For the first time in as long as I can remember – which admittedly isn’t that long these days – I have been left home alone. Not that I actually have any time to enjoy it, of course.
The Missus has taken the twins out to the park to try to wear them out. In their absence, I’ve been left the even more impossible task of attempting to whittle down the contents of the wardrobe in their bedroom.
None of the stuff belongs to them. It’s all our old junk that has managed to survive numerous half-hearted culls over the course of the three years since we moved in, bringing it all with us.
On this occasion I’m meant to pay particular attention to the box of my old video tapes taking up valuable space in there.
“You will get rid of those videos this time, won’t you?” the Missus had begged me, just before leaving. “Don’t worry,” I’d said. “I’ll sort it.”
The trouble is it’s not that easy. I’ve always felt a special affinity for the humble VHS tape. It began when my dad rented our first video recorder – that’s right, rented – from Rumbelow’s and brought home Police Academy for us to watch on it.
Some of the most important moments of my adolescence were spent sitting in front of that big grey metal box (my dad did eventually splash out and buy one after a couple of years, confident this brave new world was no mere flash in the pan). Not least the time my mate Chris found the free tape his dad got from the petrol station contained a particularly steamy video to Duran Duran’s Girls on Film. Magical days indeed.
The videos in my box in the wardrobe contained all the stuff I’d managed to record over the years and kept for posterity. Ok, so they may mostly just be TV performances from some of my favourite bands, but simply chucking them in the bin would feel like sacrilege.
It goes without saying that I’ve transferred most of them on to DVD, but how secure is that?
One scratch on a DVD is enough to render it useless for anything other than putting under your mug of tea and using it as a coaster. Videotape, on the other hand, may well be deeply unfashionable to the point of being defunct, but it’s also extremely resilient. Keeping these tapes assures me that my memories are in safe hands.
Nevertheless, knowing the Missus will be disappointed if I don’t make at least some headway, I weed out a few of the tapes I can bring myself to let go and put them in a bin bag which I then leave conspicuously by the front door so she can’t fail but see them.
I then bulk out the bag a bit by adding an old coat to make it look more impressive.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” says the Missus when she returns home. “Is that all videos?”
“Er, pretty much,” I say. “Look, to be honest, the thing is that I’ve kept a few of the videos because although I’ve put most of them on to DVD I simply don’t trust it as a format.”
In a bid to make her understand, I take one of my most treasured tapes and place it in the recorder.
“You see, keeping the original means I know that when I put it in here, I can feel confident that the second I press ‘Play’...”
I’m interrupted by a noise that sounds like a cat having its innards mangled. I press the eject button and the tape comes halfway out before vanishing. I press it again. This time nothing.
“You win,” I say to the Missus, close to tears. “I’ll bin the lot.”