And so I wake in the morning // And I step outside // And I take a deep breath and I get real high // And I scream from the top of my lungs // What’s going on?
It’s Carol Service week at our church. Carol Service fortnight, really. In my world, this means longer hours – prepping, planning, emailing, video editing, and picking up kit. Crossing task after task off the to-do list, without the Tasks-Still-To-Do figure seeming to reduce at all.
It’s late morning on Saturday. Nicola is probably at the Cameo watching a foreign subtitled documentary about a year in the life of a rural French primary school teacher.
Money’s too tight to mention // I can’t get an unemployment extension // Money’s too tight to mention.
I am ensconced in my new favourite coffee shop, in Leith, having picked up some hired sound equipment from the nearby Warehouse. Another thing off the list.
My new favourite coffee shop has those hipster lightbulbs hanging in the window, slightly oversized, with filaments glowing brightly enough to emanate a sense of warmth, without, probably, any actual warmth, and very little actual light. But they look great.
I just wanna dance the night away // With señoritas who can sway // Right now tomorrow’s lookin’ bright // Just like the sunny mornin’ light
The coffee is decent, and the almond croissants are epic.
Nailed to the wall are a cluster of box-shelves, housing a variety of historic museum pieces. There are a couple of old alarm clocks, an old telephone with one of those rotary dialling mechanisms, a gas lamp or two, and a hand-operated coffee grinder sitting alongside a stovetop espresso maker. It brings me a perverse sense of pleasure that I am using a museum-worthy method to make my coffee every morning.
It’s just a little crush (crush) // Not like I faint every time we touch // It’s just some little thing (crush) // Not like everything I do depends on you // Sha-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la
The place has an unmistakable whiff of nostalgia. It’s winter, and in the middle of the room, contravening all manner of health and safety regulations I imagine, is something I haven’t seen for a serious number of years. It’s what I want to call a Calor Gas heater, although I daresay that’s like calling all vacuum cleaners Hoovers.
But by far its most prominent nostalgia-inducer for a child of the 80s such as myself is a wall-full of stereo cassette decks. Some single, mostly twin, there’s even a TRIPLE for maximum-efficiency mixtape-making. And on another wall, sitting atop an emptied-out TV cabinet (now jammed full of cassettes), is the cafe’s working model, a white plastic Sharp with stickers proudly advertising its main features.
Continuous Play™. 2-way 4-speaker. 14W PMPO, for goodness’ sake. Made in Malaysia.
That’s what is providing the tunes. Right now it’s a Simple Minds number which I can’t quite remember the title of, and can’t quite hear the words to Google them, because they’re just a touch too muddy.
None of your digital multi-room wireless bluetooth remote app-controlled streaming devices here. Proper music, without too much bass OR treble to speak of, and, Continuous Play™ notwithstanding, the periodic need for a staff member to come and turn the tape over.
Wake up it’s a beautiful morning // The sun shining for your eyes // Wake up it’s so beautiful // For what could be the very last time
I had a Sharp twin cassette deck myself, back in the day. Featured hi-speed dubbing as I recall. But what sold it to me way back then in 1989 was a fully separate subwoofer speaker, positioned on top, slightly off-centre, pointing upwards. “X-BASS” proudly emblazoned on the speaker grille. This speaker could be activated by pressing the almost magical X-BASS button, which brought a definite and noticeable additional boominess to the music, without any extra bass as such.
It was such an amazing machine that someone’s made a Youtube video about it.
Billy, Billy don’t you lose my number // ‘Cause you’re not anywhere // That I can find you // Oh, now, // Billy, Billy don’t you lose my number // ‘Cause you’re not anywhere that I can find you, oh no
It cost £100, and I saved up for it with my own pocket money. I remember using it to play Def Leppard’s Hysteria on repeat, and used it to record U2’s 1989 New Year’s concert – broadcast live on Radio 1 – as they brought in a whole new decade at the Point Depot, Dublin. Heady days.
So take, take me home // ‘Cause I don’t remember // Take, take me home // ‘Cause I don’t remember // Take, take me home // Oh Lord, // ‘Cause I’ve been a prisoner all my life
It now seems to be Phil Collins on repeat. Nostalgia can put a gloss on only so much. Take me home, indeed.