One of the most amusing and enduring images from my student days was a photograph in my meaningful media choice.
The picture in question was of two elderly men both reading from the same publication, and clearly discussing its contents in an animated fashion. The men in question were Sir John Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier, two of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, stars of stage and screen, two of the finest purveyors of the English language, and unparalleled masters of Shakespearean theatre. And what was the esteemed publication that so enraptured our two world-class thespians? What possible content could be so engaging and enthralling as to simultaneously captivate the minds of these great men?
It’s the same publication that has held me in its thrall every fortnight from August to May, for very nearly 50 years–it’s The Official Matchday Programme of Chelsea Football Club. A format familiar to football fans the world over, it’s a news digest, a photo journal, a lifestyle magazine, and a statistical record. It has content for new and old readers alike; it has fun stuff for kids, it has news updates from fans overseas, and it even has obituaries and tributes to those who have passed. And in the case of Chelsea, it features a regular column from Giles Smith, a Times journalist who writes the funniest football column in England.
Each issue has a specific role. It serves as a unique document for a particular match, therefore, every programme is indelibly linked to experiences and memories, some of which are destined to last a lifetime. If meaningful media provide meaningful connections, then each one of the hundreds of programmes I’ve collected over the years (or just read in digital format these days from the other side of the world) provide vivid, deep, happy, sad, and exciting life memories.
And they make me think about my Dad, who took me to my very first match 47 years ago.