MEMORY becomes a touch fickle when you are getting on a bit. Sometimes I can't remember what I did five minutes ago and yet, given the slightest excuse, can recall childhood incidents in vivid detail.
It happened recently when I read an exhibition has opened in London of the paintings of LS Lowry, famous for his match stick men and the scenes he created among the mills and heavy industry around Manchester and Salford.
He had another life elsewhere. To my surprise I found Lowry was drawing and painting away in the town where I grew up at a time when I was still at school there, including a sketch showing the house in Love Lane where we used to live.
That town is Berwick Upon Tweed, (don't forget the Upon or you will get a stiff rebuke from the town clerk) a few miles from the Scottish border, a town with a tremendous history.
Intrigued, I rang the local Tourist Information Centre and they sent me an attractive leaflet setting out the high spots of the Lowry Trail which is now attracting enthusiasts from far and wide.
A trail full of memories for me, both happy and sad. We arrived there in the early 1930s and my father and mother, both professional musicians, lived a life of middle class comfort, with a live-in maid and a good standard of living. Dad, a Royal College of Music graduate, played the violin for Beecham and Sir Henry Wood in London before being seduced by the growing film industry.
He eventually ended up as musical director in charge of all the cinema orchestras between Newcastle and Edinburgh, organising the musicians who played for the silent films.
Then came the Talkies. I remember watching Al Jolson singing on the screen at the Palace cinema without realising what a catastrophic effect it would have on our lives.
Dad lost his job and scratched a living giving lessons and playing in local cafes and restaurants. My indomitable mother even taught someone to play the zither, learning the basics from a library book one day and teaching it the next. No benefits in those days. A pretty desperate time for a family with five youngsters, but we survived — just.
The trail takes you on a six-mile walk to many other places very familiar to me, down the Sally Port to the river, along the winding road to the Pier and across the river to Tweedmouth (where we lived in a tent for a time after being made homeless).
Then across to Spittal where our parents made music at the posh Fortes Pavilion restaurant and often brought delicious food home to their hungry children.
So many memories captured by this strange artist who said he found Berwick's crisp, clean air an antidote to the polluted atmosphere of industrial Lancashire. He remained a fairly lonely bachelor until his death in 1976 and made more than 40 paintings and drawings of the old town we both loved so much. I wish I had known him.
SHE'S off again. Prolific fundraiser Maggie Harvey is holding another fashion show with music and entertainment this evening at the Grand Hotel, Torquay. All proceeds going to Torbay Hospital League of Friends.
Maggie tells me Animals in Distress will be supplying items for the fashion show and also manning a stall with goodies for sale. Miss Torbay and her attendants will be there and there will be a cabaret ranging from the 1940s to more recent times..
Knowing Maggie it will be well produced and compered. I wish it well.
A QUERY about chestnuts. No, not the horse variety we used to call conkers but the edible sort you can nibble if you have strong teeth.
Jo Weekes recalls when she was a girl they were encouraged to collect them and hand them in to be used for medicinal purposes.
"Something was extracted from them which was beneficial in some way but I can't remember what," she says. "Has anyone got a clearer memory ?"
My electronic guru has come up trumps again. Those chestnuts you can eat, he says, can be turned into a mixture used to treat stomach collywobbles and can also have a soothing effect on wounds.
Medicinally described as astringent, bacteriostatic, expectorant, sedative and antitussive (bet I've spelt that wrongly). (You didn't. Ed)
Hope this helps, Jo.