I spent a fair bit of last September 21st convinced that I was forgetting something. Someone’s birthday, an appointment, something important. I knew the date should be reminding me of something, but try as I may, I just couldn’t figure out what it was.

It was already quite something that I knew what the hell day it was in the first place, I am usually quite oblivious to the date of the current day, which makes the fact that I’m usually quite good at remembering dates even more ironic. I know people’s birthdays, I know our anniversaries and I usually remember the dates I make appointments on, I just never know what day it is TODAY. In fact, sometimes I even have both bits of information at the front of my mind and yet something in my brain refuses to make that connection. Of course, this has gotten me into no end of trouble, especially with my dear mother. I will say no more or I’ll end up in worse trouble still.

I seem to have what I geekily call a Random Access Memory (“Haha, Jen, memory is RAM!“). It stores loads of stuff, in no particular order and with absolutely no concept of the importance of the information. I can still remember completely useless information from many many years ago, and yet if I really need to remember something important for work, or for an exam, it just won’t stick to my little grey cells. Or maybe it will. And it will stay there for years. I just never know.

Thus, for September 21st, the only vaguely relevant thing that I could think of was that it was the birthday of a friend of mine from when I was 13. His name was Sebastien. And I haven’t seen him in almost 20 years.

It took a random visit to the website of a French newspaper to trigger the recollection of what I was so desperately trying to remember. The explosion of the AZF chemical plant in Toulouse, 2001. It left 29 dead, thousands injured, a massive crater and millions of euros of damage across the whole city. We were lucky, we only spent 6 months with no windows.

Oh yeah. That.


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