"If time were like a passage of music, you could keep going back until you got it right," as Joyce Johnson said in her book Minor Characters.
When I think honestly for a moment about all the people I've been, it makes me want to run and hide down the nearest cellar.
A strange reflection? Perhaps one we all share as we approach, and then slip our knees under the picnic blanket of, middle age.
"Every place we go together it's like a pilgrimmage," my girlfriend said yesterday, as we walked around Kettering (where a bird defecated on my shoulder, which everyone assures me signifies good luck).
She's right. Memories are everywhere, and the compulsion to revisit them is overwhelming. It's as if your journey can't be rerouted away from the past and towards whatever lies ahead until you have been back to all the places that figured in it so significantly.
Little Harrowden, for me.
Emberton Park and Olney.
The streets and back alleys, the parks around Wellingborough.
The Railway Club.
Tresham College, Kettering.
Southbank and Elm Bank.
What a pity you can so rarely find the people who figured in your life as easily as you can find the places, especially when you've made as many huge, uncorrectable mistakes as me.
People die. Others can't forgive you.
It's the bleeding human tragedy we live with and usually we learn too late.