Richard Oliff: A question takes me back in time

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I was asked the other day if I could recollect my earliest memory.

If you knew me well you’d know that this is a tough one given the poor state of my recall for anything.

Yet, like you, there are certain memories that I have that are now so familiar, possibly because of the frequency with which they are visited, perhaps because of the comfort they bring, or maybe the opposite: happiness and trauma in equal amount seem to trigger a visit to my memory banks.

When I am asked that question I am immediately transported to a wheel chair that is being pushed along Occupation Road in Corby.

I know I am wearing something “woolly” on my arms; a jumper perhaps.

The voices I hear are those of females; most likely my mum, grandma or my sister Elizabeth, who would be six or seven at the time.

That being the case then this memory must be from around 1956 or 1957.

For some reason I can hear bagpipes playing in the distance which I always believed might come from the gathering of the clans for another Corby Highland Gathering, but how is this possible, when the BBC’s Domesday Reloaded page clearly states that: “Corby is one of the few places outside Scotland that has an annual gathering of the clans.

“Due to the large number of Scots in the population a traditional Highland Gathering became a popular annual event in the 1970s and has continued since.”

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought the Gathering was much older than that.

We stop outside the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Walsingham.

My mum liked to talk: natter – perhaps meeting a friend or two like her good friends Mrs Macaulay or Mrs Vint, both of who lived on Occupation Road.

All of that from one question.

Isn’t the mind amazing?