This Jaguar – the car not the cat – is a permanent feature of Richmond Green. It’s always in the same place. I always look out for it when I’m on the final leg of my journey to work. It’s such a fixture that I wasn’t surprised to see it immortalised in a painting of Richmond Green in a local gallery.
But then it went missing for a week or so. I was discombobulated. Had it gone for good? Had the owner sold it? Had it had an accident? No – it’s back.
This trivial episode made me realised the impact of the familiar in our lives – and how we’re unsettled when familiar sights and names disappear. I wrote nostalgically earlier this week about Cardiff’s Empire Pool and Guildford Crescent baths – both lost. And last April, I explained how I’d recreated with Karen and Owen a 1960s childhood photo of me with Mum on Richmond’s riverside. That kind of continuity is precious.
We even feel the same way about (certain) businesses: people all over Britain were saddened when Woolworths closed its doors in late 2008, even if they’d not spent a penny there for years. The memory of buying Beatles, T-Rex, Dire Straits and Bucks Fizz (delete as applicable) singles there was enough to trigger nostalgia.