Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Sets to Set the World Alight

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Sets to Set the World Alight

Article excerpt

When I was out in the bush I had a radio made out of a saucepan. Sturdy little blighter it was, too, though it gave the soup a bit of a tang. Batteries would go, as they do anywhere, but we were 300 miles from the main shopping drag and often cut off by the rains. You'd ration your listening time, then the stocks would run low in the shops. Next thing you knew they'd be out of Noilly Prat down at Kanyama's bar. Tough out there.

These modern wind-up radios would have been a godsend. Have you seen them? Made in the bush, you know. Wind a little handle round for a bit, next thing you've got Pam Ayres coming out all over the kitchen.

Radios have got awfully dull, otherwise. I had one, back in the 1970s, shaped like a tin of McVitie chocolate biscuits. Marvellous reception. Had to have it destroyed of course. Totally dominated by an overwhelming desire for chocolate biscuits. Pavlov's dog and all that, hear news, want biscuit.

Had a radio in the 1980s, early 1980s mind, before all that designer black-box rubbish, that was shaped like the word "Radio". Perfectly good reception. Spot of deconstructionism as well, perhaps, I'd not be sure about that.

I blame those chaps you used to see outside Lassky's when the 1980s were at their height. Any high street in Britain, any lunch time, there they'd be. Three deep in their Next suits, legs apart, hands in pockets, swaying slightly as they gazed at all the stereos in the window. Every lunchtime, never fail. Unless there was a ladies' netball match in the vicinity. Under all this scrutiny hi-fi had to start looking very serious. Radios went the same way: dull black plastic, a choice between square or rectangular.

The tide could be turning this year. Roberts have brought out a version of their old classic, covered in the same material they used for Dansettes - those portable record players that you could take on to the beach during a clam bake. …

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