IT IS only tangentially because I have a big birthday at the end of this month that I am – in the face of all the available evidence to the contrary suggesting it could well turn out to be a complete nightmare – expecting quite a lot of 2018.

The reason has less to do with looking forward than looking back, and I anticipate there will be quite a lot of that this year. In 1968 I turned ten years old, and my memories of the events of that year, mostly received through the medium of television, are quite remarkably intact. I am no expert in child psychology, but I have run this observation past other men of my generation as well as those both younger and older, and found it to be a near-universal truth, and one of which teachers are especially well aware. Around the age of nine and ten, the minds of boys soak up information in a way that is both retentive and influential. I would not presume to speak for women; like so much else, my guess would be that it is probably different for girls.

The result is that I have a head that is still full of stuff from 1968. I cannot say why the US presidential election campaign piqued my interest at the age of ten, but it did, and I distinctly recall favouring Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey to succeed Lyndon Johnson, rather than the Republican winner Richard Nixon. My guess is that it was America in general that had seized my interest, because this was of course the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the height of protests against the Vietnam War.

That election turns out to have been a major turning point in US politics of course, in terms of the electorate and the country’s economic and foreign policy – and the same might be said for the pivotal place in sport of the Mexico Olympics that summer, which I also remember being glued to. There was much there for my 10-year-old sponge-mind to process as well, including American Bob Beamon’s winning long jump that was so far ahead of every other competitor that his record stood until after I was married, and his countryman Dick Fosbury’s radical (then) Fosbury Flop technique for the high jump which won him gold and changed the event. But I also recall the big story of Mexico 1968 being the politicisation of the games by Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their Black Power salute and, less well remembered, quadruple-gold-winning Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska protesting against the Soviet invasion of her country – indelibly linked in my mind to seeing footage of the self-immolation of student Jan Palach.

My obsession with Formula 1 motor-racing way back in 1968 is documented in a still-extant journal I compiled at the time in multi-coloured felt pen, with pictures pasted in from the Radio Times. Why I was a Ferrari tifoso from the off I can’t say, but the beginning of the hey-day of Jackie Stewart, and even the death of Jim Clark and four other drivers that year, was of less import to me than a first win for young Belgian driver Jacky Ickx, of whom I was a huge fan, at the French Grand Prix.

The soundtrack to all this was the same as everyone else’s at the time of course, chronicled chiefly on Top of the Pops on a Thursday, Juke Box Jury (once just as essential) having recently bitten the dust. Led Zeppelin and Yes were playing their first gigs somewhere, but not on the TV in our living room. It might seem, in this awards ceremony season, as if the mainstream media still dominates much of our communal experience, although received wisdom dictates that today’s young people have individual lives fragmented by a multitude of choices. But while my narrative of 50 years ago may resonate with those of the same vintage as myself, particularly when those events are commemorated in 2018, as they surely will be, I bet I remain one of the few giving Jacky Ickx his due.