My hand is poised over the kitchen bin, holding a Pokémon sticker book.
“What do you think you’re doing?” says Eldest Child, who has sneaked up on me in socks. Pity he’s not so quiet at 4am on his return from clubbing.
“Found it in Middle Child’s room,” I say. With Middle in the Algarve I’d planned to gut his room. So far I’ve been in once, this book my sole booty, before I was driven back by a wave of inadequacy. It needs people in CSI-style suits.
“I knew he had that,” says Eldest.
This is a blatant fabrication, a pointless and recidivistic bid to start a squabble with a sibling who isn’t even here. This is a book I haven’t seen for a good decade. I remember buying it at the height of the last Pokémon mania.
“I’m keeping that,” says Eldest and grabs it. “There are lots of stickers left in it! And look, we’ve even coloured in one of the pages. Aw.”
Page 1, half done. Short attention span, my boys.
“Stickers! What are you going to do with stickers?” I ask.
“Bedroom door,” he says.
At this point a visiting 10-year-old pipes up, “Pokémon! Can I have it?”
“We’ll look at it together,” says Eldest, unwilling to surrender his childhood just like that. So they chat about Pokémon for the next ear-bleeding half hour. Please, please don’t let Eldest remember that pack of Pokémon Top Trumps or I’ll have to lock myself in the bathroom.
Next morning, another blast from the past arrives in the post. Someone has sent me a pottery lamp base my mother made. She died 31 years ago, so we’re going back a bit. They’re downsizing, would I like it. Yes! It’s beautiful. She knew her way round a potter’s wheel.
Where’d you get that?” says Eldest.
“Your granny made it.”
“Really? It’s cool.”
“Yes, it is.”
I guess we all like to hang on to the past sometimes. Only mine doesn’t leave a sticky residue I’ll never get off. n