I’m fifty – it’s old enough to look back with some bittersweet regret, and look forward with some good intentions. It’s the age my father was when three of his heroes (and he had a lot of heroes), Maurice Chevalier, Louis Armstrong and Margaret Rutherford, all died, and I remember him brimming with nostalgia and talking about The Lady Vanishes – putting on his Louis Armstrong records and singing snatches of Gigi. They were all figures from his youth – they reminded him of being young – and for that alone, he loved them.
This autumn and in particular this week, several significant figures from my youth have died. None of them I would have immediately cited as influences, but I realised as I read their obituaries that they all shaped my interests – that they changed the way I was, I am, I will be.
Alex Moulton? With that first bicycle, a golden Moulton Mini, I gained my freedom.
Nina Bawden? With her books, she taught me so much about storytelling, with her committment she showed me the value of writing for children and by her actions let me feel the warmth and excitement of direct contact with an author.
And Patrick Moore? He taught me and so many others to look up…
Even thinking about them, makes me feel 10 years young again.