Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Conversations With Ben #22: Back To Normal

Ben: How's your Christmas break been?

Rol: Panto today.

Other than that, OK.

I hate pantos.

Oh no you don't!


You walked into that one.


You had a good one?

It's been nice to relax and just take it easy. Not doing anything on New Year's Eve as it's such an anticlimactic night. I also loathe fireworks.

Anyone good in the panto?


I also hate New Year's Eve.

Sure to get your blood boiling.

It did mine, and I only buy CDs.

It's interesting for her that it's all about showing off in her mind. And the reason she prefers digital is so that people can't scoff. What a load of horseshit. There's the whole aspect of having something tangible to hold and appreciate it with. Regardless, the sound purity is only one aspect and not the whole thing. It's the same with comics, there's something about completing a certain set and being able to thumb through what you have pride in and enjoy. Isn't that the same for any collecting hobby as well? Stamps, Pokémon cards etc etc etc.

Also, that argument about Adele and Ed Sheeran doing it, it's more just seen as a piece of merch that's easily purchased for the sort of people who are fans of bands like that.

I think the most concerning thing is the way that she's clearly shitting all over something that her partner loves.

Mrs. Ben doesn't get the comics collecting thing but doesn't feel the need to slag it off.

I just feel really bad for her partner.

Yeah. It's also telling that she completely ignores the fact that streaming alone pays the artists fuck all. Her gloating about having her digital only playlists shows she thinks music should be a free commodity, which is a very modern perspective, but ultimately screws the artists. I got some money for Christmas and spent most of it buying my favourite albums from last year that I'd only listened to online. Partly that was about owning the disc, but also it was about giving something back to the people who'd made music I hadn't until that point paid for.

And that's the thing that people who don't actually like music think. By that I mean, they can love Sheeran, Adele, ABBA and her 80s cheese that she feels looked down on for, but they don't get that when you get away from the chart stuff, the artists aren't making them just to fulfill a third album of a multimillion pound contract but to genuinely believe in something and it's not the best paying job. E.g. Jeff Rosenstock took until his second solo album (after 15 years of playing in bands) to be able to afford to pay his rent with selling music.

Like you said with buying it, I do that with the comics and when I go to live gigs, if I like the support acts, even a little, I always buy a record and some other merch like a t-shirt, tote or shirt to support them. I have about 12 band totes that will never get used but I bought them to support an artist.

Yeah, it's even more important for smaller artists.

Also, in 35 years of record collecting, nobody has ever shown any interest in my shelves. No one has ever come to my house and looked through my record collection. Admittedly, I have very few visitors, and these days they're mostly Louise's friends, but still... this dinner party bragging thing strikes me as a very London media / Nathan Barley idea. I'm not sure that ever happens in the real world.

I mean, my friends go through to put something on when they're here or take a look after a drink and either ask what an album is like or to tell me what they think of it.
That's it.
Not a pissing contest.

Then again, as much as I love music, I've never been a muso. There's probably more uncool CDs in my collection than cool. They're only cool to me.

That's it though, isn't it? It's personal and collecting is a personal endeavour.

I'm sure there are people who buy what they perceive to be cool records, to show off their cred, like those people who lined up their most intellectual books on the shelf behind them when appearing on TV during lockdown.o

But surely they're in the minority?

And I say that as a complete misanthrope.

(That errant .o was a typo, by the way, not an attempt at an emoticon.)

In case you were wondering.

I gathered. 

Yeah I don't get that. I did it at 18 to show that I'd read Brothers Karamazov etc. But surely you get to a point when you become secure enough in your own self to not need to prove a point,

I have two Billy book cases in my office. One is full of comics, the other full of workbooks which by their nature are smart ones. But the comic book bookcase is the one behind me on camera.

I used a bowling alley background while teaching from home. It was a still from The Big Lebowski, but that was purely for my amusement. Nobody ever recognised it.

When we do interviews for research we have to use a background. Give the participants no idea about us.

So I use the blue sky one.

Because the sky's the limit and you encourage blue sky thinking?

Nah. Just so it lacks personality.

Balloons seem too fun. Office seems too dull.

Something inoffensive and impotent.


Some of the issues that come up in my work... that's probably a bad idea.

Fair enough. More appropriate for The Bad Place anyway.

You backed down from that joke pretty quick.

New Year's Resolution: be more woke.

Better quality coffee?

How's it feel to be going back to work this week and not dreading it for the past few days?


It's odd, isn't it?


  1. I had a phase of using stills from Kubrick movies for my background. None were recognised until I prompted. I particularly liked using the green bathroom from The Shining, which probably makes me a weirdo.

  2. Hadn't heard that Todd Snider track before. Great fun.

  3. Collecting is indeed a personal endeavour and I have some odd collections for someone of my vintage - Very proud to have them though, and I feel sorry for those who scoff. They're the ones who lose out.

  4. Gimme Todd's records over Ed and Adele anyday


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