July 17, 2003

Have a record player? Still use it?

It turns out that a not-insignificant number of us do still use them. And more surprisingly - a not-insignificant number of us still buy vinyl records to play them! An average of around half a 7-inch or 12-inch single every month. I learned this whilst attending an agency presentation at work the other day at which a load of background and market-research material was being Powerpointed onto a big screen.

As I sat there absorbing these facts - my mind started drifting to the time and the place that I bought my first ever record. Leicester - 1983 I think. I was a new boy at High School. My family had just moved to the outskirts of the city from the centre so I had to go to a completely new school - and I stood out like a sore thumb because I was the only Asian guy at the whole school - and I soon became a spectacle for both the curious and the bullies.

However, it only took a few days before I became THE person to hang around with - and it was something rather bizarre that did it: one lunchtime instead of joining everybody in the dinner hall for school dinner (I was ashamed of going into the hall and not having someone to talk to - and people whispering about me behind my back) - I left the school grounds - which I was not supposed to do - and I went out to a local parade of shops, one of which was a second-hand record shop. It was there that I spent my dinner money on my first ever vinyl single purchase:

Denis - by Blondie

When I got back to the school - I got intercepted by a girl “prefect” who wanted to make a point that she was a force to be reckoned with. (Do they still have prefects at schools these days I wonder?). Anyway - said prefect did the prefect-equivalent of a citizens arrest and started to lead me to the deputy-head’s office where I was to be charged with violating school rules. I was warned as I was led down - a crowd of excited kids in tow - that I could end up with a maximum sentence of suspension and expulsion! Anyways - before we got there - my class tutor who just happened to be walking the other way spotted the commotion and stopped us in our tracks and asked the prefect for explanations. At this point I figured that my trial had begun and I had resigned myself to the doom of impending punishment. The prefect played back the accusation of me having left the school grounds without an exit visa at lunchtime - to which I pleaded guilty. Teacher asked me where I had been. I told the truth about the record shop. Teacher asked me what I had bought. I pulled it out of my plastic carrier bag to show her - and there was a torrent of giggles and hooty laughs from the crowd of kids standing there watching. And THIS was the moment that the tide changed for me. The teacher proudly remarked that SHE had been to the SAME record shop - and that SHE had bought a 7-inch single as well - and SHE proudly pulled it out of her plastic carrier bag and showed it to us all - smiling the biggest smile I had seen her smile - and it was BLONDIE ! (Hanging on the Telephone I think.)

The crowd went suddenly, jaw-droppingly silent. And for some reason that I simply cannot explain my eyes started to well with big teardrop. Teacher told prefect to let go of me - and told her that she would deal with me - and sent everyone on their way. I was then taken by teacher to the smoky Staff Room where other teachers were lazing around eating sandwiches and reading newspapers - and led into a quiet corner where there was a record player. My teacher asked me for my record and then proceeded to play it! There were nods of acknowledgement from other teachers in the Staff Room - and I witnessed some foot-tapping from even the “stiff”-looking types. I just COULD NOT believe what was happening. Anyway - to cut what’s becoming a long story short - I was casually told by my teacher that I should get written permission to leave the school grounds next time - but “could I borrow your record tonight?”.

From that day on - my teacher and I had some kind of rapport. I did lend her my record a few days later. And in return she lent me a few of hers - all Blondie I hasten to add! And the story spread like wildfire throughout the school - that I had broken the school rules and that I gotten away with it - and more importantly that the well-liked teacher who shared the same taste in music as me thought I was “cool”. From this day onwards - EVERYBODY wanted to hang around with me (well perhaps not everybody, but mostly the “street”-smart types). EVERYBODY wanted to do what I did. And everybody from that day onwards - started to like Blondie …

Oh uh huh make it magnificent
Oh your hair is beautiful
Oh tonight

Posted by jag at July 17, 2003 06:26 AM
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