Calle Larios during pedestrianisation works. / SUR

Stories to tell

RACHEL HAYNES

As we grow older we all tend to talk about the past. We remind ourselves of the generation before us when we start saying "I remember when..."

That happened this week when we were looking at the photos of the Christmas lights in Malaga city centre since 1999.

"I remember driving down Calle Larios," I've found myself saying more often recently, whenever a member of the younger generation finds it hard to imagine a city centre prior to pedestrianisation. And you sense that younger generation rolling their eyes: "There she goes again..."

As the years go on, a glance at a familiar view contains so much more than it did the first time round, so many layers, so many changes. And when those layers span several decades, there's so much content in that view it's almost like a weight that has to be shared to lighten it.

This week has seen the deaths of two people I was acquainted with. They had little in common - different nationalities, different life stories - except for two things: they were more or less the same age and both had incredible stories to tell from those nine decades of life.

Their deaths have brought to mind the importance of passing on memories from the past - and the importance of listening to them.

After nearly 90 years perhaps a book or a film could be made out of most people's lives, but we don't have to go that far. Simply lending an ear, and for one person to be able to picture events from the words of the person who saw them first hand, makes telling the story worthwhile.

One of those two people who passed away this week must be mentioned here. Former SUR in English columnist Peter Harrison had so much to share, so many experiences from travels around the world, experiences that would never be repeated even if someone were to retrace his steps.

And after listening to some of those stories, any future references to the places or people he mentioned will always bring the storyteller to mind.

At the moment we only have to go back some 20 years to remember driving down Calle Larios looking for a parking space. But one day that will be 40 years, 60 years, 100 years... and perhaps one day someone will recall their great-grandmother talking about it, a moment from the past linked to a personal account, rather than just a photo or report.

So if you have decades full of memories, keep telling those stories. And if you're on the receiving end, keep listening. You might not realise it at the time, but what you are being given is extremely precious.