Friday, January 18, 2013

New toys # 2


My other toy is the internet radio I had for my birthday a month or so ago, which I've already mentioned.



I am enjoying this, in unexpected ways.  Tom seemed rather disappointed that it was completely dependent on the wi-fi box.  'So you couldn't take it off to the park with you on a picnic like we did in the old days...' he said sadly.  Which was touchingly nostalgic but a little wide of any fact or experience relating to our own lives, since I can remember doing no such thing myself, with or without him, and he doesn't listen to radio or much like picnics either.  I remember finding it funny years ago that when Sam Cooke was Having a Party, he and his buddies were 'dancing to the music ... on the radio', the idea of one's party playlist being supplied by the radio seemed somewhat quaint.

However, after a fashion we - the radio and I that is - do have a private party.  Persian Dance Party quite often (courtesy of Iranian Radio FM), though sometimes its Absolute Trance, or Blue Marlin Ibiza, or Flamenco Radio, or Arvorig FM, or others ... This takes place in seclusion in my blue room, though Molly quite often joins us and chaperones from the beanbag, I don't mind looking stupid in front of her.  Finding that of the roughly eight kilos I took off a couple of years ago, nearly half that number had found their way back on, something had to be done.  Eat less, move around more.  But the manner of moving around proves difficult to sustain; last year I tried running, what was I thinking?  Running is painful and boring, I'm sure it isn't if you can do it but I can't.  It lasted about a week and the sneaky kilos continued to sneak.  Swimming is all right, but one has to make one's way to the pool on chilly winter days, and the last couple of times I swam, once in the sea and once at the pool, I caught a cold which put me off somewhat - in the sea I was in the company of two of Tom's grandchildren who probably made me a parting gift of the choicest of their infections collected over the school year, and from the pool I suspect the transition from the Turkish bath levels of heat in the pool area to the shivering cold of the changing rooms does little to boost one's immune resistance.  Cycling was a thing which kept me fairly fit aeons ago, but since Molly arrived in my life, taking a trip out on the bike rather than giving her a walk always seemed rather mean, and anyway, I never much cared for it round here, though I don't mind walking, so last year I finally accepted reality and took my old Raleigh to Emmaus, where the cheerful blokes who live there always seem happy to take old bikes to tinker with, and it would have cost probably more for me to have reconditioned than to buy a serviceable new one anyway.

No, in fact the only successful and sustained form of exercise, successful inasmuch as it has helped me lose weight and turn flab into something resembling muscle, albeit cellulite-covered muscle, that seems to suit is a kind of improvised  dance work-out based on various actions gathered from keep-fit classes, yoga positions, things I've seen people doing on telly, and other largely intuitive movements. Yoga itself is good for suppleness and balance but is frankly more a once a week social convention these days between E, A and myself, where the drinking of coffee (and sometimes the eating of Dutch sticky waffle biscuits or gingerbread, with real ginger, not the bland cinnamony stuff the French like) often take nearly as much time as the yoga.  Since I'm possibly even more lazy about initiating social arrangements than I am about taking exercise, having a default pre-arranged one is really no bad thing, but it doesn't burn fat.

So I maintained these solitary exercise sessions of between half an hour and an hour, three or four times a week for a year or so and found them quite tolerable, even, dare I say it enjoyable, and they really did me some good.  However, they lapsed, as all such good practice is in danger of doing with me, partly because I became complacent that I'd lost the weight and didn't think I needed to do them any more, and partly because I simply grew bored with them.  And one of the reasons for the boredom was that they really do need music, and I didn't own sufficient of the right kind of music to do them to - a couple of CDs of mixed World Music, which I liked well enough but which grew a bit stale after a while, and a few pop albums retrieved from younger days, some of which I realized I had grown out of, they sounded thin and inane, and the lyrics irritated me.

Then the internet radio arrived.  I know you can get internet radio off a computer, but I wanted a proper radio, with reasonable sound, on which I could get all my favourite BBC stations, plugged in in the kitchen or in my room, without interruptions to reception from bad weather, light bulbs, Tom moving about upstairs, or whatever, which the normal FM was subject to, and perhaps that I could get podcasts/Listen Again on.  Well, this new Roberts is good for all that, except sadly the podcasts, which it will do but if there's any break in the wi-fi, as there inevitably is from time to time, they cut off and you have to go back to the start again, which is infuriating.  However, mostly I want them for speech radio, and the new Chromebook turns out to have perfectly adequate sound for that, not bad at all for a titchy thing, so that solves that problem.  But then I can get all these radio stations from around the world; sometimes I listen to a general news radio from somewhere like Vancouver for a bit, and hear about the weather and the traffic and imagine Marja-Leena getting up just when I'm having tea in the afternoon (yes I really did!), but also I've found there are an enormous number of non-stop music stations, and this solves my exercise backing track ennui. The dance stations feature the kind of music which I would never listen to for its own sake, rhythmic, repetitive, rather anodyne, the whole Ibiza scene, rather than the orgiastic hedonism of remote and alien youth I had imagined it to be, if the radio stations are anything to go by, sounds gentle to the point of bland, but the long, subtly morphing dj mixes (I think that's what they are anyway...) are ideal for my private gyrations.  Some of them are a very mixed bag, Persian Dance Party is one of the ones I like best, partly because there are fewer English lyrics to irritate, and the rhythms are lively but the flavour is exotic, makes me want to go and eat a lovely lamb and rice dish with pomegranates or something.  Then there are always things like Flamenco, Latin, African and other World music, many of which I only really enjoy in small doses, but the unfamiliarity is an incentive to get moving.

So there we are, probably more than you really needed or wanted to know, but another window into life at Maison Box Elder.  I've not bothered seeking out links for the stations I've mentioned, but they can all be found at this wi-fi radio portal. And if any of my far flung bloggy friends have radio stations, or programmes they recommend, let me know, and assist me in my new nerdy hobbydom!

10 comments:

Joe Hyam said...

My toy is a wire-less blue tooth speaker which picks up iTunes brilliantly. So I can understand how the radio opens the world to you with such clarity, variety and range. Another example of the global village prediction coming true.

Fire Bird said...

fab! I have totally taken to dancing at 50... joy and exercise combined...

the polish chick said...

so true about the kind of complacency one fades into having once achieved weight loss. oh human nature, how foul and difficult thou art!

keep gyrating, dear lucy. i do it as often as i can (making sure the curtains are closed tight, of course).

marja-leena said...

Enjoyed reading this and delighted you'd thought of me in Vancouver! Now I shall think of you when I get up in the mornings. As for exercise, I'm the same, losing motivation after a while and struggling to start up again. I used to love pole-walking until my knees protested. Now I have an exercise bike that is in the TV room and I will watch a program or a DVD while on it, otherwise it is a bore. Downton Abbey season 1 was perfect, almost an hour a day two or three times a week! Looking forward to the new one now.

Good luck and have fun with your new music and dance program, Lucy!

Chloe said...

Ooh, the radio sounds really interesting and useful! I like listening to programmes which aren't available here on normal FM radio, I find myself listeing to Radio Cymru quite a bit online and also a Gaelic folk programme :) x

Zhoen said...

I shall keep up suggestions on my dance report. The Persian Dance Party sounds amazing.

I'm just glad I had a few years of taking belly dance classes. Low impact aerobic and takes all my joints through full range of motion, and it's fun.

Ellena said...

Arabic music has my favorite rythm. Yoga and sweets in same session is a nono and the cold on the way to the changing rooms and inside them turned me completely off inside swimming. And, not eating kept me slim for 60 years but I can't afford to do that anymore and need to learn how to carry some excess weight now.

Bruce Taylor, a.k.a. Catalyst said...

I like French Cafe music on Pandora quite a bit. Your radio sounds fantastic.

Glenn said...

I have been a nerd in some respect for as long as I remember. It shifts around but, in my early teens, it took the form of a passion for shortwave radio. My dad was the instigator, for which I still thank him. To this day I get huge pleasure from trawling through the scratchy depths (a sonic ocean floor), blindly hoping for some noodling tones, lost bleeps, or even a real radio station. I use a Cossor Melody Maker bakelite radio that my dad restored for me. Often now,only Radio China comes through clearly in English. In the late seventies there were many overseas English spoken services from exotic lands. I used to get Scandinavian ones on sunday afternoons. They filled my head with ideas of cold fastness. Sometimes I could get great arabic music from Cairo. But my fondest memory of all was of Radio Kuwait, clear every evening. There would be very strange spoken broadcasts of a poetic and elliptical nature, never comprehensible to me, and all the more fascinating after my dad told me they were coded texts for an audience of military spies. However, my secret love was their 'Sounds Unlimited' programme - a request show which played luscious disco pop which I could never admit to liking at school.
I still love to dip into shortwave foreign radio for a bit of promiscuous exotic listening - I won't stay with any station for long, since the idea of something better further along the dial is too tempting!

Lucy said...

Glenn, that's absolutely brilliant, I never knew! Never knew you did it and never knew it still existed, how fascinating the way older technologies are not necessarily superseded but sometimes are still extant under the layers of newer ones, like geological strata. I do remember big old radio sets with little antenna icons and legends such as 'Hilversum' and 'Radio Moscow' on the dials, and to an extent this new way of exploring world radio on the internet has something of that nerdy fascination, but of course it requires much less technical savvy and carries much less serendipity and magic. Thanks for stopping by with such a gorgeous comment!