Guest Post by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
The power has gone out. If you live in Spain, you get used to the occasional power outages. They often only last a few minutes but you never know: it might be hours or even days. We have a generator for exactly such situations but it's been acting up and today it doesn't seem to want to start at all.
Luckily, I've already printed out the paperwork that I need to proof-read, so I'm set. Alex is a bit more stressed about the lack of electric devices and begins to scurry around, looking lost.
Desperate for entertainment, he gets out my boyfriend's wind-up gramophone and asks for permission to play with it. My boyfriend is thrilled. He pulls out a tatty box covered with thin blue leather-like material. Inside is all of his old records, a beautiful and eclectic collection started by his grandfather and inherited by his mother. He shows Alex how to use the gramophone and then goes out to see if he can get the generator working, leaving him to play.
Alex plays Que Sera, Sera at varying speeds until I snap. For God's sake, enough!
"But it's in Spanish," he says, enchanted by his first exposure to Doris Day. "It's a beautiful song. I've never heard it before." I relent.
"Last time, then," I tell him. "Then check what's on the flip side."
"The other side." He is still looking at me blankly. "The record? Turn it over?"
Comprehension finally dawns. "Oh wow, is it two-sided?" He's thrilled. I close my eyes in pain. I've never felt so old. Doris Day warbles We'll Love Again but at least this time it's at a fairly consistent speed.
"What else is there?" He goes digging through the records. Meanwhile my boyfriend returns to break the news that the generator is dead and looks to see what Alex is pulling out of the box.
"Not that one, that's a modern record," he says.
"Modern?" It's an LP. Alex's face is a picture: this is clearly a use of the word modern that he can not comprehend.
"What we bought when we were kids rather than what your grandparents bought when they were kids." As the words escape my mouth, Alex puts on When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along, circa 1926. I know my mother, whose first musical purchase was G.I. Blues by Elvis Presley, will not be impressed when Alex starts talking about "her" music and asking whether she had a gramophone like this when she was little. Oops.
The lights flicker back on and before I can say "put it away if you are done," Alex has disappeared, his new toy forgotten. My boyfriend and I remain there, winding up the gramophone and listening to the hissing vocals of times gone by. But it turns out Alex hasn't gone straight for the XBox, he is rummaging through the cupboards in the TV room, looking for more ancient treasures.
"What's this then," he asks, holding up a cassette tape. "It has Love Songs from Geoff, 1986 scribbled on it. Who is Geoff? Do you have a wind-up thing for listening to these, too?"
"Give me that!" I snatch it and make a mental note that I need to start hiding my stuff. Meanwhile, we must have a tape player here somewhere, right? Just so I can have a quick listen. I haven't heard Journey in ever so long...