Taking Stock - May 14, 2012

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THIS week I’ve let My Good Wife behind the wheel of my car – something I’m often loath to do.

Not, you understand, because I don’t trust her driving, heaven forbid.

To the contrary, she’s probably far better on the road than I am, particularly when it comes to important things like recognising the colour of traffic lights (I’m forever stopping at green signals out of habit).

No, it’s worse. She’s re-tuned the radio.

I like to listen to a well known news and sport station on my short journey to work so to find the latest hits of the day blaring at me, interspersed with inane chatter, is somewhat annoying.

It seems she likes to have ‘background music’ – which explains why I’m always coming home to find pop videos playing to themselves on the TV.

I find the idea of background music a little difficult to understand.

Music is something, for me, to be enjoyed in it’s own right – preferably at great volume and in the company of a good bottle of plonk.

That’s why I’ve never really been a fan of music in restaurants and shops – until now.

A trip to Croatia has really changed my mind – and it’s all down to the background music they use.

They take their piped tunes very seriously over in the Balkans and, it seems, have raided my record collection to fill the silence.

There is no doubt the ambiance of the Tito-era breakfast room was improved immeasurably by The Smiths and the queue for the cable car was a pleasure thanks to the fact The Beatles’ Nowhere Man was blasting out over the speakers.

By the poolside, Oasis, at the bus station, Blur.

Even on the bus I was treated to a blast of REM – never mind the view, I was in musical paradise.

In fact, I think I’ve found my spiritual home.

After all, my record collection stops somewhere in the middle of the 1990s and, so it seems, does Croatia’s.

Even an attempt by My Good Wife to spoil the fun by tuning into one of those music television channels was foiled thanks to a switch by the broadcaster from analogue to digital (at least that’s what I think the message on the screen, in German, said).

I didn’t care. I was sitting on the balcony, in the sunshine where the sound of the Rolling Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash was floating on the breeze from a nearby bar.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still not a fan of ‘background music’.

For a start, it reminds me too much of being ‘on hold’ to a call centre (even worse when the music is themed to match the trade in which the company is involved).

But, if the music is going to be there, be it in a lift, lobby or lounge, it might as well be classic tune and, as it happens, Morrissey and Cornflakes are a surprisingly enjoyable combination.

Not that I’ll be leaving the car radio dial untouched, you understand.

Give me ‘background’ news and sport any day of the week.