Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hot 100: John Peel and lugging too much stuff around clincial placements

Being an old northern England indie boy at heart, but with techno lungs and an ambient spleen, I grew up listening to John Peel on Radio 1 (FM or otherwise). From being a small lad confused by what I was hearing, through the wilderness years where I stopped listening due to the intrusion of work and other interests, to returning to the fold just prior to his death, John Peel was something of a constant in my life and the lives of most average bedroom-bound music obsessives.

Each Christmas, he compiled a list of listeners' favourite songs released that year. It had to have been released in current year to prevent "Anarchy in the UK" winning again. Compiling the "Festive 50" seems to have been a pain in the backside, but each year out it came and out it still comes.

Inspired by this, a friend of mine from school, now sadly demolished (the school that is), who by some miracle has made it to medical school, saw a solution to a problem he faced. Being back in the days of CDs, pre-MP3, he faced the prospect of starting a series of short-term clinical placements music-free unless he chose to cart his record collection around from placement to placement. And it was largely a record collection, because he was largely a fan of 60s rarities and US imports which came in vinyl only. Taping wasn't an option or him due to loss of self-esteem, sad obsessive that he was (as discussed). Having said that, I would have been just as bad.

Thus began his "Hot 100" where he selected only those 100 records he couldn't live without ("hot" in this case being a highly subjective term unless you were a big fan of Wingtip Sloat). Even then, 80 odd vinyl records is a lot to lug from one place to another every six weeks or so.

Reading back through this, it sounds like a story from the dark ages, sitting here with an iPod I will never get close to filling to capacity. Then again, pre-1999 or thereabouts, student digs hadn't changed all that much since the 50s: different posters, dansettes / ghetto blasters / portable CDs players notwithstanding. There may have been an occasionally laptop in the 1999 vintage study rooom, but that was still unusual for undergrads. My friend would have traded a kidney to get his hands on a small device that could have contained all his music.

So spare a thought for the poor old clinical phase medical student of the pre-iPod 80s / 90s. They may have been guaranteed a training place and have been spared MTAS and the rest, but they had to make the difficult decision of whether to pack Speedy J or Loop.

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