So, there I was this week, downtown. Freshly emerged from the barbershop with my recently trimmed, and now very cold head. A sharp gust of wind on the back of my newly shaven neck, where previously curly locks had flowed. The wind gusted up the back of my neck and then round my ears. I pulled my cap down as far as I could, but it was meagre protection against the sub zero, unseasonal mid-March blast.
I suppose that I should consider myself lucky. At the grand old age of 47, I still have a full and luxuriant head of hair, even if quite a bit of it seems to be going grey, and, in the weather stakes, I only have a chill afternoon wind to deal with, whilst the major part of northern France is covered in thick, unseasonal snow. Thousands of homes without electricity, motorists marooned in their cars for two days and everywhere from Lille down to Paris has ground to a freezing and snowy halt. In Paris itself, the black ice was so bad, that people living in the heart of the capital were asked to « take care » when walking to work.
Let us divest this post of overcharged language and just say that I have had my hair cut, it’s bloody freezing, but I’m not having it as bad as the poor buggers in Northern France who have been snowed in for days.
Now, next week marks the official beginning of spring. The weather, of course does not follow the temporal logic of our good old Julian calendar.
The main subject of this post was supposed to be spring-cleaning.
First – the verb to « spring clean » - A student this week asked why we never say « sprung cleaned »? A very valid question
« Because you are not actually springing and cleaning together, the term merely means cleaning for spring. » (Though it could also the mean the cleaning of springs as in a spring clean to obtain a clean spring.)
So, once I had sprung cleaned my crowning glory, I thought it was high time to turn to other cleaning and clearing out. Did I attend to the pile of books, papers and general crap that I seem to have accumulated? No, too much like hard work. I decided to do something far more futile, clean out my record collection.
There are two categories of cds for « cleaning »
Firstly all those that bought because it seemed like a good idea at the time
Secondly, all those of which I have most of the songs in double. This category mostly concerns compilation or « Greatest hits » albums.
An example of the first category
Fleet Foxes – the first album. I knew it was kind of folksy and liked the Breughel painting on the front cover. Oh wow, what a disappointment. Pretty much the same as Mumford & Sons « Sigh no more » - this was a Mercury Prize winner. Now, I know you should never buy an album based simply on the cover, however it is as good a criteria as any for buying a record. He last CD I bought on this irrational principle was « El Camino » by the Black Keys – what a brilliant record
Other examples of « bad buys »
Bird Paula – Give into love
Kate Bush – 50 words for snow
James Blunt – Back to Bedlam
Ayo – Joyful
The Foals – Antidotes
The Stone Roses – Sally Cinnamon
There are other albums by Yael Naim, Beck, The Levellers, C2C and Bruno Mars.
Yeah I was quite surprised too. I thought « Unorthodox Jukebox » would be a winner. Mr Mars has overtones of Terrence Trent d’Arby and even Roachford, but the album was a disappointment. One decent single « Locked out of Heaven », followed by nine lack lustre songs that are just a little too redolent of Michael Jackson for my liking.
So, the second category – the stuff I have on several Cds.
For example, a Kinks compilation. I have two – the good one with Waterloo Sunset and the crap one without the song. Also getting cleaned out is a Jimmy Hendrix compilation, entitled « the best of the rest » - the « Best of America » compilation is also going. I knew I should have avoided this one – the group’s greatest hit « A horse with no name » is only featured as a live version.
Anyway, you get the idea
Finally, I am wondering whether to get rid of some Bowie albums ????
Namely – « Hours » « Heathen Chemistry » and his 2003 offering « Reality » - not the best that Mr Bowie has ever made.
Of course, before parting with these albums, I have fed the best tracks into my i pod.
I actually quite like the idea of a trimmed down record collection, just a couple of hundred « essential » and referential Cds that encapsulate the best of classic rock, pop and folk. I suppose I’d call this a collection of « milestone records »
Anyway, it was off down to our local branch of « Cash Converters »(CC) that I went, clutching a heavy bag, full of Cds.
Now, I am fully aware of CC’s policy, whereby they give you bugger all money or even less for the worldly possessions you are trying to sell them, but I reckon if I can clear even a few meagre pennies for my Cds, it is always better than giving them away.
The pittance I finally get for my Cds, depends of course on whether CC actually want them. A couple of weeks ago, I took down an old cassette tape deck – the young man behind the counter just laughed and told me to throw it out. It was the same case with a large bag of videocassettes I took down. « I’ll never sell them. » he says, adding that he’s even started refusing DVDs – CC customers only want Bluray nowadays.
So, there I am, sitting in the CC waiting room. There is a good cross section of humanity in there. A very middle class lady with a large bag of children’s’ books and board games. A shifty-looking guy with a couple of Smart phones, and some « poor » people, selling a DVD player and a huge flat screen TV.
(Oh dear. It is very unpolitically correct to say poor – I KNOW – slap on the wrist – BUT you know these people are poor – their kids have all the latest gadgets, hey are wearing cheap and cheerful fashion and, as the dad explains to the CC vendor – they are selling to telly to get a more up to date model) WELL FOLKS, this is the world of Cash Convertors – the poor are on one side, selling their appliances and consumer durables, whilst the CC shop is full of the middle class, looking for a cheap TV.
To cut a long story short, the CC man doesn’t want any Cds. « No one buys Cds anymore, » he tells me. « If you’ve got any vinyl though … that’s very trendy at the moment. »
No matter. I might try and flog the Cds at a Car Boot sale or I might give some of the less obscure ones to our local Library.
And the moral to all this? Download, don’t buy. BUT I LIKE MY Cds – I want tangible music and not just an MP3 or an i-pod. My idea of a record collection is not based on how many tunes I can get on my phone. Sure, « miniaturisation » is a good idea. Think of all those holidays of old, when you had to take stacks of tapes or Cds with you. Now, you just stick 4000 songs or so on a music player, shove into a dock and … WOW.
The other day, I showed my daughter an old Sony Walkman – « It’s huge ! » she exclaimed. And what about the cassettes – oh dear, they look « complicated » she said.
I have to admit, that I still have cassettes, and vinyl and even a strange Sony format – the Minidisc. I’m not sure whether to keep, sell, give or just throw away. I guess I might just as well keep them all and open a museum of old technology OR, I might wait until the next wave of media-fuelled nostalgia. Perhaps in a couple of years, the guy at Cash Converters will be on his knees and begging for my cassettes. (Dream on)