We’ve all heard it – things were different – better, colder, hotter, freer, brighter, cleaner when I were a lad. Many of us will have heard the plaintive – TV might have had only two black and white channels in the fifties, but it was more fun back then. The sun was always shining in the summer and every Christmas was white. Those were the days, these words redolent of so much dismal, elderly reminiscence is something I hope to avoid. Nevertheless my memory is so full of useless flotsam and jetsam; things best forgotten and things better remembered that I believe it is necessary to perform a tidy up.
How soon has time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year!
John Milton was a mere stripling – less than a quarter of a century old when he wrote these words. Could he not have waited a few years in before letting us know that the best years of your life are over before you noticed? Or do we all have selective memories? As a Scotsman I recall Wembley 1967, when Jim Baxter played keepie-uppie in the centre circle while the World Champions looked on bemused. I was actually there in Wembley Stadium with my Grandfather. Scotland won, by the way, and we crowned ourselves the unofficial champions of the world. However we conveniently ignore the 9 -3 drubbing and Peter McCoy’s atrocious goal keeping performance a few years later. Forgetting can be a wonderful thing, especially if you are a Scottish football fan.
I know many folk just a few years older than me who can remember exactly where they were when they heard of JFK’s assassination. To my utter chagrin I can’t; in my defence I was only nine years old and more interested in football. I can however take you to within a metre or two of where is sat when I heard that two aircraft had smashed into the twin towers. I can remember with crystal clarity how the rest of that day was spent in horrified befuddlement as the events unfolded live on TV. There really aren’t words that are sufficient to that act; only weeping for the victims and incomprehension of the motives for such a grotesque event.
Perhaps Christina Rossetti was right after all.