A bedroom lit with the swirl of summerlit dust. It is 1987 and I have finally succeeded in rigging a Speak & Spell, via a midi interface, to my Commodore Amiga. Running a knocked-off copy of Music Express (or was it Musix 2000?), I am now able to do something not previously possible. By pressing a series of buttons on the Speak & Spell and looping the output with maximum distortion on the Amiga, I am able to get my dad to come upstairs and ask me what I am doing.
“What are you up to there, son?” He asks jovially whilst also rippling his fingers over the keyboard as if computers are something insubstantial, inconsequential and therefore to be rippled like old pianos.
“I was composing.” I say, quietly trying to retrieve what he had just deleted.
Just what I had begun to compose, once retrieved, I had no idea of its portent at the time. I had succeeded in synthesizing every phoneme known to the human ear. When played all at once, every word could be heard.
Every word. Even “studmuffin”. And “bonk”.
The learning potential, the possibilities of such a technology were unfathomable and yet palpable to me even then.
Days later, feverish with cans of Quattro and copious bowls of lukewarm Angel Delight, I hit upon the notion of fusing my phonemic blart with a harsh and tasty beat (sampled from Mantronix and reversed on my Awai 470 cassette deck). I set the beat to loop and reverberate in on itself whilst I dropped in the phonemic harmony of every word in human language (like “mastiff” and “circumnavigate”). Then I sat back to behold…
The Phonic Spree.
It was then that I became The Lord of The Learning Dance and did get myself a dirty great cape festooned with sequined graphemes.
And I did do assemblies.
And I did do interventions and BETT, and I did appear briefly on Tomorrow’s World (but my footage was substantially cut due to unwarranted expletive). Maggie Philbin was appalled.
And it was good.