Friday, June 15, 2007

A Voice From The Past

In 1980 I went to interview Stuart Copeland of The Police. They'd just come back from Japan and he showed me his new toy. I think they were called Stowaways or Soundarounds at the time but they subsequently became the Walkman. Let me tell you, it was a revelation. Yesterday I was fascinated to hear this ancient tape of little me pontificating about what was happening with portable audio on Radio One's "Rock On" later that same year. Sounds like a voice from a distant age, talking about ghetto blasters as if they were a brand new scourge. Which they were. Had I been able to foresee the fresh hell of today when oiks sit on buses listening to tinny reproductions of grime classics on their phones I would probably have taken a sterner line.


  1. "oiks sit on buses listening to tinny reproductions of grime classics on their phones I would probably have taken a sterner line."
    A sterner line than that? Bloody hell......

  2. Let me make it clear I'm not talking about oiks with headphones here. I'm talking about sociopaths who sit there transfixed by appalling, unlistenable sound coming out of their phone, presumably taking some pleasure from the fact that they're pissing off everybody else on the bus. That is noise pollution and it wouldn't be any different if they were listening to Mozart's "Requiem".

  3. Sorry, I meant a sterner line than the one on the audio. I should have made myself clearer, please accept my apologies.
    Besides, I completely agree with you regarding the playing of music via the loudspeaker on mobile phones.

  4. And it's never one oik but a couple, so there's duelling [unlistenable sound].

    Actually, when they do have headphones, either the volume is pumped up so loud, or the headphones are so cheap and nasty, that the garbled noise seems to be projected outward rather than inward.

    Not to sound like an old fart, but when I was that age, I didn't need an accompanying soundtrack. I had my imagination to carry me along on - something that seems to be lacking in the little bastards today.

    ...And relax.

  5. I'm afraid coming home on the train the other day when a little gang sat in my bit doing the above. I joined in with some blue grass polkas I had on my phone. After a minute of mutley style muttering. One of them grinned and turned his phone off shortly and with much teenage begrudgement the others joined in until I was left and I turned mine off and went back to the paper. They got up and went off up the train as they do. I think there might have been some "tap room" language as they left. I'd like to point out I am not aggressive or assertive most of the time I just thought some humour might win the day. Age, guile and better phone will beat youth and bad haircut anyday!

  6. My one-woman campaign to stop tinny mobile music knows no bounds. If I get no joy with asking 'Please could you turn that off and use some headphones?', I escalate my actions until I do something like complain to the head of an Air Cadets squadron, the uniform of which a surly little cow listening to sweary rap was wearing. Heh heh.

  7. Where the Jiggins does one find an Air Cadets squadron? Do you mean you complained to the Squadron Leader? Bet that's a first.

  8. Anonymous7:01 pm

    BLTP I salute you.

  9. Anonymous7:59 pm

    One finds an Air Cadets Squadron 100 yards up the road from here, oddly enough. Sometimes we hear them doing military drum practice when the wind's the right way.

    If I ever hear them doing anything modern, there'll be a letter to the local paper.

    So what do you do when you have the 'kids' in the back of your car (only on elderly relative visits these days) and their ipod earphone overspill ruins the sound from the car CD player? I'm usually hesitant to say anything at first, because I know I'd be turning into Grumpy Dad, who doesn't like music. After about 30 minutes, I'm afraid I turn into intolerant, Cursing Dad.

    Then the whole car goes quiet. I believe it's called a no-win situation.

  10. Grumpy Dad is a creature more amenable to reason than Grumpy Offspring. If you wish to make the acquaintance of the latter, try, as I have, playing any music at moderate volume before two on a Saturday afternoon. The door will open and there will stand some teenager swaddled in a duvet, a look of injured innocence all over their face, demanding that you turn it down because they're trying to get their usual 12 hours sleep.

  11. Anonymous11:32 am

    I've just called my son on his mobile to see when he's ready to evacuate his shared house at uni, so that I can spend a day loading, driving and unloading again. Haven't heard from him for a week.

    To my surprise, his mobile wasn't switched off. We usually communicate on a missed call alert basis.

    He finally answered.
    "Did I wake you up then?"
    "Yes. Now I'm all flustered. I'm going back to sleep". Click.

    (Did you see the honourable mention of Word by Luke Leitch in yesterdays Times T2 'When I was a Lad' article?)