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32 Years Ago

November 16, 2006


My brother emailed this to me earlier this week and I have been unable to shake the image. At the top of the page, presumably from 1974, is my dad’s writing, recognisable as his even today, 32 years later.

I can’t begin to tell you the range of emotions this yellowed newsprint stirs in me.

Certainly there is an edge which is about growing older. There is melancholy over what appears to be a simpler time. My dad is there, looking young(er) and vigorous, and though he is no longer this young he remains vigorous, thankfully. He stands at the back alongside his friends and neighbours who all moved to our housing estate at the same time and raised their families together. No doubt they were beset by all the stuff and challenges of raising young children, and making lasting marriages, and paying bills, but we kids were ignorant of these things. Three of the four adults are still around, indeed one remains one of my parents close friends and neighbours to this day. Such a connection to place seems alien to me.

At least two of my brothers are there. Decidedly younger! One other, the one who forwarded the picture, hints that he is there but I can’t see him. And since he would only have been approaching his fourth birthday, I doubt he could have ridden the six or seven miles from our estate to the forest mentioned.  Family and friends who are in the picture have tried to identify everyone present. Just yesterday, one of the guys who is standing beside me in the photo, my best friend in childhood who I’ve only seen once in 20 years, emailed us with all the names and arrows identifying each one. To my shame some of the names I had forgotten until this simple reminder.

The road we cycled along that day, and I have a shadowy memory of it, is now a major motorway. The Glen we cycled to was the subject of a long running dispute between green campaigners and motorway builders, and each time it reached our TVs I was reminded of various visits to it in my youth. To cycle that road today with a bunch of kids our age then would be outright madness.

And yes I’m there. Looking young, eager, with the prospect of a whole life ahead of me – not that I knew it then.  My dad in this picture is 10 years younger than I am now. Wow.

Where did the time go.

There’s a prize for spotting me, (though family or anyone present in the picture is excluded – natch!).

[Clue: I was just as devastatingly handsome then as now]


From → Reflection

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