上网时间: 2012年12月27日? 作者:Sylvie Barak? 我来评论 【字号: ? ?小】


The Sony Walkman, the best present I ever got

Sylvie Barak

I was five when I received the best present ever. Even though I was Jewish, Santa Claus himself handed it to me, on a P&O channel crossing from Calais to London, after the mandatory awkward knee sitting business as my parents looked on.

Thinking back on it now, I know that they gave the gifts to the boat’s so-called “Santa” but, back then, I was naively oblivious. I thanked him profusely and walked away with a reassuringly chunky box, covered in shiny red paper, tied with a gold ribbon. I shook it a little to figure out what it was before ripping the paper off.

In those days, though, I didn’t just like ripping the paper off my own presents, I ripped the paper off everyone elses presents too, and it’s more than likely that I attacked my sister’s package before I even got round to opening my own.

No matter, because both boxes contained the same, jaw dropping, magical gift.

A Sony Walkman.

It was red. And back then I think it probably measured the length of my elbow to my wrist. It had four buttons. Stop. Play. Rewind. Fast Forward. When you slid the catch on the side, the tape deck popped open just wide enough to slide in a cassette. And somehow, though I couldn’t figure out how, it could decode the cryptic code I imagined invisibly emblazoned on the brown tape reeling round and round. I remember thinking there could not possibly be a more wondrous present in the whole wide world.

The ear muff-like, ill-fitting earphones that came with it slotted neatly into the audio jack, the four large AA batteries sat snugly in their little pouch on the walkman’s underbelly. It was a feat of engineering beauty, and I spent many an hour poking my finger round inside it to try and figure it all out.

I can’t remember what the first tape I played in it was. Back then I was obsessed with “Storyteller” audio books, so it’s highly probable it was one of those, though I later graduated to an eclectic selection of home recorded ABBA/Jason Donovan/Grease mix tapes, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and every James Bond book ever set to audio.

Sometimes if I fast forwarded too impatiently, or rewound with too much vigor, the tape inside the cassette would get tangled and I’d have to pop the machine open, grab a pencil and –slowly, carefully—unravel. In extreme cases, there was nothing to be done and I’d have to snip the tape, salvage what I could, and cellotape it neatly back together before feeding it back into the mouth of my shiny red pet.

Requiem for a dream audio machine

My family traveled a lot. Long car journeys across Europe. My favorite pastime was reading (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Well, I wrecked my eyes reading that IN the wardrobe). In the car, though, any reading attempt would result in projectile vomiting, which my parents seemed surprisingly adverse to, so that Walkman was a godsend.

The hours would melt away as I sat staring out the window in an auditory trance. Occasionally I’d forget myself and sing (croak) until my little lungs hurt.

I remember painstakingly recording new mix tapes on my parents’ HUGE hi-Fi system, with all its complicated knobs and buttons. I remember carefully labeling them and putting them into boxes, and stacking them up, ready for my next car trip. I think I even acquired a rather embarrassing bum bag (fanny pack?) to carry it all in.

My first walkman lasted a good three to five years. Things were built to last in those days. When I turned 12, I received a discman and my trusty Sony was left to gather dust in a drawer.

The discman, of course, was a short lived fad, followed rapidly by the minidisc which was a complete failure.

It wasn’t until 2001 – a whopping 14 years after the best present ever-- that my world was rocked yet again, this time by the ipod. But that’s another story.

The walkman’s story, however, officially ended when Sony announced last year that it would no longer produce them after 30 years and 200 million copies sold. Not a bad run, all in all. But for me, it will always be the best present I ever opened. Goodbye old friend, and thanks for all the good times.

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