The Poisoned Well of Nostalgia

‘Mummy went to Iceland and all I got was this lousy packet of cost-saver frozen sausages…’ I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? Not very many, I’d say, seeing as how that’s over 10,000 years ago. Not very many of us left over from that time I imagine; you could count them all on the fingers of one hand. If you happen to be short on fingers that is. Which I am! I’ve got no hands anymore, only flippers, which is just as well since nine tenths of the world’s surface is now water. I still remember all those old ads though. I remember them with fondness and more than just a little heartache.


Some things never change and memories are one of them. Although maybe they aren’t one of them – it’s hard to tell sometimes, isn’t it? You wouldn’t recognise the world anymore and you certainly wouldn’t recognise human beings as being your kin, or as your descendants, I suppose I should say. Within the broad flat cranium that houses my triple-lobed brain all the old ads are still preserved exactly as they were, all that time ago. I am a giant flat-headed toadfish you see, genetically modified to have an extremely low metabolism, a necessary modification given that there are precious few resources around these days, in these twilight days, as it were. My metabolism is so low that I only need to feed once every year or so. If I had to I could go for much longer than that – I would just shut down most of my body down and cruise the oceans on automatic, waiting for the faint smell of food to bring me back to life again. I can go a hundred years like that, if I have to. My preferred food is deep sea carrion, but there’s not as much of it around as they used to be.


It’s not just my own memories I have access to, you see. Millions upon millions of other memories have been dumped into my brain. That’s why it’s triple-lobed. That’s why I have such a remarkably big brain – by old-fashioned human standards, that is. It’s not for thinking with – it’s for preserving the last memories of the human race, for what they are worth. ‘And what are those memories worth?’ you might ask. What good are they at all?’ You might be of the opinion that all these apparently useless memory should be deleted, once and for all, so that the universe can start all over again with a blank page so to speak. If that’s what it wants to do, which maybe it isn’t. Quite possibly it isn’t. You might well be of that particular opinion. Many were.


I have no interest in such debates however. The memories I carry are worth something to me – I am very fond of them, even those that happen to be in languages which I cannot understand. A heavy blanket of nostalgia descends over me and although it’s true that these memories of mine often makes me sad, they also provide me with great joy, albeit of the bittersweet variety. The pleasure of nostalgia is fatally contaminated with the poison of narcissistic withdrawal as we all know well, but knowing this doesn’t stop us from being pulled in. We drink deep of the poisonous well all the same. We drink and we drink. We have the bucket worn out with our drinking.


Oh boy do we drink! We drink deep from the poisoned well of nostalgia – we drink as if there’s no tomorrow. We drink as if our only intention is to burst ourselves. Well I drink anyway. I don’t know about the rest. It’s a long time since I met one of the others; we don’t stay in contact by any other means. There is a distinct possibility that I might be the last one of my kind. The others might have been hijacked by memory pirates or something like that. Not that there is anything like that, but still. The last memories of the human race, huh? What you say about that? That surely is something, wouldn’t you say? It surely is something in my opinion anyway. Perhaps the others got sick of their memories and became antisocial as a result. Perhaps the memories took them over, turning them all into zombies, although quite how this could happen I can’t say. That’s not a debate am particularly interested in however. It’s of no consequence to me one way or the other – if it so happened that I were the last of my kind that would make no difference to me….







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