This clip is an edited version of the beginning of “England Tape, #1” – an audio journal I started in January of 1988, when I left for a six month stint at the University Of East Anglia, in Norwich. I used an old Walkman that my sister had had in college (she had trouble taking notes, so my father bought it for her to record her lectures). This Walkman was about eight years old at that point, but its built-in stereo microphone recorded spectacularly well (or so I thought at the time). There’s nothing sonically interesting about this bit—I include it more because of the social interaction it documents.
Clearly, I had no idea how to do a spoken journal (I probably still don’t), but I’m fascinated by my eagerness, particularly in the conversation with David. I didn’t know him very well at this point, though we became friends during those six months and kept in touch for a few years after. It’s a quiet conversation, and the setting feels somehow intimate (in fact it took place in a hallway). It’s a bit ridiculous how we’re trying to impress each other with our knowledge of “edgy” writers, especially as Borges, Marquez and Calvino were solidly ensconced in the canon by then. But there’s something so guile-less in our enthusiasm (note how I muff Borges’ name) that it gives me a warm feeling inside.
There’s a lot of newness here—the newness of being in England, staying in a stranger’s house; the newness of testing out a friendship imposed largely by circumstance; and the weirdness of being recorded—it added another layer of self-consciousness over an already self-conscious moment.
(Originally posted on the Audiowaves tumblr on October 28, 2009)