The mighty Backlisted podcast is having a summer break, but they’ve left weekly drops of their Locklisted podcast to fill the gaps in listeners’ hearts and minds. This week they talked about I Remember, by Joe Brainard and I scurried upstairs to grab my copy.
Brainard was primarily an artist not a writer, and if you want to spend a lot of money on clothes, it looks like there’s stuff out there with Brainard prints. But the book is a lot cheaper and more stylish. It is simply a list of things he remembers, with each sentence starting ‘I remember’. It’s a deceptively straightforward approach, because while it allows for randomness, it also allows Brainard to capture the way that sometimes memories lead to others, which then lead to others. They might be interesting, banal or tap into a shared vein of nostalgia with the reader.
The Locklisted hosts tried writing ‘I remembers’ for themselves and it was good listening, so I thought I’d give it a go, as a prompt. The trick is not to think too much and just the let memories flow.
I remember a biscuit tin full of buttons that my nan had, and how beautiful and fascinating they were.
I remember the moments I knew I was going to fall off my bike.
I remember reading a book in which a girl had a sugar mouse that she kept, and really wanting my own sugar mouse.
I remember starlings flying over and through Birmingham city centre at dusk, when I’d taken the long way home from school.
I remember a Mickey Mouse alarm clock that I had, which ticked so loudly that when my friends stayed over we had to bury it under clothes. I used to find the ticking really comforting, but I’ve never been able to have another ticking alarm clock since.
I remember being projector monitor at school. The hymns were written out on acetate paper and I had to find them and put on the projector screen the right way round.
I remember the excitement of starting a new school term, with a new bag and pencil case.
I remember and old picnic box we had. It was four layers, of alternate white and orange plastic and each layer had compartments for different sorts of food and cup holder for a plastic beaker.
I remember when the cats were kittens and they seemed weightless in the air when they jumped.