Inhabiting someone else's story

Passing through someone else’s autobiography is something I have experienced. We all do of course – but not literally. We all have what the academics call our own personal narratives which we mentally draft and redraft as required as we move on with our lives. But to inhabit a printed edition that makes it to the bookshelves is something I have experienced.

I can go to a bookshop’s biography section and hunt down this particular book and find a facsimile of myself (of thirty years ago) appearing in its pages –even in braille!. Without an audition I make it to the dramatis personae. The same author has also put me in one of his plays.

But that’s’ not the end of it. I’ve been reading a soon to be published political history which covers the same period as this autobiography –and I’m in that too.

When you are distanced like that – kidnapped by others so that they can tell their story – it’s a disconcerting experience. After spending so much of my life giving this particular character of yesteryear hardly a thought, it’s a shock to find my past “me” recreated for display. For all I know their interpretation is as good as any I could come up with. I’ve learnt not to rely on my own memory especially when I haven’t made a habit of using it.

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