Record Player

Changing the Playlist

Richard Williams

I am the designated driver. We are at a 60th birthday party, somewhere in the north of England. It is at a working men’s club for someone I don’t really know. They have put on a lovely spread, and everyone is very nice, but I am not in the mood for slight conversations about how are you and what have you been up to for the last 5 years and football or rugby or the weather or whatever and


the DJ is spinning the old favourites. We’ve had Oops up Inside Your Head and Hi Ho Silver Lining and Rocking All Over the World, but I am in the mood for some Radiohead, Nirvana or perhaps some mid-70s Tangerine Dream with the volume turned up to the max where the Moog is burbling and bouncing off the walls and the whole room is shaking and shimmering and dissolving in a kraut rock synth overload right before my eyes and I


am ten no eleven and back in my bedroom and in the moments between music when I am flipping the record over and cleaning the long single groove of all visible traces of dust. I listen to the house. Almost silent, overloaded with tension, waiting for the storm to break. It talks to me. Says stay in your room. Keep your thoughts hidden. Do not answer back. Shrink into the space between your headphones and immerse yourself in the synthesizer’s discordant howl.


But now I am back in this downbeat town and Amy Winehouse is on the deck her voice flowing is a beautiful river rising and falling in crystal clear clarity over everything, splashing over the optics, her words bringing light and colour and beauty to even the darkest corner of the room, she is calling out to Valerie and the whole room is on their feet answering, each one of them is Valerie, dancing and full of love and life and energy and joy and now I am standing up, moving towards them, joining in, joining in.

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Richard Williams has had work accepted this year for 192, Green Ink Poetry, Dreich, Interstellar and Ink Sweat & Tears. Also a few poems on the radio, including an NHS / pandemic related one on the BBC (local rather than national radio). He continues to blog at and is working towards a second collection. He has been previously published in ASP Issue #2.