Cricket magazines and cowboy fever – meet Jan Dekker

A big hello to Jan Dekker, another of the writers working on the 26 Treasures of Childhood project. Normally, Jan spends his days encouraging organisations to use words properly. But we’ve got him writing about… Well, read on to find out.

What object are you writing about and what were your first thoughts when we told you?

I was sure I’d get the milk bottle. I attribute my visceral dislike of milk to the too-warm, too-creamy stuff we received at the hands (or was it the teat?) of the state. So it was going to be catharsis over lost calcium. Instead, flares, rollneck jumper and bomber jacket fizzing with primary school memories. That’ll be a different kind of fun.

Jan Dekker is not in this photo

What lost object from your own childhood would you like to own again, and why?

The pile of Wisden Cricket Monthly magazines my mum got rid of unannounced while I was at university (odd, as she’d paid for them. She’s ruthless like that). They’d be a goldmine for the biography of Kent and England legend Chris Tavare I’ll get round to writing one day.

Hop into my time machine and it will take to you back to one specific hour of your childhood – where and when do you want to go, and why?

When football was a proper game

Can my dad and I rescind our shameful request to watch Where Eagles Dare over Christmas dinner at the neighbours’? Or maybe I can watch the 1974 World Cup Final again with my parents, and sneak some video evidence of my mum crying afterwards. She claims not to remember. Holland – beautiful, gifted, joyous, orange – lose to Germany. Of course you cried.

Can you surprise me with one unusual fact about your childhood?

Err… I had a kidney stone at the age of eight. A big ‘un by all accounts. It sat there gathering weight in my body for a year before my mum finally convinced the doctors to look in the right place for the cause of my “side ache”.

What’s the earliest thing you can remember writing?

A story about cowboys around the age of ten. The teacher said it had “fever”. Possibly the first decent thing I did at school. After that, English was my thing. Well, and history as well. It’s all stories, isn’t it.


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