Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Riches of Embarrassments

A day when temptation got the better of me. 

Some time ago I joined the MP3 generation. My i-pod is a constant companion and my computers all contain seriously large quantities of music culled from CD's, downloads and the like. The most notable absentee has been the music held on my even more serious collection of LP's. That's just been collecting dust in a cupboard, resisting the switch to the joys of our digital age.

That is, until today. I was on my way back to the station when I passed Maplin Electronics in the Strand.  I had a few minutes to kill so I thought I'd have a quick look round. In a second I spotted it. A thing of beauty: an ion USB turntable. And nearly half price to boot. For those of my loyal readers this is a record deck which can be connected to a USB port on your computer. It  includes  software that allows old scratchy analogue recordings (even 78's) to be converted to an MP3 file. And the software, moreover, incorporates facilities that allows you to  edit out some of the noise and scratches that appear on even the most carefully looked after LP (and mine assuredly are not).

So to work. Straight off the blocks came a classic not heard in years: Simple Minds New Gold Dream, to be followed by Spirit of '76 by Spirit and maybe the Best of UB40 or Kimono my House by Sparks.  A nostalgia packed evening in short. There were teething problems to be sure. To begin with the software does not automatically "clock" the gaps between tracks: you have to do that yourself. Secondly I discovered the whole process has to be done in silence. As I rolled back the years with Simple Minds' "Someone Somewhere in Summertime" the  parallel conversation I was having with my wife about bringing in the washing came through loud and clear.  So that was one particular "remix"  despatched  straight to the delete bin.

The third problem is less one of teething. In 40 years I think its fair to say that my taste in music has been prone to some serious lapses in taste. These will return to haunt me in the weeks to come.  I am already asking myself what it was about the Police's "Ghost in the Machine" that could have persuaded me to part with my hard earned money. Other similar horrors lie in wait............

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


There are some days when you know that reading the main news is going to be hard work. So it was today with the item on Baby P and in particular the story of their abusive parents, Tracey Connolly and Steven Barker. There is plenty of coverage in the paper about the events leading up to the dreadful abuse and eventual death of a defenceless child; the appalling rape of a toddler of which Barker was also found guilty and the early warnings that were not heeded about the sadistic nature of Barker and his brother, allegedly torturing their 82 year old grandmother in order to change her will in their favour.  
I find it easier not to rationalise these acts in any way other than that they are both evil in intent and totally inhuman in their execution. Perhaps that I might take comfort in the thought that they are not "one of us" and that the best solution for us is their incarceration for life. Key thrown away. No parole. Kept away from all decent society. Then the question crosses my mind: perhaps they, like everyone else can be redeemed, to understand and acknowledge the enormity of what they have done and seek forgiveness. So: should society be trying to rehabilitate and repair;  or should we simply be kept safe from the risk that they could just as easily do it again. I really do not have a clue.