Do you believe that Deja Vu exists; that it is a genuine (perhaps psychic) phenomenon that can occur within the human brain? Or do you think that it is simply a trick of the mind; a product perhaps of our lives being, for the most part, controlled by routines and conformity, so that what may seem like an eerily exact re-occurence is in actual fact nothing more than a symptom of our lives being really fucking boring?
I don't know the answer. I mean, I don't even know if there is an answer. It's entirely possible that some sciencey boffin has already explained away the phenomenon and a simple google search would give me a full explanation full of words like neuroencephelocardioliphic, biointuitivloriagraph, andbrain. Where would be the fun in that though, eh?
I have, like most people I suspect, had a few occasions in my life were I've suddenly experienced really vivid deja vu; when I've become convinced that I've lived that particular moment before. One in particular has stuck with me, in extreme detail, for the 20some years since it happened. And yet, as adamant as my brain is that it happened; as vivid as the memory is; as clear as I can see it now, in my head (and it's like I'm right there); I know that it can only be, in clinical terms, utter bullshit. Allow me to explain...
I was in Mr V.'s class. Morning assembly was called and we all trooped our merry way to the assembly hall, chattering merrily among ourselves as Mr V trudged along behind us in his dirty mac, pausing every few feet to take a sip from his poorly concealed whiskey bottle. Upon arrival at the hall we took our accustomed positions; legs crossed, arms folded; and waited for the fun to begin. That is, waiting for Mr V. to be far enough away that it would be too much effort for him to come back and admonish us when we started pissing about. At which time, we, well, started pissing about.
We started up with our favourite assembly pastime of 'Who Can Slap Themselves Across The Face The Hardest Without Flinching', and the game as going swimmingly, until such time as the Headmaster came into the hall behind us, saw me slap myself across the face and laugh, and immediately started into a rather loud; not to mention embarrassing; telling off of my good self. Uncalled for, I say. I mean, who was I hurting? Anyway, at this point, the deja vu began.
You see, I was convinced that I had heard this telling off before. I mean, word for word. And the reactions of everyone else in the hall were the same as I remembered them as well; my mates looking ashen, knowing it could have been them who were caught; the younger kids giggling and smirking; the teachers looking stern but a couple of them obviously trying too stifle grins. All of it, I was convinced, exactly as it had happened before.
Having finished his little rant, the Head went on his way to the front of the assembly and I put all thought of this 'psychic power' to one side, because it was radio morning! Yes, one assembly a week was set aside to listen to a serial on the radio; I'm assuming Radio4?? I don't really know; and the one we were currently embroiled in was some adventure thing about a bunch of kids. You know; Secret Seven, Famous Five, Not Terribly Bright Nine; that sort of thing. I was keen to see what daring derring-do would be afoot this week.
As it turns out, I already knew. The Head turned on the radio when it was time, the music played, the actors started talking and... I recognised every line! I knew precisely what they were going to say next! I knew the entire plot of the episode. At one point, I nudged my mate sitting next to me and whispered "They're playing the wrong episode. This is from last week." but he just looked at me funny, shook his head and shushed me. Well Fuck You too mate, I didn't think, cos I was a good kid. (Yeah right)
The show ended and the Head did his little speech about harvest festival or sports day or whatever other rubbish he was spouting on about, but I didn't hear any of it because I was sitting stewing over the fact that no-one else seemed to have noticed that we were listening to the same thing again. Had we been? Or was I really psychic, like the 'telling off' incident had hinted at?
I'm not going to lie to you; I worried about that incident for weeks afterward. I was convinced that I was going mad, especially since everyone I mentioned it to said that there had been no problem with the show and it had been all new. Eventually though, because I was a kid, and had a kid's short attention span, I got over it.
The truth is, all appearances to the contrary, I'm not a fool. I know that the story I just told you, didn't happen. It couldn't have, short of the whole school, Head included, conspiring to play a trick on me, and even at the height of my paranoia I would have had trouble believing that. So why does my memory tell me it did? Because in my head, I am adamant.
I have a theory; only a theory mind. I think it's possible that the story I told you was a dream. Bear with me; the assembly happened, the telling off happened, the radio play happened. Then I went home and dreamed the 2nd experience; a dream so vivid and intense that my mind has logged it as a memory. A memory that has subsumed the original, accurate memory of the incident. As I say though, it's only a theory; for all I know, I really am psychic. Or mad. One of those two.