Day Five and the Death of a Stereo

Project Bayonet: 1169 words

Project Wishbone: 661 words

Well, to be honest, the stereo had been failing for some years. The cassette door had come off, the wires connecting the nifty, detachable speakers to the main unit were corroding and sound quality had taken a nosedive. The left speaker had stopped working altogether. I hadn’t used it in earnest since the late 1990s. But I find it hard to say goodbye to some things, especially when they’ve served me well, like this old soldier.

I bought it from a hi-fi shop on Gloucester Road in Bristol in 1991. It cost somewhere in the region of £90, maybe a little more.  It was a big investment for a student. I remember handing over my cheque to the shop assistant, who smilingly told me I could come back in a week to collect the stereo, when (if) the cheque had cleared. It was only the second stereo I’d owned. The first one had been a birthday present from my parents in 1982. I played that one to death (a double album containing Equinoxe and Oxygene by Jean Michel Jarre was the first cassette I ever bought myself). I ended up giving it to my then girlfriend, who didn’t have anything to listen to, when she was a student at Keele University. The Panasonic was with me when I wrote my first anthologised short story, MacCreadle’s Bike, in a little terraced front room on Quarrington Road. It was there in Morecambe when I wrote Head Injuries. When I moved to London in 1994, I bought a Sony Discman and plugged that in to the back. I upgraded to separates in 1998, not long after my flat was burgled and the Discman, along with lots of other stuff, was stolen. The intruders didn’t take this though. Seven years old, and it was already worthless.

So, farewell, boombox with your XBS (extra bass system). How many thousands of miles of magnetically coated plastic passed across your tapehead? How often did you wake me up, or relax me, or chase away a bad mood?

Listened to: The Goldberg Variations, by JS Bach, performed by Glenn Gould

Finished: Saturday, by Ian McEwan


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