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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Being an absent father might have brought about the instant delinquency of my daughter, but it was worth returning home on Sunday evening. Not that Amelie took kindly to it. Apparently she was inconsolable after I left. Not because I'd gone, but because I'd taken her best cat Chloe with me.

My return to Brighton was well-timed though. For the past year, I've had problems with my car stereo. It started last summer when the on/off switch broke, meaning that the only way to turn the thing off is to take the keys out of the ignition. Which is not a practical solution every time Ronan Keating comes on. Well, not when you're doing seventy on a dual carriageway. Although I would rather die than listen to him.

So for the past year, I've had to drive around with the radio permanently on, but the volume turned down to zero if I don't want to listen to it. When my car was serviced in December, I did enquire about the possibility of replacing it, but the price they quoted me for an official Skoda stereo would have doubled the value of my car. So I've made do with the old one ever since.

Until last month, when the knob dropped off. Which is every bit as distressing as it sounds. Since my foot took a big step backwards in February, I've been driving pretty much everywhere, and having spent so much time twiddling with the volume control, it finally gave up the ghost. For the past few weeks I've been stuck with a mid-range level which is deafening at traffic lights and barely audible on motorways. So unless I get Ronan on the M23, I'm in trouble.

So driving my car has been driving me mad, to the point where something had to be done. Unfortunately there's a problem. To the casual observer, I might appear to be living the good life at the cutting edge of modern technology, but in reality I'm driving a machine that makes the Tata Nano look high-spec and luxurious. It was in the news the other day that CD players in cars are becoming obsolete, as everyone uses MP3s now instead. Well personally I still use a tape deck.

And that's the way I like it. For the past two years, I've been driving to and from the remote health centres of Sussex whilst listening to audio books on cassette. And whilst you might be able to get audio books on CD, you can't get them for 50p from every charity shop in the country. My basic Skoda tape deck means I have access to a vast library of pulp fiction wherever I go. And I'm not prepared to give that up. I'm currently halfway through a word-for-word recording of a John Grisham novel on twelve cassettes, lasting thirteen hours, which set me back two quid. And if I buy myself a CD stereo, I'll never find out whodunit. Or what it was they did.

Unfortunately, driving home from St Leonards on Sunday, it appeared that I have no choice. Unable to turn up the volume, it was like being read to by a softly-spoken asthmatic with laryngitis. I could only hear silence in court. As a result, I decided the time had come to remove my knackered old stereo. For which I would need some release keys. So having unpacked my bags on Sunday evening, I went onto eBay to look for some...

... and instead found a simple twist of fate. And I don't mean the film with Steve Martin. By sheer chance, I found someone selling the exact same make and model of Skoda car stereo as my own, for a price of just £3.99. Which is particularly low when you consider its antique value. The auction had been open for a week, had only three hours left to run, and had attracted no bids whatsoever.

As a veteran of last minute bidding wars on eBay, I waited until forty-five seconds from the end, then entered my maximum offer, before sitting back nervously for the flurry of counter-bids.

A minute later, I'd bought it for £3.99. No one else in the entire country wanted a second-hand Skoda cassette player. What are the odds?


A Passer-by said...

Finding a replacement is the first problems solved!
This link might help you with the second problem!

Phil's Mum said...

I was going to say does it come with its own release keys?

Phil said...

I bought the release keys seperately for £1.36.

Dave said...

I had a tape player in my sports car.  I bought one of those cunning cassette devices with a cable attached, into which one plugs an MP3 bplayer.  I then had to buy an MP3 player.  I haven't used it since I sold the sports car.

'old' friend said...