It’s 1998. You’re in the park with your mates. You’ve been climbing trees, playing blockie, running up the slide instead of sliding down it—pretending it’s the Travelator from Gladiators—and now you’re all tired out. You’re just lying on the grass, talking about how your teacher, Mrs Smith, is stinky. Then, in the distance, you hear the faint sound of horns playing the opening notes to ‘Oh My Darling, Clementine’. Your ears prick up. The sound grows louder, and at the other end of the field, you see the kids from the year above, with a ghetto blaster. It’s Dario G, it’s Carnival de Paris, and it’s an invitation to play football.
They’re rough, the older kids. They don’t know how to tackle. But, luckily, you’ve got these big France ‘98 Coupe du Monde shin pads. You are bulletproof. You take them to school with you every day, and they’ve never let you down. Mrs Smith tells you that shin pads are called protège-tibia in French, seeing an opportunity for learning, but Mrs Smith, remember, is stinky.
They really look after your shins, these. They’re a sturdy reminder of simpler times, and they’re wonderful.