Back in 2003, our family home hadn’t had broadband for very long. Maybe two weeks or so. The novelty was still such that I was prepared to stay up till 4am on a school night to complete my first eBay transaction ever: a set of hi-hats used by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, being sold by someone across the Atlantic in Washington DC.
The seller must have thought he’d hit the jackpot. In hindsight, I think I paid more than what it would have cost to buy them new in the local music shop, especially after transcontinental shipping costs and an eye-watering import duty. In total, it equated to an alarming amount of money for someone who made £2 an hour washing dishes in the local pub on Sunday afternoons.
After I’d won the auction, it took a total of 25 weeks to conclude the transaction. This was largely my fault. I didn’t have a bank account and there was no way my parents were putting their card details into “the machine.” So, I sought fiscal security in the form of postal orders from the Post Office. I then opted to ship them at the cheapest possible cost. Airmail costs 40p extra? No thanks.
The result of that decision was that it took roughly six weeks for a very irate American to receive what were, in the US at least, worthless scraps of paper. I promptly received them back in an envelope with red and blue stripes round the edge and an angry note from the seller requesting either cash or a cheque.
So I repeated the process with a cheque begrudgingly bearing the details of my parents’ joint account. This cheque spent another six weeks on a boat, and then a further 13 weeks in the vaults of some American bank as it sat and refused to clear. Safe to say, the seller was not happy, his displeasure evident in the feedback he left which read simply, “Total nightmare. Never again.” The cymbals sounded shocking but I didn’t care. I didn’t care because they were the same type played by Lars, and at that time, I idolised him...