Howard Popeck muses on passion, the lack of status for decent hi-fi equipment and …. a Boss suit.

My pal Laurence owns a £78k Maserati car; magnificent enginering, superb performance and more. Next year the marque will probably announce ‘a huge breakthrough’; the 0-62 mph slashed by 0.3 seconds for another £6K. Laurence, working from home and sometimes preferring to visit his clients by train and/or air travels around 7,000 miles per year in his Italian dream machine. Cars are a big, big thing for him. His hi-fi consists of an iPod and a pair of crappy loudspeakers in a dock.

It wasn’t always like that though; in the 1980s I sold him a Pioneer 1250 mega-receiver and JBL L100a Century speakers. Anyway …

I own a 12 year old Audi A3 with 135,000 on the clock. I did have a BMW 850 CSi but truth be told, it wasn't that much fun to own although thrilling to drive and the head-turning aspect of its bodywork was rather pleasing. Had I been loyal to BMW they’d probably have been inviting me to try an M5, M6 or something else equally exotic. “Perhaps an Alpina Mr. Popeck?”

The days of me thinking that a 400 BHP car was a necessary status symbol, or that any status symbols are important are long gone – fortunately. I like it that way . My hi-fi is financially ‘worth’ much more than my trusty old Audi.

I smiled recently when Laurence asked me why in the world anyone would pay more than a few hundred ‘of your English pounds’ for a stereo system. As an aside he opined it was time to get a car ‘worthy of your status Howard’. His comment was both warm and sincere. I pondered on the dissonance between his ‘take’ on status and mine.

His take was that I co-founded a multi-million dollar software organisation (Cognisco Ltd) and survived financial upheavals both before and after Cognisco. All true – but irrelevant to me now. Ah, the freedom!

My take on status is that it is intangible and irrelevant – to me at least – and ambiguous too. I survived leukaemia (clinical remission if you must know), have a family that love me for who I am rather than criticise me for what I'm not (I must be doing something right) and a series of vintage and new audio components I can blend to create whatever reproduction characteristic I want.

The point being that these things mean far more to me that the conventional norm of ‘status’.

My rarely worn expensive Boss suit will remain in the wardrobe until the next wedding or funeral comes along; a reminder of the days when in ignorance I though that such uniforms were important. In contrast though, re my audio systems and to paraphrase the late Charlton Heston, "I Will Give Up My HiFi When They Peel My Cold Dead Fingers From Around It."

You might perceive therefore that my ‘take’ on status is perverse. It may well be. Fine; I can live with that.

Thank you


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