Saturday, January 04, 2014

2014: The Year of Nostalgia

Happy New Year!

That's Ben Lui in the distance, taken on the walk in on a perfect winter's day back in 1979. I'm with two friends, John and Anne Palfreyman. Our target was Central Gully, see here.

Let me explain why I've included this photo today. I've never been one for living in the past. Coping with each day, and looking ahead to the future, has always been how I've lived my life. Now, in my sixty-seventh year, I'm finding more and more I'm thinking about the things that I've crammed into my past, the good times, and the bad. It's called nostalgia!

I'm sure that being nostalgic is an inevitable consequence of growing old. After all, what is there - really - to look forward to? The word was coined back in the middle of the eighteenth century to mean homesickness – a desire for familiar surroundings. The word itself is a composite of two words from ancient Greek which mean 'to return home' and 'pain'. So nostalgia is literally the pain caused by the desire to go home. It wasn’t until the beginning of the twentieth century that nostalgia began to be used to describe 'sentimental yearning for the past'.

I had always been led to believe that nostalgia was not a particularly 'good thing'. But I've recently discovered that nostalgia is the subject of study by academics in the Centre for Research on Self and Identity, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, at the University of Southampton.

Nostalgia is defined here, and it can be measured by the Southampton 'Nostalgia Scale' (see here). I was surprised, and reassured, to learn that nostalgia confers psychological benefits!

Now, there is a point to all this. You see, Santa brought me a present last month - a slide and negative scanner. When beginning a clear out, I had come across a big collection of 35mm colour slides that I had taken and which had somehow survived, stored away over the years. It is hard to believe that at one time it was a common thing to have friends round for a slide show of photos taken when on holiday or in the hills. It was an excuse for a few drinks, although I'm sure I stopped holding these evenings when one of my 'friends' fell asleep during my show. And of course, actual slides formed the basis of scientific presentations, and important lectures, in my job at the University.

I felt I could not just throw all these slides away. I got a few digitised professionally. But that was expensive. Hence my reason for asking Santa for a scanner I could use myself at Skip.

I've found that working with these old slides has brought out generally good memories, rather than bad. 

So, by declaring 2014 as my 'Year of Nostalgia', I'm giving warning that alongside my posts of garden, walks, and heritage railways, there may be some images of what has happened in my life in the past sixty some years. This post is the first.

Anne leads the way in Central Gully. Despite an early start we were not the first on the mountain that day, as the steps in the snow show. I recall it was a straightforward climb, with only a little difficulty surmounting the top cornice. But it was a perfect day to be on the hill - I cannot recall better.

So, here I am at the top, the photo taken by Anne or John. This from the time when I had hair - too much of it, some would say!

At one time I would have been able to name all the hills in the distance.

Winter days like this don't come often in Scotland. Perfect weather, perfect snow conditions. Happy memories.

More nostalgia soon. Call it therapy!

Photos are © Skip Cottage. I suspect they were taken with a small Olympus compact, likely an Olympus 35RC, with Kodachrome film. Digitised from the original slides using a Veho VFS-008 Smartfix Scan to SD Stand Alone Slide and Negative Scanner.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous pictures (even though I say it myself and I took at least one of them). What a day it was, I have had many other beautiful days on the hills in the winter but there was something special about Ben Lui. I remember feeling very challenged by Central Gulley but the snow turned out to be perfect and there were footprints all of the way. Something else I remember was the retort made as we eat our lunch, to a comment that I cannot remember, that 'Cadbury's make them and and cover them in chocolate'! John Palfreyman