Vol. V.








THE GRAMOPHONE may be said to owe i ts origin to a green suit. Many years ago I found myself in a mood of depression walking along Bond Street about dusk, and decided to l ighten this depression by paying a visit to my tailor in Grafton Street. There, in the fading daylight, I chose a pattern for a green suit. The gloom within and the gloom without combined to upset my judgment, and the green suit I chose turned out to be much more vivid than I had expected. It was indeed the colour of a billiard cloth, and i t could only be worn with a very long overcoat to disguise i ts brilliant effect at noontide. Even so, I noticed as I walked along that the eyes of passers by turned involuntarily down to the few inches of vivid green trousers which could not be concealed. Nobody likes to admit that he has chosen the wrong material for a suit; but in the end I had to surrender and send i t away to he dyed brown. So when some ten years later I found myself again walking down Bond Street at dusk in a mood of depression I avoided turning into my tailor's to cheer myself up by ordering a new suit. But as i t was imperative to escape from my mood by buying something, I turned into the halls of the JEolian Company and ordered an JEolian organ. When I got back to Herm and studied the catalogue of available music, I found that the symphonies I had expected to pump out for my pleasure, if for nobody else's, were no longer procurable. I did not feel that I wanted to play selections from musical comedies on the organ, and wrote accordingly to the makers. They suggested as a way out of the difficulty that I should have a gramophone. This struck me as a ludicrous proposal. My acquaintance with gramophones had led me to suppose that they were merely expensive machines for reproducing the voice of Caruso fairly adequately, but ~othing else. My father had bought a gramophone In 1909, and I remember his telling me with a great deal of pride, that included in the collection of records he had bought, which numbered some fifty or sixty, were some very expensive ones which had been recommended as the latest triumphs of recordina. These included the sextette from Lucia, Caruso and Ancona in Da.l tempio al1imitar, Caruso and Scotti in Solenne in quest 'ora, Caruso in I deale, and Destinn in Un bel dt. These single-sided celebrity records cost anything from a guinea upwards in those days. There were several orchestral records of which I do not remember the names, but only that they were all very bad; and there was a Harry Lauder singing the Wedding of Lauchie McGmw, the playing of which became a kind of parlour game, the object being to distinguish each t ime some new word nobody had succeeded in distinguishing before. We never did manage to hear more than half the words, and I am always h9ping that one of the re-issues of Harry Lauder discs will include this number. There was also an excellent whistling record by Charles Capper of Arditi's Bacia, which was a great delight to my parrot, who, after hearing i t repeatedly, was able to whistle severa~ of the phrases accurately. But there had always been a heap of discs we never played, and, for all I knew to the contrary, the gramophone was in the same state in 1922 as i t was in 1909. However, when the catalogue of the Vocalion Company arrived and I found that I could get such things as Schumann's Piano Quintet, and when the instrument itself finally arrived and I found that i t would play such musi~ in a way I had never supposed possible, I immediately became a slave to this new delight. But so l i t t le did I know about the gramophone that I didn't even know the name of His Master's Voice, or, at any rate, I didn't realise i ts importance, and i t was my engineer who first advised me to get hold as soon as possible of an H.M. V. catalogue. So much for the uses of advertisement if one is not interested in the wares that are being offered. At the present day I should be equally ignorant of the names of most of the famous motor cars in existence. "VeIl, having got my gramophone and started to buy records, I became, as so many people had become before and so many people have become since, completely absorbed in i t . My Vocalion instrument reached me in March, 1922, and by June, when I found myself in town on my way to Capri, I could talk about nothing elsc. "You had better write me an article for my monthly gramophone page in the Daily Telegraph," said Mr. Robin Legge in the billiard room of the Savile. So as soon as I got to Capri I sat down to try to convey to the world my own excitement, which, of course, had been fostered by the approval of that great pioneer Robin Legge. The gramophone owes much to him. He was the first who