From The Bridge by Iain Banks

(Macmillan, 1986)


'Yeah, let's wallow in nostalgia. Why not.' He settled back in the seat, watching Stewart thumb through the collection of records and wishing he'd been able to think of something more imaginative than record tokens to give the kids. Well, it was what they'd both asked for. Ten and twelve; he remembered he'd bought his first single on his sixteenth birthday. These youngsters already had their own album collections. Oh well.

'Good heavens,' Stewart said, taking out a blue and grey cover and looking slightly shocked. 'Did I really buy Deep Purple In Rock?'

'You must have been stoned,' he told him. Stewart turned round and winked at him as he took the record out. 'Oh, eh? Was that a little flash of wit there?'

'Merely a scintilla; put the goddamn record on.'

'Well it hasn't been played for a while, just let me clean it here . . .' Stewart cleaned the record, put it on: Can't Stand The Rezillos. My God, he thought, that was from 1978; a blast from the past already, indeed. Stewart nodded in time to the music, then sat down in his armchair. 'I like these gentle melodic songs,' he shouted. The track he'd put the stylus down on was Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight.

He raised his can to Stewart. 'God almighty, seven years!' Stewart leaned forward, a hand cupped at one ear. He pointed at the turntable, shouted, 'I said seven years . . .' He nodded towards the hi-fi. 'That: seventy-eight.' Stewart sat back, shaking his head emphatically.

'Aw naw; thirty-three and a third,' he shouted.

Note: for those too young to remember vinyl, still less shellac;

Shellac 10" and 12" records (the brittle ones) were played at 78 RPM. Vinyl, which supplanted shellac during the mid 1950s (I remember!) was played at 45 RPM (7" singles and EPs) or 33 1/3 RPM (12" LPs and later singles).

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David Smythe 2006

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