IT’S been sitting in a cardboard box in the spare room ever since we moved house almost a year ago, but I just can’t bring myself to throw away our VCR.

After acquiring a DVD player, two videogame consoles and a Foxtel box, our telly has more loose wires than Charlie Sheen – and no spare plug for our little silver tape player. So into the cardboard box it went.

Not that this is much of a problem. It’s not like we’re starved for entertainment in the casa di Starke. If we actually turned on one of the video games we bought at huge expense, I’m sure we’d have hours of fun.

But despite our VCR’s relative uselessness, I just can’t bear to see it go.

Or the tapes.

Combined, my boyfriend and I have about 30 old VHS tapes, ranging from the sublime (This is Spinal Tap, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) to the ridiculous (an absurd museum souvenir video of me dancing to Yothu Yindi when I was 14) and the completely unnecessary (What Women Want). (I blame my
boyfriend for that one.) (Yes, really.) (He actually bought it).

We’ve also got at least two copies of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (one $20 ex-rental) and a tape of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, lovingly recorded off the television from around 1991, with priceless old ads still included.

These days, everything is on DVD, or Blu-Ray (whatever that is – I saw it in a shop once), or downloaded from the internet. And this is all fine and good. (Particularly downloading videos from the internet – which is
better than good, it’s completely ace, and I have no idea how we existed without it.)

But in the transition from VHS to DVD, I feel we’ve lost a lot of cool features.

This is why I miss tapes:

1. A VHS tape will never stop right at the point where the detective is about to reveal who murdered the butler in the library just because it has a speck of dust on it.

2. You will never have to skip huge portions of the movie and try to imagine what happened in them, because your VHS tape has a tiny scratch on it.

3. All playback problems with a VHS tape can be fixed by one of three simple methods. A) Flip open the top and blow on it, B) Fast forward and rewind repeatedly until the picture comes back, C) The tracking button.

4. Tapes don’t force you to sit through endless government notices about pirating movies. Partly because pirating a VHS is bloody difficult so those notices don’t usually exist, but mainly because you can actually fast forward a tape without getting an OPTION DISABLED notice on your screen.

5. You can stop a tape half way through and come back to the exact point you left off AT ANY TIME IN THE FUTURE. You can even take it out of the machine and watch another 10 videos, and put it back in its box and stick it up on the shelf and not come back to it for another six months – AND IT WILL STILL PLAY FROM WHERE YOU LEFT IT THE FIRST TIME. Magic.

6. If you drop a tape on the footpath, or sand, or gravel, or from a great height (say, off the side of a house) it will probably still play as normal.

7. When you’re bored with a VHS, you can rip it open and wrap the tape around stuff like 1980s tinsel.

First published in the Sunday Mail, March 27, 2011.