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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Everybody remembers remembering the day they shot JFK

I clearly remember waking up in the bedroom at our old flat to the news that John Lennon had died. I obviously remember seeing 9/11 unfold on a big flat screen TV in reception at Saatchi and Saatchi. I was in a lift at Television Centre when somebody told me that HMS Sheffield had been hit by an Exocet. On a happier note I remember watching Geoff Hurst net the fourth in the World Cup final while sitting on my suitcase in the reception of a hotel in the Loire Valley.

The death of JFK, which was fifty years ago tomorrow, was the first event I remember remembering.

It was early evening on a Friday. I don’t remember exactly who was in the house but I think my mother was. The radio was on. The first I remember was a story saying that the President had been involved in some incident involving a motorcade. I took that to mean some kind of car accident. Maybe I was the only person in the world who put that intrepretation on the news. We put the TV on. It would have taken a while to warm up. There was some form of rolling news, unusual at the time. It might have taken half an hour for the announcement that he was dead.

I can’t actually remember the details. I don’t know who passed on that news. It might have been Richard Dimbleby, but that may be something I learned later. The events of that day have been recapped so often that the original version is buried like a faint pencil sketch beneath a Rembrandt. But I do remember being in that room, looking at that TV and rather enjoying that feeling of righteous grief.

What I remember most of all is being told how I would always remember that day. Which I do. As much as anyone does.