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11:07am on Wednesday, 18th May, 2016:

Away! Yet Again!


So, I'm currently sitting in the departures "lounge" at Gatwick airport, waiting for my third trip abroad in four weeks.

This time, I'm giving a talk in Stockholm followed by a PhD viva voce. The way PhD vivas work in Sweden, the prospective recipient has to defend their thesis in public, which means they need someone to attack it: I get the job of being attack dog for this particular thesis (but have no say in the final decision, because it's made by an independent panel; if I've just spent an hour pulling a thesis to pieces, I couldn't really be called independent).

The university is in a part of Stockholm called Krista. I mentioned this to my mum, and she said "Oh, yes, you've been there before". Thinking about it, she's right, I have, but it was many years ago and it hadn't registered with me that this would be my second visit. My mother, however, had remembered.

She asked the name of the hotel, which I told her. She then wrote it down. The hotel in question is called the Memory Hotel. She can remember the name of a Stockholm suburb I was in for half a day a decade ago, but has to write down the words "Memory Hotel" or she'll forget them.

This sounds like the onset of senility, but it's not: her memory has always worked like that. If I go back to Stockholm 20 years from now, she could well ask me if I'll be staying at the Memory Hotel in Krista. She'd in all likelihood be able to tell me I was last there in 2016, and after an internal monologue give me the month and quite probably the date, too.

In the short-to-medium term, however, the name "Memory Hotel" is, to my mum, unmemorable.

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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).