But new media - film, sound, the internet - hasn't been with us for so long and I have to say, this week, my ease with the past has been rocked a bit. I've been writing about London a fair bit lately. It's cropped up in a few poems and I've been thinking about my relationship with the city. My relationship with London is completely different to my relationships with other cities. I've been flitting in and out of it for years. I've lived north of the river, south of the river - sometimes briefly and sometimes for long stretches. I probably know London better than anywhere else and yet it always surprises me. I completely understand why London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd is a biography. The place feels like a person.
Anyway, when researching a couple of poems, I stumbled across a website where sound recordings of London have been uploaded. I became hooked on the historical ones. Click here if you want to listen. The one that got to me the most was the Hampstead Heath fair in 1939. I used to live by the Heath, I've been to that fair. And as I listened to it, my brother pointed out most people in the recording were probably dead. It was a bit unnerving, especially as I could imagine them on the fields, where I was with my son not too long back, feeding ducks. It hammered home the idea of unity of place quite a bit and why it's so useful - that experiences happen in the same place in different times is pretty powerful.
And of course there's this which has been doing the rounds recently on Facebook. I simply love it, yet also find it unsettling: to see people living their lives who are no longer here.
Research. Sometimes I absolutely adore it.