This path of life is as crazy as they come. None of that orderly procession of success, the languid stroll from one distinguished seat of learning to the next, along the way managing to cultivate the most gifted and influential friends and lovers to render the next few years as exciting and easy as possible.
Some people went to a great University and sailed forth on a calm sea, heading confidently towards remote islands where glorious riches waited to be found.
Me? I remember running up the steps at the railway station in 1982. And then walking to town, past the cattle market; the muted lowing sounded like the relics of a dream. Me? I remember being in the revolving doors at a supermarket when a couple of toddlers pushed the panel, forcing the mechanism to halt. Trapped in a triangular glass cage they ran back and forth, yelling incoherently.
Life must be lived forward but understood backwards.
Me? I remember watching the opening of ‘Repo Girl’ and recognising the statue of Salammbo in the foyer of the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. Yes, it really sounds like something dreamed up by C S Lewis rather than a real place. But Port Sunlight is real, real, too too real.
This is my life; what can I do?
Back in 1987 the world was a different place; we had just discovered AIDS in the UK, and it was confidently predicted that all gay men were doomed to suffer a short, lonely life, followed by an undignified, disease-ridden demise alone in a polythene tent while their loved ones (suitably protected by gloves and masks and gowns) watched from a safe distance.
So in 1987 I began keeping a diary as a sort of back-up disc (although in those days we didn’t have discs of any kind) for my life, to reassure people that I was actually conscious and alert. I was expecting to perish at the age of thirty, with no great achievements to leave behind; no scientific discoveries, no novels or string quartets, no design plans for radical new school buildings, no elaborate systems to channel the wealth of property speculators into imaginary offshore companies out of reach of the taxman.
How odd it would be if, in 1987, somebody had told us that the Princess of Wales would die ten years later in a car accident together with her lover Dodi Fayed, son of Mohammed Al-Fayed, who for a time was the owner of a small department store called Harrods.
Meanwhile, here in 2017, we have just enjoyed a total solar eclipse which passed across the US; if an eclipse had occurred twenty years ago it would have provoked widespread hysteria and brought about the collapse of the British economy.