Tales From a Record Shop #6
M is for Muppet.
Some people will be judged as soon as they walk into any room. Every day of their lives. It’s sad, but true. It will often be because of their appearance, which could be their intention. I mean, if you have decided to tattoo your face, you most likely will provoke a reaction. Or it could be an alternative statement of individuality to show that they are comfortable in their own skin; you might be Grayson Perry – I very much hope that you are. Unfortunately, and unfairly, it could be because of how they look. There is an expression that goes something like: It’s better to let someone think that you’re an idiot than to open your mouth and prove it. That’s right, some people are judged everywhere that they go, as soon as they step out of their front doors, because they are complete and utter morons. It’s who they are.
I have said before that I side with social pariahs that society shuns – the outcasts, the weirdoes and the freaks. They are good fun to interact with because of their unpretentiousness, and because you don’t know what they are going to say next. I think that they should be embraced, rather than ostracised. They often make my day, much more so than someone who only wants to talk about themselves, how much they have and how great they are. Of the ones that I see regularly, I do often wonder how they are greeted when they walk into a polite tea room and start babbling on about Dr Who. They shouldn’t be judged because they are different. But there are those, too, that I really don’t mind publically shaming.
Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of Grayson Perry. This is a good expression of the alternative.
There is nothing more boring than someone who only ever tells. It is not interaction, it’s inflicting a diatribe of bullshit on someone who doesn’t care. I’ll find the first possible moment when I can cut in and stop them in their tracks. Or just walking away works too. For example, there is a young guy who works for a national supermarket chain that starts rambling on and on about the same band every time I see him. I’ve told him that I don’t like that band; that it doesn’t appeal to my tastes. But each time he keeps telling me that I should check them out, even after I have said quite bluntly that I’ve listened to them, tried it more than once, and I still think that it’s shit music. When I try to recommend something that I’m enjoy at the moment – because suggesting music to people is actually a part of my vocation; it’s what I’m paid to do – he doesn’t listen to a single word I say. Like the time that he began to tell me about a band called Run DMC. ‘You might have heard of them,’ he adds patronisingly – he’s about twenty-two. So I began to tell him about the time that I saw Run DMC at a festival and how brilliant they were, and was beginning to recommend the equally incredible book about their career, ‘Raising Hell’: ‘You know, if you really wanted to know more about them.’ But he cut me short. He said that I should give them a listen. That I might quite like them. Because he’s just discovered them. I don’t want to be unkind to him. He’s just an idiot.
But there is another kind of idiot afoot. The physiognomy of the career-in-a-national-supermarket-chain fellow means that you actually don’t suspect him of being a fool. However, there is a character who, I imagine, everyone takes a wary step back when he walks through the door. About fifty, balding, sweaty, and with a rather unhealthy hacking cough that follows him around. Think of a fat Frank Gallagher and you’re part of the way there. Let’s call him Don Jawson. I have a strong that suspicion that either drink or drugs might have tipped the balance of his brain. The reality is probably a dangerous cocktail of the two. He is constantly on edge, a bit of paranoid character that is constantly moving from foot to foot, as if he always needs a wee. Maybe he does?
I get the impression of manic ups and downs, because one day he might come in ranting, yet on the very next day he’ll appear a bit sombre; a bit down on his luck; unable to make eye contact. I imagine that quite a large part of that is because of how he is treated by people everywhere he goes. Hmm, I do wonder why people would treat him that way. Everywhere. He . Goes.
He also has another very bad habit of just talking and talking at me, just like ‘national supermarket chain’, not listening to a word that I say. He’d tell me – spitting all over the place – about a Siouxsie Sioux gig that he went to, or when he once walked past Lemmy in a Co-Op, or how he’s been listening to Hawkwind all night and hasn’t been to bed yet. Whilst he wittered on, interspersed with manic and irrational laughter, I’d say things to test whether he was listening to a word I said.
Don: ‘I saw the Buzzcocks when they were supporting the Undertones at the 100 Club.’
Me: ‘Yes, I’ve always found the Queen to be a very passionate lover. She always takes the time to lick around my naval during foreplay. Very imaginative, the Queen –’
Don: ‘I go there a lot, the 100 Club. And The Kentish Town Forum. I go there a lot too. Did you know that Hendrix played The Troubadour when he was living in Earls Court? I’ve got every album that he made, Hendrix. No one plays guitar like him. No one . . .’
Me: ‘ – and I was dressed as an astronaut. See, Prince always liked it when we all dressed up. And Sarah Jessica Parker was handing out canapés.’
We ran out of patience with him. More than just being a frustrating presence, he would order a limited edition vinyl by some obscure metal band called The Dark Angel’s Cleaved Clitoris, or some such charming name, and then say, ‘Don’t need that. Bought it at the gig.’ So what do we do when we’re left with a copy of The Dark Angel’s Cleaved Clitoris on limited edition vinyl? Maybe when the next customer comes in looking for Handel’s ‘Messiah’ sung by the Clare College, Cambridge, we might be able to say, ‘Well, we haven’t got that in stock right now. But you might like this.’
‘No, thank you. I already have it.’
He kept doing it. So we had to say, enough is enough. You can pay in advance from now when you order Mephistopheles Spawn or Jesus’ Sagging Rantallion. Anyway, we didn’t see him for a while after that. Funnily enough, when I would visit the national supermarket chain that our friend with the mouth works in, he’d tell me what Don Jawson has been saying about the shop, basically bad-mouthing us. Well, has he now? Apparently he thought that he had been blacklisted; that we wouldn’t order things for him any more. No great loss. But soon he started coming in again, looking a bit sheepish and bit like R.P. McMurphy in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’.
Don: Can I order a record?
Me: Well, I thought that the boss said that you can’t order records anymore.
Don: He doesn’t like me. I know.
Me: Well, you have been bad-mouthing us around town.
Don: No I haven’t.
Me: I heard that you had. You have.
Don: Maybe a bit. But it’s because your boss doesn’t like me.
A bit of spit hits the counter. He’s side-stepping from foot to foot, as usual. Looking like he could wet himself at any moment.
Me: I don’t really think that it’s a case of whether he likes you or not. It’s really just a matter of whether you not collecting your orders. That can become a bit frustrating.
Because Don is actually being a bit humble, he’s not telling me about the time that he saw Rush play. And how he once touched Chrissie Hynde’s blouse. And then he did something that really surprised me . . .
Don: Everyone hates me. People think that I’m a loser. Well I’m not a loser. I’m a winner. And I’m going to show everyone that I’m a winner.
And with that, and tears in his eyes, he turned around and stormed out of the shop. But not before adding: I did bad-mouth you around town.
I was more than a little bit gobsmacked. Had that really just happened?
So I imagine that Don Jawson has a tough time wherever he goes. But there is no doubt that he brings it upon himself. He’s aggressive and not wired quite right – or the wiring has been sabotaged, more likely. He does visit the shop quite regularly again now, still ordering things, but he understands the process a little better these days: you order; we get; you collect. The only problem is that he is back to his old ways, blathering on and on about senseless, boring nothingness: gigs he’s been to, his favourite bands, his own band – he’s a drummer in a band whose music is only available on cassette, because they think that’s being a bit alternative. So he even frustrates his ‘fans’. After someone like Don Jawson invades my life for a brief moment I do stop and think for a moment: In another life I might have been related to him. It’s a terrifying thought. In another life I might have even been like him, where the life goes out of a room every time I walk in. It’s interesting that he knows that people don’t like him. Even so, he’s still a prize idiot.