Friday, January 13, 2006


It was another Monday morning at the Music and Video Exchange! Jez Snide was pricing up a pile of CDs. On each pricing card, he wrote a derisory comment about the artist involved, marvelling at his own wit.

A woman approached the counter, clutching a copy of the first Layabouts album. Snide rolled his eyes, sneered contemptuously, and snapped the record sleeve out of her hand. The Layabouts were so over, what was this stupid cow on? Just because the group's singer had been arrested for drug offences, this dame obviously thought the group was cool - even though they hit their real peak in November 2004. He shuffled out into the backroom, sat down on a footstool, and plugged in his laptop, to compose a piece on Skream for his dubstep blog.

He was so engrossed in this epistle that he failed to hear Barry Pickles creeping up behind him...'til it was too late!

"HA HA!" Pickles roared, booting the base of the footstool, sending Snide crashing to the floor, and his laptop spinning under a record rack. Pickles was well known as a racist, sexist, homophobic, bullying moron, though he'd managed to convince the branch manager, Sheena Moorgate, that this was due to him being an unreconstructed prole, and thus totally acceptable, save in the eyes of boring, university-educated middle class liberals. And nobody wanted to identify with THEM!

"Bastard!" Snide cried.
"Oi, guess what, I fucked this bird and her mum last night, they were both gagging for my cock", Pickles belched.
"You're an animal", Snide spat back.
"Excuse me!" called the woman at the counter.
"Oh...piss off!" Snide shouted back, his face still red with the humiliation of being shoved off his perch by the cretinous Pickles. "I saw the Layabouts in 2003 before Johnny Morphine sold out, you've missed the boat, you fat old sow!"
"Well, fuck you too!" the woman called back.
"I spunked all over their fannies and all" Pickles yelled.

Snide stormed out of the backdoor, and lit up a fag. Everyone knew that Sheena Moorgate had a brain tumour, and her role as branch manager would soon be up for grabs. Jez fancied himself in this managerial position. And when he got there,by Christ, there'd be no Barry fucking Pickles to aggravate him!!


Sheena Moorgate sat with Jim Scowl in the Portobello Star. The pub had, until recently, been a hangout for The Layabouts and their hangers-on, but it was small and cosy, and the beer was cheap. Scowl wasn't particularly interested in Moorgate or her incessant whining about the pressures of her job. But being taken out for a pint by the boss was a preferable alternative to having to breathe the same air as those pricks Jez Snide and Barry Pickles. Scowl was also pleased that he'd been asked out, as it was well known that Moorgate was scheduled to have serious surgery in a month's time....and there was nothing he wanted more than to become new branch manager in her absence!
"I mean, this stupid little workman, he keeps waking me up at 9.30am with his drilling", Moorgate moaned, lighting up her 48th fag of the day.

Suddenly....Barry Pickles and Jez Snide entered the pub!! Scowl clenched his fist in anger. The Star was his pub. HIS! His sanctuary of refuge when he wanted a quiet pint away from the store. He should never have brought Moorgate here. And now, these two wankers had found it as well!

"Alright, poofs" Pickles saluted. "What's that gay German shit you're drinking? I'm having a London Pride...white pride!!"

"Oh, Barry", Moorgate muttered.

"What?" Barry retorted. "I can't help it if I grew up surrounded by racial tension. This is what you academics don't understand, the plight of white working class youth!"

"I'm not an academic" Moorgate mithered. "I came to this job straight from a Business Studies A-level"

"I'm off", Scowl announced, draining his pint and stomping out.

"Probably off down the toilets, to fuck a bloke!" Pickles tittered, winking at Snide, who was glaring venomously at a youth in a Layabouts T-shirt. Pickles didn't like Snide. All he cared about was Moorgate popping her clogs. It would be the ideal opportunity for him to convert the MVE into an imitation of the long-defunct Brick Lane skinhead record and clothing shop, Last opportunity Pickles was determined not to miss!!


Gustav Carrion was in charge of the Avant Garde and Experimental records section, in the upstairs part of the store. Carrion despised the world. Most people were pathetic drones, going about their sad, humdrum, media-saturated lives, clueless as to the genius of Robert Ashley and Anima. The 53-year old lit up a roll-up, and settled back to the strains of some prime Gordon Mumma, recorded back in the 1960s.

His ponytail suddenly stood to attention as he noted a stunning, Mediterranean-looking goth chick with blue hair, flipping through the 'FLUXUS' rack!! His eyes bulged as his heartbeat sped up to an Amen break. Immediately, he envisaged himself and her, a companion for life, a nubile soulmate who actually knew about La Monte Young, and who he'd get to have loads of sex with! It'd be them against the world....and then, when Sheena Moorgate died and he was appointed branch manager, he'd fire the other losers and reign supreme over an experimental musica emporium, with this gorgeous avant garde angel in tow! She would understand...FINALLY, FOR ONCE IN HIS LIFE, A GIRL WHO'D UNDERSTAND!!

Clearing his throat, Carrion nervously approached her. "Superb..." he whispered. "You know, a number of those records are from my own personal collection, they're far too rare for mass public consumption!"

"Oh.." the girl said. "I think I've got the wrong rack. I'm looking for Flux Of Pink Indians, you got any mate?"

Carrion responded as if he'd been slapped in the kisser. "P...Punk WHORE!" he screamed. The chick managed to squeeze past him and leg it to the door, as he lunged at her, sending him tripping into empty space, and knocking down a hanging display of Whitehouse LPs, priced at a modest £200 apiece, which clattered around his ears.

"Skrewdriver were the best rock band ever!" Barry was telling the barmaid. He was now the only drinker in the Star, save for a smartly dressed city boy, reading The Independent. The barmaid yawned and stuck 'Eastenders' on the TV. With only 90p left in his pocket, there wasn't much for Pickles to do, except go back to his Bow flat for some wrist action.He decided instead to go back to the store to steal some records. As he left the pub, the suit folded up his paper, and followed the bonehead outside into the frosty winter night!

As Pickles was letting himself back into the store, the gent suddenly leapt from the shadows, forcing the skin to the ground and knocking him out cold. Dragging Barry's unconscious body beneath the 'ROCK / POP' racks (which Snide had earlier scribbled 'MAINSTREAM SHIT' over), the suit then snuck upstairs. Avant garde records were worth a fortune - there was easily about £10,000 worth of vinyl up there, which he'd easily punt to mugs on eBay.

However...nothing prepared him for the sight he witnessed as he entered the top room and flicked on the light! Gustav Carrion was prostrated on the floor, his trousers round his knees, a line of Girls Aloud dolls laid out before him. Emitting a volley of guttural sobs, Carrion was masturbating frantically and smashing each of the dolls with a clawhammer!

"Jesus!" cried the suit. Carrion panicked, trying to scramble to his feet, but smashed the top of his head off the sharp steel border of one of the record racks, killing him instantly. The suit raced downstairs, accidentally tripped over one of Barry Pickles' protruding ankles, and hurtled through the front window of the shop, rolling across the pavement. A passing car screeched to a halt to avoid him, though as the driver lost control, the vehicle ploughed into Jez Snide, who'd been cycling, inebriated, across the street at the time.


"So, my own staff were stealing from me. Cunts!!" Sheena Moorgate snarled, as she surveyed the wreckage in the store. Jim Scowl had obviously left the pub early to disguise himself as a city gent, and was as guilty as Barry Pickles of attempting to defraud the hand that fed him! With Snide and Carrion both dead, it looked like there was nobody to assume the reins.

"Oh ho" laughed two cops as they bundled Pickles and Scowl into the back of a van, "You'll have plenty of time to play the hard nut in Brixton! You'll get 5 years for this, you thieving little scrotes!"

"Mother!" Pickles wailed as the van door slammed on him.

Suddenly, Sheena let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor, gripping her head. After a few convulsions and jerks, she was dead.

"Blimey", said one of the cops, "Didn't even give me time to radio for an ambulance! Oh well. Guess they'll turn this place into a teak furniture store now"

brilliant! I had the pleasure of working a short stint in MVE, sounds like you might have too. And there i was, desperately trying not to go and spend money on my day off. Bollocks, berwick street it is then.
but my local record shops are shit!
surely you'd be better off buying from amazon than MVE - i mean, as a second hand shop the artists don't see any of the money do they? Was Reckless the second hand shop in Berwick Street (always overpriced for avant garde) or is that Revolver?

(sorry for calling you shirley etc)

though, i'll admit, there's was nothing more fun than spending 7 hours in the £ bin, trying to find a cluelessly placed Foetus album...
You're better off buying from MVE than ebay or Gemm, I think, because it sustains the shop, where you are more likely to find cheap stuff, weird stuff, or stuff you weren't actually looking for that you then love. Plus you will generally get more for your bucks as there will be no p&p charges.

If your local record shops ARE all shit then that is a pisser and I would suggest:

a) Having a word with them and getting them to stock different stuff.

b) Moving.

c) Buying online from specialist shops like Bleep, warpmart, dub vendor, smallfish, etc.

But at the end of the day it's up to YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!

Reckless still have 2 shops in Berwick Street (but for how long?)
Never worked for MVE, did apply for the post of 'general music expert' at the Notting Hill branch when I was 19, but scored only 40%. So I became a traffic enumerator instead.
I've had some good experiences with record shops and friendly staff etc. Maybe that's because of my impeccable taste in music (joking!).

I've never worked in a record shop but I have done heaps of retail work and I can imagine that what some people interpret as snobbery might often just be a symptom of the extreme boredom and frustration sometimes associated with retail work, at least in my experience.

On the other hand, I can imagine how having a close working relationship with other big music heads might become old after a while.

Surely it must be easy to send up typical record shop customers...
yup, i too used to work there for a few mths, some of those 'referred' to still work there making it all the more funnier, i can just smell the mouldy cardboard and dusty floors.
What are you looking for today?
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