I've been bloody ill all over Christmas - I still am. I must be run down or something. I've got an awful cold which is severe enough to fall into the 'man-flu' category and I am beginning to think that it might be the real thing. I ache all over. I have an extremely painful tongue-ulcer which makes eating an experience to be feared - not best this time of year. I am developing a sty on one eye, my neck aches and I am deaf in one ear. I wasn't going to mention any of this, but I relented and thought I would share it with you.
Luckily, all my nearest and dearest have not been dragged down by my heroic attempts at disguising my misery, and have all had a jolly good time, eating, drinking and generally being merry, and that, believe it or not - far from making me jealous - has lifted my spirits. Now it's all over, I can settle down to hiding away and watching the latest and last Harry Potter DVD which they bought for me. Somehow it managed to creep onto the market without all the usual marketing razmataz - maybe they've made enough money from it already?
The new Bose speakers that I bought for the iMac will come into their own for the soundtrack, somehow magically producing a fairly rich bass from speakers the size of tweeters. I have a friend who is obsessed with playing vinyl records, insisting that digital music is thin and weedy by comparison. If he had his way, all digital music would be banned from pubs etc. He is disturbingly evangelistic about it to the point of turning into a fully-fledged pain in the arse.
Then yesterday, I heard someone on the radio say that the MP3 format was never intended for music, but rather was developed for film sound tracks. The digital format compresses the frequencies into a very small space apparently, and fools the ear into thinking that it heard things which didn't exist - like the bass on my speakers, for instance. This I believe - how else could you get 35,000 tunes into a bit of plastic the size of a postage stamp?
Whenever I try to compare vinyl with MP3, all I hear is the crackling and hissing of the needle as it grinds it's way over the scratched surface of a vintage disc, and as I point this out to my friend, he becomes extremely angry, saying that I have no ears. This - in turn - angers me, and I insist that at least when I whistle, it is in tune, unlike his discordant warblings.
I make a big point of saying "Oh yes - MUCH better!" in a loud voice when he gets up to dislodge the stuck needle as Ella Fitzgerald repeats the same line over and over again at 33 and a third RPM, and this makes him really angry.
At least when a digital soundtrack gets stuck, it gets stuck at about 4000 RPM, which is in itself a type of music that - if you have ears to hear - transcends the original recording and can be quite melodic if you have taken the right drugs.
I am - in truth - in two minds about this digi versus vinyl debate. All I know is that I cannot be bothered to take all those scratched records out of their sleeves and place them on a delicate mechanism to get even more scratched as a bus goes past, shaking the foundations of our compact but adorable city apartment. C.D.s work upside down, you know.