day-to-day memory deteriorated in the months afterward. I was so wrapped up in grief, for a long time, that I became incredibly forgetful. My friends would become frustrated with me because I’d forget all about a conversation we had had, even though it was only half an hour ago. I’d forget to pick up washing up liquid on my way home even though it was my turn to buy it, I’d forget that I’d promised to wake my flatmate up in the morning when they had an important appointment to get to. I didn’t feel like it was just that I was preoccupied, though - my memory became frayed, reality cut adrift.

Gradually, it got better. A few years later, I now feel more or less back to normal and my short term memory seems to work as well as other people’s. But still, if a memory pops up unannounced after not having come to mind for longer than I can remember, I have to write it down, for fear that it will never come back again. These memories have become very meaningful to me. I’m obsessed with them. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but it’s a high. For instance, today a woman jogged past me with a little yellow reflector on her wrist and it jolted to the surface a sudden memory, clear as day, of a little yellow mouse-shaped reflector on a thick plastic string, which I was given at primary school aged around 6. I adored it and took it everywhere with me for about six months. I can picture it in my mind perfectly, which gives me delight. It seems so silly to place such importance on a memory so inane. Perhaps it is that the intense clarity with which I remember this gives me a hope that there are threads of connection between the past and the future. I await other bursts of the past, time portals that the future holds.

One figure, 2018. Oil on paper, 22x30cm