A while ago all my belongings finally arrived home from overseas. And I realised anew just how many CDs I have, while piling them up on my brother’s bed (the only flat space available in the house for the moment). They probably number more than 100 – nothing compared to some people’s music collections which were built up over decades, of course, but I happen to be suffering from an acute storage shortage. Besides, I only picked up this interest a short time ago, so it’s disconcerting to find that I have managed to accumulate this much. This is a bit of a habit, I suppose: when I become interested in something I’ll buy, buy, buy things related to it. Even when I was still at school the porters, who were old dears, would joke about my packages (boxes of DVDs and books from Amazon and the like) causing them hernias.

I like owning things that I like. Which means that (illegally) downloading albums that I like for free would somehow be… unsatisfying. I could always buy my albums in digital file format, though there is the potential problem of having your hard-disk crash and losing everything. Digital files don’t take up any physical room. But it’s nice to have actual things that I can display (for my own eyes, that is) and say: that’s all mine. Plus, you get inserts – occasionally full of information, lyrics and/or pictures – with CDs. I do as a matter of fact rip the music from my CDs, too, for repeat-listening purposes. (The more I handle CDs just to listen to them, the higher the chance of dropping them or scratching them or getting grease on them.) In other words, with CDs, I get to have my cake and eat it.

(Vinyl is out of the question because (a) I’d need to get the expensive requisite equipment to listen to vinyl records, (b) vinyl records are more expensive and a lot more fiddly to look after and (c) contrary to vinyl fetishists I don’t believe that supposedly ‘warmer sound’ of vinyl – caused by the characteristic hisses/crackles/pops from dust, among other things – is necessarily superior to the ‘cold, clean’ sound of CDs. The last in spite of Joe Strummer, in most respects a very sensible man, who was fond of repeating a news story about some cows producing more milk when they listened to vinyl or tapes rather than CDs. He’d say that there must be something suspect about CDs if even animals disliked them.)

Maybe this is a conspicuous manifestation of materialism. All I know is that I’m glad to have all those books on my shelves that I’ve not yet read – because it means that I can easily choose one to read now without having to trudge down to the nearest library (which incidentally is not very near at all). I’m sure that at some point in the future I’ll be glad of having printed CDs too, rather than just digital files. But for the moment I’ll have to find a way of storing all those CDs before my brother returns in 6 weeks to reclaim his bed…