A long, long time ago, soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs and before a strange wrinkling affliction took over my face, a bunch of us from the University of Southampton hatched a plan to spend the summer vac in darkest Peru. This would be my third expedition and knowing how character clashes can cripple research projects, I decided that compatible personalities were better qualifications than research competence. During the three months it took us to find Spanish-speakers and make preparations it evolved into a big expedition involving nine students, a stray journalist and a psychiatrist.
Last month Dermot – said stray journalist – messaged me to point out that it was 35 years since we’d gathered in Peru and shouldn’t we mark this in some way? One of the advantages of my writing is that old friends sometimes find me and the alumnus office of the University of Southampton helped us contact others.
The expedition had proved to be an exciting couple of months and our projects were diverse, but I found it odd to realise just how patchy my recall of this time was. Psychologists talk of flashbulb memories and I certainly have an array of cerebral snapshots including: