NOW then, kiddiewinks, a column about culture (like what you call kulcha) brought about by a collision of towering genius, modern technology, and a product of the modern education system.

The genius came from Wolfgang van Beethoven who, in my humble books, ranks in the top ten of history's greatest men ever.

The technology came from (of course) Japan, in the shape of an unexpected Christmas present I have only just whipped up courage to use: a personal CD player which you can slip in a pocket and hear Ludwig in his grandest glory without rending deaf family, friends and neighbours (please note, Bedlam Bat)

The third, somewhat discordant note came from a po-faced assistant in the record shop in Mar'ton where, back in the days of vinyl, I used to buy my records and those behind the counter had heard of people like Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir John Barbirolli and institutions like the LSO (the London Symphony Orchestra) or the Halle Band from Manchester way.

I have several hundred of these old LPs, but my gramophone (or record deck to use the techno-phrase current when I bought it 30 years ago) is getting a bit past it.

And, as it is beyond the technical wit of the BBC to get a decent radio signal to Beggarsdale, Radio Three generally sounds like a group of old hens scratching around in a gravel pit. For some reason, Classic FM can do it better but as they consider the theme tune from Titanic classical music, I only listen to that in the shower.

So there I was, fitting bits of wire into a gadget that looks like a miniature flying saucer, when the thought occurred: I didn't have any CDs and I my thirty three and a third rpm LPs wouldn't fit.

So it was off to Mar'ton post haste to the old record shop where customers for classical music were treated with a courtesy bordering on reverence and the staff could discuss the difference between BPO and the VPO recordings of the same symphony with critical shrewdness (they're the great symphony orchestras of Berlin and Vienna, kiddiewinks).

I made my first mistake in saying to the youngish woman behind the counter: "I'm afraid that I go back to the days of vinyl. I wonder if you could give me advice on some classical CDs?"

Now I presume she knew what "vinyl" is, so the look of contempt she gave could only have been aimed at me personally rather than the technology under discussion.

I stumbled on: "I was thinking particularly of the Brahms series recorded by the Halle and Barbirolli back in the 60s ands 70s. Have they been converted to CD?"

The look changed to a blank sneer. Did this woman know what I was talking about?

She snapped: "If you have their numbers, I might be able to order them. But the classical section is down there."

And so it was: the great music of the 18th and 19th centuries recorded by conductors I had never heard of and played by ensembles of the Polish Miners Band or the Latvian Shoe-makers' Chorus.

Now I am a great supporter of grassroots music-making - I have brass band recordings from Grimethorpe Colliery and Black Dyke Mills - but surely some of the human race's greatest art is worthy of better. Or could it be that the CD makers want their music on the cheap?

* The Curmudgeon is a satirical column based on a fictitious character in a mythical village.