Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Eighties singer dangles from clothesline.

Now this is complicated, so let’s go back a step. I drive old cars, because old cars are better than new cars, and because driving a car manufactured twenty years ago is better for the environment than buying a new car - even a Prius - every other year, or every ten years for that matter. Those batteries are murder on the environment, and the electricity just shifts your emissions into someone else's air. Plus, electric cars kill people because they are silent. Last year I was nearly run over by a Prius driven by an inattentive vegetarian backing out of the organic fruit store car park at the top of Lygon Street where the old Liberty cinema used to be.

Old cars mean vintage technology: each of mine has something called “stereo with Dolby”, which is prehistoric sound reproduction equipment installed in the dash, where in today's cars you would find video screens, coffee cup holders, geographic positioning systems, internet interfaces, iPod docks, phone chargers, and maps that tell you where to go. Ridiculous. I don’t know how people concentrate. You don’t even get an ashtray now to steady your nerves. You can drink coffee, check emails, or download movies while you’re driving, but don’t smoke, it’s too dangerous. With that nanny-state logic, no wonder there’s a Prius.


There we were in our old Bluetooth-less car with "stereo Dolby sound" driving to the beach on a warm cloudless summer afternoon around the cliff top road that winds from Mornington to Dromana overlooking an impossibly beautiful sparkling Port Phillip Bay. And there was music. A few months ago I found five apparently unused early Elvis Presley albums on cassette, at 99 cents each, in an op shop. The boys like them. They’re on high rotation in the car. After a few plays, the boys learn the songs and sing them. One does Elvis, the other the Jordanaires. Then they swap.

Stand-out tracks: I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell from Separate Ways; Too Much Monkey Business from Flaming Star; Today, Tomorrow and Forever from C’mon Everybody; and, in quieter moments We Call on Him from You’ll Never Walk Alone and If We Never Meet Again from His Hand in Mine, the latter two tracks surely channeling angels.


That was the background. Now we move forward a few steps. While otherwise in perfect working condition, very old cassettes sometimes throw their pressure pad, due to aging adhesive. This happened. I went back to the op shop for a donor cassette, taking care to choose one that that no-one could possibly want. I picked a tape by one of those screeching, long-haired power ballad singers from the late 1980s; some guy called Bolton. I took it home and pulled it apart and took out the pressure pad and dropped it into the Presley cassette.

Meanwhile, the boys scampered off with the little reels out of the Bolton cassette, and started throwing them around the backyard like streamers; and some of the filmy brown tape got caught up in the clothesline, ribbons of horrible 1980s music spinning and glinting in the sun, never to be heard again.

1 comment:

Dr. Alice said...

I can't think of a better fate for a Michael Bolton tape. And I agree with you about driving older cars. Next time I buy a car I will go looking for one which is older but gently used.