Paradise Lost – Memory, Health Inequality and Injustice

First published on The People’s Republic of Escotia website on November 9th 2021. Co-authored and shared with the Voice by reader Christina Quarrell. For the full article follow the link at the bottom of the page.

In today’s article Christina and John explore our relationships with our memories. The article builds from a recent piece (see link) written by Claudia Hammond (the author of The Art of Rest). Claudia’s article drew from research by the the Alzheimer’s Society, (see link) on what happens to folks memories when they began living more isolated lives and a study at the University of California Irvine which argued people are finding they are forgetting things. (see link )

Introduction: A Crisis of Memory and Our Memory of The Crisis?

The basic premise of Hammond’s article is that the isolation of lockdown has caused issues for our memories. We have been struggling due to lockdown in various ways. If you have heard yourself saying ‘when a go fir ma messages a cannae count tae save ma life any mare’ (working memory), ‘A cannae mindi whit a hud fae ma breakfast’ (episodic memory), ‘Crivins av gone n’ missed ma GP appointment in aw’ (prospective memory) or ‘whits yon fella’s name again’ (semantic memory), you may be having different types of memory issues (for more on the different types of memory see link).

Research into memory loss has traditionally linked our ability to remember things to having space in hectic daily routines, keeping active/taking part in physical exercise, enjoying a good sleep and feeling connected with other people. Claudia Hammond indicates that being able to take part in repeated story telling with friends and family helps to hone our memories and place them into our ‘episodic memory banks’.

In a similar vein, Mary Oliver’s poem ‘And Bob Dylan Too’ makes the connection between thinking and singing:

‘And Bob Dylan Too’ Mary Oliver:

“Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about.”
Which is why we have songs of praise, songs of love, songs of sorrow.
Songs to the gods, who have so many names.
Songs the shepherds sing, on the lonely mountains, while the sheep are honoring the grass, by eating it.
The dance-songs of the bees, to tell where the flowers, suddenly, in the morning light, have opened.
A chorus of many, shouting to heaven, or at it, or pleading.
Or that greatest of love affairs, a violin and a human body.
And a composer, maybe hundreds of years dead.
I think of Schubert, scribbling on a cafe napkin.
Thank you, thank you.

Mary Oliver


Musicians, lyricists and poets often attempt to paint pictures with their memories. Indeed, Christina’s niece Eleanor Reid has two songs on her recent No 1 ‘lockdown’ album ‘The living Room’ which invoked different ideas of memory.

To continue reading the full article see here