Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Nipper Barks Again?

Not on today’s form he doesn’t.

I’ve blogged or commented or something before on the pleasure of physical browsing, where you can go into a shop and find the right rack and just, well, browse, until something catches your eye, you realise it was exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for, do a bit more of same and chug up to the till.  I’m told by ladies that this works with clothes.  And it used to with music.

So I went into town this morning, primarily to buy a new belt (the end broke off the old one, don’t ask), but also to browse HMV and buy as many CDs as I could carry, before this pleasure disappeared forever.  I had one specific target – Benjamin Britten – but was looking forward to having a gentle leisurely, well, browse.

Um, no.  Their rescue strategy seems to be to ram as much unsaleable crap as possible into as little space as possible, plastering it with as many irrelevant stickers as possible, ensuring that, often, you can’t actually identify the CD.   And make sure they’re so tightly packed into the racks that it’s impossible to flip through them and you have to pull them up, one at a time, to make sure it’s another one you don’t want to buy.  (Because you can’t be sure that the one at the front of the file represents all the other ones behind it.  Oh no.)

Oh yes, and even though you haven’t sacked them yet, make sure that you’ve demoralised the staff sufficiently to render them invisible, or if they can’t manage that, evasive, or if they can’t manage that, surly.  And then set up your system to reject an entirely valid credit card, three times, so that its PIN gets blocked and it can’t be used anywhere.  And then ask you if you want a bag.  For your four CDs.

They were, for the record: a Best of Britten compo; The Best of Neil Diamond (which I’m listening to as I type, just got to ‘Cracklin Rosie’, pure magic); James Taylor’s first Apple album; and something called ‘Brothers’ by The Black Keys, which I chose purely for its wonderful cover, and know precisely nothing else about, yet.

I know that my expectations are clouded by memories of flipping through the LP racks at Bourne Radio, in 1959, and stumbling across a gem of a Chuck Berry import; but I fear I’m going to have to try browsing up the amazon.  Except that they’ve just tried to sell me another five diaries, on the basis that I bought one two months ago; and that Jerry Lee Lewis compilation, again.



  1. I bought an Ordnance Survey map for East Sussex from Amazon, yes, they did recommend that I buy the rest of the country based on this purchase.

  2. Fopp. That's the place to go - I thought they had gone under but the Cambridge one is still there. Brilliant shops.

  3. Amazon keep trying to sell me my own books, and books I've already reviewed for Vine. But I still love Amazon because it's so easy. Refunds,, complaints whatever. All handled soooo efficiently. I know I know. They don't pay their taxes, and I do. But....

  4. In my opinion, HMV's policy of ramming as much unsaleable crap as possible into the smallest space is what drove away their music customers in the first place. Congratulations on finding anything at all.

  5. You have to love a man who buys a CD for it's cover.

  6. Yep, I'm gutted that HMV are closing. I have a wild dream that Fopp are going to flourish all over the place now.

  7. Scarlet, they now think I'm seriously into Matt Monro ...

    Rog and Macy, I'd never heard of Fopp, but please encourage them to expand. Bristol's a long way to go for a browse.

    Frances - we are their victims!

    Liz - actually, perhaps that's their strategy: the joy of finding anything rewards you so much that you're drawn back ...? Or maybe not.

    Mig - it's actually rather good. If you like the White Stripes you won't mind this. A well speculatively-spent fiver, I reckon.