Apr 20 2008

Dad, what’s a Walkman?

Published by at 8:06 pm under Misc,Russia,Tech

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images.jpegSpent most of the afternoon enjoying coffee and cake in Russia’s first Costa Coffee. It’s on Pushkin Square, just along from Russia’s first McDonald’s – which, in turn, celebrated its eighteenth birthday earlier this year.

Costa have ambitious plans: 20 outlets in the first year, 200 within five. Starbucks have similar plans. It’s all a micro-indicator of the levels of investor confidence, consumer income and perceived economic potential in this country.

The newly-opened Costa’s good, too – a pretty reasonable facsimile of our own local one back on the UK, although we’re still searching for a viable alternative to the sadly-departed Volkonski*. Don’t get me wrong, we’re more than happy to be intrepid and head out to a random bit of forest for some shashlik. But on the odd driech Sunday afternoon, when Moscow is at its very greyest, a little slice of home goes a long way. Particularly for the kids.

Ah yes, the kids – and the point of this post. Tom (6 1/2) spent most of today’s Costa experience learning how to use his mum’s iPod. He’s played around with them before, but today he was really keen to actually learn the menu structure and how the various functions worked.

Which prompted me to regale the kids with the story of how, when I was around the same age as Tom, I had my first brush with a Sony Walkman. My parents’ friend Ron, visiting from San Francisco (where else?), brought it with him. I have a snapshot-memory of listening to Synchronicity II while playing Snapper on our BBC Micro. Must have been 1982.

Dad, what’s a Walkman?

Very good question. Well, kids, (ignoring the reinvented brand of MP3 players and cellphones), it was what we had when I was younger instead of iPods. You put tapes in them and listened to the music.

Tapes? What do you mean?

Lordy. I know technology moves fast. But when my own kids, the iPod generation, have to ask what a Walkman is or what tapes are, it makes me feel old.

* – Volkonski on Old Arbat closed suddenly a couple of weeks ago, replaced virtually overnight by yet another sushi bar. Word on the street is some sort of landlord / rent issue. Whatever happened, Moscow’s the poorer for it.

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