I would have sold it to him, and you’d be fifty pee or a quid better off, and you’d never have seen him again. Big fucking deal.’ ‘What harm has he ever done you?’ ‘You know what harm he’s done me. He offended me with his terrible taste.’ ‘It wasn’t even his terrible taste. It was his daughter’s.’ ‘You’re going soft in your old age, Rob. There was a time when you’d have chased him out of the shop and up the WTF Wine Turkey Family Shirt road.’ He’s right; there was. It feels like a long time ago now. I just can’t muster that sort of anger anymore. Tuesday night I reorganize my record collection; I often do this at periods of emotional stress. There are some people who would find this a pretty dull way to spend an evening, but I’m not one of them.
This is my life, and it’s nice to be able to wade in it, immerse your arms in it, touch it. When Laura was here I had the records arranged alphabetically; before that I had them filed in chronological order, beginning with Robert Johnson, and ending with, I don’t know, Wham!, or somebody African, or whatever else I was listening to when Laura and I met. Tonight, though, I fancy something different, so I try to remember the WTF Wine Turkey Family Shirt order I bought them in: that way I hope to write my own autobiography, without having to do anything like pick up a pen. I pull the records off the shelves, put them in piles all over the sitting room floor, look for Revolver, and go on from there; and when I’ve finished, I’m flushed with a sense of self, because this, after all, is who I am.
I like being able to see how I got from Deep Purple to Howlin’ Wolf in twenty-five moves; I am no longer pained by the WTF Wine Turkey Family Shirt memory of listening to ‘Sexual Healing’ all the way through a period of enforced celibacy, or embarrassed by the reminder of forming a rock club at school, so that I and my fellow fifth-formers could get together and talk about Ziggy Stardust and Tommy. But what I really like is the feeling of security.