Elvis Costello and I share a birthday today. He’s the big 5-0, while I’m the next generation down (I’d tell you my age, but I’m not ready for Google to know). Elvis and I also share the same name. He was born Declan MacManus and I was born – and still am, unless you count Read/Write Web as my stage name – Richard MacManus. So, same birthday and same name. Those are novelty facts that I usually pop into conversations around this time of year.
My Dad always sends me an email on my birthday with a story about what he was doing when he was the same age as me. I call them “nostalgic vignettes” and I look forward to reading them each year. On this occasion the year was 1980. My hazy memory can pick out elements of my life at that time… fish n’ chips with my family on a Saturday evening while watching Ready to Roll (a top 20 music video show, where Split Enz or Blondie or Shakin’ Stevens would be at number 1)… playing out in the long green grass in the back yard, of which my most vivid memory is once getting a grasshopper stuck inside my jersey and feeling it hop around between my chest and the inside of my jersey while I mildly panicked… playing imaginary rugby games on the small front lawn, complete with fake crowd noises… trading marbles with kids on my street… me and my brother Paul wearing CHiPs tee-shirts – he was dark-haired Ponch, I was blond Jon… me holding my 3-month old sister on the patio and smiling sweetly at a camera (there’s a great pic capturing this moment somewhere in my parents photo albums)… those were the days. And now I have my own family, with a daughter the same age as my youngest brother was in 1980.
So I guess after that flashback to my youth, in the context of my family life then and now, the comparisons to a pop star named Elvis Costello matter less than I thought they did. What’s important is right here [thumps chest, where a grasshopper once jumped up and down].