* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

The Persistence of Memory

13 October 2003
Jamie's got a lot on his mind

The human brain is a wondrous, many-caverned thing. Or mine is, at any rate. It amazes me that an organ made only of blood, mush and funny electrical impulses can perform some of the things that my mind can do: quick bursts of mental arithmetic, flights of fantasy, the occasional witty limerick or sonnet, even manipulating the behaviour of others. OK, I haven't managed telekinesis yet, but give me time.

But what fascinates me is the ability to retain information. Not just important stuff - that's something any successful product of evolution should be able to cope with - but I love the fact that I can have the most trivial pieces of crap floating around my head, and funnel them out of my mouth at will (or by accident, depending on the circumstances). Ridiculous, irrelevant facts; stupid lines from unmemorable films; endless lyrics from bands that were out of fashion before anyone realised they existed. They're all in there, looking for a way out.

I've spent a lot of time weighing up whether this is a curse or a blessing. There's a distinct lack of practical purpose to the majority of this stuff; but can it really be doing me any harm?

Let's look at the positives, to start with. For a start, my need for a video player is vastly diminished; I can replay scenes from The Simpsons, from Eastenders, from my favourite pornographic movies, all crystal-clear in my mind (which, coincidentally, brings to mind a quote from Stephen Fry that 'masturbation is the thinking man's television' - you see how this all starts to work now). While this has the occasional effect of making me look like a nutter as I sit giggling to myself, staring into space, on the whole it's a handy way to get through those cold winter evenings.

Then there are the social benefits. I have to admit, I have milked my abilities on the odd occasion. Everyone likes a circus freak; so there is something of the performing monkey about me when I get introduced as 'Jamie - who knows the words to every song ever written'. No pressure. And when this ability is combined with a wonderful singing voice, and an ability to come out with comic lines that sound like they've been written by a pro (tip - they have, it's just too obscure for you) - well, that vague thud is the sound of panties dropping.

Sounds good, eh? Sadly, it isn't all a social whirl. There's a great deal of pressure to be 'on' all the time, so when you want to put your talents to bed - and indeed to put yourself to bed - it's not always possible. Take the time I was roughly woken from my slumbers with cries of 'Jamie, Jamie, the villa's on fire' - just because a certain group of friends wanted to sing American Pie and I was the only one who knew all the words. Or being the one who gets phone calls at all hours of the night to solve some random trivia question that's been keeping someone else awake - thanks, now I can't sleep.

But this pales into insignificance compared to the hidden - indeed, the unconfirmed - downside. I live my life in the fear that there's a finite amount of space in my brain, and these trivialities are taking up room that could be used far more profitably. What if I could replace all the lyrics with the contents of seventy-three different language dictionaries? Admittedly, I'd be crap at karaoke (take it from me - if you're not looking at the screen people think you're cool), but I could say it in Japanese. And if this is true, does it work the other way? What if I hear the new Justin Timberlake song too many times - will I forget the way to work? Or where I live? Or how to breathe?

[This isn't as bizarre as it sounds. I have a friend who will only watch a movie with someone who's seen it before. Throughout the film she will ask at various points 'Is that relevant?' or 'Should I remember him?' This is because she can only retain a limited amount of information at once, and is continually reorganising and prioritising space. She tried to watch The Usual Suspects once - suffice to say she didn't quite get it.]

Oh well. I'm going to offer myself up for scientific study one of these days - I guess Professor Robert Winston would like to wire me up to some electrodes and make by brain go funny colours. Then again, so would most of my ex-girlfriends. Mainly because I used to forget their birthdays. Funny, that.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

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