Returning from a four-wheel drive launch several years ago, I glanced across at a colleague who was seated next to me and noticed him jotting something down on his boarding pass.
Barry Lake, ex-editor of Modern MOTOR, one-time journo at Off Road Australia and contributor to many other titles, was a senior automotive journalist who’d been in the game since the early 1970s.
I asked him what he was up to and he told me that he was writing down the title of the vehicle launch, the name of the hotel we stayed in and the type of plane we were flying on. He then told me that he’d been doing this for many years, and that he kept all of his boarding passes, as well as all of the press kits he’d been given over the years, and many other things relevant to each and every trip he’d ever been on.
In fact, Barry kept so much stuff that he said it had all but filled his home and garage in the Sydney suburb of Greenacre, and that he was in the planning stages of building a huge shed on a block of land near Yass in southern NSW so that he’d have enough space to store all of his books, magazines, motoring memorabilia and, no doubt, boarding passes.
I’ve never kept old boarding passes, but my office is still chock-full of the many magazines that I’ve either edited or contributed to in the past 20 years. There are literally hundreds of them. I also have many books in my office, most related to four-wheel driving, outback travel, motorcycling and adventuring.
And then there are the car and bike models that I’ve picked up along the way, and some other select motoring memorabilia that I’ve decided to keep, mostly (but not entirely) related to Land Rovers. (I like ’em, OK?)
In fact, if I were to say that my office is full of junk, it would be an understatement, but I certainly haven’t reached the stage where I have to move to a big block in the country to store it all. Barry’s collection was next-level; he kept everything.
Despite being a hoarder, I never fully appreciated what would compel a man to keep what was essentially a complete record of one’s own life.
I was on a photo shoot the other day, which saw me spend the night in a caravan park in Mansfield, Victoria. As I opened the door to my cabin, I immediately knew I’d been there before, in that very room, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the vehicle launch I’d been on the last time I’d stayed there. This incredible feeling of déjà vu hit me, and I tried in vain to search the old memory bank in an effort to remember when I’d last been there, and why.
As the saying goes: “The older I get, the more I forget”. This feeling of déjà vu has hit me several times in the past year or so; whether it has been in a caravan park, restaurant or pub, or even when rounding a corner on an undiscovered track to see an eerily familiar vista before me. But it was entering this cabin in Mansfield that made me think of Barry Lake, and all of a sudden I wished I’d kept a better record of the launches I’d been on, and all the places I’d stayed, and all of the planes on which I’d flown.
Barry passed away in 2012, just a day shy of his 70th birthday. Despite his passing, he’s a bloke who will be remembered fondly by many people. Anyway, there’s a very detailed written history of his life out there somewhere.
What I can’t remember, however, is what launch we were on when Barry first told me about his penchant for writing down every tiny detail of his own life, or where we stayed, or what type of plane we were flying on.
I should have written it down.