Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Still Have The Memories....

Spot the fatal flaw in this argument:

Husband: “but it’s a lovely house, or at least it will look lovely when we have redecorated.”

Me: “It’s decorated entirely in blown vinyl, the kitchen is a disaster and the carpets make me feel sea-sick. I’m not sure I can live with it even for a few months, and it’s going to take at least a year to get it all redecorated.”

Husband: “But it has such potential….It’s just so old and lovely….”

Me: “Ok, you win….”

The previous owners had fucked it up with the most horrendous make-over you have ever seen renovated the house to their own taste, which was most definitely not mine. (Nor anyone else’s it seems, as they had to drastically drop the price to secure a sale.)

That was five years ago, and we are less than half-way through redecorating…

He was right, of course. It is a beautiful, old, creaky house with character that oozes from each nook and cranny. It is 230 years old and it’s huge oak beams and stone inglenook make me feel comfortably small. When it was built in 1776 it would have been a farmhouse, and still has the stone safe built into the wall in the kitchen where the farmer would’ve stored the farmhands’ wages. I love my house, despite the fact that the past 230 years have seen the village grow around it until it is no longer a farmhouse but a cottage sitting aside a very busy trunk road with lorries trundling past at all times of day and night. It doesn’t even have a garden. Looking out of my kitchen window now I can see only traffic and houses. Lunchtimes see school children sitting on my windowsill, watching the traffic and eating their chips whilst they flirt and banter with each other. Which, of course, is how come we could afford to buy it. Pick it up and transport it 15 miles into the Yorkshire National Park, and we couldn’t even have afforded to buy the disaster of a kitchen, let alone the house itself. But I love it, nonetheless.

We have rid the living room of it’s various patterns of blown-vinyl, the previous occupants having clearly disagreed in their choice of which particular pattern of blown vinyl to use, and so used them all on different walls and ceiling. The swirly orange carpet has been replaced by something altogether more quiet, but the kitchen and bathroom still look like they were decorated by someone’s aunty Mabel. At least I can sit quietly in my living room and enjoy its peace….

And then, this weekend, we had a small flood. All over the lovely living room carpet. The freezer ‘somehow’ defrosted (ie we inadvertently unplugged it) and, given that it is housed in the under stairs cupboard, water trickled all night through the cupboard and into my lovely living room.

We were both sanguine about it. These things happen. Nobody has died. The carpet will come clean. In the general scheme of things…. etc etc.

But then The Husband stepped gingerly into the kitchen carrying a large box. He said simply “I’m sorry…”.

I looked at the box. My collection of LPs (remember them?) which had also been stored in the under stairs cupboard – behind the offending freezer – waiting for the time when we win the lottery and buy a bigger house and they can come out of hiding. The water had trickled through my entire vinyl collection, on its way to the carpet. Twelve years of musical memories held in a couple of boxes, all completely ruined. To be fair, the records were probably unplayable anyway. They have been stored in boxes for too many years, carted from house to house, waiting for the time when there was a space for them to be shelved again. But I had hope that one day I would dance to them again…

So many memories: every Jam album; every XTC album up until 1989; The Clash; The Teardrop Explodes; Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; Pop Will Eat Itself; Iggy Pop; The Velvet Underground; The Slits; The Undertones; The Cure; The Dead Kennedys; Talking Heads; Television; Shriekback (remember them?); my entire Tom Waits collection (about 8 albums); idiosyncrasies like Dr Feelgood and Rickie Lee Jones; Joy Division; loads of blues classics and even a Crass album.

I was such a muso from about 12 onwards. I would try to impress my much older brother with my new purchases. I remember playing him All Mod Cons in 1978 when he came home from university, and bursting with pride that I had introduced him to something he later grew to love. I was 12. When all my friends were listening to Grease, I was reading the NME and listening to XTC (before they went poppy, of course.) At 16 I used to sit with my history teacher in the common room at lunch time and we would finish the NME crossword together. I quite fancied him. He was in the SWP and listened to punk.

“I think they have to go” said The Husband. “The sleeves are all ruined”.

He took them out into the courtyard and smashed them one by one, and tore up the lovely sleeves for the recycling box.

I stood in the kitchen making guacamole and cried a bucket.

Sister #1 came for tea. We had a very morose evening. I think it might have been the guacamole.


nmj said...

Your house sounds lovely, Ms M, in spite of the blown vinyl & the lorries... That was quite a brutal ceremony, all that smashing and tearing, but I think it was for the best. I have no idea where my albums are, they may be in a box somewhere, but I'm not sure. I wonder if the same fate awaits our CD collections in years to come.

Caroline said...

This reads like the opening to a novel. Please carry on the story.

Smashing the LPs had my stomach churning. When did life stop being about music and start being about guacamole? *sigh*

I have my collection of Smiths and Cure LPs in the attic. They take me back to a coming of age me. I haven't acquired a taste for guacamole. Yet. *sigh*

Matt said...

Best get out the CD of Faith by The Cure, or, if you've got any, may I recommend The Jesus and Mary Chain which always works well in these woe-is-me moments.

Atyllah said...

Oh you poor thing!

But I agree with nmj - your house does sound lovely.

JustJude said...

Oh Ms M! I am welling up reading this. I too have to face up to such a tragedy. My LPs have been stored in my shed. Which since the gales a few weeks ago has been virtually roof-less. I live in Manchester.

Enough said.

There are some things I can never replace. I was particularly fond of a couple of Cindy Lee Berryhill albums I had (who?- exactly - try getting that in order to download it onto your iPod).

I think they are probably mush. Along with - and much more tragically and irresponsibly - the entire collection of first edition Famous Fives. The Enid Blyton books, rather than some obscure indie band.

In my defence, the shed was waterproof up until a couple of weeks ago.

I feel like Lenin.


Ms Melancholy said...

Hi nmj - thanks, it is lovely. We ignored the 'location, location, location' advice and went for the house. I'm glad. It probably was for the best, but I woke up very early the next morning feeling just so sad. I couldn't bear the thought of that happening to my CD collection, even though most of it is on my iPod and backed up on an external hard drive. There is just something about having the actual thing in your hand that I love.

Thankyou, lovely Caroline. Can you find me a publisher? I think you are right about the coming of age thing. Those records represented my formative years. Sister #1 used to live in South America so guacamole is not pretentious in her house. I will make you some for your launch party!

Hello again Matt - I have neither Faith, nor any Jesus and Mary Chain, but I am particularly good at 'woe is me', sadly. Oddly, I usually go for Fleetwood Mac 'Rumours' for woe-is-me. A very emotional album.

Thank you Atyllah, for your much needed sympathy.

Oh, poor Jude! You understand! And with all that moving lark going on what on earth do you do with them? Do you want to borrow my husband for smashing duties? He is very unsentimental, whilst being just about sympathetic enough. As for Cindy Lee Berryhill - obscure country and western, perchance?

mad muthas said...

oh no! what a great collection that was. grrrrrr - things like that make me CRAZY

yellowduck said...

Thank you. Without wanting to sound rude but you have made me feel young again. Records from my formative years figure such delights as Poing, So Real, James Brown Is Dead, James Brown Is Still Alive, Who The F--- Is James Brown, ah... you get the picture.

Needless to say: musically speaking I had a very deprived childhood.

(lovely post again by the way xx)

Ms Melancholy said...

Mad Muthas - lovely to see you here (both together, or do you separate occasionally?!) I know, Grrr. I am still wondering whether I should have just kept them, ruined or not.

Mr Duck, hello my dear. I was just chatting to you over at Mr Zs place. Please don't make me feel old. I like to think that I am still 17 really, but with a couple more responsibilities and a few more grey hairs. I can still pogo, you know....

trousers said...

At least you've still got them (the tunes) in some form or other, whether physically tangible or not - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry! I too own a Shriekback album somewhere - the one with "Nemesis" on it.

But nobody is ever - EVER - going to part me from my Very Things 7", SPK albums...and so on. NOBODY! YOU HEAR ME?

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Trousers! My 7"s were saved by the fact that I was slightly ocd aged 15 and had them all in plastic covers. Problem is, most of them are crap! Forgot to mention my Fall albums. And The Wedding Present. Oh god, I think I am going to cry again....

Dandelion said...

I would have kept them.

You could always try getting replacements on ebay.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Dandelion - it just seemed unduly sentimental to keep them. I may go to eBay for some of the favourites, although it would make much more sense to get them on CD. Head and heart need to have a conversation here...


Is it wrong that I now like your husband so much? smashing the LP's to smithereens was a move laced with quality - and surely unneccesary? Love it. It suggests some underlying something or other that you should be able to nail, therapist.

And I didn't spot any flaw in the argument. An excellent example of compromise (or sweet capitulation, maybe) if you ask me. I wish all arguments were like that - in my favour, of course.

The thing is, though, your LP's were very probably still playable. That's why I'm here - the bringer of belated good news. An ex-boyfriend of one of my sisters had his entire collection immersed following a flood. The sleeves were trashed, yes, and this fact ultimately led him to throw away the lot, but the records themselves, once carefully wiped dry, were still perfectly playable. I thought you'd maybe like to know that.

Apart from The Jam, your taste in music is diabolical. I'm still sorry you lost your collection, though. That's a sore one.

Gaucamole rules.


Reading the Signs said...

I am sorry for your loss. I too have a big vinyl collection which last year came down from the loft and for which we bought a proper record player. Scratchy or not, they are art objects and carry a spark of the original energy you invested in them.

Houses! No-one has bought mine yet. She and I are secretly smiling.

bobo said...

Well now you can focus on that dream kitchin you've always hankered for - who could refuse a woman in distress at such a loss.

And should you wish to upgrade your musical tastes to the 21st century, I am a keen follower of obscure Elektronishe Musik. So if you have a yen for some Ambient Dub, or need to suffer mild head injuries throbbing the night away to some Goa Trance, just ask.

Boris said...

How terribly sad, to lose your record collection even if you haven't looked at them or listened to them for ages. I still have most of mine, they are stored in the loft with the old paint tins and xmas stuff. I never look at them or listen to them (though sometimes I wish I could) the point is I know they are there waiting for me and always willing to take me on a trip down memory lane.

I can't believe you had to watch while they were systematically destroyed - TORN UP and SMASHED!? That would be too much to take, better that they were quietly removed to an undisclosed location.

My heart truly goes out to you.


PS Your house sounds lovely, but I suspect feels strangely empty without the records.

Leesa said...

You have been nominated for the Battle of the Blogs. Sorry this sounds "canned" because, well, this is canned. I have received lots of entries. I will be working on the ballots that will probably come out next Tuesday (2/27), but this is what I would like from you:

1. First: do you want your blog to be entered?
2. If you could, could you send me a brief (one paragraph) description of your site for me to include with a link to your URL (blog name). I am taking the names from the top of the blogs. Oh, and use the bloggerbattle(at)

You can use the link above to visit the Battle of the Blogs if you have no idea what this is. And, relax, it just means you are loved.

yellowduck said...

Nononono, Ms M, do not feel old. Feel musically much better educated. I am having a bad day altogether, I am sorry if I offended you in the slightest. These adult responsibilities are too much to bear at present, so I took my feeling of inadequacy out at you for a brief sensation of relief from my parental and professional failings. I do apologise. You write this blog to get away from your patients and now I acted as one. Without paying you for it too. Again, I apologise. Sorry.

Ms Melancholy said...

Mr PE - sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. I have never quite understood what that phrase means (I much prefer sayings that involve donkeys and whippets) but I think it may apply here. You have made me cry again. Ironically, one of the 7" singles that remains intact is by A Flock Of Seagulls. How bloody annoying is that?

Ms Signs - you say they are art objects, and now I know exactly why I felt so sad at seeing the soggy covers. I wish now I had kept them. I rarely have regrets, but I think this may turn out to be one of them.

Hi again BoBo - glad to see you can still find time for your old friends, now you are so popular on the webulator! You could do much worse than to be admired by the lovely nmj and the charming Mr Z, but watch out for Mr PE because I fear that he is deranged. I was talking to a carpenter today about making some free standing stuff for our kitchen, and I almost felt excited. Then he gave me the quote. Aunty Mabel's decor may stay for a while yet.

Hi again Boris. I DIDN'T WATCH! I CRIED AND MADE GUACAMOLE! But the kids thought it was great fun to smash them up. That's why I do love my hubby. He can make a pleasure out of anything (except washing up.)

Mr Ducky, you are forgiven but only because I love you. And you are my betrothed, I seem to remember, except now I am concerned that I am your sugar-mommy and that makes me sad again. If you want therapy go and see Caroline...x

PS is there anyone who hasn't been nominated?

Ms Melancholy said...

PS if my husband is reading this, I am not really betrothed to Mr Duck. I just asked him to marry me and he said yes. But I think he was joking. And he loves Mrs Duckie....and Caroline....and tyger....and all the other people who visit the duckpond xxx

Dan said...

De-lurking to offer sincere condolences! I think I'd feel bereft.

The links between Psychoanalysis and Literature are legion. I kept getting a picture in my mind seeing the plight of wet torn up sleeves, smashed plastic 33's, to the books in Farenheit 451.

Totalitarian freezers, ha. The first album I bought was All Mod Cons on 33rpm at a Car boot sale in 1988 (God bless you,The Hacienda, Fishlake - now an Asda *sigh*)

I was twelve *more sighs* - been a muso ever since. Mmmm, identification lol

I suggest an insurance claim and a retail splurge, not to assuage, simply to be able to replace and enjoy.

Good Luck, Dan

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Dan - thanks for de-lurking. It's always a pleasure. A sweet coincidence, both of us buying All Mod Cons aged 12, but a decade apart. Isn't it strange that it had not crossed my mind for one second, that I might be able to claim on the insurance and re-buy everything? But it still doesn't appeal. I want the actual ones that I lost, with my name scribbled on in childish writing - Parallel Lines with beer stains on from a party when I was 14... you get the picture.

Anonymous said...

Oh, absolutely. David Standish " twat..." - scribed into Hearts and Bones by Paul Simon - where art thou now. Wincing with his mother in Guildford, no doubt.

Happy Days. Laters, Dan

yellowduck said...

No honey, I wasn't joking. Let's elope now and start a wild life full of whisky-fuelled adventure ;)

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi again Dan - "you twat" - how bloody funny. I would have that one framed.

Mr Lovely Ducky - the answer is yes, but can we take my hubby, Mrs Ducky, Caroline, tyger and all your other pond-dwellers? Or is that just too freaky to contemplate? (At least we could convince Caroline that putting ice in whisky is just plain wrong...)

yellowduck said...

Uh. Ok.

Anything to educate Caroline.

Caroline said...

I'm still here you know!!!!!!!

And I am putting it in JD ... not proper whisky!

trousers said...

I can't believe your Fall lps have gone too...

Last time I was away from this country, I realised the only thing I missed about it at that point was The Fall. Sad.

mad muthas said...

hello - some time later - no i think you were right to give it plenty. it must have been a bit like a viking burial - y'know setting the boat a light and shoving it out to see. a hero's farewell.
and actually there is only one of me blogging but we write as a pair. books, that is.
so - as i said - hello!

Ms Melancholy said...

Mmm yes, the smashing up bit. That was my hubby having fun with the kids, but it feels right if I think of it as a viking burial.

Mr Trousers, buy an iPod and The Fall can go with you on your travels...! I admit that I haven't listened to The Fall for donkey's...but I was a bit of a fan back in the days.

trousers said...

I would (buy an iPod) but they don't go very well with tinnitus. Plus absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that: it IS nice to leave things behind from time to time. Even the Fall.

For what it's worth, I would strongly recommend some of their recent stuff, especially "Fall Heads Roll"

Ms Melancholy said...

Cheers Trousers - will check it out.