Sunday, November 14, 2010


When you're little, batteries can seem as elusive, extravagant and priceless as gold. Especially when they are in charge of powering the things in your life you value the most. There's no greater disappointment than opening up a new toy and discovering the batteries haven't been included. They weigh a lot too, making the small cases seem even more impressive. Oh and don't even get me started on the ones that have the little button on it so you can check the amount of juice it has left, I think I wasted more battery life digging my grotty little fingernails into the tiny bumps than using it in the actual appliance, proved by the small crescent shaped grooves perpetually dug into them. 
It's awful as well when you discover your new toy has more than 2 slots for them, meaning you'll probably only get to play with it twice a year, there's no way your parents are going to keep you supplied with that much battery power for long. 

So yes, batteries are like gold, they're expensive, hard to come by and look amazing incased in the right cocoon of appealing accessory. You may feel this is something I discovered whilst reflecting on my youth, but you would be wrong. I knew it from a very young age, it was after one particular day, the day my casio keyboard died. I may have mentioned that until I started playing the trumpet I wasn't an impressively musical child. My abilities reached as far as being able to mimic the chipmunks in song and short but high energy  performances on air guitar. Performances that looked more like I was holding an imaginary stick that I would strum repetitively with a limp hand. Not too impressive. One day however, in a moment of what I can only assume was insanity, my parents gave me a little 2 octave keyboard, with the batteries already inside! I loved that keyboard, played it whenever I could, that is, hit the demo track (wake me up before you go go) and let my little fingers fly. I played in my bedroom, put on concerts, played on the stairs, in the car on the… you get the idea. One day, after having noticed the light on the far right side flickering, it stopped mid octave slide. I couldn't believe it, apologizing to my imaginary audience members I tried desperately to turn it back on, sliding the power switch back and forth, wiggling the batteries, swapping them around. Nothing worked. Head down and keyboard tucked lovingly under my arm I headed to my parents den ala Matilda appealing to the Wormwoods for a book. "What do you need a book for??" "To reeeaaad" 

Luckily my parents weren't as cruel, they had however had enough of my demo track and sighted short funds for a reason to wait for my next round of batteries. I was crushed. No longer able to play the track, I would sit at the keyboard pretending it was on and closed my ears to the thud of my fingers pressing the darkened keys. It was a sad day, a sad week, a sad month… this went on until finally, my dad couldn't handle it anymore and in a moment of weakness he came home with a fresh set of shining new energizer batteries and threw them on my bed. "There you go Lesbes, don't use them all at once" I couldn't believe it, I hugged the plastic case for 2 seconds before attacking it's cardboard back with scissors like a starved child trying to get to food. Carefully pulling them out one at a time a feeling the weight in my hands I placed them into the back of the piano. When the last of the 6 batteries had been correctly slotted into place and the back was clipped in I flipped it round and tentatively slid the power switch to on. SUCCESS! The light went on as if the power had never left, next came the demo track - accompanied by a groan from the next room. 

I remembered it like it was yesterday, starting with the imaginary chords then to the slide, rounding it up with some good ol' fashioned honky tonk (slapping as many keys as I could). I remember then taking it over the the steps to the second story which had been conveniently placed over the front door, slotting my legs through the gaps and waiting with bated breath for my step mum to come home. I've never seen someone get more of a shock in my life as I heard her keys in the door and pressed the demo at full volume, she shrieked looking around wondering how the dreaded music had made a come back only to see dads sorry face in the hall way. "She just looked so sad"… Yes children, never underestimate the value of a good pout. So to end, remember that even when the bright lights of tiffanies beckon there's always the electronics isle in woolworths that can mean just as much. 

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