GUY HENDERSON: From 'P' to 'S' in lurid purple vinyl
YOU won't find a song called Edward Fox by a band called Smack, complete with a picture of a stuffed monocle-wearing fox on the sleeve, on your new-fangled music download internet sites.
You won't find the Ruts single Staring At The Rude Boys in an oversized paper sleeve with a crossword on it.
And you won't have the fun of gently easing open the long-closed sleeve of the Squeeze single Up The Junction to discover something long forgotten — that one day in 1979 you decided to buy a copy pressed in lurid purple vinyl.
All of these things are available to me, however, because of something I found in the loft.
I was putting away the Christmas decorations, in a hefty cardboard box which once held a microwave oven but now bulges with tinsel, baubles and a couple of threadbare robins which have clung to Henderson family festive trees for half a century and have been mauled along the way by generations of cats and dogs.
I couldn't get the big box to fit into the space from which it had come just a few weeks earlier, and had resorted to the usual bloke tactic of stuffing it ever harder into the space into which I thought it ought to fit.
But the risk of mortal damage to the threadbare robins eventually became too great, and so, sweating, I withdrew the box and looked to see what was causing the obstruction.
It was a modest-sized container, made of stiff cardboard and covered in shiny black fake leatherette plastic.
On its top was a sturdy plastic handle and on its front edge a silver lock, and above that a tiny white sticker, curling off at the corners but still unmistakeably marked in my handwriting "P-S".
Trembling with excitement and temporarily forgetting the big box of Christmas decorations, I carefully took out the black box and opened it.
There, crammed in without a millimetre to spare, was a part of my meticulously catalogued seven-inch singles collection.
Most of these singles were purchased between 1972 and 1982, when I spent every spare penny I had on vinyl records. Many are obscure, some are scratched beyond repair, and some exhibit signs of having been collected just for the collecting's sake.
For instance, this box alone contains every Spandau Ballet single in a picture sleeve. It's the same for Stiff Little Fingers, all in picture sleeves right from the startling Suspect Device up to the slightly disappointing later stuff.
Strangely, I reckon I could tell you where I was when I bought or first listened to each one of them.
I posted a picture of the box on my Facebook page, and in Groovy Big Al's Vinyl Club group, and was delighted to get a response straight back from my old friend Tall Paul, who was probably with me when most of the records were purchased.
Saturday mornings for us then would involve a trawl of Torbay's record shops to see what was new.
Paul Pinch, Harris Osborne, Woolworths, Smiths, Timothy Whites, The Card Shop, Soundz, Flox, Terry R Dart and plenty more, we'd do them all when our vinyl addiction was at its worst.
We snapped up Squeeze singles in their lurid colours, and Message In A Bottle by the Police on bottle-green vinyl.
The Squeeze singles we bought in Flox in Fleet Street, the Police ones from Mike at Soundz in Hyde Road.
The Ruts one in the crossword sleeve I bought the week after we had seen the band play at Routes club in Exeter, when Tall Paul and I had played games of Space Invaders with the late Malcolm Owen, lead singer with the band.
We saw Stiff Little Fingers several times, including once on the same bill as the Undertones at the Metro in Plymouth. They were so, so good that we forgave them those duff singles in later years and bought them anyway.
I have no idea who Smack were, although a search of the internet shows that I am not alone in having purchased a copy of the single, which appears to have been based on an interview with the great actor.
Long after a more mature and sensible member of the family had realised I was missing and had stepped in to replace the big Christmas box in the loft, I was still sitting cross-legged on the floor pulling single after single out of the black box.
The Pirahnas' Tom Hark in a picture sleeve, with the excellent Getting Beaten Up on the B-side; Penetration's thrilling Firing Squad, again in a picture sleeve adorned with monochrome pictures of the band, and 4am by Torquay band Das Schnitz, complete with the cigarette burn in the plain white paper sleeve which was discussed in this column some time ago.
The Q-Tips, the Rent Boys, Sparks and Slade all slipped out of the box.
I had forgotten all three of the Punishment of Luxury singles (Brainbomb and Jellyfish included, picture sleeves of course), and I have no idea what possessed me to buy Leo Sayer's The Show Must Go On, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
I don't have a turntable at the moment, but I know a place that does.
The Friday Night Big Show on Riviera FM (www.riviera.fm, 7pm to 9pm) will be ringing to the sounds of some ancient vinyl for the next few weeks.
Listen out for the hisses and clicks, and the unmistakeable sound of needle touching record.
And I still have to get all the way from A to O and T to Z...