Once, when we were still quite little, I managed to convince my cousin that the sandcastle we were building was so impressive it would probably get us into the Guinness Book of World Records.
It was a fairly casual and unrehearsed lie but he took the knowledge to heart and set about augmenting and expanding everything with a vengeance – methodically applying himself to the task of creating something worthy of world recognition in the sincere belief that we were truly about to make our mark on history.
Being as how my cousin is generally the brains of our outfit it was initially an unexpected and novel situation to have him so wholeheartedly invested in what was basically my own blatant lie. But as the novelty wore off I began to feel increasingly guilty at the effort and conviction with which he was going about the whole business. Eventually I surreptitiously withdrew from the project altogether and wandered off to do something else – paddling, probably.
I don’t know what became of his record-breaking aspirations but when I look back it’s with the nostalgic sense that there was this time when all of us – even the smartest – inhabited a childhood world where grand schemes and impossible aims felt genuinely possible and within our reach. I suppose it was a time before one too many people had told us lies about record-breaking sandcastles and the like.