When I look back on my life, it is as a series of moments.
It's the week before Christmas. As I stand in the cold, dark evening, gazing across the courtyard to the chapel, I realise that one of those moments is unfolding around me.
Three hours earlier, the moonlit evening is clear and crisp. I'm wearing a light jacket over my dinner suit, but the chill in the air quickens my step on the five-minute walk from the car park. I'm not crazy about office parties, but this one is at King's College in Cambridge, the most impressive of the old university colleges. Not to be missed.
Half a dozen of us arrive at the same time. The massive college gates stand open, and though we manage a brief exchange of greetings, silence falls as we walk through into a magnificent courtyard.
Great Court is an enormous courtyard, with impressive architecture on all sides. A wide gravel path surrounds a vast - and immaculate - grass square, with a distant statue at its centre. The massive Gothic bulk of the famous King's College Chapel broods, sullen and unlit, to our right.
I've not been in here before, and gape a little.
Signs direct us towards a tall and well-lit building to our left. Huge, black lampstands cast their electric light from the perimeter of the grass. As we make our way, I note that we're all careful to keep to the path, and smile; the college authorities will still hang you for walking on the grass, says an inner voice.
As we deposit our coats, we all look pleased to be indoors, particularly the women in their more elegant, colourful evening wear. There's some polite chitchat, but a hubbub of conversation quickly draws us through to the warm main hall. It's quite something, an intimately lit room with a high-vaulted Gothic ceiling, stained-glass windows, wood-panelled walls, and dozens of impressive oil paintings.
I'm interested by all this, but far more interested in the company of good friends, and in what will hopefully be a superb meal. I'm a bit awkward in formal social situations - black tie for two hundred is quite daunting - but my amigos carry me magnificently, and dinner does not disappoint.
And so, in a whirl of conversation, indiscrete whispers and raucous laughter, the evening passes pleasantly.
As the party draws to a close, the first handful of us - keen to be in our beds - slip away from the hall, gather our coats, and head out through the main doors into the chilly night.
And stop dead.
The courtyard has been transformed.
It's snowing heavily.
Four inches have fallen while we were indoors, and huge fluffy flakes continue to descend from the solid cloud cover overhead.
The others head back indoors, excited to tell those at the party about the snow, but I stand, transfixed.
The square is an unbroken field of white, as immaculate as the grass underneath. The closest lamp post has taken on a surreal quality, standing in isolation, tall and black, in the snow. At any moment, a Narnian faun might walk timidly out of the darkness to stand, uncertain, in its electric glow.
Across from me, the immense chapel is now cheerily lit, its windows tall and colourful. I half expect to hear the sound of the college choir from within, but the silence is absolute.
As I stand there in the snow on a cold night, gazing across the courtyard to the chapel, I feel the moment crystallise around me, never to be forgotten.
Back in the now, just a few weeks later, my mind is playing tricks on me. The mental picture of the lamplit courtyard in snowfall has passed into mental myth. It's taken centre stage in my memories of the evening, pushing aside the pleasant memories of the party, and the later memories of treacherous pavements, biting cold winds, and hazardous driving. The latter have been demoted to a terse
And I got home afterwards.
All that's left is that perfect moment in the snow.
And when I look back on my life, it will be as a series of moments.
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