When Band Aid sang “It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid”, they clearly hadn’t reckoned on this. Spread some festive cheer we said. “I’ve bought a drum machine,” he said
I bought myself a drum machine for Christmas. “But Fat Roland,” you reply, “I am as old as a penny farthing or smallpox, I do not understand these modern things.” Chill your chilblains, grandma. A drum machine is like normal drums but lazy. It’s made of just one oblong rather than lots of circles you put on a rug. Human drummers are high maintenance. They use up oxygen and water and eczema cream. Drum machines are much more economical. You just turn them on and listen to them bang.
The drum machine I bought is called a Roland TR-08. All drum machines have names that sound like they’ve been sent from the future to destroy Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let me break it down for you. The “Roland” bit refers to me because I’m the one who bought it. The “TR” stands for “The Race” because you can pretend you’re in Yello by bashing the cymbals in time to ‘The Race’. If you’re going to do that, do ensure you grow a nice bristly moustache first, otherwise people might think you’re in an overly-shaven band like Erasure.
The “08” stands for Barack Obama’s presidential win in 2008. I’m not sure why they included that reference. There were much more interesting things happening that year, such as the release of the Yahama DTXtreme III MIDI drum kit, which was described by Modern Basset Monthly as “this is nothing to do with dogs, why are you trying to get us to review this?”.
I wish I could show you my drum machine, but unfortunately magazine pages aren’t made of window. Instead, I shall describe every button in detail because I’m paid per syllable, and every supplementary syllabification indubitably maximises my remuneration. Let’s start with the Start/Stop button. This is a special button that makes the drum sequence start or stop. You, er, press it and it stops. Or starts. Depending on, um, whether it has started or, erm… alright, I don’t know how to use my drum machine yet.
There’s a drum marked “BD”. What drum does that stand for? Bassist Drummer? It’s next to a drum called “SD”. What’s that? Sneer Drum? There’s no way of figuring any of this out. For now, I’m just going to wear the drum machine around my neck as if I’m in a cool hip hop rap band.
At the start of this unwelcome overflow of grammatical pipe-gush, I mentioned that I’d bought the Roland TR-08 as a Christmas present to myself. This seems greedy, like buying nipple clamps and keeping them to yourself, but Christmas is a write-off this year.
I’ve heard it on good authority that 25 December will herald the end of the world. By night, a robot Santa Claus will lay waste to all our chimneys with a hail of laser-guided reindeer poop. All fairy lights will be programmed to create a dot-to-dot picture of a cry emoji. The Queen’s speech will re-enact ‘The Blair Witch Project’, with corgis snotting into the camera by torchlight. The John Lewis advert will be six hours of black nothingness soundtracked by the echoing screams of tortured workshop elves. Christmas dinner will be one massive sprout and nothing else.
The only things that have pleasured me this year are (a) you reading this column, (b) otters holding paws on YouTube, and (c) me getting a drum machine for Chrimbo. Please grant me this little treat. You can play ‘Jingle Bells’ on a drum machine, right?