Spare time: Games people play

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The Independent Online
Stephen Bayley, 46, design consultant and author.

I play a sort of radio-tuning game in the car. The thought came to me when I was telephoned late one afternoon by my friend John Brown, publisher of Viz, Gardens Illustrated, and things like that. "Do you know what I've been doing?" He gave a really filthy cackle and said: "Listening to Melody FM."

"The point is," he went on, "now and again, you have to put up with a bit of Frank Ifield and Englebert Humperdink, but most of the records they play are actually things you want to listen to." This struck me as fascinating. You only tune into Melody if you're sure that everyone else has left the building.

Then it occurred to me that I practise a similar and no doubt very revealing bit of inverted and complicated subtle snobbery when I'm driving around central London. That is to say, stuck in coagulated traffic with the doors locked, the sunroof closed and air-conditioning on, I furtively tune in to Virgin or Radio 2 - which is better now than Melody, because Radio 2 does actually play The Doors now and again.

But I want to tell you - and this is the point of the story - that I won't leave the car stationary with the radio still tuned to Virgin or whatever. If I've been listening to Radio 2 while I park, just as I'm about to turn the ignition off, I'll always re-tune the radio to 91.3 FM.

This is exactly the same as wearing clean underwear in case you're knocked over by a bus. Should I be exterminated overnight, I don't want anyone to turn on the ignition and hear Radio 2. I'd like my remains to be found with the car tuned to a difficult piece of late Shostakovich on Radio 3.

The most expensive car radio with which to play radio retuning is the Ford 2006, which may only be bought in conjunction with the purchase of a Ford motorcar.

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