I can’t compete with Rebecca Sharrock in an Ashes series of “Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory” [ FT362:14], but I share her scepticism that events before we are five are irrecoverable. I was born in Cheltenham in June 1965. I recall my first nonliquid meal (lamb dinner, from a glass jar), and, more traumatically, confusing custard and mustard. On the day we moved to Swansea in 1968 I was amazed at the height of the buildings there, and that winter I was transfixed by the snowy Brecon Beacons. Are these false memories? I can’t prove they are not, but I doubt they are. A couple of other details: I was precocious (reading at three) but not a prodigy, and I suffer from OCD (compare the brain scan of Jill Price).
Simon Young’s fascinating article about fairy sightings [ FT362:30-37] made me think of one possible explanation. What is seen are small, often flying humanoids. In the womb, at some stage or other, we are their size, and floating in amniotic fluid is not unlike flying. Could these experiences be a memory of ourselves in utero projected outwards, with affinities to autoscopy? I was also interested in the “Oz Factor” and “highway hypnosis” elements. Does being enclosed in a car unconsciously remind people of being cocooned as a foetus, with few external stimuli? Richard George St Albans, Hertfordshire