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5 January 2021


He is fed up with Alexa in the kitchen playing kid’s music (mainly Mr Tumble’s party songs) through Spotify whilst it’s logged in on his account. When he was busy working on a client brief yesterday it somehow cut out down here in the kitchen, leaving me and the kid in confused silence, but made the Hokey Cokey start playing through his work laptop upstairs. He’s unlinked his account to force me to use mine instead, which I obviously can’t remember the password for.


So for now Alexa is using Amazon music instead. Or maybe Apple? Something other than Spotify, anyway. He assures me it’ll have everything I’d search Spotify for, so I won’t notice the difference.


I finish work for the day (an unsatisfying unproductive mess of new year catch-up calls, calendar reorganisation to accommodate changes to childcare now that we’re back in lockdown, and interruptions from electricians and window fitters), and start emptying the dishwasher whilst humming ‘The Underdog’ by Turin Brakes to myself. “Oh please saaaaave meeee....”


Where did that come from? I’ve not heard this song in years.


“Alexa, play The Optimist LP by Turin Brakes”


“Sorry, but The Optimist by Turin Brakes is not available unless you...”


Great. The very first thing I ask whatever new music thing he’s set up on there to play, it can’t actually play without some sort of upgrade.


I start the washing up and remember a compilation of songs on my first little MP3 player (essentially a usb stick with a headphone socket and a play/pause button on the side). After The Underdog was The Everlasting by the Manics, and the perfect replay of my internal jukebox reminds me how the track would always cut out before the end. I never knew if it was because of my MP3 player or just the way my computer had copied the track from CD. Maybe I’d scratched the CD by taking it repeatedly in and out of the bright orange Wallace & Grommet zip-up storage wallet I kept it in 1998-2003.


“Alexa, play This is my truth tell me yours by Manic Street Preachers”.


Ok Alexa. Second time lucky. Well done. Good for you. Thanks.


I sing along whilst scrubbing welded-on crusty pizza gunk from the baking tray he put in the dishwasher, despite my endless reminders to just wash stuff like that in the sink.


The last soapy patch of ex-pizza is finally freed from the tray as Bradfield crescendos into his final “eeeeveeheeerlaasting, everlas..” - I realise I don’t remember ever really hearing the proper ending to this song.


Twenty three years since I bought that CD on the way to a sleepover at Tammy’s house - I put it straight on her parent’s stereo on arrival, walking in to a living room full of friends, holding it aloft like I’d returned from a quest, triumphant to have this sacred treasure after waiting the entire length of the Jubilee line, briefly jumping out at Bond Street to get it from HMV on the way. It must have been another two years after that when I made that dodgy copy onto my little MP3 player - but that’s the version I remember, and how it replays in my head. My brain can’t do that irritatingly perfect musical recall thing it does: “the eeeeveeheeerlaasting, ever*scratchy interference sound*”


“Alexa stop”


I don’t actually want to hear the real ending. It sounds better stopping weirdly abruptly like that. Maybe it doesn’t? I don’t care. That’s how it should sound to me.

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©2019 by Lauren Stranks