Time was when one would cut out interesting clippings from a newspaper and put them in a shoebox, never knowing when they might prove relevant or interesting. Internet archives have made the habit more or less redundant, it is easy to quickly find a piece, unless, of course, the piece has not been archived.
Simon Kuper, my favourite journalist, writes a sports column in the Weekend edition of the Financial Times. One need have no interest whatsoever in the sport in question; Kuper finds human interest in the most esoteric and the most mundane of sporting stories.
He wrote with a touching passion about the Dutch cricket team some years ago, a piece that does not seem to be in the FT archives. He knew many of the players and noted that they were coming to the end of their playing days. Kuper’s closing line was, ‘the sad thing is, five minutes ago, we were all fourteen’.
Kuper’s words came back to me this week.
A cousin announced her 50th birthday party for Sunday, 4th April. Working in a parish, the date proves impossible, it is Easter, but the announcement of the party brought back many memories
Her father, my uncle, was one of those figures who would always loom large in a young boy’s imagination; sometimes he could be very serious, but often there was mischief and humour. His mouth would be set firm and then crinkle into a smile before a roar of laughter. He did things that other people wouldn’t do. He would get in the car and go on holiday in the middle of the night. He would shout with delight at silly situations. He would have no care as to what people with disapproving faces thought.
I think I went on holiday with he and his family three or four times between the ages of eight and thirteen. Visits from him were always a very welcome interlude in my very rural life. There was always an air of excitement when he was around – anything might happen. Even on my wedding day in 1983 he came to me at the end of the reception and said ‘Well, Ian, fancy going camping?’ At any other moment I might have leapt at the opportunity.
Pondering not being able to attend an ‘80s Party’ (I never liked the 80s anyway, bad perms and awful music) I thought back on the moments and smiled. My uncle died suddenly five years ago. The memories of so many happy moments remain.
The sad thing is that five minutes ago my cousins and I were all fourteen.