Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time to reassess our views of past summers?

This is the *extended September Wellbeing column in the York Press.

As the summer draws to a close, I wonder what your memories of Summer 2014 will be?

The past few months will have provided a spectrum of memories for everyone. From wonderful to horrible. The memories that have the strongest emotional connection will stay the most vivid over the years. Our recall is personal and in the context of our individual lives. This can lead to disagreements about an event, which often occurs in families.

*It also explains why returning to a place of childhood delight, as an adult isn't the same. Holidays, films and visits to old haunts are particularly susceptible to disappointment, as expectations are thwarted.  I recall seeing a TV programme with a woman who had bought her old childhood holiday home, but couldn't understand why it didn't feel the same and was disappointed. 

“That dreadful summer of 2012," I heard someone say last week. But was it really? I was a Games Maker at London 2012. Leading up to the Games, the summer had been a very wet one. There had been so much rainfall, that those of us working at the rowing lake at Eton Dorney, were issued with instructions about what wellington boots to purchase. A visit to the site only a week before the Games commenced, is a memory of hundreds of people working in thick mud.

But what happened? The sun came out and stayed out. The Olympics and the majority of the Paralympics were held in glorious, hot, sunny weather. That’s what the summer of 2012 will always mean to me.

The Met Office has just published some statistics for August 2014. They may surprise you. Apparently, it’s been the wettest August since 2004 and coldest since 1993.  Though the beginning of August was glorious and if you had a holiday or attended an outside event then, your memories of August 2014 may well be different.

The cliched ‘sunny summers of our childhood’ did not really exist. The freedom of school holidays with a lack of adult responsibility and stresses, influence our memories and they can become distorted. 

It wasn’t the sun, but the rain that made me decide that, “I’m never going to Scarborough again!”
I was a teenager on a school holiday in Yorkshire and we visited Scarborough. It was wet and half-day closing, so everything was shut. I thought it was the most miserable place I’d ever visited and vowed I would never return. 

I didn’t. For thirty years. My loss. It’s now my home.


It wasn’t only Scarborough about which I made youthful judgements. I was never going to eat tomatoes or wear a skirt that covered my knees. We believe that our intentions will last for ever.
Then we grow up and our thinking matures and we realise that our opinions may be a little restricted. 

Except that often our thinking remains stuck and we can carry opinions and thoughts that are well past their sell-by date. These often concern people. 

Is it time to re-examine long-held opinions? Perhaps they weren’t ours at all, but someone else's? Is it time to re-assess?

There is one teenage decision I made that I’ve kept to. I dislike tea intensely. It’s disgusting and I’m never going to drink it!