Vinyl Again: Turning the Tables

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

“Thought I’d find you here: in your eerie - with the door shut … as usual! We just must clear out the garage – get rid of the stuff we don’t use … including your father’s FOUR big boxes of records … and the equipment”, said Anne. “Yes, dear”. “Don’t ‘yes, dear’ me”. A snippy comment came to mind like a flash but, after forty-five years and numerous scars, I read the look on her face; she had a point and so I decided to just nod my head and mutter ‘Okay”. With feigned enthusiasm, I exited my study, went downstairs to the chest of drawers, and gathered up the remote control to the garage door. Once out of the front door, I was like Shakespeare’s school-boy “creeping unwillingly” … down the stairs towards the garage. I stared at the garage door with trepidation: I knew what was waiting for me. The door opened nosily to reveal the ghastly challenge I had been avoiding for months. My loud expletive reached her ears. “What?” “Nothing”. I cast my eyes around, desperately seeking easy prey.

There it was: the box with Dad’s Thorens TD-150 turntable.

Last played by him almost twenty years to the day… the day he fell, weak from the ravages of prostate cancer … and would not return to the cottage. I could see Dad again in healthier times: selecting one of his records, usually an opera, setting the volume of the Kenwood amplifier, pouring a glass of wine, and then easing into his comfy chair, eyes already closing and looking contented….

My silence aroused suspicion. “What you doing?” “Going through the boxes of records”. “Good!” The familiar turntable looked okay; headpiece cover missing, hand lift broken, but otherwise fine. I quickly Googled and found the Turntable Guy in Mowbray. Decision: I am going to keep it! So now I rummaged through the four boxes of records – a few hundred records and sets! I selected records I knew I, maybe we, would enjoy and put them in another box – labelled it too: Roger – Keep. Closed and sealed the other boxes – labelled then To Go (a young opera enthusiast collected them a couple of days later and was delighted with the vinyl treasure). Found a B & O turntable – where did that come from? Would find out if it was worth keeping, but I was sure the Thorens was superior. Skipped up the stairs confident I’d gain approval. “I’ll find a home for Dad’s records; decided to keep the Thorens and put out a few records for us … the ones we used to listen to. I’ll get the turntable serviced and connect it to the TEAC I rescued the other day. There is a B & O turntable too; think it can go.” “Well, that is a bit of progress – will be good to get the records out of the garage.” I think that was approval. So I went to the Turntable Guy in Mowbray. “Keep the Thorens – it was and still is great; I’ll make sure it operates as it should. Take the B & O away … it’s a boomerang: if I fix it, it’ll be back within a week. Give it to someone as a project.” That was clear enough – the B & O has already been given away – did not tell him about the boomerang metaphor. A couple of days later, I collected the Thorens, and bought a pre-amp I knew I would need.

As soon as I got to my study, I connected the gear with the enthusiasm of a teenager setting up his first HiFi set. Oops, a lot of hum. Re-arranged the cables so that there would be no 50Hz induction – school physics had come to the rescue: the ‘make an amplifier’ project also helped. Put the Johnny Denver’s Back Home Again (a 1974 Christmas gift) on the turntable – knew she would love hearing it again. Turned up the volume. Calm pervaded the house and then some singing along. While I was turning the record over, “So, I see you have decided to put the set in your eerie!” she said, glaring at me! “Just until I have everything sorted out, dear, then we can decide where to put the equipment and records – they take up quite a bit of space, as you can see, and I know you are trying to clear surfaces.” “Hmmm”. Clearly, I was not convincing. As she went downstairs, I experienced a momentary smidgen of guilt … then I smiled. She was right: it will remain in my study!

That evening she was downstairs watching a TV programme in which I had no interest. So, I had escaped to my eerie, did not close the door, and put on the Saint Saens Organ Symphony. Turned up the volume just before the dramatic, loud entry of the organ in the final movement. “Close the door!” She yelled. “But you don’t like it when I am in my eerie with the door closed,” I replied. “Just close it!”

So, I closed the door, turned down the volume, poured a glass of wine, eased into my new, comfy desk chair, and started to close my eyes – I was contented. Dad would be smiling: The Thorens was Back Home Again!

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