When I was five, and my younger brother was only two, our parents separated. My father gained custody of us, and to help him look after two young boys, we lived with his parents, my Nan and Pop. I have vivid memories of those days, which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge caught my eye.

Launched on Facebook and Twitter by YoungMinds, a UK-based charity for young people’s mental health, the rules of the challenge were simple:

  1. Find a photo of your younger self
  2. Write three things you’d tell that child
  3. Use #5YearOldSelfie in your post or tweet
  4. Tag three friends to help spread the love

#5YearOldSelfie Tweet

I don’t tag friends and pass on stuff on social media. But the challenge rekindled old memories, so I dug out a black and white photo of me on a tyre-swing and tweeted to my five-year-old self:

  1. Don’t cry. You’re not the only one in the world whose parents have separated
  2. Tomatoes and peas aren’t that yucky, but you’re right about Brussel sprouts
  3. Save up your pocket money and buy Apple shares.

My #5YearOldSelfie tweet inspired me to share a memoir piece on Tall And True. However, I needed a hook for it, so I browsed the web for quotes on “memories” and found this by John Banville:

“Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don’t think we remember the past, we imagine it.”

Memories and Imagination

By an incredible coincidence, I had just finished reading Banville’s, The Sea, a novel in which a middle-aged man explores his boyhood memories. Perfect!

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Banville’s quote gave me the hook for the piece and a title, Memories and Imagination (Tall And True, August 2019). And as I wrote the mini-memoir of a young boy, and it took on a life and direction of its own, the process proved cathartic for this middle-aged writer.

I should have also tweeted to my five-year-old self: You will always love writing!

© 2019 Robert Fairhead

N.B. And you might like this blog post on memories of living with my grandparents, Memories of my Pop (November 2018).

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About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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