A nice diversion from all the strife that has currently been assailing Bloggertropolis Towers has been the discovery of how easy it is these days to convert old C90 cassettes into a digital format that I can play, modify and edit on the ol’ PC.
Back in 1989 when I was a somewhat awkward, repressed, geeky, closet-extrovert teen, me and a good mate of mine spent every Saturday evening for a month or two adlibbing comedy, songs and general testosterone fuelled mayhem onto C90 cassettes. I had at the time purchased one of Alan Sugar’s finest creations: a home studio 4-track recording unit replete with turntable and twin cassettes and input jacks for just about everything.
If I remember rightly it cost about £499 and looked like a Borg spaceship (hello Star Trek fans). I had visions of... I don’t know. Certainly not making it onto the music scene. Possibly not even making it onto the comedy scene. I think all I really wanted to do was alleviate the dreary scene in my head of being stuck at British Telecom for the rest of my life being ungainfully employed as a telephone operator.
In many respects they were dark days. The job was awful. Sheer anathema to an obsessively creative type like me. I was spotty and painfully shy around girls. And not much better around blokes I didn’t know (which, let’s face it, was most of them). I lived with the ever-abiding fear that I would die a lonely old social outcast and would never ever have a girlfriend. My best mate at the time, Dave, was probably not much better off socially – though he wasn’t bad looking, could sing and seemed to have a natural flair for learning to play the guitar.
And yet I remember those days very fondly. We were relatively carefree and our troubles at the time – in retrospect – were minor and bound to come good just by having a little patience and waiting for life to take its course. Whilst I couldn’t sing or instantly play the guitar like Hendrix I did have a frighteningly egotistical sense of humour which seemed to burst into life as soon as any recording device was placed in front of me and switched on.
Somehow a double act was born and over the space of 3 months Dave and I must have amassed nearly 12 hours of the most inane, embarrassingly juvenile recordings ever committed to magnetic tape. We did impressions, told jokes, made up songs and murdered existing ones by recording our own lyrics over the tops of the originals. I can lay personal claim to having murdered Bono and lyrically shitting on his grave on at least five separate occasions.
And then the recordings stopped. Dave got a job as a postman and got himself a woman. For some reason that diverted his attentions elsewhere. I’m not bitter but I do blame Dave unreservedly for ruining our chances of getting onto the telly or the radio. Because, to be honest, Rik Mayal’s and Ade Edmondson’s “Bottom” wasn’t that far removed from the type of material that Dave and I were coming up with off the top of our head’s week after week.
Well. So we thought at the time.
The tapes were mixed and then stored away. I even made covers for them. They lay forgotten for years gathering dust.
And then finally in 2011 the cost of technology had dropped so much that a simple tape to mp3 converting device set me back no more than £25. It was something I’ve always meant to do. Future proof all those Derek and Clive moments.
It doesn’t matter that the jokes are bad. That the ethics and sensibilities behind them are as blunt and callous as any teenager’s – we knew little of the world though thought we knew it all. It matters not that some of the verbal outpourings that came out of my mouth now make me cringe and want to tell myself to shut up...
They are little time machines. Moments in time – whole evenings – captured and held in amber. Exactly as we used to be. Without edits or cuts or a single layer of varnish to make any of it any more or less palatable.
I love them dearly, those recordings. They make me smile and frequently make me laugh.
We had something special, Dave and I . We really did.
A friendship. And it’s nice to know that it’s still there (if you’re reading this, Dave).
And no. I will not be posting excerpts of any of the recordings on this ‘ere blog.
I have something now that I didn’t have back then.
(Though do feel free to tell me I’m wrong.)