It’s Izabelle’s funeral collation so we’re driving into Gaillac
wearing proper clothes. I’m driving, you are listening to some mad
YouTuber who claims that water has memory because if
you say nice things to one tub of water and nasty things to another
then freeze them and compare the crystals that form,
the praised water makes pretty crystals and the abused water makes
ugly ones. We talk about homeopathy, we talk about alternative medicine,
we talk about pseudoscience and the scientific method. But, but, but, you say,
some metal does have memory, it springs back to its original shape.
That’s not memory, I say, you’re confusing terms, a piece of metal would be
(for example) crap at that bit at the end of The Generation Game
where a contestant has to remember the items on the conveyor belt —
the toaster, the blender, the dinner service, the cuddly toy —
hoping to bag fifteen out of twenty and the star prize of a
two week holiday in Ibiza or a shiny red Triumph 2000, him sweaty in his
tight seventies suit or her in a polyester frock, Bruce Forsyth
gurning behind them, the lovely Anthea endlessly twirling in chiffon,
the studio audience baying and hollering out “Toaster,” “Blender,” “Cuddly toy”.
And it so nearly wasn’t a microwave or a foot spa or a fondue set
but a fistful of BBC licence fee stamps, according to the Daily Mail, which
somehow leads us to the question of zombie memory. Do they remember?
Is there some print of a past life left in their bombed out brains?
Obviously it depends on the film, I say. Look at Bub in Day of the Dead,
look at Morgan’s wife in that Netflix series haunting her front garden,
clutching her doorknob, loitering on the doorstep, peering through
the peephole in her old front door. They inhabit their old lives, like the teenage
zombies trying to find wifi in The Dead Don’t Die. But but but, you say, no,
zombies don’t have memory because memory is what makes us human
And I park the car and we struggle out into the forty degree heat
rehearsing polite things to say and clutching our plate of sweaty tortilla
as a contribution to the collation, and turn into the long tree-lined drive
to Michael’s house, which of course was where we last saw
Izabelle dancing, carefully, in her red dress.
Hilary Menos won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2010 with Berg (Seren, 2009) and her pamphlet Human Tissue (Smith/Doorstop) was a winner in The Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition 2019-20. www.hilarymenos.co.uk