Saturday, 4 May 2013

Run Wild, Run Free: memories, imagination and nostalgia


Recently, I returned to the Isle of Wight for a weekend.  I remember, over 40 years ago, wonderful childhood holidays spent there with my family; carefree days on the beach in the sun (remember sun?).  On the train to Lymington Pier to catch the ferry, I felt the old thrill of excitement as I watched the wild ponies in the New Forest, and I recalled a book I read as a child called The White Colt which was made into a film called  Run Wild, Run Free starring the young Mark Lester.  It was a tear jerking tale of a mute and emotionally damaged boy whose life is changed when he befriends a wild colt on the moors. This got me thinking about the reasons we revisit books and places that meant something as a child; those precious happy memories.  

I had a penfriend on the The Isle of Wight as a child; David, who lived in Newport and had a pony called Copper.  Most of my penfriends had ponies and my childhood dream was one day to own a house in the country with a paddock and stables attached for my future horse.   

Do memories play tricks on us?  Or is it just that so much changes over the years?  Including dreams.  I enjoyed my visit to the Isle of Wight, despite the chilly winds and cloudy skies, but left with a tinge of sadness.  Like so many seaside resorts that depend on tourism, it has suffered from the recession and the popularity of cheap flights, and holidays where the sun is guaranteed.  It seemed smaller and lonelier somehow.  I wondered how it will look in another 40 years.  

Hopefully, whatever the future holds, ponies will still be running wild and free in the New Forest.

Experience has taught me that it's not always a good idea to go back, to revisit special places.  Better to preserve those wonderful memories intact. 

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