A flashbulb memory is a vivid snapshot of a time when you received some information. Most people remember where they were, what they were doing, who they were with and what they were wearing, as well as other mundane details which we usually forget. Memories usually focus contain the key details, but because of the emotions and consequences associated with important events, we seem to remember more.
For example, where were you when you heard about the death of Princess Diana? Or the Queen Mother? Do you remember what you were doing on September 11th? How about 7th July 2005? These are my key flashbulb memories. I can remember such vivid details about each event, I just find it fascinating.
Princess Diana died on 31st August 1997, I was 10 years old. I had just moved my room around making my television at the end of the bed. First thing in the morning I switched on the tv and heard the words ‘Diana’ and ‘death’, along with images of car crash on the television. I remember my pj’s had trolls on them. I went to tell mum, who didn’t believe me. When she came in to my bedroom she burst into tears. That was only the second time I have ever seen her cry (I think now, 14 years later, we’re on a grand total of 3)
My father and I were in London on the day the Queen mother died, (I’m pretty sure it was late March, 2002?) on our annual theatre weekend. We’d been to see a matinee performance of Fame and were in the theatre waiting for Cats to start when the audience was asked to stand and give a minutes silence in memory of the Queen Mother. We were astounded. How had we been in the capital city all day and failed to know this? I guess this would never happen now, with social networks etc.
September 11th 2001 was a pretty standard day till I got home from school and wasn’t allowed to watch the television. Being a teenager I obviously found a way around this. It didn’t seem real, the whole thing was so extreme; like something you’d see in a film, something from someone’s imagination. But yet another flashbulb memory, everything about my nans house seems so intense, my school uniform, eating an ice cream mars bar, watching the news.
On the 7th July 2005 my friend and I were driving to Bristol, it was the start of our holiday in Rome (if you’re going to start as you mean to go on then this certainly set the scene). The cd we were listening to had finished and in the pause between swapping we heard the newsreader announce there had been bombs in London. We were so transfixed by the radio that we missed the exit to the airport. The airport had armed guards everywhere, in Rome it looked like the army was out. I remember being torn between terrified to get on the plane and scared my holiday would be cancelled, haha, typical 17 year old!
Do you remember where you were on these days? What about more details, like who you were with, what you wore or ate or said? Or do you have different flashbulb memories to me? I find this stuff so interesting (if a little morbid) and would love to hear your stories!