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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why is junk always so poignant?

I've spent the day listening to the Test Match and, in a very half-hearted way, trying to throw out a lot of junk. Here, in the words of Julie Andrews, are a few of my favourite things.

The box is one of many packed full of unmarked cassettes. For ten years I did a radio show on GLR. I used to slip a tape into the machine before each one so that I had a record for my own reference. I didn't bother recording the dates. It probably wouldn't have made any difference had I done so. I don't even have a functioning cassette player to play them on at the moment. This is a classic Stuff Dilemma. I can't bring myself to throw them away but I am very unlikely to ever listen to them.

The huge VHS cassette of "All The Presidents Men" was the one I got when I joined one of the first video rental libraries. In those days you had to pay a joining fee, a sum on each rental and you had to buy the first cassette. This cost me £40 and this was in the mid-80s.

The pipes were my father's who died twenty-seven years ago. They've got his teeth marks on them.

19 comments:

  1. For what it's worth, I'd keep it all but the VHS of All The President's Men. When you're gone and your children are looking at the same box, they'll be very glad you kept the rest.

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  2. You reckon? Hundreds of unmarked cassettes that they have no means of playing? A couple of knackered old pipes? Whenever I've been called upon to clear up after a death there's been widespread puzzlement as to why the things that were kept were kept. A relative of mine's mother kept hundreds of perfectly wrapped soaps. We're still using them. It might well have been a coded message. No, I don't think they'll be bothered about any of this stuff. Wonder if they'll Google me? That's almost a song. "Please Don't Google Me When I'm Gone".

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  3. Ed Vine5:00 pm

    As with so much in modern life, there is a third way. Digitise them. That way the wonderful radio shows aren't lost and you only have to store a couple of DVDs. Furthermore (copyright notwithstanding) you could stick them up next to the Word podcasts for us to enjoy all over again. I need something to listen to for the 22 hrs a day when Radcliff and Maconie aren't on.
    I can lend you a very fine Nakamichi tape machine if it helps...

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  4. Seriously, don't dump the cassettes. The official GLR archive is practically non-existent. If you want them transferred, or just to shift them to a good home, let me know. How many are there?

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  5. David, I take your point about the cassettes and the format. But, as suggested above, convert them to CD or something. Without getting too morbid, it's something about your voice that I think your next generation will treasure. I've still got a tape of my grandmother reading me a story at some time in the early 70s; and, I know what you're going to say: how often do I actually listen to it? and I take that point; but I'm very glad to have it.

    I've had to clear away a fair old bit of junk owned by dead people in my time, but when my children ask me about their grandparents, I feel very happy if I've got something to show them - be it a knackered old pipe or the sound of their voice.

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  6. All fair points but you reckon without the internet and the effect it's bound to have on posterity. Presumably even this humble blog will be rattling around in cyber space long after I'm under the sod. And if some curious grandchild Googles "Word podcast" at some stage in the future they'll get to hear more than enough from me.

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  7. Yes, I reckon you're right. I still stay stick 'em on CD. Not sure about the pipes.

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  8. David, for heaven's sake don't chuck out the cassettes. I know of numerous people who would love to get their hands on them and ears next to them.

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  9. Bill Stone7:42 am

    Just like to echo the sentiments above. Even if I never get to hear the shows again, I can't bear the thought of them just being discarded. They were great shows and I'd be happy to transfer them for you.

    It might take a while mind......

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  10. Paul K10:21 am

    Keep the pipes! It's a real event to see somebody smoking one nowadays - your grandchildren will be fascinated by them. "These are the things for which pipecleaners were actually made - you know, those wiry things you use in craft lessons..."

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  11. Nobody seriously wants to convert these cassettes, do they?

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  12. I'm afraid I'm lazy but honest enough to admit that no; I just want to know that someone else is doing it.

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  13. Bill's volunteered and so have I. We could divide the job up. If you've kept the news bulletins in, dating the shows will be a piece of cake.

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  14. I know one chap who'd convert them like a shot.

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  15. Great pipes. They make me want to grow a beard and play lawn bowls.

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  16. I understand 'I can't bring myself to throw them away but I am very unlikely to ever listen to them.'. I've just been clearing shelves of CDs to the charity shop. Particularly CDs by local artists, friends or acquaintances. I realised by a little introspection that I was imagining them standing next to me as I consigned them to the carrier bag saying 'What? You don't want my CD' with a hurt expression. Realising it was just my own pathology made it easier!

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  17. Anonymous8:27 pm

    You have an awful lot of faith in the future of the internet, David. A server crash could wipe out the Word podcasts tomorrow. And then where would you be? Trusting that someone, somewhere hadn't thrown them out.

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  18. Speaking as one of a bunch of fans who clubbed together for an eBay lot of John Peel tapes and shared out ripping and digitisation duties, I agree with the sentiments above: don't throw 'em out. Plenty of people would like to hear these. And despite your modesty, I rather think posterity might like a quick gander too.

    [P.S. Blimey, word verification for this post was "seuratt". A coded (albeit slightly misspelt) message from the gods saying "digitise"...?]

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  19. I appreciate I have come to this a little late but I have been catching up furiously with your Word Podcasts where you reminisced about the early cost of VHS tapes etc. That got me remembering the cost of being an early adopter of technology (VHS/CDs/DVDs/Minidiscs – the expense was endless). Anyway, back to the point. When we bought our first video recorder in 1980/81 it cost the princely sum of £700 plus £50 for a hard-wired remote. A blank 2 hour tape was twenty of your English pounds! – which I still have (the tape not, unfortunately, the money)
    I still lovingly have the half hour evening highlights of the 1981 Ashes series and David Bowie on the BBC in “Baal” – never watched to this day.
    Here’s another thought – in these days of cheap digital recording how many of us lay down programmes like fine wines we intend to come back to and enjoy later. I have literally hundreds of hours of fine, fine TV series, documentaries etc I have lovingly trimmed and edited onto DVD – but never get the time to watch because I am lovingly editing out commercials (when I have sailed into commercial waters) and trimming the superfluous beginnings and ends. One can barely recall the days when you HAD to stay in or miss “event” (or other) TV. Have we been liberated or chained – discuss.

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