Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just for the record

It started in a small way.
Sedgefield has, in my opinion one of the best markets in the country.
Actually, it has three markets.
We started out at the food market, which serves, again in my opinion, the best cappuccinos on the Garden Route.
That's all it was, in the beginning.

Then we discovered the felafel's ( I dream of Israelis every time I take a bite!)
Then we discovered the cheeses, the olives, the breads..
We enjoyed the French music, the delightful dogs on leads who became like particularly characterful friends because you see them every week.
But it all got rather expensive – and so a change was called for.
We visited the Middle market.

There it also began with just one purchase.
Although I paused for a long while before making my selection, running my hands back and forth along the plastic CD spines. Flip, flap, pick up, put down, whilst calling out to L, or him to me,
'O remember this!'
or, “ This brings back memories,” pausing to savour a flashback so vivid sometimes, it took my breath away. Music does that. Takes me back, to a far away memory, and I can smell, feel, almost touch it all..
I think our first choice was decided by the stall holder, who lures you in by playing some or other CD and puts the cover on display, under a tippex on black plastic sign saying 'PLAYING NOW'
So, we took home Donovan, all mellow and yellow and young.

Of cause, it was not difficult to move from listening to Donovan, stretched out on the couch one lazy Saturday afternoon to thinking about other couches, and other music
We had a room just for my sister and me when we were growing up. We named it 'The Clutta” and celebrated it mostly by playing records. Although it was the late seventies we were about ten years behind in our music tastes – mostly fuelled by 'Bluesway', a record library in Port Elizabeth whose records we borrowed and shamelessly taped.

Oh, and if we really loved something we visited Michael's Record Bar down a sleazy side street off PE's Main Road, where I asked the Afro haired guy behind the counter to spin a record for me, and then joined the other 'hippies' on a couch in a dark corner. We all donned those cool big padded headphones and he was generous, and played the whole record for you sometimes. And you could smoke while he did it, and stub out your stompie in one of the large psychedelic ashtrays.

Those were the days of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Bread, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin....
I would listen to them all later, lying on my belly on 'The Clutta' floor and warble along to the words, all printed out, as they used to be, on the record sleeve..

A few years later my best friend at Rhodes came to love old Joni as much as me, but I do remember her squinting at me once, through a haze of cigarette smoke and saying, ' Joni is so cool, and these words are fantastic - but what the f........ is she on about?”

And so that's how, L and I came to buy a turntable last week. From the CD man.
We got talking about all those wonderful records sitting in a tin trunk in storage. We got talking about the extraordinary, and now lost pleasure, of studying record sleeves, many of which are works of art, I think.
We talked about the pleasure of slashing the sealed tight plastic wrap off a new, imported record. Of sliding out the record, balancing the disc between middle finger and thumb, before settling it on the turntable and sending the whole thing spinning... then, watching the stylus touch the vinyl, wobble, wobble ,and there it is. Pure, full sound, washing over you.

We've been doing just that. For the whole of this last week.
Our children are delighted with it all. Our youngest – just thirteen, has become an expert, delicate handler of the magical black discs. They have heard my favourite Joni's a few times now. I find it irresistible to cook by, to warble along to.

The only thing is – was one side always so short? It seems to take the time of chopping one onion, finally sliced. Maybe an onion and a green pepper, finally sliced.

It could be a nuisance, but while the novelty of it all has not yet worn off, my daughter is always available to turn it over. She even likes some of it.
Although it bounces at times. And crackles.
But it feels good – just like James Brown.
Even though I still don't always understand Joni Mitchell.


  1. Which Joni Mitchells did you buy!! My very first record EVER was Joni Mitchells "Ladies of the Canyon" and the cover was a painting done by her... such a beautiful picture, I wish I still had it to put on my wall. Some of my first songs on the guitar were Joni Mitchell too... and yes, I also didn't always understand what she was going on about but it sure sounded good!! And mine( Dino ) was deep purple live in japan.

  2. Love it! Russell's 50th party last week we played only our vinyl records and danced the night away, our children were amazed (but admitted to being blessed) by our trip down memory lane with our friends (just you guys were missing). Can't wait to see you soon...