In February 2003 I broke my ankle while taking a short cut across the Inner Distribution Road in Reading and was off work for two months. After the first week of agony, the pain subsided and my life then became a battle against boredom and the wasting away of my leg muscles. To combat the the latter I would lie on my back and waggle my legs in the air as if I was walking; to combat boredom I would listen to the radio.
One of the highlights of that time was a Radio 4 serialization of readings by Nick Hornby from his book 31 Songs. This was broadcast in the mornings, just after my wife and daughter had left the flat. I would get dressed, stagger through to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee (a non-trivial operation on crutches), lean my crutches against the wall and sit down at the table with my ankle propped up on a stool. And then, because it had taken so much effort, I would sit there for the next hour or so listening to the radio. And during one week, each morning this down-beat sounding middle-aged man would come on and talk for 15 minutes about some pop song that he liked. Most of the songs he talked about I had not heard of but, in spite of that, I began to look forward to hearing him. There is a fascination in listening to someone enthuse knowledgeably about something, no matter how trivial that something might be.
Well, in time my ankle mended, I learned to walk again, went back to work and my life returned to normal. Then, a few months ago, I was wandering through Waterstone's one Saturday morning when the cover of 31 Songs caught my eye. I bought a copy there and then, and read it over the next few days. And yes, it was enjoyable, but not as enjoyable as listening to the radio programs when I was stuck in our flat with nothing else to do. And no, I have not bought any CD's as a result of reading this book, but I did use Google to find a free downloadable copy of Royksopp's Night Out.