Funny how it all comes around. Even if you wanted to dodge it, the past has a habit of creeping up on you and doing its time machine thing, taking you way back when. Some flashbacks have a golden tinge – sibling singalongs to the hit parade on Sunday bath night; the long, hot coming-of-age summers of the 70s (how I yearned for platform shoes and pineapple mivvis); Mateus rosé bottle candlesticks on every boho mantlepiece; the smell of the subway, or Gran’s fish and chips with her homemade tartare sauce.
The past is a surreptitious sidewinder tho, eh? You simply can’t predict when and what will trigger long-forgotten memories to come bubbling up to the surface. And you certainly can’t predict how you might feel when a corner of the time capsule creaks open – it’s certainly not all warm, fuzzy and rose-tinted. Dunno if it’s just the age I’m at, when there’s less time left than already spent, but blimey, the last couple of years sure have presented me with a veritable cornucopia of blasts from the past.
There was meeting up with Pete, a special and long-lost pal from back in the pub and club days. Cue flashbacks to our callow youth when we were having the time of our lives in a buzzing and brilliant Glasgow scene. Those, my dears, were the best of days. But golden years aside, what made this reunion so bloody brilliant was that even after three decades plus this fella is still a complete and utter belter.
Losing another old friend presented altogether darker moments and memories, and some troublesome reminiscing about the familial stuff we had in common. Let’s just say that happy, functional families don’t feature large in that photo album. However, our shared teenage and midlife solidarity is on repeat play in my memory bank, and his spirit stays strong.
Other childhood and teenage themes play a big part in these backward glances, partly because these days I’m plying my trade in the People’s Republic of Partick. Weird how I’ve come full circle to reattach myself to this corner of Glasgow – a place where many of my schoolfriends came from, and the source of so many re-emerging memories. We had such larks with the Aitken sisters, and their fantastic mum Faye; that long, long walk to Whiteinch swimmies and sharing Tudor pickled onion crisps on the way home; being part of the Partick proto-punk movement with Linda, Sid, Billy and PK; drinking warm cider and spinning drunkenly on the roundabout in Dowanhill Park; being chucked by a boyfriend and feeling broken-hearted, unloved and bereft. For a few days, at least.
And now, as the year draws to an end, I find myself working on a project on Great Western Road, the very area where I grew up. Truth talking, the memories and emotions are a lot more mixed as I make regular visits to my childhood stamping ground. Sometimes I find a big lump in the throat as I cross the foot of Cecil Street, wishing things could’ve been better for that wee Glesga girl. But there’s loads of good stuff in the memory mixtape too, not least the absolute thrill of getting my very first bike one Cecil Street Christmas long, long ago. I’ve never stopped cycling since.
Here’s hoping this Christmas creates memorable moments for all of you. Peace and love, brothers and sisters.