This is will be our final visit to the record shop.
Because it’s not my daily day any more. On the 1stJune we finally closed the shop. (If you would like to read our reasons behind the decision, you can find our closing statement here). This final blog is to explain some of my thoughts, and to answer a couple of the (many) questions I’ve been asked.
SO . . . WHY DID YOU LEAVE?
I worked in the record shop for a long while, with a few sabbaticals in between the years. The thought was that I would one day run a record shop of my own. Yet for a long while I’ve had this urge to do something new. It was pulling me further from that daily day, overwhelming the years of planning my youthful dream, my USP, my super-cool shop.
Other ex-music industry peeps have told me the same thing that I found I was feeling prevalently: I had very little passion left for music. Yeah, I know! It shocked me to acknowledge it. Of course, I still liked what I liked, regularly went to live shows, but to be surrounded by shop life and all of the things that go with it, every day, for ever more?
I truly believe that high street music shops will have their day again – how sustainable can musicians making mere pennies through streaming services be? Yet this tormenting question: Could I do the shop and also achieve other ambitions, the ones that I feel a greater passion for? Not to the extent that I would like. Almost every industry is now a competitive marketplace – I’m working towards stepping into a few different ones – but a working life should be enjoyable. I’d lost that, and it wasn’t coming back . . .
BUT . . . YOU MUST MISS IT?
I think about some of the older days, of the people that I worked with, of my favourite customers and people that I met. But my head was already halfway down a country road a long while before the final day. In fact, the last day was one of my favourite shop days . . . ever! (Yes, I confess to being a little bit wine-wobbly by the time I finally left at 9pm.)
I took June off work completely, only spending two nights at home, for a complete recharge. Truthfully, in that entire time the shop (and my phone) was one of the furthest things from my mind. So no, except for the aforementioned reasons, I don’t miss it.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT?
Over the years, I have met some amazing people in the shop, including two world famous authors, quite a few well-known musicians (one who won the Eurovision Song Contest. Uh-huh, I know), various DJs, Gloria Hunniford. I once met an incredible little old guy: he was a former cinematographer, who counted Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe among the fans of his expertise. There was a charming gentleman who told me a story of when Jimi Hendrix spent a weekend at his house in the Kentish countryside.
A bit odder is the tale that I never wrote of a creepy octogenarian flirting with a lascivious vixen (that was as astonishing as it sounds). The bizarre woman that I wrote about in a Christmas Tales, who danced like everyone was watching – she was great. There are so many more.
When people randomly started singing always really entertained us. Just turn the music down and let ‘em go, yo. There’s the man with a crazy look in his eyes who would sing at the top of his voice to whatever was playing, making up his own words, and plenty of others who would harmonise while browsing. One time a local rapper started spitting some bars over the jazz that was playing – none too shabby, just a bit cringy. And the memorable visit of a songwriter who shot his music video in the shop. (So painful. Even Louis Walsh would not have given him a “Yes”.)
They’re all memorable. Happy days.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NEXT?
If I had penny for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d have £2.56. In pennies.
I was reading a hugely inspirational article on bivocational working lives. There were working mothers who “share” jobs: two mornings each in an accountancy firm and two working for a marketing company. Others were of competitive athletes who are also part-time gardeners; scientists who always wanted to work in retail . . . It’s a real thing – I’d never heard of it before. Having worked in one job for a long while, it really appealed.
YES, RIGHT . . . BUT WHAT ARE ACTUALLY DOING NOW?
For the past couple of years I have wanted to learn screenwriting. We are now two-sixths of the way through a collaborative project, and it is such good fun to work on. (Also, I started a solo screenwriting project, but that is put to one side for the moment, to be revisited later . . .)
The business projects that I’m working on will also (hopefully) lead to collaboration – which is one of the most important things to me right now: sharing ideas and getting creative. At the moment I’ve been chatting with a few people, exploring and evaluating a few possibilities. It is another healthy challenge that’s heading . . . somewhere.
The thought behind all of this is that I dearly wished to free up time to write more fiction. It’s a hobby, and I so love the achievement that I feel when I finish a writing project. So I am super-delighted to announce that there is a second novel on the way. In fact, more than a quarter on the way.
And there are some other lifestyle interests that branch from the tree of Things I Enjoy Doing. With all of these projects and ideas, I just had to give it all a go. Life wouldn’t allow me not to. Leaving the shop wasn’t an easy decision, at first, but there are daily reminders that it was certainly the right decision. They were good times, but so are these. (There was even a recent night hanging out at a gig with a principle cast member of Game of Thrones – that was odd, fun and pretty cool, all three. But, in the series, did they outlive the throne? Madness.)
This has been the first time quasi-interviewing myself. What a thing! I’ve been asked to participate in a second instalment of a podcast series. I’ll share it somewhere on here . . . if I don’t come across as a complete goon next time.
From the TFaRS, stay cool, have fun, and love what you do . . .
Thanks for your eyes.
[I do really enjoy doing these, so I’ll never totally rule it out in future – perhaps another Songs of the Year, because there are some awesome new tunes about. Perhaps I could take it on the road: Tales From a Chip Shop; Tales From a Service Station on the M3. Tales From an Island – I’d definitely do that. Maybe . . . ]