Memories are wonderful, powerful and personal things but they can be elusive and slippery over time as well.
Many of us, myself included, have found ourselves struggling to recall a detail or forgetting events that happened long ago.
So what can you do to help yourself remember things that might seem far away or long forgotten?
If you are reading this website because you want to help with the research into the House of Mirelle but aren’t sure what you can remember, here are a few tricks to jog your memory into action:
- Find a quiet space to think and reflect. Your mind will be helped along by not having any distractions. Like doing a complicated crossword or solving a Suduko, space to concentrate and being relaxed works!
- Take notes from the start. Your memory may come thick and fast. With a pen and paper ready you can take notes while you are listening to your own thoughts, a bit like you would if you are listening to someone else’s.
- Don’t edit as you remember things. It’s tempting to tell your memory what is important or not. Your memory flows better when you allow it to take a natural course and all sorts of lovely things come back when you open the gate to do that – let it run free!
- Significant / insignificant. I’m interested in hearing everything. Honestly that’s true! A tiny thing you recall could be the key to helping tell the story properly. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering and if you like, we can start by talking about it and seeing where it goes.
- Memory is 3D. As you remember, think about it in 3D.
If you were having a conversation, where did you have it. What did the person look like, what were their expressions while you were talking. What were your feelings and thoughts about it before and afterwards too.
- Use Photos. Photos are a brilliant memory-jog.
Get out your old photos and take a look at them with fresh eyes. What do the photos say to you while you look at them and how do you feel about them.
What do the photos show about the House Of Mirelle or Hull. When were they taken and what do you recall about them now, looking at them now many years later.
- Talk your memories out loud. Some people remember things best when they speak out loud, even if they speak in an empty room. Go ahead and try it – did you remember anything unexpected? Remember to write these things down.
Most mobile phones have a record device; you could to press ‘record’ and talk your memories into it instead of taking notes on paper.
- The setting – where were you. Were you somewhere distinctive and what was distinctive about it. If you were in a cafe, what did it smell like, what was the food you ate? All these things add to the description.
- Did you shop in the centre of Hull? Take a shopping trip through your memory….Think about walking down the street you shopped in – was it busy or quiet, what time of day or day of the week was it.
What were the different shop names you walked past. Do you know who worked there, what did they sell and what did they have in the window.
Were the shop assistants in uniform and were they friendly or officious. What did you buy there and is the shop still there?
- Did you shop in the House Of Mirelle? When did you go into the House Of Mirelle, how old were you and did you go there alone.
Was it in King Edward Street or Story Street?
Was it the newer Mirelle shop next to the Cecil Cinema or in Carmichaels?
What did it look like outside and what was it like inside?
Who served you and what did that person look like….
How did they help you choose clothes and what did you buy?
Was there anything that else stands out in your memory from your shopping trip?
Did the stock change regularly and was it current or out of date – all these little details and impressions matter to telling the story…
- Did you know Mira Johnson /Mrs Mira Mountain and her husband?
How did you know them or did you know them by reputation only.
What did she look like, what did she wear, what did she say.
Can you tell me what her personality was like and what you thought of her.
What memory lasts of her over time from knowing or meeting Mira or Mr and Mrs Mountain as a couple.
- Did you work at Mirelle’s?
When did you start working there. What was your role or job title. Who were your colleagues?
What can you recall about your typical day or the work that you did there…
Did you model the clothes sold at Mirelle as well?
- Did you buy your wedding dress or an outfit at the House Of Mirelle?
When did you buy it and was it off the peg or designed especially. If you bought it off the peg how much did it cost.
If it was designed especially, how did you decide on the design and how long did it take to be made.
How many fittings did you have and who fitted the dress in store.
Do you still have the outfit or a photo with the outfit in it?
- People: Hull has a population that tends to stay local and tends to stay in touch with each other.
You probably still know the people you went to school or worked with and might even attend reunions, hear from them or know where they live. Lots of people worked at the House of Mirelle and your friends may have even worked, browsed or shopped there.
If you went on shopping trips with your friends did you walk past or into ‘Mirelle’s’, as some people called it.
What was it like at the time and what did your friends say about the shop also.
Little details make a difference; saying that it shut early on Saturdays or the outside was painted in a particular colour, helps set the scene.
- Feelings/thoughts/impressions. These are personal to you, but they really make a difference because they are every bit as important as factual information.
If you found someone snooty or friendly, for instance, it says something about that person that is really valuable to know. Usually I hear things more than once so you almost definitely won’t be the only person to say something that struck you or is an opinion you’ve held over time.
These are some ideas to help you gather your thoughts and memories before we talk.
When we speak you might find me asking you about things that you mention that seem irrelevant or I will probe a bit deeper.
That happens because I’m trying to get something straight in my thinking and notes, so that I am accurate when I tell the story of the House of Mirelle.
Finally. It all matters and it all counts!
Describing how it felt to walk past the House of Mirelle in the 60s or 70s is every bit as important to telling the story as someone who worked there and knew it intimately.
I listen patiently and am always genuinely interested in what you have to say, so if you feel like you want to start by having a short conversation that’s absolutely fine.
I’m happy to talk by text, email, Facebook message, Twitter or by phone and letter and I can get in touch with you when it suits you.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you and finding out more about the couture house that used to exist in the centre of Hull.