Spin The Black Circle

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The soundtrack to my childhood is on vinyl – somewhere.

A few years ago, having been seduced by the digital form of the CD, I decided to flog almost every record that I owned in a car boot sale – fifty pence for an album or a pound for a double. A moment of insanity that would come to haunt me.

You see, I’ve grown up with music. Dad was a ‘Hi-Fi buff’ who spent hours sat in front of his mammoth speakers in search of the ultimate ‘stereo experience’ which I found hilarious because he was deaf in one ear. Music was his passion and one of the last records he listened to was my Queen album – one of a few which I kept back from the blasted car boot sale.

The album contained The Show Must Go On. Written primarily by Brian May it’s a song about Freddie’s determination to carry on performing despite the fact that he was dying.

Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile still stays on

Apt lyrics for my Dad – a man who knew he was losing his battle with cancer.

My love of music starts way back in the decade of grim decor and fashion aka the 70’s. In 1978 I got my first record player along with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever – a film that I wasn’t old enough to see. It would be a few more years before I got to see JT in his undies!

In 1979 I bought I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats with my pocket money and had no idea that the song was about a 16 year old girl who went on a shooting spree because she didn’t like Mondays!

Equipment itself has come a long way. Edison’s phonograph kicked it all off and has evolved into the tiniest of devices not much bigger than a stamp. (iPod). I wonder what Smack my Bitch Up would sound like on a phonograph? Edison would spin in his grave faster than Pete Burns… right round baby!

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One of Judge Jules’ early gigs ha ha – not really. Don’t sue me.

Photo Credit

Music is much more than an art form. It connects people, or it used to.

Records were vitally important to the development of music and of all music cultures. With that being pushed by the wayside, I can’t see an iPod uniting us. In fact it separates us, the streets are full of people bumping into lamp posts, listening to their own little universe, and there’s no sharing in that. ~ John Lydon

It wasn’t always this way..

Music played a big part in boosting morale during world war two. It captured the spirit of a nation that refused to be broken by Hitler. Hearing Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade evokes feelings of nostalgia and gratitude. Nostalgia because despite the hardship of the war, my parents had fond memories of that time and gratitude because I owe my life to those who died for our freedom.

My taste is eclectic which means there is a genre to suit my every mood and there are a lot of em. Rock gets my heart pumping whereas classical relaxes me. I love Punk with it’s angst and nihilistic attitude that reflected a time of teenage rebellion with the Sex Pistols summing up the attitude of a generation with “No future”. Listening to the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash was part of my own teenage rebellion. The day I skimmed Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols across the kitchen worktop was a memorable one to say the least. Ma miss-lit her fag in shock at the word ‘bollocks‘.

“I’ll give you bollocks, Madam!” My Mum circa 1984

Despite embracing the digital form, I’ve felt disenchanted with music for a while. Then one day I had an epiphany when I realised that what music was missing was soul. And I don’t mean the genre.

CD’s are almost clinical. They have a ‘clean’ sound and while that may suit the techno sound, I think it robs other genres of it’s soul. I also missed the tactile experience of placing a record on the deck and trying to keep a steady hand (a difficult task when pissed) as I placed the needle on the record waiting for the inevitable crackle and hiss. But that’s just me. Music and sound is subjective. Millions of people have never looked back and think of vinyl only in a historical or value sense. As technology surges forward, I find myself hankering for a time of simplicity.

I deeply regret flogging my collection but am in the process of creating another one and it’s not lost on me that I’m often paying double or treble what I paid for them originally. Lesson learned. No more boot sales. Unless it’s to buy. 😉

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Music evokes powerful emotions and listening to Ella Fitzgerald transports me to days of childhood watching Ma doing her thing in the kitchen and Frank Sinatra instantly makes me think of Dad crooning along to That’s Life, Jack Daniels in one hand, Marlboro in the other. Despite the secondary smoke inhalation, those were happy times with memories that have become so important to me now that they are both gone. Music takes me to a happy place and back to a time when life was simple and happiness was a book or a new record. Simple pleasures…

Mum and Dad may be gone but they live on in the music. A record is made of up of grooves and within those grooves are memories and a memory is something that can’t be taken from you.

End Note :

Dear Boys, please don’t flog my records in a car boot sale after I’ve gone.

I will haunt you.

Love, Mum.

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The song is ended but the melody lingers on.

mumturnedmom

C30, C60, C90, Go!

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Technology has come a long way since I was a child in the 70’s.

Today there are numerous devices to capture our special moments but in ‘mar daaay’ it was basically a camera, a Polaroid Instant camera (dodgy, Father…VERY dodgy!) and cassette tapes.

Cassettes were great because I could bung my favourite songs on a few tapes and sit up the garden – portable tape player turned up to the max thus inciting the wrath of the neighbours – and Ma!

Ma removed my batteries on many an occasion.

She confiscated the player a few times as well.

My family made tapes for one another as another way of keeping in touch. Ma gave me a load of these old tapes when Dad died …some memories were simply too painful for her.

It’s been almost 18 years since I listened to them.

But they’ve re-surfaced including a few that I didn’t get around to playing… such as this one.

 

Merry Xmas from Granma and Grandad

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Seeing Nan’s handwriting on the tape was enough to start me blubbing.

I started with the B side because it was addressed to me and my brother. ( Nan spelt his name wrong)

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I rammed the cassette into the player – sat down in my easy chair and braced myself.

Silence.

Five minutes later – still silence.

I fast forwarded a bit – still nothing.

Basically the entire side had nothing on it!

I turned over..

Deck The Halls boomed out from the speakers but it was playing at 45rpm instead of 33rpm. (Google it, kids)

The next few songs were the same. I’m guessing it was Jim Reeves Christmas Hits but it sounded more like Pinky and Perky.

Nan must have realised her gaff and changed the speed mid-song.

Unfortunately the next record she put on was a single but she still had the record player set to 33rpm.

Again, she must have sussed it because it suddenly changed speed half way through.

By this point I was laughing so hard a bit of wee came out…

My pelvic floor couldn’t cope.

Oh my God, Nan!!

Not only that but she’d totally ignored the pause button because I could hear the change of the records and on one occasion, the needle slipped off. Perhaps Grandad ( who was a bit shaky) was in charge of putting the needle on the record?

Nan was a technophobe but I’m hazarding a guess she’d also been at the brandy.

But my laughter faded away as I heard the familiar sound of her voice.

It was a surreal moment.

I closed my eyes and she could have been in the room with me..

“Bye bye, cheerio for now – God Bless.” she said.

I could visualise her tiny frame, silky soft skin and salt and peppery hairdo – styled like the Queen’s.

She was well posh, my nan.

Then she said “See you all on Wednesday” and Grandad (deaf aid a-whistling) piped up “God willing!!”

She started to say something about making a cup of tea but the tape ran out mid sentence.

Before I played the tape – I knew I was going to cry but I had no idea it would mostly be with laughter.

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Nan & Grandad

The Sing-a-Long

On this tape – one side was labelled Sing-a-Long and I’d heard it before so I played the other side first.

There was no writing on this side so I just shoved it in the player (jammed it twice) and curled back up on my chair.

Imagine my surprise when The Stripper started to play!

Yes, THE STRIPPER!!

As in STRIPTEASE music!!!

I squirmed about uneasily for a few minutes waiting for it to finish but then it started again!

In fact…the ENTIRE side was full of it!!!!

I was like…WTF????

Suddenly the Polaroid camera made a LOT of sense.

God only knows what Ma was doing for that 30 minutes. The mind boggles.

It’s still boggling…

I dread to think what my parents were up to while I was slumbering away dreaming of sheep. And stuff.

I’m going to need lots of therapy – my childhood is ruined.

I downed a pint to ease the trauma and played the other side.

Basically it’s half an hour of me (aged about 8) Dad and Ma singing along to Max Bygraves. Why this is on the same tape as striptease music – I’ll never know.

Dad could croon with the best of em and he’d always sing when he’d had a few.

He was a happy drinker. The more he drank – the happier he got and he sang like Frank Sinatra. Only Dad’s eyes were brown.

Hearing my young self made me smile and cringe simultaneously.

I had a really annoying habit of saying “OH YEAH” or “Olé” at the end of each song. *cringe* *cringe*

Ma’s singing would intermittently break off and she could be heard rollocking someone in the background – most likely one of my bruv’s.

The last voice on the tape is my dad’s.

“Sock it to em baby!” he says Elvis stylee and then he laughs.

In this day and age it’s so easy to capture these moments – all it takes is a mobile phone.

Little did I know in 1978 what this recording would mean to me 36 years later when both of them are gone.

Gone but never forgotten and a part of them lives on within the spools of an old C60 cassette tape.

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”~ Love is a Mix Tape – Rob Sheffield.

 Unravelled Cassette Image -Andrew Malone