Claire Black: I don’t think my memory is bad. Idiosyncratic might be a better word

WHEN I was trying to decide what to write this column about I happened on the topic of memory, only I couldn’t remember whether I’d already written about that. I decided I hadn’t. But now that I’ve just typed those words, I’m starting to doubt myself. Surely I’d remember?

Were you, like me, listening to the radio a few days ago when Evan Davis asked Ed Miliband, still basking in the glory of his Labour Party Conference speech, how he had managed to speak without notes for an hour and a half? Miliband started to say something along the lines of “well, if you really believe what you’re saying...” But what about when my mum really meant to give me a telling off but still managed to scroll through several of my sister’s names before hitting on mine? As far as I can tell, sincerity is not the key to memory.

Still, I am interested in how Ed did it. And I can’t deny I found it impressive.

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I don’t think my memory is particularly bad. Idiosyncratic might be a better word. Tell me some random facts about cars or dogs or Hollywood during the 1940s and chances are I’ll remember them for decades. Ask me to recite a poem, though, or what my password is for my internet banking and I’m lost.

Why does it matter?

Scientists say that skilled memorisers are made not born. Our memories behave like muscles – train them and they become as taut and responsive as a gymnast’s bicep, fail to and they’ll be as flaccid as a bingo wing. Others say our memories are getting weaker because we rely on technology to remember things for us. Our smartphones remember everything so we don’t have to.

But what are we without memories? Who are we? When you really think about it, not much and no-one would have to be the answers.

So I’m going to start training mine up. Fifteen minutes every day along with the stretching for the dodgy knee and tight glutes.

What will David Cameron do this week to outshine Ed? Frankly, anything short of emerging on to the conference platform on a unicycle whilst juggling three of those weird Olympic mascots set alight and reciting Paradise Lost (all 12 books, 10,565 lines and 60,000 words) will be a disappointment.

GENERALLY speaking, I couldn’t care what anyone wears wherever they go. Apart from sports shorts in the office, that’s just a piece of nonsense. So what about ENO’s Undress for the Opera, a scheme to attract younger audiences? Meh, I’d say. You can already wear whatever you want to the opera, that’s not what makes it elitist. And plenty of people like getting dressed up for it and why shouldn’t they? Making opera accessible is about sharing what it’s about and teaching people how to listen to it. And making sure good seats cost less than a cheap holiday.

SO A restaurateur has barred two diners from his eaterie for pigging out at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Apparently, so committed were they to filling their bowls beneath the hot lamps, other diners could hardly get a look in. The boys said they were hungry. The manager said you’ll have had your tea and chucked them out. He threw in a lifetime ban for good measure. Frankly, I think he was amazing to put up with them for as long as he had. Bad boys.