Sunday, 17 October 2010
For the record
We were more concerned with keeping Britain tidy than saving the planet in the 70s; when buying singles as a kid, the bedenimed hired hand on the other side of the counter would never ask if you wanted a bag. On the contrary, they insisted you had a carrier bag in which you took your freshly acquired black plastic off the premises. And as long as you disposed of it carefully and didn't try and smother a baby's head with it, then all was well with the world. Only thing was, I never disposed of mine. Carefully or otherwise. That's why, all these years later, I've got a bag in the bottom of my wardrobe stuffed with the bloody things - it's like a poor man's Russian dolls.
It's all very sad really (on more than one level, I know) but in the few short years since I first went unchaperoned into a record shop (OK, it was 1972) we've all but lost vinyl completely (black, coloured, shaped) and with it, artwork, gatefold sleeves, picture sleeves, Dansettes, radiograms, turntables, 8-track cartridges, blank cassettes, musicassettes, mini discs. Hell, the record shop itself is going through the death throes. It's no wonder, therefore, that Medd Towers could rival The Smithsonian when it comes to rock and roll relics. But I digress. Back to the bags.
I couldn't possibly put them all up here; what few readers have got this far (and, if you have, I'm guessing you are male and of a certain age) can have a shufty at this selection and see if these bygone artifacts ring any bells.
These are a couple of Richard Branson's early paper efforts. It's not Barney Bubbles, but they have a certain charm nevertheless. Although the term nerd had yet to be coined I suspected from an early age that this side of collecting was probably putting me in a party of one. I could however comfort myself with the fact that I wasn't cross referencing the bag to the record. Though I seem to remember The Motors were housed in one of the Virgin bags.
The Pendulum, Berwick's and Andy's Records are throwbacks to another world: small provincial record shops in small provincial towns.
Ditto this trio from Grantham. The Play Inn was way ahead of its time with a snack bar and amusements and would soon devour any pubescent's meagre pocket money in the blink of an eye.
And who can forget Boots and Woolies? Singles 40p, albums £2.10. It was never cool to be seen in there, but sometimes you couldn't help yourself.
The rest are just a small selection I acquired on my travels; most if not all will be long since gone. In the case of IT Records in Lurgan, it was blown to pieces during the troubles. The Harlequin and Small Wonder were picked up on forays into the capital; in the case of Small Wonder it would have been a Patrik Fitzgerald or Desperate Bicycles single, probably. Real Indie.
So there you have it. Coming here must be like like lying on the shrink's couch. These bags have been part of my past for thirty plus years. And no, I don't want to talk about my mother.