Jerome's Collection

My mug of coffee was already going cold, abandoned haphazardly on a stack of DVDs. The shagpile rug was a little bit gross, and a little bit too orange, but I was willing to overlook that. I think it was supposed to be retro.

So there I was, sitting on that horrid shagpile rug, cross-legged. Hands on my jeans, to avoid touching the shagpile rug. Jerome's collection was spread out in front of me. On one side of the room was a serious PC set up – the whole imac – printer – camera – whatever thing happening. The blinds were closed, making the corner sort of glow. I think the blinds were orange. To match the shagpile, I guess. The other wall was dominated by an equally technical looking sound system. All silver, with German-looking brand names and multiple sets of earphones. Achtung, baby.

And in front of me was the collection. It took up the whole wall. Vinyl first, then cd's. I think they were categorised by artist - alphabetically, then album – by date, but it probably only really mattered to Jerome. I was happy enough just to browse. The rest of Jerome's collections, and there were collections of just about everything - books, movies, dirty clothes - didn't seem to follow any system.

I kind of wished Jerome would piss off so I could get absorbed in just looking through. He wasn't standing near me, but I could sort of sense him hovering somewhere over near his computer. Perhaps he was guarding his special collection. I couldn't do it with him there though, really get properly absorbed. It's the sort of thing where other people get in the way, spoil the mood: "You actually LIKE ?" They always look sort of surprised, try hard to be open-minded. Yeah, well you're the one with a Rush album. But Jerome wasn't doing that right now – this was his collection.

The Beatles: Revolver, Sgt Peppers, The White Album, Abbey Road. Jerome also had Rubber Soul, A hard day's night and Love.

Led Zeppelin: I II III IV and Physical Graffiti

U2: Under A Blood Red Sky, The Joshua Tree, All That You Cant Leave Behind.

You know, he had all the standard stuff. I always thought people had that stuff mainly for completeness. I continued roving my eyes down the racks, taking in the colours of the spines, the familiar titles and fonts, occasionally flicking out a finger if something caught my attention. My hair fell forwards into my face, partially obscuring my vision, but I left it because it made me feel like the seventies.

But it was all there. The complete history of western culture and civilisation from 1950 – present. Jerome thinks it's the music, speaks with a fervent gleam in his eyes about genres, and influences. My mother thinks Album art IS art, speaks of vinyl, of Sticky Fingers, and The Velvet Underground. Warhol.

I think that it is something else. The genres blur into one and other, and most of the songs are forgotten anyway. It's all about "Waterloo Sunset" or "Lola", but never about "Dead End Street". It's kind of temporary. But it's sort of permanent too. Jerome believes in Legends: Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Neil Young, and Patti Smith. And I think my mother does too. But for me it was about sitting there with all our greatest recording artists building a solid wall around me. A sort of languid pleasure founded in familiarity, like the first few chords of a song you like taking over the radio static. That's what Jerome's Collection meant to me. I turned to hold out his copy of The Ramone's "Rocket to Russia", a carefully selected soundtrack to this revelation, but I realised he'd left the room.