When you’re young you collect objects that are less mementos than experiential trophies. They don’t–they can’t–really contain the significance you invest in them. By the time you’re old, the surviving examples have put on some weight in that respect. But you’ve lost interest in them by now; you’re someone different and they’re just clutter, and the experiences they represent are another kind of clutter. Somehow, you think (if you think about it at all), you missed some middle stage, when they might have been genuinely representative and full of warmth. Then at a certain time of day the light falls on a shelf on the first floor landing of a house a lifetime and several lives away, in such a way as to pick out a small lacquered hexagonal box. It catches you by surprise. It looks expensive but it wasn’t. Behind the background tinnitus and general audio interference of age you hear, faintly, John Cooper Clarke recite the words some bric-a-brac from the knick-knack rack. He’s moving away into the distance, pushing forward the way he always was, examining the difference between dignity and dignitas; the cool older brother–or maybe the uncle or father–you didn’t know at the time you needed.