In anticipation of moving house – though nothing’s been signed yet – I spent a lot of today getting rid of stuff that somehow has been following me around for years.
I delivered a lot of books I’ll never read again to the local charity shop. It took longer to summon up the resolve to dump failed literary efforts of more than 20 years ago.
Abandoned novels written in longhand in old-fashioned ledgers and consigned to a battered suitcase and lodged in a cupboard, they’ve joined some ancient electrical equipment in my apartment block’s communal dustbins.
Having taken the detritus of my life including ancient income tax returns, cancelled shares, and other odds and sods in addition to literary output dating from my teenage years from my bachelor flat on to my marital home and then my divorcee’ s studio, there’s a lot to chuck out.
I’m not a hoarder by nature but stuffing almost any document in the back of a drawer rather than disposing of it meant I didn’t have to give it my full attention the first time round. And then not at all.
Every now and again being able to turn up, say, an old bill or chequebook has been useful. But not so much that every wardrobe space needed to be full of carrier bags of junk masquerading as memories.
Typical is a copy of the June 3rd 1987 edition of the Canadian newspaper The Windsor Star. I saved it because of the front page story about the Ontario city receiving a once-only visit to its airport by supersonic Concorde.
According to the report, thousands turned out to watch the plane land. And so it seemed to me. I was a member of a party of 80 British journalists and City analysts who flew out to Canada (and Scotland, the US, and France) as the guest of drinks giant Allied Domecq to report on its distilleries.
Buying the newspaper was as a souvenir of my five day adventure but did I really need to save it for the best part of a quarter of century? Not really.
The newspaper can’t tell the story as I remember it.
1. The privilege of flying on Concorde – long since confined to the scrap heat. To experience travelling at twice the speed of sound, so that the windows heated with the friction, so high you could see the earth’s curvature, so fast that a whole night was lost travelling home.
2. The expense – not least the hiring of Concorde for the best part of a week – would have been huge. So much, in fact, it is unlikely that any company today would contemplate similar largess on such a grand scale. On our return to Heathrow we all had limos home with a case of booze in the boot.
3. Sadness that I spent five days in the company of a reporter, let’s just call him Tony, whose style, kindness, and ability was unique. He was to die from a heart attack just a few years later. For me financial journalism was never quite the same again with his death.
4. The hospitality of the Canadians. I got chatting to a couple of guys in the Windsor hotel’s bar when they heard my accent and guessed I’d come in on Concorde. I couldn’t buy a drink the rest of the evening either there or the fully nude girlie bar they took me to (the very best of the few such joints I’ve visited in my life.)
5. Finally, I remember coming home and being surprised how easily my toddler daughter had forgotten her dad. When I entered, she took flight – but all was soon well.
All of this is in my head. The memories will remain even though the newspaper is in the trash.