Songs of Innocence

In 1972 Albert Paul, a retired Brighton carpenter, produced a charming account of his childhood years for a local history society entitled Poverty, hardship but happiness; those were the days, 1903-17.

His title always symbolises for me the way those who look back often remember pleasure where others would expect suffering – a phenomenon that has attracted several psychological explanations.

For Freud it is to do with childhood – amnesia: a mechanism by which we suppress early memories revolving around infant sexuality that are too painful to bring to later consciousness. Other psychologists believe that because it is nicer to remember pleasant things sadder memories gradually fade away through under-use.

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