What I listen to while driving to the house in Southampton with the leaking roof: Alice in chains; I think of the lead singer, Layne Staley, who died in Seattle, Washington, aged 34, from a drug overdose – Heroine, I believe. I loved listening to his music when I was younger and I remember now why I spent so much of my life doing so. It’s funny how nostalgic music can be, and sometimes smells too; they can take you right back to a specific moment, re-affirming the vividness of a memory. I smile – beaming – as the feeling of youth washes over me: I’m sixteen again, thrashing the songs out on my guitar in my bedroom with my friend, Richard; we call ourselves band.
What we were: Not a band.
Why I was smiling: Because in moments like this I feel free, elated, instead of guarding myself – guarding every moment and every secret so closely, so cautiously. I feel open to the world; I don’t feel scared anymore. I wish I could live the rest of my life in this moment, carrying the feeling with me in every passing second. This is the power of nostalgia.
What I do while using the supermarket self-service machines: I play that game where I try to swipe my points card so that the machine registers it in time and makes the till say “have you swiped your Nectar card accepted” in one sentence, instead of “have you swiped your Nectar card?… Nectar card accepted”.
How many times I’ve managed to do this flawlessly: Once.
What I tell my wife about the house that needs a new roof: I’ve been there before; the garage had burnt down a while back, along with all the belongings of their son who had died a few years ago. I told her I’d seen his school books amongst the ashes, and this was a difficult thing to see. I don’t think I could be a fireman or a policeman or a paramedic and have to see that and worse every day; hats off to them, I say.
What I think about the garage fire: I think we will love our children unconditionally, as if every moment is sacred – if we ever have any, that is. I believe life is precious, and you need to gather the best memories you can because one day your tangilble effects might be burnt off the face of the earth in front of your eyes and then all you’ll have left are your memories; I guarantee you won’t be expecting it either, and it’s always too late to do anything about it afterwards. It’s too easy to say “it will never happen to me”.