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They look just like two gurus in drag

I’ve probably extolled the virtues of my MP3 player before, but I’m going to do it again. One of the wonderful things about having a large amount of music accessible on a small, portable device is that if you are suddenly seized by the urge to listen to something you haven’t heard in absolutely ages, then you can. Even better, though, is the ability to set it going on random play and see what happens. I have nearly five thousand songs at my disposal (the legacy of far too much of a mispent youth hanging around Our Price on Chapel Street, three years in Bristol wasting my grant money, and, more recently, the shockingly dangerous combination of a moderate disposable income and Internet access that’s just always there between the hours of 9 and 5).

Sometimes random play offers me songs that I don’t want to listen to, and I have to reach for the skip button, but more often than not it provides me with songs I didn’t know I wanted to hear, songs I had, frankly, even forgotten buying. (I own Tom Jones’s Reload? What the hell was I thinking?) Sometimes it’s just the segues that are interesting: there’s a certain beauty in the way that the other morning History, by The Verve, changed into a still-relevant Bill Hicks comedy routine, which in turn became Dogs Are Everywhere by Pulp. Later, early Manics turned into David Gray at the drop of a hat (in real life, it took the Manics almost 10 years to achieve essentially the same thing).