Imagine my surprise

Continuing on the radio theme… One of my pleasures in short-wave listening was hearing the theme song used by the BBC World Service. It was a memorable tune, bouncing along ironically just before the BBC news readers presented the day’s awful stories.

Years later, when Stanley Kubrick made Barry Lyndon, I heard that very tune on the soundtrack. Its name was Lillibullero. I just Wikipedia’d it and found a fascinating history, too long to repeat here.

I enjoy little discoveries like this, especially if the reference borders on the obscure. When I first heard “Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants, I was tickled by the lyrical mention of the Longines Symphonette. (Cue Wikipedia again.)

When I was a kid, the Longines Symphonette sent a salesman to my house. He proceeded to sell us a stereo phonograph and a boxed set of LPs that featured old-time radio programs. It was our family’s first piece of electronic equipment other than the TV and me and my brother’s radios.

In addition to the standard 33 and 45 speeds, the turntable had 16 and 78. I later learned that 16 was for playing records for people with visual impairment. My bro and I loved to take our albums and play them at half speed. Just call us hooligans…


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