Friday, 15 October 2010
But let’s back up a bit. In the early 1970s I spent a large proportion of my life hanging around in St Albans record shops, either the traditional specialist venues like The Record Room or the new pretender, Cloud 7 or even the less obvious places like Tesco, Boots or a furniture store whose name I’ve forgotten, who all sold chart singles.
Oh, the arrogance of youth! This was a time when I felt entirely at ease in such places and, like the owners, knew most of the stock by sight. As a frequent visitor and dedicated browser, not to mention compulsive buyer, I felt that slight superiority that an expert feels when confronted with an amateur. So when anyone came into the shop with that furtive and marginally panicked look on their face you just knew that some fun would ensue.
These were the people, usually elderly, who didn’t really know what they had come into buy, either because they’d heard something on the wireless and didn’t know what it was, or because they were buying for someone else. In the first instance they would try and describe what it was they were after, usually going to extraordinary lengths to avoid actually having to sing the thing to the bemused shop assistant. Alternatively, if they were buying for someone else (usually much younger), and Christmas was always a good time for this, they would clutch a scrap of paper and whisper the contents to the assistant who would be drowning in a sea of mispronunciation and misunderstanding. Their delivery would be akin to a police officer recalling a slang filled conversation with a villain in a court of law.
All this was huge fun to people like me, safe in the knowledge that I would always, always know what it all meant. Until now.
So there I was, navigating through iTunes to download my daughter’s choice, when suddenly, oh no, I was that someone’s elderly parent in the record store who hasn’t a clue what they are asking for and all those years of arrogance have come back to bite me.
‘No, Daddy. It’s THAT one. Don’t you know?’