Two photos of grandson Zach: Trying on a fireman's helmet at Newent's world-famous onion fair; about to score a try at a rugby game last weekend. Almost a decade has elapsed between the two.
Ten years ago I was Zach's grandpa (Big Grandpa), taking him to the bakery in St-Jean-de-la-Blacquerie and encouraging him to say Bonjour. Now I am wallpaper to his world as computers and playing sport - swimming, soccer, cricket, ski-ing and rugby (where he plays scrum-half) - have absorbed him.
This is as it should be. At Zach's present age I had absolutely no interest in adults other than they were random, inexplicable and a source of fairly mild punishment. I doubt I distinguished between my adult relations and, say, giraffes. Let them be. And to be frank, there is no attraction in my attempting to hang on to the periphery of Zach's newer being. Instead I look forward - possibly! - to the sort of relationship I have with my two other grandchildren, both much older than Zach. Ties based on spirited conversation. That's if I'm spared, as my Grannie (another old person) used to say.
Zach is doing me great service. One of the unpublicised aspects of getting old is a growing risk of becoming a bore. On the whole young people just aren't interested in those who are forever looking backwards. Nor should they be. The life ahead is infinity. Even worse, I might become sentimental, although that possibility is more likely to make me vomit than Zach.
Time passes as quicksilver. One may entrap memory and dwell on it privately. But if you’re tempted to recycle it for others, it may profit from a modern context. Moaning just doesn’t cut it. There’s a Latin tag… but I’m damned if I’ll use it.