26
Jun
11

Time to confess an addiction

Before we set off for a long-awaited three-week trip back home to Canada, I’d like to confess something. I only confessed it to myself the other day, and after much contemplation, am now doing it here: I’ve started up a habit I’d thought I’d grown out of long ago and let go for good.

Back in my teens it was all so easy. By the time I was 15 I had pocket money from a few odd jobs, so I’d sneak away at lunchtime to buy some from one of only two sources in town, savouring the anticipation of school’s end when I could enjoy my purchase either by myself or with a couple of close friends. Because the subjects I took were so stimulating, I was always a good student, so the time spent on my habit didn’t affect my grades at all. That was a good thing, because my parents during one phase in Grade 11 became really worried I was spending far too much time alone in my bedroom.

Growing up in my little village perched on a mountain sliding into the sea, there was no chance of getting some closer to home unless friends were offering, so I’d go into Vancouver, where there was a lot of choice. Granville Street, seedy back then and not much better today, held good possibilities to score. I didn’t feel bad about it because I enjoyed it so much, and besides, a lot of my friends were into it way more than I was, and they were doing OK.

It didn’t end with High School though. When I started to earn some real money on summer break while going to university I’d buy even more, branching out into different varieties as the possibilities – and my wallet – broadened. I remember thinking each time I shouldn’t, but was unable to resist the urge.

Then all of a sudden in the early 80s – just when my enthusiasm for it was peaking – my addiction was no longer cool. Even though there was still tons of it going around out there, the world was moving on, and I figured that if I didn’t change, it would move along without me. Then, little by little, the supply started to dry up.   What had once been so easy to find was no longer on every streetcorner.  So, facing reality, I slowly let it go, relegating that period in my life to the musty reaches of the back shelf. I think the last time I bought some was in 1986.

But then a couple of years ago, I came across a dealer in downtown Hamburg, some guy in a back alley of the university quarter near where all the students hang out. I’d always known there were dealers in this city, and that it would be so easy just to go out and get some, but I thought: no. Leave it in the past. You’ve got a family now, a steady job you’d like to hang on to, and the money could be put to such better use, like one day putting your growing daughter through university, for example. When you get older, frivolity should be left behind, right?

But I can’t help myself. I go back every once in a while and pick up some more.  In Paris three weeks ago across the street from Gare St Lazare I spied a dealer and thought of an Oscar Wilde quote – the great man buried only a few dozen blocks east – that the best way to rid oneself of a temptation is to yield to it. So with what bit of cash I had  left over from my trip, for the first time in 25 years I bought three brand new slices of that lovely stuff I just can’t seem to get enough of.

Vinyl.

Is there any cure once you’re hooked?


12 Responses to “Time to confess an addiction”


  1. June 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

    They say that buying records is a bit like the newlyweds with the jar full of pennies.

    Y’know, there’s the old tale that if a young couple puts a penny in a jar every time they make love in the first year of their marriage, and after a year, removes a penny every time they make love, they will never empty the jar.

    It’s the same with music. Your musical tastes are determimed when you’re young and crave novelty, variety, and stimulation. Your peak period for music is under 25. If you count the amount of music you buy after, and compare it to before, you’ll find that few of us reach the number in our later adulthood we reached in our youth.

    Conveniently, the introduction of CDs occurred when I was about 25. When I moved to Europe and felt the need to get rid of stuff before shipping the remainder on a boat, I counted the number of CDs vs the number of LPs. Sure enough, In the three decades of my later adulthood, I hadn’t bought as many CDs as I had bought albums between the ages of 17 to 25.

    Oh, and have a great trip back to Canada. Is your daughter embracing her Canadian roots?

    • June 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      She is indeed! We’ll be there for Canada Day.

      I’ll also be checking out the used record stores to see if they compare with those here. I find the best stuff in that Hamburg store, all in great shape and reasonably priced.

  2. June 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Canada, eh? Coming north, by any chance? I’ll be in the Edmonton airport on the evening of July 7.

  3. June 27, 2011 at 4:58 am

    No chance of spending Canada Day in Ottawa with Will and Kate, eh?

    • June 27, 2011 at 6:12 am

      Sadly, no, Natasha… the closest they’ll get to us is the Calgary Stampede. But since we’re just an hour away from London anyway, we can pop over for tea anytime. :-)

  4. June 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    You forgot to mention that for a time, it was almost impossible to find a replacement needle to properly indulge in this addiction.

    I think my daughter is the only one of her friends who has actually touched a real record.

    • June 28, 2011 at 6:19 am

      Hello Harvey,
      I hadn’t been looking, but now that I’m going to upgrade the stylus I’ve found a huge selection and narrowed it down to an Ortofon model.

      …I’m too nervous to let my daughter touch my records. :-)

  5. June 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    The time has come for mom to move from her own apartment into an “establishment” and yrs truly is going to be responsible for the “dispersal of stuff”. Imagine my surprise when I found a dozen or so LPs in her closet. She hasn’t had anything to play them on for decades, but there they are.

    It’s amazing to me – I remember even the cover art on my first albums, even the demo that showcased the wonders of a ping-pong ball “bouncing” between speakers!

    • June 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Had sort of that discussion with my brother the other day. He has a lot of albums, but nothing to play them on, so he’s getting rid of them. I’m amazed at the quality and choice in turntables on the market over here, though. If you really want to play records, it doesn’t cost that much to get a turntable and cartridge.


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