Son has now got a hi-fi. The whole family went to the nearest Richer Sounds where I discovered that you really can get a decent system - including a CD player and a tape deck, gold-plated interconnects, multi-strand cable and speaker stands - for #500.
Although it's extravagant for a 10-year-old, I'm neither absurdly rich nor insane. The hi-fi was an old fashioned bribe. Son earned it by doing well enough in the entrance examinations to earn a place at our favoured secondary school. Since fee-paying rivals cost #5,000 a year or more, it could be considered cheap at the price. Apart from that, Japanese pseudo-stack systems costing almost as much tend to sound horrible by comparison.
Of course, buying a hi-fi is simple. The hard part is finding somewhere to put it. In our case it meant re-examining the coffee table wobbling under the weight of a TV set and three video games systems, then hunting for a replacement. We spent far more time, and suffered greater agonies, in Ikea, MFI, Index and several suburban pine shops than in Richer Sounds.
For the serious computers - down to the Amiga 1500 - I invested in proper stands complete with sliding shelves and keyboard trays. Although expensive to buy new, they can, like much office furniture, be picked up cheaply second-hand. It's far harder to find anything suitable for home computers or video games. Even hi-fi buffs are poorly served. Most furniture suppliers seem to assume that if they've got something that holds a VCR and a TV set, that's enough.
The most likely range we found was, surprisingly, in Littlewoods' Index catalogue. I'd suggest anyone with similar problems checks out the Addspace range. But they didn't have what we wanted in a pine finish, and our interior design controller ruled out the
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners