A few years ago, I visited an exhibition at The British Museum. It was titled: The Museum of the Mind and was intended as an illustration of how the cultural memory of past civilisations is encoded into the artefacts, which they leave behind. In studying these museum pieces – these carefully cleaned and reconstructed pots and belt buckles – I suppose that one gets a sense of what was important to the people to whom they once belonged.
I understand that your Oldton play is to be entered into its own museum of the mind and will be broadcast on BBC Radio Four, as part of their memory season. I think, in celebration of this, I will set up the old record player and spin 'Castle Row Two Step' by Terry & the Feathertones, which was released in 1966 on Oldtonic Records.
I believe this recording to be yet another relic from your absent town. In fact, I think that the title makes reference to a street within Oldton, and the song itself, to a popular dance hall, located somewhere along its length. I used to own several discs from Oldtonic Records, however, over the years, breakages have dwindled my collection down to just one, seven inch single. Oldtonic vinyl was always somewhat prone to shattering, often spectacularly, during mid spin. This is what probably accounts for its rarity on the collectors market. My copy is badly scratched, so has to have minimal monetary value.
I will play it anyway and treasure the music, while the record remains intact. Oldtonic Records are renowned for their well-rounded, almost three-dimensional sound, which, I am told, is the result of the music reverberating back and forth between the grooves of the vinyl. I understand that the label manufactured their singles and LPs, using waste materials, scavenged from a plastics factory that once stood on the outskirts of the town. Maybe you remember it from your childhood. This unusual source material perhaps goes some way to explaining the peculiar qualities of the records.
Yours truly, Jonathan Kepple.