The standard fit “Concert” stereo head unit on my Audi is a technical marvel. Not only does it control a trunk-mounted mechanism that decodes any of six compact discs I choose to load, but it also receives and interprets radio signals. It also houses an all-electronic, logic-controlled cassette tape drive, which for a good few years has been permanently occupied by a Pink Floyd compilation my Dad made for me when I was seven. Recently, on a quest to make more of my daily commute, I thought I’d rediscover the joy of audio books. I considered CD’s but didn’t really want to displace music from the changer, alternatively, I could have taken the MP3 route via a USB interface, but what’s the point of that when there’s a redundant cassette deck desperate for employment? So, for £4 eBay served up an analogue release of the original BBC radio series of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. I eagerly unboxed the tapes and let them play in all their magnetic glory. Of course, you can imagine what happened next. What happened next was that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I laughed heartily and, in some instances, drove erratically while Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent safely escaped the Earth prior to its destruction, spent a while being subjected to terrible poetry while in Vogon captivity and got to meet the designer of Norway. I have read the books, watched the TV series (and massively disappointing film) many times since childhood, and their appeal hasn’t diminished one iota. And then, while our heroes were launching a richly deserved verbal attack on the idiotic middle men of Golgafrincham, the tape jammed. Fortunately, it ejected OK and the squiggly brown flatworm was still inside its plastic shell, so I was able to get it home and do the old two-pencils trick to gingerly re-spool it, then a few cycles of rewind later it was as good as new. But it got me to thinking. As far as I know, dealing with the humble cassette could be just the tip of the iceberg of anachronisms that Hoons persevere with every day. Maybe there’s somebody reading this who actually produces their own 8-track cartridges. Chances are there are folk whose commute starts with a swing of a starting handle and who wouldn’t have it any other way. So, in what way is your vehicular routine steeped in olde worlde charm? (All images copyright Chris Haining / Redusernab 2016, damn I didn’t realise how much my stereo needs a clean)
Tape The Highway: Obsolescence Embraced
We the Author: RoadworkUK
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.