But like a fool, on Friday I set off on a six-hour journey to Wales for a reunion at my old university college. There would be people there I hadn't seen since T'Pau were in the charts. Would I recognise them? Would they recognise me?
The journey didn't begin well. I almost ran over a cat and my car's air conditioning stopped working (I'm not suggesting a causal relationship between the two events). By the time I joined the M25 the temperature had already hit 30 degrees and the traffic had slowed down to 25mph. At this rate, I would reach Lampeter in eleven hours if I hadn't died of heatstroke first.
However, although the car was hot, the music was cool, particularly this little number:
I made up for lost time on the M4, briefly entering hyperspace somewhere between Membury and Swindon. My impossible journey was now looking more hopeful. Perhaps I would reach Wales before nightfall.
When I finally left the motorway, somehere near Carmarthen, I found myself in countryside that was even more beautiful than I remembered, with lush, verdant valleys and densely-wooded hills. I was now in Welsh-speaking Wales and passed through villages with names that defeated my satnav lady: Llanllwni, Llanybydder, Maesycrugiau...
In Coming Up For Air, George Bowling is horrified to discover that the idyllic village of his boyhood has been transformed into a town of drab, modern housing estates and I wondered what I would find as I turned the corner at Cwmann and entered Lampeter. I needn't have worried:
Lampeter was very cut-off. The nearest city was 50 miles away and the town lacked a cinema, Indian restaurant or bookshop, so it wasn't exactly buzzing with life. Sundays were particularly grim, as the local authority was dominated by religious zealots who decreed that the pubs were not allowed to open.
But the plus side of the size and remoteness of Lampeter was that it was easy to get to know people and lack of local entertainment inspired some very creative solutions from the students (mostly alcohol-related, I'm afraid to say).
Saint David's attracted several categories of student. Some were there because they hadn't got the grades they needed to be accepted by the university of their choice, including of small contingent of Oxbridge rejects who were attracted by the architectural similarities with Christ Church college in Oxford.
A few chose Lampeter because of its long tradition as a theological college, training generation after generation of Anglican clergymen. Indeed, the SDUC rugby team was still known as the 'Vicars'.
Others, like me, were attracted by the University's rural setting and its rather eccentric character (I turned down the chance to study in a 'better' place because I hated the Brutalist architecture of the campus).
There was nowhere quite like Lampeter.
My weekend visit could have been a salutory lesson about the dangers of nostalgia for the George Bowlings of this world, but it turned out to be the most enjoyable thing I've done for a long time. Sitting outside the Union Bar at 1.00 in the morning, drinking with friends and people I hadn't seen since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, I realised how happy I was.
It wasn't about going back. We had lived our lives all over again and weren't the people we were, but because we had all gone through something together at an important time in our past, I felt a deep affection towards everyone I met (along with a even deeper gratitude that they all recognised me).
At some point in the evening, we were joined by someone I never knew well but always liked, known as 'Earl Grey'. He had clearly been drinking for quite a while and showed no intention of slowing down, so I was rather surprised when he casually announced that he was being married by a druid in three hours' time. "I think he's in a car somewhere nearby. We're having a bit of a party tomorrow. You should all come along...it's not far."
The Earl rattled off an set of directions which I knew would lead to disaster (I've learned to be wary of anyone who uses the phrase "You can't miss it"), so I got out my smartphone and asked him to point his house out on Google Earth. He couldn't find it and we ended up with a name and an instruction to turn left.
The following morning, we were in a dilemma. Would the Earl remember inviting us? He was quite drunk. But on the other hand, if Earl Grey was expecting us, it would be rude not to make an appearance. We decided to go and after a slightly challenging journey, found him drinking tea in his garden:
I don't usually fall victim to envy, but it was hard not to be impressed:
And he built the bridge in the background.
We sat by the river, with John Renbourn playing gently in the background, next to a table laid with grapes, bread and cheese. I think I must be a bit of an old hippy at heart, as this seemed like paradise:
But Earl Grey's estate is a mere suburban garden, compared to his friend Paul, who is also an ex-Lampeter student. When Paul left university, he tried a number a jobs, including working at Threshers in Putney, but had a hankering to go back to Wales. Once he'd made his mind up to return, he learned Welsh and took any job he could find until he had enough money to buy some land.
Today, Paul owns ten acres of land, somewhere up a nearby mountain. Because his house is at a higher altitude, he gets snowed-in for at least two weeks longer than Earl Grey. It's a lifestyle that wouldn't suit everyone (he didn't get electricity until 2003), but he seems a contented man.
I felt inspired by my visit to Earl Grey and, perhaps, a little dissatisfied with my pokey little house and its postage stamp-sized garden. They really were 'living the dream' and, unlike some English incomers, had made a real effort to integrate into the local community. I returned home a little misty-eyed, then my wife reminded me that it wasn't her dream and suggested I went there in February.
In the evening I squeezed into an old dinner jacket for a Lampeter Society dinner and had a very enjoyable time. After several difficult months, it was a tonic to be with old friends again and I left feeling as if I'd come back from a very long holiday.
I realise that it can be a mistake to revisit the past, but last weekend I learned that it can be an even bigger mistake to turn your back on it.