Nostalgia can be a very strange friend. She wraps you up in her blanket, makes you feel all warm and happy, but then flavours that warmth with sorrow. With longing. With sadness.

I found myself in Bristol this weekend for the In Between Time Arts Festival.

These were the streets I walked, the pubs I drank in, the hills, the cafes, the landscape I was immersed in 40 years ago as a student.

40 years. (Shakes his head). That’s what we do isn’t it? We tut, we smile, we shake our heads at the disbelief. 40 years.

Bristol’s changed. You’ve changed I thought. But then Bristol was probably thinking the same thing about me. Well she definitely was.

Who’s that bald little man, shuffling round, puffing up my hills, ushering a little boy around with him? What’s happened to him?

Where’s the arrogant Elvis Costello lookalike I used to know? The guy in the Doc Martins? The one with all the ambition and derring do? What about that time he was arrested in the penguin house after breaking into Colchester Zoo in the early hours? What a guy! Where’s he gone?

Alright, alright Bristol! Let’s perhaps not share quite so much of all the carryings on with everyone eh? Let’s think about all those wonderful lectures hmm? All those books he read?

The thing about the combination of geography and nostalgia is that it can drop you back into a particular time and place in your life, clean as you like. It parachutes you in. You fall silently deep behind the enemy lines of your own memory. Suddenly transported back to that unique time and place.

Nostalgia demands that the timeframe reaches out across the divide, that the intervening years are momentarily swept upstream and you’re left staring at the two uprights of the suspension bridge, then and now.

That suspension bridge was still there alright. The beautiful Clifton suspension bridge. It’s magisterial beauty fully intact.

Two glorious uprights. That huge span across the Avon, that huge span of years.

When I was 20 I had not the wildest concept of what 40 years could feel like, let alone looking back on it. I remember that city, that time with great affection.

But we actually live our lives in the present, if Bristol was saying anything to me she was saying enjoy the things that make you happy now.

Yes we were lovers once, but that was then and this is now. Nice to see you. And meet the family. Now off you go.

And she was right. Nostalgia can be a strange friend indeed.