To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, March 10, 2015

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I remember when I bought my present house, I had a very specific “wish list” in my mind for my new home (not so when I bought my first house. Oh no. Then it was just can I afford the mortgage? Full stop, end of story!).

I definitely didn’t want a newly-built house. I wanted an old one, with character. Well, as much character as I could afford. Which was probably not a great deal of character really, but hey.

So, somewhere maybe a century or so old. A nice little cottage, perhaps, not exactly with roses around the door, but in a pretty little village. Well I managed the last part, but do you know what I ended up buying? A brand new house that the builders had only just finished.

I did actually look at a nice old cottage in a pretty little village. Tragically I took one step into the living room, and thought crikey – I can’t even see where I’m going to put my record collection!

OK, I’m showing my age, now. This was 20 years ago, when people like myself had vast accumulations of black plastic. Stacks and stacks of big, weighty albums, and unfathomable quantities of seven-inch singles, all of which needed a home – in ready access to the main living area, naturally.

Nowadays that’s not even a consideration – my record collection is simply a large number of files on my computer. The debate over their sound quality compared to good old-fashioned vinyl may rumble on, but they sure do make storage a whole lot easier.

Ironically, these days I have a whole new storage problem. See, I bought my house in the days before The Other Half (“The Dark Ages,” I believe they’re officially called). Quick bit of maths: one book fiend + another book fiend = spatial chaos, on a level hitherto unimagined with even the biggest record collection. But that’s another story.

Sticking to this one, I have an altogether stranger problem.

We have an L-shaped living room. I tend to live in one corner, where the expensive computer stuff is, out of sight of the front window and unwelcome prying eyes. The Other Half, however, tends to be round the corner, where sits the TV (dictated by the aerial socket), and the sofa (on permanent nap alert).

Picture the scene. The Other Half is watching The Great British Sewing Bee, while I am round the corner on my computer, listening to Led Zeppelin’s newly-remastered Physical Graffiti album on headphones (at one point, apparently, so loudly that she could even hear it over the TV! Surely not?!).

But this does make for, as we Zep fans also say, a Communication Breakdown. I’ve learned to spot certain tell-tale signs, even with the headphones on: the ads are no longer being fast-forwarded; something is on that would never normally be watched; or the giveaway – a programme ends suddenly and abruptly.

Uh-oh – it’s nap time! And someone needs tucking in!

Clearly we need some kind of semaphore system, or something. Flags would be a bit over the top, but flashing lights perhaps, or mirrors maybe?

Any suggestions, anyone?