I learned to drive in a 1982 Ford Capri with a broken radio. You could play with it as much as you liked – push in button 1, watch button 5 pop out (and note to Generation Y, yes, that’s why a list that you can only select one of at any one time is called that)– but no sound would emerge, for at some point in the car’s past a passer-by, enraged by the extravagance of its three-mile bonnet and power hump, had snapped off the aerial and funds never stretched to a replacement. After the Capri I moved on to 2CVs, where the lifespan of the in car entertainment system (a five quid radio/cassette from MotorWorld on Nantwich Road) was determined by how long it took for the water dribbling through the windscreen wiper gasket and pooling on the front parcel shelf to submerge the live wiring.
As a consequence I find music while driving fantastically distracting and have been studiously resisting any thought of radio or Bluetooth MP3 players in my lid. But in recent weeks my resolve has been sorely tested by the sheer tedium of my regular 90-mile dual carriageway ride, and, led into temptation by a conversation with RBR Steve, who told me that I could load mp3s onto my Zumo, I have tentatively filled up with some classic blues and some 60s psychedelia.
It is odd to have company inside my lid. Normally my tinnitus and I ride along, trying to concentrate on looking for gaps and playing the what-if game, while my inner monologue thinks of witty ripostes to imagined slights, dusts off fading grudges, and tries to come up with sparkling opening lines for these posts. The ride itself should be the entertainment. But there is limited delight to be found on the A14, and if Country Joe and the Fish want to divert me with a song of verve and caustic wit about the futility of foreign wars in hot places, I’ll take what I can get. And then I’ll try and figure out the chord progression and the rhythm pattern for later, for while I can squish my pink jelly headphones under my lid, there isn’t yet room for the harmonica.