i had a little model blue bird but – possibly typically – it was a model of the car his dad drove not the boat that killed him: and (though we didn’t have a TV till the year after) i remember very clearly the news of his death on coniston water in 1967 – presumably from reading the story in the paper, the picture a black-and-white blurry shot of the explosive splash, as this blue bird, travelling at over 300mph to beat the record, suddenly reared up and flipped over

the days that shook the world documentary series plays, i suppose inevitably, on the premonition donald campbell is said to have had the night before, but other than that it tells the story straightforwardly enough, cutting archive footage into colour reconstruction, including his last words on the radio. I also recall very clearly from the time that a sense of sadness, of belatedness, already hung round him – whether my parents actually said this explicitly or it was just the way he was talked about, the feeling that he was trapped in his father’s shadow, that he’d always be second somehow

one oddity: a photographer on the scene is played in reconstruction, i assume correctly, with a liverpool accent – and i find his scenes very hard not to read, as a result, as being present-day. it’s not as if the liverpool accent didn’t exist then obviously: and it had also arrived fashionably on-screen, courtesy the beatles, by 1963, hard on the heels of the yorkshire and manchester accents all over the kitchen sink film movement… but this event was already caught out of time, a throwback to the 50s if not the 30s, when sir malcolm campbell was breaking the world speed record on utah salt flats, and scousers – well, everyone knows they only hit non-pop TV in the 80s! This is silly – my mind trapped in a dated (and daft) TV and film convention abt acceptable pronunciation – but somehow it adds to the melancholy out-of-jointness of the whole tale