I remember the day I came back to the city after being on the farm during the school holidays to find that Mum and Dad had bought a video recorder. When all the other kids parents were embracing cutting edge audio visual equipment mine were still reeling over the advent of colour television, and as a teenager keenly aware of the need to keep up with the kids of the Joneses, having a rickety old turntable and no video player when others were listening to the digitally sterile offerings of shiny round discs that disappeared into the unit in an electronic draw full of lasers, was in a nutshell shameful.
Of course in retrospect, the five years of living in Europe and visiting every historical site of any significance from ancient Greek to Medieval with a mother who actually knew the importance, significance and relevance of each probably made technology both uninteresting and possibly difficult to afford, but as a teenager I had built up very little in the way of retrospect.
And in their favour, my parents were never seduced by beta.
That would be twenty years ago give or take, and I am reminded of this by the staggering amount of technology I have either invested in or come by in the last twelve months. Culminating last night in Mrs A., no, not me, signing up for the new Foxtel digital on demand service. The set top box that comes with it, besides making the set top box I just bought worthless, has a hard drive. My entertainment unit is beginning to look like a museum of comparison.
The DVD player, the video player, the cassette deck and the CD player in reality could sit comfortably in a list that includes Morse code tapper and Bakelite telephones. The Foxtel set top box replaces the first two, and the ipod the last two.
The record player is interesting. It seems to be enjoying something of a comeback. My vinyl is currently on holiday at my uncles house, but the recent acquisition of the Denon, including turntable, has me searching for records and realising that they are in plentiful supply and sound fantastic. Although the sound quality may be enhanced by memories of picking up records to fill my K-Tel record holder, and listening to every scratch I put on them whilst in my bedroom pretending I could dance.
Being a gadget lover who is getting older, I am finding myself torn two ways. In some instances I can easily reconcile the fond memories of the old and the joy of the new. In some I cannot.
On one hand I have an i-mate jam. Modern, convenient, dead sexy. But the ring tone I use is that of an old Bakelite phone. I have a nice hi-fi and five or six hundred CD's, but I am seriously getting back into vinyl. My digital SLR camera is the modern manifestaion of the old film camera, and even looks like one, yet I have no urge to print the photos and store them in the top of the wardrobe. I'm beginning to reacquaint myself with the way things were, just with better equipment.
On the other we will have the on demand foxtel service and my Uncles chain of video stores will most likely soon find its way into the history books with black and white television. I can get music from i tunes, but I like to be able to physically pick up the cover of the CD or record, read the words, see the release date. I want to feel the ownership that just isn't there with an mp3 file in a small electronic box.
I suppose it's just a more physical manifestation of the feeling we all get. There is, to me, no really good music after about 1986. For my mother music ended with the Beatles, and my Grandmothers feeling that the disappearance of Glenn Miller changed the wireless for ever for the worse.
The reason that this all came to mind was, as I said, Mrs A. signing up for the foxtel service. It struck me how much things have changed. I pointed it out to her and asked what she thought of it all.
"Foxtel" she said, "and a big T.V mean a better Rugby experience".
Well, I suppose she is a seventies child.