Fact and fiction

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  • Published 20091201
  • ISBN: 9781921520860
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

SO THERE I was, an outsider at the global epicentre of men with bushy beards and cardigans. They were enthusiasts who knew all about gramophones from the earliest days of recorded music. I had stumbled across them because I was working on a novel that featured, among others, two early recording stars – Enrico Caruso and Nellie Melba. I’d come across a contact for the gramophone collectors’ club: Would it be possible, I wrote, to visit someone and learn more about these early machines with their cylinders and huge horns?

The reply was welcoming, probably more welcoming than I really wanted. Why didn’t I attend their next meeting, to be held in the clubhouse of a suburban tennis association? There I’d find an array of machines, some of which I could handle, and people who could answer my questions. And so, one wintry evening, I found myself surrounded by shaggy men and tables on which were arrayed countless wind-up gramophones. All I wanted was to mooch about and take some notes. Instead, I was introduced by the club president and invited to tell everyone the reason for my visit.

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