A long time ago, as a 13-year old, I sneakily read an unpublished novel by one of my brother's work colleagues, that had been left at our house for review by someone else. It was set in Florence, and covered a period of about a week (or two?) in the life of the protagonists. I really enjoyed the book, which was called (if memory serves me well) Every Dog Has Its Day. A chance conversation a couple of months ago reminded me of that book, and I wondered if it had ever been published. I hopped out of the jacuzzi with my cocktail in hand (you can see the tough life that I lead), and typing one-handed at the computer, trying not to get the keyboard too wet, I searched Amazon for the book title and author. There was no success for the title, but the author did pop up, with a book called 'Life in Poetry' which had been published only a year ago. Intrigued, I clicked on the title, and tried to surmise if this author was the man I was looking for, a man who had been my brother's manager at the local hospital, and who I estimated must be in his 70's at least by now. Amazon have the wonderful 'look inside' option, and I duly obliged. I flicked through the cover, the copyright, and there was a picture of the author, Colin Kirk, playing a recorder. Yes, it was the man I knew, but had lost touch with 30 years ago. I pushed on another page or two in curiosity and then it hit me. The book was dedicated to my brother, Andrew, who died in 1978. It is hard to describe the emotions, a strange combination of grief and euphoria. I downloaded the book, and discovered two poems directly related to Andrew - one about flying gliders, and another about a parachute jump he made with the author, Colin. It's quite an amazing thing to be able to read about an experience like that, and get an insight into someone that you knew so well, such a long time ago. It made me wonder how strange it must be for the children of celebrities to read about their parents after they have passed away, or to read works of fiction written by a parent. I wonder what my own daughter might think of my stories, years from now. In some strange way stories and poems are like time capsules, left behind for future travellers.
I managed to track Colin Kirk down, and had a delightful exchange of information, catching up on thirty packed years of life. He is, and always was, an extraordinary person. There is a picture of him in the book, taken by my brother, post-parachute jump. Reading the poems, and looking at that photo, is perhaps the closest I've ever come to time travel.