Memories are an act of creation. We piece them together from disparate fragments and imaginings until it feels like that’s how we always remembered it.
I’m a young boy, seven or eight, and I’m holding the red cord attached to the corner of the coffin as the men lower it into the grave. Around me an overbearing huddle of black and grey woolen coats, men with leather gloves and sombre Sunday-best hats: women go to the Kirk, but not the cemetery. I am trying to reconcile the pale wooden coffin with my grandmother, who, I am told, is inside it.
In Greece, people visit islands. There are a lot of islands to visit. They head for beaches, coastline, the sea, to lie on the shore and look out at the water. But to find an island, you should really look inland. The island is the thing behind you. Turn around.
On a small Cycladic island, a second home for me by marriage, I swelter by the beach. Idyllic, busy, and anonymous. A limited sense of context: a watery horizon; sand; shops, bars and restaurants. At 40°C in the shade, it’s all swimming costumes and ice cream and plastic toys.